The Murder of Leslie White

In 2000, Leslie White was lured to a trailer in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, kidnapped, and murdered by her ex-boyfriend, William Housman, and his girlfriend Beth Ann Markman.

Background

Leslie White lived with her parents in Pennsylvania. She was a freshman, studying art and photography at the Harrisburg Area Community College. Her parents were supportive of her and had given her a $600 camera the year before she started school. Leslie started working in the photo shop in Walmart on August 2, 2000. While working, she had met William Housman, who was a coworker. Their relationship would eventually turn romantic.

Beth Markman’s & William Housman’s Relationship

William Housman was in relationship and living with Beth Ann Markman. Housman and Markman had been living together for about 2 years. They lived in Virginia before moving to Newville, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Leslie was unaware of their relationship.

Markman found out about the relationship her boyfriend was having with Leslie. According to court documents, Markman confronted Housman, which lead to multiple verbal and physical altercations. Friends and co-workers would notice bruising on her eyes neck and arms, which Markman would say were from the fights. Court documents also state Markman went to the hospital once due to injuries she suffered from Housman. (She would tell the hospital staff the injuries were from a car accident; at trial she stated they were from Housman, and she had lied to the hospital staff).

At the end of August, Markman found out that Leslie and Housman were still seeing each other. Markman had Housman evicted and changed the lease to show only her name. Court documents state that Housman called the domestic abuse hotline to get a “protection-from-abuse” order. She told the hotline that Housman had broken into her home after he was evicted, and she thought he may retaliate again. Markman never followed up, and the order was never put into effect.

In September 2000, Housman moved back in with Markman, though she did not put his name back on the lease. The couple decided they would move back to Virginia, believing it would help improve their relationship. They traveled to Virginia to get reacquainted and told friends they were moving back.

Shortly after the couple returned to Pennsylvania, Markman suspected Housman was trying to keep a relationship going with Leslie. Court documents state that Leslie was not involved with Housman at this point and had been dating a peer from school. Markman did not believe Housman and caught him in multiple lies, which lead her kicking Housman out of the trailer again on October 2, 2000.

The Murder

On October 4, 2000, at 5:30 p.m. Markman and Housman drove to a gas station. Housman called Leslie and lied to her, telling her that his father had passed away and asked if she could come console him. Housman told Leslie that Markman had been out of town and he was alone. Leslie became worried that Housman may become suicidal due to the loss of his father. She left work early, around 6:16 p.m. and drove to the trailer.

When Leslie arrived at the trailer, she and Housman began talking in the living room; Markman was hiding in a backroom. At some point, Housman took out a hammer and hit Leslie in the hand. Markman then left the room to get fresh air and noticed that Leslie’s hand was swollen. Markman then assisted Housman in binding Leslie. They used a speaker wire to bind her hands with her feet and placed a cloth in her mouth, which they secure with a gag they tied behind her back. They left Leslie tied up and gagged on the floor and went outside for a cigarette.

Markman and Housman decided they would kill Leslie. They went back inside the trailer. Markman held down Leslie while Housman used a speaker wire and his arm to strangle Leslie to death. The medical examiner stated the combination of Housman strangling her and the cloth in Leslie’s mouth caused her to asphyxiate.

Markman wrapped Leslie’s body in a canvas tent. The couple then put her remains in the back of Leslie’s Jeep and drove to Housman’s father’s home in Virginia. Housman drove Leslie’s Jeep; Markman drove her Buick. They put Leslie’s body in the trunk of an abandoned car in a rural area of Floyd County, Virginia. They got rid of her belongings and sold her camera to a pawn shop.

Reported Missing

When Leslie did not return home, her mother called the police to report her missing. Police were able to track her Jeep to Housman in Virginia, who told police he borrowed the Jeep from a friend. After the police left, they decided to dump the car near Leslie’s body.

Police were able to locate the Jeep and recovered Leslie’s remains. They were also able to track down her camera, which had several pictures taken after the murder that depicted Markman jokingly strangling Housman.

Arrest, Charges, & Court Proceedings

On October 11, 2000, Markman and Housman were arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Housman waived his Miranda rights and confessed to his role in the murder of Leslie White. He told police though he was the one who strangled Leslie, Markman forced him to by hitting him with a hammer. He stated Markman wanted to kill Leslie to help their relationship and if he didn’t comply, she would hit him with the hammer. Housman told police after he strangled Leslie, Markman (who was a certified nursing assistant) used a stethoscope to ensure Leslie was dead.

Markman also waived her Miranda rights. She told police she took part in the murder by helping bound and gag Leslie and then holding her down when Housman strangled her. Markman stated the murder was Housman’s idea, so he could steal Leslie’s Jeep. She also stated that Housman threatened to kill her with a hunting knife if she did not listen.

Housman and Markman both were charged with homicide, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, abuse of a corpse, two counts of theft, conspiracy to commit homicide, conspiracy to commit unlawful restraint, conspiracy to commit abuse of a corpse, and conspiracy to commit theft.

Housman and Markman were tried together. Housman did not take the stand in his defense, but his confession was played for the jury to hear. Markman took the stand and told the jury how Housman had abused her. She testified that for the two days prior to Leslie’s murder, Housman had “terrorized her.” She alleged he cut her clothes off with a life, repeatedly raped her, had a gun put to her head, and was threatened that she would be dismembered and sent him to her daughter if she did not obey. Markman also testified that Housman forced her to write a letter to Leslie, telling her that she was no longer involved with Housman. When Housman was strangling Leslie, Markman said she did not intervene because she was afraid for her own life, and she had tried to escape twice but was stopped. Markman had requested a duress defense, which was denied.

The trial lasted from October 22, 2001, to November 5, 2001. The jury found Markman and Housman guilty on all counts, with an aggravating factor of the murder occurring during the murder. They were both sentenced to death.

Appeals

Markman had made an appeal to the courts, stating that the jury should have never been allowed to hear Housman’s confession where he implicated her in the murder. The prosecution had meant to redact Markman’s name from his confession, but missed her name twice. In 2007, the courts found this was grounds for a new trial. Markman would plead guilty to all charges in exchange for a life sentence in 2010.

Housman made appeals to, stating he did not have proper council. He was not granted an entire new trial, but the supreme court agreed he did not have adequate representation during the sentencing phase. Housman was granted a new sentencing hearing, where his childhood physical and mental abuse were cited as mitigating circumstances. Housman’s death sentence was overturned, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

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