In 1997, in the upscale Philadelphia suburb of Main Line, Craig Rabinowitz murdered his young wife, Stefanie Rabinowitz (sometimes written as Stephanie Rabinowitz), the mother of his child. His motive appears to have come down to pure greed.
From the outside, Craig and Stefanie Rabinowitz seemed like the perfect couple. They had met years previously as teenagers while at summer camp.
They were young, good-looking, and successful, and with their baby daughter Haley, they had their whole lives ahead of them.
Stefanie worked as a part-time lawyer at a Philadelphia firm, and Craig ran a successful company from his home selling latex products such as gloves. Craig was well-loved by his in-laws and his many friends.
His neighbors saw him as a loving, gentle giant who was regularly spotted wheeling his daughter around their swanky neighborhood.
Unfortunately, it was all a sham. Craig was living a double life; his company existed only on paper, he was spending thousands of dollars each week on a stripper, and he decided to kill 29-year-old Stephanie in a cunning bid to snatch more money.
The police found Stefanie Rabinowitz dead in a bathtub
After midnight, on April 30, 1997, Craig telephoned the cops to say he’d found Stefanie’s lifeless body in the bathtub. A supposedly heartbroken Craig told the investigators that she must have hit her head and drowned. And initially, the authorities agreed.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
As Craig played the role of a devastated widower, his family and friends crowded around him. However, a few days later, Stefanie’s family was shocked to learn that the autopsy revealed her death was a homicide.
The pathologist discovered she had been strangled and that there was bruising all along her right side, which indicated she may have been killed elsewhere in the house before being dragged upstairs and placed in the bathtub.
Craig was arrested and charged with murder. At this stage, Stefanie’s parents, Anne and Louis Newman, still rallied around their son-in-law and even offered to help pay his legal fees. But, as details of the case emerged and the extent of Craig’s criminality became apparent, the Newmans soon changed their mind.
The cops learned that Craig and Stefanie had been in dire financial circumstances. Craig’s company was a fantasy, and the couple had been living solely on Stefanie’s salary of $33,000.
The pair had bought their home two years previously for $230,000, but they now had three mortgages, having borrowed a total of $300,500. They also owed $100,000 on credit cards.
Furthermore, in the last few months, Craig had borrowed about $10,000 from friends. He had also cheated his friends out of $223,000 by selling shares in a bogus company.
And there was even worse to come; Craig had been regularly visiting a high-end strip club where he racked up a bill of nearly $30,000. Between January and April 1997, Craig had visited Delilah’s Den in downtown Philadephia 40 times, an average of $2,224 per week.
Craig visited stripper Shannon Reinhart: Summer was her stage name
The killer had formed a relationship with a stripper known as Summer, whose real name was Shannon Reinhart. Craig bought Summer expensive gifts, which included $8,500 worth of furniture. The family was also shocked to learn that Craig had been frequenting prostitutes throughout his marriage.
But the news got even worse for Stefanie’s family. Craig had pawned his wife’s jewelry, including her engagement ring, just a few days after her murder. The cops then learned that he had a suitcase filled with cash and was ready to flee as soon as Stefanie’s funeral was finished.
The attorney for the Newman family, Neil Epstein, recalled that his clients were “overwhelmed by the information relating to Craig.”
Epstein added, “They thought they knew this person; it’s obvious they were deceived, as was every single person I’ve spoken to. Family, friends — they all thought he was a wonderful husband and father, and they’re not just saying that, they truly believed it.”
Friend and neighbor Jeffrey Blum echoed the general feeling of shock in the community when he stated, “Everybody’s foundation is rocked.” He added that all his friends were leaving Craig after hearing about “hocking her ring and going down to Delilah’s.”
Activities of Craig Rabinowitz and Summer would have appalled Stefanie Rabinowitz
Family and friends are convinced that Stefanie was utterly unaware of Craig’s sordid activities and that she would never have tolerated that behavior in her husband.
The cops discovered another chilling piece of information; just weeks before Stefanie’s murder. The couple took out a life insurance policy on Stefanie worth a whopping £1.5 million, and Craig was the sole beneficiary. The police were convinced he’d killed her for the money.
Craig and his lawyers began to argue that another man must have broken into the home and killed her. A stranger had reportedly knocked on a neighbor’s door asking for directions, and the defense argued that this man may have been the real killer.
However, the cops found no sign of a forced entry and concluded that Craig had been the only adult in the house that night. When Stefanie was found in the bathtub, she was wearing a gold-colored watch, a gold-colored bracelet with stones, a plain gold-colored bracelet on her left wrist, and her wedding ring. This made the idea of a robbery somewhat far-fetched.
On July 22, Craig pleaded not guilty at his formal arraignment hearing. The following month, the District Attorney added fraud to his list of charges, which slowed down the process as the prosecution and defense argued over whether or not there should be two separate trials.
There was s further issue when the defense demanded that the case be thrown out after the prosecution brought up evidence from a prostitution case from 1993. On that occasion, Craig had given testimony on the promise of immunity.
The case was not thrown out, but the defense did win the right to have jurors brought in from west Pennsylvania, as the extensive media coverage may have influenced local jurors.
Craig Rabinowitz pleaded guilty to killing Stefanie Rabinowitz
On October 30, the trial was all set to officially begin when Craig halted proceedings by suddenly pleading guilty. The killer sobbed as he confessed to charges of first-degree murder, theft by deception and deceptive business practices.
Craig told the court that he now wished to spare his family the pain of a trial. The killer was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was 33 years old at the time of the murder.
There was another bizarre moment when Craig informed the judge that he had been visited by the ghosts of Stefanie, his father-in-law, and his dad. Apparently, the spirits had told him to plead guilty.
He explained, “They put their hands on my hand and said, ‘Craig, it’s time for you to do what’s right. It’s time for you to do the right thing.'”
“I cannot and will not subject my daughter, Haley, my wife’s family, my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law, my family, and our friends, I will not subject them to what most assuredly would be a very painful trial,” he added.
Craig Rabinowitz is currently housed at the Houtzdale correctional facility in central Pennsylvania, about 250 miles west of Philadelphia. He is now 59 and will likely die in prison.