Teresa Lewis murdered husband Julian Lewis and her stepson Charles for money: Snapped

Mugshot of Teresa Lewis
Teresa Lewis was executed for murder in 2010, the first woman to be put to death in Virginia since 1912. Pic credit: Virginia Dept. of Corrections

This week on Killer Couples is the case of Teresa Lewis, who persuaded two of her lovers to murder her husband and stepson so she could collect on a life insurance payout.

Teresa Lewis met her future husband, widower Julian Clifton Lewis, in 2000, when she began work at a textile mill in Virginia. The two hit it off quickly, and they married the following year.

However, the happy marriage didn’t last very long as in 2002, Teresa began a sexual affair with both 21-year-old Matthew Jessee Shallenberger and 19-year-old Rodney Lamont Fuller, after meeting the pair in a Walmart in Danville.

Meanwhile, Julian’s youngest son Charles J. Lewis had obtained a $250,000 life insurance policy for himself due to his impending deployment with the armed forces to Iraq. He named his father as the primary beneficiary, but he also signed his own death warrant when he named his stepmother, Teresa, as a secondary beneficiary.

Teresa then hatched a plan to have Julian and his son murdered. With a promise of cash, she persuaded Shallenberger and Fuller to shoot the two men. The would-be assassins were given $1,2000 to buy firearms and ammunition.

On October 30, 2002, Teresa purposefully left the back door of the Lewis family trailer open, so that the two killers could sneak in. While Teresa waited in the kitchen, Shallenberger shot Julian several times, and Fuller blasted Charles with a shotgun. The two victims had been sleeping in their beds.

Julian Lewis implicated his wife Teresa as the killer

After approximately 45 minutes, Teresa alerted the sheriff’s office that there’d been a home invasion. When deputies arrived, they discovered Julian was still alive. Just before he died, he told them: “My wife knows who done this to me.”

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Very shortly after the murders, Teresa was caught trying to withdraw $50,000 from her dead husband’s account with a forged check. Within a week, she’d confessed to investigators that she was behind the murders.

Her co-conspirators, Shallenberger and Fuller, both received life sentences for their part in the crime. However, Teresa was controversially given the death penalty.

Teresa’s lawyers cited doubts over her mental health and her unusually low IQ levels to argue that she should be spared the lethal injection. However, Governor Bob McDonnell disagreed, and Teresa was put to death in 2010.

More true-life murders on Snapped

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled by Snapped on Oxygen.

Previously on Snapped, the team looked at another deadly female killer in Cynthia Phillips, who left a trail of death and destruction across several states. Police finally caught up to her after she and an accomplice riddled her boyfriend, Toby Matthews, with seven bullets in Corsicana, Texas.

In another particularly horrific case, Sarah Vercauteren beat and choked her mother, Dawn Wagner, to death because she’d refused to let her borrow her car so she could buy heroin.

Snapped: Killer Couples airs at 8/9c on Snapped.

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