Scott: ‘We got our man’
FORT MYERS, Fla. – From day one, investigators thought the husband was involved.
That he hired his childhood friend to travel from Missouri to Bonita Springs and bludgeon his wife to death with a hammer.
That the killing was possibly related to the family’s financial problems. More than $32,000 was owed to the IRS. The couple had life insurance policies totaling $4.4 million.
After months of suspicion, which grew to speculation and boiled into anticipation, Mark Sievers was arrested Friday and is facing second-degree murder charges in the death of his wife, Dr. Teresa Sievers.
Mark Sievers was arrested at his home on Jarvis Road in Bonita Springs, where his wife was found dead in the kitchen, at about 3 p.m.
In addition, Sievers’ best friend, Curtis Wayne Wright, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Friday and will serve 25 years in prison as part of a substantial assistance plea, meaning he will help prosecutors with their case against Mark Sievers.
“I’m pleading guilty because of my role in the planning and participating of the murder of Teresa Sievers,” Wright said in court.
Wright’s admission will hopefully bring closure to Teresa Sievers’ family, said his attorney, Elizabeth Parker.
“Mr. Wright is deeply sorry for the pain and lifetime of suffering that he has caused those who were affected by his actions in this case, including his family and most importantly Teresa Sievers’ daughters,” she said in a written statement.
Mark Sievers’ arrest comes eight months after the killing. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott described the time frame as “slow and steady wins this race.”
“We were after Mark Sievers, we got our man, and we’re very happy for that” Scott said outside the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. “Wayne Wright, Jimmy Rodgers and Mark Sievers are locked up where they belong.”
Teresa Sievers, 46, was found dead on June 29, 2015. Along with Wright, 47, Jimmy Ray Rodgers was arrested in connection with the killing. Rodgers, 25, was brought to Lee County on Tuesday after serving six months in federal prison for a probation violation in an unrelated gun case.
Mark Sievers’ arrest seemed imminent after thousands of pages of court documents released over the past few months detailed authorities’ suspicions that he planned and helped execute the murder-for-hire plot.
“This murder was committed in expectation of Wright getting paid an undisclosed amount of money from Mark Sievers and then in turn, he was to pay Rodgers $10,000 for his involvement,” Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives said in court documents.
Their case, as detailed in the documents, is built around multiple factors:
- Mark Sievers asked his mother-in-law to leave the home alarm deactivated hours before his wife arrived.
- Neighbors said the couple argued loudly. Mark and Teresa Sievers were involved in “numerous affairs” and both were considering divorce.
- Mark Sievers stopped cooperating with investigators when they asked for DNA samples from him.
- GPS data from a vehicle Rodgers rented showed a route from Wright’s residence to his Missouri home, then a direct route to the Sievers residence. Multiple deleted GPS searches originating in the area of the Sievers’ home were also uncovered.
- Surveillance video showed Wright and Rodgers purchasing “suspicious items” at the Walmart on Six Mile Cypress Parkway hours before the killing. Both men previously denied being in Florida.
- Wright and Mark Sievers used “burner” phones and coded language to communicate.
- A sworn statement from Rodgers’ girlfriend claiming he told her that he killed Teresa Sievers for insurance money.
Ice in his veins
Mark Sievers was always in the “envelope of suspicion,” Scott said previously.
“We have no problem arresting people, but we do so when the time is right, particularly in a case like this,” Scott said in December. “There’s a great deal at stake and we want to make sure everything is correct.”
Scott on Friday did not detail what led investigators to arrest Mark Sievers other than the investigation “came to a conclusion” and that detectives have “a total body of work.”
He described the case as the most complicated in his 28 years in law enforcement.
“Our community can take solace knowing that the power of the sheriff’s office was brought to bear on three very dangerous people who gave a great deal, and I want to underscore, a great deal of effort and energy into covering their tracks, into throwing us off on their track,” he said.
Mark Sievers didn’t say much when he was arrested at his home, said Scott, who described his reaction as “stoic.”
“I’m not 100 percent sure he has blood in his veins,” he said. “It may be ice.”
Neighbors, others react
Outside the residence, neighbors were relieved, showing their emotion by cheering, jumping and crying.
Donetta Contreras was one of the neighbors who cried.
“I am glad its all over, very glad,” she said. “I wanted to see him be arrested. He went around and terrorized the neighborhood as much as he could. He would come here like nothing happened.”
Kimberly Torres was one of the neighbors who clapped.
“Yes, I was clapping. I was like ‘yay,'” she said. “They took the creep in. Thank you, thank you God, thank you Lee County sheriff department finally get this guy out of the neighborhood.”
Others associated with Wright and Mark Sievers also reacted to Friday’s developments:
- Jerry Lubinski, Wright’s friend: “I don’t think he did the murder, that’s all i’m saying. There must have been more, maybe more than what i thought. i can’t see him doing anything like this.”
- Bonnie Sievers, Mark’s mother: After a reporter identified herself, she said “OK, goodbye.”
- Taylor Shomaker, Rodgers’ girlfriend and the prosecution’s star witness: “Thank God.”
- Kenny Cousins, Teresa Sievers’ ex-husband: “Good. I hate to be happy about something so tragic, but I’m glad. Hopefully we will begin to learn why.
- Sarah Hanneken, Wright’s neighbor in Missouri: “Wow. I really didn’t think he had done it. Crazy.”