48 Hours Mystery: Point Blank

Did A Man's Obsession With His Wife Lead To His Death?

The story was originally broadcast on May 17, 2008. It was updated on March 21, 2009.

On Oct. 15, 2003, police were called to the Brownsville, Texas, home of Scott and Traci Rhode. Inside, in the couple's bed, lay Scott with a gunshot wound to the head.

That morning, Traci says she rose early, went for a walk, took a shower, and then heard a moaning sound. It was then, she says, that she discovered her husband was wounded. Scott was still alive, but later died at the hospital.

Traci maintains Scott shot himself, but authorities charge she is a cold-blooded killer with a motive for murder.
Life, as Traci knew it, ended that October day. As Scott lay dying, Traci's ordeal was only just beginning. "I was shocked when they asked me to go to the police station. I had already told them all that I knew that had happened. I mean, I wasn't there, I didn't see it, I didn't hear it. I only know what I found," Traci tells correspondent Harold Dow.

"I moved the pillow back and I saw all the blood and his eye was all swollen and I touched his face and said 'Scott, can you hear me,'" Traci told police in a taped interview.

"So, I kept asking the police officers, 'Please let me go be with my husband. He's dying.' 'Can I please tell my children? My children don't know what happened,'" Traci remembers. "'Just a few more minutes and we'll let you go.'"

By mid-afternoon, it was clear Scott was brain dead and would not recover.

And something else was clear too: "These people think that I harmed the man I had loved for 20 years of my life, that I spent my life with… it's not even a possibility," she says.

Traci says she can barely remember a time without Scott. They met in their early teens and became high school sweethearts in Ft. Madison, Iowa.

The couple married in 1990, only a few years after Traci graduated high school. Scott put himself through college and became an engineer; Traci would go on to become a nurse, specializing in birth and delivery care.

The couple had three sons, Shane, Nicholas and Dalton.

The Rhodes seemed to be the picture-perfect family, with Scott being the picture-perfect dad. But Traci says there was another side to Scott which was slowly destroying their marriage: she says he was very jealous and often accused her of having affairs.

"He was obsessed. She was almost like a possession," notes Raina Kant, who along with her husband Kyle, has been close friends of the Rhodes for years. "She would always tell me that Scott was saying she was cheating and having an affair with the different doctors that she worked with."

Kant says there was no way Traci had an affair with any of these doctors.

But there was no convincing Scott, says Traci. She remembers one awful night when she had to stay a few hours late at work to help deliver a baby. "I get home, my husband's not there. My kids aren't there. As I'm calling the emergency room thinking the worst, I hear the garage door open and I go running out to the garage. 'What happened? What happened? Is everybody OK?' And he's screaming at me, 'You tramp. You whore. Where the hell have you been?' And he said he went looking for me so he could show our children what a tramp they had for a mother. And I lived like that for years."

Traci says she stayed in the marriage because she loved Scott. "As bad as our bad times were there were still good times. He was the father of my children. He was my husband. To me, it was worth working out," she says.

But according to Traci, Scott didn't make things any easier. She says Scott was so afraid of losing her to another man he moved the family five times in 13 years. There would be stops in Maryville, Tenn., Kennett, Mo., and Batesville, Ark. They finally ended up in Brownsville, Texas in 2003.

It was in Brownsville, far away from friends and family, that Traci really did meet somebody. His name was Shawn Michaels, a co-worker.

One afternoon they arranged to meet in a parking lot to talk. "We just stood there talking and then he gave me a hug to leave and he kissed me. I was shocked, but yet it was good to have somebody pay attention to me," she remembers.

And then, one week later, Scott confronted Traci in their bathroom, once again accusing her of cheating. In the heat of the moment Traci blurted out her feelings for Shawn.

"And I said for the first time in my life, there is somebody. And it's not about sex. Somebody is paying attention to me," she says. "He was very upset, and he just looked right through me and said 'You have no idea what you've just done.'"

But police didn't buy any of Traci's story. The truth, they say, is that she committed cold blooded murder.

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