A Bitter Divorce,Then Murder

Infidelity and Confrontations

Dr. Michael Shapiro and his ex-wife, Mindy Shapiro, agree on one thing: When they were first married in 1985, they were happy.

"She was about 26 years old; she was very cute; she was athletic," says Dr. Shapiro, a wealthy orthopedic surgeon. The happiness continued for a few years, long enough for the couple to have two children.

"I had a boy, a girl; I had a successful husband," says Mindy Shapiro. "I mean, I was just tickled pink."

Along the way, something went sour, reports Correspondent Bill Lagattuta.

"I despise the man he is today,"
Mindy Shapiro says of her husband.

"She is psychiatrically ill," says Dr. Shapiro of his wife.

In 1996, after 11 years of marriage, the Shapiros had a nasty divorce: private detectives, restraining orders, a custody battle and huge alimony checks.

But the Shapiros' divorce went beyond normal nastiness: It also included accusations of murder.

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In 1995, Dr. Shapiro began having an affair with one of his patients, Jean Adair, a married woman with two young children. She was from a different world than the Shapiros; she was struggling to make ends meet, working in a medical office in an unglamorous Los Angeles suburb.

"I had been aware that for a period of time Jeanie Adair had an interest in me, and I had not done anything about it," Dr. Shapiro says. "The reason I relented was that I was being sufficiently mistreated at home that ultimately I gave into what some might consider a weakness and decided to have a social relationship with a woman who was never anything but nice to me."

Not long after that, Mindy Shapiro found a hotel receipt in her husband's car. She was, she says, "devastated." When she found out about the woman her husband was seeing, she became even more shocked.

"I thought she was trashy," Mindy Shapiro says. "I thought she wasn't ladylike. I thought she was different (from) myself."

Soon after discovering the affair, Mindy Shapiro confronted Jean Adair in a hospital room, where the latter was recovering from a knee operation performed by Dr. Shapiro. Jean Adair says that Mindy Shapiro begascreaming at her and threatened to kill her.

Mindy Shapiro says that Adair was the one screaming. "I just told her 'take this receipt home and make your husband and babies proud,' and I left," Mindy Shapiro says.

On Nov. 5, 1996, Adair's 40-year-old husband, Robert, a medical technician, was brutally murdered after arriving home to his condo to eat lunch.

The finger pointing began. Dr. Shapiro says that his wife was involved in the murder. Mindy Shapiro says that Jean Adair did it. Jean Adair blames the murder on Mindy Shapiro.

While Jean Adair admits that she had cheated on her husband with Dr. Shapiro, she says the marriage was improving.

Jean Adair told police that at around 10 a.m., a stranger in a gas company uniform came to the door, forced his way inside and took her into the upstairs bedroom at knifepoint.

According to Adair, the attacker then beat her, tied her up and began ransacking the apartment. Then her husband returned home for lunch, as he did most days. She heard several thuds and the closing of the screen door. She says she freed herself, went downstairs, saw her husband in a pool of blood and raced outside for help.

Authorities and paramedics arrived on the scene within minutes. Robert Adair, who had been hit several times in the head with a baseball bat, was dead.

But police and prosecutors didn't believe Jean Adair. "She describes an intruder in her home for two to two and a half hours ransacking the apartment," says Detective Patty Ferguson. "The condominium did not look like it had been ransacked."

Police believe that when Robert Adair arrived home, he would have noticed a strange man in the small living room. They say Robert Adair was standing in the room reading the mail, when his wife came from behind and hit him in the head with a baseball bat.

"The ransacking looks like the kind of job that somebody who has never seen anything like that would do," says Los Angeles County prosecutor Marsh Goldstein. "If you've ever seen a true burglary scene, it looks like a tornado hit the place. They leave nothing of value. Here, lots of things of value were left."

What happened next? Find out in A Real-Life Film Noir

Return to Who Killed Robert Adair?




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