Did a love triangle ultimatum lead to murder?
[This story originally aired on October 31, 2020.]
In April 2017, Moscow native Anna Repkina was found murdered on a remote Oregon logging road. Fifty-five hundred miles from home, investigators were puzzled as to what she was doing there and who could possibly want her dead.
Turns out she'd met American Will Hargrove online and after a whirlwind romance, the two became engaged. Anna relocated to the U.S. not knowing she was moving right into the middle of a love triangle.
LOOKING FOR LOVE
Ryan Joslin and Amie Matusko, both deputy district attorneys in Benton County, Oregon, received an urgent call that a body had been found on April 17, 2017.
Ryan Joslin: This is outside of Corvallis quite a ways out in the Alsea area … and up a remote logging road.
Amie Matusko: He and I were both on scene … to … take a look for ourselves. That's so important in a prosecutor's role, that you understand the scene. Not just from photos but having been there.
Ryan Joslin: Not too many people are gonna be up in that area. So frankly, the fact that the body was discovered as quickly as it was – was pretty extraordinary.
Lead detective Lieutenant Chris Duffitt says a local caretaker happened to be out walking his dog that day when he came across the body.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: The caller … was walking on this road on a day and a time in a place that he really should've never been. So, we were very, very lucky to find her body. If it would have been -- you know, any more time, we might have never found her.
The victim was identified as 27-year-old Moscow native, Anna Repkina. She had been shot.
Amie Matusko: She was smart, intelligent. She had a job, an office job working for Ikea. … She loved cats. … She loved to travel. … Anna had a lot going for her. … And a lot of people liked her.
So how did a Russian woman, who had a seemingly happy life, meet her end on a remote logging road nearly 5,500 miles from home?
Amie Matusko: She had broken up with her boyfriend of seven years and was really looking for that connection.
A year earlier, newly single Anna started looking for love online and joined a Russian social networking site. She found what she was looking for -- halfway across the world -- when she met 26-year-old Oregonian William Hargrove.
Amie Matusko: They started really chatting. They chatted a lot over Facebook. Then -- they started videoconferencing. And that was happening on an almost daily basis.
Anna and Will found that they had a lot in common.
Amie Matusko: They really bonded over music. She very much loved music. She liked to go to rock concerts. They would have discussions about bands. She had a good sense of humor. She would constantly send funny memes, and she connected with her friends and her family that way.
Will and Anna exchanged thousands of messages, imagining their future together if Anna came to Oregon.
WILL HARGROVE [via Facebook]: You, are absolutely amazing.
WILL HARGROVE: We are going to have soooo much fun together..
ANNA REPKINA: (Smiley Face)
ANNA REPKINA: True)
WILL HARGROVE: Day dreaming yet?
ANNA REPKINA: Yes) its wonderful)
WILL HARGROVE: Tell me?
ANNA REPKINA: Difficult to imagine, but it should be very romantic and beautiful
WILL HARGROVE: Snow covered evergreens, snow on the ground, a tent hidden slightly in the trees of our clearing, a good size fire roaring, and you in my arms.
Jamie Klotz: He definitely had the gift of gab.
Tracy Smith: The gift of gab. He could talk a good game?
Jamie Klotz: He could. He could talk a very good game.
Will's friend and former roommate, Jamie Klotz.
Jamie Klotz: He and I had things … in common. Cars. He works on cars. I work on cars. … I'm more Harry Potter, he's more the Avengers kind of, you know, genre. But -- we could nerd out on things like that. He actually took me to see my first Avengers movie.
Jamie Klotz: He was a likeable guy. You know, a jokester. He just like to laugh and have fun. … I enjoyed being around him.
Will worked as a mechanic at a local auto dealership. In his free time, he would meet up with friends like Joseph Thompson at the Peacock Bar and Grill.
Joseph Thompson: We would play pool over there on Sunday nights, and just basically ended up hanging out a lot, doing karaoke. … I don't know how many times me and him would be sittin' there playin' pool, and he'd just have women walk up from the bar, just sit there talk to him. …He was very charismatic. … He had the personality, the presence.
Tracy Smith: Was he a player?
Joseph Thompson: No. Not necessarily.
Will was such a good friend that Joseph called him his brother.
Joseph Thompson: We were both in the military. … A lot of the training and stuff that we had went through was similar and it helped pull us together.
Tracy Smith: What branch of the service were you in?
Joseph Thompson: Army.
Tracy Smith: And Will?
Joseph Thompson: I believe he was Marines. … He said that … he used to be stationed in Russia.
Will seemed to have an affinity for all things Russian, and his online relationship with Anna took off. Anna decided to fly to the states to spend the holidays with Will in Oregon and see if their virtual love would feel the same in reality.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: December of 2016 … she traveled here and spent a couple weeks with William Hargrove.
But the road to romance had an unexpected detour.
Amie Matusko: There was a problem when she first came out in December to see Mr. Hargrove. She mistakenly mixed up Portland, Maine for Portland, Oregon … and she was stranded in Portland, Maine.
ANNA REPKINA [via Facebook]: Who knows you have two damn Portlands
WILL HARGROVE: Honestly, I didn't even know that
Amidst the chaos of flight changes, Anna messaged Will, building the anticipation to finally be together:
WILL HARGROVE [via Facebook]: That's where you belong baby. In the clouds. My Angel
ANNA REPKINA: Be ready, I will cry.
WILL HARGROVE: ? When? When I propose to you?
ANNA REPKINA: When I see you.
Anna eventually made it to the right Portland, and into the arms of Will Hargrove. During her visit, she posted highlights of their whirlwind romance, including photos of their trips to the coast, Will's cars, and even a Christmas wish scrawled out to her family back home.
Amie Matusko: She came here for love.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: At the conclusion of this trip she actually became engaged to William Hargrove. And they had plans to get married in the future.
Anna returned home to Russia after 10 days with a souvenir – an engagement ring from Will – and plans to pack up her life in Russia and move to Oregon with the promise of marriage.
Amie Matusko: She was excited about the wedding. She was talking about all the different style of dresses and what she really wanted.
But there was going to be an obstacle in Anna's path to love.
Michelle Chavez: I'm Michelle Chavez and I was Will Hargrove's girlfriend.
A LOVE TRIANGLE
In 2015, 33-year-old Michelle Chavez was living with her husband and two children in Albany, Oregon. Unfortunately, all was not right in the marriage.
Michelle Chavez: Our relationship, at that point in time, really wasn't one. It was like roommates that just happened to be married. Slept in the same bed, but that was about it. Didn't really talk.
Michelle met Will Hargrove while she was working as a cab driver.
Michelle Chavez: It was a kind of slow time in the summer, and I was waiting at the bar waiting for people to call to go pick people up,
Tracy Smith: What was your first impression of him?
Michelle Chavez: God, he's short.
Tracy Smith: God, he's short?
Michelle Chavez: Yes. God, he's short [laughs]. Yeah. He is short.
But that first impression gave way to something much more for Chavez who was so unhappy at home.
Michelle Chavez: He made you feel like you were in the sun when he talked to you. … He had a way of being able to look at me and I felt like I was actually seen. I felt beautiful. I felt like I was wanted.
And so, Michelle and Will became much more than friends.
Michelle Chavez: It wasn't a planned thing. It wasn't like it went off in my head and I was like, I'm going to have a relationship with him. … It just progressed that way.
Jamie Klotz | Friend of Will and Michelle: He was willing to give her what she needed. Affection, attention.
The following year, 2016, the relationship grew to a new and somewhat unusual level with Will renting a spare bedroom in Michelle's house -- the same one she shared with her husband and kids, though it's not clear what Michelle's husband knew about her relationship with Will.
Michelle Chavez: He only had to pay … $300 a month and his own food, unless he liked whatever it was we were making at the time. Honestly, pretty sweet deal.
Michelle even gave Will her wedding ring – as a promise that she'd leave her husband soon. But it wasn't enough for Will.
Tracy Smith: If Will had this relationship with Michelle and was in love with Michelle, why was he going on internet dating sites?
Jamie Klotz: I think -- that it had to do with jealousy. … Michelle was gonna leave her husband on her terms. And it wasn't going fast enough. … If he could make her jealous, then -- maybe it would speed things up.
Which may explain why, when Anna visited Will over Christmas, they stayed at Michelle's house -- under Michelle's nose. It seems Anna knew nothing of Will's other relationship.
Michelle Chavez: They were in his room most of the time. … On New Year's Eve, they were getting ready to go out … Will was like … "Oh, maybe I should introduce you guys." … And she shook my hand and said her name was … Anna. I said it was nice to meet her.
But Michelle wouldn't be quite that welcoming when Anna returned a few months later on March 1, 2017, with the intention of becoming Will's wife.
Michelle Chavez: I was like, "well, she's not staying here. … She's not staying in my house."
So, Will and Anna rented an apartment in Corvallis, a small college town not far from Michelle's home. With Will working and without a job herself, Anna spent time on her own, even joining the local gym. Life wasn't as easy for Michelle.
Tracy Smith: What did you want?
Michelle Chavez: Simple -- just to be happy.
Tracy Smith: And you thought you'd found that with him?
Michelle Chavez: I thought I had. … But you have to actually know somebody to find those things, I think.
Turns out, actually knowing Will was going to be a bit of challenge for everyone. Even with his new fiancée in America, he split his nights between his two love interests.
Ryan Joslin: | Deputy district attorney: He really continued to float between those two -- places, back at Michelle's place and then back at the apartment with Anna.
With no clue as to why Will kept disappearing, Anna often had to resort to contacting his friends to find her own fiancé.
Amie Matusko | Deputy district attorney: She's seeing him gone. … In the text messages, she's reaching out to his friends, "Do you know where he is? What's going on?" … She's becoming suspicious. "Where is he going? What is going on with his time?"
АNNA REPKINA [via Facebook]: Do you know where Will is?
As it happened, Anna's instincts were right on the money.
Ryan Joslin: This man was a fraud, and … relied heavily on deception to convince other people he was the type of person that he wanted to be perceived as.
Amie Matusko: He wanted to be something greater than he was. … He told a number of people he was in the Armed Forces. He was never in the Armed Forces.
Then there's the matter of a certain engagement ring. Anna's ring. Or was it?
Michelle Chavez: Her and I had friended each other on Facebook. And then I saw her wearing my wedding ring.
Tracy Smith: What?
Michelle Chavez: Yeah.
The ring that had been Michelle's wedding ring had been re-purposed when Will proposed to Anna.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Will told Anna that this ring belonged to his … grandmother and had sentimental value to him.
Anna had no idea she was wearing Michelle's ring. And on March 22, she was shocked to get a Facebook message from Michelle about sharing Will.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ [via Facebook]: …if we are going to continue to share him…
Amie Matusko: At this point, all Anna knows is that Michelle Chavez is the crazy ex-girlfriend, because that's what Will Hargrove has told her. And so, Anna says, "No way. You get out of our lives."
ANNA REPKINA [via Facebook]: …stop being a bitch.
Michelle Chavez: Something about me being a bitch, I believe. And I was like, I'm just getting started at being one.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ [via Facebook]: …I am happy to show you just how much of one I can be.
Tracy Smith: Were you threatening her?
Michelle Chavez: No. Just being mouthy. … I just meant that if you think I'm being bitchy now, like, just watch.
Just three days later, Anna and Will headed to the Oregon coast for their wedding ceremony.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Anna brought a wedding dress with her from Russia. She had her … ring that William proposed to her with.
On the way, Will decided to stop at the local Walmart to buy their wedding bands, leaving bride-to-be Anna in the car.
Amie Matusko: While he's in Walmart shopping for his wedding ring, he is on the phone with Michelle Chavez. And he is discussing their relationship and whether or not he's gonna come see her that night.
Tracy Smith: And you had no clue when he said he was in Walmart that he was like headed to a wedding?
Michelle Chavez: No, no, none at all.
But as it would turn out, Anna and Will were not headed to a wedding.
Amie Matusko: They go to the beach, and the officiant doesn't show up. So, he has a phone call in which he relays to both the witnesses and to Anna that the officiant couldn't make it, he was ill, something came up.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: William Hargrove was actually calling a couple video game stores to … presumably pretend he was talking to a wedding official to show 'em how mad he was about this day.
Amie Matusko: He never arranged for an officiant. He never got a marriage license. He … didn't have anything set up.
Sadly, there'd be only one portrait of the bride that day … picking up some fast food.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: The McDonald's drive-thru video is the only video or photo taken on Anna Repkina's wedding day. …And you can actually see Anna Repkina in her wedding dress -- in William Hargrove's vehicle.
Seemingly oblivious to Will's feelings for Michelle, Anna set her heart on a rescheduled wedding date. But Michelle had other plans.
Tracy Smith: So, did you give him an ultimatum?
Michelle Chavez: At one point I did. I told him he had to pick one … I didn't want anything bad to happen to her. I just didn't want her here.
Tracy Smith: So, you pressured him to choose?
Michelle Chavez: I did.
In April 2017, the relationship between Michelle Chavez and Will Hargrove hit a crossroads with Michelle insisting Will finally choose between her and Anna. Will told Michelle she was his choice.
Tracy Smith: So, April 19th was the deadline for both of you?
Michelle Chavez: Correct.
Tracy Smith: You were gonna be done with your marriage. And he was supposed to ...
Michelle Chavez: She was supposed to be gone or whatever. … He was going to leave her.
Tracy Smith: How much pressure did Michelle put on Will to get rid of Anna?
Amie Matusko: A lot. There was a lot of pressure. … There's a lot of back and forth in there between all the text messages -- where one minute it's like, "Clean out your stuff and get out," the next minute is, "I love you, I wanna be together, but we can't do that if she's here."
Tracy Smith: There are texts between the two of you with you pressuring him to choose, and at one point you told him to fix it. What'd you mean by that?
Michelle Chavez: In the general sense. … Fix it in the sense that you would take care of it, not take care of it like take somebody out. … You would end the relationship, that you would be done.
Will told Michelle he'd tried to send Anna packing many times, but she wouldn't go.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: So, Michelle perceived Anna as this girl who kinda never got the hint, that she was being told to leave and she kept coming back … although Anna never knew any of this was really happening.
On Saturday night, April 15, just four days shy of the deadline they'd set, Michelle was supposed to have dinner at Will's apartment.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: It wasn't until about 8 p.m. that night that William Hargrove tells Michelle Chavez that -- she actually can't come over, that Anna showed back up, that Anna's back again. He'll take care of it.
What followed was yet another heated text conversation. Not a surprise according to Detective Chris Dale, who says Michelle and Will exchanged more than 13,000 texts during their relationship.
Det. Chris Dale: Constant checking in every morning to make sure that he's woken up on time -- to get to work. … It didn't seem as if there was an hour in a day that went by where they were not communicating.
But on that day, there was one critical text.
Amie Matusko: So, Will Hargrove sent a message to Miss Chavez, "I will have this permanently fixed by 18:00 tomorrow."
Lt. Chris Duffitt: So, he'll have the situation of Anna Repkina handled by 6:00 p.m. the following day, which was Easter Sunday.
That assurance was not enough for Michelle. She contined texting and calling Will, who turned off his phone. As the hours passed with no reply, Michelle's hope that Will was truly "fixing" the problem with Anna … vanished.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ [2:06 a.m. voicemail to Will]: I guess you made your choice. Ok.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ [3:10 a.m. voicemail to Will]: I'll let you be. Why? I just wanna know why. I'll let you be. But I just wanna know why.
The next morning, Michelle headed to her mother's house for Easter. Jamie was there as well.
Jamie Klotz: She said that she'd spent the night ugly crying. And even though I knew what the probable answer was going to be, I still asked her, like, "why?" And she looks at me and she goes, "Why do you think?" And I said, "Because of Will."
Meanwhile, back at his apartment, Will was dealing with a very different but urgent problem: his car insurance policy.
Amie Matusko: They've been sending him notices that if he doesn't have it paid by midnight on the 16th, they're gonna cancel his insurance.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: He tells them that he knows his insurance lapses that evening, and he needs to get it – extended -- for free -- because if it doesn't he's gonna lose his -- vehicle loan and they're gonna repossess it immediately.
WILLIAM HARGROVE [phone call]: OK. Can you guys hold off until the 21st so I can get you paid?
PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE AGENT: Um, unfortunately once it is pending cancellation for nonpayment, we don't have the ability to move the dates at all um, and this one … yeah, so it'll be effect -- canceled effective tonight at midnight.
Just after 4:30 p.m., Michelle's phone rang. It was Will.
Tracy Smith: And what did he say?
Michelle Chavez: That he had been out at the coast. … He was on his way back in and … he'd almost hit a deer. He ran off the road and had a flat tire and he needed help.
Tracy Smith: How did he sound?
Michelle Chavez: Shaken, sad.
And so, Michelle left her family's Easter celebration to go meet Will in the town of Alsea. He waited for her at a local convenience store.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: You can see him walk to the -- cooler where he gets -- a Pepsi. He goes and gets his candy bar. And then he ultimately gets a pack of cigarettes.
About an hour later, Michelle arrived.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: She parks on the side of that store. We see her get out of her Prius.
Michelle Chavez: I asked him, "what happened? Where have you been?" …
He told me that he -- after we had talked to they had gotten to an argument and he said horrible, mean things to her then that she had turned around and taken her suitcases and had walked out.
Thinking Anna had finally left the apartment for good, Michelle says she and Will got into his car.
Michelle Chavez: We drove for a little bit. … We'd pulled off and we were talking for a few. And then honestly, we end up having sex in the front seat.
Tracy Smith: So, you had makeup sex, essentially.
Michelle Chavez: Yeah, essentially. Makeup sex in the front seat.
Michelle and Will then went their separate ways, with Michelle returning to her family's Easter celebration.
Jamie Klotz: She came back, she was in a good mood. She was smiling. She was -- you know, she was happy. She looked total 180 from what she looked like in the morning.
Will headed home, but he made a few stops along the way. First, at an ATM where he withdrew money from Anna's bank account.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Made a $200 withdrawal from this machine, and then engaged in some conversation with some employees -- at that gas station, where he actually ended up hugging one of them and crying about the fact that his girlfriend, Anna Repkina -- had left him.
Tracy Smith: His girlfriend, whose account he just took $200 from?
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Yes.
Will then headed to a second ATM.
Amie Matusko: He goes to the Chase Bank and withdraws an additional $600 of Anna Repkina's money.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: So now William Hargrove has $800 -- that he stole from Anna Repkina's bank account. … At about 9:00, 9:30 p.m. on that same night … he drives to -- another bank and he ends up depositing $160 of that cash into his bank account.
Will had just one more chore to take care of that evening.
PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE AGENT [phone call]: Thank you for calling Progressive. …
WILL HARGROVE: Y'all should have a card on file for me and I need to make a payment please.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Several hours earlier he has no money.
WILL HARGROVE [phone call]: All good, then? Everything's done?
PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE AGENT: Yep. Everything is taken care of, you are insured as we're speaking.
WILL HARGROVE: Excellent. Thank you very much ma'am.
PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE AGENT: My pleasure. Have a good night, William.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: All of a sudden, he has money and he's taking it out of Anna Repkina's bank account, who's found dead the next day.
"A HORRIBLE MISTAKE"
On April 17, 2017 – the day after Easter Sunday – Anna Repkina was found with a shotgun blast to the back of the head, her body left like one more piece of garbage.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Anna was discarded in this landing with the other trash.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Fast food bags, cigarette cartons, candy wrappers that were -- that were here. And at that point, we don't know what's evidence and what's not. Because that could either be huge evidence in this case or it could be just trash.
While investigators hoped to find a connection to Anna's killer, Will was sending Anna texts, showing concern about her whereabouts after the fight he said they'd had the day before.
WILL HARGROVE [text to Anna]: Just let me know you are safe?
Will also launched a bizarre deep dive online, researching time travel.
WILL HARGROVE [WhatsApp message]: I need to learn about time travel. I need to correct a horrible mistake.
Det. Chris Dale: He is trying to ask for help in how to travel back in time, back to April 16th, in order to correct a horrible mistake.
Tracy Smith: His words, "correct a horrible mistake"?
Det. Chris Dale: Yes.
He even went so far as to message strangers on WhatsApp for advice to help someone he called his "best friend."
WILL HARGROVE [WhatsApp message]: April 16th my best friend made a mistake. I want to go back to keep from losing the women that should be my wife.
Will was apparently so desperate for this information he offered a reward -- his soul.
WILL HARGROVE'S WHATSAPP MESSAGE: I'd honestly sell my soul.
In addition to his strange internet search, Will went on a shopping spree, spending more of that cash he stole from anna buying candy, video games and toys.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: He bought a hundred-and-something dollar set of Legos from a Walmart.
Will reached out to a friend named Kevin Thomas.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: …saying that he's … spending money he shouldn't, trying to distract himself.
WILL HARGROVE TEXT TO KEVIN THOMAS: Spending money I shouldn't because I'm trying to distract myself.
On Wednesday, April 19, investigators struck a lead with the trash found next to Anna's body: a KFC receipt from three days earlier with a crucial timestamp.
Tracy Smith: Was there a name on the receipt?
Lt. Chris Duffitt: So, on the receipt there was no name. … KFC told us that there was actually a car that pulled up on that Friday. And there was two purchases made from that car. There was one made with a debit card that came back to Kevin Thomas. And another purchase that was made with cash.
With only one name to work with, investigators headed to Kevin's Corvallis home.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT [audio]: We're just trying to put some pieces together for our case. Um, the uh garbage we found was I think something that you bought last week from KFC.
KEVIN THOMAS: OK.
LT. CHRIS OFFICER: Do you know about that?
KEVIN THOMAS: Yeah. Me and my brother go to KFC –
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: Go to KFC –
KEVIN THOMAS: -- on Fridays.
DET. ADAM MILLER: What's your brother's name, Kevin?
KEVIN THOMAS: Uh, Will Hargrove.
Kevin and will became pals at the Peacock Bar and Grill. Kevin, like Joseph Thompson, called will his "brother." Police continued talking to Kevin at the sheriff's office, where he offered a revelation. A few weeks earlier, will had asked to borrow something that belonged to Kevin: his shotgun.
DET. ADAM MILLER: Did he say why he wanted to borrow it?
KEVIN THOMAS: Just that he was gonna go up and go shooting in the woods and just kind of blow off some steam.
What's more, Kevin told police that will had yet to return the gun. With this new information, investigators headed straight to Michelle's house, where Will was staying to question him. He answered the door.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT [audio]: We're here followin' up on a case we're workin' and uh, uh your name's come across and we wanna talk to you.
WILL HARGROVE: OK.
Will then lied to investigators telling them that he and Michelle drove up to Alsea together on Easter Sunday.
WILL HARGROVE [audio]: Drove into Alsea, stopped at the little market there, picked up a pack of cigarettes and drove back.
LT: CHRIS DUFFITT: Did you dump some trash there when you were there?
WILL HARGROVE: Yeah, I did. On the side of the building. On the side of the general store.
But that trash that will claimed to have left at the store, was the very same that was found next to Anna's body. Investigators asked Will to come to the sheriff's office. While Will was getting ready to leave, he texted Michelle to ensure their stories matched.
WILL HARGROVE'S TEXT TO MICHELLE CHAVEZ: Picked you up at your moms drove to alsea general store and drove back.
At the sheriff's office, investigators got to the question of Anna.
DET. ADAM MILLER: What do you know about her?
WILL HARGROVE: Almost nothing.
DET. ADAM MILLER: How'd you -- how'd you guys meet?
WILL HARGROVE: I met her downtown Corvallis.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: Just walking around?
WILL: HARGROVE: Yeah.
Will played down their relationship, even calling Anna "psychotic".
WILL HARGROVE: We went on two dates and then decided – I – I told her it wasn't gonna be anything more than that, and that I was happy to keep hanging out with her but that was all it was gonna be.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: OK. How long ago was that?
WILL HARGROVE: Uh, last time I saw her was middle of March.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: Middle of March.
WILL HARGROVE: We cut it off because she decided to put on Facebook that we were engaged.
DET. ADAM MILLER: She posted that?
WILL HARGROVE: Yeah.
DET. ADAM MILLER: After two dates?
WILL HARGROVE: Oh, yeah. And it brought hell down upon me.
DET. ADAM MILLER: From who?
WILL HARGROVE: Michelle.
Lieutenant Duffitt turned up the heat on Will and got right to the point:
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: So, Will, your trash was found where somebody was killed.
WILL HARGROVE: I'm sorry. What?
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: Okay. That's what we're talking about here.
WILL HARGROVE: You guys are looking at me for this?
DET. ADAM MILLER: Your trash, like my partner said was found there.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: Your stuff was found at a scene where somebody died.
DET. ADAM MILLER: Yeah.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: OK. Talking to you there's a lot of inconsistencies with your story about what -- what happened.
That's when Will stopped talking and asked for a lawyer.
WILL HARGROVE: No offense, guys. You've been really kind and I like you and I don't mind that, but the moment that you say somebody was killed out there then no, I – ju – ju - just no.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: OK. So, uh William Hargrove, I need you to stand up and put your hands behind your back. You're under arrest for the murder of Anna Repkina.
Will Hargrove was placed under arrest, but did police have the right person in custody?
Tracy Smith [to prosecutors Ryan Joslin and Amie Matusko]: If anyone on the face of it looks like they have a motive to kill Anna, it's the other woman. It's Michelle. How can you be so sure that she had nothing to do with Anna's murder?
AN ALTERNATE THEORY
Just hours after Will Hargrove was arrested for Anna Repkina's murder, Michelle Chavez was brought in for questioning about what she was doing Easter Sunday.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ: Can you tell me what this is about though?
She starts out on the wrong foot, telling police what Will had texted her to say that they'd driven to Alsea together.
DET. ERIC GLASS: And he picked you up at your mom's house at that time?
MICHELLE CHAVEZ: He did.
DET. ERIC GLASS: OK.
Immediately, Michelle reverses herself, admitting what she had just stated was false.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ: That's a little bit of a lie. He called me, he was gonna pick me up and then he didn't.
Tracy Smith: Why did you lie to them?
Michelle Chavez: Honestly, I wasn't thinking. And I don't have a good answer.
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: I want you to know right now that Will is under arrest for murder.
MICHELLE CHAVEZ: OK. OK.
Investigators say Michelle didn't seem at all surprised when they told her Will had just been arrested for killing Anna.
OFFICER: How are you not extremely upset right now?
MICHELLE CHAVEZ: I – I …
LT. CHRIS DUFFITT: To know that the person who you were romantically involved with –
MICHELLE CHAVEZ: I am very upset right now. I am very upset right now. I don't understand how that can be a person that I have spent the last year-and-a-half with.
Michelle Chavez: I was numb. It didn't make sense.
Over a year later, in July 2018, Will was formally indicted for Anna's murder. The defense would go on to spin an entirely different theory of the crime, one that had Michelle pulling the trigger after arriving from her family's Easter celebration. According to them:
Amie Matusko: The defendant had taken Michelle Chavez up to the location -- to have a conversation with Anna, and … Michelle had taken the gun out from him and shot Anna.
A few pieces of evidence had given investigators cause for concern. For one thing, Michelle mysteriously ended up in possession of Anna's phone. Michelle blames Will.
Michelle Chavez: I didn't realize it was hers. He had given it to me, I guess, the night before he got arrested.
Michelle's own cellphone records showed that a month before Anna's body was found, Michelle had visited that exact spot on the logging road. Michelle claims that's only because Will brought her there, but could she have been scouting the location?
Tracy Smith: The defense says that Will loved Anna, that he was starting a life with her, that you're the one with all the reasons to kill her. What do you say to that?
Michelle Chavez: I had no reason to want her dead. No reason to kill her.
Michelle Chavez: I do get how it looks, but her being dead is nothing I ever wanted. I wanted her to go home.
Tracy Smith: Did you ever tell Will to kill Anna?
Michelle Chavez: No.
Days after Will's arrest, his friend Kevin's shotgun was recovered from the back of Will's vehicle. Evidence supports there'd only been one killer.
Amie Matusko: Will Hargrove's fingerprint was on the shotgun. Michelle Chavez's DNA was never on that shotgun. Michelle Chavez's fingerprints were never on that shotgun.
Piecing together various security cameras, investigators tracked Will's drive with Anna to Alsea.
Ryan Joslin: We see the defendant's car that's distinct for various reasons, traveling along a certain path. And it gave us location as well as timeframes.
But it was GPS tracking that gave police an even bigger piece of the puzzle with Will's phone pinging from the murder site from 4:35 to 4:48 that afternoon.
Amie Matusko: The reason we have that is because he called Michelle Chavez.
Michelle Chavez -- who was still at her mother's house at that Easter celebration.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: We don't have any forensic data or information that was left at that crime scene to suggest that Michelle was at the crime scene on that day.
And remember that video of Will shopping at the Alsea convenience store as he waited for Michelle to arrive?
Lt. Chris Duffitt: Towards the top of his bald head, you can see what appears to be -- smaller black -- dots.
Raising the question: could it have been blood spatter?
Amie Matusko: We can't tell you if that was blood. We can't tell you what that was. But we can tell you it was there before he met Michelle Chavez. … Subsequent photo comparison afterwards show that those spots weren't moles. They weren't anything that was there permanently.
There was one more heart-wrenching piece of evidence found in the trash alongside Anna's body from another fast food drive-thru.
Lt. Chris Duffitt: A receipt from McDonald's -- in Newport, Oregon. … Dated on March 25th of 2017.
March 25, the day that should have been Anna's wedding day.
Will's trial got underway in October 2019.
Amie Matusko: The original witness list was 131 people. Eventually, I believe close to 70 people testified.
The trial took a month. Will Hargrove was found guilty of Anna's murder as well as identity theft and two counts of second-degree theft for stealing that money from Anna's bank account.
AMIE MATUSKO [in court]: I wanna talk about Anna Repkina for a minute. And I placed her photo on the witness stand to remind everyone of a life that was lost.
Will's sentencing was held in January 2020.
AMIE MATUSKO [in court]: She came here with hopes and dreams to find somebody that was loving her and start a family. She doesn't have that anymore. … The defendant very nearly got away with this crime. It was his own trash that betrayed him.
Will received a life sentence with a possibility of parole after 25 years.
Michelle says living under the scrutiny of people in town wondering what she knew or didn't know became all too much.
Tracy Smith: How bad did it get for you?
Michelle Chavez: Bad enough.
Tracy Smith: Bad.
Michelle Chavez: Bad.
Jamie Klotz: She had an incident in which she couldn't take the stress anymore. And-- almost didn't get the police there in time.
Michelle says that in June 2018, she tried to take her own life.
Michelle Chavez: I tried to die. I'm still here. It didn't work.
As for the young Moscow native who flew to the U.S. with the promise of love …
Amie Matusko: I think you have to remember Anna as the sweet, loving, caring person who put herself out there to be loved. … Because Anna was loved. … She was loved alive, and she was loved after.
Anna Repkina's ashes were flown back to Russia.
Will Hargrove has filed an appeal.
Produced by Susan Mallie and Jennifer Terker. Cindy Cesare is the development producer. Danielle Arman is the associate producer. Marcus Balsam, Michael Vele and Joan Adelman are the editors. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.
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