Secrets & Lies On Grapevine Lake

Troy Roberts Reports On A Murder Mystery In Grapevine Lake, Texas

This story was originally broadcast on June 3, 2006.

David Nixon was in the prime of his life when he was murdered in 2002. A successful businessman with a son from a previous marriage, Nixon loved living the good life in the town of Grapevine, Texas.

After his murder, police charged his live-in girlfriend despite what the defense said was a lack of physical evidence.

Who killed David Nixon and what was the motive? Was he murdered for living on the edge?

Correspondent Troy Roberts reports.

The Victim

It was the middle of the night when forensic death investigator John Briggs got the call to report to the scene of a homicide and he remembers smelling a burning odor as he got out of his vehicle.

A body had been wrapped in several items that had burned but were not totally consumed, including a plastic camping tarp and rope.

"I could not even tell if it was a male or a female. But based upon the face, I knew it was a Caucasian person," recalls Briggs.

When police first arrived at the crime scene in Grand Prairie, Texas, in April 2002, the intense heat from the fire had damaged the body to such a degree that crime scene investigators had to spend hours delicately recovering the remains.

Police found tire tracks and some fiber materials but little other evidence. The medical examiner would determine that the victim was a man in his 40s killed by a single gunshot wound to the heart but his identity was a mystery.

Dental records later confirmed the body's identity as 40-year-old David Nixon, a successful realtor from nearby Grapevine, Texas.

The victim's son, Nicholas, was devastated by the news. "I knew the second he never called me back… . I knew something had happened."

Nicholas, 14, idolized his father, a bear of man at 6 feet 4 inches and 240 pounds. "Trustworthy, dependable, protective. Anybody who knew him knew that he would do just about anything for anybody."

Years later, Nicholas' mother, Donna Lella – David Nixon's first wife – still has fond memories. "Charming, vivacious and full of life. And you never knew what you were going to get. Loved surprises."

The couple married in 1990 and their son was born the following year.

David soon found success selling real estate, becoming a top agent, and eventually brokering million-dollar deals on high-end properties in the affluent suburbs north of Dallas.

Their marriage ended in 1995 after David had an affair with flight attendant Lisa Hill. They married and divorced within two years.

But David wasn't single for long. Before his divorce to Hill was final, he met another woman, an attractive 27-year-old accountant named Tracey Frame.

"He was nice, very charming, easy to get along with," says Tracey. "Very smooth. I wasn't interested in dating right then. But he was pretty persistent."