MICHIGAN CRIME: The 1970 Murder House in Ithaca Still Stands
Remember the Nicole Kidman movie titled "To Die For"? She portrayed a woman who had an affair with a high school student in order to coax the teen to kill her husband so she could collect the insurance money and be free.
Well, this is EXACTLY what happened here in Michigan.
Sarah Jane Hart, married to Alonzo Hart Jr., was sleeping with 17-year-old Phillip Lippert. She also supplied him with drugs, would loan him her car and spend nights together in motels located in Alma, Carson City and Harrison, far enough away from the Hart country home not far from Ithaca.
Sarah was just 28 years old and had already been married twice...and she was ready to get out of her current marriage so she could spend her life indulging in the hippie culture and lifestyle. And she knew the money she could receive from Alonzo's insurance policy would help her achieve her goal.
She was finally able to persuade Lippert to find a killer.
Alonzo Hart Jr. was a former Saginaw police officer who was forced to quit the police force, thanks to his problems at home that hindered his work performance. He was now working as a truck driver, but Sarah Jane was worried Alonzo would be fired again and the insurance policy would disappear. So she figured she had to move fast.
Lippert finally found a willing killer in William Pribble, who was currently an assistant wrestling coach at Ithaca High School. Pribble was offered $1,500 which he accepted.
On the night of Nov. 19, 1970, Alonzo returned home from work between 8:30-9pm. Sarah Jane had packed their six kids into the car and "went shopping" so she wouldn't be home during the murder. Lippert & Pribble arrived and waited on both sides of the garage, armed with a revolver and steel bar. When Alonzo got outta his car, Pribble whacked him a couple of times with the bar and fled. Sarah Jane got home just a few minutes later, saw Alonzo lying there, and left. She didn't even bother getting out to see if he was OK...she just drove to a neighbor's to call the police. The next day she called to find out about Alonzo's insurance policy, to see if she was indeed the sole beneficiary; this made the police almost certain she was behind the murder.
There were several men who were under suspicion of complicity, as Sarah Jane had affairs with many men. Thanks to tips, they turned their attention to Phillip Lippert, who had been seen around town with Sarah Jane. Three days before Christmas 1970, Sarah Jane, Lippert and Pribble were arrested. Sarah Jane was put into a mental facility.
Lippert & Pribble pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were willing to testify against Sarah Jane. They were sentenced to life in prison just 22 days later
Sarah Jane never went to prison, after being diagnosed as “mentally ill” but sent to the Ionia State Hospital instead.
The murder house still stands empty on a dirt road as a reminder to the locals about this horrific, almost movie-treatment crime.
Respect the property and DO NOT ENTER or you may be prosecuted.