Portrait Of A Family On The Brink
They seemed perfect on the surface; a more in-depth look revealed their dysfunction.
Mary and William Yoder seemed to be the perfect couple. They owned and worked together in a chiropractic practice. When the Yoders weren’t at work, they attended charity events. Or could often be seen with their children.
Adam, Tamryn, and Liana were the apples of their parents’ eyes. All three of them were successful in their own ways. Liana became a doctor, while Tamryn had children and pursued her academic passions. Adam went to college and helped out around his parents’ practice whenever he could.
Also, helping out at the clinic was Kaitlyn Conley. She was hired in 2012 as a part-time receptionist. The next year, she was given full-time status. There was also a spark between her and Adam that was encouraged by his parents. Soon the young adults were dating and spending a lot of time together.
As Kaitlyn and Adam’s relationship progressed, she was brought in closer to the family. Some people around them heard the distant sound of wedding bells ringing. William urged his son to finish college before popping the question.
That advice proved to be consequential. Adam and Kaitlyn’s once-solid relationship began to crumble. They were arguing a lot and the youngest Yoder, decided he didn’t want to be with his girlfriend anymore.
For several months, he tried to end the relationship. Each time, he ended up reconciling with Kaitlyn. Then on April 14, 2015, he got sick after taking a pill that she gave to him.
While Adam was ill, he began to think about his future in a profound way. In his mind, it did not include Kaitlyn. Once he made his decision, he shared it with his parents. They supported his decision.
Kaitlyn did not take the end of her relationship well. At work, she became distant and confrontational with patients. William and Mary noticed that she seemed distracted, and both tried to talk to her about what was going on, encourage her to start dating again.
While William and Mary were trying to help with the young adults’ relationship, they were dealing with some significant issues themselves. Mary’s mother was ill and moving into her sister, Sally’s house. There had been discussion about who could care for the matriarch; ultimately, Mary admitted that she couldn’t do it. There was too much happening.
Along with her mother being ill, Mary was dealing with the belief that William was having an affair with her sister, Kathy Richmond. Both denied an affair. Mary did not believe them and planned on her own breakup.
It was time for her to reclaim her life.
Sudden Onset Illness
On July 20, 2015, she left her house as usual. She made the 10-minute drive to the clinic and started her day. There were no signs of the stress she was under at home. Most patients thought she seemed to be in a good mood.
During her lunch hour, she went to Sally’s house to see her mother. The visit went well. There were no complaints of feeling ill or the pressure that she was under.
When she returned to the office, she was in good spirits. After a few more patients, Mary began to complain of feeling ill. When asked what was wrong, she said it was stomach issues, including nausea. William took care of her when she got home from work.
That night she slept in the living room; there was a bathroom close to it. Mary got very little sleep that night. In the morning, William noted that she was pale. He called Liana and asked her what could be wrong. Their daughter advised that Mary needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible.
When Mary arrived, she was in stable condition. Several tests were conducted, but nothing popped out at the doctors. They kept her overnight for observations and to run more tests.
Two state troopers woke William up the next morning. The hospital had been trying to get ahold of him. While he was sleeping, her condition took a turn for the worse.
She’d gone into cardiac arrest and was in the intensive care unit. Just before 3 pm on July 22, 2015, Mary died.
A few months after Mary’s death, the medical examiner released the results of the autopsy. The cause of death was colchicine toxicity. Colchicine is used in gout medications but is considered deadly in higher doses.
Mary did not have gout.
Police initially suspected William was responsible for the poisoning. They believed he didn’t want to go through with the divorce. He did himself no favors by taking his relationship with Kathy public soon after his wife’s death.
However, two identical letters were sent to the medical examiner’s office and the Oneida Sherriff’s department. The messages claimed that Adam was responsible for his mother’s death. They also claimed police would find a vial of colchicine in his car.
Officers asked Adam if they could search his car. He agreed. Using the letters, they found a bottle of the poison and a receipt for it. There was an email address on the slip, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam claimed not to have any connection to the email. Police were skeptical but looked into the account; it was traced back to an IP address registered at Mary and William’s chiropractic clinic.
The toxin had been ordered and paid for in Adam’s name. But the case was too neat. Instead of arresting the young man on the spot, they continued looking into the matter.
They called the company that sold the toxin and were shocked by what they learned. A young female voice had ordered the vial.
Adam told investigators about his relationship with Kaitlyn and how it had come to an end. Then they learned that Kaitlyn’s computer had accessed the email address at the office and on her phone.
The evidence piled up.
Making The Case
Investigators began examining the case through a new lens. They believed Kaitlyn Conley had killed her boss. And while they had some concrete evidence, they wanted something more definitive, which they got with DNA tests.
The stamps under the letters that had been sent contained DNA, as did the vial of poison police found. Results showed that all three pieces had Kaitlyn’s DNA on them.
When asked if she sent the letters, Kaitlyn admitted she had.
As the investigation chugged along, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. The colchicine was purchased with a gift card. In turn, Kaitlyn bought the gift card.
With the evidence on their side, prosecutors charged Kaitlyn with second-degree murder.
Her lawyers argued that William was the more likely killer. They painted a portrait of an adulterous man who wanted to escape his marriage. Prosecutors countered that Kaitlyn was a woman scorned; she tried to frame her ex-boyfriend for the murder of his mother.
The jury couldn’t agree, and the first trial ended with a hung jury.
A second trial took place. This time the defense took a different strategy; they blamed Adam and posited that he framed Kaitlyn. The state kept their arguments the same. When the case was sent to the jury, they were instructed to consider voluntary manslaughter among the charges.
They returned a conviction on the manslaughter charge. Kaitlyn was sentenced to 23 years in prison. She maintains her innocence and continues to claim Adam killed his mother, with no evidence.
The Yoder family saga ended tragically. The mask of perfection broke, and the imperfections shone through.