Friday, November 27, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Redmond Man Weds Woman Who Had Spouse Killed


SHELBYVILLE, Ky. - A computer programmer from Redmond has married a 32-year-year-old woman serving a life sentence for arranging her husband's death.

Microsoft programmer Robert Philip Reichel, 35, and Elizabeth Ann Zehnder were married Oct. 30 in the chapel at Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women near Pewee Valley.

Zehnder was sentenced in 1986 for setting up her husband's stabbing death with help from a woman who prosecutors said was her lover.

The marriage license for Zehnder and Reichel, filled out Oct. 15 in the Shelby County Clerk's Office, listed Zehnder as widowed and Reichel as divorced.

Michael Bradley, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, said Zehnder and Reichel apparently met through a magazine ad.

Kentucky inmates are not allowed conjugal visits.

"Yes, he can visit her, but that's all," Bradley said.

Zehnder, a Louisville native, has declined to talk about her marriage. Reichel, reached at his home on Wednesday, said, "I really don't want to talk about our personal life."

Zehnder and Karen Brown were convicted in September 1986 in the stabbing death of Zehnder's 21-year-old husband, Michael Turpin. Prosecutors said Brown, then 22, had fallen in love with Zehnder, then 20.

In February 1986, the body of Turpin, who was stabbed 19 times by Keith Bouchard, a friend of the two women, was found in a reservoir at a golf course in Lexington.

Bouchard, who testified for the prosecution, said he had been promised insurance money.

Prosecutors alleged the two women had Turpin killed so Zehnder could collect $60,000 from two insurance policies. The Turpins had been married for 5 1/2 months.

Zehnder and Brown were sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years. They are eligible for parole in February 2011. Brown has said that Zehnder planned the slaying and manipulated Bouchard and her into taking part. She has acknowledged that she had a lesbian affair, but said she and Zehnder were never lovers.

Bouchard, who pleaded guilty, received a life sentence and is in the Kentucky Psychiatric Center. He was denied parole in 1994 and will be up for consideration again in 2006.

Turpin's mother, Margaret Winstandley of Lexington, who had heard about the marriage of her former daughter-in-law, said "I have a lot of questions why anyone would want to marry her."

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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