Nancy Jean Siegel was convicted yesterday on a murder charge, but it’s the other convictions for identity theft, bank fraud, mail fraud and stealing government property that tell the story of why she finally killed Jasper “Jack” Watkins.
Watkins was 75 when he met Siegel in 1994. Siegel, at 46, was on probation for stealing wallets and forging checks, and was selling burial plots door-to-door in the Baltimore suburb where Watkins lived.
A month after they began their 18-month relationship, Siegel was already using Watkins’ identity to run up debts on his existing credit card accounts and to open dozens of new ones. She concealed her activities by diverting his mail to her address.
She persuaded him to lease a $44,000 BMW for her. She convinced him to refinance his paid-off house so he could give her $20,000. She told him she would use the money to buy a condo they would live in after they married. The wedding never took place, and Siegel used the money to buy herself clothes, jewelry and other luxuries.
By April 2006 Watkins sold his home, netting him only $4,000 after the debts were paid off. Desperate for more money, Siegel pawned his last belongings; the well had finally run dry.
Once Watkins was no longer a source of money for Siegel, she starved him, sedated him and strangled him. She stuffed his emaciated body in a trunk and dumped it as trash next to a garbage can on the Appalachian Trail.
Even after his death Siegel continued to use his identity to obtain more credit. Because Siegel had so isolated Watkins from his friends and family, no one ever reported him missing, and his $1,200 in monthly retirement benefits check Siegel was also convicted of cashing at least 34 of the monthly benefits checks that came to her address in Watkins’ name.
Federal prosecutors said that though Watkins may have been the only person she killed, he was one of 10 to 50 victims.
Siegel stole her first husband’s identity and ran up $100,000 in credit debt. She did the same to her second husband, but was only able to bilk him out of $18,000 before he threatened to press charges. He said only her violence kept him from going to the police.
When Siegel killed Watkins, she had already begun a relationship with the man who would become her third husband. She stole his identity, too, and obtained between $200,000 and $300,000 dollars in debts and goods.