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After 10 Marriages, Woman Is Jailed on Murder Charges : Violence: Jill Coit and a boyfriend are being held in death of husband No. 9. No. 3 also met an untimely end.

December 26, 1993|ROBERT WELLER | ASSOCIATED PRESS

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Jill Coit is a marrying woman. Ten times she has taken the plunge.

But now she and a boyfriend are in jail, charged with murdering husband No. 9, who was shot in October.

"If you were to meet her and talk to her, you'd think she's just the greatest person you ever met," one ex-husband, Carl Steely, said of Coit. "Why would all these people marry her if she weren't that way?"

Coit, 50, who is still married to husband No. 10, is charged in the slaying of Gerry Boggs, 52. She and telephone repairman Michael Backus, 48, are being held on $5-million bond on first-degree murder charges.

Neither defendant looked at the other during a recent court appearance, when they were ordered to appear Jan. 31 for a preliminary hearing.

Coit, a stocky woman with heavy eyebrows and curly hair and dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, hardly appeared the seductress and former model who left a trail of husbands in five states and managed to persuade a wealthy, elderly Californian to adopt her just before he died.

The arrest affidavit naming Coit lists 16 names she has used.

Her husbands have included the lawyer who helped her avoid questioning in the shooting death of her third husband, Clark Coit, whose name she continues to use. Coit, like Boggs, was shot by someone who entered his home through an unlocked back door, in 1972.

Coit checked herself into a psychiatric hospital after Coit's killing and police were never able to question her.

She married and divorced lawyer Louis DiRosa twice, making him husbands Nos. 5 and 6. In between Coit and DiRosa, she married Marine Maj. Donald Brodie in California.

While still DiRosa's wife, Coit married husbands Nos. 7 and 8: Eldon Metzger, an Indiana auctioneer, and Steely, a teacher in Indiana, according to police.

"I'm thankful to be alive," Steely said.

Private investigator Stan Lewis, retained by Boggs to look into Coit's past, said she "is cut from the same cloth as 'The Black Widow.' " The reference is to a 1987 thriller about a young woman whose wealthy husbands die.

Police say Coit and Backus shot and killed Boggs several days before a trial of a lawsuit charging bigamy and extortion. Boggs had his 1990 marriage to Coit annulled after Lewis found she was still married to Steely when she married Boggs. She then married husband No. 10, Roy Carroll, 68, in Houston.

Coit sued Boggs when he refused to release the lien he held on Coit's bed-and-breakfast lodge in this ski resort. Workers at the bed-and-breakfast, valued at $1 million and run by Coit's son, Seth, refused to say where Seth was or answer any questions.

Randall Klauzer, Coit's lawyer, said he couldn't comment on the case because of a court-imposed gag order.

The arrest affidavit quotes witnesses as saying that both defendants tried to talk them into killing Boggs.

Troy Giffon, who worked with Backus, said Backus offered him $7,500 to kill Boggs. After Boggs' death, Giffon reminded Backus of his offer and Backus said, "I was hoping you would forget that," and, "This is the only thing that could hang me," the arrest warrant says.

Giffon said Backus, a fellow veteran, put his hand on his shoulder and said, "Vietnam buddies don't rat off their buddies."

The warrant says Coit traveled with Backus to Iowa when he was assigned to repair telephone lines damaged by last summer's floods. She began counseling flood victims, saying she was a psychologist.

The warrant quotes an Iowa woman as saying Coit tried to persuade her to kill Boggs, claiming he was a rapist and sexual deviant.

Several witnesses are quoted as saying they saw the defendants wearing disguises near Boggs' home the day he was killed and also passing by his funeral. Coit was said to be wearing a fake black mustache and driving a red sports car.

Police allege Coit fled to Mexico after Boggs' killing and wrote her son telling him to sell everything. She either ran out of money or wanted to pick up some of her belongings and was arrested when she returned to Greeley, where Backus worked, police said.

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