A Fatal Lie: A True Story of Betrayal and Murder In The New South by Sally Chew (September 1999)

The Lesbian Love Triangle Murder
Review by Kim Cantrell

Stacy Hanna was a 19-year-old girl trying to find her place in this world.

When she met a group of girls in Richmond she thought she’d made friends, but she just didn’t quite fit in.

The group of girls included Kelley “Turtle” Tibbs, a well-known lesbian among the gay community of Richmond; Tibbs’ girlfriend, Tracy Bitner; Stephanie Cull, a timid, young lesbian and friend of Bitner and Tibbs; Domica Winckler, a hetrosexual friend who just enjoyed hanging out with the group; and Dana Vaughn, another lesbian with a rich history of involvement with the women at the 210 South Belmont residence.

When Stacy becomes meddlesome in the relationship between Tibbs and Bitner, they know something has to be done.

That something would be murder.

With the promise of a bonding excersion, the girls lured Stacy into a desolate area of Richmond. There she was stripped, beaten, stabbed and left to die.

Four of the girls would pay the price for the injustice committed against Stacy. Another would walk away scot-free.

Author Sally Chew tells the heartwrenching story of Stacy’s murder, frequently referred to in the media as the Richmond Lesbian Triangle Murder in her 1999 true crime A Fatal Lie.

I was not familiar with the case before reading this book. According to some Amazon reviewers (which were obvious friends of the girls involved), the story is written from the point-of-view of the girl who walked away unscathed in this crime.

After reading many of the online Court documents, I’ll respectfully disagree with their statements. The book appears to align perfectly with what police and prosecutors come to learn about this case.

Toss the opinions of the naysayers aside and what you’ll find is a well-written, thorough account of the events that lead to the murder of Stacy Hanna and a summarized version of the trials that followed.

My only two complaints, and note it is of a personal nature, are: (1) Chew plays up the race card after jurors recommend the death penalty for Domica, the only black girl in this group; as well as the only one to have death recommended by her jury. It’s pretty obvious why, she not only participated in the killing, but she also STOLE Stacy’s jewelry DURING the commission of a crime.  Um, ever heard of aggravating factors?; and (2) Chew pushes her anti death penalty agenda with a whole chapter (one page) dedicated to statistics. While her statistics are (somewhat) correct, she neglects to provide the “whole story” behind such data.

Irritating but not enough for me to tell you to steer clear. As a matter of fact, I strongly recommend reading A Fatal Lie by Sally Chew, if you haven’t already done so.

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Updates from this book:

Kelley Ann “Turtle” Tibbs is currently inmate number 263091 at the Fluvanna Correctional Center in Troy, Virginia. A life sentence, however, is not a deterrent in searching for love as evidenced in an online personals ad.

Tracy Lynn Bitner, inmate number 256727, is also doing her time at Fluvanna Correctional Center.

Domica Chantel Winckleris also housed at Fluvanna Correctional Center, as inmate number 259056. She appears to be making better use of her time by being involved in an adult learning program.

Stephanie Leighann Cull is housed with the others as Fluvanna Correctional Center but, unlike the others, she will be released in July 2015.