It’s fair to say it’s been a noteworthy week in Newton, Iowa, in the aftermath of Monday’s announcement of the arrest of Theresa Supino in connection with the 1983 double slayings at the Copper Dollar Ranch. Inevitably, the arrest is on the minds and lips of many of the residents in the town with a population of about 15,000.
Gary Peterson and I visited Newton on Thursday, where we were able to talk to Sheriff John Halferty about the arrest. We also obtained a copy of the official criminal complaint (part of the public record on file at the Jasper County Courthouse) against Theresa Lynn Supino.
The two-part complaint and affidavit (one for each victim) is pretty straightforward, and lists Theresa, age 53, as the defendant charged with two counts of first degree murder. It reads, in part, that the
“…defendant, on or about the 2nd day of March, 1983, at approximately 1145 o’clock p.m. at … the (Copper Dollar Ranch) in Jasper County, Iowa, did unlawfully: willfully, deliberately and with premeditation kill” Steven Fisher and Melisa Gregory…”
The attached statement of probable cause graphically details the physical location and brutalized states in which responders found the bodies of the victims. Medical examiners’ findings were listed, mentioning thirteen “chop wounds” to Steven Fisher’s head, and one to the eyelid area of his face with extensive cranio-cerebral injuries. Melisa Gregory, according to the medical examiner, died as the result of thirteen “chop wounds” to her face and four “chop wounds” to the top of her head with extensive cranio-cerebral injuries. Both victims’ injuries were said to be compatible with those caused by a heavy-edged instrument. Neither alcohol nor illegal narcotics were found in the victims’ bodies at the time of death.
Information against Theresa Supino to justify probable cause was noted by Sheriff Halferty to be “Admissions that she was at the scene, inconsistent statements since then, and statements that she has gathered info relating to the murders.” In another part of the document, Halferty states,
“Based upon my training and experience, it is common for persons that are suspects to keep information, diaries, journals, writings and personal items related to the case.”
Much of the rest of the document notes Theresa’s “strong desire to stay together [with Steven Fisher] and make their marriage work.” Witness statements were included about Supino’s “tremendous temper,” that she “sometimes got crazy,” “freaking out,” and “screaming threats about catching Melisa by herself, and, ‘beating the shit out of her’.” One witness further stated that “she was personally scared of the defendant growing up and that the defendant was a loud, rough, mean girl you never wanted to cross.”
It is not clear how TNT’s Cold Justice team’s visit played into the final days, and Halferty will only say there was “no smoking gun,” but rather consistent pieces put in place to make a consistent case against Supino. Whether there will be a further arrest (or arrests) in connection with the case is not yet known.
Supino’s arraignment has been set for Monday morning, March 10, at the Jasper County Courthouse in Newton.
Cold Justice’s presentation about the Copper Dollar case is scheduled to air on the TNT network on Friday, March 21.
Image: Jasper County Courthouse (Beth Bednar)