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'FBI: Criminal Pursuit' details sensational Chicago murder case

On Sept. 25, 1993, Robert O'Dubaine was gunned down in the garage of the Bucktown condo he shared with his girlfriend, Catherine Suh.

Investigation Discovery's "FBI: Criminal Pursuit" takes a looks at the infamous Chicago murder case at 9 p.m. April 8 in an episode titled "The Black Widow."

The series presents the case rather cheesily at times through dramatic reenactments of key moments and interviews with real people who were involved at the time. It wastes no time rightfully demonizing Catherine, explaining how she sought to live and maintain a lavish lifestyle even as she was being pursued by law enforcement officials.

"Some people are cajoled into murders. Some people are almost forced into murders," says retired Chicago Police Det. Bill Johnston, who worked the case. "I think she's a born murderer."

"Criminal Pusuit" begins with the O'Dubaine investigation, which led police to reexamine the brutal 1987 stabbing murder of Suh's mother in Evanston, who was found dead of 35 stab wounds in her Evanston dry-cleaning store. Although a suspect in that case, Catherine was never charged because O'Dubaine told police that he was with Suh the morning her mother was slain. After her mother's death, Catherine inherited about $800,000.

The episode details how "the ultimate manipulator," as retired FBI Agent John Pikus calls Catherine, talked her younger brother, Andrew, into killing O'Dubaine so she could collect on his $250,000 life-insurance policy. Suh was first charged in the O'Dubaine case in 1993, and after making bail moved into Lake Point Tower where she met and dated David Knoerr. Knoerr, interviewed for the show, said he believed her when she said she was a real estate consultant named Kasia Kane.

The story gets even more sensational when Catherine disappeared two days before she and her brother were to go on trial. Andrew was found guilty of killing O'Dubaine in a bench trial before Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Morrissey. Catherine was convicted in absentia for ordering her brother to kill O'Dubaine and given a sentence of life in prison.

After being featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" in January 1996, Catherine turned herself in to FBI agents on March 8, 1996, in Hawaii, where she had been living under the assumed name Tiffani Escada and with Kelmer "Kelly" Beck in an expensive Honolulu condo.

Catherine and Andrew Suh currently are serving prison sentences--hers for life without a chance of parole and his for 100 years.

Also interviewed in the episode:

  • Maria Aguilar, a friend of Robert O'Dubaine
  • Pat McCarthy, FBI Task Force / Chicago Police Dept., retired
  • Richard Alvarado, FBI Task Force / Cook County Sheriff's Office
  • Robert Berlin, DuPage County State's Attorney
  • Carol A. Hogan, Attorney

Read a 1996 story from the Chicago Tribune written as Catherine Suh began her prison sentence by clicking the link in the "related items" field on the left of the page, or clicking here.

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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