Randy Roth (born December 26, 1954) is an American murderer and thief from Washington. He was found guilty of the 1991 murder of his fourth wife, Cynthia Baumgartner Roth. Police thought he killed his second wife, Janis Roth, in 1981 but he was never put on trial for that. He was also found guilty of stealing from the place he worked, from an insurance company, and from Social Security. He was sent to jail for first degree murder in 1992.
Janis Roth[change | change source]
Janis Miranda married Roth in March 1981. They were both divorced and raising a child on their own. While they were dating Janis and Randy seemed to be a very happy couple. They seemed to be very much in love. After they got married, they were not like that anymore. Janis' friends saw that she did not seem as happy as she had before. Randy made sure they had a large amount of life insurance. He said he wanted to be able to pay the bills if something bad happened.
On the day after Thanksgiving 1981, something bad did happen. Janis fell to her death from a cliff at a place called Beacon Rock. Randy Roth was the only person who saw what happened. What he told the police and rescue workers who came to look for her did not always make sense. They could not find Janis for many hours. When they found her, she was not below the spot that Randy Roth said she fell from. The police thought Randy might have pushed Janis off a cliff but they could not prove it. The same day as the fall, Randy made sure Janis would cremated. The next day he made sure he would get paid the insurance money. What he did not do was tell Janis' family and friends that she was dead. He did not even tell her own daughter for a whole week.
Cynthia Roth[change | change source]
Roth had been married three times by the time he met Cynthia Baumgartner in 1990. Baumgartner was also a single parent. Her husband had died of Hodgkin's Disease in 1985. Randy Roth only told her about his own dead wife because she did not believe in divorce. He never told her that he had been divorced twice. Cynthia found out that Roth felt a need to control everything in her life. He did not want her doing anything on her own. Her friends saw that the way she looked and how clean her house was not as good as they used to be. They thought that Cynthia was sorry she had married Randy Roth. Roth was also abusive to all three of the boys in their house.
On July 23, 1991, they took Cynthia's two sons on a day trip to a big lake called Lake Sammamish. This is the same lake where Ted Bundy had kidnapped two young women years before. It was hot when the Roths arrived and the beach was crowded. Randy and Cynthia left the boys to play in the swimming area while they paddled their 11 feet (3.4 m) inflatable raft into deeper waters. Several hours later Randy Roth came back with Cynthia. She was either dead or dying from drowning. Lifeguards and paramedics tried to save her and take her to a hospital. She was dead when she got there. Randy Roth said that waves caused by a motorboat made the raft flip over and that Cynthia drowned because of that.
The police noticed that Randy Roth did not seem very upset that his wife was dead. He also did not always tell the story of how she died the same way. They began to think he might have killed her. Once again they could not prove it right away. Just like when Janis had died, he did not tell her friends and family but he did start trying to collect money from the insurance company right away. He had Cynthia cremated even though her parents did not want him to. After a while, he thought he was not going to get in any trouble but on October 8, 1991 he was arrested for murdering Cynthia.
Investigation[change | change source]
The police knew it was going to be hard to get a jury to believe that Randy Roth killed his wife. Nobody but Roth saw what happened and there was no way to find anything at the place where she died since it was in a lake. They talked to the families of his other wives and his friends and neighbors. They began to think he did it for money. They also thought that he stole from people he worked for. Lori Baker was a friend of Cynthia's. She found out that Cynthia's will was missing and that Randy Roth was the last person to open the safe deposit box where it had been. Luckily there was another copy. When they read it they found out that Cynthia wanted her friend Lori and not Randy Roth to raise her sons if she died. This made Randy Roth very angry. He was hoping to get money from Social Security that they pay to children whose parents die in accidents. When Lori Baker came to get the boy's stuff from Randy's house, he yelled at her and would not let her take some of the stuff.
Neighbors and an old friend of Roth told the police that Roth had faked burglaries to get money from the insurance company. A girl he had lived next door to told them she had sex with Randy when she was only fifteen years old. They said they never told anyone these things before because they were scared Randy Roth might do something to them.
Roth had claimed that he had served in the Marines in a special forces unit in the Vietnam War. He also said he had been taught how to kill someone with no weapons and without leaving any marks on them. Randy Roth had been in the Marines, but he worked as a file clerk in Okinawa. He had never been to Vietnam or fought in a war. His mother helped him get out of the Marines early.
The police also talked to people about the death of Janis Roth ten years earlier. They met the police who had investigated it. They found out that there were a lot of things that were the same. He had said things that did not match up with other things he said. He did not seem as upset as most people would be if their wife died. He had her cremated right away. It seemed like he had killed two of his wives and done other criminal things. A judge decided they could arrest him and search his house. When they searched, they found many things that should not have been there. Most of these things belonged to the place where Randy Roth worked. He had stolen them. They also found receipts from when Randy Roth had bought things he said he was given by the Marines for fighting in Vietnam. In the garage, they found a poem that Cynthia wrote about how Randy did not really love her. They also found out that Randy Roth had called someone on the telephone. Those people got to the house before the police and took some of the stolen things out of the house.
The police had the raft that Randy said had flipped over. They took it back to the same place at the lake and tried to get a boat to make a wave big enough to make it flip over. They could not get the boat to flip over. They threw bags of things into the lake that Randy said he had got back out after he got Cynthia back in the raft. They found out that the things sank too fast for that to be true. They also found out that Randy had a brother who was already in jail for killing a woman, and that Randy had been to jail for stealing. They talked to the people from Social Security and found he had told them lies to try and get money. They felt like they found out about a lot of dishonest things Randy did that would make him look bad in court.
Trial[change | change source]
Randy Roth's lawyer tried to stop the trial. When that did not work, he tried to get the judge to tell the other lawyers that they could not tell the jury about the other crimes Randy Roth did. That did not work either.
Over one hundred people got up and talked about Randy Roth. One of them told how he had taught Randy how to scuba dive and that he was a very good swimmer. Roth had told the police that he was not good at swimming. People who were at the lake said that when Randy came back with Cynthia that he was not in a hurry or very upset about his wife drowning. Jalina Miranda was the daughter of Janis Roth. She told them how Randy did not tell her for a week that her mother was dead and that he stole money from her. They also heard the poem that Cynthia wrote about how Randy did not love her.
Randy Roth took the stand and talked for twenty hours. It took almost a week before they were done asking him questions. The prosecutor tried to get him to talk about all the lies he had told about Vietnam and other things. He could not lie that any longer but he said that he was telling the truth about how Cynthia died. He never got upset or angry about anything and still did not seem sad about his wife dying.
Eight and a half hours after the trial ended, the jury came back and said he was guilty of murdering his wife and stealing.
Aftermath[change | change source]
Beacon Rock, where Janis fell and died, was in a place called Skamania County. They said if Randy Roth went to jail for more than fifty years they would not put him on trial for killing Janis. Trials cost much money and Skamania County did not want to use that money if Roth was going to be put in jail for more than 50 years already. The judge said Randy would go to jail for fifty-one years. Fifty years for killing Cynthia and one year for stealing. He will not be able to get parole until at least 2029. Lori Baker, the friend who took in Cynthia Roth's sons, went to court to make sure that Rany Roth and his family did not get any money from the insurance company or from selling Randy and Cynthia's house. Two books were written about Randy Roth and the murder. These books were A Rose for Her Grave by Ann Rule and Fatal Charm by Carlton Smith.
Other websites[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- Ann Rule, A Rose for Her Grave and Other True Cases. ISBN 0-671-79353-5
- Richard Seven, "The Undoing Of Randy Roth – How Detectives Built Their Case Against Killer" The Seattle Times (April 25, 1992)
- Jolayne Houtz, "Cynthia Roth's Young Sons Adjusting, But Still Grieving" The Seattle Times (July 23, 1992)
- Richard Seven, "Cynthia Roth Spilled Marriage Frustration In Note – Entries Include 44 Things Husband `Hated' About Her" The Seattle Times (April 18, 1992)
- Richard Seven, "Roth's Credibility Under Attack – Cross-Examination Begins In Murder Trial" The Seattle Times (April 14, 1992)
- Stephen Clutter, "Appeal Of Pretrial Ruling Could Delay Start Of Randy Roth Murder Trial" The Seattle Times (February 13, 1992)
- Richard Seven, "Randy Roth: Killer Or Martyr?" The Seattle Times (April 22, 1992)
- Stephen Clutter, Stepdaughter: Roth Took Dead Wife's Hidden Cash The Seattle Times, 3-13-1992
- Richard Seven, "Roth On Witness Stand Is Detached, Clinical" The Seattle Times (April 10, 1992)
- "Suit Seeks To Keep Randy Roth's Family From Insurance Claim" The Seattle Times (April 29, 1992)
- Richard Seven, "Two New Books Profile Randy Roth" The Seattle Times (August 2, 1993)