Sharon Elizabeth Hall, born November 30, 1939, in Independence, Missouri, was so eager for her own independence that she married the first man with prospects she could find. His name was James Kinne, and he would be dead four years later, allegedly by his wife’s own hand.
But what could have caused the housewife to snap, and then to continue killing?
The Death of James Kinne
James and Sharon Kinne (née Hall) weren’t married long before their marriage hit the rocks. They gave birth to a baby girl in 1957, the year after they’d wed, but by early 1960 he was contemplating divorce due to her suspected infidelity and her spendthrift habits. For her part, Kinne had reportedly indicated interest in hiring a hit man to make her a widow instead of a divorcée.
On March 19, 1960, Kinne reported that she heard a gunshot from the bedroom. According to her, their two-year-old-daughter Danna was holding a .22 semi-automatic pistol, and must have shot her father by accident. Investigators never tested either mother or daughter for gun residue, and several people close to the family said that Danna would often play with her father’s guns. The death was ruled an accident.
The Murder of Patricia Jones
Less than a month after Kinne’s husband died, she met Walter Jones while buying a Ford Thunderbird from his dealership with some of the life insurance proceeds. They began an affair, and Kinne wanted it to get more serious with a trip to Washington together. He declined to accompany her on the trip, however, and when she told him later that she was pregnant with his baby, he ended the affair.
Shortly thereafter, Kinne met with Patricia Jones, the wife of Walter Jones, to tell her that her husband was having an affair with Kinne’s nonexistent sister. She was the last person to see Jones alive.
Walter Jones filed a missing persons report before honing in on Kinne as having something to do with the disappearance of his wife. Kinne, accompanied by a man named John Boldizs, later happened to “discover” the body of Patricia Jones, who’d been shot four times, at least once at close range.
Arrest and Trials
On the night of Patricia Jones’ funeral, Kinne was arrested for her death. She was quickly charged and, given that the timing and similarity of the crime to her husband’s recent death was suspicious, she was charged in his murder, as well. According to James Hays’ book, I’m Just An Ordinary Girl: The Sharon Kinne Story, when Kinne was ultimately acquitted of Patricia Jones’ murder, “jurors came out of the juror box and went over and got Sharon’s autograph.”
The trial for the murder of James Kinne was more successful, and in early 1962 she was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, which she began to serve at the Missouri Reformatory for Women. By the next year, however, her conviction had been reversed on the basis that her defense had been denied adequate peremptory challenges during jury selection.
A second trial was held in March 1964, but resulted in a mistrial only a few days later when it was discovered that one of the prosecutor’s law partners had once been retained by a juror. Finally, a third trial was held in June 1964, and for the first time at the end of that trial, Kinne took the stand to deny all charges. The jury favored acquittal seven-to-five, but were unable to reach a consensus, resulting in a mistrial.
A Murder in Mexico
Free on bond and awaiting her fourth trial in the death of her husband, Kinne traveled to Mexico with an alleged lover. On September 18, 1964, Kinne left her lodgings without her lover and ended up in the motel room of Francisco Parades Ordonez, reportedly because she wanted to examine photographs he said he had or because she needed someone Spanish-speaking to help her get her medicine, depending on the testimony.
According to her account, he made sexual advances on her, and she reacted instinctively, firing the gun she carried, killing him and wounding a hotel employee who came into the room at the sound of gunshots.
Kinne would be arrested by Mexican authorities, and later allegedly said, “I’ve shot men before and managed to get out of it” to a representative from the U.S. Embassy who visited. The Mexican press dubbed her “La Pistolera.”
When investigators tested pistols found in Kinne’s Mexican motel room, they determined that one of them was the same gun used to kill Patricia Jones. Because of double-jeopardy laws, however, Kinne could not be re-charged with that crime.
Where is La Pistolera now?
On December 7, 1969, Kinne was reported missing from the Ixtapalapa Women’s Prison. Some have speculated that she made a deal with a guard to escape, and may be living in Mexico or in Alaska, where she had family. Others believe that she must be dead, or she would have been caught again. Either way, to this day, Kinne was never found, making hers one of the longest-outstanding felony warrants in American history.
Main photo: Sharon Kinne [Mexico Distrito Federal]