My daughter, a True Crime lover, told me about a show she saw on Netflix that she wanted us to watch together.  The show was “I Am a Killer,” and they had powerful stories interviewed murderers.  One of the episodes was on Linda Couch, who is in prison for life for murdering her husband.  Her story was heart-wrenching and it made us wonder why she is still in jail.  I knew that I wanted to talk about her in a future episode to see if maybe I was wrong, and it was correct to have her in prison for life.

Listen and tell me what you think.

When Linda Met Walter

16-year-old Linda was at a wedding reception when she met Walter Couch.  I am not sure how old Walter was, but I suspect he was already over 18.  Linda would be the one to approach him and introduce herself. It’s probably a decision that she will always regret in some ways.  After talking for a bit, Walter asked her out the next day, and Linda accepted.  One of the sources says that she had low self-esteem and was more in awe that Walter was dating her.  She does say in the interview that she couldn’t believe that he was dating her, but it could also be her age.  The two started dating right away and, in months, were married. Linda would say in an interview that “I was still a teen, and I thought I was in love. Now, I wish I’d never met him. He was so different when we were just dating. But once he had that ring on my finger, he changed into a monster.”

As it typically happens in domestic violence cases, the marriage was blissful until something in the environment changes that cause the abuser to start showing his true colors.  This is what happened with Linda and Walter. When she became pregnant with their first child, Walter pushed her down the stairs.

After giving birth and coming home from the hospital, Walter let Linda know that he would not help her with their baby.

Emphasizing the “their.” As we all know, babies tend to cry a lot because that is the way they communicate.

For Linda, the baby crying put her on edge.  Every time baby Roxanne cried, Walter got angry with Linda and would beat her.

The two would eventually have two more kids.

Another girl and a son.  Linda says that out of all the kids, Walter seems to have hated Roxanne, the firstborn.  Roxanne even says when they interview her that she thinks it’s cause she was the one who looked the most like her mom.  Walter would beat her.  Linda would try to defend her daughter, and so she would get brutally beat by him.  

Murder

One night, Walter would do the unthinkable.  He brought his friends over to the house to party and drink.

Remember that there were three kids in the house, and still, he had his friends drinking and having a good time.

Linda would remain in her room.

This night, the bedroom door opened. Walter and his friends came in.  Linda awoke surrounded by drunken men, one of them being her abusive husband.

He allowed his friends to brutally gang-rape her. Rape her while their three children were in the home.  It was the first of many times.

Linda decided to go back to school to become a nurse. As we know about abusers, they do not like when their victims start empowering themselves.  Instead of being supportive, abusers become even more violent.  He tried to get her to quit college.   However, for the first time, Linda stood up to him and said she would not quit.

When she said no, Walter went to get his gun. .  On the show, she said what made her fight back was that she was afraid for her daughter Roxanne. So the two started fighting, and Linda kicked him in the groin.

They started struggling for the gun.

Linda says that she fell, and the gun went off and hit him in the head.  Walter Couch instantly died.

Caught

This is where she made a mistake. Instead of going directly to the police and telling them what happened, Linda decided to bury Walter’s body.  It gets much worse.  She went to Walter’s dad to tell him that she wanted his help building a garden, which he agreed to help her.  Linda rolled Walter’s body on a carpet and had their three children carry his body out.

Walter’s father and their children helped create a hole and bury Walter’s body. However, suspicions were high at that point, so Walter’s father went back and undug the hole.  He then opened the carpet where he saw his son’s body.  He then called the police.

Linda Couch was arrested on October 23, 1984.  The trial took place three months later.

In the trial, prosecutors proved that Walter had been shot in the back of the head.  If her account was correct that they both struggled for the gun, wouldn’t he face her?  Prosecutors also showed that right before the murder, Linda tried to change the house’s title to only be under her name.

In the I Am a Killer, prosecutor Pan Dinkelacker listens to a tape of Linda Couch’s confession.  He states that he had heard a bit about her abuse but not to the extent, and she should have said something about her black eyes and a broken nose.

However, they showed a trial video, and her defense indicates that she was getting abused.  He also says he has no idea that she had been gang-raped.

How could he prosecute without knowing the whole story?  Linda does say that her defense attorney told her not to say it in court. However, didn’t the police interview her?

Roxanne, Linda’s and Walter’s daughter, testified against her mother.  She said that her mother was piling up debt. Taking out credit cards and loans, and Linda was afraid Walter would find out, so she killed him.  On the show, Roxanne indicates that her mother did this to plan her future life after leaving her father.  She also says that if her father would have found out, “it would have not been good for any of us.”

Roxanne also denied that Linda was gang-raped. However, she does say her dad had friends over, but she was sleeping. So how would she know that her mom was lying or telling the truth?

Roxanne testified, “I didn’t kill him, but I felt horrible inside. She had me bury my father in the cold ground. That night’s actions destroyed an entire family. She tells stories, and she likes to get sympathy. She could tell you a lie, and you would believe it’s the gospel truth because she believes her own lies.”

On the show, Roxanne was interviewed, and she admits that her dad was abusive and beat her every day. She also admits that her dad would beat her mother.  She also blames her mother for her abuse.  The times were different back then, and her mother was a stay-at-home mother with no skills.  I remember in the 80s that there were women who were homeless with their children because men weren’t paying child support or alimony. Therefore, many women would remain with their abusers.  Child support and alimony existed, but many women weren’t getting any of it.  It wasn’t until the late 80s that child support enforcement started ramping up to reduce this from happening.

After Linda was sent to prison, the kids went to Walter’s parents. Is this why she has such hatred towards her mom but seems to dismiss her father’s abuse? Linda thinks it was their influence, but maybe Roxanne has the only trauma she probably hasn’t worked through?

Murder is never the answer. However, a battered woman, since her teen getting gang raped due to her husband and seeing him beating their daughter because she looked like she should not have been given a life sentence and had her parole denied seven times.  Francine Hughes, who burned her abusive husband in their bed, got temporary insanity, but Linda Couch is still in prison.

Sources  

Child Support: Payments, Progress, and Problems. (1990, October 26). Retrieved from https://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1990102600

Hemraj, F. (2020, December 27). Battered Woman or Cold-Blooded Killer: The Story of Linda Couch. Retrieved from https://medium.com/memoirsfromhistory/she-murdered-her-husband-and-had-their-kids-help-bury-him-e4750fca34d5

I Am A Killer: Episode 2 Trapped [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved 2018.