In the brightly lit trauma center of University Hospital in Columbia, Mo., William Van Note clung to life. Hooked up to a ventilator, the wealthy retired accountant, 67, had been shot in the head and stabbed by an unknown assailant in his three-story lakefront Sunrise Beach, Mo., home. His longtime companion, Sharon Dickson, 59, stabbed a dozen times and pumped with four bullets, died at the scene. Two days after the grisly Oct. 2, 2010 attack, Van Note’s daughter Liz, 44, showed up at the hospital with a document her father had signed stating he did not want to be kept alive by artificial means. In what looked like an act of mercy by a grieving daughter, Liz-a respected Kansas City attorney specializing in end-of-life issues-directed doctors to remove her father from life support.
Two years after her father’s death, police now say this was an act of murder. In a chilling twist, a grand jury indictment on Sept. 7 charged Liz Van Note with forging the document “to deny him life-sustaining medical treatment” after he survived her vicious attack. “What started as a classic whodunit,” Det. Sergeant Chris Moehle of the Camden County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office tells PEOPLE, “turned out to be one of the most bizarre murders we’ve seen.”
Camden County Prosecutor Brian Keedy suggests the crime was fueled by greed. While William, a multimillionaire who owned three boats and several properties, had planned to marry Sharon, their friends say, Liz, a single mom who filed for bankruptcy in 2009, may have worried the union could alter who inherited his fortune. Says Keedy: “She was busy getting her hands on everything.” Liz’s attorney Tom Bath insists she was only carrying out her father’s wishes: “I am not saying they didn’t have ups and downs, but Liz loved her father and wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.”
Friends are shocked that this father-daughter relationship, while strained, could have ended in tragedy. “Liz harbored a lot of resentment toward her dad because he divorced her mother,” says a family friend, “but no matter what happened, Bill and Sharon didn’t deserve to die like this.”