Infamous murderer Jennifer Reali, who spent close to 30 years in prison for fatally shooting her lover’s wife in 1990 — drawing comparisons to the 1987 Glenn Close thriller Fatal Attraction — has died three months after she was granted parole, PEOPLE confirms.
Reali, 55, died on March 24, four years after she was reportedly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to Colorado Department of Corrections spokesman Mark Fairbairn,
She had been on parole since Dec. 12.
“I cried,” Reali’s attorney Phil Cherner said about hearing of her death, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “What was so hard was that we worked for so long to get her out. Just as she got out, she got this diagnosis.”
The son of Reali’s victim, Dianne Hood, has said he forgave her for her crime, “in Christ’s name.”
“Grief can take many different forms, but as someone who has lived this and now is helping others as a professional counselor, I believe in the power of forgiveness,” Jarrod Hood told the Gazette in 2017.
Jarrod said Dianne, a “beautiful and kind person,” “taught me to be a good sport and to walk in the fruit of the Spirit … I will honor her legacy by continuing in the way of Christ. I believe this is what she would have wanted.”
In 1992, Reali was sentenced to life in prison for Dianne’s September 1990 execution-style murder, a crime that led to Reali being called the “Fatal Attraction killer,” after the popular film about a violently unstable mistress.
Then a 32-year-old mother of three, Dianne was killed as she was walking with a friend to her car outside the Otis Park Community Center in Colorado Springs, where she was attending a lupus support meeting.
Reali, then a 28-year-old army officer’s wife and mother of two, was dressed in camouflage fatigues and a ski mask when she pulled out a .45-caliber revolver and shot Dianne twice — including once in the chest — while Dianne lay on the ground, begging for mercy.
Reali was arrested two days later and confessed that she had been having an affair with Dianne’s husband, Brian Hood, and was wearing a disguise when she gunned down her rival.
Brian was also suspected of involvement in the slaying, which he denied, claiming that Reali acted alone out of a crazed desire to get even because he had decided to break up with her the morning of Dianne’s death.
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During her trial, Reali testified that Brian — with whom she began having an affair in May 1990, shortly after he dropped by her house to sell her life insurance — used a twisted interpretation of the Bible to brainwash her into believing that she would be carrying out the will of God by killing his wife and sparing her the pain of lupus.
“He felt in his mind that to murder her was less of a sin than to divorce her,” Reali told the court.
According to Reali, two days before the shooting, Brian called her and told her that Dianne would be at her lupus support-group meeting and suggested that Reali kill his wife and make it look like a robbery gone wrong.
“If you love me,” Reali claimed Brian told her, “you can do this, and we can have a life together.”
Nonetheless a jury convicted Reali of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, for which she received a life sentence that was later commuted, allowing her to be paroled.
While others called to testify at her trial described Reali as a domineering personality prone to outbursts of violence — with her former mother-in-law expressing doubts that she could be brainwashed — Brian was also found guilty of involvement in the shooting.
He was acquitted for first-degree murder but was found guilty of lesser counts in the plot: criminal solicitation and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. (Last year his son said he also was okay with his father being paroled.)
Brian was sentenced to 37 years in prison and is serving his sentence in Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, Colorado. He is next eligible for parole in February 2019 and, according to the Gazette, has previously sought early release without success.
When Reali’s sentence was commuted, allowing her to seek parole, a spokesman for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said the decision was made in part because she and Brian Hood “shared responsibility, and this commutation brings balance to the conviction and the sentencing,” the Denver Post reports.
John Suthers, who prosecuted Reali for murder, told the Gazette before her parole that she posed little risk of reoffending and had helped convict her onetime lover.
“She didn’t have an opportunity to have much of a life with her children,” he told the paper. “All around, it’s a very tragic story.”
Dianne’s sister-in-law echoed Suthers’ support for Reali’s parole, according to the Gazette, but was critical of her insistence that she had been the object of another’s manipulation. “She wasn’t a victim,” Angela Moore said.
At her October parole hearing, Reali said she had changed and regretted what she did decades ago, according to the Gazette.
“It makes me mad, very mad, that somehow I could come to a place that I did that,” she said. Who she was years ago “is dead and gone, and I’m glad. She needed to go.”