Revisiting PEOPLE's 2017 Story on the 'Fitbit Murder': Web of Lies — a Wife Killed, a Husband Accused

Prosecutors Richard Dabate murdered his wife Connie because he'd impregnated his girlfriend and wanted to end his relationship with Connie without divorcing her

Richard and Connie Dabate. Photo: Connie Dabate/Myspace

Editor's Note: On Tuesday, Connecticut man Richard Dabate was convicted of murdering his wife, Connie Dabate, in 2015.

At trial, prosecutors argued Richard had impregnated his girlfriend and wanted to end his marriage with Connie without divorcing her. Dabate had initially blamed the killing on an intruder, who he claimed had tortured and stabbed him before shooting Connie.

But data from Connie's Fitbit indicated she was alive after Dabate claimed she'd been killed — a piece of evidence that undercut his alibi.

PEOPLE wrote about the case in a 2017 magazine story, which is reprinted here:

When police responded to a silent alarm in the upscale neighborhood of Ellington, Conn., on the morning of Dec. 23, 2015, homeowner Richard Dabate told them a chilling story of a suburban nightmare. He said he had struggled with a masked camouflage-clad intruder who subdued him by zip-tying him to a chair and stabbing him with a box cutter. Then, Dabate said, the 6'2" man chased his 39-year-old wife, Connie, into the basement and shot her in the stomach and head with a .357 magnum. As they began a frantic search for the gunman, police summoned canine units to track his scent. But the dogs were unable to locate the intruder, instead following Dabate to the ambulance where he was getting medical treatment for "superficial" wounds. "His story made no sense," says a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police. "So we had to begin a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of it."

Finding answers would take police more than 16 months, and ultimately they came to the same conclusion as their canine unit. On April 14 police arrested Dabate, 40, on felony counts of murder, evidence tampering and giving false statements to cops. He has pleaded not guilty and was freed on $1 million bond while awaiting trial later this year. Investigators submitted a damning 50-page affidavit to support the arrest, claiming that electronic records, including Connie's Fitbit movements on the morning of her death, contradicted Dabate's account of her murder. Even more shocking was the allegation by police that Dabate had a girlfriend who was pregnant with his child—and in the days before the killing had texted her sweet nothings as well as a promise to divorce Connie. "I knew it wasn't a perfect marriage," says Connie's friend Allie Clarke. "But I thought they were minor issues, like disagreements over money. I never saw this coming."

Connie and Richard Dabate.

By outward appearances the Dabates seemed to have an idyllic life. He was a computer network administrator; she worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep. They married in 2003 and had two sons, R.J., 9, and Connor, 6. Living in their colonial-style home 20 miles north of Hartford, they had a wide circle of friends. "He's very funny in an offbeat kind of way," says Clarke. "And she was the kindest woman you'd ever meet. The type who would never say no if you needed something. They were different people, but they seemed to really like and respect each other."

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But according to police, Dabate was living a secret life that his wife may have known nothing about. He had reconnected with an old high school flame before Connie's death, and their romance led to pregnancy. During his interview with detectives, Dabate admitted to the extramarital affair but seemed vague about many of the details, describing the pregnancy as both planned and unplanned at different times. "This situation," he allegedly told cops, "popped up like a fricking soap opera."

Richard Dabate.

Even by soap-opera standards, Dabate couldn't have predicted the clue cops say was most damning: Connie's Fitbit data. According to information gathered from the device, Connie had been moving around for nearly an hour after her husband said she was killed. While Dabate had told police that his home alarm had been triggered at around 9 a.m., the Fitbit showed Connie walking more than 1,200 ft.—nearly a quarter of a mile—until 10:05 a.m. "The timeline just didn't add up," says the Connecticut police spokesman. "There were a lot of questions."

While authorities continue to investigate the crime, those close to the couple are reeling, not only from the murder but by the fact that Dabate has been charged. Authorities interviewed about 20 friends, many of whom said that the couple's marital issues seemed minor, almost inconsequential. "Every marriage has problems," says Clarke. "But not like this. Most marriages don't end with someone being killed."

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