17 Years After Mo. Man Was Found Dead in His Driveway, His Girlfriend Is Charged with Murder

Alice Weiss, now 65, is accused of killing her boyfriend with a .22 caliber handgun in 2004, though she continues to maintain her innocence

Alice Weiss
Photo: Jefferson County Sheriffs Office

Just after 8 p.m. on April 27, 2004, authorities discovered James Summers' body lying against a detached garage outside his Missouri home. He had been shot in the back and the face and was pronounced dead at the scene.

About 20 feet away lay his murder weapon, a .22 caliber handgun, and beyond it stood his live-in girlfriend, 47-year-old Alice Weiss.

The alleged details from Summers' death, previously classified as a cold case, re-emerged Monday in a probable cause statement accusing Weiss of murder in the second degree for the events that unfolded in Jefferson County more than 17 years ago.

At the time of Summers' murder, Weiss, now 65, allegedly told deputies that she was in her home showering when she heard gunfire outside. Dressed in a pink bath robe and towel, she claimed to have called 911 as soon as she found his body, authorities say.

Several pieces of information uncovered during interviews and forensic analyses put a spotlight on Weiss during the investigation: Neighbors claimed to be outside around the time of the murder and none recalled seeing any unfamiliar faces in the area; a recreation of the shooting revealed that gunshots were barely audible from the home's shower; the .22 caliber handgun that killed Summers belonged to Weiss; and residue from the gun was on the robe she was wearing that day.

In addition to the hard evidence against her, Weiss allegedly offered conflicting details pertaining to the location of her gun prior to the shooting and why gun residue was found on her.

Her best guess of what happened, investigators say, is that a thief obtained her gun without her knowledge, then used it to kill Summers after being confronted. Shortly after sharing her theory with investigators, she allegedly agreed with them that it was improbable.

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At one point during the investigation, Weiss' cousin came forward with stories that further implicated her.

On the night of the murder, Weiss allegedly told her cousin that Summers grabbed her gun and confronted a home intruder while she got in the shower. The cousin said he told her it was odd that she would get in the shower during the confrontation, but she did not provide an explanation.

Four years later, Weiss allegedly told her cousin that she had always been curious if shooting someone "was as pleasurable as sex" and that if she was ever charged with Summers' shooting, she could pin it on her father, who had recently died. Weiss' cousin told investigators that he asked her why she shot Summers, to which she replied, "there is little difference between love and hate."

Over the past 17 years, investigators failed to identify additional suspects, the probable cause statement says, leading to Weiss' eventual murder charges from the Attorney General's Cold Case Unit.

"While getting the current violent crime issue under control is incredibly important, it's also crucial that we do not neglect or forsake the often forgotten victims of violent crime whose cases have not been solved or have gone cold," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt stated in a release.

He added: "The passage of time does not, in any way, diminish the importance of certain cases."

In this particular case, however, Weiss "firmly maintains" her innocence.

"The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office chose not to file charges 17 years ago for a reason," John Schleiffarth, an attorney representing Weiss, tells PEOPLE in a statement. "I have every expectation that the circumstantial evidence portrayed at [Thursday's] unusual and theatrical press conference will prove to be misleading."

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