- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 3, 2004

TRENTON, N.J. — In divorce papers filed the month William T. McGuire’s dismembered body washed up in three suitcases in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, his wife accused him of gambling away their savings, stuffing a dryer sheet in her mouth in a fit of rage, and abandoning her and their two preschoolers hours after closing on a half-million-dollar house.

His boss at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark — where Mr. McGuire worked as a $65,000-a-year computer programmer and earned extra money teaching computer courses — seems to have known a different guy. His description of Mr. McGuire matched with others in their small department — he chatted up the boss about the house he was buying and occasionally pulled out his wallet to show snapshots of his two boys.

It’s now up to homicide detectives to figure out which picture of Mr. McGuire is less distorted: that of an increasingly erratic spouse who was betting regularly and drinking heavily, or that of a Navy veteran and self-made man doing what he could to make life nice for his young family.

“We have very different opinions on what this gentleman was like,” said Sgt. John T. Orr, in charge of the Virginia Beach Police Department homicide department.

Mr. McGuire, 39, and his second wife, Melanie, 31, closed on a $500,000 Warren County home on April 28. The couple had an explosive fight late that night and he stormed out of their Woodbridge apartment — after reportedly slapping her across the face — five weeks shy of their fifth wedding anniversary. It was the last time she saw him, divorce papers state.

When he hadn’t come home by May 3, his wife cancelled their move because she couldn’t handle the costs alone. Mrs. McGuire then moved out of the couple’s apartment and has been staying with her parents on the New Jersey shore. Her lawyers did not return calls or e-mails.

Mr. McGuire’s car was parked behind the Flamingo Motel on Atlantic City’s casino strip on April 30, in a lot used mostly by casino workers. A security tape shows a man getting out of the car, but motel manager Ozzie Sussain says Mr. McGuire never stayed there. The abandoned sedan, with two children’s car seats in back, was towed on May 8.

Mr. McGuire’s body parts washed up in suitcases in the Chesapeake on May 5, 11 and 16. He was scheduled off from his job for two weeks beginning May 3 to move, his boss said.

Mrs. McGuire filed for divorce on May 25, about the time an anonymous caller to Virginia Beach Crime Solvers identified Mr. McGuire from a police sketch of his bloated face. Mrs. McGuire called her husband’s boss on May 28 to say police had told her that Mr. McGuire was dead.

Nobody had reported him missing.

Mr. McGuire’s wife, ex-wife, boss and lawyer offer stark contrasts about his habits and demeanor.

Mr. McGuire filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and his wife says in her divorce filing that his “irresponsible gambling” caused her constant worry over their finances. Ex-wife Marci Paulk said Mr. McGuire would pull gambling all-nighters in Atlantic City and began coming home drunk, or not at all. She divorced him in 1994 after finding he was cheating with the woman who would become his second wife.

Sgt. Orr said Mr. McGuire appears to have been a social gambler, but there’s no indication he had been at the casinos recently or was in over his head. Outstanding gambling debts have not shown up, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, he said.

The casinos won’t talk about their patrons, and the state Casino Control Commission does not track individual gamblers.

Mr. McGuire’s boss, Thomas Terry, said his former employee was not a penny-pincher and didn’t appear hard up for cash.

Mr. Terry also said Mr. McGuire sometimes came to him for fatherly advice.

Mr. McGuire’s attorney, Laurence R. Sheller, said his client always paid him on time. He also said buying the house had been stressful for Mr. McGuire because the bank appraised the property for $15,000 less than the amount the couple needed to obtain their loan.

The buyers and sellers ended up splitting that cost, Mr. Sheller said, and the McGuires obtained a $450,000 mortgage.

Mr. McGuire had a horrendous driving record in New Jersey, where he amassed 37 points against his license and racked up 33 suspensions, though none of the offenses was for drunken driving and none happened in Atlantic City, according to the state Motor Vehicle Commission.

He was fined $1,550 and given three years’ probation for tampering with a witness — his wife — after a traffic stop in 1997.

Yet, Mr. Terry said, Mr. McGuire had no problems at work, showing up regularly and arriving on time.

Mr. Sheller, Mr. McGuire’s attorney for five years, described his client as “intelligent” and “always very pleasant.”

“The worst thing I could say about him was I got the impression at times that he was a little overconfident he could handle anything,” he said.

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