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Did a victim plan his own murder?

Did a wealthy businessman Andrew Kissel, stabbed to death in his own home, arrange his murder so his family would get his insurance?

It reads like a best selling thriller.  Did a wealthy businessman who was stabbed to death in his Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion, hire his own murderer so his family could get $15,000,000 worth of life insurance?  Forty-six-year-old Andrew Kissel was found dead three days before he was going to plead guilty in federal court to real estate fraud. 

What were the charges?  Well, he stole millions and millions of dollars.  He was buried today in New Jersey, next to the body of his younger brother Robert.  Robert was murdered by his own wife in 2003.  She was convicted of poisoning his milkshake and then bludgeoning him to death. 

Andrew's estranged wife Hayley Wolff Kissel, she wasn't at the funeral today.  She was asked to stay away and honored that request.  Hayley and Andrew were heard fighting last Saturday, the day before police believe Andrew was stabbed to death.  His body was rolled into a carpet and stored in the basement. 

Well for now the police don't seem to have a suspect in his murder. 

Dave Altimari, who is a reporter for the “Hartford Courant,”  Andrew Kissel's divorce attorney Howard Graber, FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt and John Jay College forensics expert Larry Kobilinsky joined ‘The Abrams Report’ to discuss the murder mystery.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

SUSAN FILAN, GUEST HOST:  So, what's the latest in the investigation today?  Do the police really think he might have something to do with planning and plotting his own murder?

DAVE ALTIMARI, “HARTFORD COURANT” REPORTER:  It's one of several theories that they're still looking at.  This is a very long-term investigation.  The reason this came up is because a few days before the murder, a friend of Mr. Kissel has told the police he had a conversation with him in which Andrew Kissel said that he wanted to kill himself but he couldn't bring himself to do it and he was considering hiring someone to do it for him.

FILAN:  Dave, is anybody taking this seriously?  I mean is this just crazy speculation because his friend suggested it, but I mean does anybody really think this could be true?

ALTIMARI:  The crime scene leaves several questions itself as well.  It doesn't appear to have been a struggle.  There was no blood found anywhere in the house except in the basement where he was killed, so there was no signs that there was any struggle anywhere else.  There were no defensive wounds on his hands or on his face, indicating that he fought. 

The likelihood is he knew his killer or killers, because the house had a gate in front as well as a locked front door, so he either had to let them in or they had access on their own.  So there's a lot of questions about how this all took place that he ended up handcuffed in his basement, stabbed four or five times in the back.

FILAN:  Dave, what are the other theories that police are pursuing besides this what I think is kind of a whacky one? 

ALTIMARI:  They've also started interviewing anybody who had any dealings with him, as far as may have lost money.

FILAN:  Well that's a huge group of people, isn't it? 

ALTIMARI:  Well, there are many, but not as many as you would think, because several of his victims were banks or lending institutions.  What he was doing was basically forging mortgages and then taking out other mortgages on top of those forged mortgages.

FILAN:  But it is a large group of people that got bilked out of an awful lot of money.  Howard, let me start with you.  You represented this man in his divorce that was pending in court and you've heard the “Hartford Courant's” theory that the police are looking into this as possibly a murder for hire because he didn't want to go to jail or whatever.  Can you shed some light on this?  Because I think it's pretty far out.


GRABER:  Well, as an attorney, Susan, which we both are, I've been arguing with this in my own head from both ways.  When Mr. Kissel first came to my office, the reason the divorce had escalated is because he had filed a motion for alimony and he seemed genuinely in fear as to how he would support himself once he vacated the residence on March 31.

FILAN:  He was going to go to jail.  I mean that wasn't going to be...

GRABER:  Well, there was going to be a few weeks in between, but the thing that surprised me and I've been thinking about this since the story broke in “The Courant” was that the motion for alimony was never followed up upon by the lawyer who filed it, my predecessor, and it was never addressed again in my office, so it seemed like the concern had somehow disappeared.

FILAN:  OK.  So you're saying because he didn't follow up on that motion, maybe he never really intended to get the money from his ex-wife because he knew he was going to be dead soon.  Do you have anything else that makes you think that maybe he was behind his own murder or do you kind of think that having met him a couple of times he would do it.

GRABER:  I don't think he was behind his own murder.

FILAN:  Clint, I know that you've come across a lot of whacky things in your day.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  A lot of whacky things, Susan. 

FILAN:  And this to me seems to be one of them, but can you in your profiler hat think of any reason why this theory is not so farfetched? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, number one motive, $15 million, the question is does he really think his two daughters needed that.  I mean his wife has been outspoken about how much money she makes, so you know, a murder for hire, you know, anyone could have hired this, but suicide by proxy, you know, if he wanted to look like he had been killed, you could find somebody with a gun who would put two bullets in your head and it would probably be a lot less painful than being stabbed to death in the basement.

So you know, the stretch to me is why the knife?  I mean couldn't he afford a real good killer with a gun?  Did he have to get you know somebody with a hunting knife or a kitchen knife.

FILAN:  Do they charge extra for that? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  Well, you know, instead of just two shots, it took four stab wounds or five stab wounds.  You know, unless—you know, now you're saying did he really want to punish himself or did he think if it looked more brutal—I mean two bullets in the head is a pretty brutal crime, as well as four knife wounds.  You know maybe Larry has seen other crimes like this, but when I've seen these type of hits before, you know, if somebody wants to hire a hit, you can find somebody with a gun. 

FILAN:  Clint, real quick, if you do hire a hit man, do you get to tell them how you want to be killed or is it up to them? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well and it's interesting and I've seen cases where you can tell the hit man, I want this guy to really suffer, I want him to last for a while and be pained or I want it to be quick.  Go in there, take him out real fast get it over with and move on. 

FILAN:  So there's a little hit man menu. 

VAN ZANDT:  Whatever you're willing to pay for, Susan. 

FILAN:  Larry, let me go to you.  Because I want you to talk us through the forensics.  We've heard that there were no defensive wounds on the hands and we know that the hands were bound behind his back with that white plastic material that police sometimes use when they're doing large mass arrests.  What do you make based on what you know, and I know it's limited, but the forensic evidence, to support or defeat the theory that he had a hand in his own death? 

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENCE EXPERT:  Yes.  I really agree with Clint, I don't think this is a professional hit, but it appears that since there was no sign of a break-in, that he knew his assailant or assailants. 


KOBILINSKY:  He came into the home ,he or they took him down to the basement.  They then restrained him and once you're restrained, hands behind your back and ankles tied, you can't have defensive wounds on your hands.

FILAN:  But Larry, wouldn't you expect to receive something, some kind of a struggle as he goes from upstairs down to the basement? 

KOBILINSKY:  Not necessarily. 

FILAN:  Why?

KOBILINSKY:  If there were more than one person, that could happen very easily. 


KOBILINSKY:  We can't make any assumptions on how many people were involved, but even more importantly, we know there are perhaps five or six stab wounds.  This was the kind of crime that took some time, it was painful.  Again, this is not the way professional hit men work.  They get in, they do their dirty deed, and they get out.

FILAN:  Larry, real quick, you're the forensic guy on this case now, what are you looking for, for evidence to solve this case? 

KOBILINSKY:  Well clearly we're looking to see if there's any obvious evidence where we can link a suspect to the victim or a suspect to the crime scene, and that would include trace evidence DNA and all sorts of other things of that sort. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.