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Radio talk show host charged in wife’s murder

A Missouri radio talk show host was arrested Monday on murder charges in the death of his wife, who died of antifreeze poisoning, according to authorities.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Missouri radio talk show host was arrested on murder charges Monday for allegedly poisoning his wife by spiking her Gatorade with a chemical found in antifreeze.

Prosecutors said James Keown, 31, began poisoning his wife when the couple moved to Massachusetts in January 2004, after he lied to her about being accepted to Harvard Business School.

Keown was arrested at the radio station where he worked in Jefferson City, Mo. He later made a court appearance via video and said he would not fight efforts to return him to Massachusetts.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said the motive for the killing may have been financial: The couple was broke, and Julie Keown, 31, had a $250,000 life insurance policy. Her husband was never able to collect because the death came under investigation.

In May 2004, Julie Keown, a registered nurse, began experiencing nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and developed a rash on her leg.

On August 20, 2004, she was admitted to a hospital, where tests showed her kidneys were damaged. She was released several days later, and when her parents visited on Aug. 26, she was feeling better. On Sept. 3, Keown told friends she was doing “pretty well” but thought she might need a kidney transplant, Coakley said.

The next night, she was brought back to the hospital, where she slipped into a coma. She was pronounced dead four days later.

A preliminary autopsy the following day showed she had ingested a lethal dose of ethylene glycol about eight to 10 hours before she was admitted to the hospital. But it took another year of toxicological testing and investigation before prosecutors had the proof they needed to bring charges against James Keown, Coakley said.

In the meantime, he had moved back to Missouri, where he covered the Capitol for Jefferson City radio station KLIK and hosted the “Party Line” talk show.

Keown had told fellow reporters that his wife had died, but he did not say how. He was known around the Capitol as a friendly, hardworking reporter.

“It’s devastating for us,” said Scott Boltz, market manager for Cumulus Media Inc., which owns KLIK. “It was just devastating for our staffers and the community at large. He showed up for work every day. He worked hard.”

Shawna Keown, 21, said at her brother’s hearing in Jefferson City that he was innocent. “The truth will come out,” she said. “We hope for the best and I believe in him.”