Cindi Vickers Murder: Billy Vickers is Out of Jail Today

The ‘Dirty John’ Podcast mainly features the case of the Newell family’s brush with the conman “Dirty John” but also mentions a tragedy within the same family three decades ago. Cindi Vickers was murdered inside her Garden Grove, California, home in early March 1984, but the aftermath of the heinous crime was as shocking as the homicide itself.

Who Was Cindi Vickers?

Born November 21, 1952, Cindi was engaged to Bill “Billy” Franklin Vickers, a supermarket manager, when she was 17. They married a year later after she attained legal age. Cindi’s mom, Arlane Hart, stated they had two children and were happy. Arlane added, “She said, ‘Mom, I am not happily married. You were right. I should have waited longer. He’s not the type of person I want to be married to.'” The confession surprised her because she had always believed they shared an amicable relationship since they always seemed cheerful at family gatherings.

However, Cindi proceeded to inform her mother that Billy had grown increasingly controlling. She cited instances such as his disapproval of her wearing a bikini to the beach or going out alone at night. Arlane said, “We just had a great family unit and she named several things that I didn’t even know that was happening.” The rift between Cindi and Billy widened when she crossed paths with a professional football player who showered her with attention. She requested a divorce from Billy, and the two of them sold their Garden Grove residence.

On March 8, 1984, Cindi had intended to visit her mother for lunch. However, she never arrived, and Arlane stowed away the lunch ingredients to resume her piano teaching duties. At about 4:00 pm, the doorbell chimed, and she answered it, only to discover two police officers on her doorstep. One of them gently conveyed the devastating news that a shooting had occurred. Initially, she feared that Billy, in his distress, had harmed himself. To her horror, she soon realized that it was her daughter who had tragically lost her life that day.

Who Killed Cindi Vickers?

Arlane recalled, “I could not believe what I was hearing. The two policemen just stood there, with their hats on their chests.” According to the police, Billy had shot Cindi while she sat at a table, engaged in the task of writing checks in the home they had recently sold. He had borrowed the gun from a friend — the murder weapon that he used to fatally shoot his wife in the neck from behind. Following the trigger pull, he inflicted a gunshot wound in his stomach and promptly dialed 911 to tell the dispatchers he had shot himself.

While Billy survived his self-inflicted injuries, Cindy succumbed to her at the hospital. According to investigators, the mother of two already had separated from her husband of 13 years and was living in Laguna Niguel. However, she had returned to the house to clean it and to pay some bills before the buyers moved in the following day. During the early 1985 trial, the prosecution presented the case portraying Billy as possessive and moody. They characterized him as someone who harbored jealousy over his wife’s attractive appearance.

The prosecutors contended he felt hurt when she would allegedly mock him for his looks and baldness in front of their acquaintances. They depicted him as a man consumed by jealousy and moodiness, who believed that his wife’s decision to move out and establish her own bank account on the day before the shooting marked the definitive end of their marriage. However, it was Arlane’s deep-rooted commitment to her lifelong Christian faith that she later stated had enabled her to find the strength to forgive Billy.

This conviction led her to ultimately testify on his behalf during her own daughter’s murder trial, a decision that left the case’s prosecutor profoundly surprised. She spent five hours on the witness stand, and her unwavering support for her former son-in-law — who had expressed remorse for his actions in taking her daughter’s life —remained steadfast despite the prosecutor’s persistent questioning. “I loved Billy. I didn’t love him for what he did. I hated what he did, but I still loved Billy,” she said in the podcast.

Prosecutor Thomas Avdeef stated, “They threw her (Cindi) under the bus. I don’t know the dynamics of the family. I could never understand that. Why say bad things about the victim?” Billy’s defense team argued that their client killed Cindi “in a state of temporary unconsciousness.” Defense Attorney James Riddet, said, “We don’t quarrel with the fact that he shot the gun.” Jurors acquitted Vickers of both first and second-degree murder charges and reached no verdict — deadlocking in a 7-5 decision — on the voluntary manslaughter count.

Where is Billy Vickers Now?

However, before the case could go to retrial, Billy pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was given a five-year sentence. He would serve only two years and nine months in jail before being released on parole. According to Cindy’s sister, Debra Newell, Billy re-entered family life and even attended family parties and events with his two sons — Debra’s nephews. However, she stated she could never forgive him like her parents. Three decades later, Cindi’s sister, Debra Newell, got embroiled with “Dirty John” — another tragic incident for the family.

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