Craig Nail and his girlfriend, Therisa Johnson, were winding down from Christmas festivities when tragedy struck them in the form of an unknown assailant. In December 2007, Craig was found dead in his bedroom after a terrifying shootout. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder Calls: The Silencer’ uncovers the sordid story behind Craig’s slaying that involved a hostile divorce and a murder-for-hire plot. So, let’s find out more about this case then, shall we?
How Did Craig Nail Die?
Craig Nail was a 36-year-old living in Frisco, Texas. At the time, he was working as a security system engineer for McAfee. Craig was described as a funny and outgoing person. He was a loving father who was involved in his daughters’ lives. His older daughter was 16-years-old at the time of the incident, and the younger one was about 6-years-old. They were both from Craig’s previous relationships. He was with Therisa at his home when the shootout happened.
A frantic 911 call from one of their neighbors on the night of December 26, 2007, had the police rush to the location right away. An injured Therisa was able to get to the neighbor’s home to ask for help. She had been shot thrice but survived. Back at Craig’s home, he was found dead in the bedroom closet on the upper level. He had been shot ten times, including in the head. There were .22-caliber casings recovered from the scene. While Therisa was airlifted to a hospital, the detectives had to process the scene of a homicide.
Who Killed Craig Nail?
Once Therisa was treated for her injuries, she was able to talk to the police. Therisa went to Craig’s home because they had plans to go out to meet a few friends for dinner. Since they were going to leave quickly, she left the garage door open, leading an unidentified man to walk in. He then started shooting at the couple. Craig ran to the upstairs bedroom, where he kept his guns while Therisa got out to get help. But sadly, Craig died before he could get his hands on a gun.
Soon, the police started to look into Craig’s past. They learned that he was having issues with his estranged wife, Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail. They were married in 1997, but Elizabeth filed for divorce after about nine years together. In the process, she lost the house they shared, and Craig had primary custody of their 6-year-old daughter. Previously, Elizabeth also accused Craig of abusing their daughter, but the claims were never proven.
While Elizabeth had a motive, she couldn’t have been the killer because Therisa identified the attacker as a white male. Therefore, the authorities theorized Elizabeth might have gotten someone to do the shooting and worked towards finding evidence. In the process, they talked to Elizabeth’s boyfriend, who stated that she once asked him if he could kill Craig and even had a plan for it. The boyfriend didn’t think much of it until Craig turned up dead for real. He quickly told the police what he knew.
One of Elizabeth’s friends, Carol, told the police that Elizabeth checked if she was wearing a wire when she visited her after Craig’s death. She then went on to tell Carol about hiring someone to have Craig killed because Elizabeth believed Craig was abusing their daughter. The home of Shirley Guthrie, Elizabeth’s mother, contained more evidence. The police executed a search warrant for the place and found a phone. One of the numbers saved on it led them to Mark Lyle Bell, a career criminal.
Another number belonged to Thomas Edward Grace, who was later described by the authorities as a middleman between Elizabeth and Mark. Soon, the puzzle started to come together. Elizabeth hired Mark to get rid of Craig. There was DNA evidence that linked Mark to the crime scene as well as shell casing evidence. Once confronted with the evidence, Mark pleaded guilty and confessed to the murder. Thomas also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit assault.
Where is Elizabeth Guthrie Now?
Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail stood trial in September 2012. Her defense claimed that Mark had acted alone in the murder. On the third day of the trial, the then-47-years-old pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder. The prosecution offered the deal after consulting with Craig’s family. Two of Elizabeth’s previous trial proceedings ended in mistrials.
Therisa, who survived the attack, talked of how she had to deal with PTSD and depression due to the shooting. She added, “He’s not here anymore because of what you did. I just don’t know how you could do something so evil and so mean-spirited.” Elizabeth was sentenced to 50 years behind bars. As per prison records, she remains incarcerated at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville, Texas. Elizabeth will be eligible for parole in 2033.
Read More: Where is Mark Lyle Bell Now?