Dennis Yaklich Murder: Where is Donna Gilkey Now?

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When the father of five, Dennis Yaklich, was found murdered right outside his property, it sent shockwaves through the entire community, leaving his family members and friends devastated. The authorities led an extensive investigation into the complicated case, trying to get to the bottom of it and find out the identity of the perpetrator/s. The episode titled ‘Nanny Nightmare’ of ‘Evil Stepmothers’ profiles the entire case of Dennis’ murder in detail, from the events that led to the tragedy to the arrest of the killer/s responsible for the gruesome crime.

Dennis Yaklich Was Found Dead in His Driveway

Edward A. and Ann T. Yaklich gave birth to a son on November 29, 1947, and named him Dennis Yaklich. Before becoming a narcotics detective for the Pueblo Police Department, he grew up in a seemingly loving household along with her beloved parents and sister Joan “Mam-Mam” Yaklich Heller-Colletti. Not only was he mentally strong, but his strength was also reflected in his physical aspects, as he was a champion weight lifter. A dedicated officer at work, Dennis was just as much dedicated to his family, which consisted of his wife, Barbara Yaklich, her three children from her previous marriage, and the couple’s daughter, Vanessa.

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The couple had gotten married reportedly in 1970, and just after seven happy years of marriage, Barbara passed away from a heart attack on February 14, 1977. It happened quite suddenly in the morning as she fainted at first, after which Dennis performed CPR on her before the authorities arrived. She was taken to Parkview Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival. According to her death certificate, the cause of her death was reported as circulatory collapse due to months of diuretic drug abuse, a lacerated liver, and a potassium deficiency.

Dennis now had the responsibility of raising four children, for whom he started looking for a nanny. Finally, he came across a woman named Donna Gilkey, whom he found fit to be his kids’ nanny. As the two got to know each other, sparks flew, and they fell in love. Soon, Dennis tied the knot with Donna, and the newly married couple appeared to have a picture-perfect family, especially after the pair gave birth to a son, Dennis Jr., in December 1979.

Several years into their marriage, the life of the Yaklichs turned upside down when, in December 1985, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, Dennis was found dead right outside their Avondale, Colorado house, in the driveway. As the police rushed to the crime scene, they discovered that he was shot six times across his body and once on the head. The authorities launched an investigation while taping the scene and collecting all the pieces of evidence they could find.

Two Brothers Were Hired To Kill Dennis Yaklich

When the police began interrogating Dennis Yaklich’s family members and friends, they learned that his marriage with Donna and her relationship with his children were not all butterflies and rainbows. In fact, the children, including Christopher Anzlovar, told them how horrible she was towards them, especially towards Vanessa. Moreover, she even cashed in a $250,000 insurance policy after his demise. Although the stepmother was one of the prime suspects in the case, the police could not gather any concrete evidence against her, except for the testimonies of Dennis’ children.

Months passed, but the detectives were unable to find anything incriminating until they received a call from a high school girl who revealed that her boyfriend, Charles Greenwell, admitted to her that he and his brother Edward, AKA Eddie, were involved in the murder of Dennis. The police took immediate action after receiving this information and got a search warrant for the brothers’ house. Upon scouring through the property, the investigators found the two guns that were used in the shooting death of the former narcotics officer. Following the discovery of the murder weapons, Charles and Eddie were brought in for questioning.

Not long into the interrogation, Charles began talking and confessed that he shot Dennis twice and Eddie pulled the trigger once. He admitted that they did it for the $45,000 that Donna offered them for taking out her husband. When the detectives interviewed her, she claimed that he used to abuse her regularly, and it had gotten to a point where she started to fear for her life. Moreover, she even alleged that Dennis was involved in the death of his first wife, Barbara. However, the incriminating evidence and testimonies against her outweighed her claims of innocence, and on February 26, 1986, she was arrested for the murder of Dennis Yaklich. The Greenwell brothers were also apprehended for their involvement in the crime.

Donna Gilkey Has Been Released From Prison Since 2009

Donna Gilkey’s trial for the murder of Dennis Yaklich commenced in January 1988 in Pueblo County, Colorado. During the trial, her defense pleaded that she was the victim in the case and that her husband was abusive towards her. She claimed that she hired the Greenwell brothers in self-defense and to put an end to a long pattern of abuse. Meanwhile, the prosecutors argued that she orchestrated the gruesome deed to get the monetary gain of his insurance money.

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While the first trial ended up being a mistrial, the second one led to Donna’s shocking acquittal of the first-degree murder charge. However, she received the guilty verdict for the conspiracy to murder charge and was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1988. Meanwhile, Edward and Charles Greenwell pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. While the former received a 30-year imprisonment sentence, Charles was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In October 2005, Donna was allowed to be moved to a halfway house from prison.

In 2009, after serving just 18 years out of her 40, Donna was released from prison on parole. When it came to the actual killers, Eddie was released from prison in 2010 after serving 19 years of his sentence. On the other hand, his brother served 18 years behind bars before being let out in 2009. After being released, Donna reportedly completed several anger management programs and was employed by a non-profit organization in the Denver metropolitan area. At present, she seemingly prefers to keep her life private and away from the eyes of the media.

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