In January 2015, just days after ringing in the New Year, Susan Winters was found unresponsive by her husband, Gregory Brent Dennis, in their home. The authorities initially believed it was a suicide, but information uncovered in the following months pointed to cold-blooded murder. NBC News’ ‘Dateline: A Cool Desert Morning’ focuses on what happened in the Henderson, Nevada, home and why the police ultimately believed Gregory was responsible. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Gregory Brent Dennis?
At around 6:48 am on January 3, 2015, Gregory Dennis, a psychologist, called 911 to report his wife was unresponsive in their bed. First responders detected a faint heartbeat and rushed her to the hospital, but she died sometime in the afternoon when Gregory asked to take her off life support. The initial ruling regarding Susan’s death was based primarily on what he told the police.
Gregory stated that he and Susan had been fighting the night before, and she had been drinking. Gregory added that Susan was suicidal and on anti-depressant medication. During the initial interview, he claimed to have left her sleeping at around 6 PM when he went out with his daughters. But when Gregory returned, he stated that he found searches for antifreeze poisoning on the family computer. Furthermore, Gregory claimed two antifreeze bottles were out of place in the garage.
When Gregory confronted Susan about it, he stated that she mentioned not feeling loved. According to him, when he suggested calling 911, Susan held a hammer to her face and threatened to hurt herself and blame it on him. Dennis told the police that he went to bed at around 10:30 PM, woke up at about 2 AM or 3 AM to go to the bathroom, and then went back to sleep before finding his wife unresponsive close to 7 AM.
Initially, the authorities ruled Susan’s death a suicide, with the coroner saying she died of a combination of ethylene glycol poisoning and oxycodone intoxication. However, Susan’s parents, Danny and Avis Winters, were not satisfied; they felt Gregory had something to do with the death and hired a private investigator and an attorney to push for answers. That pursuit for justice ultimately led the police to reopen the case and arrest Gregory, with the coroner later changing Susan’s manner of death to undetermined.
The family’s investigative team uncovered a lot of new evidence that pointed in Gregory’s direction. They accused him of looking up antifreeze poisoning because the search happened around 5:15 AM on January 3. Furthermore, the information was looked up remotely, possibly from a medical office. The investigators also learned that Gregory hired someone to wipe any traces of the search later on.
The report also alleged that Susan would have been too incapacitated because of the oxycodone for her to have gone to the garage to drink the antifreeze; there was no evidence of antifreeze in the bedroom where she was found. Furthermore, Susan was not prescribed oxycodone, but Gregory had access to it. He had been struggling with drug addiction, and his wife knew about his regular trips to a drug dealer operating out of a hotel.
One of Susan’s messages to her friend before her death read, “lots and lots of coke. Still not completely sure the whole coke thing isn’t a cover-up for being gay. Guess I need to find an NA meeting and a wives with gay husbands meeting too.” While Gregory claimed to have stayed at home all night, cellphone records showed that was untrue. He had traveled to his drug dealer close to 3 AM on January 3 and returned home around half an hour later.
Then there was a financial motive to consider. Gregory tried to access Susan’s bank account after she went to bed. Days after she died, he cashed in a check worth $180,000 from her and her parents’ joint account. He also received a $1 million life insurance policy and more than half a million of Susan’s inheritance. While Gregory admitted to the drug use throughout their marriage, he maintained that Susan had killed herself.
Where is Gregory Brent Dennis Today?
The prosecution believed that Gregory killed Susan for the money and because she threatened to expose his drug use. They claimed that he waited until Susan stopped breathing to call 911. After a pandemic-induced delay, Gregory was back in court in January 2022. Then 59, he entered an Alford plea for voluntary manslaughter. In May 2022, a judge sentenced Gregory to serve three to ten years behind bars. The couple’s two daughters, who stood by their father, believed that Susan had killed herself. Prison records indicate that Gregory remains incarcerated at the Southern Desert Correctional Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will be eligible for parole in 2025.
Read More: Where Are Danny and Avis Winters Now?