The gruesome April 2006 murder of Nebraska couple Wayne and Sharmon Stock landed the police in a highly complex investigation, eventually leading to the arrests of their young relatives, Matthew Livers and Nicholas Sampson. However, soon some new evidence resulted in a shocking discovery: the possible involvement of Wisconsin duo Jessica Reid and Gregory Fester. NBC’s ‘Dateline: In the Dead of Night’ delves into this mind-bending case and explores how detectives finally linked the teenage couple to Wayne and Sharmon’s death. If you wish to learn more about the same, we have you covered.
Who Are Jessica Reid and Gregory Fester?
Born on February 22, 1989, Jessica Reid was a cheerleader and an honor roll student from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, yet it all came crashing down for her following a painful divorce. Soon, she got mixed up in drugs and met Gregory “Greg” Fester, a young troublemaker with a troubled past involving drugs and criminal convictions. The two fell in love and began dating, but things spiraled out of control due to their reckless behavior.
In early April 2006, 17-year-old Jessica and 19-year-old Greg stole the pickup truck and shotgun of a local man named Ryan. The two then consumed drugs, including a lot of cough syrup, and decided to take the vehicle for a joyride in an intoxicated state. The couple drove through three states and robbed several homes before arriving in Murdock, Nebraska. They randomly broke into a secluded farmhouse through the laundry room’s window and went upstairs to the bedroom. Unfortunately, this woke the homeowners, Wayne and Sharmon Stock, a married couple in their 50s.
As 58-year-old Wayne confronted the teenagers, Greg shot him in the knee, resulting in a scuffle. Jessica then shot the former in his right eye, and as he crawled away to escape, her boyfriend fatally shot him in the back of the head. Greg then shot Wayne’s 55-year-old wife, Sharmon, once in her eye; she had been trying to call the police and died on the spot. Realizing what they did, Jessica and Greg absconded the scene and drove away, leaving behind a marijuana pipe and a flashlight in their hurry.
A few days later, the teenagers were arrested for stealing Ryan’s truck and were eventually let off on bail. Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Wayne and Sharmon’s nephew, Matthew Livers, was arrested on suspicion of their murder. Though he denied involvement initially, he was allegedly pressured into admitting to the murders after failing a polygraph test. Matthew further named his cousin, Nicholas Sampson, as his accomplice and revealed they had co-conspired to kill the Stocks.
Given that the detectives claimed there was a lot of evidence against them, Matthew and Nicholas were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. But unbeknownst to Jessica, she had left behind another crucial piece of evidence at the murder scene, which soon led to her arrest. Ryan’s pickup truck also had an inscribed gold ring gifted to him by his former lover, Cori. When Jessica and Greg stole the vehicle, she immediately found the ring and wore it on her hand. Thus, while escaping after murdering Wayne and Sharmon, it slipped off and fell on the victims’ kitchen floor.
Luckily, an alert detective found the ring during a second search of the crime scene. The jewelry was then laboriously traced back to Ryan, and through him, the police caught up with Jessica. As expected, she denied any knowledge of the murders at first. But when shown Nicholas and Matthew’s pictures, the teenager immediately admitted that she and Greg met the two cousins at a bar in Murdock. As per the show, she alleged that the two men took them to Wayne and Sharmon’s farmhouse, where they shot the couple as she and her boyfriend watched.
Greg implied the same under questioning, yet the ring, the marijuana pipe, and the flashlight indicated otherwise. With his and Jessica’s DNA found on the evidence, the police warned the latter of dire consequences, and she eventually caved under pressure. She confessed that she and Greg murdered the Stocks during a drug-fueled rampage and that she had falsely named Matthew and Nicholas earlier. Furthermore, the shotgun stolen from Ryan matched the murder weapon, with a shell casing found in Greg’s house.
Based on all the evidence and Jessica’s confessions, she and Greg were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. On the other hand, Matthew and Nicholas were acquitted of all charges after IQ tests indicated the former’s confession was unreliable. A detective was also charged and sentenced for evidence tampering. The two men sued the investigators and were eventually awarded compensation.
Where Are Jessica Reid and Gregory Fester Today?
Since Jessica Reid was a minor, she did not face the death penalty and soon accepted a plea deal to testify against Gregory Fester for a lesser sentence. Albeit, due to a delay in filing documents, he avoided capital punishment. Later, Jessica and Greg accepted another agreement and each pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. In 2007, they both were given two consecutive life sentences each, with the latter being given an additional 10 to 20 years for using a firearm to commit a felony.
In 2008, Greg and Jessica appealed their sentences, citing they were excessive, yet the court affirmed its judgment in both cases. Now 35, Greg is incarcerated at the NDCS Reception and Treatment Center in Lincoln, with his parole review set for August 2027. 33-year-old Jessica is serving her sentence at the Nebraska Correctional Sentence for Women in York, with her parole hearing scheduled in October 2031.
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