NBC’s ‘Dateline: The House in the Woods’ as well as ABC’s’ 20/20: What The Little Girl Saw’ focuses on the brutal murder of Kelley Clayton in September 2015. The young mother of two was beaten to death in her own home by an intruder in a murder-for-hire plot. In a shocking twist, her husband, Thomas, hired a former employee to carry out the slaying. Michael Beard was that person and was eventually brought to justice, but not before a confession and a recantation. So, if you’re wondering what happened, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Michael Beard?
After Kelley was found murdered, the authorities connected Thomas to Michael through a phone call placed sometime before she was discovered. Michael had previously worked at Thomas’ company and also at ServPro, with which the latter was also affiliated. ServPro was owned by one of Thomas’ close friends. However, he was fired because of complaints of stealing from clients’ homes. The authorities believed Michael’s motivation was money since it was clear he was desperate for it at the time. Furthermore, he was facing eviction by Thomas.
After Michael was arrested, he confessed to the murder, saying Thomas offered him $10,000 to kill his wife, only to recant it soon after. However, through the evidence at hand, the authorities were able to piece together what might have happened on that fateful fall night. Sometime before 11 pm, Thomas called Michael, who soon left his home on his bike. He actually cycled to ServPro, picking up a vehicle Thomas had left for him earlier. Then, Michael picked up Mark Blandford, a friend.
Mark later claimed to know nothing about the murder. He asserted he only knew Michael was about to commit a crime. For that, Mark was supposed to be the lookout. They stopped close to the Clayton residence around midnight on September 28, 2015, with Michael entering through the garage; Thomas had given him a key. He then went to the bedroom where Kelley was sleeping. He used a maul handle to hit her twice, but she fought him off and ran out before falling down the stairs.
Kelley then ran into the kitchen, where Michael continued to attack her until the job was done. After her death, Michael left, changed his clothes, and placed the bloody clothes in a gym bag. He drove back with Mark while making sure to dump the murder weapon, the gym bag, and the keys at different places. Once Mark was dropped off, Michael left the truck back at ServPro and then cycled back home through the same route. Michael later told the police where to find the previously disposed of items.
Where is Michael Beard Today?
At Michael’s trial, he had a different story. Michael testified that while Thomas did hire him, it wasn’t to kill Kelley. He said it was to set the Clayton residence on fire for insurance money. Michael claimed that Thomas told him the house would be empty, but he panicked upon seeing Kelley dead, so he left without doing anything. However, the jury did not buy this narrative one bit, and in November 2016, they convicted him of first-degree murder as well as two counts of second-degree murder.
Following his conviction, Michael was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder, plus concurrent terms of 25 years to life for the second-degree murder charges. Therefore, today, about 51 years old, he remains incarcerated at the maximum-security Auburn Correctional Facility in Cayuga County, New York.
Read More: Where is Kelley Clayton’s Family Now? Update