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TV show about Susan Monica case to air Sunday

Susan Monica

The story of multiple murderer Susan Monica, a Wimer pig farmer who fed her victims to her hogs, will be featured Sunday on the Oxygen TV channel’s true crime series “Snapped.”

Monica’s case played out like a circus in Jackson County and in social media in 2014 and 2015. She was first arrested in January 2014 for using the stolen Oregon Trail Card of missing handyman Richard Harry Haney.

Law enforcement then stumbled onto two bodies on the 20-acre pig farm – that of Haney and 59-year-old Stephen Frank Delicino, and the grisly details sounded like a low-budget horror film.

More bizarre than the murder details and conditions in which Monica lived on her West Evans Creek Road property would be the manner in which her court case played out as she attempted to defend herself.

Throughout the trial, the bald welder utilized makeup artists, formal clothing and various wigs. She laughed when investigators spoke of digging more than 130 holes to find more victims and admitted to removing clothes from one of the men to enable the pigs to finish eating.

After a lengthy investigation, Monica, now in her early 70s, was sentenced in April 2015 to a minimum 50 years in prison for murdering and dismembering the men and feeding them to her pigs.

Interviewed for the episode last fall, Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman said the Oxygen episode, Season 28, Epsiode 2, would give “a peek behind the fence” of the rural farm in Wimer.

Freeman said the episode would provide details that proved difficult to verify during the investigation and trial. He acknowledged the case as both horrific to imagine but hard not to watch. He said the bizarre nature of the case prompted him and others to participate in the episode.

“In 30-plus years doing this, I’d never had a serial killer and this particular case was just so crazy that I decided to go along with their show. They’ll definitely be sharing information that has not been put out before,” said Freeman.

“It was more theater than anything because she represented herself. She lost a ton of weight, wore a wig and almost nun-like clothing,” he said.

“She had zero training, so she was obviously all over the board. I was impressed with how Judge Tim Barnack always gave her a lot of leeway to allow her to do what she thought she needed to do for her defense. It was obviously to make sure the case didn’t get sent back on appeal. He did a great job.”

He added, “A lot of time, crime cases can be so violent and the circumstances so crazy, but in court they’re very … antiseptic. Susan Monica running her own defense as a serial killer, it was pure theater.”

Freeman recalled the massive dig performed by law enforcement after discovery of the second body.

“After they found the second body, there was zero belief in Wimer and elsewhere that two was all it was going to be,” Freeman said.

“Everyone from the police to the community expected there to be more bodies. And they dug hole after hole after hole, so when they didn’t find any other bodies that was a bit of a surprise to everybody at the time.”

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler, a detective sergeant during the investigation, called the case one of the craziest of his career, including the three weeks spent on the property, the massive dig and the conditions of an unfinished barn and makeshift underground bunker.

Sickler was previously dispatched to the property in August 2012, a month before Delicino’s death, when neighbors reported Monica burying what appeared to be human remains. Deputies responded to a disorderly conduct call the following September, between Monica and Haney.

“It was a very disturbing case, obviously very sad for the victims, and she had her own unique story that came out during the investigation,” Sickler said. While some dramatization is to be expected with TV producers, Sickler said producers would be hard pressed to depict the eeriness and “disgustingness” of the property.

“Hopefully they’ll be accurate and do at least some justice to the overall magnitude of what the scene was like. It was definitely one of those cases you get once in a career. I remember the day we served the search warrant … you can’t even describe the smells,” he said.

“We had people getting sick while we were working there, and anybody with close contact to the property. ... I was sick for a few days. State police came down to help, they got sick, too.”

Freeman and Sickler recalled Monica becoming irate when law enforcement ordered the pigs destroyed – rather than donated to a food pantry – prior to information released that the pigs had fed on the men.

Jackson County Senior District Attorney Allan Smith said he would have been surprised if the case had not been recreated for TV.

“We kind of knew it was all coming, but we didn’t know when. I’ve seen the trailers and it looks pretty good. I’m sure there will be some liberties taken in the dramatization, but that’s to be expected. I remember being surprised at the time that it didn’t get more national play,” he said.

“It was definitely a very bizarre case and it just got worse and worse the further we got into it. Probably the most disturbing part of the whole case, that we didn’t nail down or find out about until right before the trial when one of the jail inmates housed with Susan Monica provided us some additional information, was that we couldn’t prove how the victim ended up in the pig pen.”

Smith added, “We found out she had essentially gut shot him the night before and then left him out there all night while he was alive. … It was the kind of stuff you have nightmares about.”

Smith said he’d probably check out the Oxygen episode.

“I think it’ll be more of a comprehensive look at the whole thing. I’ve watched a number of their shows. They do a pretty good job,” he added.

“I think it will reveal a lot of things that maybe people didn’t know about or realize was going on at the time … in a more viewer-friendly manner.”

Sunday’s episode is set to air on Oxygen at 3 p.m. and will be available for replay.

For more information, see www.oxygen.com/snapped.