Stephen Craven met Adele Vicuna, who is Hispanic, in Southern California while he was training to become a pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard and she was in Mortician school. They secretly married shortly thereafter in 1989. Eventually, Stephen became a Pilot with Delta Airlines and they moved to Edgewood, Kentucky with their two young sons. By the spring of 2000, Stephen and Adele were fighting often and sought marriage counseling, as they had done in years past. Among other things, he cited her overspending and she said he wanted to have sex too often. Adele told her friends that Stephen made her skin crawl and she wished his plane would crash. Adele got $3,000 from her mother for a divorce, but decided that it was not an option and hid the money from Stephen. Adele led Stephen to believe that they were making progress in counseling while she began her plan to kill him. The Cravens were having some home repair done and Adele befriended Rusty McIntire, the son of their Contractor. McIntire also had a troubled marriage and the two commiserated. Adele recognized how easily she could manipulate McIntire and quickly began an affair with him. In no time she convinced McIntire to help her kill her husband. She convinced him that they would share Stephen’s $500,000 life insurance and begin a new life together. Unable to muster the courage to kill Stephen himself, McIntire was convinced by Adele to find someone who could do the job. McIntire turned to a construction site laborer he knew named Ron Pryor who was known to be perpetually in need of money and not afraid to do anything to get some. Pryor was offered $15,000 and quickly agreed. A plan was made for the evening of July 12, 2000. Pryor was to beat Stephen with a crowbar and to ransack the home to make it look like a burglary. McIntire purchased the murder weapon the night before the murder and called Adele on a cell phone that he had given her. The cell phone had become a point of contention between the Cravens. Stephen wanted Adele to give it back, but she refused. She claimed to be working with McIntire and told Stephen that the phone was necessary. Adele and Rusty talked on the cell phone often. In fact, cell phone records show that the McIntire and Adele talked 502 times for a total of 1875 minutes in the month before the murder. On the day of the murder alone they called each other 22 times.
On July 12, 2000, McIntire and Pryor met at 9 A.M. and they waited in a local Cemetery for Adele’s phone call. They had planned to go to the Craven home that morning to see the layout, and further discuss the plan for the murder that night. At the Craven home, Stephen and Adele were planning for an upcoming vacation. Stephen had called in sick and Adele was waiting for him to leave the house. Stephen had called a friend in New York and since he could fly with Delta at no cost, the two were going to meet in New York City to see a Broadway Show. Stephen got Adele’s approval and called his friend back to make arrangements. Adele immediately called McIntire and told him that they had to do it now. With their oldest son away at a day camp, Adele let her other son go with a neighbor to the grocery store, which provided the opportunity to get Stephen alone. Pryor hid in the back of McIntire’s truck and they drove to the Craven home. It was not unusual for McIntire to show up uninvited as he was still working on a few odd jobs there. When he arrived, McIntire told Stephen he was there to fix a faulty showerhead in the basement. Pryor had hidden in the basement at a prearranged spot where Adele had set up a mirror so that Pryor could see when Stephen was in position to be attacked. Adele lured Stephen toward the garage by telling him that their pet ferret was loose, the signal for Pryor to attack. As Stephen approached Adele, she shut the half glass door in his face while Pryor attacked. He struck Stephen a dozen times with the crowbar, shattering his skull so severely that his brain oozed out of the fractures. Adele stood at the window in the door watching the attack. As they gathered by McIntire’s truck, Adele declared that Stephen was still breathing. Stephen’s arm twitched in the large pool of his own blood. She produced the Craven family handgun, a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson, and handed it to Pryor. She told him to go in and shoot Stephen. Pryor complied, shooting Stephen one time in the head. As Pryor began to change out of his clothes, Adele again said that Stephen was still breathing. She reloaded the gun, handed it to Pryor and instructed him to shoot Stephen again. Pryor shot Stephen two more times in the head, leaving bloody boot prints near the body. With the deed done, the three went their separate ways. Adele told Rusty that the longer it was before a body was found, the harder it was to establish a time of death. A piece of information she learned while becoming a mortician. A neighbor watched as McIntire and Adele drove away from the Craven home. Adele immediately went to the bank and got a $4,000 cash advance from Stephen’s credit card. She then met McIntire at a Verizon Wireless store where she paid $1,308.36 on his delinquent cell phone bill. Adele gave McIntire $1,000 to pay Pryor and the two had lunch. McIntire then met Pryor and gave him the $1,000 cash for the murder.
Ten hours after the murder, Adele came home and called 911 from a neighbor’s phone because “the front door is standing open and there is a light on in the office and my husband is supposed to be in New York”. When police arrived they found the body. Adele never shed a tear but tried to appear distraught. Detective Wayne Wallace was asked by the City of Edgewood to lead the investigation. An Edgewood Patrolman informed Detective Wallace that recently, he had caught Rusty McIntire and Adele Craven having sex in the back of McIntire’s truck behind a local church. When Detective Wallace spoke with Adele that night, she made no mention of her relationship with McIntire. When Adele’s car was searched, it was discovered that she had her passport, a file folder that included birth certificates of her and the children, a bag containing makeup, underwear, marriage counseling notes, a phone charger, and clothes for her and the boys. Evidence continued to mount against Adele Craven. She told at least 8 people that she wanted Stephen dead and even asked one to find her a hit man. She told her babysitter that if anything ever happened to Stephen not to ask her about it because she did not want to have to lie to her. Adele was arrested 8 days after the murder. Adele maintained innocence. McIntire refused to speak with Detective Wallace and fled the country on a prearranged Disney Cruise, compliments of Adele Craven (and her mother’s $3,000). When McIntire returned from his vacation, he was confronted by Detective Wallace and confessed, revealing the murder for hire plan. Ron Pryor was immediately arrested and also confessed to Detective Wallace. Their confessions led to the retrieval of evidence involved in the murder. McIntire discarded the bloody clothes and murder weapons at a local refuse transfer station. The evidence was then taken to a garbage landfill in Williamstown, Kentucky. Six weeks after the murder, Detective Wallace and others searched at the landfill through three thousand tons of garbage for sixteen days and found the bloody boots and shirt that Pryor wore during the murder. DNA testing confirmed that they were covered with Stephen Craven’s blood. McIntire had discarded the bullets in a wooded area and led Detective Wallace to them. The FBI laboratory conducted Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis and matched the rounds found in the woods with the rounds found in Stephen’s head. The murder weapons were never found.
With the Commonwealth seeking the Death Penalty against all three defendants, a Judge surprisingly severed their cases, forcing separate trials. A deal was made with McIntire to testify against his co-defendants in exchange for a sentence of Life without parole for twenty five years. Pryor was tried in April, 2002 in Kenton County Circuit Court and a Jury sentenced him to Death. Adele Craven hired an aggressive attorney who successfully sought a change of venue to Lexington, Kentucky. The time leading up to the trial, and the trial itself was full of defense antics for seven weeks, and resulted in a hung jury. A mistrial was declared in December of 2002. Prosecutors struck a deal with Ron Pryor to escape the Death Penalty and testify in Adele Craven’s retrial in exchange for a sentence of Life without parole. Adele was appointed two new attorneys. In January of 2004, Adele Craven was again tried for Murder in Lexington, Kentucky. On February 19, 2004, after six weeks of trial and at the conclusion of the Commonwealth’s case, Adele requested to plead guilty to Murder to avoid a possible sentence of Death and agreed to a sentence of Life in prison. She waived any future appeal and was sentenced immediately. You can see Adele's guilty here: