Husband Accused of Trying to Kill Wife

November 14, 2008 8:11:22 PM PST
Investigators say greed and lust motivated Joe Westfall to try to kill his own wife. Westfall and his wife Jennifer are still married. But police said Joe wanted her dead to collect insurance money and run away with a woman from another country. December 2007: fire spread through a home at Cedar and Ashlan. Inside rescuers found Jennifer Westfall trapped, unconscious and on the verge of dying. Westfall told Action News in March 2008, "There's fire all over the ceiling, the doors." Jennifer showed us the scares that covered her arms. Investigators said Joe wanted to kill his wife. They believe he put a propane tank inside the home to ignite a fire. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer explained why Joe would want Jennifer dead, "The motive is reported that Joe planned to kill his wife and then to collect the insurance policy money and then use those funds to further a relationship that he had established."

Dyer said Joe had a secret, online relationship with a woman who lives overseas. Dyer said, "He sent her some jewelry. He sent her an engagement ring and a wedding ring."

Action News shot video of Joe at the scene after his wife was revived. At that time, investigators reported Joe showing odd emotions. But when we asked Jennifer about all the allegations she defended her husband. Jennifer said, "It was an accident. No one wanted this to happen. My husband loves me. I know that in my heart. That he loves me and wouldn't do anything like that."

Police are looking for this man. He is 32-year-old Ruben Rodriguez. Investigators believe he is connected to the crime but they won't say how. Joe Westfall is expected to plead not guilty to arson and attempted murder next week when he makes his next court appearance.

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