Venus Stewart, the Michigan woman who was snatched and killed by her estranged husband while checking the mail box at her parent’s home, is the focus of tonight’s Dateline NBC. The Venus Stewart episode first aired on Dateline in 2011. The sad but fascinating case captured the attention of the nation as images of the beautiful dark-haired mother of two was flashed across television screens as police tried to figure out what had happened her.
Michigan State Police eventually connected the woman’s estranged husband to the kidnapping and murder. Douglas Stewart had tried to trick the police by having another man impersonate him in order to establish an alibi. It all failed, and Douglas Harrie Stewart of Newport News, Virginia, was charged and convicted of her murder. His accomplice in the case was sentenced to one year in prison as part of a plea deal.
In 2010, 32-year old Venus Rose Stewart was staying at her parents home on Driftwood Drive in Colon Township after separating from her abusive husband. The marriage was so rocky that Venus took out three restraining orders against Douglas Stewart because she was scared to death of him. In fact, in a letter to the court, Venus Rose stated emphatically that Douglas Stewart was going to hunt her down and kill her, and that’s exactly what he did.
Already going through a bitter divorce and having been accused of molesting one of his daughters, Douglas Stewart was furious when Venus Stewart won temporary custody of the couple’s two daughters. That’s when investigators say he devised a plan to have his friend, Ricky Spencer, impersonate him so that he could make the drive from Virginia to Michigan to kill Venus.
Venus was expecting a package from the mailman but had no idea that it was actually her husband, Douglas, setting her up. At around 7:30 that fateful morning, Venus, dressed in her bedroom slippers and pajamas, walked out of her parent’s home to the mail box where she was grabbed by Douglas Stewart. She fought for her life, and no one in the quiet rural neighborhood saw anything.
By the time her father checked on her, Venus was long gone — leaving behind a chaotic and confusing scene that indicated that she had been in some sort of a struggle.
Her father immediately called police, and the search was on to find the missing mother. Despite the community’s help in the search, there was no indication of what could have possibly happened to Venus. But all of that would change when police found blood in Douglas Stewart’s car and mysterious receipts that showed purchases for a shovel, a tarp, and gloves the day before she vanished.
Detectives also learned that another man had actually pretended to be Douglas Stewart. Video captures show a man paying bills and running errands all over town in Virginia. The man was eventually identified as 21-year old Ricky Spencer, a man Doug Stewart met while using the Xbox gaming system, according to Michigan Live. In exchange for less time in prison, Ricky Spencer, admitted that he was the man in the video, and that he had agreed to help Doug establish an alibi. In exchange for his testimony against Douglas Stewart, Spencer received only one year in jail.
Sadly, Venus Stewart’s body was never found. All indications suggest that she was killed and buried. Many believe that Ricky Spencer got off easy and should have done more time. It is also believed that his tears on the stand are a stark contrast to the man who helped another man kill his wife.
“Ricky Spencer sat in the murderer, Doug Stewart’s apt in VA, knowing Doug Stewart was in Mich and that she was going to be MURDERED.”
Richard Spencer,III needs to stand up and be a man! Those little girls have been cheated out of a mommy forever.[He] is just as responsible for the murder as Doug Stewart is.”
Today, Douglas Stewart is serving out his life sentence in a Michigan state correctional facility. Sources say Ricky Spencer went back to his hometown in Delaware after he was released in 2012.
Get even more details by watching tonight’s Dateline— Venus Stewart episode entitled “Deadly Game.”
Watch video of the Stewarts taking down missing persons flyers for Venus Stewart.
[Photo Credit: YouTube]