Mike Tabb, the Troup, Texas, preacher who murdered his wife, Marla Tabb, almost 15 years ago, is the featured murder story on Investigation Discovery’s hit show Killer Clergy. The newest Killer Clergy episode, titled “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” is a stirring account of a religious couple who appears to be faithful servants of God until a secret sex life is revealed that threatens to break up a marriage and spin the small church-going community into a tailspin of lies, deceit, and murder.
2002: Wife Found Dead In Parsonage Bedroom
Marla Tabb went from military wife to preacher’s wife. But what should have felt like a sanctuary as she moved inside of her church home turned out to be her “murder suite” after her pastor husband, Mike Tabb, found her dead on the bedroom floor just six weeks after giving birth to her second child, according to the Amarillo Globe News.
An autopsy report concluded that the preacher’s wife was beaten to death with a blunt object. Michael “Mike” Tabb told investigators that he had been out that day but returned home, where he found his wife, Marla Tabb, in a pool of blood. The front door, he said, was also slightly opened.
Seasoned detectives could tell by the scene that 35-year-old Marla Tabb had fought for her life against the attacker. News of the murder rocked the entire community of Troup. Mike and Marla Tabb had been in Troup for only two months after leaving the military.
Righteous Preacher, He Wasn’t
Right away, 41-year-old Mike Tabb, an upstanding Methodist minister, didn’t seem to be a likely suspect. But after all other leads were exhausted, investigators circled back to Mike, where they learned that the marriage between the couple was not as it seemed.
There were two sides to Marla Tabb. Some didn’t consider her a friendly person at all, stating that she didn’t have the temperament and the caring personality of most preacher’s wives. Others say that she seemed like a loving wife who was devoted to her church and to her husband. According to Chron, Mike Tabb described his wife in the following manner in a newsletter to the church.
“In a church newsletter the week before her death, Tabb described her as a gifted musician and singer who ‘surrendered to a call to ministry’ when she was a 15-year-old high school student in Beaumont. She had performed in the musical production Texas for three seasons, he wrote, and was a church music and youth director while attending Baylor University. She continued her missionary work as they traveled to Japan and she became fluent in the language of that country.”
As police looked further into the couple’s marriage, it came to light that Marla Tabb often belittled and talked down to her husband in public, something that several people witnessed during the course of the marriage.
Authorities say Marla Tabb hated living in Troupe, and she grew disgusted with her husband’s ungodly ways. It turned out that Michael Tabb was struggling with inner demons that impacted his relationship with his wife and his ability to run the congregation. The investigation revealed that Mike Tabb often binged on alcohol, wasn’t good at his job as pastor of the church, and he had a liking for strip clubs and sex with women outside the marriage.
For someone like Marla, she would have considered her husband’s behavior to be an embarrassment. Investigators theorized that Marla Tabb threatened to reveal Mike Tabb’s double life to the church, leading Mike Tabb to silence her for good.
Evidence showed that Mike and Marla Tabb had an altercation in the bedroom, where investigators believe he unleashed a torrent of anger, resulting in his wife’s beating death. Then, he tried to cover his tracks by thoroughly cleaning his truck. However, Mike Tabb forgot the role DNA evidence would play in connecting him to the killing.
In the end, police got all they needed to make the arrest and charge the small-town preacher with murder. To see how Texas law enforcement officials solved the case of Mike and Marla Tabb, follow along this Friday, September 16 at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID).
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