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The Case of the Forensic Femme Fatale

(page 1 of 6)

It was a match made in Tijuana.

In February 1995, 21-year-old Gregory de Villers was crossing the border with his two brothers to spend the day in Mexico. He was taking a little time off from UCSD and his biology studies.

De Villers was about 6 feet tall and a little on the thin side. He had an easy smile that seemed to spread across his entire face. He was always doing something athletic, like tennis or snowboarding. His brother Bert kidded him about his obsessive personality. And he was about to meet the obsession of his life.

Eighteen-year-old Kristin Rossum was a blonde, hazel-eyed beauty. She was also a mess, according to those who knew her then. She was on the run from school, her family and a methamphetamine habit. Rossum literally bumped into Greg de Villers as they crossed the border.

“They took an instant liking to each other, and that was it,” says Craig McClellan, the de Villers family attorney. “She said, ‘Hey, mind if I hang out with you guys?’”

They didn’t mind, and Rossum spent the day with them in Tijuana. They all came back across the border that night, and Rossum went home with Greg. She never left.

“After they met, they were never separated,” McClellan says. “He’s the one who got her talking to her parents again, got her off meth and back in school. I don’t think there’s any question that he was crazy about her.”

De Villers even defended his new love against his own family, according to McClellan, who says de Villers’ expensive gold jewelry—given to him by his father—was missing soon after the relationship began. The family suspected Rossum, but Greg wouldn’t hear of it. “She could do no wrong as far as he was concerned,” McClellan says.

On June 5, 1999, they got married in an outdoor ceremony at Mount Baldy. Home video of the wedding shows the groom looking shy, almost awkward in his morning coat. The bride wore a modest white gown—no décolletage—with her hair braided around her head like a blonde halo.

A string quartet played the obligatory Bach. The guests sat in folding chairs. The courtyard was rustic, except for the strip of white satin for an aisle. It took exactly 25 minutes for Gregory and Kristin to become husband and wife.

For the reception, everybody moved indoors to a converted dinner theater. De Villers toasted his new bride the way all grooms should, and then some: “Kristin is the most wonderful person I’ve ever met, incredible in so many ways ... so intelligent, kind and caring ... I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.”

Greg de Villers did spend the rest of his life with Kristin Rossum—all 17 months of it. On November 6, 2000, Rossum called 911 from their University City apartment because her husband wasn’t breathing. A paramedic, among the first on the scene, reported that de Villers appeared to be “way dead.” They attempted to revive him anyway, then took him to Scripps Memorial Hospital. But the paramedic was right. De Villers was way dead.

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