Bud solved a murder most fowl
Something just wasn’t right, Connie Ream decided uneasily.
She hadn’t heard from her neighbours, Glenna and Marty Duram, for two whole days.
The Durams lived across the street from Connie and her husband, Keith, in Sand Lake, Michigan, and the two couples were close, talking or texting every day. What have you done with
Marty? Keith jokingly texted Glenna when there was no word from his pal.
But, on the second day of radio silence, Connie was concerned.
She could hear the Durams’ dog barking, so she let herself into their blue clapboard bungalow… and made a grisly, shocking discovery.
Her friends’ bodies lay on the bedroom floor, covered in blood.
Marty, 46, who was in his underwear, had been shot five times at close range with a .22 calibre handgun. Three bullets had been fired into his chest and two bullets were lodged in his back and arm.
Glenna, 47, who was dressed, with a blanket over her legs, had two gunshot wounds behind her ear.
They had both been shot dead, Connie thought. So did the two paramedics who arrived on the scene.
Then, an hour later, while a policeman was trying to coax the Durams’ dog out of the bedroom, he thought that Glenna seemed to be breathing.
He knelt to check her pulse and, as soon as he touched her, her eyes flew open and her body jerked.
‘What are you doing?’ she cried. Glenna was alive!
But, while she spent months in hospital recovering from the wounds to her head, police were scratching theirs, trying to work out what had happened.
There was no sign of a breakin, and Glenna said she didn’t remember what had happened between 11 May, when Marty was last seen alive, and 13 May, when his body was found. Had she pulled the trigger and then bungled her own suicide attempt?
She told police she wouldn’t kill her husband because he was all she had, and that they had had a holiday planned.
‘I wouldn’t shoot my husband. I’d be better off divorcing him and leaving him,’ she told a detective. ‘I know for a fact I wouldn’t kill my husband.’
So, what on earth had happened in that house?
The couple had been married for 11 years and seemed to get on well. Marty had three grown-up children from his first marriage, while Glenna had two.
He had been disabled in a car accident some years earlier and, in 2010, when his health worsened, Glenna became his carer, earning £2,300 a month from the state, while Marty got £800 a month in disability benefit.
They split the money between them but, while Marty was frugal – switching lights off and turning the heating down, so much so that visitors wore thermals at their house – Glenna hit the casinos.
She got into the habit of going once or twice a week. In 2010 alone, she gambled £55,000.
In 2012, during a trip to visit Marty’s brother, Dan, in Montana, the couple couldn’t go anywhere without Glenna wanting a casino stop.
‘We always had to wait for Glenna to finish gambling,’ Dan complained.
When he saw her pumping hundreds of pounds into slot machines, she asked him not to tell Marty.
Glenna was into lottery tickets, too, buying around £50-worth of tickets at one petrol station three to four times a week.
As the money drained away and the debts mounted, she kept it a secret from cautious Marty.
But, by May 2015, the house was about to be repossessed and auctioned off. And then Marty was shot dead...
A week after the shooting, Fran Falan, the wife of one of Marty’s cousins, contacted the police, claiming that, as a psychic, she had information to help them.
Meeting the police on her back patio, she told them it was important to look under the couch, or love seat, of the Durams’ home.
She also said that both Marty and Glenna were right-handed, and their hands were important to the investigation.
Sure enough, investigators had found the murder weapon, a Ruger Single-six handgun, under the love seat.
Money drained and debts mounted
And, during Marty’s post mortem, it was discovered that he was clutching a clump of hair in his right hand.
Fran, who said she was with her daughter on the night of the shooting, added that she believed Glenna was innocent.
But, in the eyes of Marty’s family, there was only one culprit – and that was Glenna.
And there was a witness who’d repeated the couple’s last argument, and even Marty’s dying words.
Trouble was, he couldn’t sign a police statement. That’s because he was a parrot! First a psychic, now a talking parrot... this case was getting stranger by the day. But Bud, aged 20, an African Grey parrot, was Marty’s pet and had been his constant companion for years. African greys, with their distinctive red tail feathers, can live for 40 to 60 years in captivity and have the intelligence of a human child. They are brilliant mimics, perfectly repeating anything from a phone’s ringtone to a cat’s miaow and – most impressively – speech, even in different accents. They can also associate voices with faces. After Marty’s death, his ex-wife, Christina Keller, who’d once owned Bud with Marty, took the bird to live with her. As usual, he chattered and whistled while he clambered round his big white cage in her house. But, one day, a couple of weeks after the killing, Christina claimed she heard the clever bird repeating a chilling conversation, using Marty’s and Glenna’s voices.
First, she heard Bud shout, ‘Get out!’ Then he mimicked a woman’s voice, saying, ‘Where will I go?’
Then, in what sounded like Marty’s voice, the bird shrieked, ‘Don’t f***ing shoot!’
She tried to video Bud saying all this, but African greys only talk when they want, so she only captured the last line.
For 11 months after Marty’s death, Christina didn’t tell anyone outside the family about Bud’s revelation, which he had repeated several times.
Then she shared the ‘Don’t f***ing shoot’ video of Bud with a local TV channel, hoping it would attract public interest and finally push the police into making an arrest.
‘She’s just evil and mean and dirty inside and out,’ Christina said about Glenna.
‘I believe with all my heart that those are the last words of Marty,’ she added, sure that Bud had seen his owner’s murder.
‘He was there to see it all happen and heard it. It was imprinted in his brain. He can’t let it go, and that’s awful.’
Marty’s mum, Lillian, agreed, saying, ‘That bird picks up everything and anything, and it’s got the filthiest mouth around.’
The surprise star witness had sung like a bird.
Three weeks later, Glenna – who had been a suspect since the killing – was arrested and kept in custody at Newaygo County Jail.
Soon, everyone was talking about Bud the parrot as his video went viral.
Would he take his perch in court? Blow the whistle on Glenna at the trial?
But Newaygo County prosecutor Bob Springstead said he had no intention of calling the parrot to the witness stand.
He pointed out the problem of asking Bud to swear an oath to tell the truth… ‘Are you raising a wing? A foot?’
At Glenna’s trial, held in July 2017, the evidence stacked up against her.
Her phone had been used to search the kind of handgun used in the shooting, and she left handwritten notes in envelopes that, although they didn’t mention the killing or turning the gun on herself, read like suicide notes.
Shown photos of her dead husband in court, Glenna showed no emotion.
Although her defence team said the evidence against her was ‘smoke and mirrors’, the jury didn’t buy it. She was convicted of murder and a firearms charge.
Hearing the verdict, Glenna started mouthing off, flinging her arms up in a mini-tantrum before she was led off.
Sentenced in August, she will spend the rest of her life in jail.
And Bud can sleep peacefully on his perch at night, knowing that, thanks to him, he’s not the only one behind bars. Glenna’s lawyer says she plans to appeal.
Bud’s telltale video went viral
‘Don’t f***king shoot!’ Bud mimicked
Glenna had an unseen witness Marty’s pet brought his wife to book Bud’s evidence put Glenna behind bars