Mother stands trial for shooting murder
Conway charged with killing man using her son’s police weapon
A woman accused of shooting two people, killing one, during what was supposed to be a custody exchange out- side a Waldorf McDonald’s last year is on trial this week in Charles County Circuit Court.
Caroline Marie Conway, 52, of Waldorf is charged with first-degree murder and at- tempted murder for allegedly shooting Robert Mange, 25, and Krystal Mange, 25, the mother of her son’s two children, in May 2015. Robert Mange died soon after at a nearby hospital while Krystal survived, according to previous reports.
Around 5:45 p.m. on
May 20, 2015, deputies of the Charles County Sher- iff’s Office responded to the McDonald’s parking lot located on Mall Cir- cle in Waldorf and found the two victims suffering from gunshot wounds, court proceedings indi- cated. Caroline Conway was arrested later that night after she had been identified as the shooter by one of the victims.
The defendant’s son, Prince George’s County police officer Richard Travess Conway, 26, was arrested and charged with murder a few days after the shooting when investigators discovered that he had reportedly conspired with his mother to kill the Manges, motivated by a heated and ongoing custody battle, according to authorities and court proceedings.
Police said they found several .40 caliber shell casings on the scene which matched the am- munition issued by the Prince George’s County Police Department. Police also found Richard Conway had reportedly persuaded a teenager to purchase a pre-paid cell phone on his behalf a few weeks before the shoot- ing, pretending he needed it for an undercover narcotics investigation, and said Caroline used that same cell phone minutes after the shoot- ing to call Richard to pick her up.
With Judge Steven Platt presiding, State’s Attor- ney Anthony Covington and assistant state’s at- torney Francis Granados were continuing to call witnesses to the stand as of press time Tuesday afternoon. Caroline Conway is represented by defense attorneys James E. Farmer and Melvin Allen Jr.
“This was a cold, calculated, planned murder,” Granados said during opening statements. The prosecutor told the jury that they will hear from witnesses that after Caroline Conway shot the Mange couple, she “walks away as cool as a cucumber.”
Granados also played an audio recording captured by an officer who had been one of the first to arrive at the shooting. As Officer Samuel Hooper tends to her wounds, he asked who shot her. “My ex’s mom, Caroline Conway,” she replied, crying.
The shooting, Grana- dos explained, was a violent culmination after a long and protracted custody battle between Richard Conway and Krystal Mange. In 2013, Krystal left Richard and moved to Virginia with their two shared children, and a visitation schedule was established, according to court proceedings. Richard and Caroline Conway made several allegations against the Mange couple, starting with child neglect, then physical abuse, and then child sexual abuse — unfounded accusations made in hope of winning sole custody, he said.
“Not a shred of evi- dence to back it up. It was a lie,” Granados ex- plained. “But they used that claim, they relied on it to win the custody bat- tle.”
On May 20, 2015, the Conways and Manges were contacted by a case worker with the Depart- ment of Social Services, Granados said, inform- ing both sides that their investigation yielded no evidence or indication of any wrongdoing and that visitation was to resume that day.
Caroline Conway went to the meet-up location at the McDonald’s on Mall Circle in Waldorf, got into their backseat and drew a handgun, Grana- dos said. She then forced Krystal to call Richard to change the custody exchange location to the courthouse parking lot in La Plata at 7:30 p.m. Granados said the move was an attempt to set up an alibi for Richard Conway.
After hanging up the phone, Robert Mange tried to grab for the gun, Granados said. She began firing the handgun, and Robert was shot multiple times. Krystal tried to run but is shot once in the side of her abdomen.
“She wasn’t crazy,” Granados said. “She was cold and calculated,” adding that the defense was going to say that Caroline was not criminally responsible.
Allen addressed the jury and told them that the prosecutors were not telling the whole story.
“You must understand the mental state of Car- oline Conway,” he said. “You must understand the psychological state of Caroline Conway on this day.”
Allen said that Caroline Conway had suffered a series of traumatic events in her life, beginning at age 2 when her father was murdered and she was separated from her family, and later endured sexual abuse at her new home.
Caroline Conway was very close to her grandchildren, Allen explained, and one of them had told her that he was “scared to go to my mom’s house,” that “bad things happen at mom’s home.”
Allen told the jury that they would hear testimony from two doctors in this case, one called by the state, and one who will explain how someone experiencing a “psychotic dissociative episode” can appear normal.
“We all regret that any loss of life occurred,” Allen said. “… You will see how the mental state of a grandma can be broken in such a circumstance.”
The trial was ongoing as of press time Tuesday afternoon.