Mother, son get life sentences for murder
Conways conspired to kill two over custody battle
The woman who shot two people, killing one, in broad daylight during what was supposed to be a custody exchange outside a Waldorf McDonald’s in May 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Monday morning in Charles County Circuit Court. Her son, a Prince George’s County police officer, found guilty as
an accomplice and co-conspirator, received a life sentence Tuesday.
Caroline Conway, 53, of Waldorf received a life sentence without the possibility of parole plus an additional 60 years, after being found guilty in December of first-degree murder, attempted murder and other charges for shooting Robert Mange, 25, and Krystal Mange, now 26, the mother of her son’s two children. Robert died from multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body after he tried to grab the gun as they were accosted inside their vehicle, while Krystal, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, was shot once and survived, as did the child.
The defendant’s son, Richard Travess Conway, 28, a patrol officer with the Prince George’s County Police Department, received a life sentence plus 50 years, found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and second-degree murder in January. He was held criminally responsible as an accomplice. A few days after the shooting, he was arrested and charged with murder when investigators discovered that he had conspired with his mother to kill the Manges, motivated by a heated and ongoing custody battle.
The Conways were also convicted of several counts of reckless endangerment for the danger posed to numerous onlookers. Stray bullets fired by Caroline entered multiple occupied vehicles near the McDonald’s, including one occupied by a man and his two young granddaughters, who found a bullet fragment in the back seat.
Caroline Conway’s defense team claimed that she had been experiencing a psychotic dissociative episode at the time, though she was ultimately found guilty and criminally responsible for the act following a two week jury trial. The episode, they said, was the culmination of decades of untreated mental trauma she sustained as a victim of child sexual abuse, catalyzed by her perception that her grandchildren were being molested, which brought her to her breaking point.
Both State’s Attorney Anthony Covington (D) and Judge Erik Nyce, who presided over Richard’s trial, said there was no evidence of any abuse. Defense attorney C.T. Wilson, who is also a Charles County delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, mentioned the allegations again at sentencing, which Nyce called a “parting shot.” Covington emphatically said the allegations were unfounded, a fabrication used against the Manges in order to obtain sole custody.
The Conways, prosecutors said, were motivated by the custody battle, Richard’s obsession with getting back at Krystal and Caroline’s obsession of her grandchildren. Together, they contrived a murder plot that was to be carried out by Caroline and assisted by Richard.
Neither Caroline or Richard had a criminal history.
“You never know what someone is capable of until they do it,” said Covington after sentencing, nearly two years after the shooting. “… There are no winners in these things. Robert Mange is still gone. Krystal and other folks who were terrorized by this act still have to live with it,” he said. “And these two people, who seemly were living good lives, are going to jail for the rest of their lives, as they should, but it’s no day to be celebrated.”
Although Richard was not on duty at the time, “I think it hurts the fabric of our community just a little bit more,” Covington said. “He basically grew up here in Charles County. They’ve been living here for decades.”
As the state saw it, on May 20, 2015, Richard Conway dropped off his mother near the McDonald’s on Mall Circle in Waldorf where the Manges were waiting inside their Jeep for Richard to drop off Krystal’s two children in common, according to proceedings. Around 5:45 p.m., Caroline, hooded and gloved, got into the car and at gunpoint forced Krystal Mange to call Richard and change the pickup to the La Plata courthouse at 7:30 p.m. Then, after Robert went for the gun, Caroline shot him several times in the parking lot before turning the gun on Krystal, shooting her once in her side abdomen.
The prosecutors believe Richard was waiting nearby to pick up Caroline after she called him on a pre-paid cell phone he had persuaded a teenager to buy for him under the pretext that he needed it for a high level narcotics investigation. With the kids in the car, the two then went to an old family friend’s house where Caroline changed clothes, and they discarded the phone, clothing and Richard’s agency-issued handgun into a trash bag, a scene captured by a home sur veillance system.
After Krystal identified Caroline Conway as her shooter to first responders, the Conway residence on Guildford Drive was cordoned off by police. Meanwhile, Richard and Caroline went to the courthouse and tried to contact Krystal, an attempt to live out their alibi. Richard later returned to the home on Guildford Drive and identified himself and his mother, and both were taken in for questioning. Richard’s inconsistent account given to detectives immediately led investigators to believe he was involved.
Caroline, who sobbed throughout the hearing on Monday, spoke before Judge Steven Platt. She maintained that the incident was not planned, that she never meant to hurt anyone.
“I am sorry,” she began. “I am sorry Robert’s dead,” adding that she was worried about her grandchildren. “I can’t change what happened, and God knows I wish I could.”
Richard declined his opportunity to address Judge Nyce at sentencing Tuesday.
Before handing down his sentence, Nyce said Robert, a U.S. Navy veteran, died without knowing that Krystal and their baby survived.
“He did save Krystal,” he said. “He was a hero.”