Mother, son get life sen­tences for mur­der

Con­ways con­spired to kill two over cus­tody bat­tle

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

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.”

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