Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lover crumbles, leads police to body

Nine-year-old mystery: Rosemary Christensen from Melbourne vanished in Florida in 1999.

By Peta Hellard in Los Angeles
September 13, 2008 03:24am

AN American accused of the stabbing death of his Australian wife could face the electric chair for the 1999 murder after her body was found buried at a secluded Florida property this week.

Robert Glenn Temple, 58, faces life imprisonment or a death sentence if found guilty of murdering Rosemary Christensen, from Melbourne, who vanished in August 1999.

Mr Temple, being held in a California jail on unrelated charges, was informed two days ago that Florida authorities were planning to charge him with one count of first degree murder.

Mr Temple's girlfriend, Leslie Stewart, 31, led investigators to Ms Christensen's grave this week after confessing that she helped dispose of the body in bush at her father's property near the Suwannee River in Florida's rural Pinellas County.

Sheriff's investigators said Ms Christensen, 43, had been stuffed in a green, plastic storage bin wrapped with duct tape, with her body found clothed in a nightgown and doubled over in a fetal position. Ms Christensen, who was identified through dental records, was believed to have died from at least one stab wound to the abdomen.

The case has sparked outrage in Florida after authorities revealed Ms Stewart, who has a three-year-old daughter with Mr Temple, would not be prosecuted after making a deal to testify against him.

Prosecutors allege Mr Temple stabbed his wife at their home and then enlisted Ms Stewart - a co-worker with whom he was having an affair - to help him hide the body.

Ms Stewart's lawyer, Jay Hebert, said his client was a victim of domestic violence and Mr Temple had threatened to kill her and their daughter Alyssa if she ever revealed the murder.

Ms Christensen's sons from a previous marriage, Radinck and Olivier van Vollenhoven, who live in the Netherlands, said they could finally close a difficult chapter in their lives.

"Olivier and I are relieved that our mother, Rosemary, has been found after all these years and that we can finally get closure and move on with our lives," Radinck said.

Ms Christensen, who worked as a real estate agent in the Florida town of Belleair, was married to Mr Temple for two years.

Her mother reportedly lives in Ringwood and her father in Mornington.

Prosecutors said if Mr Temple were found guilty he faced life imprisonment or a death sentence -- and he would get to choose between lethal injection or the electric chair.

Mr Temple will not officially be charged until the matter goes before a grand jury in Florida on October 7.

The trial will not take place for at least 18 months.

Mr Temple initially told detectives he suspected Ms Christensen left him for another man.

He even launched public appeals through the media for anyone who knew of her location to contact him.

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