A Mourning Girlfriend Had Plenty of Ideas On Who Wanted Her Boyfriend Dead
An upscale Texas neighborhood was rocked in July 2012 when a doctor was found dead in his home.
When 57-year-old Dr. Joseph Sonnier didn’t show up to work on July 10, 2012, a coworker from the hospital drove to his Lubbock, Texas, home to check on him. The coworker called 911 at 1:48 p.m. that afternoon to say the home had been broken into and that there were shell casings from a gun on the floor. The coworker stepped inside and began to sob — there was a trail of blood leading into the garage, and the beloved doctor was lying face down. It was apparent that the pathologist was dead.
Zach Johnson, a 15-year veteran of the Lubbock Police Department, was assigned to the case. When he first arrived on the scene, he found a heinous, violent scene that implied the killing had been carried out in a rage. At first, the officer wondered if it was a case of a burglary gone wrong, but nothing of value seemed to be missing.
In the living room, a bay window had been pushed in, and a whiskey glass was on the floor. Dr. Sonnier’s eyeglasses were nearby, and a chair was overturned. Shell casings and blood droplets were scattered throughout the room, and the blood drops continued down the hall and into the garage, where the doctor’s body was found.
An autopsy revealed that the doctor had been shot five times by a .25 caliber pistol. He had been stabbed an additional 11 times. Authorities surmised that when being shot hadn’t killed him, his assailant finished the job with a screwdriver.
As police began piecing together the days leading up to the doctor’s murder, they learned that he’d been at work between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on July 9. Data from his home security system revealed he was home by about 7:15, where he had enough time to pour himself a drink before the killer broke into his home. The medical examiner estimated that he had died between the time he got home and 10 p.m.
Authorities spoke to the doctor’s adult sons and learned that he had been dating Richelle Shetina for almost 10 months, and the two had recently returned from a trip to Paris for her 50th birthday. Police brought the devastated woman in for questioning, where she told them she texted Sonnier around 10:30 p.m. on July 9, but that he hadn’t responded. Shetina did, however, seem to have a list of people who might have wanted to hurt Sonnier.
Find out how police solved the crime on A Time to Kill on ID on Dec. 9 at 10/9c. More episodes are available now on discovery+.