Mastermind of Murder: The Volatile and Tragic Marriage of Alan and Dianne Masters
Dianne Turner Mueller was a married woman when she met Alan Masters in January 1969. Her husband Ronald Mueller was serving in Vietnam when she met with the divorce attorney. She’d already had a few affairs while Ronald was away – undoubtedly a large reason for the divorce, but none would become so serious as it did with one of Chicago’s best known lawyers.
From the very beginning, Alan, eleven years Dianne’s senior and also married, wooed Dianne with his money; buying her fine clothing and jewelry as well as flower deliveries and daily phone calls. It was everything Dianne had ever dreamed of; fancy homes, flashy cars, the latest fashions. And the parties they hosted were amazing; the guest lists always sporting the names of Chicago’s elite and well-connected.
For several years, Dianne was willing to be Alan’s mistress. She accepted being secreted away, a secondary thought to Alan’s “first” family, and served as an outlet for rages that often culminated in physical violence in exchange for an otherwise dream-fulfilling life . By 1974, after getting pregnant resulted in Alan forcing her to have an abortion instead of leaving his wife as she had hoped, Dianne was getting tired of it all, so she gave Alan an ultimatum: leave your wife or it’s over.
At first, it seemed the high powered attorney wasn’t going to be bossed around by his mistress, but eventually he relented and showed up on Dianne’s doorstep with a garbage bag full of his clothing.
Dianne was a woman who knew how to get what she wanted and before she agreed to allow Alan back into her life, he had to agree to two things: purchase her a new home and to get her pregnant.
Over Before It Began
Although Alan hadn’t married her by the time their daughter Andrea* Masters was born in July 1977, Dianne still believed she had gotten the man. She came to realize that she’d gotten more than she’d bargained for.
Dianne knew Alan had some shady dealings, but being with him on a daily basis exposed her to just how corrupt and criminal her boyfriend really was. Dianne had a front row seat to Alan’s payoffs to dirty cops and judges, his shoulder-rubbing with organized crime, and his ownership in a Chicago brothel; the latter disgusted her more than any of the Alan’s illegal activities.
Dianne was completely disenchanted with Alan by 1979 and, taking Andrea with her, left Alan and moved in with her brother, Randall Turner, and his wife Kathy. It was then that Dianne finally revealed to her brother the physical abuse she often endured and the fear she had of Alan.
Within days Alan had tracked Dianne down and lured her home again with promises of divorcing his wife Benita Masters and a trip to the exclusive La Costa Spa in Carlsbad, California.
Alan kept his promise of divorcing his wife and the day after it was final, he and Dianne wed in a civil ceremony at City Hall on March 25, 1980. It was not the large church wedding Dianne had envisioned; several times in the next couple of years, she would make the statement to various people, “The way I live and the way I dress and I get married in a pair of blue jeans!”
The honeymoon was even more disastrous in Dianne’s eyes, as Alan had invited another couple along for their voyage on the Queen Elizabeth II.
For Dianne, it was not the forced divorce from a first wife, the untold scores of broken promises, or domestic violence that made her finally realize life with Alan was not going to be so great; no, for this young woman, it was a casual beginning that triggered the events of a very dramatic end.
A Jim Among the Ruins
Married for a second time didn’t make Alan give up his adulterous games. Dianne confronted Alan with his infidelity and he, in turn, accused Dianne of the same. Round and round they went with the bitter arguments, screaming accusations, and fights that often turned physical. By the time they headed out on a much-needed vacation in Sarasota, Florida, in December 1981, Dianne had decided it was Alan’s last chance to prove he was willing to change to save their marriage or she was going to divorce him.
It’s was really no surprise to anyone that Alan failed miserably at the test Dianne had laid before him. It began with his returning home early, claiming he had pressing business at the office, even though the Courts were closed for the holidays.
Arriving home just days after the new year of 1982, Dianne began deciding how to best divorce Alan. She knew her husband would not go quietly and Dianne did not intend to go penniless, so meticulous planning had to be done before she announced her intentions to Alan.
As Dianne went about the business of secretly planning a divorce, she carried on with her civic activities like being trustee of the Moraine Valley Community College board. It was through this position that Dianne met Jim Koscielniak.
In the Fall of 1981, she and Jim had began meeting for coffee. Their conversations had began with a focus on education, but as time went on they had started exchanging personal tidbits of information. Jim talked with Dianne about life as a divorced dad and she, in turn, disclosed the marital discord between she and Alan; talking freely about their sexual incompatibility and his seeming disregard for their marriage vows.
When she made the decision in early 1982 to finally call it quits, Jim was undoubtedly a factor Dianne considered. As a matter of fact, before she left on vacation with her husband and daughter, she and Jim had become intimate following a faculty Christmas party. So, it wasn’t a leap to allow the relationship to become a full-blown affair after her mind was made up.
Dianne had become like a silly school girl as her liaisons with Jim grew in frequency. She was well aware of her husbands many connections throughout the city and suburbs of Chicago and she took precautions to keep the affair from being discovered, yet her giddiness would lead to foolish risk taking.
In choosing to have an affair and planning to divorce her husband, Dianne Masters had taken a gamble. When she lost, the price would be her life.
On the evening of March 18, 1982, Dianne attended a board meeting at the college. She didn’t see Jim that evening as they had agreed it would be best, until her divorce was finalized, that he not attend.
When the meeting adjourned, Dianne went out for drinks with other boards members as was customary. As she said good-bye to the others in the parking lot at about 1:00 a.m. on the morning of March 19, no one knew it was the last time Dianne would ever be seen alive.
The next morning when the Masters’ housekeeper Donna arrived, she found Alan at the kitchen table with his daughter; which was unusual since he had usually departed for his office by the time she arrived. When she asked about Dianne, Alan told her his wife was missing and that he had been calling everyone he could think of trying to find her.
At 2:30 p.m. that afternoon, Alan phoned the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and reported his wife missing. A report was taken by the responding officer and in such it was stated that Alan was anticipating his wife filing for divorce and that she had recently removed over $200,000 worth of jewelry from the residence.
Alan refused to publicize Dianne’s disappearance, much to the frustration of her brother and sister-in-law as well as many friends. They perceived this as a sign of Alan’s involvement while he insisted that it would be an embarrassment to Dianne who was probably shacked up with a boyfriend somewhere, despite his previous proclamations that Dianne would have never abandoned Andrea.
Randall, however, wasn’t going to remain quiet and soon the story of the missing white, rich lady was a major news story throughout most of Illinois. Everyone was keeping an eye out for her yellow and white Cadillac Coup de Ville.
With his wife missing and the work of a couple of determined detectives who refused to be cronies on the attorney’s payroll, much of Alan’s dirty deeds began coming to light. And as the number of unscrupulous endeavors associated with Alan grew, so did the suspicion that he was responsible for his wife’s disappearance. The media all but outright said, “Alan Masters murdered his wife!”
But those headlines were coming. It might take a lot of shoe leather and door knocking to finally get the accusations in print, but yes, they were indeed coming.
The Busybody and The Boyfriend
For all of the meticulous planning, Alan had counted on a busybody being the first clue that his wife was the victim of murder and not a runaway wife.
Genevieve Capstaff, for whatever reason, had decided to see if anyone in the MVCC group was having an affair so she had departed the meeting 40 minutes before everyone else and moved her station wagon to a dimly lit of the parking lot to wait and watch. Dianne, being the last of the group to depart became the subject of Capstaff’s private moving surveillance. When Capstaff last saw Dianne’s car, she was less than 100 yards from the Masters’ residence.
Realizing that Dianne wasn’t simply hiding out somewhere in fear, boyfriend Jim finally came forward and began talking about things Dianne had told him; such as the night, following one of their arguments that Alan had told Dianne she would be meeting with her parents, both by now deceased, very soon. According to Jim, that particular incident had shaken Dianne more than anything else Alan had said to her.
Once Jim became public knowledge, more and more of Dianne’s friends and family began coming forward with tales of Alan’s infidelity, the domestic disputes that often left Dianne with bruises, and more.
Alan had done a lot in his career as a lawyer, but nothing would be earn him newspaper headlines quite like that of which was about to put him center stage.
Tire tracks leading into the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal became a concern for law enforcement, they dispatched divers to search the waterway.
From the discoveries made by the divers, it was apparent that the shipping canal had become a popular dumping ground for vehicles stolen or just claimed to be stolen. As a matter of fact, it would soon come to light that several cops were paid handsomely by crooks to dump cars in the canal for the purposes of insurance fraud.
The biggest find in the shipping canal, however, had been reported but not stolen. It was the yellow-and-white Cadillac so many had been searching for. As it was pulled from the murky waters, many believed they would finally know what had happened to Dianne Masters. They weren’t wrong.
On December 11, 1982, Dianne was no longer a missing person. Found in the trunk of the Cadillac, Dianne had been killed by two gunshot wounds to the head.
Justice for Dianne
Detectives felt certain Alan Masters was responsible for the murder of his wife, but they just didn’t have the evidence they needed to charge him. After all, they were dealing with a man skilled in criminal defense and knew his own charges would incite the lawyer to fight harder than he ever had for his clients.
But it didn’t mean they were just willing to give up. While the Chicago murders rates continued to rise and their workloads increased, they may not have been able to dedicate as much time to solving Dianne’s murders as they would have liked but it didn’t mean they had forgotten her.
In the meantime, Alan had battled Dianne’s brother over her portion of the estate and custody of Andrea. Alan had married Janet Bowers, the nanny he had hired shorty after Dianne’s disappearance, in no doubt what was a move to keep his daughter at home.
One by one, however, witnesses began to come forward; the most damaging being Ted Nykaza, an alcoholic turned private detective who’d become a member of the Masters payroll.
Nykaza told investigators about officer James Keating and Willow Springs police chief Michael “Mike” Corbitt who had been dispatched by Alan to kill Dianne for a several reasons, including ensuring Alan retained custody of his daughter and to keep her quiet about their criminal activities.
On June 13, 1988, more than six years after Alan reported his wife missing, Alan, Keating, and Corbit were arrested on charges of first degree murder. Following trials that included a lot of finger-pointing and self-serving half-truths, all three men were found guilty. In August 1989, Keating and Corbitt were sentenced to twenty years and, as the mastermind of his wife’s murder, Alan Masters was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
And In the End...
Jan Masters maintained custody of Andrea after her husband was sent to prison, but she and Randy Turner did finally reach an agreement that allowed for him to keep in contact with his niece.
Andrea Masters followed in Daddy’s footsteps and is now a practicing Chicago area attorney. Alan’s sons from his first marriage, Stephen Masters and Douglas Masters, are lawyers as well.
Mike Corbitt died at the age of 60 of lung cancer in July 2004.
And last, but certainly not least, Alan Masters went to meet his maker while still doing time in a federal prison on October 9, 2000. Before his death, Alan finally admitted to be the mastermind in Dianne’s murder which was outlined in a letter delivered to prosecutors.
© 2016 Kim Bryan
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