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Read & Watch Series: Wife Murderer Robert Oakley Marshall of New Jersey

I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

Maria Marshall was what most American women dream of being: extraordinarily beautiful, extremely intelligent, and wealthy – with a successful husband and three healthy sons to boot.

To outsiders, Maria had it all. Her life was perfect. But behind the closed doors of the Marshall home, it was anything but perfect.

Maria and Robert Marshall

Maria and Robert Marshall

Maria knew her husband, Robert Marshall was involved in a torrid affair with a less-than-desirable and very much married fellow country-clubber. In addition to the affair, Maria had learned that she and her husband were in much greater debt than she had realized as Rob had fraudulently forged her name to numerous loan documents.

She no longer knew the man she had shared her heart and bed with for the last 20 years but she had decided it was time to confront him and try to figure it all out.

Maria, unfortunately, would never have the chance.

Shortly after midnight on September 7, 1994, as they were returning home from a night in Atlantic City, Rob Marshall pulled into the Oyster Creek picnic area along the New Jersey Turnpike, claiming he needed to check the car’s tires. Within minutes of stopping, Rob Marshall was hit in the head and his wife shot to death in the front seat of the couple’s Cadillac.

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What follows next is a series of lies, sordid stories of hired hitmen, a tale of infidelity, childrens’ heartbreaks, the secret lives of the town’s elite, and gossip-filled trials.

The Book: Blind Faith by Joe McGinniss

Joe McGinniss, in his intensive and much-loved, writing style exposes the closed-door lives of Toms River’s hoity toity in his 1989 book Blind Faith.

Although there are no photos, which is always a disappointment, McGinniss’ writing is so descriptive, readers will actually forget there are none. I could easily imagine the beautiful Maria Marshall and the class she exuded without effort; the weaseliness of Rob Marshall, aggressive insurance salesman and adulterer; the three grieving Marshall sons, divided in their belief of Dad’s innocence; and the born-into-money-but-no-class Felice Rosenberg.

From the town origins to the colorful cast of characters who resided within it’s boundaries in the mid 1980s, McGinniss describes them in detail, creating a story that is spellbinding from the first page to the very last. Blind Faith is truly another true crime classic every reader of the genre must read.

The Movie: Deadly Matrimony (1992)

As always to be expected when Hollywood takes control of a story, there is some creative licensing with the movie but the overall plot is relatively factual.

Viewers will watch Brian Dennehy as Chicago PD's Sergeant Jack Reed, play the hero cop going up against a murderous attorney - Alan Masters played by Treat Williams, with the mafia back him. This talented duo of actors makes for a movie just as intense as the book.

Where Are They Now? (Warning! May Contain Spoilers!)

  • In 2002, while still on death row, Robert Marshall wrote and published a book titled Tunnel Vision: Trial & Error, wherein he whines about how he was wrongfully convicted because he was framed and was the victim of an overaggressive district attorney and lying media…blah, blah, blah. The reviews on Amazon make it clear few are buying what Rob is selling and are more than convinced the former insurance salesman is just another man who murdered his wife to be with his mistress. Of course, it no longer matters, as Robert died in prison in February 2015.
  • During the filming of the television miniseries, actress Joann Kerns, who played Maria Marshall, introduced her Growing Pains co-star Tracey Gold to oldest Marshall son, Roby Marshall. Gold and Marshall were wed in October 1994, now have four children, and reside in California.
  • In 1996, Chris Marshall was charged with domestic assault wherein his wife of little more than year accused him of assaulting her after she became enraged, having learned he was with his mistress on the night their daughter was born. The charge was later dismissed. After serving many years as the Lehigh Varsity Swim coach, Chris accepted a position with Cornell University as Senior Vice President for Alumni Affairs, where he remains at the time of this writing. In 2006, he publicly stated he believes his father is guilty of murdering his mother.
  • Little information is available about the youngest Marshall son, John Marshall, other than, as of 2006, he still believes in his father’s innocence and was instrumental in having his father’s sentence commuted to life in prison with an eligibility for parole.
  • Sarann Kraushaar, referred to in the book under the pseudonym Felice Rosenberg, remains married to the very husband on whom she had an affair with Rob Marshall and lives in Naples, Florida. Although she is officially retired, Sarann retains ownership in the auto dealerships known as Lester Glenn Auto Group in New Jersey, which is operated by her son.

© 2016 Kim Bryan

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