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Note spells out 'game plan' for woman's murder

September 30, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In a handwritten suicide note filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, a man whom police allege masterminded the murder-for-hire plot of an Inwood, W.Va., woman discussed paying for the murder and a "game plan" that failed.

Portions of the note were read aloud Thursday afternoon in Berkeley County Magistrate Court during a preliminary hearing for Timothy C. Odell, 25, who is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the shooting death of Debbie Bivens, 46, last month.

The note was found in the pickup truck of Benjamin Brookman, 46, of Maryland, who hanged himself in a wooded area near Salisbury, Md., a week after Bivens' body was found, police have said.

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Bivens was shot once in her upper left chest Aug. 21 while in her bedroom, police have said.

The note began: "Yea, I was going to pay Timmy Odell to kill Debbie for $50,000. Gave him $8,000. Still owed him $42,000. He called me Wed. August 24, 2005, said Job was Done."

Later in the note, Brookman wrote: "I was going to take Debbie out myself but I figured it would be a task so I new (sic) Tim would take care of it, but he f----- up too. Thanks Tim. Believe me Tim Odell is just as much at fault as I am. His and my game plan did not work so don't feel sorry for the dumb--- and I don't want you to feel sorry for me. It was a discession (sic) I made ..."

After the hearing, Assistant Berkeley County Prosecutor Joshua Henline allowed reporters to quickly copy down the sections of the note read by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Brendan Hall in court, but declined to release the entire note.

Hall was the only witness to testify during the hearing.

Magistrate Sandra Miller found probable cause for both charges and forwarded them to Circuit Court for possible grand jury indictment.

Odell is being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

Bivens' body was found after a neighbor in the Camelot subdivision off W.Va. 51 noticed newspapers outside of Bivens' home. The neighbor called Bivens' son, who noticed that a window in Bivens' bedroom was broken. He called police after seeing blood on his mother's bed, Hall testified.

When police went into the home, they found Bivens' body slumped against a closet door, about 7 feet from the broken window. A .40-caliber shell casing was found near her body, Hall said.

Most of the glass from the broken window was inside the house, and a piece of cardboard that had been covering the inside of the window was found inside, leading police to believe the window was broken from the outside, Hall testified.

Odell told police that he used a hammer to break the window but that another man fired the gunshot. Odell said he and the man met at Sleepy Creek, although police later determined the area he described was the intersection of W.Va. 51 and W.Va. 45 on the mountain, Hall said.

Odell claimed the other man drove to Bivens' house in a white Honda Civic or Hyundai, Hall testified.

Hall said that no evidence has been found indicating anybody else was involved in the shooting.

Investigators noticed a cut on Odell's right hand below his knuckles, which Odell claimed was caused by a car door being slammed on his hand, Hall said.

Police interviewed Odell after a co-worker told investigators that Odell had shown him a loaded .40-caliber handgun and had asked him to drive him to an area near Bivens' home on Aug. 21, Hall testified.

Hall has said that Brookman - the man who left behind the note - had been involved in a personal and business relationship with Bivens that soured. Brookman wrote in his suicide note that he was not going to allow someone to take $75,000 from him, according to testimony.

The gun used in the shooting has not been found, Hall said.

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