1996 murder in Panama City brought back to light as convicted murderer asks for mercy
In Panama City, even the winters are warm, but one night in February of 1996, a love triangle turned into a cold, hard murder.
"This was a really large scale crime for Panama City," Major Jimmy Stanford with the Bay County Sheriff's Office Investigative Services said.
Former U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Ralph Crompton was working in South Carolina at the time.
He was married with four children when he made the trip to Panama City to visit his lover, Monique Turenne.
"She wanted me there around 2:30, quarter to three so that she could fulfill one of her fantasies and I was there at that time. I tried to go around to the back of the house and knock and the door was locked, she said it was going to be unlocked, the sliding glass door," Crompton said.
That's when he says he decided to leave but was confronted by Monique's husband, David Turenne.
"I had exited out of the backyard, through the privacy fence and right then is when headlights were coming down the road and it was their little minivan," Crompton said.
According to Crompton, the two got into a fight and Monique stepped in.
"That's when I heard a konk and he came down onto my right shoulder. I moved him off of me and went to get up and I noticed Monique was still hitting at him but she was hitting his back, almost hitting me," Crompton said.
Crompton says when he left, Turenne was still alive. He says it was Monique who beat her husband to death.
"She's cold-hearted and it was about the money," Crompton said.
Monique collected life insurance and took off to Canada before being brought back to Panama City to face charges. While she declined to speak with WJHG, her written statement to Canadian authorities tells a different story.
"She knew Ralph was coming down here to confront her husband, David, and she sent her husband outside knowing in the middle of the night, that there was going to be a confrontation between the two men," Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford said.
Monique's statement continues, saying she was inside with her son when Crompton murdered her husband.
"Ultimately, when the police continued to investigate this, it was revealed that Ralph Crompton had traveled down here to commit this crime and had discussed this with his lover, Monique Turenne," Basford said.
"This was a planned homicide between Crompton and Mrs. Turenne. Both of them had a jury trial. Ralph Crompton was convicted of first-degree murder. Monique was convicted of second-degree murder," Stanford said.
Monique Turenne is set to be released in 2023, but Crompton is serving a life sentence.
Now, his daughters are leading the charge to get their dad released.
"They can't 100 percent for sure say who delivered the fatal blow. There was no murder weapon found, there were DNA tests that were not done that my father requested to have done. We're going to ask the state for a pardon based on what we believe went wrong," Crompton's oldest daughter Mandie Kadel said.
The state says DNA, incriminating statements, and lack of credibility all led to Crompton's first-degree murder conviction, but his daughters aren't giving up hope.
"I know not everybody's innocent and I know not everybody's going to believe my father but I don't believe he deserves to be in there," Crompton's youngest daughter Diana Crompton said.
Crompton admits he's guilty of manslaughter through culpable negligence, but he says he is not guilty of first-degree murder.
"I want to get out there. I want to enjoy my family. That's my whole goal in life is the family," he said.
"I have faith. It may not be in this lifetime but he's going to come home eventually," Crompton's middle daughter Casy Fiser said.
Crompton's daughters are working on getting their father released by raising awareness on local billboards, making
, and helping him build his clemency package.