By Ken Raymond,, The Daily Oklahoman
Nov. 19–This time of year, Barb Murcer-Green’s thoughts turn to Rob Andrew.
She can’t help it. Five years have passed since Andrew, an Oklahoma City advertising executive, was murdered by his estranged wife and her lover, but the sorrow still is fresh.
“I will never forget him,” said Murcer-Green, his co-worker, friend and confidante, “because for me it’s like losing one of my kids.”
Andrew, 39, left behind many friends and relatives, including his parents, siblings, son and daughter. The family did not respond to interview requests.
But Murcer-Green and Dave Parker, his second-cousin, remember Andrew as a devout, charismatic, loving man who was devoted to his wife despite her apparent disdain for him. He remained hopeful she would come back to him even as she filed for divorce — and even as she planned his murder.
Andrew died Nov. 20, 2001, in what Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane calls “a dark betrayal … utterly evil.”
His killers are on death row.
“Brenda told Rob she hated him on their wedding night,” said Murcer-Green, describing the Andrews’ poisonous marriage. “From that day forward, she had affairs.”
Murcer-Green met the couple when Rob Andrew joined the Jordan Associates ad agency in 1988. She worked just across the hall from him, and they became friends.
“He realized quickly he was the same age as my kids,” she said. “He didn’t want to talk to his parents about some of this stuff, but he could talk to me.”
Over the years, Murcer-Green learned more about her colleague’s wife:
–One night the Andrews were eating spaghetti. Brenda Andrew told her husband she hated the way he ate, then dumped a plate of pasta in his lap.
–Murcer-Green called Brenda Andrew to talk about the couple’s marital problems. “I hate him,” Brenda Andrew said. “I just hate him.”
–Brenda Andrew had an affair with a grocery store worker. Later, she brought the worker home for dinner with her children while Rob Andrew was away. Her husband returned home early and found them.
In 2001, the Andrews’ 17th year of marriage, Brenda Andrew started an affair with Jim Pavatt, a fellow churchgoer at North Pointe Baptist Church and the man who sold Rob Andrew an $800,000 life insurance policy.
Their indiscretions were so indiscreet the church asked them to stop teaching Sunday school.
Brenda Andrew filed for divorce, and she and Pavatt tried to prevent her husband from removing her as the beneficiary of the policy. Soon they were plotting his death.
“Poor, pathetic Jim Pavatt,” Murcer-Green said. “She used him. I think all the while she was trying to find someone who would help her get rid of Rob, and Jim was crazy enough to do it.”
Murderous conspiracy No one would’ve described Rob Andrew as crazy, although he did do fun things like bringing slushes to everyone at work because he’d decided July 11 should be 7-Eleven day.
Or like naming his daughter Tricity because if she ever ran for public office, her slogan could be “Elect Tricity.”
“I don’t know if happy-go-lucky is the word,” said Parker, his cousin. “But he was just really friendly and smiling. … He had good things to say about everybody. He would have found the good in Saddam Hussein.”
By contrast, Brenda Andrew seemed shy and quiet, as if “she couldn’t keep up with” her husband, Parker said. Although she always was well-dressed and well-groomed, she never said much.
She didn’t need to. Her actions spoke for themselves.
Oct. 26, 2001, Rob Andrew received three anonymous calls telling him his wife — from whom he was now separated — had been in a car accident and was at Norman Regional Hospital.
The calls were lies, apparently intended to lure him onto the highway in a car with no brakes. His brake lines had been severed.
For the first time, he went to Oklahoma City police.
“He came in, and he cried to me about that,” Murcer-Green said. “He said, ‘Barb, you’re right. She’s trying to kill me.’ … He told me that when he would go to his apartment at night, he would feel like there was a gun pointed at his back, that someone had a gun on him.
“He told me stories about Brenda hiding around his apartment, stalking him. He told me about one morning when he got up really early and was taking out his garbage, and she was out there. And she had this look on her face that he said … ‘made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.'”
Nov. 2, 2001, Rob Andrew again filed a report with police, this time telling them he thought his wife and Pavatt were plotting to kill him for the insurance money.
He was right.
Eighteen days later, the doomed man drove to his old house in the 6100 block of Shaftsbury Drive to pick up the children, then ages 10 and 7, for the Thanksgiving weekend. Brenda Andrew asked if he would help her with the pilot light on the furnace, and he joined her in the garage.
Pavatt shot him with a .16 gauge shotgun as he knelt before the furnace. Rob Andrew rose to his feet, clutching a bag of empty soda cans in front of him. Then, prosecutors said, Brenda Andrew took the weapon from her lover’s hands and shot her husband a second time, killing him.
An endless nightmare “We went to the funeral services. … It was weird, because you’re waiting for her to show up with the kids,” Parker said. “I think they waited 45 minutes for her to show up. They didn’t want to start the service, you know, without the family.”
But Brenda Andrew and the children never arrived. They were on their way to Mexico with Pavatt.
The killers were caught crossing back into the U.S. months later, and the children were taken in by their paternal grandparents in Enid.
Tricity is now 15. Her brother, Parker Andrew, is 12. The money from their father’s insurance is being held in trust for them until they are 35.
“As I understand it, the kids are doing very well,” Murcer-Green said. “They’re doing very well in school. … I think the kids have cut off almost all communication with their mother.”
In 2004, Brenda Andrew, now 42, was found guilty of her husband’s murder and sentenced to death. Court records indicate she has not yet filed an appeal.
She is the only woman awaiting execution in Oklahoma. Her children are not on her list of approved visitors at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.
Pavatt also received a death sentence in 2004. He filed an appeal in April, records show.
He is on death row at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Only five people are approved to visit him — his daughter, mother, stepfather, minister and a New York journalist. The journalist has never made the trip, prison records show, and no one has visited him since September.
“This case, it was such an act of cruelty,” Lane said. “Luring a man in under the pretense of picking up his children and then gunning him down with your lover — anybody who’s ever been in love, this is their worst nightmare.”
Five years later, the nightmare is just as powerful.
“The comfort I get is in knowing Rob was a Christian and knowing how many people truly loved Rob,” Murcer-Green said, sniffling. “But it took one evil person to take him away. I just wish Rob had known how many people loved and admired him.
“I think he probably does know now.”
Copyright (c) 2006, The Daily Oklahoman
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.
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