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Richard Pryde BOGGS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: To collect a $1.5 million life insurance policy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 16, 1988
Date of birth: 1933
Victim profile: Ellis Henry Greene, 32
Method of murder: Suffocation
Location: Los Angeles County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on February 22, 1992. Died in prison on March 6, 2003

Richard Pryde Boggs (born 1933; died March 6, 2003) was a California neurologist, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1990 for his part in an insurance scheme that involved murdering a man and then giving the victim another person's identity in order to collect a $1.5 million life insurance policy.

Murder and insurance scam


Boggs lured drunk Ellis Henry Greene, 32, into his office, disabled him with a stun gun, and suffocated him with the help of conspirator Melvin Eugene Hanson on April 16, 1988. The doctor then called paramedics, and falsely identified Greene as Hanson. He had forged medical records, and included the real Hanson's birth certificate and credit cards on Greene's body.

The detectives called to the scene were initially suspicious of Boggs story. They reasoned that doctors don't usually handle patients that early in the morning, and the temperature of the body couldn't correspond to Boggs' given time of death. The coroner's report however ruled that the death was due to a heart attack caused by natural causes.

Hanson's business partner John Hawkins in a Columbus, Ohio clothing store chain "Just Sweats" was called into identify the body, which he did. Unknown to the police, Hawkins was working with Boggs and Hanson.

The case was officially closed, and the body was quickly cremated at the behest of Hawkins. Hawkins then collected the million dollar life insurance policy he had taken out on Hanson, cleaned out his bank accounts and disappeared. Hanson also went into hiding, adapting a new identity as "Wolfgang Von Snowden."

Meanwhile, Farmers Insurance, which had had to pay out the insurance policy, obtained "Melvin Hanson"'s driver's license to compare to the picture of the body that was found. They were checking for possible insurance fraud. What they found led them to hire a private investigator to further investigate the case. Also, Columbus Dispatch reporters Robin Yocum, and Catherine Candisky began to look into the case.

Revelation and conviction

Yocum and Candisky eventually unravelled the whole story working with the private investigator and the police. Hanson was arrested in Texas while trying to get on a flight to Acapulco, Mexico. Hawkins proved harder to find as he managed to leave the United States.

After making an appearance on America's Most Wanted, he was captured off Sardinia by Italian police. Both Boggs and Hanson were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Hawkins was convicted of conspiracy to murder and a maximum of 25 years in prison. He got a lighter sentence as he hadn't been involved in the actual murder, though investigators suspected he was the brains of the scheme.


Yocum and Candisky published a book, Insured for Murder detailing the case. Episodes of the truTV shows Forensic Files and Murder By The Book featured the story, the latter of which guest starred Jonathan Kellerman.

Edwin Chen, an LA Times investigative reporter, wrote "Cheating Death" in 1992, which provides an in depth review of the almost perfect million-dollar murder.

Unsolved Mysteries and America's Most Wanted profiled the case when Hawkins was still a fugitive of justice. It was through the Oprah Winfrey show, profiling John Walsh's America's Most Wanted episodes, that an international viewer provided the critical lead for law enforcement to apprehend John Hawkins in Italy. Vanity Fair, 1992, also wrote an expose on the case.


Richard Boggs died from a heart attack while serving his life sentence at Corcoran State Prison. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer at the time of his death.


  • Yocum, Robin & Candisky, Catherine (2001). Insured for Murder. ISBN 0879758422.
  • Chen, Edwin (1992). "Cheating Death". ISBN 0451403150
  • Vanity Fair, "The Trail of a Hustler", 1992 ISSN 0733-8899


Doctor Gets Life Term in Murder-Fraud Scheme

Los Angeles Times

February 22, 1992

A Glendale doctor convicted of murdering a stranger and faking his identity in a complex insurance fraud scheme was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Richard P. Boggs, a 57-year-old neurologist, could have faced the death penalty for the April, 1988, murder of a Burbank accountant, but a jury recommended life in prison instead. The sentence for murder and fraud was ordered by Superior Court Judge Florence Marie Cooper, who also denied a defense motion for a new trial.

She said Boggs induced two others to participate in the murder, carrying it out with "sophistication and professionalism." Boggs was convicted of luring Ellis Henry Greene, 32, into his office, where Greene was disabled with a stun gun and suffocated.

Prosecutors said Boggs then called paramedics and identified the body as that of Melvin Eugene Hanson, his friend and patient. Hanson is awaiting trial. Prosecutors alleged that Boggs killed Greene so he could claim $1.5 million in insurance policies on Hanson.





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