1977-1980 – Madison, WI
Barbara Hoffman, a bright and attractive young woman, came to Madison in 1970 to attend the University of Wisconsin as a biochemist. She was a college student by day, worked as a "masseuse" at Jan's Health Studio by night, where she called herself "Linda".
Hoffman began seeing some of her clients off hours. Believing they were dating her and someday would marry her, she convinced them to make her beneficiary of their wills.
On Christmas Day 1977, Gerald Davies showed up at the Madison Police Department and said he had helped his "girlfriend" dispose of a body (Harry Berge) at the Blackhawk Ski jump facility near Middleton. This began Hoffman’s long ordeal in the Madison Court System.
After a few months her trial seemed to end mysteriously as prosecutors suddenly dropped charges. Minutes later, as she was leaving the court room, the real reason for the dropped charges was revealed. Police arrested Hoffman and she was charged with two murders. Gerald Davies had been found dead the Monday after Easter of cyanide poisoning.
The Second trial began on June 16, 1980, Hoffman’s 28th birthday. It would be the first homicide trial in the state to be televised.
During the defense portion of the case, Hoffman's parents provided alibis for their daughter's whereabouts on both crucial holidays when the murders occurred. But records from Hoffman's phone in her State Street apartment were used to discredit the alibis, proving that Hoffman made and received calls from her apartment when her parents said she was at their home.
Hoffman was convicted of first-degree murder of Harold Berge, while acquitted in the murder of, Gerald Davies. "I did not commit the crime of which I have been accused and for which I have been convicted," she said. "And that's all I have to say."
(28) – As of March 2009 still in Taycheedah, has always refused
to be interviewed.
(52) – Victim
(31) – Likely Victim
– Prosecutor, given the case by his boss DA Jim Doyle, future Wisconsin governor.
– Lead Madison police detective on the case.
– Defense Attorney, better known for his unsuccessful defense
A book on the Hoffman case “Winter of Frozen Dreams” written by Karl Harter
A movie “Winter of Frozen Dreams” based on the book to be released in 2009
Hoffman – Thora Birch
Lulling – Keith Carradine