Mystery in Dallas

Date Published 12.21.08
Strange things started happening to Jeanmarie Geis in early December.  This was new --- Jeanmarie didn’t normally traffic in the bizarre or scandalous.

With her carefully coiffed blonde hair, her perfectly put together wardrobe, Jeanmarie, 49, was the model of the upwardly mobile American Dream, Dallas style.  She and her husband Frank, 51, co-owned a real estate agency.  They had two young children, a boy and a girl.  Their house was well known in their upscale neighborhood in North Dallas for its impeccable landscaping.

Jeanmarie had prominent family roots as well.  Her father, Mark Tolle, who died a little over a year ago of complications of frontal temporal dementia, was a high-profile state district judge.  Toll was known for his “tough-on-crime” stance and presided over many notorious cases, including the Darlie Routier murder case.  The police were called to the Routier home outside Dallas on June 6, 1996, where they found Routier's two young sons stabbed to death and Routier suffering from knife wounds.  Routier maintained an intruder broke in and attacked them.  But police believed the scene was staged and she was the killer.  Routier was ultimately convicted and currently sits on death row.

The first hint of trouble for Jeanmarie began on Saturday, Dec. 6.  She called police and said she’d been robbed.  The police report says an armed man wearing a black ski mask and a gray sweater approached Jeanmarie as she was getting into her SUV outside her office.  Brandishing a pistol, the man shouted "give me the bag, bitch!" and stole her wedding ring and a laptop computer.  There were no witnesses to the crime.

Frank and Jeanmarie Geis

A week later, on Dec. 13, the violence against Jeanmarie escalated.  She called 911 about 11:25 a.m. and police were dispatched to the Geises' home at 7217 Blairview Drive.

Officers found Jeanmarie in the master bedroom caring for her husband.  He was lying on the edge of the bed, suffering from a severe head wound.  Jeanmarie had bruises on her face and thigh.   

The police report from the incident states that Jeanmarie said that she awoke around 4:30 a.m. and couldn’t find her husband.  This wasn’t unusual as Frank sometimes went to the gym early in the morning.  She awoke again at 8:30 a.m. and went downstairs.  There she discovered Frank coming in through the garage entrance.  He was wearing a sweatshirt, but was naked from the waist down.  He looked stunned and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Jeanmarie began to lead Frank back to bed when they heard a crash and glass breaking.  Two men in black ski masks, black sweaters and gray sweatpants broke into the house.  “Where is it?” one of them said.  When Jeanmarie tried to reply that they had nothing to offer, one of the suspects said to her, “We really came to get you, bitch.”

The men beat Frank on the right side of the head with a hammer or mallet.  One of the suspects attempted to choke and sexually assault Jeanmarie.  At some point the men left, but then returned.  According to the police report, Jeanmarie doesn’t know why she didn’t call 911 at that time.  When they returned, the suspects put duct tape over Jeanmarie’s eyes and around her mouth.  They put her in an unknown vehicle and drove her down the alley.  At the end of the alley they pushed her out of the car.  She crawled back toward her house.  A painter saw her and assisted her.  Officers note that by the time they arrived the painter could no longer be found.

Frank was taken to the hospital, where he later told police he couldn’t remember anything past 12:30 that morning.

The assailants targeting Jeanmarie apparently wouldn’t be stopped.  The morning after the home invasion she was outside her mother’s house when an unidentified man with a gun ordered her into his car, according to a police report she later filed.  The suspect drove to the end of the street, parked the car, and demanded Jeanmarie climb into the back seat.  There he ordered her to remove her shirt and rubbed the barrel of his gun against her chest. 

“You’re such a pretty bitch,” he said, according to Jeanmarie.  “You’re going to be mine.”

“This is for what your sweet Daddy did to my family,” he allegedly added.

Jeanmarie was able to distract him and ran from the vehicle.  He chased her; they tussled in the alley.  A garage door began opening, scaring the suspect, who ran.

The police report says the individual who opened the garage door didn’t see the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle.

Jeanmarie told police she believed her attackers were retaliating for a criminal case presided over by her father, Judge Mark Tolle. 

She had a better idea of why she was being attacked; she'd gotten a closer look at her assailant, too.  She said he was a white man in his mid-20s with brown hair, blue eyes and a heavy Southern accent.  He had the numbers “9-1-2” tattooed on the left side of his neck.

To protect herself and her family, Jeanmarie bought a handgun and hired a private security firm to guard her house.  But she dropped the protection Wednesday for unknown reasons.

A close friend, Eric Hansen, later told reporters that Jeanmarie, who’d always been stable and reliable, sounded hysterical about the attacks and genuinely fearful for her life.

On Friday morning, Frank went to the doctor’s office to have stitches removed from injuries he sustained in the home invasion.

Around 9 a.m. police received calls about gunfire at the Geises' home.  They arrived and found three bodies --- Jeanmarie, her eight-year-old son Matthew and her four-year-old daughter Sydney.  Police said each had been shot once in the head.  A window was broken and a door opened, but it’s unclear when that occurred. 

A gun was found at the crime scene, but police aren’t saying if it was Jeanmarie’s.

Yesterday, The Dallas Medical Examiner's ruled that the children’s deaths were homicides.  They will not immediately rule on the death of Jeanmarie, saying it could be six to 10 weeks before test results show whether she was killed or took her own life.

Did Jeanmarie Geis make up the series of attacks and then murder her children before killing herself? 

Cracks have begun to appear in her story.  Police admit there were inconsistencies in her account, and they were troubled by the lack of witnesses.  The attacks don’t make a lot sense either.  Jeanmarie’s father, Judge Toll, has been dead for over a year.  Why retaliate against a dead man?  And if you are out for revenge, why a series of weak, half-successful attacks that culminate in the unnecessary and cold-blooded execution of two children?

The attackers’ motivation was all over the place.  First they took Jeanmarie's purse and laptop.  Then they came to her house, viciously attacked her husband and unsuccessfully tried to sexual assault her.  But they were persistent; one of them found her again outside her mother’s house.  He waved a gun and whispered threats about what her father did to him.  But a garage door opening scared him off.

Jeanmarie’s descriptions are telling, too.  The suspects appear to rotate through a series of gray and black outfits.  During the street robbery the suspect is wearing a gray sweater; during the home invasion the two suspects are wearing black sweatshirts and gray sweatpants.

Jeanmarie’s description of a “9-1-2” tattoo on one of the suspect’s necks is intriguing.  A Google search reveals that gang members sometimes use their phone area code as a way to represent their geographic area.  “9-1-2” is sometimes used by gang members in Southern Georgia.

Revelations about Jeanmarie’s private life also raise questions.  Her close friend Eric Hansen, the father of Matthew Geis’ best friend, says he and Jeanmarie had been dating for the last several months.  Hansen says Jeanmarie and Frank Geis had been experiencing marital problems and that Frank was rarely at home.  One media report says that police are looking into Frank Geis’ relationships with other men.

Jeanmarie Geis’ father, Judge Mark Tolle, presided over the capital murder trial of a Texas woman accused of staging a home invasion and killing her two children.

Ten years later, did his own daughter manufacture a bizarre attack story and then take the lives of her children and herself?

According to The Dallas Morning News, a man at the Geises’ home told a reporter, “We really don’t have the answers for you.”

The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary:
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Know what he does believe in? PAC $. Took 10K from HRC pac 2006. That means he's in her pocket.#BSLogic
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Good one. Unfortunately Bernie on record as not believing in charity.
@johnlevenstein Thanks for asking, btw. That's the kind of elevated discourse missing lately. A lot of mud slinging. #I'mNotAboveItEither
@johnlevenstein Can't convey it all thru Twitter but yes, she has flaws. Too poll-driven, burned needed bridges, trouble owning mistakes.