Every morning, when Janet Overton put on her makeup, she was killing herself without knowing it. Her eyeliner had been poisoned, and as she carefully applied it, the poison would start seeping into her skin.
As the months passed, Jan felt nauseous and dehydrated. Moving became difficult, and she had to use crutches. She developed strange sores on her body that were unbearably painful when her clothes rubbed against them.
Doctors had no idea what was wrong with her.
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Her husband Richard was the only person who knew, because he was the one who had been poisoning her eyeliner.
Jan and Richard had been married for nearly two decades. Richard, a mathematician who spoke several languages and had a doctorate in psychology, was a college lecturer. Jan, who was younger than Richard and not as highly educated, was on the board of the local school district in Orange County, California, and very popular in the community.
Russell Burkett, who knew the couple, told the Los Angeles Times that Richard resented his wife’s popularity.
"He felt that he was smarter than his wife. He was just amazed that she could be elected, that she could be popular, and that she could be this commanding, progressive presence in the district."
Jan and Richard’s marriage had been on the rocks for some time. It had become public knowledge that Jan was having an affair with a married school official.
"There was a note put on all of the cars in the parking lot at the district office saying that," District Attorney Debra Jackson told The Real Murders Of Orange County.