In June 1993, D Magazine published a cover story titled “Murder in the Family,” by Glenna Whitley. It’s a twisted tale involving forged insurance policies and the killing of a woman named Sandy Dial. The upshot: in 1998, a friend of Dial’s named De Ellen Bellah was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and given a 50-year sentence. That never would have happened without the amateur detective work of Dial’s sister, Janet Holley.
A few months ago, Glenna asked if I’d be interested in updating the Bellah story. Her pitch was a wild one. While in prison, Bellah had started a relationship with an older man who moved from South Dakota to Gatesville, Texas, so that he could be closer to Bellah. That man, Harold Henry, made Bellah his sole heir. Then, under mysterious circumstances, he died. A note was found in his apartment. It read, “Think I am having a heart attack. Cremate me.” If that weren’t odd enough, the black marker used to write that note was never recovered from the apartment.
Glenna’s update, titled “Killer Instinct,” which ran in our October issue, went online today. We timed the story to coincide with the next shot Bellah would have at a parole hearing.
Yesterday, Bellah was denied parole and will not be eligible again until 2023.