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What Drove Jeanmarie Geis to Murder?

She was the perfect North Dallas wife. Then she killed her children and herself.
By Josh Hixson |
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photography courtesy of SMU Rotunda Yearbook

What Drove Jeanmarie Geis to Murder?

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It is difficult to know with any confidence what actually happened in the Geis home in the early morning hours of December 13, 2008.

Frank Geis told police that the injuries he suffered left him with no memory of the morning. The only version we have of the strange events comes from his wife, and now she is dead.

Jeanmarie Tolle Geis appears to have lived a charmed life. The daughter of a prominent state district judge, Mark Stenson Tolle, she graduated from Ursuline Academy and went to SMU, where she became president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and graduated in 1981. For 11 years, she was partners in life and business with Frank. He earned his real estate broker’s license when he was 19 and went on to graduate from the SMU Cox School of Business. Together the couple operated a residential real estate company called the Geis Group and lived in a 3,120-square-foot house in a leafy North Dallas neighborhood called the Meadows.

But beneath the perfect appearances, dark forces were at work in Jeanmarie’s life. Here is what she later told police happened on that December morning in her home:

She wakes at 4:30 a.m. and discovers that Frank isn’t in bed. When she can’t find him in the house, she calls his cell phone but gets no answer. Frank often got up between 4:30 and 5 to work out at the 24 Hour Fitness on Royal Lane and Central Expressway, so Jeanmarie decides to go back to sleep.

At 8:30, she gets out of bed and heads for the kitchen. That’s when she hears Frank coming through the door from the garage and finds him with a stunned look on his face, wearing only a sweatshirt, naked from the waist down.

“I’m sorry,” Frank says. “I’m sorry.”

Jeanmarie begins to lead him to the bedroom when she hears a crash and glass breaking. Two men wearing black ski masks, black sweatshirts, gray sweatpants, and gloves break in through the rear patio doors.

She screams at the intruders: “What do you want from us?”

“Where is it?” one of the men replies. And then he says, “We really came to get you, bitch.”

Jeanmarie and Frank run to the bedroom. They can hear the masked men on the west side of the house, smashing things and rifling through their belongings. Before long, the intruders come to the bedroom. One is carrying a hammer. “Where is it?” one man asks, and the other hits Frank in the head with the tool.

One of the men shoves Jeanmarie to the floor and wraps the cord of her cell phone charger around her neck. He tries to remove her pants and says it again, twice: “I’m gonna get you, bitch.” She fights back, manages to kick him in the genitals and break free. Jeanmarie runs to the kitchen and gets a butcher knife, but the intruder is on her in an instant. She loses control of the weapon, and he drags her by her hair back to the bedroom.

Her attacker brandishes the knife and asks, “Do you wanna see us use this on your husband?”

Then the intruders leave Jeanmarie and Frank in the bedroom. She can’t tell whether they leave the house or just go to another part of it, still looking for whatever it is they want. Her two young children are spending the night with friends, so Jeanmarie stays in the bedroom with her husband, waiting.

The attackers return—it’s hard to tell how long they were gone—and beat Frank repeatedly. They duct tape her eyes shut and drag her by her hair to a car parked outside. They force her into the backseat, and one man drives while the other fondles her breasts and vagina. Then, for no apparent reason, while driving down the alley behind the Geises’ home, he shoves her out of the slowly moving car.

Jeanmarie makes her way around to the front of the house, where she crawls across the lawn, crying out for help and trying to remove the duct tape from her wrists. Two painters who were by then working inside the Geises’ house heard her cries. And at 11:21 a.m., almost three hours after the attack began, Jeanmarie is finally able to call 911 from her front porch.

“Dallas 911. This is Diana,” the operator says. “What’s your emergency?”

“Uh, yes, there was an intruder that broke into my house and beat my husband. And then I was getting ready to call 911, and they came back to get me and took me down the alley,” Jeanmarie says, crying.

The operator asks for Jeanmarie’s name and address. Then she says, “Where’s your husband at?”

“I don’t know. The last I saw him, he was in the bedroom. And I was getting ready to call 911—”

“And they assaulted him?”


The operator asks for a description of the attackers. Jeanmarie says they were white, that they were wearing ski masks.

“And I’ll tell you this,” Jeanmarie says. “A week ago today, I was robbed at gunpoint in front of my office. And they stole my laptop and my wedding ring. That’s in the police report, too.” She sighs. “God. Somehow they just dropped me out of the car. I just kept kicking them.”

The operator asks for the make of the suspects’ vehicle, and Jeanmarie explains that her eyes were duct-taped shut. She didn’t see the car.
“Which way were they headed?” the operator asks. “Were they headed towards Airline or towards Boedeker?”

“They were headed towards, uh, they were headed towards Boedeker. When they were beating my husband, he fought. He chased them through the house. They came back to the bedroom. They had me down. That’s all they kept saying. They wanted me. They wanted me. And then they ripped apart the house. I don’t think they took anything. And then I was—and then they ran out. We have three glass doors. So they ran out the side that they didn’t smash. And since we’re having our house painted, all the gates are unlocked. So I guess they hopped the fence or ran out. I don’t know. I didn’t see. And then I was getting ready to call 911 at that time, and one of them came back in that door, dragged me out, and took me down the street.”

Jeanmarie hangs up with 911, and the operator calls back after dispatching an ambulance to the scene. Jeanmarie is still sitting on the front porch of her home. So she goes into the house and finds Frank. She tells the operator that he is conscious but bleeding heavily.

The ambulance arrives and takes Frank to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, where doctors stitch up a large cut on his right temple. Jeanmarie survives the ordeal with bruises to the right side of her face and right thigh. She also has abrasions on her face, legs, and arms. She declines medical treatment.

That’s the story Jeanmarie told police. And the next day, she called 911 again, reporting yet another attack. But now police believe she made it all up. The theft of her laptop and wedding ring, the two subsequent attacks by men seeking revenge on her father for sentences he’d handed down in the courtroom—all lies. Initially, suspicions settled on a man with whom Jeanmarie was having an affair. In an interrogation, police accused him of trying to help Jeanmarie kill her husband for insurance money.

A week after the supposed home invasion, though, Jeanmarie killed her two children and herself. And while no reason for such an act would make sense, the thing that drove Jeanmarie to desperation appears easy to understand: maintaining that picture-perfect marriage all those years finally grew too painful for her.

Jeanmarie had a secret. She kept it from the world until the day she died.

Click here to listen to the 911 calls.