ON THE HILLTOP: Jeanmarie (third from right) went to SMU. photography courtesy of SMU Rotunda Yearbook

What Drove Jeanmarie Geis to Murder?

She was the perfect North Dallas wife. Then she killed her children and herself.

The problems with Jeanmarie’s  story about the home invasion were many and obvious. If Frank regularly got up early to work out, why did she go looking for him when she woke up at 4:30 and discovered he wasn’t in bed? Why didn’t she call 911 when the attackers left her in the bedroom? When the 911 operator called her back, after having dispatched the ambulance, why was Jeanmarie still sitting on the porch? Eight minutes elapsed from the time she first called 911 until she went to check on Frank. And if her eyes were duct-taped shut, preventing her from describing the attackers’ car, how could she tell which way they drove off?

Police were immediately suspicious of the emergency call. A victim who’d just been sexually assaulted normally wouldn’t have the presence of mind to wonder about how her attackers had escaped, through a fence left unlocked for painters. Then there were the painters themselves.
Sgt. Ray Beaudreault, a homicide investigator with the Dallas Police Department, talked to them. “She wasn’t crawling across the front lawn,” he says. “She wasn’t screaming for help. They didn’t notice anything unusual. Nothing that would suggest that somebody would be in distress, particularly if you just got assaulted and people broke into your house. Most individuals would be frantic. They didn’t pick that up.”

Jeanmarie’s lover, for the first time publicly, reveals a far more disturbing fact about that morning. Eric Hansen, a financial advisor and the son of WFAA Channel 8 sportscaster Dale Hansen, says his friendship with Jeanmarie began a couple years ago. They had sons who attended the same school. The two shared three-hour lunches during the business week, and they talked and texted often. Hansen says the friendship boiled over into an affair that started just a few months before she killed herself. And he says Jeanmarie called him before she called 911 on the morning of the home invasion.

“She called me before she called 911. She called me just hysterical,” Hansen says. “And told me how Frank’s on the ground. She told me then that she had kicked him, too. That day. During that incident.”

Hansen was hesitant to go help her. “I was like, ‘What the hell are you talking about? You’re trying to tell me that these two guys are beating your husband up and you’re kicking him? You’re sitting there telling me your husband is laying on the ground unconscious and you called me? What do you want me to do?’ She didn’t want me to come over because I had [my son].”

Police interrogated Hansen but say now he played no part in the events that morning. Hansen thinks he knows what happened in the Geises’ house. He says it could have been a domestic dispute.

===“It’s not that she was gay. It was just like Barbie goes gay. Very out of character.”  –A Former Friend of Jeanmarie Geis!==

Hansen says Jeanmarie told him she was getting a divorce from Frank, though Dallas County has no record of one being filed, and Frank has said publicly that he and his wife never intended to divorce. Frank isn’t talking now. He declined multiple interview requests from D Magazine.

The Tolle family, too, is understandably reluctant to talk. Jeanmarie’s mother, Tammy, having endured the loss of her husband a little more than two years ago, now has to deal with the grief of losing her daughter and two grandchildren. “I don’t really have anything to say,” she says two months after the deaths. “I don’t agree with everything that has come out about it. I’m not the one to talk to. I guess Frank or some of their friends. I don’t know. I’m just, I’m just now getting where I can talk without crying.

“I have not been given a full report yet,” she says. “So I still have a lot of questions.”

Some of Jeanmarie’s former friends are talking. Whatever else the Geises were dealing with as business partners—and there is evidence of financial trouble—her former friends say they know one thing that must have caused the Geises stress. It was Jeanmarie’s secret: she was gay.

“It’s not that she was gay,” says a Kappa sister from SMU who asked not to be identified. “It was just like Barbie goes gay. Very out of character.” Her sorority sister says she discovered only after their graduation that Jeanmarie was in a romantic relationship with another woman, a prominent Dallas real estate agent. “Jeanmarie wasn’t what she appeared to be at times. I think there was probably a lot of pressure. I heard there was a lot of pressure from home to be perfect.”

Jeanmarie’s father, Mark Tolle, was a Dallas County assistant district attorney from 1980 to 1986. In 1988, he won election to Criminal District Court No. 3. He was re-elected in 1992, and he served as presiding judge for the 1997 capital murder trial of Darlie Routier, who was found guilty in one of the most famous court cases in North Texas history. Tolle was an active member of the conservative Christ the King Catholic Church.

One of Jeanmarie’s closest friends during the time she was living with her lesbian partner in the early ’90s says Jeanmarie’s high-profile family put a lot of pressure on their daughter. “All her mom and dad cared about were appearances,” she says. “I guarantee you they weren’t running around blabbing to all their political friends that their daughter is gay. They didn’t care if she married a serial killer as long as she married a man.”

In December 1995, Judge Tolle showed up at the home his daughter shared with her partner and helped her move out and into a straight lifestyle. By January 1996, Jeanmarie was dating Frank.

“[Jeanmarie’s parents] were elated,” says the friend. “It was a lot about keeping up appearances.” The friend also says that Jeanmarie’s intense desire to have a baby led her to Frank. “No one could figure out why you would marry a known lesbian,” her friend says. “She was a catch for him, but still not many men would. That explains his controlling behavior. He cared more about what kind of dishes they had than a normal man would.”

The couple married in September 1997. Jeanmarie had two openly gay male friends whom she wanted to participate in the wedding. The former friend says Frank wouldn’t allow it. The two women, once closest of friends, stopped talking to each other in the fall of 1998. Their friendship ended over a few critical comments directed at Frank.

The woman with whom Jeanmarie lived tells D Magazine that she doesn’t want to talk about what happened. “That was 15 years ago,” she says. “I haven’t had any contact with her since.”

Eric Hansen says that Jeanmarie confided in him that she’d lived with a woman. “I somewhere along the lines made the comment ‘I’m the typical guy’ and thought that was kind of sexy. So she said, ‘Would it shock you if I’ve been with another woman?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, actually it would.’ And then, over time, she had just told me that it wasn’t a one-time thing, that she was with another woman for quite awhile,” Hansen says.
She also told him she got married because she wanted to have kids.

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