Michelle Mockbee: Devastating Murder of a Reliable Employee

In my blog last week, I profiled the disappearance and murder of Army medic Kelli Bordeaux. Our case this week is the brutal workplace murder of Michelle Mockbee.

Michelle Mockbee

Michelle Mockbee was born Michelle Ann Whalen in August 1969 in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. She worked in the payroll office of Thermo-Fisher Scientific in Florence, Kentucky. She held the same job for about 16 years and met her husband, Dan Mockbee, at the company. The couple married in 2001 and had two daughters: Madelyn and Carli.

Michelle Mockbee and her two young daughters (Family photo)
Michelle Mockbee and her two young daughters (Family photo)

Michelle Mockbee was 42, a loving mother, and a dedicated employee. She was a friendly and outgoing person who was well-liked and respected by her coworkers. She had a passion for life, and friends said she was always the life of the party.

Michelle Mockbee Found Murdered

On May 29, 2012, coworkers found Michelle’s body on a mezzanine near her second-floor office, lying face down in a pool of blood. Her hands and feet were bound, and her killer had placed a plastic bag over her head. She had been bludgeoned to death, suffering at least 4 major head wounds. There were cuts on her wrists and ear, and both arms were broken.

Dan and Michelle Mockbee
Dan and Michelle Mockbee

Investigators ruled out Michelle’s husband, Dan, as a suspect. He had been home asleep when the murder occurred. He also passed a polygraph examination.

But after reviewing surveillance camera video, police identified David Dooley, a janitor at the warehouse, as a potential suspect.

Investigation and Trial

Surveillance camera video recorded David Dooley’s arrival at work. It also showed him leaving the warehouse at about 6:30 a.m. Dooley and his wife told conflicting stories about whether and why he had gone home then.

From marks on the door to Michelle’s office, police deduced that someone forced or tried to force it open. Dooley had a screwdriver in his locker that was “consistent” with the marks on the door. Detectives theorized that Michelle caught Dooley trying to break into her office, and he panicked and killed her. It later emerged that Dooley and his wife were falsifying time cards, and both their time cards were missing from Michelle’s files.

Dooley went on trial in 2014. His defense argued that there was no evidence linking Dooley to the murder and that the prosecution’s case was based on speculation and circumstantial evidence. Despite that argument, the jury found Dooley guilty of murder, and the judge sentenced him to life in prison.

David Dooley in court after his first conviction (WCPO-TV)
David Dooley in court after his first conviction (WCPO-TV)

Some people believed that Dooley was innocent, arguing that the prosecution had presented a weak case and had relied on circumstantial evidence. However, circumstantial evidence can have excellent probative value, despite what defense lawyers try to say about it.

Will Michelle Mockbee Get Justice?

About three years after going to prison for murdering Michelle Mockbee, a judge overturned his conviction. His lawyers had argued that security video showed a man shown in the warehouse parking lot near the time of the murder. That information was not provided to his original defense team.

Dan Mockbee testifies at David Dooley's second trial in 2019 (WLWT-TV)
Dan Mockbee testifies at David Dooley’s second trial in 2019 (WLWT-TV)

A close look at the video revealed that the man did nothing more than drop something into a trash can. Regardless, at his retrial in 2019, Dooley’s lawyers made much of the mystery man. They also tried to point the finger of suspicion at Michelle’s husband, Dan. It didn’t matter. The jury convicted him a second time.


On October 26, 2020, Dooley pleaded guilty to reduced charges in an unrelated child pornography case.

David Dooley prison photo (Kentucky Department of Corrections)
David Dooley prison photo (Kentucky Department of Corrections)

Today (2023), Dooley spends his time as inmate number 118787 at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Facility in West Liberty, Kentucky. His first eligibility for parole comes in September 2032.

On June 28, 2019, Dateline NBC aired Return to the Early Shift, an episode about the Michelle Mockbee murder.

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