Richard Dabate: Unusual Clue Solves a Murder

In my last blog, JoAnn Scott and her lover, James Williams, conspired to murder JoAnn’s husband, singer Walter Scott. This week’s case is that of Richard Dabate. In 2015, Dabate reported that an intruder had shot and killed his wife. Police used an unusual clue—data from Connie’s Fitbit—to prove that he had lied.

Richard Dabate Spins a Tale

On December 23, 2015, Richard Dabate placed a 9-1-1 call from his home in the Hartford, Connecticut, suburb of Ellington. Responding officers found Richard lying on the floor. He had superficial knife wounds and one arm and one leg zip-tied to a folding chair. His wife, Connie, was in the basement, dead from a gunshot wound.

Richard and Connie Dabate (People/MySpace)
Richard and Connie Dabate (People/MySpace)

Dabate told the cops that a masked intruder had surprised him at home, struggled with him, and tied him up. During Dabate’s struggle with the intruder, Connie entered the house. The intruder shot her, killing her.

Investigators soon suspected that they didn’t have the whole story. There were few signs of a struggle, and Richard Dabate’s injuries were minor. Furthermore, it made little sense that an intruder would shoot Connie while leaving Richard alive. Presumably, he represented a more significant threat.

Connie Dabate (New York Post/Twitter)
Connie Dabate (New York Post/Twitter)

Enter Rocky. A K-9 unit arrived at the scene, and his handlers tasked Rocky with tracking the scent of the alleged intruder. On his first try, Rocky struck out. On a subsequent attempt, he kept focusing on Dabate.

Unusual Evidence Undoes Richard Dabate

The investigation into Connie Dabate’s death moved forward slowly. Detectives discovered that Richard Dabate had a mistress, Sara Ganzer, and she was pregnant with Richard’s child.

But evidence from an unusual and unexpected source put the lie to Dabate’s story. Connie’s Fitbit fitness tracker showed she was moving around long after Richard claimed the intruder had killed her. Other electronic evidence from the couple’s phones and home alarm system contradicted his version of events.

In April 2017, police arrested Richard Dabate and charged him with Connie’s murder.

Richard Dabate went on trial in April 2022, a date delayed in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 11, 2022, the jury took less than four hours to convict him of murder, tampering with evidence, and making a false statement.

On August 18, 2022, Richard Dabate was sentenced to 65 years in prison. He won’t be eligible for parole until May 2087.

Richard Dabate in court (AP/New York Post)
Richard Dabate in court (AP/New York Post)


Dabate’s mistress, Sara Ganzer, testified against him at trial. About eight weeks after Connie’s murder, she gave birth to a daughter. In October 2021, she applied for sole legal custody.

Dateline NBC aired The Secrets of Birch View Drive, an episode about the Dabate case, in January 2023.

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