Pastor Tracy Burleson, 44, and his son William Fuller, 20, were charged with murder in the kind of plot that makes one shiver in fear and deep concern. Another woman, Tyonne Palmer, 31, was charged with tampering with evidence after police said that she helped the men to get rid of the gun.
Both Tracy and his wife Pauletta were respected members of the Houston church community. Pauletta was 12 years older than Tracy, but the two hit it off when they met in 1994 at the First Mount Cavalry Baptist Church.
The two were married in July, 1995 and began their lives together. Eventually, Tracy became a pastor and in 2008 he was annointed by the same church where he’d met his wife. The two were running their church and raising their sons all along the way. Tracy had a son from a prior marriage and they also adopted two foster children.
The church began to talk about problems in the couple’s marriage, where Tracy allegedly attacked his wife with a baseball bat at one point. The two were also arrested for child abuse. Tracy had been having an affair with Tyonne Pollard-Palmer, a woman who was taking care of his son. According to the UK Daily Mirror, this was just one of many women that the pastor was sleeping with.
After catching her husband having sex with a woman in the study, Tracy announced she was divorcing him and also asked that he be removed as the head of the church. On May 12, 2010, the church was set on fire. A few days later, Tracy said that he came home to find out that his wife had been shot in the driveway.
Police became suspicious of the pastor’s story and he immediately became a suspect. But rather than arresting the pastor, they arrested his son, William Fuller and Tyonne Pollard-Palmer, his care provider, for tampering with evidence.
But it turned out that it was even deeper than police had imagined. Police got an anonymous tip from a woman who said that the pastor’s son had confessed to his role in the killing. But the odd twist was that he’d been hired by his father to do the dastardly act.
In a recorded conversation, the woman got Fuller to confess that his father had hired him to kill his stepmother for her $60,000 life insurance policy. He was promised $2,000 to get the job done. As for Tyonne, her role in the whole affair came from the fact that she cared about the pastor’s son and was sleeping with the pastor. She wanted to protect them both, and police say that she helped them get rid of the evidence of what had happened.
Police speculate that the deceased woman had also threatened to tell them what happened in the church fire as well, making her a threat. So, as a result, both the pastor and Tyonne asked his son to commit murder.
When the smoke cleared, Tracy was given life in prison with no parole. Tyonne received seven years for murder and another 10 years probation for tampering with evidence. William received 20 years in prison for his cooperation with authorities, who believed that he was manipulated by his father.