Ramsey told Cindy and Michael he'd apply for $300,000 in coverage for each of them from Banner. As with Surety, each spouse was to be the other's sole beneficiary.

Cindy wrote Banner Life a $240 check to cover the first month's premium in case the company approved the application. Ramsey said he'd be going to Banner headquarters in Maryland in a few days, and he would personally deliver the application and check.

The bloom already was starting to fade from the month-old marriage. Cindy confided in her sister, Kathy, that Michael was cold and manipulative, which she attributed to his German heritage. He'll warm up, I just know it, Cindy would tell her sister.

On Thanksgiving Day, Kathy watched in dismay as Michael openly mocked Cindy when she got weepy during a showing of the movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

"She's the sentimental type, and he's tearing her heart out in front of everybody," Kathy recalls. "`You big crybaby. What a baby.' She goes to the bathroom crying, and he follows her. She told me later it wasn't to apologize, but to give her more shit."

Cindy also confided in Kathy about the life-insurance situation. She tried to explain that the insurance somehow would speed the transfer of his "estate" funds from Germany. A $50,000 check was due any day, Cindy told her sister, with much more to follow.

Kathy didn't get it, but she decided to try to support her sister.
Cindy's finances were dire. She now was supporting two people, and her bills were adding up. From the time she met Michael Apelt until her death ten weeks later, Cindy withdrew more than $4,000 from her savings account.

On December 2, Doug Ramsey visited the corporate offices of Banner Life in Maryland. He met briefly with Mary Jo Fox, the company's manager of underwriting and new business.

Ramsey offered to give Fox the Apelts' first premium check, contingent on Banner's acceptance of the $300,000 policy. Fox declined, in part because the size of the requested policy mandated a background investigation by Equifax.

Fox recalled later how she hurried things along to impress Ramsey in his first contact with Banner.

"I had a new agent and a new agency and I was trying to work through this case a little bit faster than the normal, routine procedures might dictate," she said in a 1992 deposition.

The second Equifax investigation was as skimpy as the one conducted for Surety. Again, one phone call to Cindy Apelt provided the only source of information about her new husband.

By now, Michael had obtained a social security number and was working part-time as a cook at an Italian restaurant. Equifax listed his annual income as $12,000, which, when added to Cindy's earnings, meant a combined income of $27,200.

But Doug Ramsey's field report to Banner, dated November 30, 1988, had indicated that Michael was in the "professional/management field," and that he and Cindy had a combined income of "$50,000-$74,999 a year."

Both notations were patently false, but Banner never asked Ramsey or anyone to explain the discrepancies.

Christmas was approaching, and Cindy made plans with sister Kathy to visit their parents in Illinois. Cindy still hadn't told Jack and Marjorie Monkman that she was married, another source of distress during the increasingly troubled days.

In mid-December, she and Michael announced their marriage during a "Decemberfest" party at their apartment. The couple invited Doug Ramsey, who attended for a short time.

Kathy suggested to Cindy that it might be best to tell their parents about the secret marriage before the trip home. Cindy did so, and was pleasantly surprised by the positive response.

On December 22, 1988, Doug Ramsey dropped off the $100,000 Surety life-insurance policy at the Apelts' apartment.

The agent also had some good news about the Banner Life application--the company had approved it, and for the entire requested $300,000.

Cindy wrote Banner a new check for the first month's premium.
Michael Apelt thanked Ramsey profusely.
The next day, he and his brother, Rudi, committed murder.

Cindy Monkman Apelt died of numerous stab wounds to the neck, back and abdomen. The bruises on her face and body indicated she had been beaten into submission, though whether it was before, during or after the trip to the desert was uncertain.

A wound on one of Cindy's hands proved she was conscious and had tried to defend herself when first attacked.

In a final insult, Michael Apelt stepped on his prostrate wife's face. The telltale Reebok footprint that remained would help convict him of murder.

Michael drove off in a rented Subaru, as Rudi and Anke Dorn left in another rental car. In a cruel irony, the trio met later that night at the same Bobby McGee's where Michael had first wooed Cindy.

"My wife's too fat and she doesn't need to eat, anyway," Michael Apelt told a waitress, as he feigned concern over Cindy's absence.

Cindy's credit card paid for the trio's postmurder drinks and dinner.
Michael returned to the apartment about 2 a.m. There were calls on the answering machine from Kathy, Annette Clay and another woman, worried because Cindy hadn't shown up for an early-evening engagement as planned.

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