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Man Blows Inheritance $$$ on Strippers

Georgia- Robert Franklin Holcombe was really good at spending money, but really bad at trying to kill his wife.

First, he broke a natural gas line to the water heater, hoping it would cause an explosion. Then, he tried pumping the house full of carbon monoxide by leaving a running car in the garage. After that, he tried poison – twice.

Robert Franklin Holcombe pleaded guilty to several charges last week and will spend up to six years in prison. When none of that worked, Holcombe turned to an accomplice, asking the couple’s son to help bump off his mother. The son agreed to help police by wearing a wire, and Holcombe was arrested.

That was the end of a party that started about $130,000 ago and involved Tiffany’s, an Atlanta strip club.

Holcombe’s tale is straight out of the movies: “Striptease” meets “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

The secret recording between Holcombe and his son was expected to be a key piece of evidence in Holcombe’s trial, which was supposed to start this week.

Now, Holcombe, 55, sits in the Cherokee County Jail and faces up to six years in prison after pleading guilty last week to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of solicitation to commit murder.

He is awaiting transfer to a state prison, and he declined a request for an interview.

Police records – including recently released interviews with family members, Tiffany’s employees and a transcript of the conversation between Holcombe and his son – tell the story of a man scrambling to find money for beer, whiskey and the company of young women.

Holcombe’s downfall can be traced to his infatuation with strippers. He would spread up to $10,000 in cash across a booth table to attract the attention of the ladies. If you were sitting in his regular seat, which he occupied a few times a week, he would give you $100 to move.

As soon as Holcombe walked into the club, the bartender would put a Miller Lite and double shot of Crown Royal whiskey on the bar.

“I mean, he was like Norm on ‘Cheers,’ ” Holcombe’s 28-year-old son, who occasionally accompanied his father, told police.

But big spenders need cash. And by September, Holcombe, who worked at a printing company, had gone through an inheritance and was getting desperate to continue the party.

Holcombe first tried to kill his wife Oct. 26, 2004, less than three months after their 30th wedding anniversary.

He broke a natural gas line to the water heater, hoping to fill the basement with fumes. His wife, Norma Lee Holcombe, 57, told fire investigators she smelled something burning and discovered a small fire in the basement of their home, north of downtown Woodstock.

Apparently, she didn’t think anything of it.

By that time, family members told police, Holcombe had spent an estimated $110,000 he inherited in 1998. He repeatedly refinanced the house, taking out $2,000 to $4,000 in cash.

By killing his wife, police said, Holcombe would be able to get his hands on about $300,000 through life insurance and access to retirement money.

In another murder attempt, Holcombe backed a Ford Mustang in the garage and placed one end of a hose in the tail pipe. He stuck the other end through a hole he drilled between the garage and bedroom.

It was a spectacular failure that nearly backfired.

Holcombe’s recollection of the effort is punctuated with self-deprecation, according to the clandestine recording of a conversation with his son.

After the car sat running for 30 minutes or more, Holcombe went to the garage to check on the car.

“I started getting dizzy,” he said with a laugh, according to the police transcript, “and I started puking,” he said, laughing some more.

Two efforts to poison Norma Holcombe – once with Percocet, once with Benadryl – also failed.

Holcombe was finally arrested on Sept. 30, 2005.

Three months earlier, Holcombe met Misty, a 23-year-old dancer at Tiffany’s. The relationship accelerated Holcombe’s spending – $25,305 deposited into the Holcombes’ joint checking account July 14 was gone in two months.

For her part, Norma Holcombe told police she had little involvement or access to their banking information and didn’t realize the $25,000 was spent until just days before her husband was arrested.

Holcombe – a hulking 6-foot-3, 350 pounds – attracted the attention of Misty by tipping her $20 while she danced on stage. When she later stopped by to ask if he was interested in a lap dance, Holcombe offered her $100 to sit and talk with him.

As the conversation concluded, Holcombe wrote his telephone number on a napkin. A few days later, the two met for lunch at Underground Atlanta.

“I get paid. This is like I’m being paid to spend time with him,” the dancer told Cherokee investigators.

The visits were easier than dancing naked, she said.

“If I can go and hang out with somebody and get paid for it, heck yeah. Why not, right?”

Soon, she stopped dancing at the club altogether. Instead, she earned her money spending time with Holcombe.

“He paid me to go out to eat with him,” the woman told police, adding that they would usually go through the drive-through of a Chick-fil-A.

The two would meet several times a week, and Holcombe would give her $200 to $300 each time. Pulling down about $800 a week from Holcombe, she cultivated the relationship.

“I sent him flowers probably five times on Mondays,” she told investigators. “He hated Mondays.”

Holcombe told Misty and others working at Tiffany’s that he was a widower and that his wife died of cancer.

The dancer and Holcombe just talked, the woman told police. Holcombe knew she had a live-in boyfriend.

“I always said to him, ‘Why would you pay me this kind of money when you could be looking for somebody to love?’ ” the woman asked him, according to police transcripts.

She last saw Holcombe a few days before he was arrested.

“He asked me, ‘Is there ever going to be a point when I don’t have to pay you to see you?’ ” she recalled.

The answer: No.

Holcombe soon asked for his son’s help in trying to kill his wife.

“Most of the time he was drunk, and I thought he was playing around,” his son, Robert F. Holcombe II, said this week.

But when his father asked him again, this time on Sept. 29, 2005, he was convinced his father was serious.

That’s when he went to the sheriff’s office.

Investigators taped a microphone and transmitter on the son.

After a few minutes of talking, the son told his father: “I’ll help you out if you need me. Whatever you want done.”

Investigators were outside recording the conversation.

The elder Holcombe laid out his plan: He would strike his wife on the head with a wooden paddle as she sat at the computer. But first, he needed to wrap her head in a towel to prevent the blood from splattering.

“I seen this on TV,” Holcombe said.

He then planned to stage a fall down the house stairs.

“You can help me tote her upstairs,” Holcombe told his son.

Police then recorded this exchange:

Son: “Well, hell, you’ve tried this before, ain’t you?”

Father: “What?”

Son: “Taking her out.”

Father: “Not by this method.”

Holcombe was arrested a few hours later.

A week after the guilty plea, the double agent in this case is the one who feels betrayed.

“We were like best friends,” Robert F. Holcombe II said about his father. “Except when we were at work, you didn’t see one without the other.”

Now?

“I hope he rots in jail.”

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