The FBI has filed court papers to seize $5 million in life insurance benefits linked to a group of Irish Travelers and the bizarre murder of a 72-year-old housekeeper in Colleyville two years ago.
In a court document filed in Tarrant County District Court, an FBI agent claims the beneficiaries, which include the victim’s son and daughter, are suspects in insurance fraud or the murder itself.
The victim, Anita Fox, of Alvarado, was murdered while she was cleaning a house in Colleyville on Sept. 23, 2014.
Police said the motive was insurance fraud; Fox had several life insurance policies worth $5 million.
“The beneficiaries are suspected of engaging in fraud and/or the murder,” an FBI agent wrote in a motion seeking to seize the insurance proceeds.
Fox's daughter and son-in-law, Virginia and Mark Buckland, were beneficiaries. Fox's son, Al Fox III, has also claimed the money.
None of them has been charged with any crime.
Mark Humphries, the attorney for the Bucklands, of Mansfield, said his clients had nothing to do with the murder, have fully cooperated with police and have passed lie detector tests.
Asked about the allegations in the seizure document, Humphries said, “The FBI considers the insurance company to be a victim in this case, so they're trying to protect their victim.”
He said if the federal government is successful in seizing the money, the couple will continue to fight to get it.
“Seizing it and holding it are two different things,” Humphries said.
Matthew McCarley, an attorney for Al Fox III, said his client believes the Bucklands were somehow involved.
"(The FBI document) mirrors what we've alleged," McCarley said. "They took out $5 million in life insurance on a lady who was a housekeeper. She didn't want that insurance. That's our position."
McCarley said the Bucklands sold one of the policies to an Irish Traveler.
Joe Gorman, a member of the Irish Travelers, committed the murder, police said. He died of natural causes near Houston after detectives had zeroed in on him but before any charges were filed.
His son, Bernard Joseph Gorman Jr., previously identified in a report as Gerard Gorman, was later charged with Fox’s murder. Police said he drove the getaway vehicle while his father walked up to the house where Fox was working and stabbed her.
The younger Gorman has pleaded not guilty and is out on bond awaiting trial.
The Irish Travelers are a nomadic group that travels the country doing odd jobs and is sometimes linked to crimes including insurance fraud, according to law enforcement officials.
A dispute involving the beneficiaries and the insurance companies led to several lawsuits.
The cases – now consolidated into one -- is still pending.
Last week, an FBI agent based in Columbia, South Carolina, wrote in the court document that he started investigating insurance fraud involving Irish Travelers in North Augusta, South Carolina, two months before Fox’s murder.
A North Augusta insurance agent who wrote Fox’s policies, Charles Mercier, told the FBI that he had lied to insurers to get Fox’s policies approved and in one application, falsely claimed she owned a mobile home park, made $300,000 a year, had a net worth of $2 million, and had $900,000 in the bank, the FBI agent said.
Mercier, who has not commented on the case publicly and has not been charged, could not be reached for comment. Court documents do not list an attorney for him.