For months, the young son of Bart and Jennifer Corbin had told people that he was afraid of violence in their posh, suburban Georgia home. Then, on the morning of December 4, 2004, neighbors found seven-year-old Dalton Corbin at their front door sobbing. Until then no one could have seen what was going on behind closed doors: that beautiful Jennifer Corbin was immersed in a cyber-sex lesbian affair—or that Bart, now a wealthy dentist, had a bizarre, frightening past…
Jennifer Corbin's death looked like a suicide. But the crime didn't fool young Dalton, and in the coming weeks an even more horrifying story emerged: That Dr. Corbin had been left by a woman once before—and that time he may have gotten away with murder. But this time justice would be served….
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About the Author
English-born JOHN GLATT is the author of more than ten books and has over twenty-five years of experience as an investigative journalist in England and America. He divides his time betweeen New York and London.
English-born John Glatt is the author of Lost and Found, Secrets in the Cellar, Playing with Fire, and many other bestselling books of true crime. He has more than 30 years of experience as an investigative journalist in England and America. Glatt left school at 16 and worked a variety of jobs—including tea boy and messenger—before joining a small weekly newspaper. He freelanced at several English newspapers, then in 1981 moved to New York, where he joined the staff for News Limited and freelanced for publications including Newsweek and the New York Post. His first book, a biography of Bill Graham, was published in 1981, and he published For I Have Sinned, his first book of true crime, in 1998. He has appeared television and radio programs all over the world, including Dateline NBC, Fox News, Current Affair, BBC World, and A&E Biography. He and his wife Gail divide their time between New York City, the Catskill Mountains and London.
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The Doctor's Wife
A True Story of Marriage, Deception and Two Gruesome Deaths
By John Glatt
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2007 John Glatt
All rights reserved.
"I'D LIKE TO BE A DENTIST"
BARTON THOMAS CORBIN WAS BORN IN JACKSONVILLE, Florida, on December 22, 1963 — just three minutes after his fraternal twin, Bradley Ray. Their father, Gene Corbin, was a military policeman and their mother, Connie, a bank teller. When the twins were 4 years old their parents had a third son they christened Robert, and from then on the family always referred to the twins as "Bobby's brothers."
When the Corbin twins were 7 years old, their father moved the family 360 miles north to Atlanta, Georgia, where they settled in the suburb of Snellville. Lying eighteen miles east of Atlanta, where Interstate 78 crosses Highway 124, Snellville was a boom town in the early 1970s, with a long and colorful history.
The Cherokee Tribe had once roamed the scenic forest of chestnut oaks, before the early American pioneers settled there. They initially named it New London, but Snellville owes its modern name to an adventurous Englishman named Thomas Snell, who sailed across the Atlantic to Georgia in the late Nineteenth Century. He eventually settled in New London, starting a general store which printed its own money for exclusive use on the premises, with Snell's portrait on it.
His store soon served all the neighboring communities, becoming so well known that the town adopted the name Snellville in his honor. The business continued to prosper until 1960, when it finally closed to be replaced by a gas station.
As young boys the Corbin twins dressed identically and were inseparable, sharing the same room until after they graduated college.
Soon after moving to Snellville, Barton saw the 1962 NBC Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The little boy totally related to Hermey, Santa's elf who was too slow painting the toy trucks to be given to children as presents. When the supervising elf admonished him, Hermey complained that he did not like his job.
"What?" declared his astonished supervisor. "You don't like to make toys?"
"I'd like to be a dentist," came Hermey's reply.
He then ran away to the Island of Misfit Toys, having various adventures before finally fulfilling his dream.
And that children's program — according to Corbin family lore — first sowed the seeds of Bart Corbin's ambition to become a dentist.
BART AND BRAD BOTH WENT TO SOUTH GWINNETT HIGH School on East Main Street in Snellville, and younger brother Bob would join them several years later. Brad was the more academically inclined of the twins, with Bart preferring sports, excelling at football.
Bart later told friends that he'd suffered from low self-esteem in high school. He was overweight and mercilessly teased by his classmates, so he began working out. Even as an adult he considered himself fat, although he was in superb shape.
He soon made a name for himself as a member of the successful Comets football team. The 1979 Cometa yearbook shows the 16-year-old freshman with a wide, toothy smile, wearing a hooped tee-shirt and a fringe. But a picture of his twin brother alongside is a study in contrasts, with the fuller-faced Brad looking the more serious of the two.
From early childhood, friends later remembered, Bart Corbin was unpredictable. Without warning, for no apparent reason, a dark cloud would come over him, giving rise to a display of his ferocious temper.
Years later Brad's future wife, Edwina, would try to explain Bart's mercurial nature, observing that all the Corbin brothers were highly excitable on occasion.
"All three boys speak loudly by my standards," she observed. "I think it is born of being a part of a busy home. When they get excited or upset about something, they get louder. I think people could interpret this as anger when coupled with the odd swear word or five, but it isn't. The only times I have seen/heard any of them really get upset is when they themselves have done something wrong."
And family members jokingly refer to this excitable Corbin family trait as a case of "pseudo-Tourette's."
As the youngest, Robert always looked up to the twins, who protected him at school.
"We played together," Robert would later remember. "They looked out for me."
Both twins were musical. Bart was a good guitarist and Brad played classical piano to competition level. They also loved to draw pictures.
The 1980 and 1981 South Gwinnett yearbooks show that the twins were both on the high school's football team, but Bart's only other mention was as an aspiring actor in the annual school play, where he was pictured as a monk in a long robe. Brad, on the other hand, was a member of the French Club, the Beta Club, the Science Fiction Club and the Chess Club. He was also on the honor roll and awarded a Georgia Certificate of Merit.
But although Bart was just an average student, he made up for it with his stunning good looks and razor-sharp wit. By his sophomore year the tall handsome teenager was never short of female admirers.
He was also ambitious and driven, graduating in 1982, with far lower grades than his twin brother. In their graduation pictures Bart is impeccably dressed in a black tuxedo and black bow tie, whereas Brad has a flashier gray velvet tuxedo, black lapels and a white frilly shirt.
SOON AFTER MOVING TO SNELLVILLE, GENE CORBIN HAD started a chemical company. Bart and Brad regularly visited the offices, with Bart striking up a close friendship with a salesman named Richard J. Wilson. Over the next few years, Bart and Wilson would regularly meet for extended fishing trips on the water.
Gene and Constance Corbin always encouraged Bart to become a dentist. And in 1983 they were proud when he enrolled at the University of Georgia's predentistry program, along with his twin brother, who majored in neurobiology. The boys immediately joined the UGA Georgia Bulldogs football team — the Dawgs — as walk-on defensive linemen. Several years later, younger brother Bob would follow them, before injuring his leg during a game. All three brothers would share a lifelong passion, as "hard-core" supporters of the Dawgs.
During his early twenties, a leather-clad Barton Corbin cut a dashing figure on the UGA campus, riding a mountain bike that he also raced. He played guitar around campus and loved disco, sometimes frequenting Atlanta clubs with friends on the weekends. Considered an eligible bachelor and quite a catch, he suffered no lack of girlfriends. He and Brad shared a room together and seemed inseparable.
Soon before the twins graduated, their parents had a "messy divorce," according to one of Bart's friends. Although Connie and Gene were now barely on speaking terms, their three sons would remain close to both of them.
In 1986, Bart graduated from UGA with a BS degree, with an emphasis on pre-dental. His grades were good enough for him to be accepted to study dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
Finally, at the age of 25, he was on his way to achieve his childhood ambition to become a dentist.
IT TOOK ALMOST A CENTURY FOR THE MEDICAL COLLEGE OF Georgia (MCG) to establish a school of dentistry. The idea was first mooted in 1868, but not taken seriously, with dentistry then considered a "non-vital" branch of medicine.
It was not until 1960 — three years before Barton Corbin's birth — that several dentists banded together to form the Augusta Dental Society, to campaign for the establishment of a Georgia dental school.
Five years later, the MCG School of Dentistry was initiated, accepting its first students in two temporary buildings, its stated mission to "educate dentists in order to improve overall health and to reduce the burden of illness in society."
In June 1971, the present dental facility was completed on the corner of Fifteenth Street and Gwinnett, in downtown Augusta.
By the time Bart Corbin joined MCG in summer 1986, the school of dentistry was thriving. It drew students from all over the state and was highly competitive, with a demanding workload. During the four years of dental school, Corbin and his fellow students often studied together, getting to know each other very well from classes and laboratory studies.
"We were under a lot of stress," his classmate Dr. Alfred Aguero would tell The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "[Bart had] an explosive temper. He got mad pretty easily." Another old classmate, Scott Stillman, also remembered Corbin as always on a short fuse and extremely unpredictable.
On one occasion, Corbin become so "frustrated" over a lab experiment, he hurled his equipment against the wall in a fit of anger. This incident gave birth to a running gag, with his fellow students reenacting his tantrum behind his back for the next three years.
Eric Rader shared an office with Bart Corbin for several years and they became best friends. Corbin would spend most of his free time at the home of Rader and his wife often asking advice and confiding in him.
Rader thought him insecure, with an "unstable ego" and problems with his self image. Bart told him about being fat in high school and how he now worked out to bolster his low self-esteem. Rader felt that Bart always needed a nice car, a beautiful girlfriend and fancy clothes in order to feel good about himself.
Derrick Hampton, also in his class, recalls Bart as being one of the "funniest guys" he'd ever met.
"He's been known to embellish," noted Dr. Hampton, "using the art of words you probably wouldn't use around your grandma."
Soon after starting his second year at dental school, Corbin met a beautiful freshman dental student named Dorothy Hearn. Before long they were embroiled in a wild passionate affair.CHAPTER 2
DOROTHY CARLISLE HEARN HAD DENTISTRY IN HER blood. Her father, Dr. Carlton Hearn, was a well-respected dentist in the small town of Washington, Georgia, and she had always dreamed of following in his footsteps.
The Hearn family originated from Eatonton, Georgia, where Carlton's father, Henry Brandon Hearn, was the village postmaster. Carlton grew up in a large Victorian house by the railroad tracks on North Madison Avenue.
He was a good student and ambitious, finally leaving home in his late teens to study at Georgetown University. Then after graduating, he moved fifty miles northeast to Washington, marrying a beautiful Southern belle named Barbara and founding his dental practice. "Miss Barbara," as she is still affectionately known, grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, and has been described as "the very essence of a Southern lady."
The picturesque town of Washington lies 115 miles due east of Atlanta, deep in the Southern heartland of Wilkes County.
In 1780, it became the first city to be named for General George Washington, nine years before he was inaugurated as America's first president.
The town's cotton plantations soon helped Washington prosper. The lush rolling hills, southwest of where the Savannah and Broad Rivers meet, were perfect for growing cotton. In 1795 Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in nearby Upton Creek, enabling cotton to be machine-processed in mass quantities for the first time.
During the Nineteenth Century, Washington rivaled Savannah in affluence, boasting more than a hundred picture-perfect colonial mansions, most of which survive to this day. After starting his practice, Dr. Carlton and Mrs. Barbara Hearn moved into one of them on Spring Street, built in 1854, to raise a family.
Dorothy Hearn was born on July 6, 1962, and named after her grandmother. Dolly, as her mother called her and as she was known to everyone, was a happy-go-lucky child with a magnetic personality. Over the next few years Dr. Hearn and Miss Barbara would have two sons, Carlton Jr. and Gilmer, to complete the family.
As Dolly was growing up, Washington remained virtually unchanged from its Victorian glory days, with a population of around 4,000. The elegant old colonial homes stood proudly on tree-lined streets, where the irrepressibly happy, corn-haired little girl loved to run free.
"Dolly was the most beautiful creature you'd ever seen in your life," said her first cousin, Mary Joyce Hemenway, who was just two years older and lived in the town's namesake, Washington, DC. "[She had] big brown eyes and very long, dark eyelashes ... so incredibly vibrant."
Hearn family life revolved around the First Baptist Church, where they regularly attended Sunday services and were active in the community. Dolly attended kindergarten in the 120-year-old brick church on West Robert Toombs Avenue.
"I ... knew her through the First Baptist Church and watched her grow up," remembered her childhood friend Kay Hopkins Sauls. "Dolly was an exceptionally pretty little girl and ... after the church services ... she was always surrounded by many friends."
A family photograph taken when Dolly was 4 years old shows a cherubic-looking girl with a huge grin, her thick hair, now considerably darker, cascading over her shoulders.
She always had a smile on her face and loved making hand-crafted presents for family and friends.
"[She had] a zest for life," declared her aunt Jane Carlisle. "As a toddler Dolly named my mother Nana and my father GoGo ... She even entered them in the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes as Nana Buns and GoGo Pops ... for years [they] received junk mail addressed with those names."
Dolly had an idyllic childhood and as the oldest of the three Hearn children, she looked after her younger brothers, Carlton Jr. and Gil. Professionally taken family photographs show Dolly in braces with her two young brothers, looking like the quintessential Southern family. Later pictures show a teenage Dolly in a Western-style waistcoat and a checked shirt, looking uncannily like Marie Osmond.
As a child, Dolly had her own pet peacock, which lived in the front garden. And there was always a colorful assortment of other animals running through the Hearns' white Colonial, surrounded by 120 acres.
"Going to their house was like going to the Zoo," remembered Bill Hopkins, a friend of Carlton Jr, "there were so many different kinds of animals and pets."
Frequently at the Hearn house when he was a 5-year-old boy, Hopkins developed an innocent crush on Dolly, who was four years older. One day he and Carlton were watching cartoons on TV when Dolly came walking in.
"She was so pretty it embarrassed me," he later remembered. "I got up and left the room."
Each summer, Mary Joyce Hemenway's parents would drive her and her four siblings to their grandparents' in Eatonton, spending the night in Washington to visit with their "Southern cousin network."
"We'd always stop in Washington to see Dolly's family on their property," she remembered. "All five kids poured out of the car and raced into the field to pet goats. Dolly and I would creep close to the peacock as he strutted beneath the trees, its tail glimmering in the light. It was her pet and it would display its feathers for her."
One summer a rather "shy" Dolly showed her elder cousin a large bus that her father had converted for family road trips.
During the much-anticipated visits they delighted in playing together. "We picked flowers and made little arrangements," said Mary Joyce. "And we played tag and hide-and-seek. We weren't supposed to play around the trash cans, but we would. It was fun."
Another cousin, Catherine Siewick, also joined in the games with Dolly and her little brothers.
"She was fun loving, with an incredible laugh," recalled Siewick. "She was also thoughtful and caring, presenting us with precious feathers to take back to Washington, DC."
At the age of nine, Dolly joined the prestigious Wilkes County Academy, where she would spend the next eight years studying.
Founded in 1797, Wilkes County Academy is one of the oldest public schools in America.
Dolly would make a lasting impression on her fellow classmates.
Beautiful and popular, the striking dentist's daughter endeared herself to everyone, by making them feel special. She was a gifted student artistically and an outstanding calligraphist. It was said she could stop traffic with her "ear-piercing" whistle — a rare talent she would demonstrate at the drop of a hat.
"We were majorettes and took swimming class [together]," remembers Ann Hale, who already knew her from the First Baptist Church. "Hale & Hearn always lined up together ... I can remember her cats, the pet goats and that beautiful peacock."
"You knew [she] was going somewhere," said her long-time teacher Angie Strother. "She was just an all-around child."
Dolly loved cooking. Strother remembers her baking cookies at Christmas, and then leaving them around to be found by her teachers and friends.
Excerpted from The Doctor's Wife by John Glatt. Copyright © 2007 John Glatt. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE - "I'D LIKE TO BE A DENTIST",
CHAPTER TWO - DOLLY HEARN,
CHAPTER THREE - INFATUATION,
CHAPTER FOUR - OBSESSION,
CHAPTER FIVE - A PERSON OF INTEREST,
CHAPTER SIX - "I FAILED TO TELL THE TRUTH",
CHAPTER SEVEN - A COLD CASE,
CHAPTER EIGHT - "THE DENTIST FROM HELL",
CHAPTER NINE - JENNIFER,
CHAPTER TEN - A PERFECT FAMILY,
CHAPTER ELEVEN - EVERQUEST,
CHAPTER TWELVE - CHRIS/ANITA,
CHAPTER THIRTEEN - THANKSGIVING,
CHAPTER FOURTEEN - "LIVE LIKE YOU WERE DYING",
CHAPTER FIFTEEN - A CRY FOR HELP,
CHAPTER SIXTEEN - FRIDAY,
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN - "I HOPE HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING STUPID",
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN - UNDER SUSPICION,
CHAPTER NINETEEN - LYING LOW,
CHAPTER TWENTY - BREAKING THE CASE,
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE - "WE JUST WANT TO PROTECT THESE KIDS",
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO - DANNY PORTER,
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE - A MEMORIAL SERVICE,
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR - SPIN CONTROL,
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE - A GRAND JURY,
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX - ARREST,
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN - CLOSURE,
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT - THE DREAM TEAM,
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE - GAGGED,
CHAPTER THIRTY - "I AM SO ANGRY",
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE - "SIMILAR TRANSACTION",
CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO - REDUX,
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE - THE FINAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE,