Killers wifes death ruled tragic accident until second wife turned up dead too

It's believed a murderous husband almost got away with killing his first wife – until his second wife turned up dead too.

North Carolina resident Diana Alejandra Keel, 38, was married to Rexford Lynn Keel, who a decade earlier had been married to Elizabeth Edwards.

In 2006, Elizabeth died after falling down a set of outdoor concrete steps at their home near Momeyer in North Carolina.

Less than a year later, it seemed Keel had been given a second chance at love when he met Diana, who was 20 years younger than him, the Mirror reports.

Keel met the beautiful Colombian single mum on a work trip to Latin America, and she returned with him to Nash County where they were married and later had a son.

Diana worked as a nurse in the emergency department at the Wilson Medical Centre, where her compassion made her a natural with patients.

By 2019 her daughter Laura was at college and Diana, a regular churchgoer, seemed to have a lot on her mind, according to her friends.

Then on March 9, Diana's daughter reported her missing and one of her workmates called police a day or so later, to say Diana hadn't shown up for work.

Police started a missing person investigation and straight away Diana's friends and family suspected that Keel knew more than he was letting on.

Diana's mother Esperanza Prada claimed her daughter's marriage was unhappy and Diana wanted to leave but Keel had threatened her.

The day before she vanished, Diana had messaged Esperanza in Colombia, "Mum, I love you very much." Esperanza said the message had come out of the blue and left her feeling uneasy.

Had the missing woman decided to walk out of her marriage? If so, why hadn't she taken her 10-year-old son with her? But the biggest question of all was, why hadn't her husband reported his wife missing? When questioned, Keel, 57, said his wife had gone out to run some errands and hadn't returned.

He said she would leave "from time to time" and wouldn't return for "several days", which didn't ring true with Diana's reputation as a devoted mum.

On March 12, police found Diana's partially clothed decomposing body in a wooded area in Edgecombe County, about 30 miles from Diana's home.

A post-mortem revealed she had died from blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds.

Police soon turned their attention to Keel. Records showed a "domestic incident" involving the couple had been reported a year earlier, and friends and relatives said Diana was speaking to a lawyer about divorce.

A murder warrant was issued for Keel's arrest, but he fled.

Guns and other weapons were seized from his home and he was eventually spotted on an interstate highway in Arizona, carrying a penknife and a lot of cash when he was arrested.

At first, he pleaded not guilty as he was extradited to Nash County.

The case attracted a lot of national attention and it wasn't long before rumours were circulating about the death of his first wife and whether it was really a coincidence.

Last month, as the jury was being selected, Keel, now 59, accepted a plea deal to avoid a trial, pleading no contest to second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping.

The prosecution told the court that Keel would have gained financially from Diana's death. Two years before her killing, he had taken out more than $1 million life insurance for his wife and was the sole beneficiary.

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He said that on the morning of March 8, the couple were seen having an argument on their front porch, and Diana was beaten to death in her bedroom that day.

Keel cleaned the room before rolling Diana in a tarpaulin. Experts believe she was still alive when she was loaded into her own SUV, driven into the woods and left to rot.

The conviction has turned a spotlight on the death of Keel's first wife.

Although her death was ruled accidental at the time, investigators have decided to re-examine the case following Diana's murder.

Friends at the time said they were surprised Elizabeth had slipped.

She was known as an outdoors type who liked to go horse riding and was always capable outside, whatever the weather.

Questions remain, but whatever unfolds, Keel can no longer run from the truth.

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