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Marjorie Orbin: The Rubbermaid Showgirl

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But what happens when you bring a piece of Vegas home with you? Most people come home from Sin City carrying T-shirts, hats, or shot glasses in their suitcases. Not quite as many end up bringing home a local to marry. No, it's much more common to encounter couples running there together to elope. So, what happens if you bring a larger piece of Vegas home than you intended? What happens if you go on a business trip and fall in love? Is it really a good idea to rush into a life with a person you barely know?

Wikipedia lists Marjorie Orbin's date of birth as October 29, 1961. According to Ryan Becker's book, True Crime Stories, she had already been married seven times by the age of 35. CBS News published transcripts of her video diary, made before her trial with the television show, 48 Hours. She's quoted as saying, "At 18, I was told that I could not have children. So I made the conscious decision at that point in my life I would only be responsible for myself." And so she was. For years, she partied, she worked at Vegas strip clubs, and she "went through a few marriages."

Each and every relationship she walked into, she said that she was seeking out her "Prince Charming." In between her princes and frogs, she danced at X-rated night clubs to pay the bills. She reportedly told 48 Hours that she never felt as though she was disrespected or degraded in her career. At no point had she ever done anything that she didn't feel she couldn't talk to her mother about. For many women that are comfortable with their bodies and with others seeing it, this can be a very empowering way to earn a very comfortable living.

CBS News reported that it was while working at one of these clubs that Marjorie got to know a regular named Jay Orbin. Jay was a 26-year-old traveling salesman that regularly passed through Las Vegas. He lived in Phoenix, Arizona, but his work took him all over the country. As he got to know Marjorie, he began pursuing her. Commenting that he was a really nice guy, she agreed to go out with him for drinks. The two went dancing and she admitted that they had a great time. But, she was interested in a much more glamorous, jet-setting kind of lifestyle and decided to set out to find it. Though she didn't want to hurt the hopeless romantic pursuing her, she just had to leave Las Vegas to find something better.

She returned home to Florida and reconnected with a man she'd known since she was 17 soon after arriving. His name was Michael J. Peter and he was a multi-millionaire responsible for creating upscale strip clubs all over the world. It seemed that Marjorie had found her cash cow in a familiar face. She began working for him as his star dancer and choreographer in his clubs. She even earned a feature role in his film, "No More Dirty Deals." The two started a relationship and lived together for many years, even getting engaged.

The industry that they were involved in and the kind of business that they did just didn't go hand-in-hand with a committed, monogamous relationship. The nature of Michael's business drove a wedge between them and the divide was only growing. Marjorie stated that women would often hang off her fiance, even with her standing right there. Everyone wanted a piece of him, and most were willing to do anything for it. Michael was stated by CBS News to have had a "wandering eye." Ryan Becker says in True Crime Stories that the relationship between the two dissolved when Marjorie began to suspect him of cheating. After their break-up, she returned to Las Vegas and went back to work at the night clubs out west. It was 1993 by this point and she had just spent the past ten years living the high life with Michael J. Peter.

After settling back into her life in Vegas, Marjorie received a very unexpected phone call. It was Jay Orbin, the traveling salesman that she had gone out with just before departing to Florida ten years earlier. She hadn't seen or heard from him in all that time as she jetted around the globe with her fiance, helping him with his business. Jay had seen a billboard with Marjorie's picture on it and recognized her instantly. He thought since he was in town, he might ask her out for a drink. They talked for a while before she accepted his humble offer for an impromptu date. They had drinks and ate snacks as they talked through the night. The next thing they knew the sun was rising and they were still talking and having a wonderful time together.

Jay had to return home the next day, but the budding relationship continued to blossom. Marjorie claimed in her video diary that many considered the two "polar opposites," but said that this couldn't be further from the truth. She says that they shared the same opinions on important views, the most important being children. They both wanted nothing more than to be parents. Jay also very much wanted to get married and have a family. He began asking Marjorie to move to Phoenix with him so they could get married. He promised to take care of her fertility treatments so they could start their own family together.

Jay's mother, Joanne Orbin, didn't think much of the woman her son brought home to meet her. She told 48 Hours interviewer, Peter Van Sant, that she couldn't believe this was the woman he chose to bring home and join his life with. She wasn't even slightly impressed. When asked if she thought Marjorie to be beautiful, said that she was, but "not as beautiful as she thought she was." It appeared that Marjorie didn't have any kind of warm feelings towards her soon-to-be mother-in-law, either. She described Joanne as jealous of her and the way Jay adored and doted on her. Jay either didn't notice the tension, or he was just too in love to care.

The pair briefly ran back to Las Vegas to elope at the Little White Wedding Chapel. Jay was bursting with joy when he called his older brother, Jake Orbin, with the news. Jake was living in San Diego at the time and came out to Phoenix three months later to visit the newlyweds. Marjorie was a regular June Cleaver, keeping the house in order and cooking all of the meals. She seemed to be perfectly happy with taking care of her home, even though the fertility treatments she was undergoing were taking a toll on her. She was often terribly sick, but endured the difficulties for the sake of finally having a baby. All of that illness paid off when she became pregnant with their son, Noah.

The day that Noah was born was the most important in Marjorie's life. For the next ten years, she continued to keep her home, care for her child, and even help with Jay's business. No one could've foreseen what would happen shortly after their son's tenth birthday.

Noah turned ten on August 26, 2004. His birthday party was the last time Jay ever saw his son. Shortly after he blew his candles out and made his wish, his father had to depart on a sales trip to Florida. Unfortunately the arrival of Hurricane Francis drove Jay to return home early as it ripped its way through the state. He had just driven back into Phoenix on September 8, 2004, his 45th birthday, when his mother called with well wishes on his special day. She had no way of knowing that this would be the last time she ever spoke to her son. He ended the call, saying that he would talk to her later, but he never called back. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened when he returned home from his long journey.

After a week with no word from Jay, his entire family began to panic, especially Joanne. What concerned her all the more was his wife's apparent lack of urgency. Marjorie behaved as though Joanne was worrying for nothing. Like everything was just fine. Finally after a week of Jay's silence and Marjorie's aloofness, they convinced her to go to the police.

Detective Jan Butcher of the Missing Persons Unit was assigned to the case. Her suspicions about Marjorie were raised immediately with her delay in calling back with important information. She had requested the license plate number of Jay's car, but Marjorie made no rush to call back. Butcher left three messages before she finally heard back. She told the not-so-distraught wife outright that she thought her to be uncooperative and unwilling to help with her husband's investigation. Marjorie was surprised to hear her say that. Then, she stunned the detective with information previously withheld. She revealed that she and Jay had divorced for tax reasons, but had continued to live together "as man and wife."

She commented that though she wasn't hysterical, it didn't mean she had felt or done nothing. She had done plenty, that was true enough. She did plenty of shopping on her missing husband's dime. Purchases like a $12,000 baby grand piano raised eyebrows. After this, she blew through another $45,000 from Jay's business account before liquidating a total of $100,000 from both his personal and business accounts. She acted nothing like a woman concerned for the well-being of her husband. When asked why she went shopping when she was supposed to be in mourning during her interview with 48 Hours, she replied that she had been in shock and in a daze. She said that many of the things she did during that time made no sense.

As if her shopping sprees hadn't already raised enough red flags in her direction, her behavior continued to grow stranger. Detective Butcher placed a call to Marjorie, asking if she might schedule her for a polygraph exam. Marjorie didn't respond to Butcher, rather telling a man in the background that the detective wanted her to take the test. His reply could be heard loud and clear over the phone, "You tell her to go fuck herself." This turned out to be the voice of Marjorie's boyfriend, Larry Weisberg, a production manager she had met at the gym and began an affair with.

After this telling phone call, Butcher was able to secure a warrant to search Jay and Marjorie's home and requested that a SWAT team deliver it. When they broke down the door of the house, Larry immediately confronted the armed men, ready for a fight. When it was seen that he was not going to back down or move out of their way, he was tased. The moment that Larry's stiff body crashed to the ground, he was smashed in the face to keep him there. As the SWAT team moved down the hallway towards Noah's bedroom with guns drawn, Marjorie was hardly concerned with her side piece. She yelled to the armed officers that there was a child in the home and begged for them not to scare him. While no arrests were made that day, much evidence was removed from the house. All of it was against Jay's indifferent wife.

It quickly became obvious after looking at all of the evidence recovered that Jay had made it home from his business trip to Florida. It was also very clear that he never left the house after that. Numerous credit cards in his name that he always took with him when he traveled were found in the home. His business checkbook, which always remained in his briefcase, was also found. It was at this point that Butcher met the sobering realization that she was likely looking at a homicide investigation. It appeared that Jay had safely made it away from Hurricane Francis only to meet his death within his own home just after escaping a deadly storm.

It was six weeks after Jay had gone missing and evidence was mounting. Marjorie had her field day in the stores as investigators slowly pieced the mystery together. On October 23, 2004, a random Rubbermaid container was found in the desert. Inside, the torso of a male was found with a wad of cash, and a single spent bullet. Detective David Barnes was called to the scene. He assumed the role of lead investigator and quickly picked up right where Detective Butcher left off when DNA confirmed the torso to be that of Jay Orbin. As the investigation shifted, the main suspect did not.

"Follow the money," says Detective Barnes. In most homicide cases a trail of money will usually lead you straight to the murderer like breadcrumbs. In this case all of the money led straight back to Marjorie. The fact that the container had been found only a few miles from her house was all the more damning.

Barnes points to Marjorie's obsession with her husband's money as her biggest downfall. She needed a body to be discovered for a death certificate to be issued so she could then cash in on the life insurance policy. Marjorie claims that even if she had been stupid enough to do such a thing for life insurance, she certainly wouldn't have "...put it outside my back door."

Just three weeks after Jay's torso was found, Marjorie was arrested for forging his signature at a Circuit City store. When she was taken back to the station for questioning, she feigned ignorance, claiming that she had no idea she was doing anything wrong. She was simply attempting to replace business computers confiscated by police so she could fill some orders online. Acting as though she hadn't just liquidated $100,000, she claimed that she needed to fill these orders so she could pay her bills.

During a brief break in questioning, Noah was allowed to come in and visit his mother. He can be heard on surveillance asking if the police had said whether or not she could use her card. She replied, "No," saying that the card had his father's name on it, not her's. As though she's using this as a teachable moment, Marjorie tells her son that "you're not supposed to really use a credit card unless it has your name on it." After this short respite, the interrogation continued.

This time the line of questioning had changed. The focus suddenly shifted from fraud to murder. When asked what she thought happened to her husband, she replied, "I have no idea." Detective Barnes took over the interrogation as he slapped a picture of her husband's torso down on the table in front of her. Quickly, she jerked away and expressed her disbelief as tears welled up in her eyes. "This has all been a trick," she uttered.

Though Marjorie was released that night, Barnes continued building his case. He located receipts for cleaning products and mops bought the day after Jay went missing. He explained that after she acid washed and epoxy coated the garage floor any traces of blood that could've been found were erased. The most condemning evidence discovered was security footage from a Lowe's hardware store, where Marjorie can be seen very clearly as she purchases two large Rubbermaid containers. Adding insult to mortal injury, she purchased the very items she disposed of him in with his American Express card.

Though Marjorie was the strongest suspect, she wasn't the only one. Barnes also had many questions about her boyfriend, Larry Weisberg. Who was this man, really? What would lead him to fight back against the SWAT team? Some of his clothing had been found inside Jay's dresser drawers, leading the detective to wonder if he was living there. A search of his house uncovered a garage door opener to Jay and Marjorie's garage, proving that he had remote control access to the couple's home. However no other evidence was found at Larry's house to suggest he played a part in the crime. Every rock overturned unearthed another arrow pointing directly at the callous, covetous wife.

Though no one knew exactly how the murder had played out, Barnes knew one thing for certain. Marjorie was directly responsible for the death of her husband. Six weeks after the remains of Jay's remains were discovered, on December 6, 2004, she was finally handcuffed in the foyer of her home as Noah watched in disbelief. Jay's older brother, Jake Orbin, took custody of the child after this awful upheaval in his life.

Marjorie's attorney, Robyn Varcoe, thought it was just "outrageous" that the state seemed to be gunning for her client when a perfectly viable suspect, in her opinion, had been overlooked. She felt that the likelihood of Larry Weisberg committing the crime was much higher than that of her client. This would be the defense that Marjorie's team would heavily rely upon.

Before we look at the trial, it's important to look at the wild story Marjorie called 48 Hours to come back and record five years later. She claimed to have her reasons for staying silent throughout the investigation. According to the newest version of events, Larry Weisberg had convinced his girlfriend to go along with his premeditated murder plot by threatening her son's life. After such a terrifying threat, she says that she helped to cover up the crime and kept her mouth shut. She swears that she did not commit the murder. Larry had forced her into aiding and abetting him as he managed to slip away without punishment. Now, according to her ridiculous story, she's serving the prison sentence that he should've received. The fact that this was all revealed on national television rather than in a courtroom makes it all less credible.

In court, Robyn Varcoe immediately pointed to Marjorie's boyfriend, saying that he was real killer. This weak defense was swatted down by the prosecution as easily as an annoying bug. With all of the evidence pointing at Marjorie, not Larry, it wasn't hard to make the case that he was likely just a pawn in her game. Prosecutor Treena Kay didn't believe that he had any involvement at all. He was only guilty of being involved with the wrong woman at the wrong time. Throughout their relationship she had manipulated him into whatever she needed him to be at the time. Her final trick, five years later, was accusing him of orchestrating the entire plot and threatening her into silence.

When Treena Kay spoke to the jury, she didn't mince words. She said that Marjorie was a stripper that had been desperate to have a child. When Jay Orbin filled his obligation of providing her with a son, she no longer had need of him. Kay informed the court that Jay's loving wife was disgusted by him and hated him, though she held a deep infatuation for his money. This is what led her to take the gun from his briefcase and shoot him in cold blood in their garage as their son slept in his bedroom. She then froze his body, thawed it, and dismembered it with a jig-saw. Cuts made into the vertebrae and tibia were consistent with these types of blades.

The murder weapon and the saw that dismembered the victim was never found. While these would've been helpful, the surveillance footage of Marjorie purchasing what Kay referred to as "the Rubbermaid coffin for her husband" was monumental. With this three-pointer flawlessly made, the prosecution still had their star witnesses left to call to the stand.

The state called Sophia Johnson, Marjorie's cellmate. While the defense tried to poke holes in her testimony by stating that she had accepted a deal in return, the prosecution stated that no deal had been made in exchange. Sophia told the jury that her cellmate had referred to Jay as "fat" and "disgusting." In her video diary, Marjorie admits that there were disgusting things about him, like his table manners, but goes no farther in defending her comments. Sophia said that her cellmate had outright confessed to her, saying, "I did it. I did it." Of course she denied ever saying those words to anyone when recording her video diary. The jury was shocked as Sophia recalled Marjorie's recollection of shooting her husband, freezing his body, thawing it out, and dismembering his arms, legs, and head.

Once Marjorie's cellmate stepped down, Larry Weisberg was called to testify. Five years later, Marjorie tells 48 Hours that upon entering the courtroom, Larry intimidated her with menacing looks. If he did so, no one else took notice. The picture that he painted for the jury colored his girlfriend in a seductive shade. It had been her that initiated the affair. It was only after the discovery of Jay Orbin's torso that he began to notice her desperation. She told him that she was scared and she wanted to run away, asking him to go with her. With utter confusion and bewilderment, he replied, "What?"

When asked if he had any involvement in the murder of his girlfriend's husband, he said no. On cross-examination, he told the defense when asked if he was an honest man that he was "To a point." Defense attorney Herman Alcantar painted Larry as a man that was crazy enough to stand toe-to-toe with a SWAT team, angry enough to cuss at a detective, and strong enough to dispose of a 280-pound body on his own.

As certain as Barnes was about Marjorie's guilt, he was starting to have misgivings about Larry's innocence. While Treena Kay perceived him as more of a victim than a conspirator, Barnes had his doubts. His doubts all hinged on evidence that had been untested. Hairs had been found on the Rubbermaid tote containing Jay's torso, but were never tested. When Barnes attempted to have the hairs tested the crime lab outright declined to do so. Though much evidence was tested, none of it pointed at Larry. Kay was confident in the work done to prove Marjorie's guilt even without the testing of this evidence.

Three months into Marjorie's trial, Barnes was placed on leave for harassment. He assumed this had been due to his harsh criticism of the crime lab, not just in this case, but many others as well. In his opinion they could've been doing a lot more to ensure rightful convictions.

Throughout her trial only one person ever spoke up in defense of Marjorie. Her son had been turned against her by her husband's family, and even her boyfriend had turned against her in exchange for use immunity, meaning nothing he said in court could be used against him. With not a single person left in her corner it was surprisingly her ex-fiance, Michael J. Peter, that offered his opinions in this gruesome case. He was firmly under the belief that the woman he had shared ten years of his life with in the distant past was incapable of such an atrocity. At one point before Jay's death, Michael had contacted her, offering to support her and Noah if she left her husband to come back to him. Marjorie declined his offer, saying that though she wanted nothing more in the world than to be with him again, she couldn't separate her son from his father. Michael said that she had referred to Jay as a "good man."

When all evidence had been seen and all testimony heard, it was finally Marjorie's turn to take the stand and tell her side of the story, no matter how distorted and dishonest. Though she was willing and ready to be heard for the first time in eight months, her defense team advised against testifying on her own behalf. They were not wrong in their advice. They felt as though they had this case in the bag and testimony from Marjorie would likely undo all of that. With no murder weapon or definitive forensic evidence, they were certain that their client would walk. All she could do at that point was return to her cell and hope for best as the jury deliberated. In the meantime she recorded her video diary as she hoped aloud that the jury would realize that they had no idea how, where, or when Jay died. "I did not do this," she said as though she were trying to convince herself as much as everyone else.

An eight-month-long trial concluded with a seven-hour deliberation. The jury filed back into the courtroom only to prove that the defense had misplaced their confidence. Marjorie Orbin was found guilty of the murder of her husband and handed a life sentence. Joanne Orbin was thrilled with the ruling, saying that she had known all along who the culprit was. It seemed that Jay's entire family knew from the very beginning that his wife had killed him for his money. They were elated to hear the guilty verdict and finally felt the weightlessness of relief that comes with closure and justice. It was all over, or so they thought.

After the rendering of her verdict, Marjorie called 48 Hours back to tell the nation the story that she had not been allowed to tell the jury. Interviewer Peter Van Sant returned to hear what she had to say. When asked how Larry had killed her husband, she said that it had happened in the middle of a confrontation between the two in the garage. When prompted, she explained that the fight had ensued when Jay returned home from his sales trip to find Larry entering their house. She claims to have only heard the gunshot ring out through the house and that she never saw the body. It had all been Larry, according to her version of events, who had shot Jay, dismembered his body, and disposed of it in Rubbermaid containers he made her purchase. "You'd have to put me in a rubber room if I saw a person's body cut up," she commented to the interviewer.

Van Sant cut right through the crap as he ripped her story apart. In all the time proceeding Jay's death that she had ample opportunity to call for help, why didn't she? She said that she was afraid for Larry and didn't want to see him get into any trouble. This, the same man that in the same breath she had accused of threatening her son's life. Treena Kay was asked in an interview with Van Sant if any evidence had been found during the course of the investigation that suggests Larry was at the home the night Jay was killed. She simply replied, "Absolutely not." Even Barnes, who was unsure of how innocent Larry was, did not believe that he had threatened Noah. No evidence had ever been found of this and Marjorie never reported it to Barnes in the many opportunities she had to do so.

When Larry Weisberg was asked for an interview by 48 Hours, he declined. After the investigation, the trial, and Marjorie's very public accusations, no one could blame him for wanting to keep to himself. It would seem that he learned a very hard lesson in the toughest way possible. You can't trust just anyone.

It was two weeks after the guilty verdict was heard that her sentence was passed down. Jake Orbin said that a life sentence was the best possible outcome. They had never wished death upon the mother of Jay's son. They simply wished that her guilt be acknowledged and her punishment fit the crime in which she committed. Life in prison would give her sufficient time to think about her actions and the amount of grief they caused everyone around her.

To this day no one has ever found Jay's arms, legs, or head. All confidence and hubris, Marjorie told Van Sant that she would continue to fight for her freedom. After that she would fight for custody of her son. As she remains in prison nearly 20 years later it seems that she's been unable to convince a judge of her story.

Marjorie displayed for the nation how easily greed can rip right through a family. Her ever-reaching talons managed to quite literally tear her husband as well as her family apart. Her thirst for more has left her cold and alone in a prison cell that she will never escape from alive. There are a few lessons to be learned from her story. No matter how long you share your life with another person, you may never truly know them or what they may be capable of.

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