Jury finds minivan murder defendants guilty on all counts | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Jury finds minivan murder defendants guilty on all counts

The Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — James Daveggio and Michelle Michaud were convicted Monday of kidnap, rape and murder in the death of Vanessa Lei Samson, who was tied up in a minivan and repeatedly raped and sodomized with curling irons while the couple drove to South Lake Tahoe.

The first-degree murder convictions returned by the Alameda County jury came with special circumstances, which means Daveggio, 41, and Michaud, 43, could face the death penalty. Sentencing is set for May 13.

Samson, 22, was abducted while walking to her job as a clerk in a Pleasanton insurance office. Authorities said she was tied up in a van rigged with hooks and ropes. Her body was discovered two days later, on Dec. 4, 1997, in Hope Valley.

During the three-month trial, other women testified the couple sexually assaulted them. A Reno woman recounted being kidnapped and raped in 1997 prior to Samson’s death.

Michaud pleaded guilty in that case and is serving a 15-year prison sentence. Daveggio received a 25-year sentence in that case.

According to prosecutors, Daveggio and Michaud were obsessed with modeling their crimes after Gerald and Charlene Gallego, the 1970s couple who made headlines with their so-called “sex-slave murders.”

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