In the first edition of the Homicide Bride series, we will discover yet another unique time when true crime meets the gridiron.
Homicide brides will cover both true crime stories of brides being homicidal and brides being the victims of homicides. Also, the term “bride” will be used loosely – signifying a committed relationship between a player and their partner.
My fellow writer J Allen (look at his incredible work here) brought Fred Lane’s story to my attention, and it had to be the series’ first story.
The True Crime Story of Fred Lane
Fred Lane was murdered on June 6th, 2000 by his estranged wife Deidra. The 24-year-old was found in the doorway of the families home deceased, after his wife called 911. Deidra did go to jail for killing her husband, although most felt it wasn’t for long enough…
Fred Lane’s life
There’s little information about Fred’s early life. Lane was born in Franklin, TN, on September 6th, 1975 to Mary and Fred Lane Sr. Fred had a reputation as a talented athlete since Junior High. Lane had such an impressive football career at Franklin High School as a running back that his number was retired – the same school his father, Fred Lane Sr., was also a star.
Fred Lane became Lane squared when he attended Lane University in Jackson, TN starting in 1993. He was the school’s all-time lead rusher and maintains many school records to this day. Fred was the NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 1995. His number was also retired at Lane University.
In 1997, Fred was signed as an undrafted free agent for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lane had the most rushing yards in league history during his three-year career with the Jaguars. He maintains many rushing yards and touchdown records for the Jacksonville Jaguars currently. Lane was traded to the Colts in 2000 but was never able to play for them due to his death.
Personal adult life
Fred Lane was the father of four, one of which he was the bonus parent. His presumed youngest, Pillar Lane, was just seven days old at the time of his death. There is little information about his other two daughters, Regine and Sable; they did not appear to live in the home with his stepson Grant and wife. He was a husband at just age 22 to Ms. Deidra Lane.
Fred kept the Jaguars on their toes which allegedly was why he was being traded. In 1998, Lane missed a chartered flight to Dallas for a game and was benched a game by management in result. He also ruffled feathers by not standing during the national anthem once, and his brazen touchdown dances had the NFL clutching their pearls. The cherry on the sundae was his one-game suspension after he grabbed his crotch in touch-down ecstasy in front of the opposing team’s fans.
This last touchdown transgression left Lane on special teams for three weeks. Despite being such a presence on the field, he was known to be shy, answering media questions in short bursts of words. In his interviews with reporters, he took full responsibility for his actions and explained his crotch grab resulted from being taunted by the crowd and being called the N-word multiple times. It feels odd that the grab would be the focus of that play and not racial slurs being hurled at a player – things were different back then, it seems.
Lane was described as being naïve and immature – unprepared for all the things happening in his life at such a young age. One way he coped with the uncertainty was Mary Jane allegedly. Fred was facing a misdemeanor charge for possession of schmeed. He spent one night in jail, the same jail that Rae Carruth was recently held at (we will get into that story later).
It is important to note that Lane’s antics and minor mistakes are not meant to describe him as a person in his entirety. He was a young 20-something navigating life’s challenges and expressing himself creatively. His family loved him – his step-son and father especially missed him. Fred Lane Sr. said everything was going great in his son’s life before his death; he was thriving in Indianapolis, getting to know his new team during training camp.
The day of the crime
There’s an incredible amount of she-said, he-said regarding the day of the crime and the events before it. Unfortunately, Fred Lane isn’t able to tell us his side – family and teammate statements and crime-scene evidence will represent his story.
Police were alerted to the crime by Deidra Lane’s 911 call (the transcript in part can be found here) on July 6th. Deidra tells the operator that minutes after her husband arrived home, she had shot him in self-defense because he was restricting her airway, laying hands on her, and yelling things like their newborn daughter was not his. Deidra was hysterical and crying during the call, having to be calmed by the operator.
She says she believes she discharged a firearm into his stomach or chest and then possibly again in his body. Mrs. Lane asked for someone to come, mentioning blood everywhere, including on herself. She wasn’t sure if her husband was still breathing – she hadn’t gone near him to find out. She also mentioned that she was nursing her baby during the call. Thankfully her mother, who was living with her, and her son were not at home during the event.
Deidra remained on the phone with 911 until the police arrived. She then spent several hours providing a voluntary statement for the police. Mrs. Lane turned herself in on August 23rd and was released on a $100,000 bond
Forensics did not appear to completely match up with Deidra’s description of events. That is not entirely unheard of when someone recounts a fast-paced, traumatic event, but it is still essential to consider. Mrs. Lane allegedly ended Fred’s life minutes after his arrival; however, his keys were still in the door, his bags were still at the front door, and his body was also found at the front door. It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that he would come in and physically harm her and then go back to the front door and then turn around to face her.
Also, Mrs. Lane shot her 12-gauge shotgun twice. The first time she claims the bullet either entered his stomach or his chest – something forensics confirmed. She also said she was so scared that she wounded him with another shot. Also, something forensics showed.
The medical examiner testified that the first time would have left Mr. Lane unconscious on the floor in seconds (for the more graphic and scientifically complete bits, go here). Something that directly contradicts Deidra’s statement that he was moving and she was concerned that he would get up and come for her again. Based on the second bullet’s trajectory, the medical examiner ascertained that Deidra would have had to stand over her husband’s prone body and discharge the firearm into the back of his skull. An unlikely position for Fred to be in if he was attempting to get up.
This case was so convoluted it was covered in the 3rd season of Snapped. It’s very difficult to access seasons before season 10 online, which is unfortunate since the earliest seasons were the best. Key Darlyce did a great job describing this story in detail on YouTube – she helped provide information on Deidra that was difficult to find.
Evidence supports and opposes Deidra Lane’s claim that she was acting in self-defense and suffering from battered wife syndrome. This likely turned a capital murder case, with DAs seeking a first-degree murder conviction and the death penalty into a manslaughter conviction.
Arguments supporting Deidra’s claim
- The defense proposed that Deidra had been in a 21-month marriage full of physical and emotional trauma – she was constantly afraid. Fred’s actions escalated in severity and frequency in the time leading up to his untimely death. Deidra’s reactions directly resulted from the terror her husband had created.
- Allegedly, Fred had a history of physical behaviors. He was said to have pushed his wife out of a moving vehicle. He also allegedly lifted her by her throat and propelled her into a sink. A friend witnessed this and testified. The friend also testified that she saw Fred Lane enter a room his wife was in with a gun in his waistband after a heated argument. While his wife was nine months pregnant with Pillar, he used her head as a battering ram, split her lip, and initiated an unplanned trip down the stairs she was unprepared for. Neighbors witnessed him grab his wife by the arm when she tried to get in her car.
- Mr. Lane also was unkind with his words – he would say things like she would never leave him. He allegedly threatened her that if she told anyone about his behavior that he would make it worse for her and that she would ruin his career. This explains her denying claims that these events occurred and not telling her friends about it. Friends and family allegedly heard many arguments and witnessed Fred verbally attack Deidra.
- Deidra filed a domestic complaint in March of 2000, stating that her husband ripped a necklace off her neck, causing her to fall. She did not press charges. She later said that her husband never put his hands on her.
- An OBGYN testified that Deidra reported three weeks before Fred’s untimely death that he had physically and emotionally hurt her. Mrs. Lane requested that she be induced early so she could give birth to her child before Fred could arrive back home from a trip.
- The family claimed that when Fred held his newborn daughter a week before his death, he said the baby didn’t look like him. Mrs. Lane’s mother claimed that Deidra’s face was swollen from alleged hits – this was not mentioned by police or documented by photos, at least publicly.
Arguments indicating different motives
- The couple was estranged, and Fred was planning on initiating their divorce – Mrs. Lane would lose the status and money associated with her husband.
- Fred was returning to North Carolina to sell a motorcycle, not reconcile with his wife, according to his father. Mrs. Lane paid for his ticket and arranged his transportation to the home. She may not have been on the same page regarding their marriage. He had been living with his family for the weeks leading up to his death.
- Fred Lane was broke enough that he had to sell a motorcycle – Deidra was allegedly concealing the location of the couple’s money. Fred was making $600,000 a year but had no access to his funds, having been described as penniless.
- Mrs. Lane had shot a gun into the wall of the couple’s shared home two weeks prior to Fred’s demise. Although, Fred Lane Sr. emphasized that she was not shooting in her husband’s direction. This event was the catalyst for their separation.
- Former panther teammates and Fred’s friends confirmed that Deidra had drained the couple’s account and lied to Fred about the location of the funds. Friends had to loan Fred money – he didn’t have $155 to fly home more than once.
- Magistrate suggested that Deidra silenced Fred before he could out her role in the bank heist to officials. The defense denied this claim.
- Prosecutors also suggested that Deidra took Fred’s life for his $5 million life insurance policy set up 30-45 days prior to his untimely death. The defense also denied this claim.
- Allegedly, Fred was the victim, not the perpetrator. Former teammates alleged that Fred showed up to practice with scratches all over his face claiming that Deidra put them there. Allegedly, Deidra also would tell Fred things like if she couldn’t have him, no one could.
- A store clerk reported that Deidra had asked them questions about shotgun spray patterns and ammunition 16 days before Fred’s untimely death.
- Fred Lane Sr. unequivocally denies that Fred had substance abuse problems or hurt Deidra physically or emotionally. He did not appreciate Mrs. Lane smearing his son’s name.
- The judge sentenced Mrs. Lane to the maximum sentence allowed, claiming that Deidra’s actions were deliberate and premeditated and that she acted maliciously, targeting her husband a second time when he was already rendered helpless.
- An OBGYN that saw Deidra prior to her babies birth testified that though Mrs. Lane reported physical and emotional abuse, there were no signs of physical symptoms short of a split lip that Deidra claimed was an accident.
A little bit about Deidra
Deidra was born in Columbia, SC, in 1975. She was always a bit of a wild child, nearly dropping out of high school, and had her son Grant at a young age. Deidra came from an affluent family and was the apple of her father’s eye, so she never had to rough it, so to speak.
Deidra moved to North Carolina, met, and had a whirl-wind romance with Fred Lane. They married quickly, and Fred’s family didn’t even know he was getting married – one friend attended the ceremony.
Mrs. Lane came from a family of money – she didn’t need Fred’s money, but she sure did enjoy spending it. She allegedly showed up to one of his games with 20k in cash.
Ms. Deidra had legal troubles independent of her husband’s death. Deidra was an alleged serial bank heist attempter. She pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank larceny related to the July 1998 heist in federal court. A robbery she allegedly collaborated with her best friend to commit, attempting to steal over $41,000. An interesting endeavor for a person who didn’t want for money.
Deidra Lane, now Deidra Gary, was released from jail on March 3rd, 2009, after less than six years in the slammer. She was back in the headlines after it was discovered that she was working with another convicted killer (someone who killed their child) running a children’s camp for a university. Local parents were upset, but allegedly no complaints were made by parents who had children in the camp. They have since been reassigned to administrative work for the university.
Was the sentence fair? Was Deidra a battered wife reacting in fear? Was Fred Lane the victim or the perpetrator, or both? The evidence could go either way. What do you think? Sound off below!
Remember – help is available! Speak with someone today. National Domestic Violence Hotline – text START to 88788 or call 800-799-7233.
For The True Crime Meets the Gridiron Serial Killer series, go here.
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