Before his wife's murder in June 2009, Eli Weaver had numerous affairs with women he met through online dating sites, where he called himself an "Amish Stud." But only one mistress was willing to kill for him.
From the outside, it may have seemed as if Barbara Weaver had a perfectly happy life as an Amish housewife. At 30 years old, she had been married to her husband Eli for 10 years, and they had five young children together in the picturesque, conservative community of Apple Creek, Ohio.
But on June 2, 2009, Barbara was found shot to death in her own home. And everything pointed to Eli Weaver as the culprit.
The Weavers belonged to a conservative subgroup of the Old Order Amish. Their religion didn’t allow them to have cell phones, Internet, or even to take photos of themselves. They traveled around town by horse and buggy.
But as investigators dug into the Weavers’ life, they found Eli didn’t exactly adhere to those rules.
Not only did he have a secret cell phone, he had several extramarital affairs with other women, most of whom he found in an online chat room where he called himself “Amish Stud.”
“Who wants 2 do an Amish guy!” his profile read.
Barbara And Eli Weaver’s Troubled Marriage
By all appearances, Barbara and Eli Weaver had a good marriage. They had a good community of friends and neighbors.
“Barbara was a very friendly, sociable person. She was kind of laid back but super nice. A gentle soul,” neighbor Mary Eicher said in an interview with A&E True Crime. “Eli was very outgoing. He would often come over fairly late in the evening and ask for a ride, and he was very considerate, he would apologize for interrupting me. He had charm.”
Eicher was a Mennonite taxi driver, someone who would give rides to the Amish in her community to places they couldn’t reach by horse and buggy.
But in the later years of the Weavers’ marriage, they began having problems. Eli was having several affairs, and he was withholding money from Barbara.
Fannie Troyer, Barbara’s sister, said Eli wouldn’t even give her money to care for the children or buy groceries, according to the New York Post. Eli ran a gun store, and business was fine, she said. It wasn’t about the money — “it was about control.”
The Weaver children also reportedly saw Eli physically abuse Barbara. But she never reported it because, as one Amish leader said, she would have been asked, “What did you do that your husband would treat you like this?”
Barbara was struggling with their marital problems. She wrote in a letter to her counselor, “Where did my friend, love, trustworthy husband go to? He hates me to the core.”
Eli Weaver even left his family and the church twice to live as “English.” Both times, he was back within a few months, begging for forgiveness.
“Eli found that life outside was hard. He had to figure out how to make a living. I think he wasn’t mature enough to handle life and responsibilities and marriage,” Morris, who wrote the book A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal, and a Cold-blooded Murder, said.
The Murder Of Barbara Weaver
Barbara Raber was another Mennonite taxi driver in the Apple Creek community. Raber and Eli Weaver met in 2003, when she was 33 and he was 23. They began having an affair.
In the months leading up to the murder, Weaver had been asking several people to kill his wife. Most didn’t take him seriously. But he said in his testimony that when he mentioned it to Raber, she “ran away with the idea.”
They began plotting the murder in the fall of 2008. Raber performed 840 Internet searches on poisoning, and investigators found a series of text messages between Weaver and Raber discussing the murder method.
“I thought if we could get that fly [poison] stuff in a spice cupcake she might not detect it,” reads a text message from Raber.
“Maybe you could blow up the house?” Weaver texted Raber.
“What about your kids?” she asked.
“The kids will go to heaven because they’re innocent,” Weaver wrote.
In the end, they settled on using a gun.
But why did Eli Weaver need to kill his wife? Why didn’t he just leave her?
“If he had left, he would have been shunned,” said Andrew Hyde, Weaver’s attorney. “If his wife is dead, they pat him on the back.”
Early in the morning on June 2, 2009, one of the Weaver children found their mother dead and covered in blood in her bed and ran to the neighbor’s house for help.
Investigators found Barbara Weaver had been shot with a .410 shotgun, according to author Jim Fisher. There was a pile of cash in the bedroom, indicating robbery was not the motive.
When Barbara was found, Eli Weaver was fishing on Lake Erie with friends. He had left at 3 a.m. But neighbors and friends of the family pointed police in the direction of Barbara Raber, who didn’t have an alibi for the time of the murder.
Raber said she took a gun from her husband’s gun cabinet and admitted to entering the Weaver home at 4:30 a.m. the day of the murder. She said she didn’t remember loading the weapon and claimed she only meant to scare Barbara Weaver, but the gun was discharged accidentally.
On June 10, just over a week after Barbara Weaver’s murder, Eli confessed to conspiring with Barbara Raber to kill his wife. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for his testimony against Raber, who was charged with murder.
The Murderous Lovers Face Justice
The trial began in September 2009. Weaver testified that he and Raber discussed the plan the day before the murder; he told her he would be leaving at 3 a.m. for a fishing trip, and the basement door would be left unlocked for her.
Raber recanted her previous story, saying she was never in the Weaver home. The murder weapon was never found, and Raber’s prints weren’t in the house. Raber’s attorney argued that Eli Weaver was the one who killed Barbara, claiming he shot her before leaving for his fishing trip.
But Weaver testified that he and Raber met in his barn on June 9. He said Raber described the murder in detail and told him she was “sorry for everything.” Weaver said Raber asked him how to clean a gun so it didn’t look like it had been fired recently.
With the help of Weaver’s testimony, Raber was convicted and sentenced to 23 years to life. Weaver was sentenced to 15 years to life as part of his plea deal.
Weaver is eligible for parole next year, while Raber won’t be eligible for parole until 2032.
“This really shook the community,” author Rebecca Morris said. “It was a rare murder among the Amish in America. In the past 250 years, only three murders had been committed by spouses, including two cases of men killing their wives.”
In one of her last letters to her counselor, Barbara Weaver wrote, “I often think of Christ’s words: ‘Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.'”
After reading about Eli Weaver’s conspiracy to kill his wife, read about Randy Roth, the man who is suspected of killing two of his four wives. Or, read about the gruesome murders of the “Cleveland Strangler,” Anthony Sowell.