By Joe Dziemianowicz / oxygen.com
The disappearance of Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin shocks a Connecticut town and leads detectives to a fatal family plot.
Fairfield County, Connecticut has been heralded for its peaceful and idyllic charms, but a sinister side emerged in the summer of 2015. That’s when Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin, a hardworking couple who ran a garbage-collection business, vanished.
Jeffrey, 56, and Jeanette, 55, who also worked as a library aide, raised two sons, Taylor and Kyle, as they built J&J Refuse, their two-truck sanitation company based in Easton, into a local success. The sons took different career paths. Taylor pursued golf. Kyle, meanwhile, worked with his parents, who’d bought him a house in Bridgeport to give him a leg-up on life. Kyle, 27, lived there with his girlfriend, Jennifer Valiante, 31.
By the spring of 2015, Jeffrey and Jeanette were mapping out their retirement, according to “Killer Couples,” airing Fridays at 8/7c on Oxygen. But in August 2015, those plans came to a shocking and abrupt halt. Jeffrey’s sister reported the couple missing on August 7, saying she hadn’t seen or heard from them for three days.
A welfare check on the couple’s home revealed no signs of a struggle and nothing out of the ordinary. Investigators did note that one of their personal vehicles was missing, and put out a notice on the missing car.
When investigators reached out to Kyle he told them that he had spoken with his parents shortly before they were reported missing. He indicated to Det. Kent Lyman of the Easton Police Department that they’d come by his home on August 4 and invited him to dinner. He had passed because his back pain had flared up. Kyle added that it wasn’t unusual for his mom and dad to take off for a couple of days.
Police contacted the Navins’ cell phone provider and discovered that their phones were turned off. Because the Navins ran a business and needed to respond to customers, investigators considered that to be a red flag.
On August 9, the missing couple’s car was found in a commuter lot by the Merritt Parkway in Westport, reported nbcconnecticut.com at the time. The vehicle, which had a broken window, was swabbed for evidence. Items from the vehicle, including business cards, were recovered from an abandoned house near the parking lot.
Detectives raced against time to find the Navins and notified the press about the missing couple. They next followed the money and subpoenaed the Navins’ bank records in search of leads. They learned that the missing couple had downsized and planned to sell their business.
“They had just sold a house,” an investigator told producers. “It didn’t sound like they were in any great financial stress.” The theory that the couple simply took off was quickly abandoned. There had been no activity on the Navins’ bank account or credit cards.
As authorities interviewed friends and associates, they observed a common theme. The Navins planned to sell their company instead of leaving it to Kyle, who’d be on his own financially. His parents, officials learned, believed that he was using drugs and acting irresponsibly.
Kyle’s addiction “was in some degree managed by Jennifer who would give him pain medications,” investigators told producers.
Authorities theorized that if Kyle knew his parents were going to cut him off, he might have been involved in their disappearance, according to “Killer Couples.” They had Kyle come in for further questioning.
During a series of interviews, Kyle came up with conflicting accounts regarding the last time he saw his parents. Detectives told producers they were convinced he was lying.
Kyle was released but investigators continued to collect evidence against him. They subpoenaed his phone records, which showed that on August 4, Jeffrey and Kyle had had a heated and disturbing conversation.
“Did you hurt mom?” the father asked his son, reported The New York Times in 2015. “No absolutely not. Why would you think,” Kyle responded. Jeffrey later texted: “U R setting me up.”
Investigators zeroed in on Kyle as a suspect. During an interview they asked him point blank, “Did you kill your parents?” Officials told producers that Kyle denied guilt in a one-word monotone. There was “no emotion,” they said, “which is unusual.” But without any evidence, Kyle couldn’t be charged and was released.
Authorities found new leads through a forensic analysis of deleted texts between Kyle and Jennifer shared in July 2015. The messages revolved around Kyle’s parents’ money, how they could get their hands on it, and what they could do with the dough. Investigators told producers that Valiante appeared to be challenging Kyle to action.
Another lead was uncovered after searching the J&J Refuse truck that Kyle drove. The passenger seat appeared to have two bullet holes in it.
On August 13, investigators conducted a court-authorized search of Kyle Navin’s home that uncovered “two guns, numerous rounds of ammunition, empty heroin bags, hypodermic needles and empty bottles of oxycodone and other prescription drugs,” nbcconnecticut.com reported.
Also found was a Home Depot receipt for bleach, stain remover, and trash bags, according to “Killer Couples.” Based on blood traces and other evidence in Kyle’s home, investigators believed Jeffrey Navin was shot on August 4 there in the basement.
On August 21, Valiante was brought in for an interview. Whenever questions got tough, investigators told producers, she said, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” She refused to implicate herself or Kyle in the Navins’ disappearance.
Nearly three months went by until a major break came in the case. On October 29, police uncovered human remains in the backyard of an unoccupied home in Weston, Connecticut. The bodies were confirmed to be Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin. The medical examiner determined that each victim had died by gunshot.
Kyle Navin and Jennifer Valiante were arrested for the murders, sending shockwaves through the community. Prosecutors built a strong case, buoyed by incriminating DNA evidence from Kyle Navin’s truck and on the guns recovered from his home.
Investigators theorized that Kyle shot his mother while she was in his truck. Kyle and Valiante then worked together to get vehicles back to where they needed to be and clean up after the murders. The motive for the homicides was gaining access to the parents’ money.
In November 2017, Valiante, who’d become known as a Lady Macbeth figure in the case, pleaded guilty to helping Kyle Navin murder his parents and received an eight-year sentence. Her plea under the Alford Doctrine meant that she didn’t admit guilt but conceded that she would be found guilty under the evidence, reported the Westport Daily Voice at the time.
On April 16, 2018, Kyle Navin, whose lawyers filed repeated motions to suppress evidence, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder the day before his trial was to begin.
The judge called the slayings “black-hearted.” Kyle Navin was sentenced 55 years in prison for his parents’ murders.