Primal Instinct: From Diamonds to Death’ on Investigation Discovery chronicles the brutal killing of millionaire Rich McDonald in Marin County, California, in March 1991. The episode demonstrates how the detectives used traditional police methods to find the criminals responsible for the horrible crime. The show does a masterful job of presenting the viewers with the chronological details of this complicated case that occurred decades ago. Here is everything we know about the case and the killers’ names in case you’re curious.
How Did Rich McDonald Die?
In 1990, Rich McDonald, a prosperous guy in his late 50s, resided in Marin County, California, and was the owner of McDonald Pest Control, a prosperous company that was valued at over a million dollars. The presentation claimed that he was a self-made man who, although having little formal education, made up for it with determination. He and his lovely wife Ann, both 56, resided in one of the richest communities in the country, Kent Woodlands.
They had everything in terms of wealth and the good life, mixing with affluent social circles. Rich and Ann were business partners and more than just a married pair, according to Ann’s son Chris Vetterli, who recalled how Rich worked in the field and Ann in the office. My mother was a highly intelligent woman, he said. She had a good education.
The program claimed that Rich enjoyed upholding a certain level in life, which is why he joined the Yacht Club. “He (Rich) was the commodore of the yacht club for a while,” Chris said. Also, he was widely known in the yachting community. He had extensive boating knowledge. His infatuation with opulent boats was a symbol of his desire for the finest in everything and his need to flaunt his wealth in order to maintain his public persona.
Rich enjoyed having Ann on his arm, according to reporter Michael Dougan for the San Francisco Examiner. if not for her, then for everyone else, to express his gratitude. So it was shocking when his wife Ann discovered the 57-year-old businessman severely beaten inside of his opulent home on March 4, 1991.
As evidenced by the severe blunt-force injuries to his body, he had been attacked with fireplace equipment. In addition, he had been strangled and smothered. After performing CPR, the fire department discovered a weak heartbeat. Rich was taken to a hospital in critical condition right away, where he passed away from his wounds.
Who Was Rich McDonald’s Killer?
The show claims that when the detectives got there, they discovered a distraught Ann who was also jittery and intoxicated. She is accused of never checking on Rich’s health or getting authorization to visit the hospital to see how he was doing. According to police sources, she immediately called the life insurance provider that managed Rich’s policy after learning of her husband’s passing.
The investigator who officially embraced Ann after the show’s mention of her request was mentioned. She allegedly gave him a bear hug and said, “You and I might be an item,” in his ears. Ann was immediately identified as a person of interest by the detectives as a result of her suspicious behavior. As they checked into her, they discovered that Rich was her fifth spouse out of her five marriages.
According to Michael Dougan of the San Francisco Examiner, “Ann thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor and imitated her in her marriage paperwork.” After looking through her phone records, the police quickly learned about her relationship with Al Braunberger, who was 67 at the time.
The program claimed that Ann had grown dissatisfied and angry with having to serve as Rich’s sidekick at his Yacht Club, where she had met Al. He was a courteous and respectful man who owned two businesses: one selling televisions and the other connecting franchisees with sellers in real estate. He failed miserably in both of his endeavors, and the show referred to him as Rich’s opposite in that sense. The episode demonstrates how they became close, with Al giving her the attention her husband so desperately needed to give.
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Chris Pascual, a coworker of Al’s, recalled how Rich dropped by Al’s workplace to hunt for him after learning of his wife’s extramarital affair. The television program also showed how Rich hired an investigator to follow their movements and confronted Ann with the results. The two escaped to Scottsdale, Arizona, believing Rich was responsible for the vicious attack on Al. Yet, Ann was compelled to go back after Rich reduced the cash flow, and she remained in an unhappy union until she made the decision to divorce Rich permanently.
The detectives searched through Al’s phone records and discovered a trail of calls that took them to Manuel Martinez, a Vietnam veteran who had been hired by the couple to kill Rich in exchange for a $35,000 reward. The officers allegedly offered Manuel complete immunity in exchange for full disclosure, and he gladly identified Ann and Al as the masterminds behind Rich’s murder.
He asserted that they asked him to make it appear as though a robbery had gone awry, and he used Larry Smith as an accomplice to commit the crime.
Where Are Al Braunberger And Ann McDonald Now?
After being found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiring to murder, Ann and Al received a life sentence without the possibility of release. Because he cooperated with the authorities, Manuel was never charged, but his accomplice Larry, an unemployed Oakland laborer, received a two-year prison term.
According to local press reports, Ann passed away in the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla in 2013 at the age of 79 due to natural causes. The website for the California state prison system no longer lists Al as a prisoner, thus he either received parole or passed away.