Death Row Diaries: German citizen kills wife for $400,000 in insurance money

Posted: 12:46 PM, Jul 23, 2016
Updated: 2018-07-26 22:46:54Z

Arizona’s most notorious death row inmates past and present have incredible stories including this one where a woman was married then murdered for $400,000 in life insurance money.


Date of Birth: August 1, 1963

 Sentenced: August 10, 1990

The crime:

Michael Apelt and his brother, Rudi, came to Arizona from west Germany posing as rich international businessmen. They began conning many women in the state. Michael Apelt eventually met Cynthia Monkman at Bobby McGhee's restaurant and they began dating. He married her in October 1988.

A few weeks later he applied for $400,000 in life insurance for two policies on Cynthia. 

(They) went on a shopping spree buying Rolex watches & expensive cars

Between October and December, the Apelts and Michaels' ex-girlfriend Anke Dorn, went on a shopping spree buying Rolex watches and expensive cars worth over $300,000, with low down payments and promises of full payment from resources they said they had in Germany. 

The insurance policies became effective on December 22, 1988. On the night of December 23, Michael and Rudi took Cynthia into the desert near Apache Junction where she was stabbed in the chest several times and had her throat cut. 

After the murder, Michael and Rudi met Anke for dinner at the same Bobby McGhee's where Michael and Cynthia had their first date.

In the early morning of December 24, Michael called the police and reported that Cynthia had disappeared. Her body was found in the desert later that day.

When police found out about the insurance policies, they became suspicious of Michael Apelt

When police found out about the insurance policies, they became suspicious of Michael.

Michael, Rudi and Anke contacted police believing they were being followed. It turned out to be undercover officers who were watching them. Police used this to get them to come into the station and help them put together composite drawings of the suspects.

While at the police station they interviewed Anke, appealing to her conscience by showing her crime scenes photos of Monkman. She agreed to a deal, getting immunity and agreeing to testify against the brothers.

Rudi and Michael were tried separately, convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to death. The brothers appealed to the court based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying mentally incompetent people cannot be sentenced to death. 

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge determined that Rudi was indeed mentally handicap and his sentence was overturned. He was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years. This past April his first application for parole was denied.

Michael Apelt was sentenced to death on August 10, 1990 and remains on death row.





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