In June, four months after Christie Sumstad of Spring was found dead in her home, Montgomery County authorities charged her husband Ryan with murder. Unable to post bond, Sumstad has been sitting in jail; prosecutors have not yet presented the case to a grand jury.
Sumstad's sister Jill, who was close with Christie and who discovered her body, may have suspected something, because she requested a copy of the autopsy report in May. Because the case was (and is) pending, the report wasn't released, but the response to Jill's request revealed that it took months for the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office to send its findings to Montgomery County. By that time, Sumstad had his wife's body cremated.
Some of Christie's friends thought it was strange that Sumstad didn't have her buried; they also questioned what they considered strange behavior following her death -- selling off furniture, redecorating the home, dating. Curious, some friends looked online to see if they could find out anything about Sumstad they may not have known. What they found on one consumer advocacy site was that Sumstad had allegedly swindled investors around the country out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. One man in Florida who got sucked up in Sumstad's scheme killed his family after he discovered the truth, police say.
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It turns out that, for years, Sumstad had crafted an online presence touting himself as a bigshot venture capitalist. How much Christie may have known about it is unclear.
Sumstad's attorney wouldn't make his client available for the story, but he says he'll be able to prove Sumstad's innocence. There is still no clear indication that Christie was even murdered, according to the lawyer.
Now all the families can do is impatiently wait for a trial, when they hope the truth will be revealed.
Read this week's feature "Bad Business" for more.