In 2009, the Amish community was rocked by the murder of one of their own, Barbara Weaver, in Apple Creek, Ohio. Even more shocking was when her husband, Eli, was charged with aggravated murder. It was only the third time an Amish man was suspected of killing his wife in the 250 years the Amish have lived in America. In their new book, “A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal and a Cold-blooded Murder” (St. Martin’s Press), Rebecca Morris and Gregg Olsen look at the chilling case.
Eli Weaver called himself “Amish Stud” on MocoSpace. His online profile asked, “Who wants 2 do an Amish guy!” Dozens of women — with handles like 2_much_ass, 69smileygirl and naughtylittlesexysexslave — wanted 2 do an Amish guy. It was fun and games for a while.
That changed on June 2, 2009, when someone entered Weaver’s Apple Creek, Oh., home and shot his wife and the mother of his five children, Barbara, through the heart, killing her.
Weaver, now 36, and his wife were members of Andy Weaver Amish, one of the most conservative Amish subgroups in America. Twice during his 10-year marriage the hunting-store owner had left his family to live as “English,” but later repented, was forgiven, and returned home to his wife.
On the day of her murder, Weaver’s alibi was solid — he was fishing with friends. But neighbors and family kept mentioning one name: Barb Raber.
Raised Amish, Raber, now 46, was a “taxi lady” — a woman for hire who would drive the Amish places a horse and buggy couldn’t take them. Though married with three children, Raber was one of several women with whom Weaver had illicit affairs. The two had sexual trysts in Weaver’s barn — the same building where his wife’s funeral would later be held.
Because the Amish don’t pose for pictures, there are none of Barbara Weaver in life. The 30-year-old left behind letters written to a counselor about her troubled marriage:
“Where did my friend, love, trustworthy husband go to? He hates me to the core.”
A selfie Eli Weaver posted on a dating site
Fannie Troyer, Barbara’s sister, said that Eli Weaver wouldn’t give his wife enough money to care for the children. It wasn’t about a lack of funds, as his business was doing fine. It was about control.
When it was her turn to bake pies for church, Weaver wouldn’t give Barbara the money to buy the ingredients. “[That] humiliated her,” an Amish friend said.
The Weaver kids had seen their father physically shove and grab their mother. But as one Amish leader said, if Barbara had reported it to the bishop, she would have been asked: “What did you do that your husband would treat you like this?”
As for why Weaver and his wandering eye didn’t just leave the marriage, Andy Hyde, his attorney, said, “If he had left, he would have been shunned. If his wife is dead, they pat him on the back.”
Investigators learned that in the spring of 2009, Weaver had asked several people to kill his wife. Most laughed it off. Raber didn’t. From May 30 to June 2, 2009, she and Weaver exchanged text messages about methods of murder. Weaver gave suggestions. Blowing up the house. Shooting his wife. Poisons.
Raber, who was later found to have made 840 Internet searches related to poisons, texted: “I thought if we could get that fly [poison] stuff in a spice cupcake she might not detect it.”
“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.
In the end, he decided a gun was the most efficient option.
Barb Raber, Weaver’s lover, was convicted of killing his wife.Photo: Wayne County Sheriff’s Dept.
Weaver and Raber were arrested and charged with aggravated murder on June 10, 2009.
“It was an accident,” Raber sobbed at the time of her arrest.
She said she’d taken a gun from her husband’s gun cabinet, but didn’t remember loading it. She thought she’d arrived at the Weaver house at about 4:30 a.m., entering through an unlocked basement door. She went to the bedroom, where she saw Barbara Weaver lying in bed.
‘I thought if we could get that fly [poison] stuff in a spice cupcake she might not detect it’
– Barb Raber texted Eli Weaver
Raber said she’d planned just to scare her — but the gun went off: “I never intended for anything to happen, but when it did it was, like, ‘Oh crap.’ ”
Later, she recanted her story and said she had no memory of having been in the Weaver house. In court, Raber’s attorney argued that Weaver had shot his wife before he went fishing at 3:30 a.m. In addition to the shotgun wound, Barbara’s body had unexplained contusions, scratches and bruising.
Although the murder weapon was never found and Raber’s prints were not in the house, she was convicted of aggravated murder. She is serving 23 years to life. Weaver cut a deal and was convicted of complicity to commit murder. He is serving 15 years to life. His children are being raised by relatives.
In one of her last letters to her counselor, Barbara Weaver wrote of her husband: “I often think of Christ’s words: ‘Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.’ ”