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Robert Whitmore
Colonel, United States Air Force
New Reports: June 4, 1998

Man sentenced in beating death of retired Colonel

RENO, Nevada - A Reno man was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison for the beating death of a retired Air Force Colonel whose body was stuffed in a military footlocker.

Charles Michael May, 38, was sentenced Wednesday to at least 20 years for second-degree murder plus another 24 years for cashing checks out of his victim's bank account.

May told Washoe District Judge Janet Berry he was saddened by the death of Colonel Robert Whitmore, 79.

Deputy District Attorney Dan Greco described the beating as a "massacre."

"This wasn't a killing, it was an absolute overkilling," Greco said in urging the maximum penalties.

"The skull in the front of the face was busted into dozens and dozens of pieces," and 17 ribs were fractured, he said.

Court documents show May had gambled and won nearly $45,000 in the three months leading up to Whitmore's death last spring. Whitmore's body was found in a footlocker near Frenchman Lake 35 miles north of Reno.

Whitmore's daughter, Dana Adler, testified at the sentencing hearing that she continues to have nightmares about her father's death.

When his body was shipped for burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, his head was left behind with authorities to be used as evidence, she said.



April 28, 1998

Caretaker found guilty in murder of elderly man

RENO, Nevada - A Reno man has been found guilty of second-degree murder for the beating death last May of an elderly man who was in his care.

Charles May, 38, was found guilty late Monday of killing 79-year-old Robert Whitmore. The jury also convicted him on six counts of forging checks that were written to himself but drawn on Whitmore's account.

Washoe District Judge Janet Berry set sentencing for June 3.

Whitmore's partially decomposed body was found near Frenchman's Lake in California after he had been missing for at least two weeks.

May, who was his caretaker, told police he last saw Whitmore on May 5, when Whitmore said he was going to go visit a friend.

The search for the retired Air Force Colonel intensified after blood was found at his home and his car turned up at the Reno airport.

His body was found later in a military-style tool box at Frenchman Cove Valley. The cause of death was attributed to a beating.


April 20, 1998

Prosecutors says caretaker may have tried to poison man

RENO, Nevada - Prosecutors allege a man accused of killing an elderly man in his care may have first tried to poison him with cyanide gas.

Charles Michael May, 38, is charged with murder in the death of Robert Whitmore, 79. May also faces six counts of forging checks that were written to himself but drawn on Whitmore's account.

May's trial before Washoe District Judge Janet Berry was to begin on Monday.

Whitmore's partially decomposed body was found near Frenchman's Lake in California last May after he had been missing for at least two weeks.

May, who was his caretaker, told police he last saw Whitmore on May 5, when Whitmore said he was going to go visit a friend.

The search for Whitmore intensified when blood was found at his home and his car turned up at the Reno airport.

His body was found later in a military-style tool box at Frenchman Cove Valley. The cause of death was attributed to a beating.

Court documents indicate prosecutors believe the defendant may first have tried to poison Whitmore with cyanide gas.

Berry has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday to decide if jurors will be allowed to hear evidence of the alleged poisoning attempt.



May 20, 1997

Body identified as that of missing Reno man

RENO, Nevada - The search for a missing Reno man is over and the Washoe County coroner says the cause of death is pretty surely murder. Now comes the job of finding a killer.

A partially decomposed body found near Frenchman's Lake in California was positively identified on Monday as that of Robert Whitmore, 79, who has been missing for at least two weeks.

His caretaker told police he last saw Whitmore on May 5, when Whitmore said he was going to go visit a friend. The caretaker, Charles May, 37, has since been arrested for forging checks written to himself but drawn on Whitmore's account.

The charges against May involve eight checks totaling more than $12,000. They were written about the time May disappeared or a little before.

The search for Whitmore intensified a week ago when blood was found at his home and his car turned up at the Reno airport. His body was found late Sunday in a military-style tool box at Frenchman Cove Valley. The cause of death was attributed to a beating.

May is being held in lieu of $42,500 bail on 16 forgery counts and one of embezzlement.


Posted: 30 December 2002 Updated: 29 May 2006