CRIME

Is Tracey Roberts heroic mom or a shrewd killer?

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"J.P. wants me to get/force his ex T.R. to kill her son Burt and then commit suicide, and if that plan fails Plan B is to make it appear as though T.R. had committed the murder of her son & then committed suicide," he wrote.

Tracey Roberts (Photo: Associated Press)

While it was Dustin's writing, investigators never believed it was credible. Dustin, a special education student, did not like to write and he'd never met Pitman. They decided to keep the journal's existence and contents a secret. Anyone who had knowledge of it could be involved in setting up Dustin.

Prosecutors suspect Tracey had convinced Dustin to write the diary, perhaps on the day of his death. Mona Wehde says Tracey had asked the day before to have Dustin come over to do some "copy work" for their computer business.

An old acquaintance of Tracey Roberts later came forward and said Tracey told her about the notebook days after the shooting and that her ex-husband would soon be arrested in connection with the home invasion.

Tracey and Pitman, a plastic surgeon, had been married in Chicago in 1988 and split up four years later after having Bert. (He has not responded to AP requests for comment on his mother's case.) During a bitter divorce, child support and custody litigation, Tracey went to police claiming that Pitman had sexually abused the 3-year-old boy.

Pitman called the allegation false and spent years trying to clear his name. When the divorce was finalized in 1996, a judge ruled there was zero evidence to support the claim.

Later in 1996, Tracey married Australian businessman Michael Roberts and they would move to Iowa and have two kids together. But her feuding with Pitman continued.

In early 2001, she went to authorities with new allegations that Pitman had abused Bert, which were quickly dismissed. Pitman responded by filing legal actions claiming she was interfering with his visitation rights and alienating him from his son. Tracey worried about possibly losing custody of Bert and having to travel to Chicago for court.

A judge ordered that she be deposed days before Dustin was shot, but it was cancelled at the last minute.

At the time, another strange legal case involving Tracey was also wrapping up. She had filed a lawsuit in 1998 accusing a Chicago dentist of sexually assaulting her while she was sedated during a procedure. He called her claims bogus. In the end, she received a small settlement and dropped the suit - again, just days before Dustin was killed.

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In the decade since the shooting, Tracey's life has taken more bizarre turns.

After Roberts filed for divorce from her in 2004, she tried to pin involvement in the home invasion and Dustin's death on him. She told the county sheriff that he used to talk in his sleep and would mention something about a journal that would set him free.

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