It’s a sad state of affairs when talking about the institution of marriage. However, sometimes one person just isn’t enough. This was the case with poor Leslie Stewart, who was stuck in a loveless marriage and needed to find it elsewhere. When she met Robert Temple, she thought she had finally found true love.
Then one day, she went over to her lover’s condo and uncovered a shocking secret. What Leslie learned that day changed her life. It defined her and sent her on a 10-year path that would take her across the entire United States…
Leslie was born in Ocala, Florida in 1977. She was your average American teenager, she attended high school at Citrus High School in Inverness, and even started at St. Petersburg College. But college, it seemed, was not for Leslie, and she never managed to finish. It didn’t matter though; she soon found that life was about way more than just getting a degree.
She was married in 1995 but had a somewhat complicated relationship with her husband. With few other options available to them, Leslie and her husband decided to have an “open marriage.” They would live together but agreed that they both could see other people. Very soon after that decision, Leslie met someone…
Twenty-two-year-old Leslie began working the graveyard shift at a company where she would answer phones from nighttime callers who wanted to talk to “live girls” and psychics. There, she met 49-year-old Robert Temple, another married individual who had no qualms about engaging in extramarital affairs.
The fact that they were married didn’t stop Leslie and Robert from getting together for many erotic rendezvous. They became lovers and before long, began to connect on a deeper emotional level than either of them was prepared for. The problem was, Robert’s wife Rosemary, had no idea it was going on…
Trouble in Paradise
Rosemary Christensen was also much younger than her husband but found herself hopelessly attracted to the older man from the moment they met. As the marriage dragged on, however, Rosemary began to realize that Robert was not the charming, older gentleman she had assumed him to be when they were married.
In August of 1999, about three years into Leslie and Robert’s relationship, Rosemary vanished from the Belleair condo she shared with her husband. Her absence was initially reported by the co-workers from her real estate office, who wondered why she hadn’t stopped by the annual “beach bash” party. Surely her husband knew where she was?
Robert Temple was almost immediately interrogated about her disappearance. It made perfect sense, and even Robert admitted as much. He had a violent past and had once been charged with domestic battery against Rosemary. Nevertheless, he was very forthcoming with his feelings about her and explained that he would never do anything to harm his wife.
He spoke to the press about the whole ordeal saying: “I know it looks bad. With my history and everything else, I would suspect myself if the situation was reversed.” In addition, it appeared that the carpet of their bedroom had been pulled up recently. When asked about this, he explained that she had hurt her knee badly and had bled onto the carpet….
Despite all the coincidences surrounding her disappearance, and Robert’s suspicious behavior, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office could not find enough evidence to satisfactorily link him to the crime. He was still a “person of interest” of course, but it was equally possible that she had been killed by his lover as well. A lover the police didn’t seem to know about.
Years of Doubt
For nearly 10 years, the mystery of Rosemary’s disappearance eluded police, investigators, and her family. No one seemed to know what had happened to her that morning. She hadn’t spoken of leaving or been depressed in any way. It all pointed to foul play but there were no solid suspects. As it turned out, someone she’d never met knew the real truth…
On August 26, 1998, Leslie Stewart had come to the Belleair condo to visit her lover, Robert Temple. She knew that it was unusual for them to meet there: after all, his wife, unlike her husband, still had no idea what was going on. As she walked into the house, she felt an indescribable sense of trepidation. It was as though something was very wrong. As they sat together in the living room, Robert began to divulge a lifetime of secrets.
He talked for hours about all manner of strange things, from how he supposedly killed a hated officer in Vietnam, and how in doing so made “buddies for life” with all of his fellow soldiers. He talked of conspiracies, about how there’s no such thing as witness protection. But mostly he talked about murder and of his need for violence…
“Where’s Rosemary?” asked Leslie. Robert pointed to the bedroom and Leslie stood up. She wasn’t ready to face this woman about the affair, not yet anyway. It didn’t make sense though, had she been sleeping? She and Robert had been talking in the condo for hours. She walked into the room and saw what her lover had done.
Rosemary’s body was laid across the bed and covered in stab wounds. She was dead and Leslie immediately knew who had done it. He saw her shock and reached out to grab her. “She was trying to stab me,” he said. “She’d found out about us…” She had died in the struggle. Then he dropped the biggest bomb of all, “No one will believe you that you had nothing to do with this…”
Scared to Come Forward
Leslie was scared by all the things he told her, by the fact that he had immediately tried to tip some of the blame her way. Then he began to threaten her. “My Vietnam buddies would do anything for me,” he told her. “My connections will find out where your daughter goes to school … and I guarantee you that — that she will be dead.”
Leslie was faced with an impossible choice: to ignore everything Robert had said and to report what had happened to the police, or stay silent and safe. She had no friends in the area, no one to confide in. She didn’t even think anyone would believe her even if she did come forward. Then he told her to help him get rid of the body…
Hiding It All
When he suggested burying the body on her father’s property near the Suwannee River, she had no choice. They buried Rosemary then went to a local motel. As Robert say placidly, watching TV and cooling down after a night of work. Leslie sobbed into her pillow. Afterward, Robert drilled her on what she would tell police if they asked about Rosemary.
The two kept their stories straight and once it had blown over a bit, Robert decided that they needed to leave town. She’d have to leave her husband and her daughter now too. They moved to Decatur, Illinois and stayed with Robert’s first ex-wife and daughters. From there, they went to Baja, California, then Mexico. Several more threats on her life occurred during that nomadic decade…
They moved around, and Leslie found work as an apartment manager while her new “husband” stayed home, drinking and wallowing in his depression and guilt. By 2008, they had a daughter of their own together, but when Robert threatened the little girl with a knife to her face, Leslie decided enough was enough.
Brought to Account
Leslie went back home and spoke to detectives. She revealed the truth of everything, the location of the Rosemary’s body, the threats on her life, and the 10 years she spent living in fear. When the case finally went to trial, Leslie bravely took the witness stand against Robert, who had decided to act as his own attorney, and spoke the truth once more. Robert Temple was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.