Everything You Need To Know About Susann Sills’ Murder


Five years ago, Theresa Neubauer was working at a university in Georgia when she received a startling phone call.

Susann Sills, 45, died mysteriously, and her son-in-law, a well-known fertility doctor who had written or edited multiple medical books, was recently taken into custody on murder charges.

In 2016, Susann’s body was discovered at the foot of a stairway in the suburban Southern California home of the couple.

According to Neubauer, her family was unaware that the death was being looked at by authorities as suspicious until they received that phone call in April 2019. Scott Sills, the 59-year-old husband of her daughter, was seen by her as an ally since he raised the couple’s twins alone after losing his wife in a horrific accident.

The prosecutor in Sills’ murder trial from the previous year said that after a heated altercation, he had strangled his wife and staged her body on the staircase. His attorney said the death was caused by an unintentional fall.

Sills was given a 15-year to life term in jail after being found guilty of second-degree murder in March.

Sills called 911 early on November 16, 2016, reporting that he had discovered his wife’s death at the foot of the stairs in their San Clemente, California, home. San Clemente is located about 60 miles south of Los Angeles.

“I don’t have a pulse, and she’s cold,” he told the 911 operator, according to audio of the call.

Susann’s death certificate indicates that she was pronounced dead at 6:35 a.m., minutes after paramedics arrived.

Neubauer remembered Sills telling his mother-in-law over the phone the next day that he had heard a commotion during the night, but since the couple had two dogs and 12-year-old twins, he didn’t care to check.

“There’s always noise in the house at night — somebody’s always doing something — so it didn’t concern him,” she recalled Sills saying. “But then in the morning, he found her downstairs.”

Investigator Eric Hatch of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported that Sills informed them that he believed his wife’s death was tragically brought on by a migraine medicine that may have caused her to lose her balance and fall down the stairs.

Since her daughter had always been exceptionally graceful and nimble, Neubauer surmised that she must have had an aneurysm or some other sudden and unforeseen illness. According to Neubauer, she had trained in ballet and gymnastics as a youngster and had participated in hurdle running and cheerleading as a teenager.

As an adult, Susann even created a video audition for the reality show “Survivor,” helping her husband operate their reproductive clinic, the Center for Advanced Genetics.

“She never fell,” Neubauer said. “She didn’t even fall when she was a child.”

According to Neubauer, she wished for the investigators to be aware of her daughter’s “physical capability.” She added that one of the investigators said, “Yes, well, but accidents do happen,” in response to her sharing that information.

“Which, of course, is true,” Neubauer said. “I had no reason to think they would not have done a thorough investigation. So I thought it was done and it was over.”

Dave Holloway, a different investigator looking into the tragedy, said their correspondence with the family was limited but compassionate, as is customary in a law enforcement inquiry.

“We wouldn’t come right out and tell the family that it was an accident,” he said. “We wouldn’t come out and say it was a murder. We would tell them that we are conducting our investigation because at some point, we may need to ask them questions and we wouldn’t want to prejudice their answers.”

Fights, Injuries & More

This meant that Susann’s family was not informed that early on, investigators may have discovered evidence suggesting that there was more to Susann’s death than her husband’s story implied.

According to Hatch, the investigators discovered bloodstains and hair on the baseboard and curtain in the bedroom where she had spent the night before her death. She had numerous injuries, including what seemed to be defensive cuts on her arms and a ligature mark around her neck, according to a preliminary autopsy, he added.

Hatch stated that her spouse also had an injury that the investigators thought was unusual: a new-looking cut on his head that he had disguised with a beanie. Hatch remembered that Sills had told investigators that it had occurred while he was working on his automobile a few days prior. Hatch said that he denied knowing anything about the blood in the bedroom.

Additionally, the detectives discovered evidence suggesting that the couple’s relationship may have had issues. According to Hatch, one of their kids remembered his parents fighting the night before Susann passed away, and texts were showing her telling her spouse she was “trapped” and would “never be free.”

The investigators discovered a mysterious note in Sills’ office; they subsequently discovered that the note was connected to a wager Susann had placed on a conservative website that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential contest.

Hatch claimed that after Trump’s victory, Susann honoured her half of the wager by uploading a nude picture of herself to the website. Sills’ printer held a printed copy of a message that was in response to her picture.

“All I’ve got to say is you must have a super cool husband,” the message said.

“That told me that this posting had been on someone’s mind,” Holloway said. “That wasn’t something that just happened to be up there that day.”

Sills claimed his wife had most likely placed the note there when questioned by authorities about it and denied printing it. According to Hatch’s lawyer, Sills’s texts were about business finances, while the dispute was over his wife’s need for rest while she wasn’t feeling well.

Cause of Death

Despite the investigators’ misgivings regarding Sills, the coroner had not yet established the reason or mode of his wife’s demise. That was a year-long procedure.

The woman’s injuries were complex, which is why Elise Hatcher, a former Orange County prosecutor who handled the case afterwards, said the delay occurred. She told “Dateline” that in situations involving gunshots or stabbings, the cause of death is obvious, making it much simpler for prosecutors to press charges.

However, Hatcher stated that Susann’s case could not proceed until the coroner had finished a thorough examination of her neck structure and the ligature marks.

“They’re very methodical,” Hatcher said. “In this case, it took a very long time.”

Finally, the testing was finished by November 2017: Hatch declared that Susann’s death was a homicide. She had suffered a ligature strangulation.

According to Holloway, forensic examination revealed that the blood in the bedroom belonged to both the deceased woman and her spouse. According to Holloway, Sills’s blood was discovered beneath her fingernails, and the stains on a shirt he wore after his wife passed away—which he initially thought to be caused by chocolate milk—were actually her blood.

Although a toxicology investigation revealed that Susann had pain medicine in her system, the report stated that there didn’t seem to be enough for it to interfere with her balance.

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