COQUILLE, Ore. - Edward Nelson killed his wife and then both of his neighbors in a plot to avoid having to get a divorce and avoid paying a settlement, prosecutors said.
A judge sentenced Nelson to three consecutive life sentences Monday for the June 2013 slayings of Kathleen Nelson and Renae and Lola Cottam in rural Bridge, Ore.
"Perhaps the families can take some solace in knowing that I will die in prison and spend eternity in hell," Nelson told to the court Monday.
The killer's alibi unraveled when a neighbor saw Nelson's truck drive away from his burning house.
Nelson had gone to Idaho and checked into a hotel for a week. He then traveled home, paying cash as he went.
He shot and killed Kathleen Nelson first.
Then he went next door and killed his neighbors.
"His brilliant idea was to kill people in both houses, set both on fire to make it look like some psycho had just come through and it wasn't related to him," said Michael Cottam, son of Renae and Lola. "Well, some psycho did come through, and it was him."
Nelson was arrested and admitted to investigators that he killed his wife and neighbors. He later pleaded guilty to murder charges.
"The more elaborate your plan becomes, the more likely it's going to fail," said Paul Fraiser, the Coos County district attorney, "and that's exactly what happened."
Frasier said that, if not for the neighbor who spotted Nelson's truck leaving the scene, Nelson's plan might have worked.
If not for a suspicious neighbor, who noticed nelon's car leaving his own burning house...frasier says nelson's plan might have worked.
"If he had gotten back to Idaho, this would have been a really tough nut to crack," Frasier said.
Cottam believes Nelson's 30 years as a boarder patrol officer might make him a target in prison. He would like to see the man who killed his parents spend the rest of his life in solitary confinment.
"I want him to get solitary for life and sit and rot and think about what he did," Cottam said. "For him to have it all over with too quickly I don't think is justice."
Cottam said he is now persuing a wrongful death lawsuit against Nelson. Any money that comes from the suit will be donated to rebuild the Myrtle Point library where his parents volunteered.