Preacher electrocutes wife with blow dryer, say police — (Weekly World News)

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Weekly World News

4 Oct 1994

By Jack Alexander, Staff Writer

Lexington, Ky – Troubled Hal Mark Cobb was a Bible-toting preacher who once led a clean Christian life, but cops say he had a much darker, murderous side – that led to his wife’s death.

Unsuspecting Lisa Cobb, 28, was electrocuted 10 years ago when a plugged-in blow dryer was knocked or tossed into the tub where she was taking a bath.

Investigators wrote her death off as an accident after the grief-stricken Cobb said their cat accidentally knocked the dryer into the tub.

Cops now believe Cobb deliberately tossed it into the tub and have charged him with murder.

Then a year after his wife’s death, Cobb married Lisa Smiley, a fellow church member and babysitter for Cobb’s year-old daughter, Chelsea.

But that marriage hit the rocks in 1988 when Lisa divorced him and got custody of Chelsea.  In 1991 Cobb – a former minister of Lexington’s Southern Acreas Christian Church – was arrested for lewd conduct in Los Angeles.  As part of his punishment, Cobb enrolled in a Sexually Compulsive Anonymous support group.  Counsellors asked him to write his feelings and thoughts in a journal.

Someone with access to the journal called police in 1992 about one entry.

That entry prompted police in Lexington to reopen their investigation into the 1984 death of Lisa Cobb.

The police aren’t talking about the entry that took them to California several times to question Cobb.   But a close friend of Cobbm Gary Brumburgh, said Cobb always fet he could have done something to prevent Lisa’s death.  “I think the police just mistook the words of an anguished man saying he was responsible for it and turned them around, “ said Brumburgh.

Friends said questioning by the police drove Cobb over the edge.   He disappeared in July 1993, leaving a note for a friend saying, “You’ll never see me again.”

The following month a grand jury indicted him on a murder charge in Lexington.

Cobb was a fugitive from justice until he showed up at his parents’ home in Indianapolis, Ind on July 16.

Cobb said he disappeared a year ago because he was scared to death.  “I was on antidepressant pills, getting suicidal,  I was afraid of what would happen.”

Cobb, 43, has been returned to Lexington where he is in jail charged with murder.  He has pleaded not guilty.