Profile of Death Row Inmate Brenda Andrew

From Sunday School Teacher to Cold-Hearted Killer

A Mug Shot of Brenda Andrew
Mug Shot

Brenda Evers Andrew is on death row in Oklahoma, convicted for the murder of her husband, Robert Andrew. Eerily echoing plots from film noir classics such as "Double Indemnity" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice," disenchanted wife Brenda Andrew and her lover murdered her husband in an attempt to collect on his life insurance policy.

The Childhood Years

Brenda Evers was born on December 16, 1963. She grew up in a seemingly idyllic home in Enid, Oklahoma. The Evers were devout Christians who enjoyed gathering for family meals, holding group prayers, and living a quiet life. Brenda was a good student who always earned above-average grades.

As she got older, friends remembered her as a shy, quiet girl who spent much of her spare time at church and helping others. In junior high, Brenda took up baton twirling and attended local football games but unlike her friends, once the games ended, she skipped the parties and headed home.

Rob and Brenda Meet

Rob Andrew was at Oklahoma State University when he met Brenda, then a high school senior, through his younger brother. The two began seeing each other and were soon dating exclusively.

After graduating high school, Brenda enrolled in college in Winfield, Kansas, but a year later, she transferred to OSU in Stillwater in order to be closer to Rob. The couple married on June 2, 1984, and lived in Oklahoma City until Rob accepted a position in Texas where they relocated.

After a few years, Rob yearned to return to Oklahoma, but Brenda was happy with life in Texas. She had a job she liked and had formed solid friendships. The relationship began to sour when Rob accepted a job at an advertising agency in Oklahoma City.

Rob returned to Oklahoma City, but Brenda decided to stay in Texas. The couple remained separated for a few months, but eventually, Brenda decided to move back to Oklahoma as well.

A Stay-at-Home Mom Comes Undone

On December 23, 1990, the Andrews welcomed their first child, Tricity, and with that, Brenda became a stay-at-home mom—leaving her job and work pals behind. Four years later, their second child, Parker, was born, but by then Rob and Brenda's marriage was in deep trouble.

Rob began confiding about his failing marriage to his friends and pastor. Friends would later testify that Brenda was verbally abusive to Rob, often telling him that she hated him and that their marriage had been a mistake.

Extramarital Affairs

By 1994, Brenda seemed to have undergone a transformation. The once shy, conservative woman swapped her modest attire for a more provocative look that was usually tight, short, and revealing and began a series of affairs.

  • The friend's husband: In October 1997, Brenda began an affair with Rick Nunley, the husband of a friend she'd worked with at an Oklahoma bank. According to Nunley, the affair lasted until the following spring, although the two continued to stay in contact by phone.
  • The Guy at the Grocery Store: In 1999, James Higgins, married and working at a grocery store, met Brenda. He later testified that Brenda showed up at the store in low-cut tops and short skirts and they flirted with each other. One day, she handed Higgins a key to a hotel room and told him to meet her there. The affair continued until May 2001, when she told him, "It wasn't fun anymore." They remained friends, and Higgins was hired to do household renovations for the Andrews.

The Beginning of the End

The Andrews met James Pavatt, a life insurance agent, while attending the North Pointe Baptist Church where Brenda and Pavatt taught Sunday school classes. Pavatt and Rob became friends, and Pavatt actually spent time with the Andrews and their children at the family home.

In mid-2001, Pavatt helped Rob set up a life insurance policy worth $800,000 that named Brenda as sole beneficiary. Around the same time, Brenda and Pavatt launched an affair. By all accounts, they did little to hide it—even at church, where they were soon were told their services as Sunday school teachers were no longer needed.

By the following summer, Pavatt had divorced his wife, Suk Hui. In October, Brenda filed for divorce from Rob, who had already moved out of their home. Once the divorce papers were filed, Brenda became more vocal about her disdain for her estranged husband. She told friends that she hated Rob and wished that he was dead.

Planning an Accident

On October 26, 2001, someone severed the brake lines on Rob's car. The next morning, Pavatt and Brenda concocted a false "emergency," apparently in hopes that Rob would have a traffic accident.

According to Janna Larson, Pavatt's daughter, her dad persuaded her to call Rob from an untraceable phone and claim that Brenda was in a hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, and needed him immediately. An unknown male caller phoned Rob that morning with the same news.

The plan failed. Rob discovered his brake lines had been cut prior to receiving the phone calls alerting him to Brenda's fictitious emergency. He met with the police and told them that he suspected that his wife and Pavatt were trying to kill him for insurance money.

The Insurance Policy

After the incident with his brake lines, Rob decided to remove Brenda from his life insurance policy and make his brother the new beneficiary. Pavatt found out, however, and told Rob the policy couldn't be changed because Brenda owned it.

It was later discovered that Brenda and Pavatt had attempted to transfer ownership of the insurance policy to Brenda without Rob's knowledge by forging his signature and backdating it to March 2001.

Not willing to take Pavatt's word, Rob called Pavatt's supervisor, who assured him that he was the owner of the policy. Rob confided to the supervisor that he thought Pavatt and his wife were trying to kill him. When Pavatt discovered Rob had spoken to his boss, he flew into a rage, warning Rob not to try to get him fired from his job.

Fateful Thanksgiving Holiday

On November 20, 2001, Rob went to pick up his children for Thanksgiving. It was his turn to be with the kids. According to Brenda, she met Rob in the driveway and asked if he could come into the garage and light the pilot on the furnace.

Prosecutors believe that when Rob bent down to light the furnace, Pavatt shot him once, then handed Brenda the 16-gauge shotgun. She took the second shot, ending 39-year-old Rob Andrew's life. Pavatt then shot Brenda in the arm with a .22-caliber handgun in an effort to cover up the crime.

When police arrived, Brenda told them that two armed, masked men dressed in black had attacked Rob in the garage and shot him, then shot her in her arm as she fled. Brenda was taken to a hospital and treated for what was described as a superficial wound.

The Andrews' children were found in a bedroom watching television with the volume turned up very high. They had no idea what had happened. Investigators also noted with suspicion that it didn't appear as if they were packed and ready to spend the weekend with their father.

The Investigation

Investigators were told that Rob owned a 16-gauge shotgun but that Brenda had refused to let him take it when he moved out. They searched the Andrews' home but didn't find the shotgun.

Meanwhile, a search of the Andrews' next-door neighbors' home revealed someone had entered the attic through an opening in a bedroom closet. A spent 16-gauge shotgun shell was found on the bedroom floor, and several .22-caliber bullets were found in the attic. There were no signs of forced entry.

The neighbors were out of town when the murder took place but they left Brenda a key to their house. The shotgun shell found in the neighbors' home was the same brand and gauge as the shell found in the Andrews' garage.

The next piece of incriminating evidence came from Pavatt's daughter, Janna, who had lent her car to her father on the day of the murder after he'd offered to have it serviced. When her father returned the car the following morning, Janna realized that it hadn't been serviced—and found a .22-caliber bullet on the floorboard.

The .22-caliber round in Janna's car was the same brand as the three .22-caliber rounds found in the neighbors' attic. Pavatt told her to throw it away. Investigators later learned that Pavatt had purchased a handgun the week before the murder.

On the Run

Rather than attending Rob's funeral, Brenda, her two children, and Pavatt took off to Mexico. Pavatt called Janna repeatedly from Mexico, asking her to send money—unaware his daughter was cooperating with the FBI's investigation into the murder.

In late February 2002, having run out of funds, Pavatt and Brenda re-entered the United States and were arrested in Hidalgo, Texas. The following month they were extradited to Oklahoma City.

Trials and Sentencing

James Pavatt and Brenda Andrew were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. In separate trials, they were both found guilty and received death sentences. Brenda has never shown remorse for her part in the murder of her husband and claims she is innocent.

On the day Brenda was formally sentenced, she looked directly at Oklahoma County District Judge Susan Bragg and said that the verdict and sentence were an "egregious miscarriage of justice," and that she was going to fight until she was vindicated.

On June 21, 2007, Brenda's appeal was denied by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals by a vote of four to one. Judge Charles Chapel agreed with Andrew's arguments that some of the testimony at her trial should have been inadmissible. 

On April 15, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Andrew's appeal of an earlier court decision upholding her conviction and sentence without comment. While no executions have been carried out in the state since 2015, Brenda Andrew remains on death row in the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, Oklahoma.