When first responders arrived at the Owensville Motor Inn on Thursday, August 4th, 2016, they found a woman shot to death outside her hotel room and a man in the parking lot with a gunshot wound to his head. The man, Toby Gregory, was still alive. He was rushed to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis for treatment of his wounds. His estranged wife, Inez Tulk, was dead. It appeared that domestic violence had culminated in a murder-suicide. Only, Toby Gregory was still breathing.
Inez Christalina Tulk, known to her loved ones as Nessa, was born August 16th, 1985, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was the daughter of John Tulk and Silvia Prada. Inez was a mother of four sons. Inez enlisted in the United States Army, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. While in the military, Inez met Toby Gregory, who would become her husband.
Toby Gregory was born July 26th, 1974, and was raised in a small town near St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up in Belle, Missouri, Toby began drinking alcohol at a young age with not much else to do. Toby joined the United States Marines in 2005, where he continued to drink excessively. While in the service, Toby claims that a female officer raped him at gunpoint. He contends that he reported the abuse, only to be told that “men don’t get raped”. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 24.8% of men experience sexual violence during their lifetime. Men, however, are less likely to report their abuse than women.
Toby left the Marines but had trouble adjusting to civilian life. He was married a few times but had trouble holding down a job and maintaining his relationships. He struggled with alcohol abuse. According to a source, Toby’s experiences in the military combined with a history of abuse by his father greatly impacted his life. Toby felt like he didn’t have any other choice but to re-enlist in the military. This time, he joined the United States Army. Despite being diagnosed with PTSD after his experience in the Marine Corp, Toby was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on two tours, serving with Inez Tulk.
During one of his tours, Toby sustained a head injury in an explosion resulting in a traumatic brain injury with frontal lobe damage. The frontal lobe of the brain controls reasoning, judgement, social understandings, and decision-making (Cleveland Clinic). After this injury, Toby’s mental health deteriorated quickly. He became paranoid and behaved irrationally. He believed his fellow soldiers were colluding with the enemy. The Army eventually discharged him due to his mental state. Toby’s mother stated her son was never the same after his time in the service. During his time in the Army, Toby earned a Purple Heart among many other honors.
Toby went home to Missouri. Meanwhile, Inez was discharged from the military and relocated to Missouri with Toby. The two married and had a son, Inez’s fourth child. The couple had their struggles. Toby once again had trouble adjusting to civilian life. He had trouble keeping a job and was a heavy drinker. He was known to be a possessive, controlling, and sometimes abusive husband to Inez. Inez’s family members never cared for Toby and begged her to leave him, but Inez was in love. Toby’s mental health continued to struggle, and he was diagnosed once again with PTSD.
According to Inez’s family, Toby told her how to eat, drink, walk, talk, and everything else. Inez’s aunt believes she was too scared of Toby to leave. Her family states that Toby threatened to “pick them off one by one” and threatened to kill them to their faces.
Eventually, Inez reached her breaking point and decided to divorce Toby. She took their two-year-old son and went to live with family. In June of 2016, divorce proceedings between Toby and Inez began. Initially, Toby and Inez shared custody of their son. According to Inez’s family, Toby would make it difficult for Inez to get her son back after his time. He was using their son as a tool to further control his estranged wife. Her family helped her get attorney to fight for her rights as a mother. According to her family, this infuriated Toby.
On August 3rd, 2016, Toby and Inez appeared in a Missouri court to modify their parental agreement. Inez was now living in New Mexico near her family, so she was staying at the Owensville Motor Inn. On August 4th, 2016, Toby was drinking heavily. That evening, he got in his vehicle and drove eight miles to the Owensville Motor Inn. Security footage shows in walking past several rooms until he reached Inez’s hotel room.
Toby entered Inez’s room and shot her once. Inez is seen on the video footage stumbling out of her hotel room into the parking lot. Toby then shot her four more times with hollow-point rounds. After shooting his wife five times, Toby kicked Inez in the head as she lay dying on the ground. Inez died in the parking lot of the Owensville Motor Inn. Toby then put his gun under his chin and pulled the trigger. He was rushed to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. Toby survived his injuries, only to be charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Toby claims he doesn’t remember much from the day he killed his wife. He states he was drinking heavily and believes that PTSD caused him to kill his wife. Not everyone was convinced, however. Detectives believe the facts indicate first-degree pre-meditated murder as Toby had to drive to the Owensville Motor Inn and specifically target his estranged wife. Police believe this was a classic case of domestic violence to the extreme, resulting in a murder-suicide attempt. According to Inez’s family, Toby said many times in the past that he could get away with murder by claiming PTSD.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD is associated with a greater risk of violence, but a majority of veterans with PTSD never engage in violence. The prevalence of violence is greatly increased with comorbid conditions such as depression and anxiety. Substance abuse, including alcohol abuse, increases the risk of violence even more. “The data showing that the prevalence of violence among individuals with PTSD is 7.5% in the US population and 19.5% in post 9/11 Veterans suggest that the association between PTSD and violence is especially strong in this Veteran cohort” (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs).
Without input from Inez’s family, the prosecution offered Toby Gregory a plea deal. Toby Gregory pleaded guilty to second-degree murder due to diminished capacity as a result of PTSD. He was sentenced to twenty-four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Many people believe that this sentence is not justice for Inez. Toby claims he lives with the guilt of what he did everyday and will never forgive himself for killing Inez. However, he states that believes he should have a chance at freedom. Inez’s loved ones, however, believe Toby should spend the rest of his life in prison or should have received the death penalty.
I am A Killer (Season 4, Episode 3) “Serving Time” Available on Netflix
Springfield News Leader (2016) Man charges in wife’s death outside motel. 06 Aug 2016
Albuquerque Journal (2016) Santa Fe High grad slain in Missouri. 11 Aug 2016
The Santa Fe New Mexican (2016) Obituary for Inez (Nessa) Christalina Tulk. 25 Aug 2016