Bizarre decapitation murder of American woman

EXETER, England -- Michael Telling, a member of one of Britain's richest families, was charged with murdering his 'lovely and bored' American wife after authorities discovered her decapitated head in the garage of their home.

Telling, 33, was ordered held in jail pending further hearings following the 90-second hearing Monday in a magistrate's court in Exeter, 170 miles southwest of London.


Telling, who a friend said 'liked to lead the life of a country gentleman,' was dressed in blue jeans and a brown leather jacket, and handcuffed to a detective. He said nothing during the hearing.

Police Sunday found the severed head of Monika Elizabeth Zumsteg-Telling, 27, originally of Santa Rosa, Calif., in the garage of the Tellings' expensive home near West Wycombe, 28 miles west of London.

They immediately charged Telling with murder.

Mrs. Telling's headless body, riddled with four bullets, was found eight days ago in a forest near the river Exe. For a week nobody knew who she was.

Then a friend recognized a T-shirt in a photo of clothing worn by the corpse, circulated by police. Detectives searched the Tellings' home, a lavishly converted stone barn. In the garage, they found a woman's severed head.


Telling was arrested immediately.

Zumsteg-Telling met her husband of 22 months on one of Telling's frequent jet hops to the United States. Friends said they lived a life of fast cars, vacations in exotic places and lavish parties.

Telling is a second cousin of Lord Vestey, polo-playing friend of Prince Charles, who heads what some consider the second richest family in Britain. It has extensive financial interests in Britain, Argentina and other countries.

Mrs. Telling sold antiques and bric-a-brac from a stall in the village's monthly antiques fair. She posed for a local photographer with an idea of continuing the modeling she began in the United States.

But one friend said 'she was wealthy, lovely and bored.'

Police uncertainty about her death was reflected in the official charge against Telling.

He was accused of murdering his blonde wife 'at West Wycombe,' more than 100 miles from where her body was found, 'or elsewhere,' at some time 'between March 27 and September 4.'

British law requires repeated court hearings for an accused man like Telling until prosecution and defense are ready to go to trial. Sources said that could take three months or longer in this case.

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