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Widow Tells How Honeymoon Turned To Horror

Miami Herald

There is pain and suffering, and then there is the story of Kathrin Rakebrand.

While honeymooning in Miami in 1993, she watched her husband die during a robbery. She flew back to Germany to bury her husband - only to find their home ransacked by the tabloid press. Then she suffered a miscarriage, losing the last physical connection to her husband, Uwe-Wilhelm Rakebrand.

Reluctantly, Kathrin Rakebrand returned to Miami and on Monday she testified against Recondall “Reco” Wiggins, the young man who allegedly plotted the robbery that spun into murder.

“We got security instructions in German. It said we shouldn’t stop the car if you’re bumped,” Kathrin Rakebrand told jurors.

She said the couple left the Alamo rental lot east of Miami International Airport. In their red car, they sped toward Miami Beach.

“We were hit by another car in the back,” she recalled. “I told my husband not to stop the car. We were bumped two or three times.”

During opening statements, Dade County prosecutor Michael R. Band had told jurors that Wiggins drove the yellow Ryder rental truck that smacked into the rental car.

At Wiggins’ side, the prosecutor said, were Patsy Jones and Alvan Hudson. Jurors don’t know this, but Jones and Hudson pleaded guilty in November to avoid the electric chair. They are serving life sentences.

Jones, the prosecutor said, carried a 30-30 rifle and pulled the trigger when Uwe-Wilhelm Rakebrand refused to stop. The bullet tore into his neck.

“Something hurts me,” Kathrin Rakebrand quoted her husband.

“He didn’t move anymore,” she said. “He took his hands off the car. He did not say anything. … “

The car went out of control. Kathrin Rakebrand grabbed the steering wheel, but it was difficult to steer from the passenger’s seat - while leaning over her dying 6-foot 6-inch, 300-pound husband.

She nicked a pickup truck before a guardrail stopped the car.

Her husband, 33, was dead.

And that is all the jurors heard Monday.

If Wiggins is convicted, they will hear the rest of her tragic story - which prosecutors videotaped Monday morning to show during the death penalty hearing.

She refuses to speak directly with reporters - because they broke into her home after the murder and published photographs without her consent.

“Almost three years ago my husband and I wanted to spend our first dream vacation in Miami,” she wrote in a statement read by her attorney Monday.

“It took less than one hour after our arrival that my beloved husband was brutally taken away from me and my dreams and hope for a happy life with him and our then-unborn child were shattered forever.”

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