The man convicted in one of Tampa Bay’s most notorious murder cases has died in prison.
Robert Temple was serving a life sentence for stabbing to death his wife, Pinellas County realtor Rosemary Christensen, in their Belleair apartment in 1999 and later burying her in an unmarked grave near the Suwannee River.
State prison records show Temple died in custody Dec. 11. The cause of death is not listed but Temple has been in poor health since his extradition from California to face trial in 2008 after his girlfriend Lesley Stewart confessed to helping him hide Christensen’s body back in 1999.
Temple wrote a number of letters to me while awaiting trial professing his innocence and blaming Stewart for Christensen’s death. Stewart and Temple were having an affair at the time of the murder and later went on the run for nine years.
Stewart eventually called Pinellas County detectives out of fear that Temple would kill her. Days later she led them to the location of Christensen’s body. Stewart received immunity in exchange for her testimony against Temple, who represented himself at his murder trial.
In one jailhouse interview before that trial, Temple told me he loved Christensen too much to put her in a garbage can or 55-gallon drum, so he folded her into a Rubbermaid container he purchased for that purpose and placed her favorite pillow over her head as a gesture of respect before tossing the tub upside down into a shallow grave.
This murder case has been the subject of several documentaries and another one is now in the making.