Cold Case Files - A Knock at the Door; Shattered   View more episodes

Aired at 12:00 PM on Friday, Jun 11, 2010 (6/11/2010)      View all transcripts from this day

Transcript

00:00:00wrong here.
00:00:02If he's able to do that, what else is he capable of doing?
00:00:21>> This is the cold case homicide office.
00:00:23It's part of the homicide squad in Fairfax County Police.
00:00:27And this is where we store a number of the cases.
00:00:31>> KURTIS: Steve Milefsky and Bob Murphy are cold case detectives for Fairfax County, Virginia.
00:00:36>> These photographs only represent a small number.
00:00:39>> KURTIS: Tacked to the wall of their squad room, the faces of some of their victims.
00:00:44>> It's a matter of respect to these people that they're here, and it's our responsibility to find answers to their deaths.
00:00:50>> Any homicide detective will tell you they have their cases that are really at the top of their list of what they would like to solve.
00:00:58One of those of for me is this one.
00:01:00It's a double homicide of a couple here in Vienna, Virginia, back in 1997, and this case is still open.
00:01:07>> This little boy here was found dead, naked and dead, in a stream in Fairfax County in 1972, I believe it was.
00:01:14We have no idea who he is, just a little boy.
00:01:16He's maybe four to six years old.
00:01:19>> KURTIS: In the winter of 2004, Murphy and Milefsky pull out the picture of another victim.
00:01:24Her name is Mona Lisa Abney, and she was murdered in 1978.
00:01:30>> That's Mona Lisa Abney, a beautiful woman, you know, smart, and everybody... kind of person everybody likes.
00:01:37You know, just a sad case that she came up here to Northern Virginia and was killed in a hotel room.
00:01:44>> I was called by the communications section that said that there was a homicide at the Tyson's Corner Holiday Inn.
00:01:52>> KURTIS: Scott Boatright is a crime scene technician for the Fairfax County Police.
00:01:56On January 28, he's called out to a murder.
00:02:00>> Apparently, a maid came in to clean the room in the morning, and when she entered the room, she found the victim.
00:02:08>> KURTIS: Inside room 722, 25- year-old Mona Lisa Abney lies dead on the floor.
00:02:15>> She was nude basically from the waist down.
00:02:17She was kind of lying on her back.
00:02:20Automatically, you would think she has been raped.
00:02:23>> KURTIS: The room appears to be ransacked, and Mona's cash, jewelry, and credit cards are missing.
00:02:29>> The main thing you're looking for is fingerprints, because back then, that was our DNA, was fingerprints.
00:02:34So the big emphasis-- hair, fingerprints, blood.
00:02:40>> KURTIS: Boatright dusts for prints, bags the evidence, and photographs the scene.
00:02:44Then it hits him-- the ransacking is staged.
00:02:48>> The chair was turned over.
00:02:50The lamps were just turned over, but not really damaged in any way.
00:02:53Maybe someone did this just to make it appear that there was a tremendous struggle.
00:02:57I mean, you've killed this woman, and yet you don't want to break the lamp.
00:03:02>> KURTIS: A medical examiner establishes the victim was raped and strangled.
00:03:06Semen is collected as well as an unknown Caucasian hair.
00:03:10Meanwhile, investigator Ron Yeager arrives at the Holiday Inn and begins to work the building room by room, person by person.
00:03:18>> Well, everybody's a suspect, from management right on down through the employees, guests, so and so forth.
00:03:26We went through the entire roster of people that were there.
00:03:30>> KURTIS: One of the people investigators talk to, a hotel maid who claims she let a man into Mona's hotel room an hour after she checked in.
00:03:38>> She said she let him into Mona's room because he said he didn't have his key and he didn't want to wake her.
00:03:43Basically, what she explained was a white male, about six foot or more, very stocky build like a football player.
00:03:52>> KURTIS: An artist works with the maid to develop a sketch of the man.
00:03:56Meanwhile, the phone in Mona's hotel room rings.
00:04:00At the other end of the line, a man named Wilbert Abney.
00:04:03>> He mentioned who he was.
00:04:05He said he had been trying to reach his wife and couldn't.
00:04:07I said, "Mr. Abney," I said, "I can't tell you anything about it right now, but your wife is deceased." He wasn't emotional.
00:04:13There wasn't emotion or anything like that.
00:04:16>> KURTIS: Abney drives two hours to Fairfax County, IDs his wife's body, and gives a statement.
00:04:22His cold demeanor is startling to investigators, as well as to friends and family.
00:04:27>> It was a Sunday evening, early Sunday evening that we got the call from him.
00:04:37>> KURTIS: Patricia Parker is Mona's friend.
00:04:39>> And it was Wilbert, and I said, "What's going on?
00:04:42What's wrong?" He said, "Mona's dead." And I just lost it.
00:04:47You know, I said, you know, "You've got to be kidding, no, no." I just lost it.
00:04:51And he said, "No, Mona's dead." He was so relaxed when he said it.
00:04:58It was like, "She's dead." >> KURTIS: For Parker, the grief runs deep.
00:05:03So too does the suspicion that somehow Wilbert Abney was involved.
00:05:08>> It was no sadness.
00:05:10No... no sadness at all.
00:05:13Just as if he's calling to say, you know, "It may rain tomorrow." And as upset as I was, something just didn't sound right to me.
00:05:22>> You have a question in your mind-- is the husband involved?
00:05:26Things don't look necessarily that way.
00:05:30But is he involved in having somebody else do the job for him?
00:05:34>> KURTIS: But Abney looks nothing like the suspect sketch.
00:05:37>> And you can see that it is nowhere close to this gentleman.
00:05:42A lot of difference.
00:05:44>> KURTIS: Still, Yaeger's suspicions are heightened when Abney tries to collect an insurance policy taken out just a few weeks earlier.
00:05:53>> I think it was $100,000 double indemnity, which set him up very well.
00:05:58We learned who signed the policy.
00:06:00It was a forgery.
00:06:02His wife didn't sign the policy.
00:06:04Tells me we have more motive now.
00:06:06>> KURTIS: Abney sues the insurance company for the funds, but loses the battle in court.
00:06:11Meanwhile, Yaeger unearths another red flag-- Abney was having an affair.
00:06:17When Yaeger interviews Abney's girlfriend, she recalls a phone call from Abney the morning Mona was found murdered.
00:06:24>> It was about 9:30 that morning that he called the lady and told her that his wife was deceased.
00:06:32About an hour later, I get the call from him, and that's when I tell him that she's deceased.
00:06:39So he has knowledge of her death before he ever talks to me.
00:06:45That's when I realized, I said that this man is my man.
00:06:49More and more fingers pointing in the right direction, but you can't put the man in the room.
00:06:55If you can't put him in the room, you can't charge him.
00:06:58>> KURTIS: Abney passes a polygraph and provides prints and hair samples.
00:07:02None match up to the evidence.
00:07:05>> So that's where we came up short all the time, on things that would get a conviction.
00:07:11>> KURTIS: Meanwhile, the hunt is on for the white male spotted entering Mona's hotel room.
00:07:17>> We put out the information, like the teletype and so forth.
00:07:20One of the guys on the police department worked homicide came up with an individual and asked me, he said, "You might want to take a look at this guy." >> KURTIS: "This guy" is Michael Grotto, a man being held in another county for assault charges and a man who looks eerily similar to the sketch.
00:07:39>> Mainly the eyes, very similar-- enough that it would be honest to say that this could be this.
00:07:46>> KURTIS: During a live line- up, the maid fingers Grotto as the man she let into Mona's room.
00:07:52The trail is once again heating up.
00:07:54Detectives get a search warrant for Grotto's hair.
00:07:57>> And that was sent to the lab in Virginia, and they said there was a lot of similarities, but not a match.
00:08:04>> KURTIS: Grotto is eliminated as a suspect.
00:08:06Detectives are left with a lot of suspicions, but not a lot of answers for Mona Lisa Abney.
00:08:12>> A lot was taken other than just a life, you know.
00:08:16Her future-- a future that would have been probably a big asset to the family.
00:08:22I'm sure they're very proud of her.
00:08:23It's a shame.
00:08:24This lady would be a benefit to society.
00:08:26>> Very, very frustrating, very frustrating.
00:08:29I just felt that she was done a great injustice.
00:08:33>> KURTIS: Mona Lisa Abney's murder is boxed up and shipped to the cold files, where it will stay for more than two decades, until two cold case detectives pick up the case and catch a break.
00:08:48>> I think we've got something to work with here forensically.
00:08:50They were perfectly preserved, they were dried, so the evidence from 1978 was still on the swabs.
00:08:55The evidence we needed was still on those swabs.
00:12:43>> This is the police property room where we keep cold case evidence.
00:12:50There's rapes and murders and some other crimes here.
00:12:55>> KURTIS: In an old jail in Fairfax County, the ghosts come calling.
00:12:59Murder unsolved, and sometimes forgotten.
00:13:02Items of evidence that speak of lives largely unlived.
00:13:08For every one of these boxes, you know, there's a human tragedy.
00:13:11There's a story here to be told, you know, with all these boxes, you know, and that's our job, that's what we do.
00:13:17This... if we can resolve these and hopefully one day move these boxes out of here, you know, ultimately that's our goal.
00:13:25>> KURTIS: In January of 2004, Murphy and Milefsky pull out a box from 1978 with the name "Mona Lisa Abney" scrawled on the side.
00:13:35>> Right.
00:13:36She was a young woman in her mid-20s, came up to Washington, D.C., area to do some shopping at the Tyson's Corner Mall, and she was found strangled to death in her room by a maid.
00:13:47>> KURTIS: Detectives dig through the evidence looking for a lead.
00:13:51>> Here's some documents it looks like that they collected in the room.
00:13:54They're probably documents that were in Mona Lisa's handbag, or found on the bed.
00:14:00>> Here's your hair slides.
00:14:01>> KURTIS: When detectives pull out a rape kit, they know they're in luck.
00:14:05>> I think we've something to work with here forensically.
00:14:07They were perfectly preserved, they were dried, so the evidence from 1978 was still on the swabs.
00:14:13The evidence we needed was still on those swabs.
00:14:17>> This is the main examination room that we have here in our forensic laboratory.
00:14:21>> KURTIS: The swabs are sent to Mary Green at the state crime lab.
00:14:25>> Yeah, there was no mold.
00:14:26There was no indication that there was, you know, degradation, visually, on the sample.
00:14:30So it seemed hopeful.
00:14:34>> KURTIS: Green detects a presence of semen and is able to extract a DNA profile.
00:14:39Cold case detectives have their first break.
00:14:42Now they need a suspect to match up with their profile.
00:14:46>> Every police department has these police reports.
00:14:48They don't tell you the heart and soul of the cases.
00:14:51You have to go back sometimes to the detective's original notes, and you go back to his... you know the notebook that they took the day the case occurred.
00:14:59And you get some of their thoughts and what they were...
00:15:02where they were headed with this case.
00:15:03>> Yeah, this is one of the cases.
00:15:05Like many when we got it, it kind of had a built-in suspect, a white guy.
00:15:09>> KURTIS: That guy, Michael Grotto.
00:15:12>> He fit the description, he was known to hang out at the Holiday Inn, and he was eventually identified by a witness as being there in the hotel that night.
00:15:21So we thought, "This guy is perfect." And he had a long history.
00:15:24He had a long criminal history of, you know, forcible rapes and crimes like that.
00:15:30>> KURTIS: Grotto goes to the top of the detectives' suspect list.
00:15:33There is, however, a problem.
00:15:36>> We found out he had committed suicide several years back.
00:15:40So we were able to go back, and we found some of the original hairs that the original detectives pulled from Grotto.
00:15:47So we resubmitted the hairs, and they still had root follicles, so we were able to get nuclear DNA on that hair.
00:15:53>> KURTIS: Hoping for a DNA match and a quick resolution to the case, cold case detectives send out the hairs to the crime lab.
00:16:00The results come back as a shock.
00:16:02>> Yeah, I called Detective Milefsky and told him that he was eliminated.
00:16:07I think they were surprised, yeah.
00:16:09>> We thought it would be Grotto.
00:16:11Obviously, it wasn't.
00:16:13>> KURTIS: As for the white man seen entering Mona's room, cold case detectives suspect the maid was simply mistaken.
00:16:21>> No, I don't think there ever was a white man let into Mona's room.
00:16:24I think she let a man into another room.
00:16:26>> KURTIS: It's back to the drawing board for cold case detectives.
00:16:30>> Took a turn.
00:16:31Then it became a wide open investigation.
00:16:33And that led us eventually to Abney.
00:16:36>> KURTIS: Abney is Wilbert Abney, Mona's husband and former murder suspect.
00:16:42>> And it's clear that he had at least one girlfriend and may ve been cultivating a second during the time that he was still married to Mona Lisa Abney.
00:16:53He had just bought a new insurance policy on his wife.
00:16:57>> KURTIS: Cold case detectives decide they want a word with Abney and, perhaps, a swab of his DNA.
00:19:08>> He's in Pennsylvania, in a small town outside Philadelphia.
00:19:11He lived with his mother, who was an elderly woman, and he lived with his new wife.
00:19:16>> KURTIS: On September 29, cold case detectives find Wilbert Abney at home living a quiet life.
00:19:23That, however, is all about to change.
00:19:26>> We knocked on his door, and he answered immediately.
00:19:29And Steve tells him what we're doing, you know, we're cold case homicide detectives, we're going to reinvestigate the murder of his wife from 28 years ago.
00:19:37You know, typically, we expect to see a reaction of relief or someone that's actually glad that we're doing this, you know, thanking us for doing this, and we got exactly the opposite.
00:19:48You know, from Abney, his reaction was, "Well, why would you do that?
00:19:52Why would you go back and work on a murder from 28 years ago?" Some bells and whistles started going off in our heads.
00:19:57>> What an inappropriate reaction for somebody, you know, who's reinvestigating your wife's murder.
00:20:04>> KURTIS: In 1978, Abney told police he had never been inside the hotel where Mona was killed and had not had sex with his wife in three weeks.
00:20:13Cold case detectives ask for a sample of his DNA to confirm the story.
00:20:18>> He refused.
00:20:19He said he didn't think he wanted to do that, and he... at first, he said he wanted to call a lawyer.
00:20:24>> KURTIS: Abney balks at providing the sample, until the current Mrs. Abney pulls her husband aside.
00:20:31>> Well, Mrs. Abney stepped in, his current wife stepped in, and said, "Can we talk in private?" >> And they're in the kitchen talking for a few minutes.
00:20:38And I know what happened in that kitchen.
00:20:40I know she told him, "Look, you had nothing to do with this.
00:20:44You're innocent, give them the buckle swabs and help them." So he... the pressure really was on him at that point.
00:20:50So he came back in, and he said, "Okay, I'll give it to you." >> KURTIS: Back at the crime lab, Mary Green begins the comparison.
00:20:58>> I did the same DNA process on that swab, and was able to obtain a DNA profile, and it matched.
00:21:04It was a very strong match.
00:21:06The numbers were greater thanthe world population, or greater than six billion individuals.
00:21:12>> KURTIS: The pieces of murder are starting to come together.
00:21:15>> And it's clear that the original detectives thought that Abney was involved.
00:21:20They just couldn't put Abney in northern Virginia during the time that Mona was killed, and that's what DNA gave us.
00:21:26That's... we have... we had the scientific advantage that they never had.
00:21:31>> KURTIS: DNA lays the foundation, but cold case detectives need more.
00:21:35In the Abney murder book, they find it-- a person no one has talked to in more than 25 years.
00:21:42>> He reaches in his pocket and pulls out something that looks like latex gloves, rolls down the window, and throws them out the vehicle, over the railing, into the river.
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00:26:08>> I was shocked because I didn't think there was any such thing as cold cases.
00:26:11I thought it was just a TV show.
00:26:14>> KURTIS: In January of 2005, a man named Michael Clark entertains a knock on his door.
00:26:19On the other side, two homicide detectives looking for information about Clark's former neighbor, Wilbert Abney.
00:26:28>> So we walk up to the door and knock on the door, and sure enough he opens the door, and he says, "I'm Michael Clark." >> He said something to the effect, "Where have you guys been?
00:26:36I've been waiting to talk to law enforcement for 20-some years now." You think, "Man, you can't beat this." >> KURTIS: Murphy and Milefsky are working the 1978 murder of Mona Lisa Abney.
00:26:47DNA has linked her husband, Wilbert Abney, to the crime scene.
00:26:52>> The phone rang early one Saturday morning.
00:26:54It was Abney, and he said to me, "They have found Mona dead.
00:26:58Will you go with me to identify the body?" Well, he picks me up in this little white Corvette, and he asks me to drive.
00:27:07And I agree to do that.
00:27:10And before we got a mile from my home, I had a very uncomfortable feeling.
00:27:18But what I remember distinctly was his spending the life insurance proceeds from his wife's death.
00:27:26I remember specifically his talking about buying 12 custom- tailored suits, about buying a new Rolls-Royce and a big house.
00:27:37>> Abney is saying, "I'm going to be a rich man.
00:27:40I've got all these life insurance policies.
00:27:42I'm going to be rich." >> My gut says, "This guy smells.
00:27:46There's something very, very wrong." And I was very uncomfortable being in the vehicle with him.
00:27:52>> Mr. Clark said his mouth was just hanging open, hanging open.
00:27:56He couldn't believe that this man was talking about this, clearly was not the demeanor of a man who just lost his wife.
00:28:05>> Well, at this point, we're about ready to enter the mouth of the Boulevard Bridge.
00:28:09>> KURTIS: Clark and Abney drive over the bridge on their way to ID the body when Wilbert Abney rolls down a window in the car.
00:28:17>> Just as we got up to about this point, as soon as we got over water, Abney rolled that window down, took out what appeared to be latex gloves, and tossed them over that railing.
00:28:26If Abney is able to do this to his wife, then my family... I'm feeling that perhaps my family's being threatened.
00:28:35If he's able to do that, what else is he capable of doing?
00:28:39>> We just can't believe our good luck.
00:28:41We just can't believe that we stumbled into a witness of this importance.
00:28:45>> KURTIS: More than two months after taking Clark's statement, cold case detectives walk into Wilbert Abney's house and begin to ask some hard questions.
00:28:55>> So we go back, and we sit in the living room, and Steve tells them, "We got the DNA results." And he just looked at us, and Steve said, "It's your DNA." He started lying.
00:29:05He started telling us some things we knew were not true.
00:29:08He's really a very narcissistic person.
00:29:10I think he feels like he can control the situation, he can manage it.
00:29:15>> KURTIS: Abney denies killing his wife, but offers no explanation for the DNA match.
00:29:20Then he agrees to a polygraph.
00:29:22>> So from there, we went over to the local district attorney's office, and he took the polygraph and failed it miserably.
00:29:28>> I don't know if you guys heard this this morning.
00:29:30>> KURTIS: Cold case detectives return to Virginia and contemplate a possible murder charge against Abney.
00:29:36Before they get too far, however, the phone rings.
00:29:52>> KURTIS: Two days after failing his polygraph, Wilbert Abney calls police.
00:30:06>> Basically, he's saying, you know, "Look, I'm not saying I did this, but if I did, what would I be charged with and how much time would I get?" So it became kind of a cat-and- mouse thing with him, a negotiation, if you will.
00:30:32>> KURTIS: During five separate phone calls, Abney fishes for information.
00:30:54>> This to me, this is a person that did this crime, and he's looking for a way to negotiate a resolution to it in his best interests.
00:31:03He's trying to manage, you know, this whole situation.
00:31:06And it really goes to his arrogance that he thinks he can manage this situation.
00:31:29>> KURTIS: After a month of back and forth, Abney tells detectives he's ready to tell his story-- what really happened that night at the Holiday Inn.
00:31:38>> He said, "I went there; I went to the hotel that night." So now we're getting a totally different story that we haven't heard before.
00:31:44"I went into the room.
00:31:45We engaged in consensual intercourse, and I choked her with my belt, which we did on occasion, that she asked me to do." >> KURTIS: According to Abney, Mona liked rough sex and asked to be choked.
00:32:01This time, however, she accidentally died.
00:32:04>> There's the mark of the belt buckle on her neck.
00:32:07I mean, that's how... that's how much force was used-- was that there was a belt buckle mark left on her neck.
00:32:13So clearly this wasn't an accident.
00:32:17>> We had finally backed him into a corner where he realized he couldn't maneuver anymore, and he had to come up with some kind of an explanation.
00:32:24This is the only thing he could come up with.
00:32:26"Okay, I was there.
00:32:28Okay, it is my DNA, because we had consensual intercourse.
00:32:32And yes, I did cause my wife's death, but it was an accident." >> KURTIS: When detectives start asking questions, Abney realizes he hasn't covered all his bases.
00:32:43>> "What about the fact that her credit cards were missing, her ring was missing, her keys were missing, her cash was missing, things like that?" What did he do with those things?" He'd forgotten about those.
00:32:55And he just had that deer-in-the-headlights look, like, "Uh-oh, I didn't cover that one." >> He was in the hot seat at that point, and yeah, we had him.
00:33:04We had him.
00:33:06>> 56-year-old Wilbert Abney...
00:33:08>> KURTIS: Wilbert Abney never gets the deal he angled so hard for.
00:33:12Instead, he is indicted for murder and faces a potential life stretch in prison.
00:33:21>> He planned to kill his wife.
00:33:23He did it for the insurance money, and he did it because he had a girlfriend.
00:33:27>> KURTIS: Katie Swart prosecutes the case against Wilbert Abney.
00:33:31>> In this case, you had the DNA that finally put this defendant, Mr. Abney, in the hotel room back in 1978.
00:33:42Because up to that point, he had denied being there, having sex with her.
00:33:47He lied through his teeth, back in 1978, that he hadn't been there, that he hadn't had sex with her.
00:33:54And so he lied back then.
00:33:56Why do you lie?
00:33:58Because you're covering something up.
00:34:01>> KURTIS: At trial, Abney sticks to his story: Mona's death was an accident.
00:34:06>> He came up with a story of the erotic sex where they were having this kinky sort of sex and it was an accidental strangulation.
00:34:15The fact that in the back of the neck you could see the belt buckle, and it was like, that's not giving anyone pleasure to leave such an impression.
00:34:25>> KURTIS: The jury doesn't buy Abney's story.
00:34:28>> Unfortunately for Mr. Abney, he had told different stories at various points in this case, and I think his credibility just didn't weigh much with the jury.
00:34:38>> KURTIS: After four days of trial, he is found guilty and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
00:34:44>> Everything came right back to me.
00:34:48But it brought back quite a few memories and some pain and some... some of the heartache.
00:34:56He needed to pay for this.
00:34:57You know, he took her life.
00:34:59She was a young, beautiful woman who had everything going for herself.
00:35:03And for her life to be taken like that, it's just not fair, not right.
00:35:07>> KURTIS: For cold case detectives, the verdict means one more case is closed, one more picture can be taken off the wall.
00:35:14Unfortunately, too many faces remain, watching and waiting for their day in court.
00:35:21>> There's really no big celebration or big defining moment that ends the investigation.
00:35:28It's just, "Okay, you got all these others sitting here that need to be worked on, demanding úúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúú now,my it.
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00:37:31>> She was shot back there, shot through the palm of her hand.
00:37:34I guess she tried to protect herself.
00:37:37And then we figured she got up and ran toward the front door, and that's when she was shot three times in the back.
00:37:44She was just trying to get away.
00:37:45She was terrified.
00:37:47And I can just imagine what she went through, trying to get away from those guys.
00:37:51Didn't want to leave any witnesses-- that's the reason they killed her.
00:38:00>> Well, it was on February 12, 1980.
00:38:02My partner and I were on patrol.
00:38:06We got a robbery-shooting call at Musick Jewelry Store on Sherwood Way.
00:38:12>> KURTIS: Robert Lloyd is a beat cop for the San Angelo Police.
00:38:16>> We were only a few blocks away, maybe four or five at the most, when we got the call.
00:38:21Didn't know what was... what to expect when we got inside.
00:38:24We entered, found a female laying face down in the middle of the showroom floor there in the jewelry store.
00:38:30It was obvious she'd been shot.
00:38:32There was some blood on her back.
00:38:35>> KURTIS: The store clerk, 20-year-old Sheila Elrod, lies dead on the floor.
00:38:40>> Yeah, they said there'd been a shooting, and I thought, "I hope it's not Sheila." >> KURTIS: Sergeant Fred Dietz used to work security at the jewelry store and knows the folks who work the.
00:38:50When he arrives on scene, his worst fears are realized.
00:38:55>> I noticed the showcases were broken.
00:38:57There was blood all over the place there-- on the showcases, on the floor.
00:39:02And as I went around the corner, there was a female laying there, face down.
00:39:07And it was Sheila Elrod.
00:39:09Yeah, it was pretty hard.
00:39:10I thought, "Well, maybe we'll solve it." That was my first thought.
00:39:13I said, "We've got to catch whoever did it." >> KURTIS: Dietz watches as Sheila's body is bundled up and transferred to the morgue.
00:39:21Then he gets to work, intent on catching her killer.
00:39:25>> And then we figured she got up and ran toward the front door, and that's when she was shot three times in the back.
00:39:31She was just trying to get away.
00:39:32She was terrified.
00:39:34>> KURTIS: Sheila's killers walked away with nearly $100,000 worth of jewelry.
00:39:39In doing so, they paid a price and left behind a clue.
00:39:44>> There was blood all over the place.
00:39:46Whoever broke the showcases cut their hands while getting the jewelry out.
00:39:50>> Whoever was bleeding had left the front door of the jewelry store and went this way, probably to a waiting vehicle.
00:39:57>> The blood trail ended somewhere out here in the parking lot, right?
00:39:59>> That's about the only blood we found in the parking lot that I remember-- several drops of blood.
00:40:05>> KURTIS: Detectives collect samples from the blood trail.
00:40:08On a broken display case, they lift several unknown fingerprints and a well- preserved palm print.
00:40:16>> It was an excellent print, because there were numerous points to compare on the print.
00:40:21So it was a very, very good print.
00:40:24>> KURTIS: Cathy DeLaughter examines the palm print.
00:40:28>> What made it unique, that we knew that it didn't just belong to a random customer, was the fact that as the glass broke, the edges of the ridges curled over the edge of the broken piece of glass, so we knew it could only belong to whoever broke that glass top.
00:40:45>> KURTIS: Detectives have hard evidence.
00:40:48Now they need a suspect to compare it to.
00:40:53>> And this also, I think, has the work schedules when people were here.
00:40:57>> KURTIS: The San Angelo PD puts all its resources onto the Elrod murder.
00:41:00>> It's just one of those things.
00:41:03We had two basic things to work with, was the palm print and the blood.
00:41:08>> KURTIS: Detectives hit the streets looking for a name.
00:41:11Dietz begins with the jewelry store owner.
00:41:14>> I asked Paul Musick, "Does he have any idea who could have done it?" And I asked him, "Was there any suspicious characters come in the last day or two?" He said, "Yeah, a black male came in yesterday afternoon, the day before the robbery, right about closing time." >> KURTIS: A composite of the customer is developed.
00:41:32>> This is the man we were looking for here as a possible suspect.
00:41:36He had kind of like an Afro haircut and a Fu Manchu mustache.
00:41:41And that's basically what we were looking for.
00:41:43>> KURTIS: Detectives ID more than more than 150 suspects, take their prints, and compare them to the unknown.
00:41:50>> You're always hoping that one day one print that you look at that you're hoping it's going to match.
00:41:56And never did match that particular print, never matched it.
00:42:02>> KURTIS: Within months, the most promising leads are run down and out.
00:42:05Meanwhile, the victim's family waits and wonders.
00:42:10>> Her brother would call us all the time.
00:42:13And you know, we felt real bad because we couldn't give no definite answers.
00:42:17He wanted to know what happened.
00:42:19>> I didn't understand it at the time, but you have survivor's guilt, you know.
00:42:23You wonder, you know, "Why am I still there, and they're the one gone?" It's bad to lose somebody like that.
00:42:30It's senseless.
00:42:32>> But we did want justice, you know, justice for her.
00:42:36And we just couldn't understand how in this small town that we couldn't get an answer.
00:42:41You know, someone didn't see...
00:42:43you know, nothing was seen.
00:42:45It was real hard.
00:42:47>> We just followed up as many leads as we could.
00:42:49Worked on it many, many months, and several years.
00:42:53We never could solve it.
00:42:55It was just a tragic incident.
00:43:00>> This is the Texas Rangers' office in San Angelo.
00:43:06I keep my files in this closet.
00:43:10These are cases that I worked that were closed while I was at San Angelo.
00:43:14>> KURTIS: Jerry Byrne is a Texas Ranger in the town of San Angelo.
00:43:19>> This file contains some of the reports and witness statements and things of that nature that have been taken over the years.
00:43:29>> KURTIS: 20 years after Sheila Elrod was murdered, Ranger Byrne picks up her file and finds reason for fresh hope.
00:43:36>> With as much blood evidence that was reported to have been left by the suspects in this case, I felt like that there was a very... had a high probability of solving this case.
00:43:50>> KURTIS: In September of 2000, Byrne heads to the San Angelo Police property room to get a look at the evidence.
00:43:58>> I came here originally to talk the San Angelo Police Department into letting me reopen this investigation.
00:44:05Came here to the evidence room and went through all these different packages of evidence and case reports.
00:44:15There were probably a couple of hundred files on people that they had eliminated over the years.
00:44:22>> KURTIS: Byrne picks his way through evidence now 20 years cold.
00:44:27>> This is some of the original evidence from inside the jewelry store from the display case.
00:44:34There was a large quantity of broken glass and blood from the glass.
00:44:40>> KURTIS: The Ranger pulls out at least ten pieces of broken glass spattered with blood.
00:44:46>> Either the suspect, as he was trying to break the glass, he cut himself, or as he was...
00:44:55because it was a jagged hole.
00:44:56So as he was reaching into the... to take the jewelry from the case, he may have cut himself then.
00:45:04>> KURTIS: Byrne drops the samples off at the lab for DNA testing and then waits for the results that will break the case >> Okay, we're going into our screening area in the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab here in Lubbock.
00:47:41I've got a digital photo pulled up here, the actual evidence I worked on in this case.
00:47:46This is actually the glass that was taken out of the jewelry store.
00:47:50>> KURTIS: On September 7, David Young takes delivery of blood evidence from a case 20 years cold-- the 1980 murder of 20-year-old Sheila Elrod.
00:48:01>> You can see that the blood, you know, is kind of streaking in this area right here.
00:48:05But there was a pretty large amount of blood on it for what we need to work with.
00:48:09We don't require a whole lot for DNA analysis.
00:48:11For our purposes, I would consider it quite a bit of blood.
00:48:14>> KURTIS: Young extracts a DNA profile from the dried blood, uploads it into the CODIS system, but fails to generate a match.
00:48:23>> We just had to keep our fingers crossed that something was going to come up sooner or later, and that that person was still alive and would commit another crime to get into the system.
00:48:32>> KURTIS: One year later, Ranger Jerry Byrne takes a call from the crime lab.
00:48:36>> He called me one day and said, "We got a hit in CODIS." And you know, I just... I was really shocked.
00:48:45>> The stats were still over one and a quadrillion.
00:48:48That's a pretty huge number, bigger than the population of our planet.
00:48:52>> KURTIS: The hit is to a man named Louis Williams, a career criminal whose DNA made it into the system after a parole violation.
00:49:01>> Well, at that time, Louis was about 56 years of age.
00:49:06I learned that he had a lengthy criminal history.
00:49:09He was... a lot of his previous charges were violent crimes, armed robberies.
00:49:19>> KURTIS: Byrne pulls a photo of his suspect and feels his case coming together.
00:49:24>> Okay, this is a composite that was done of the subject that came into the Musick's Jewelry Store.
00:49:30This is a booking photograph.
00:49:34It was identical to Louis Williams.
00:49:37>> KURTIS: The evidence is enough to indict Williams for murder.
00:49:41Byrne picks up his suspect in Austin, Texas, and brings him in for questioning.
00:49:46>> He was a little shocked.
00:49:48He was asking me what it was about, and I told him it was about a young lady that was murdered in San Angelo in the 1980s, and initially he told me, "Well, I don't think I've ever been there." And I said, "Well, we know that's not true.
00:50:05We know you've been there." >> KURTIS: Williams's DNA puts him inside the jewelry store.
00:50:11A fingerprint found at the scene provides a second match to Williams.
00:50:15The unknown palm print, however, does not match the suspect, telling Ranger Byrne that Louis Williams most likely had an accomplice.
00:51:08>> KURTIS: On August 19, Louis Williams sits in a San Angelo interrogation room.
00:51:13As part of his plea deal, he agrees to tell detectives how Sheila Elrod was murdered and who did the killing.
00:51:27>> KURTIS: Harold is Harold Jones, an experienced robber, now deceased.
00:51:32According to Williams, Harold Jones was the triggerman during the jewelry store shooting.
00:51:51>> And once they got inside, he seen that there was a female who had been obviously shot and murdered.
00:51:59He said that was his first indication that there was any foul play going on.
00:52:31>> KURTIS: As Williams talks, Byrne listens, and begins to wonder about what he is hearing.
00:52:47>> And Sheila was killed with a .22 revolver.
00:52:51There was no evidence that a .38 was used in that case at Musick's Jewelry Store.
00:53:06>> We identified a fingerprint from his... one of his left fingers on the display case.
00:53:13So we know that he was not wearing gloves.
00:53:16Many of the things that he said to me didn't apply to the Elrod murder.
00:53:23>> KURTIS: Byrne believes Louis Williams is confused and describing perhaps a second robbery and murder, one that took place 90 miles away in Abilene.
00:53:33>> Harold Jones and Louis Williams were involved in both of these murders, and Louis has got some of the facts mixed up between the two cases.
00:53:47>> We got there, we found the showcases all smashed, and later on we found the victim behind the counter.
00:53:53He was a young man, kind of had that real fire red hair.
00:53:57I never will forget that about him.
00:53:59And he was laying face down behind the counter.
00:54:01He'd been shot twice in the back of the head with two different weapons, a smaller-caliber weapon and what turned out to be a .38.
00:54:10>> KURTIS: Just seven months before Sheila Elrod was murdered, a jewelry store in Abilene was robbed and the store clerk, 23-year-old Glenn Burns, shot to death.
00:54:21>> Well, just to keep him from identifying anybody or talking or becoming a witness.
00:54:25That was pretty obvious why they killed him, so he couldn't identify anybody.
00:54:29>> KURTIS: Like the Elrod murder, the cases were smashed and jewelry grabbed.
00:54:34And like the Elrod murder, the suspect cut himself and left behind blood evidence.
00:54:40>> This is the Archives Room.
00:54:42This is where we had our homicide cases that were unsolved.
00:54:48And this is where I came to to locate the files that we had on the cold cases.
00:54:56>> KURTIS: Blood from the Burns murder yields a DNA profile but no match to Louis Williams.
00:55:02>> Maybe the only way to corroborate what Lewis Williams said was if we could determine that that drop of blood in Abilene was Harold Jones's.
00:55:14So we kind of started on that leg of investigation.
00:55:18>> KURTIS: The only problem-- Jones is dead.
00:55:22>> But they did find that he was married and that this particular person he was married to, they had a child together.
00:55:30>> KURTIS: Byrne tracks down Harold Jones's daughter, gets a sample of her DNA, and orders a reverse paternity test.
00:55:37>> There was a 99.9% chance that the blood in Abilene came from the father of Harold Jones's daughter.
00:55:48So it was Harold Jones's blood.
00:55:50>> KURTIS: Harold Jones will never stand trial for the murder of Glenn Burns, but the case can finally be closed.
00:55:57>> That was great news, and having, actually, this solved and come to a close was really great, you know, not only for the department and the city of Abilene, but especially for the family of Mr. Burns.
00:56:13>> KURTIS: Louis Williams is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Sheila Elrod.
00:56:19He is never tied directly to the Abilene murder and still denies any involvement.
00:56:24>> Well, you know, I'm still a little disappointed that we couldn't prove that he was involved in the Abilene case.
00:56:33You know, it was really good to get closure on the Sheila Elrod case and to get a conviction in that.
00:56:41I mean, that was what I was hoping for.
00:56:43>> No matter what, you know, it's not going to bring Sheila

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