Forensic Files - Freedom of Information   View more episodes

Aired at 12:00 AM on Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010 (11/23/2010)      View all transcripts from this day

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00:02:50>> Narrator: While investigating stephanie dittrick's murder, police interviewed the guests at her 4th of july party -- the last time she was seen alive.
00:03:00They said stephanie spent most of her time talking to a man >> while they didn't know his last name, they knew his name was gary.
00:03:10They knew that he bragged about being a drummer in a rock band.
00:03:14>> Narrator: Stephanie's family identified the man as her oldest and dearest friend, gary ackley.
00:03:22When interviewed by police, ackley recalled he was at the party but wasn't there stephanie.
00:03:29>> One of the things he told us was he had gone there to locate somebody else, had seen stephanie, so he stopped to talk.
00:03:38Seemed a little bit more than that.
00:03:39>> Narrator: Then police did a background check on 29-year-old gary ackley and discovered some to the first murder victim, jensen.
00:03:57Ackley lived with arlene's daughter, and they had two children together.
00:04:02When questioned by police, ackley said he loved his common-law mother-in-law and was devastated by r murder.
00:04:10But family members said that was a lie.
00:04:13>> Well, he didn't like her, and it was no secret she didn't like him.
00:04:19But no one in the family did like him.
00:04:23>> Their relationship can best be described as being acrimonious.
00:04:27Arlene jensen was concerned about the welfare of her daughter, whom she believed was, at least verbally and psychologically, being abused by gary ackley.
00:04:36>> Narrator: Arlene also didn't like the way ackley treated her grandchildren.
00:04:40>> When she would express those concerns, particularly in the became quite apparent that he didn't want her anywhere around.
00:04:49>> Narrator: And ackley's fights with arlene were well-known to ne family members.
00:04:56>> They got into a disagreement, during which gary ackley called her, at a minimum, a bitch and, depending on whose version you believe, a [bleep] >> he said if she interfered any longer, he would kill her.
00:05:08Rented, making statements something like, "i'm not going to put up with this, and I don't know why you're putting up with this either," to her daughter.
00:05:16>> Narrator: Ackley's brand of cigarettes was another interesting coincidence.
00:05:21>> When he bought cigarettes, he bought the cheapest cigarettes he could getis hands on.
00:05:26Those were basic -- b-a-s-i-c brand cigarettes.
00:05:29That was the kind of cigarette butts that were located in the toilet in arlene jensen's house.
00:05:34There s also a box from basic-brand cigarettes located near the dump site where arlene jensen's body was ultimately recovered some six >> Narrator: But what was most telling to investigators was gary ackley's profession.
00:05:49>> Gary ackley worked as a fabricator.
00:05:52He worked in a metal shop, and much of his time, he spent on a >> Narrator: This was suspicious, since metal fragments were found on both stephanie dittrick's body as well as arlene jensen's.
00:06:07With a search warrant, investigators found metal shavings on ackley's jeans, in his car, and in his workplace.
00:06:17When tested with energy-dispersive x-ray spectronomy, scientists discovered that the shavings from gary ackley were the same as those found on both murder victims.
00:06:29>> These metal shavings that came from arlene jensen and stephanie dittrick, gary ackley's car, and the jeans he was wearing all came from the same place.
00:06:39>> Narrator: But ackley's lawyers said this proved nothing.
00:06:43They claimed it shouldn't be surprising the metal shavings were the same bec ackley knew both victims and could have transferred those particles weeks earlier.
00:06:53So investigators turned to the beige fibers found on the jacket near his mother-in-law's body.
00:07:02Spectrophotometer which identifies this polymer, fiber, microspectrophotometer, which is an instrument for basically identifying and comparing color of a specific fiber.
00:07:15>> Narrator: And what he found was that those beige fibers on arlene's jacket came from the back seat of ackley's car.
00:07:25Interestingly, there were several blue nylon fibers found inside ackley's car that were microscopically similar to the fibers from arlene's jacket.
00:07:36This is called a cross-transfer.
00:07:40>> That jacket had been in contact with some area of a car that had carpet fibers that were shedding onto her jacket.
00:07:48So her jacket was in some location with a brown carpet, and his car was in some contact with a blue jacket.
00:07:56>> Narrator: In fact, the blue jacket fibers were found on only one area of the car's back seat.
00:08:06This was a clear indication that arlene was either unconscious or imle she was in her son-in-law's car.
00:08:14>> She didn't move a lot.
00:08:15There wasn't a whole lot of movement with the jacket.
00:08:18If you're sitting in the rear seat of a car and you never move, then that's where the transfer would be.
00:08:24Ly, in the national park near where stephanie dittrick's body wa found, investigators discovered remnan some of stephanie's personal items were strewn in the grass along with a plastic shopping bag.
00:08:43>> There was a shopping bag from a local grocery store, and once it was submitted to the washington state patrol crime laboratory, what we found was a very clear latent fingerprint left by none other than gary ackley.
00:08:58>> Narrator: The fingerprint, along with the m fragments and fibers, clearly tied gary ackley to both crim scenes.
00:09:07Prosecutors knew why ackleyaw, arlene.
00:09:13What they couldn't figure out is why he killed his childhood friend, stephanie.
00:12:27>> He knows he killed arlene jensen.
00:12:29>> Narrator: Prosecutors believe that gary ackley killed arlene jensen out of anger.
00:12:36He wanted revenge for what he believed was her meddling in the way he raised her grandchildren and the way he treated her daughter.
00:12:45>> The offensive thing about stereotypes is that they oftentimes true.
00:12:50But I will say that one stereotype that I think gary ackley is a perfect example of is a domestically violent, woman-abusing killer.
00:13:01>> Narrator: Prosecutors believe ackley had access to arlene's apartment key and used it to enter her home late one night, after she was in bed.
00:13:18The autopsy results aren't clear about how he killed arlene, but the evidence suggests she was killed while in bed.
00:13:28Metal fragments dropped from ackley's clothes onto the sheets -- fragments he couldn't see.
00:13:39He stayed in arlene's apartment long enough to smoke two cigarettes and wash his hands.
00:13:48Then he hid the bloodstained sheets with the comforter.
00:13:53The trace evidence shows he put arlene's body into the back seat of his car, creating the fiber er.
00:14:02Her jacket fibers were left on the seat, and the upholstery fibers clung to her jacket.
00:14:11Ackley dumped her body a mile away in a field near the railroad tracks, unaware he left more metal shavings there.
00:14:23He also left another calling card -- an empty pack of his favorite brand of cigarettes -- the same brand he left in his mother-in-law's bathroom.
00:14:36But what was the motive for stephanie dittrick's murder?
00:14:42>> By all accounts, gary ackley had a big mouth.
00:14:46>> Narrator: Prosecutors think, in a moment of weakness, ackley told stephanie that he killed arlene.
00:14:57Prosecutors found a witness who saw ackley and stephanie camping together on the 4th of july weekend.
00:15:10Prosecutors believe ackley killed his childhood friend in order to silence her, burying her body in a shallow gr again leaving the telltale metal fragments behind.
00:15:26When he disposed personal items, he left his fingerprint on the shopping bag.
00:15:33>> I don't think there's anything I could say that would bother him because someone that can kill their girlfriend's mom refused to believe that ackley killed her mother.
00:16:09So after his conviction, she cemented their common-law relationship by formally marrying him in a prison ceremony.
00:16:18>> I don't know why julie jensen would marry the man who was convicted of killing her mother.
00:16:23You'd have to ask her.
00:16:25>> First of all, it's nauseating, and I can't understand her train of thought at all.
00:16:33I don't know.
00:16:34I've tried to understand that before, and all I can make of it is domestic violence in its severest form -- the brainwashing, the abuse -- that just makes that person just not even think for themself, because it's so plain to see, you know?
00:16:52>> Narrator: Two murders -- seemingly unrelated, but unmistakably connected by a series of microscopic clues.
00:17:02>> Detectives all over this country are solving murder cases that are 20 or 30 or 40 years old based on science that didn't exist 7 or 8 years ago.
00:17:10So, my expectation is that gary ackley, one, was not a very intelligent fellow and, two, there was just not this blitz of information from the media about murder investigations that would have ever given him any pause to consider the fact that he was bringing to each of these two crime scenes the most compelling evidence that would be used to convict him.
00:17:31--Captions by VITAC--www.vitac.com >> Narrator: An employee from a large brokerage firm disappeared.
00:17:41Her computer revealed she was leading a double life.
00:17:45And among the bits and bytes were the clues to her final destination.
00:17:52--Captions by VITAC--www.vitac.com Captions paid for bythe courtroom television network, llc to friends and family, 36-year-old sherry durall had an enviable life.
00:18:25Married with three young children, sherry had a high-paying job with a stockbrokerage firm and the respect and admiration of her colleagues.
00:18:34>> She was selfless.
00:18:36She was warm.
00:18:38She always did things for other people.
00:18:40She cared about others a lot.
00:18:44>> Narrator: Sherry was also a punctual employee.
00:18:48So when she didn't come to work one day and didn't call, her co-workers were concerned.
00:18:55They called her husband, bob, who said sherry left for work at the usual time that morning, and he didn't know where she was.
00:19:04So sherry's friends called police.
00:19:06>> A couple officers look around, knock on the door.
00:19:10Nobody answers, but they find an unlocked door.
00:19:13So they go into the house, and they walk through the house.
00:19:16Everything looks orderly.
00:19:17Everything looks tidy.
00:19:19>> Narrator: Sherry's clothes, jewelry, and toiletries were still in the house.
00:19:25>> It seemed very unusual that a woman with three children would just suddenly disappear.
00:19:31>> Narrator: For the next two days, there were no signs of her.
00:19:36Then police got a call about a red van driving erratically.
00:19:41The license-plate number identified the van as sherry durall's.
00:19:46>> The witness said it was weaving in and out of traffic, slowing down, speeding up to a point where he wouldn't let the witness pass him.
00:19:54>> Narrator: Unfortunately, the witness didn't get a good look at who was driving the van.
00:20:01Friends distributed missing-person fliers throughout the community.
00:20:07And a convenience-store clerk responded, saying sherry was in his store the dayaftershe disappeared.
00:20:15>> The clerk there was sure that she had seen her on saturday evening -- came in, purchased gas with cash, and then left.
00:20:21There was an initial thought that, "yeah, she's in the area, and the van's been seen " >> Narrator: Sherry's husband looked around their home for clues and found some information on sherry's computer that he turned over to the police.
00:20:41>> We investigated that and durall had, in fact, pursued a relationship outside her marriage.
00:20:49>> Narrator: There were e-mails and internet-chat-room conversations with a man named kevin johnson.
00:20:57And it was clear their relationship was serious.
00:21:02>> "I have tried to be indifferent to you and keep my feelings in check.
00:21:06I have been thinking about this a lot and feeling bad about my self respect, sort of feeling like a call girl more than a " >> Narrator: The correspondence included talk of the two running away together.
00:21:18>> They talked about, "oh, wouldn't it be great to go to costa rica?
00:21:22The cost of living there is so " >> Narrator: When police interviewed kevin johnson, he admitted the two had a brief affair but insisted he hadn't seen her for the last six months.
00:21:36Police weren't so sure.
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00:23:02owcÑAçAçúÑAç >> Narrator: One week since sherry durall's disappearance.
00:24:29Children, her husband, or kevin johnson, the man with whom she had the affair.
00:24:35>> I knew that she wouldn'ting her mom or calling me.
00:24:40We were the two closest people to her.
00:24:43She was too responsible of a mother and a person to do that.
00:24:51>> Narrator: Then investigators got their first solid lead.
00:24:56They found sherry's van in a hotel parking lot near the >> that could have been a thought that she parked there, or she met somebody who came into town, or she hopped on a plane and took off.
00:25:10>> Narrator: But there was no record she stayed in the hotel ook a flight out of town.
00:25:16>> It was very emotional finding ..
00:25:19And not her.
00:25:21>> She wasn't anywhere near the vehicle, and so we found a van, but we didn't find our friend.
00:25:28And that was really difficult.
00:25:30>> Narrator: A forensic examination of the van revealed foreign fingerprints.
00:25:40Even more troubling, sherry's personal bank account hadn't been touched since her disappearance.
00:25:47>> She just got a bonus at work, and sh the bank, I think, that week.
00:25:53So the theory from all the co-workers was, "well, why would she be putting all this money away and then not leave with it " >> Narrator: Police conducted extensive interviews wit sherry's friend kevin johnson.
00:26:06He insisted he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
00:26:10>> And he was later able to provide some information what he was doing on the dayted missing.
00:26:18>> Narrator: Sherry's co-workers told police about a comment she made the day before she disappeared.
00:26:25He said, "if anything happens to me, my life is in my " and in her desther things, was a long letter -- a draft of a letter that she'd written to her husband in an effort to try to explain why she felt it necessary to leave him.
00:26:43>> "My spirit is crushed.
00:26:44I feel that you are too controlling and obsessive and jealous, and I just can't live with those personality traits anymore.
00:26:51I can't go on pretending that I am unbearably unhappy.
00:26:56The bottom line is, I don't love " >> Narrator: Also in her desk were books about divorce.
00:27:05>> She was planning the separation, and she had saved up some money.
00:27:09And she had spoke to a couple of lawyers to get some advice.
00:27:13And she was making her plans to move on to her new life with her children.
00:27:19>> Narrator: And sherry told friends that bob had been abusive.
00:27:23>> No sign of physical violence at all.
00:27:26It was more that she wasn't comfortable around him.
00:27:30He was obsessive, controlling.
00:27:32He emotionally controlled her, and she just did not feel good around him.
00:27:38>> He would apparently be sort of monitoring her whereabouts.
00:27:41Occasionally, she would go out to lunch with some of her friends.
00:27:45Mr. durall would show up.
00:27:47So he, in effect -- she describes a situation where you almost have a husband stalking his own wife.
00:27:55>> Narrator: During police questioning, bob durall admitted there were problems in his marriage.
00:28:02As for him being involved in sherry's disappearance, he said what happened on the night before she disappeared.
00:28:15Bob said they went to dinner at a local restaurant.
00:28:19When they got home, sherry spoke with her sister-in-law.
00:28:24 durall appeared perhaps slightly tipsy and told her that she was going to bed and that her husband, robert durall, had made her a drink.
00:00:52>> Narrator: Investigators got an anonymous tip in the michael andrade murder investigation that the killer entered michael's apartment through a crawl space in the attic.
00:01:05Sure enough, investigators found a panel opening to the attic in the ceiling of michael's bedroom closet.
00:01:14When investigators checked it out, they discovered that someone could access other apartments through the crawl space.
00:01:24The insulation was only matted between michael's apartment and apartment number 1002.
00:01:32>> These spaces connected to each other.
00:01:35It was something I would have never thought of.
00:01:37It was something that, unless you were a maintenance person, i would figure you wouldn't know about.
00:01:43>> None of the insulation above any of the other apartments had been disturbed.
00:01:47The only apartment that had been disturbed was michael andrade's apartment.
00:01:51>> Narrator: The tenant of apartment 1002 was 23-year-old mother who lived there with her 3-year-old son.
00:02:01>> Hi.
00:02:02>> How are you?
00:02:03>> Good, how are you?
00:02:05..
00:02:06>> Narrator: When questioned by police, maria claimed she didn't even know michael andrade or where he lived.
00:02:15But investigators didn't believe her, so they took the unusual step of confiscating maria's vacuum cleaner and the clothes investigators found a pair of men's jeans, and on those jeans were tiny glass fibers.
00:02:34The small air pockets within the glass had expanded, creating a distinctive football shape.
00:02:41This was fiberglass insulation that had been in or near a fire.
00:02:48>> The evidence was not destroyed.
00:02:50It wred.
00:02:51This gave it unique properties -- something that i could compare back to with any standards that were found at the scene.
00:02:58r: THE CHARRED Insulation on these jeans was consistent with the charred insulation found on michael andrade's body.
00:03:07>> The insulation was unique -- it was burnt insulation, so it wasn't a situation where the person could say, "i've been working at a construction site.
00:03:17That's how I got thi " >> Narrator: Wrapped around the spool of the vacuum cl investigators found highly distinctive thread -- black polyester fibers were wrapped around cotton fibers, then colored with an unusual combination of dyes.
00:03:39>> This fiber's bundle is composed of polyester and cotton.
00:03:43It's a blend.
00:03:44It also has the dark-colored polyester that gives the dyeing characteristics and adds some strength to the thread.
00:03:51>> Narrator: This thread was consistent with thread found around michael's neck.
00:03:56..
00:03:59Which had been torn and used as a ligature.
00:04:03>> Microscopically, it was the pattern that the threads had that were able to give me that distinguishing or that u appearance that associated with the bedding material.
00:04:17>> Narrator: Also in maria's apartment, investigators found a video camera and keys to a ford truck.
00:04:26The video contained images of michael andrade's family -- proof that the camera was michael's.
00:04:33Ancar keys were michael's, too.
00:04:37>> Michael andrade's truck was a ford f-150, and these keys were ford keys.
00:04:42Went down with the alarm remote on the set of keys and opened up his truck.
00:04:47>> Narrator: Investigators confronted maria solis and wanted to know who owned the men's jeans found in her hamper.
00:04:57After she was threatened with prosecution, maria solis changedher story.
00:05:03She now admitted she had a roommate -- 25-year-old joe luna.
00:05:09>> She met luna over the desperate to be in a ..
00:05:22Latched on to joe luna in what i believe was a very manipulative >> Narrator: Maria claimed she knew nothing about joe luna's criminal past -- that he had served five years in prison for carjacking and aggravated assault on a police officer.
00:05:44And joe luna was wanted for a series of home invasions that bore a marked similarity to the michael e case.
00:05:54>> He would break in, cut bedsheets up, tie up the people who were at the house with those strips of bedsheet.
00:06:07People -- three of whom were families with children.
00:06:12He tied them up, he used weapons, he threatened them, and he stole from them.
00:06:19>> Narrator: Brooke envick was a victim of one of those home invasions.
00:06:24It's just indescribable.
00:06:25You feel like your home is where you're safe.
00:06:28>> Narrator: After the robbery, two cigarette butts were in the garage.
00:06:37We don't smoke, and none of our friends who had been at the house recently smoke.
00:06:42>> Narrator: Dna frothe saliva on the cigarette butts matched joe luna.
00:06:48>> It's surprising to me that someone would leave behind their dna -- almost carelessly leave behind cigarette butts of cigaread smoked.
00:07:04>> Police!
00:07:05>> Narrator: J after michael andrade's murder, joe luna was arrested and charged with the crime.
00:07:13>> Did you kill your neighbor?
00:07:15>> No.
00:07:22>> Narrator: Despite his denials, joe luna was facing a possible death sentence.
00:10:38>> Narrator: The forensic evidence painted a vivid picture of joe luna's movements on morning of michael andrade's murder.
00:10:48Prosecutors believe joe luna spent most of his time inside his girlfriend's apartment since he knew there were warrants outn the robbery cases.
00:11:01With nothing to do, he discovered there was an attic and crawl space above the he looked around and discovered there was another apartment just 60 feet away -- prosecutors believe he opened hear any sound, dropped in.
00:11:35But michael was sleeping, ande woke him up.
00:11:39There was a struggle.
00:11:44Luna tore at the bedsheets, back, and strangled him to death, fearing that michael could identify him.
00:11:55To mask the evidence, he set fire to the clothes in michael's closet and returned to his girlfriend's apartment through

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