In another stunning case from fan-favorite Sgt. Robert, a mother and child are rushed to the hospital in what appears to be the case of a childbirth gone wrong. But almost immediately, emergency staff begin to question whether the woman was ever pregnant at all. Police are called to investigate and uncover a shocking truth.
Guest: Sgt. Robert
Sgt. Robert has been in law enforcement for over 20 years. Prior to becoming a detective, he spent nine years on patrol, where he served as a Field Training Officer (FTO) and an FBI-trained hostage negotiator. As a detective, he worked in a unit that investigated crimes against children, including sex crimes, serious physical abuse and child homicides. He was later re-assigned to the violent crimes unit, where he investigated homicides, robberies and other serious felonies. He was an active member of his county’s major crimes team, which investigated homicides and officer-involved shootings. After 10 years in investigations, Robert has been promoted to sergeant.Read Transcript
Yeardley: [00:00:05] Hey, Small Town Fam, it’s Yeardley. I’m so happy you’re here with us for another episode of Small Town Dicks. I need to give you a stern and fair warning about today’s episode. First and foremost, it involves the death of an infant, not from child abuse, like the case we covered in Season 1 called Unspeakable. But it’s still a death, and the circumstances are still horrific and unfathomable, no matter what lens you view the circumstances through. So, perhaps, you’re wondering why we’ve decided to air this episode at all.
[00:00:45] Well, this podcast is all about the firsthand experiences of our detective guests who, day in and day out, encounter people in their communities on their worst day. I’ve said it a hundred times, it is not a normal job.
[00:01:04] Sometimes, law enforcement is able to put the train back on the tracks for everyone involved, but sometimes, they aren’t. Both outcomes shape these officers, as well as their families, their friends, support staff, and it makes these officers who they are. So, when we ask our guests to tell us the case they’re most proud of or one they can’t forget, we respect the courage and vulnerability it takes for them to revisit a case like we’re sharing with you today. We hope you feel the same. Here is Crawlspace.[music]
Yeardley: [00:01:42] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:01:44] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:01:45] I’m Dave.
Paul: [00:01:45] And I’m Paul.
Yeardley: [00:01:46] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:01:49] Dave and I are identical twins.
Dave: [00:01:51] And retired detectives from Small Town, USA.
Paul: [00:01:53] And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State Killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.
Dan: [00:01:59] Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.
Dave: [00:02:06] Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.
Paul: [00:02:13] Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.
Dan: [00:02:18] And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved-
Dave: [00:02:25] -out of respect for what they’ve been through.
[unison]: Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:02:38] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. Hooray. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:02:47] Good morning.
Yeardley: [00:02:48] Good morning.
Dan: [00:02:49] If it’s morning where you are.
Yeardley: [00:02:50] Wherever you are. Wherever you may be. We have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:02:54] Hello, Yeardley.
Yeardley: [00:02:55] Hello, David. I’m so happy that you’re here,-
Dave: [00:02:57] Likewise.
Yeardley: [00:02:58] -sitting across from me. And we have the one and only, Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:03:02] Hey-hey.
Yeardley: [00:03:03] Hey-hey. Such a good day of all the people. And Small Town Fam, we are super excited. We’ve been dogging him to come back onto the podcast, because we love him so much, as we know you do as well. We have– Are you detective or sergeant now, Robert?
Robert: [00:03:19] I’m a Sergeant now.
Yeardley: [00:03:20] Yeah, dude. We have Sergeant Robert, who has come to us before as Detective Robert, but he’s been promoted, so let’s get fancy and call you by your real title.
Robert: [00:03:32] Well, thank you. It’s good to be here again.
Yeardley: [00:03:34] It’s so great to have you.
Dave: [00:03:36] You get the stripes and all the liability.
Yeardley: [00:03:38] [laughs]
Robert: [00:03:39] That’s right.
Dave: [00:03:39] There you go.
Robert: [00:03:40] That’s right. And back to graveyard shifts.
Dave: [00:03:41] Oh, yeah.
Robert: [00:03:42] Yeah, it’s exciting.
Yeardley: [00:03:43] So, Robert, by the time our listeners hear this episode, we’ll have provided a warning about the subject matter in a preamble that comes even before the opening credits, because episodes about babies and children are always the hardest to hear. And with that, please tell us how this case came to you.
Robert: [00:04:04] So at the time of this call, I was still on patrol. So, this was actually just about a year before I became a detective. But this is one of those cases that really stuck with me. I think you’ll see why. And it really instilled in me that desire to become a detective. I was on swing shift on this day, just after 05:00 PM on a Friday. My sergeant calls me up and asks me to respond to the local hospital. Basically, what he tells me is that deputies are there dealing with a woman, her name is Cassie, who claimed to have given birth, and she’s up at the hospital now. Cassie basically claimed that she was pregnant with twins. One had been delivered, but one was still on the way. My sergeant says that the baby went in one ambulance and basically was pronounced dead at the hospital.
[00:04:54] So, I responded to the hospital. It’s a short drive away from where it was, and there are already other deputies there talking to medical staff. A colleague of mine is interviewing the paramedics at the hospital, and we were interested in what their observations were. Here’s what they said. They said that they walked into the house and immediately noticed what they felt was an unusual amount of blood, way more than they would have expected for a home birth. They saw the baby on a table lying on its back and just wrapped in a towel. They noted that the umbilical cord looked to be cut or torn. They did notice any bleeding from the baby, and they remembered that Cassie was in the bathroom.
[00:05:36] Now, paramedics on the way to the hospital noted that she was very resistant to be examined based on, “Hey, you called for emergency medical care, we’re here to provide that care, and now you don’t want to be examined.” It’s unusual. It stood out to them. They also said that Cassie told them, “Hey, there’s a twin coming.” They noted that mom was not engaged in labor breathing. There were no contractions. Cassie reported being nine and a half months pregnant at this point. They found this very odd and not very believable, as the baby was very, very small. And the paramedics own observations of this baby was that the baby had not been delivered at full term. Paramedics, even in the ambulance on the way, the hospital determined in their professional opinion that there’s no way that Cassie had just given birth.
Yeardley: [00:06:24] What about indicating that she’s still pregnant?
Robert: [00:06:28] Negative. They didn’t see any medical signs whatsoever that she had even been pregnant.
Paul: [00:06:34] I would think early on, Cassie is so off in terms of what she’s saying is happening. You got to be thinking, “Maybe I’m dealing with a psychiatric situation here.”
Robert: [00:06:44] Again, at this point, Cassie had been to the hospital about two hours. What the hospital was doing during that time is trying to figure all this out. So, they have their staff psychiatrist come in and evaluate Cassie. The psychiatrist talks to her enough and forms an opinion that he did not find any evidence of mental illness. So, a doctor went into detail about the resuscitation efforts they made on the baby. They did CPR for quite a while. They administered epinephrine, adrenaline trying to resuscitate the baby. But after a while, they finally called the death. The doctor told me, he noted there was no umbilical clamp, and it was his opinion at this time that the baby had bled to death. One thing the doctor told me was that the baby was not full term. Baby was about 29 to 30 weeks, in his opinion.
Yeardley: [00:07:40] So, almost two months premature.
Robert: [00:07:42] Correct. So, the doctor told me that he broke the news to the parents, Cassie and her boyfriend, Ian, and expressed his condolences to them. He felt that they were grieving appropriately at this point, and they were adamant they did not want an autopsy.
Dave: [00:07:59] The doctor is just telling Robert, “Hey, the story isn’t adding up from the family. It might be time to start asking some more probative questions.” That’s something that I, as a detective or a patrol officer, “I want to know what’s the family like. Does their story make sense? What’s your medical opinion of what they’re saying?”
Robert: [00:08:18] Right. So, one of the next things that I do at the hospital is to go in and examine the remains and take some photographs. I ask hospital staff, “Where’s the baby now?” They direct me. And of course, it’s a hospital. I get notoriously lost in hospitals. There’s no windows. You never know where you’re going. It’s very confusing. And so, they leave me down every which hallway, and I go to the room that I’d been directed to. The door is closed. I open the door, and inside, there’s a nurse who’s rocking a baby wrapped in a blanket. I apologize, thinking I’d gone to the wrong room, and she said, “No, you have the right room. I’m just trying to do something kind for a baby that had nothing but bad luck up to this point.”
Yeardley: [00:09:05] Oh, man.
Robert: [00:09:07] So, the nurse, who’s obviously a very kind and loving person, puts the baby on the table and opens the blank and allows me to examine the baby. What I see is obviously a premature birth size baby, but I don’t see any obvious external trauma. In fact, the baby’s coloring is lifelike and not purple, not red. The head is pretty transparent. You can see blood vessels visible in the head, but no obvious trauma, just a perfectly formed little baby.
Paul: [00:09:40] This type of observation, these types of features, when you’re now dealing with a deceased baby, those features change so rapidly as the tissues degrade. So, now it’s Robert’s basically putting a temporal stamp on, at this point in time, this is what I can see, because tomorrow, you’re probably not going to be able to see that kind of detail.
Dave: [00:10:04] Absolutely right.
Robert: [00:10:06] So, I’m in the hospital, I am done with my photos of the baby, and I go to rally up with my coworkers and catch up on what these deputies had learned from their interviews. I walk up and a colleague of mine is still interviewing Ian, Cassie’s boyfriend. He’s crying. He’s very emotional. He told me that he and Cassie had been together for about five years and that they lived together for the past three years. He told me that Cassie had two other children from two other fathers, and Ian considered himself the dad of these kids and was raising them. He seemed to be in genuine shock.
[00:10:45] Basically, to him, he had no reason to doubt that she’d been pregnant. He noted that she had been faithfully taking prenatal vitamins, she recently purchased a stroller, she was starting to collect all the things that people would need for newborns, and then double in this case because she was having twins. He said that Cassie was overdue about two weeks past her delivery date. And so, he was expecting these twins to be born that day or very soon. He knew it could happen anytime. It was about 02:30 that Cassie called Ian and said, “Come home immediately. I need your help.” So, Ian rushed home thinking, “Hey, this is it,” even though she didn’t specifically say, he said, “This is it. It’s got to be time for the twins to be born.”
[00:11:34] While he’s arriving home, he sees the other two children getting off their school bus, and fortunately, he diverted them immediately to a neighbor’s house. He figured that he and Cassie were going to the hospital, so he diverted them to a neighbor’s house, and I’m so glad he did.
Robert: [00:12:07] So, what Ian finds when he gets home is, he says there’s blood everywhere. He finds Cassie in the bathtub, and she’s holding this baby, and she’s washing herself and the baby off. He noted that she was naked except for a bra, and she was just covered in blood from her torso all the way down to her toes. She’s asking him for help and he immediately calls 911. Ian takes the baby from Cassie and begins doing CPR. A few minutes later, paramedics come and he rides in the ambulance with Cassie while the baby goes in a separate ambulance.
[00:12:45] Ian said that when he arrived at the hospital, he was notified that the baby had died. He also said he had no clue whatsoever why there were so many police at the hospital. Ian also said that Cassie had started to tell him something in the hospital when no one was around, but they kept getting interrupted. But when Cassie was able to continue that conversation with Ian, she told him that she had lost the twins about a week earlier, but that she still really wanted him to have a baby.
[00:13:16] As I’m hearing him telling this, I did the thing that cops really should not do, and that is I interruptive. I really shouldn’t have. That’s really hard not to do to interrupt people when they’re in the middle of something, they could shut down about that we don’t want them to. But I had to interrupt, because this is when it very solidly in my mind hit me that someone could be dead.
[00:13:38] So, I did interrupt and I said, “Ian, could someone be hurt at your residence?” And he said he didn’t know. But he did remember as they were leaving the house that Cassie told him she didn’t want police to go in the house. And again, at the moment, that didn’t mean anything to him at all. He didn’t know why she would say that. He didn’t put any significance on that. I’m thinking Cassie’s here at the hospital, Ian’s here at the hospital, we have this deceased baby here at the hospital, but what is waiting for us at the house? Is there someone hurt there? Is someone dead? Is there a second baby at the house? It was really alarming to have these thoughts, but we needed to do our investigation.
Yeardley: [00:14:16] Was there any indication that another adult was living in the house with Cassie and Ian and those other two children?
Robert: [00:14:23] No. It’s a two-bedroom, one bath house with a crawl space. It’s pretty small, and they were the only two adults living there with their other two children. So, obviously, we want to do things right. So, Ian is willing to sign a written consent form for us to go into his house. We get that signed by him. He has no problem with it. I relay that two deputies out at the scene. As I’m walking around doing all this stuff and trying to connect all the dots at the hospital, I walk in on a coworker of mine who’s still interviewing Cassie. And at first, I didn’t see her, because Cassie is lying down on the floor of her hospital room. She is a larger, statured woman, very convincing to be pregnant with twins. She is visibly upset and crying. She doesn’t like my coworker’s questions. She immediately tells him she wants a lawyer. These are all very unusual things when we’re just trying to figure out what’s going on.
Yeardley: [00:15:24] Why is Cassie on the floor?
Dan: [00:15:26] I’ve had people who you put them in an interview room, not even for a crime that I think we’re about to speak about. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but even for simple like a theft, or stolen car, drug sales, people will go into the room and they will just lay down and fall asleep. It’s really odd. I don’t think I’d ever want to go into a police station and lay down on the ground anywhere, but it happens. People do weird stuff when I think their conscience is bothering them and they know that they’re in some trouble.
Dave: [00:16:05] There are certain things that we look in law enforcement and I go, “Is this genuine or is this acting?” A lot of times, it’s acting. You’ll see these tantrums, but there’s no tears. You see a tantrum and an ability, when it’s off topic to speak very measured. And so, you go, “Well, this isn’t authentic. This isn’t genuine. This is back off. You’re asking questions I don’t want to give you the answers to,” and that’s how I took that. Cassie’s throwing a little baby tantrum on the floor saying, “Leave me alone. I got to think about my fucking answers.”
Yeardley: [00:16:39] Right. Interesting. Wow.
Robert: [00:16:42] Yeah. And Dave beat me to it. That is exactly what this was. This was an adult tantrum. And then, of course, when she can’t answer the questions that we so naturally are asking, “You’re harassing me. I don’t want to go down this path, so now I want a lawyer.” So, meanwhile, deputies are out of the house, and through the front window, they can see a large amount of blood in the bathroom. They noticed a very significant trail of blood from the bathroom to the front door. They relayed this information to me by phone. They also noted that the front door was unlocked. So, they go in through that unlocked front door.
Yeardley: [00:17:21] But can I ask you a question? If Cassie has lawyered up, but Ian has signed a consent form saying you all can go into the house, where does that leave you? Does one of those mandates override the other?
Robert: [00:17:35] It’s what I call conflicting consent, because if we asked Cassie, her answer would be, “Oh, heck no. You’re not going in the house.” However, also in the back of our minds as investigators is we always have to think about that moment of, do we have some exigent circumstances here? Do we have some emergency? We also have a duty under community caretaking to render aid.
Paul: [00:17:58] The exigencies, they’re obvious, but you have to be able to articulate them. In this case, you have a woman who’s claiming to have given birth, she hasn’t. So, there’s another woman that has given birth, and there’s possibly another baby. They could still be alive but injured, and you absolutely have to go in. You have exigency at that point.
Robert: [00:18:25] Absolutely. As I had been talking to Ian at the hospital and just asking about the house in general, he said that there was a crawl space. So, I asked him how to access that, and he indicated that there was a rug in the hallway that was over this crawl space. The deputies on scene were telling me that the blood trail leads to this rug, and then it stops. And so, I shared the information that I just learned from Ian that, “Hey, there’s this crawl space under the rug.” So, they do that, and they noted it was a small opening. It’s basically a two-foot by three-foot opening. It’s not huge, but they noted that there was blood on this access door as well as the bottom of the rug.
[00:19:10] When my colleagues lifted up that access door, they saw another piece of carpet underneath them, but also lots of blood down below, and this rug had been covering up a female adult body.
Yeardley: [00:19:24] Oh, my God.
Paul: [00:19:26] They said that this female was obviously deceased. She was wearing a bra, but no shirt, and they could tell just by a quick look with a flashlight that her internal organs were hanging out of a large opening in her abdomen. As soon as they tell us that, we arrest Cassie at the hospital.
Yeardley: [00:19:45] Oh, that’s a lot. That’s a lot.
Yeardley: [00:20:04] I had to get a glass of water. All right, Robert, so what happens now?
Robert: [00:20:09] So, where we are now is we have this woman in crawl space. We don’t know who she is. In fact, the first police reports that get written were listing her as Jane Doe. When we talk to Ian and ask who this lady is, he says that his best guess is it’s someone that Cassie has met online. He says that they don’t know anyone else who’s pregnant. And so, he assumes that this is a stranger. Again, Ian tells us that Cassie has been busy online answering ads and placing ads, trying to get baby stuff.
[00:20:41] Well, several hours later, our dispatch gets a phone call from a man in a nearby city, and he’s basically telling us that his 21-year-old pregnant girlfriend is missing. He says that she left several hours earlier, was going to go get some free baby items from someone that she met online, and was going to pick up those items and had not returned, and it had been many, many, many hours. We were able to look up photos of this woman, and we were able to positively ID our decedent as Sandra.
Yeardley: [00:21:15] Is Ian horrified that there’s a dead woman under his floor?
Robert: [00:21:20] Ian is very much, very much horrified. He is a very kind and trusting, happy-go-lucky kind of person. We never had any ounce of deception from him or anything other than just a guy who was completely deceived by Cassie.
Dan: [00:21:39] Now you’ve discovered this deceased female under the floor of the house. You found her in the crawl space. At that point, do you guys withdraw from the house and write a search warrant?
Robert: [00:21:51] We do. Solid legal ground is. Our community caretaking hat now needs to come off. There is no living victim that we can render aid to. So, at this point, we back out of the house, and we call detectives, and we get a search warrant.
Paul: [00:22:08] Those warrants need to justify the physical evidence search to support the homicide. You cannot just leave it the very plain language, because I, doing the CSI work, am going to be looking for all this physical evidence. Some of it is large and is going to be on surfaces that are in plain view. Some of it may be hidden and could be in any type of compartment somewhere inside that house.
Dave: [00:22:35] I’m sorry to sidetrack, Robert, but we have Paul Holes here.[laughter]
Dave: [00:22:40] He’s done a couple of crime scenes in his life. I think it might be interesting just you hear these circumstances, at some point while Robert and the rest are out at the residence, Robert’s at the hospital, there’s lots of moving parts, but at some point at Paul’s agency, he would have been called out to this residence to process the scene. I think it’s important. How would you approach that?
Paul: [00:23:04] Part of processing the crime scene is just not documenting and collecting evidence. It’s also trying to find, and corroborate, and refute statements. Also, justify the various elements of a crime. And so, as I’m hearing Cassie’s ruse, how she’s fooling Ian, taking prenatal things and saying, “I’m going to the doctor because I’m pregnant.” Well, I’m going to want to document. It may seem simple, but I’m going to want to document. “Oh, here’s the bottle of prenatal vitamins.” This corroborates Ian’s statement of Cassie laying the groundwork. And how does this play into the element of the crime? This is showing pre-planning. This can separate first to second degree murder, at least in the way that it works in California. You have to do that when you do crime scene investigation.
[00:23:55] But now when you start talking about the violence, the obvious stuff, you’ve got the blood patterns. I need to know, “Okay, is there somebody that is not supposed to be inside this residence? Is there somebody who has denied I’ve never been in there?” Like, let’s say, a stranger had come into the residence and commit the crime. Obviously, putting that person through their physical presence, whether it be DNA, latents, trace evidence is critical. But here we have a closed environment. The stranger in this case is the Jane Doe. The actual complexity of processing this scene would be three episodes long for me to go step by step on how I’d approach it. This is just a thumbnail. It’s not just as simple as walking in, and taking pictures, and swabbing bloodstains, and scooping the body up. It is a very labor intensive, complicated process to be done right.
Dave: [00:24:45] That’s what I wanted to get across. They’re not clearing the scene in four hours.
Robert: [00:24:49] No. In fact, we kept this scene into the next day. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to hold scenes until after the autopsy, because the autopsy is a very important part of the investigation. And so, sometimes, you only learn things at the time of autopsy. If we’ve already vacated the house, then that means another search warrant. So, our search warrant gets us into the house, finds baby formula, infant diapers, breast pump, male and female baby clothing, two strollers, pregnancy and parenting magazines, prenatal vitamins. It finds everything that you would expect from someone who’s expecting.
Dan: [00:25:29] Cassie had told Ian that she had lost the babies a couple of weeks prior, correct?
Robert: [00:25:34] Yes.
Dan: [00:25:35] But there’s no indication she was ever pregnant during this timeframe, is that correct?
Robert: [00:25:40] Correct.
Dan: [00:25:41] While she’s accumulating all these things, she’s premeditating what she’s going to be doing. She’s been thinking about this for months.
Robert: [00:25:50] Absolutely. Part of our job is to determine how Cassie did this. How did she kill Sandra? So, we find that in the home. We find a collapsible ASP baton. So, something very similar to what patrol officers carry.
Yeardley: [00:26:05] Did you say Asp, like the snake?
Dan: [00:26:08] Yes, like the snake, but this is the brand that the baton is. ASP, A-S-P.
Yeardley: [00:26:14] Oh, okay. All right. ASP.
Robert: [00:26:18] So, we noticed this collapsible ASP baton. It has blood on it, it has hairs on it, it’s quickly apparent to us that this is what Cassie uses to assault Sandra very violently. It’s not until a second search that they locate a razor blade, like a box cutter, and that’s because it’s caked in blood on the floor. Our search warrant also allowed us to collect some evidence from Cassie, because when they’re booking her into jail, our jail staff notified us, “Hey, she’s got all kinds of marks and cuts and scars. We’re required to read a search warrant to a person.” So, we read it to Cassie, and she told us she was not going to comply with the search warrant. And so, we actually had to restrain her in a restraint chair in the jail.
[00:27:03] Imagine just a hard plastic chair with lots of seatbelts and things that plug in and across? She needed to be restrained in a restraint chair, so that detectives could swab a large scar on her neck. She had this three-inch scar on the left side of her neck, she had a small scratch on the right side of her neck that was about a half inch long, she had scratches on both hands as well as her right palm, she had another scratch on her right ankle, she had a small scrape on her right upper shoulder, and she had light bruising on her upper right arm. All of these things tell us that there was an extremely violent struggle. This was Sandra putting up the fight of her life. Even with Cassie being a larger woman, Sandra fought till the very last moment, and she left lots of evidence behind to help us.
Paul: [00:27:53] When I evaluate physical evidence in a crime scene such as this and we don’t know who the offender is, I can often discern a physical difference or similar physical capabilities between these two combatants. When you have two evenly matched combatants, you often see the fight drug out much more. Now you have more blood stains, more blood spatter in the house. And then I would imagine, like, with Sandra at autopsy, she’s being struck with this collapsible baton. She’s going to have blunt force injuries, but you’re also now having stomping, hair pulling, the scratching. All of that is documented at autopsy. And that needs to be correlated with the evidence at the scene with where the blood spatter is being deposited, because now you can start to reconstruct the actions. Sandra fought for her life, but Cassie couldn’t dominate her physically. And so, that caused this fight to drag on longer and longer.
Dave: [00:28:54] It speaks to Sandra was like, “Uh-huh, this is a fight. Screw you. I’m not going down.”
Robert: [00:29:02] We noted how the ability of Sandra to fight back under the circumstances left wonderful DNA evidence. Like, this was not a whodunit at all. This was super clear once we identified Sandra. The medical examiner determined that Sandra died of blood loss due to the cutting injury caused by Cassie.
Dave: [00:29:22] The cutting injury being taking the baby out?
Robert: [00:29:25] Correct.
Paul: [00:29:26] Cassie’s victim selection process is intriguing to me, because you think about what she is doing, she’s developing this ruse around the people who know her, but she’s also going online and basically casting, hoping for a fish, a victim to bite, and that she could isolate that victim inside her house in order to recover the baby out of that victim. Are there other women that she communicated with that could have been victims?
Robert: [00:29:54] She cast a wide net. Cassie placed a lot of ads on Craigslist. And so, once her arrest was publicized, once we issued our media release, we got lots and lots of phone calls from people who had contact with her or who were attempting to have contact with her. So, we had many pregnant ladies call in telling us that they had contact with Cassie based on these online ads offering low-cost baby clothes. All of them told us that Cassie seemed very odd and was asking an unusual amount of questions about their due date, the sex of the baby, and whether or not these women were having twins.
[00:30:32] So, it is just so clear what Cassie was doing. Some of them told us that they, smartly and very wisely, would not meet with Cassie at her home or their home. They wanted to meet in a public place, which is awesome. Thank you for doing that. It might have saved your life.
[00:30:48] So, these women said they would go to the grocery store parking lot where they had set an appointment to meet up with Cassie. They saw a woman showed up who they expected to be Cassie based on the date and time and the car they were expecting. They would see Cassie, circle them, drive around them twice, and then drive away.
Paul: [00:31:05] As I’m listening to this process, it’s dawning on me that Cassie is utilizing the same approach to victim selection that many, many predators do. Social media allows you to lure and isolate victims from afar, but you don’t know who these victims are. I bet Cassie, in some of these drive-bys is evaluating, is this a woman that I think I can either physically take on or is there something else about this woman that is not meeting the requirements that this predator wants in a victim?
Robert: [00:31:43] So, Sandra had posted an ad saying, “Hey, I’m moving to the area, and I basically need everything for a new baby. My husband and I don’t have a lot of money. I’m eight months along, literally looking for anything a baby needs, please contact me.”
Yeardley: [00:31:57] Oh.
Robert: [00:31:59] That was the ad that brought– [crosstalk]
Yeardley: [00:32:00] Sandra and Cassie together.
Robert: [00:32:02] Exactly.
Yeardley: [00:32:04] So, Sandra was not answering an ad that Cassie had placed?
Robert: [00:32:08] She had posted one, and Cassie wrote to her.
Yeardley: [00:32:11] And Cassie answered that one.
Robert: [00:32:13] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:32:13] Wow.
Dave: [00:32:15] I don’t think Sandra could have written that ad any better for Cassie. That’s the spider web right there.
Yeardley: [00:32:21] Right.
Robert: [00:32:22] Exactly.
Robert: [00:32:41] So, Cassie pled guilty to aggravated murder, and she agreed to a true-life sentence in order to avoid the death penalty.
Yeardley: [00:32:51] What’s true-life, Robert?
Robert: [00:32:53] It means that she will never get out. So, this was not a long, drawn-out trial. They tried to make some motions about mental illness and so forth, and they just didn’t gain traction. We had done a good job on the front end of being prepared for that kind of defense.
Yeardley: [00:33:10] Did Cassie ever offer a motive for why she did what she did? She already had two children. So, why now?
Robert: [00:33:20] No, not officially. We just know that she wanted Ian to be a dad. She wanted to connect herself to him further, and then she told him that she fibbed to him, and then she had to come up with the goods.
Paul: [00:33:33] Cassie saying twins, kind of puts her into a bit of a bind though.
Robert: [00:33:39] Yes.
Paul: [00:33:39] Again, getting back to victim selection, is she trying to find victims that are saying they’re pregnant with twins or was her plan to kill two women and have two babies and then pass them off as being twins?
Robert: [00:33:53] Absolutely. One of these ladies that called in said that Cassie had been very persistent, that she wanted to give the clothing, that she was giving away to someone whose due date was very close, and that there were a lot of questions asked by Cassie about whether this woman was having twin boys. Cassie also called from different phone numbers and would not provide her name, but they were certain it was her when they saw her picture.
[00:34:21] Another mom whose kids attended the same school as Cassie’s other children said that she was surprised to see this on the news, because she knew that Cassie had delivered twins about five months before the murder. She told us that she had seen the twins at Cassie’s house once when she was out the front door. And then when asked for more details, she said, “Well, there were two baby swings, and the swings were operating, and Cassie said we had to keep our voices low.”
[00:34:49] She said she never heard babies crying or anything, but said that Cassie talked 100% about baby related topics. Cassie was always watching baby births on YouTube. And now, this woman that called in said she was wondering if these were dolls that she had seen in the baby swing or just bunched up blankets appearing to be babies.
[00:35:09] Another neighbor, so, basically, someone who lives right next to Cassie said that Cassie had told her she was pregnant with twins, and the twins were due four months to this murder. So, there’s just so many storylines going and so much deception that I think it was overwhelming for Cassie. And, again, Cassie went to great lengths to appear to have just had kids.
Yeardley: [00:35:34] It’s unbelievable. I don’t think it’s a big leap to think that if Cassie had not been caught that she might have gone on to kill more people just to keep the lie going.
Robert: [00:35:45] Exactly. So, one kind thing that we were able to do was, one thing we seized from the hospital when we were there was when the baby died, the hospital staff– Again, these are kind, caring people that work in the hospital, especially in maternity. And so, when a baby dies, they have a process. They have a protocol that they go through. One of the things they did was they prepared a baby memento box, and this included some hair from the baby and, basically nice little certificate where they put ink on the hands and the feet, just do the little impression. Of course, that was booked into evidence. This was a case that went on and on, even with her plea. But at the end of this, we were able to get that released from evidence and get that to Sandra’s husband. And so, that was a very small token from the hospital and from us, but it meant a lot that we were able to hand that over at the end of something so horrific to them.
Dave: [00:36:47] I can’t imagine, Sandra’s husband. At the sentencing, I’m guessing he was able to provide a victim’s impact statement. But how do you make sense of that? How do you move on from that? Oh, it guts you.
Robert: [00:37:04] Yeah. Significant loss. Like I said, this case was really one that’s like, “Wow, I want to go do this detective stuff full time.” So, this really was right before I made that decision of my career.
Yeardley: [00:37:16] Thank you, Robert, so much for bringing that to us today.
Dan: [00:37:21] Thank you. I can’t even put into words what that must have felt like.
Yeardley: [00:37:24] No.
Dave: [00:37:25] Thanks again, Robert.
Robert: [00:37:26] Thanks for having me.
Paul: [00:37:28] Nice to meet you. I haven’t heard your previous episodes, but– [crosstalk]
Yeardley: [00:37:31] That’s only because Paul doesn’t listen to any podcast.
Paul: [00:37:34] [laughs]
Yeardley: [00:37:35] It’s not you. You just have to preface that.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:37:42] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and me, Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. Our production manager is Logan Heftel. Our senior editor is Soren Begin, and our editor is Christina Bracamontes. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and the Real Nick Smitty. Our social media is run by the one and only, Monika Scott. Our music is composed by John Forest, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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Yeardley: [00:38:58] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [00:39:04] -in search of the finest-
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Dan: [00:39:06] -true crime cases told as always, by the detectives who investigated them.
Dave: [00:39:11] So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
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