Detective Dan talks about a case that has haunted him for years. A young woman is attacked while in the home of a well-to-do couple. She breaks free and scrambles to a neighbor’s house to call for help. Dan is the first officer on scene and his investigation turns up disturbing clues that lead him to believe the victim narrowly escaped a couple with deadly intentions.
Guest: Detective Dan
Detective Dan was formerly a K9 handler and Violent Crimes detective at the same Small Town police department as his brother, Dave. Dan regards his years as a K9 handler to be the most rewarding of his career. He is now retired.Read Transcript
Dan: [00:00:06] I open the door, there’s a twin mattress just laying on the floor. It’s like a mattress on the floor with a sheet on it. There’s a video camera that is set up on a tripod, and then there’s like a little lamp.
Paul: [00:00:20] This is what we call a dungeon.
Yeardley: [00:00:24] Hi there, I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:00:26] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:00:27] I’m Dave.
Paul: [00:00:28] And I’m Paul.
Yeardley: [00:00:28] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:00:31] Dave and I are identical twins
Dave: [00:00:32] And Retired detectives from small town USA.
Paul: [00:00:35] And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State Killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.
Dan: [00:00:41] Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.
Dave: [00:00:48] Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.
Paul: [00:00:55] Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.
Dan: [00:01:00] 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: [00:01:07] -out of respect for what they’ve been through.
[unison]: [00:01:10] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:01:20] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:28] Hello, wife, friends.
Yeardley: [00:01:31] [laughs] Hello, husband, friends. We have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:36] Yeardley.
Yeardley: [00:01:37] Sir, good to have you sitting across the table. And we have the one at only, Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:01:43] Hey-hey, how’s it going?
Yeardley: [00:01:44] Hey-hey, so good. [laughs] So, Small Town Fam, today, we’re ever so lucky, we’re getting a case from Detective Dan. Without giving really anything away, one of the things that I love about this case is that it’s an early one from Dan’s career. For as long as I’ve known Dan, which is on this date almost nine years?
Dan: [00:02:09] Yeah, over eight and a half years.
Yeardley: [00:02:12] This particular case is one that really got under his skin, and Dan is going to tell us why. So, Dan, tell us how this case came to you.
Dan: [00:02:22] This incident happened back when I was on patrol. I was working graveyard shift. One evening, I think it was a weekend evening, after bars close, we get sent to an injured subject at a house in a neighborhood where we don’t typically have any calls. It’s a more affluent part of town. It’s up on a butte. We just don’t have many problems up there. Every now and then people will go through there and break into cars. But for the most part, we don’t deal with a whole lot of family disputes. It’s a really quiet neighborhood. And so, gets sent to this unknown problem. On the way, dispatch tells us, there’s a woman at a house, we’ll call her Sarah. Sarah said she has injuries to her face and that someone was trying to rape her and then assaulted her and she was able to escape. That’s a code 3 run.
Yeardley: [00:03:14] Which means lights and sirens?
Dan: [00:03:16] Lights and sirens. Sarah, she’s made it to the uphill neighbor’s house. So, that’s where I’m responding. She’s banging on the door, asking the resident, “Please call the police.” So, I’m heading to the caller’s house. I arrive, I contact Sarah, the victim. Sarah is probably in her mid-30s, attractive. When I’m talking to her, she’s got a swollen right eye, she’s got a bloody nose, she’s got a cut lip, she’s got red marks on her arms, on her neck, and she’s also got a footprint right in the middle of her face going up to her forehead.
Yeardley: [00:03:52] Jesus.
Dan: [00:03:54] I don’t see a heel mark. So, I’m assuming this shoe is fairly flat and the shoe is kind of pointy. So, I’m assuming it’s a woman’s shoe. Sarah tells me that she’s out drinking this evening, and she goes to a bar in the neighboring city. What I come to find out is a lot of swingers go to this bar, swinging couples will go there and then other people will go there and hook up with swinging couples.
Dave: [00:04:20] What’s the name of that bar?
Paul: [00:04:21] Calm down, Dave.
Dave: [00:04:22] I’m sorry.
Yeardley: [00:04:22] Shut up. [laughs]
Paul: [00:04:23] Calm down.[laughter]
Dan: [00:04:24] And so, Sarah tells me, she was at that bar and she met a couple, and got along with them, and they started talking, and they were drinking, and then they were dancing. Sarah is conversing hanging out with Brian, the husband, and Lisa, Brian’s wife. They’re having a great time. It’s almost bar closing time, and Brian and Lisa invite Sarah back to their house. And Sarah agrees, “Yeah, I’ll go to your house.” I’m not shaming swinging couples by any means. What I saw this evening, the evening of this incident, bothered me. Sarah said, “The plan was, we’re going to go back to Brian and Lisa’s house and we’re just going to drink and party.”
[00:05:10] It’s a large house and it’s a multilevel house. They go downstairs to a living room and an adjacent bedroom. Out of the adjacent bedroom, there’s a sliding glass door that goes out to the yard. So, as you come into the house, from the front door, you have to go downstairs to get to this part of the house. You can also go upstairs to kitchen, another family room, a couple of bedrooms. It’s a large house. Sarah said, “We’re hanging out, we’re drinking.” At some point Brian says, “Hey, Sarah, why don’t you come into the bedroom with me?” So, not thinking anything of it, she says, “Yeah, sure.” And so, she goes into the bedroom. Lisa follows her, and Brian starts putting the moves on Sarah. And Lisa is encouraging Sarah to engage.
[00:05:59] Just in a couple of our episodes, we’ve talked about women’s intuition. I think Sarah had a flash of women’s intuition and said, “Something doesn’t seem right here. I don’t want to do this. I think I need to leave.” And Brian says, “You are going to do this.” And Sarah says, “Yeah, fuck you. No, I’m not. I’m leaving.” At some point, there’s an altercation. There’s a physical fight. Depending on who you talk to, either Sarah’s the aggressor, or Brian and Lisa are the aggressor.
[00:06:30] During this fight, Sarah gets injured pretty dramatically. Sarah says, “I think they were going to rape me, and I don’t know what they were going to do after that, but I was able to break free and go out the sliding glass door, and I just started running up the hill,” which is weird, because typically, people run downhill. I asked Sarah, “Are we talking about the house right there this neighbor’s house?” And she says, “Yep, that’s Brian and Lisa’s house.” I went into the backyard of Brian and Lisa’s house, and if you look down the hill, it’s very dark, but if you look up the hill, you can see a house. So, she runs up to the uphill neighbor’s house.
Yeardley: [00:07:06] So, even though, it’s the middle of the night, the uphill house looks like the best bet to Sarah as she’s trying to escape from Brian and Lisa’s.
Dan: [00:07:15] Yeah. She said, “That’s refuge. I have to get there.” And thankfully, she made it to this house, and the neighbors called the police for her. I fully believe everything that Sarah told me. She’s appropriately upset, like, she thinks that she just spent one of her nine lives. And I said, “Sarah, you need medics. I’m going to get an ambulance here, and you’re going to go to the hospital.”
Dan: [00:07:54] So, medics arrive, and I’ve got more units coming. I think our dispatch actually dispatched four units, which we only have five on for the whole city, and four of them are going to this call. I grabbed a couple officers, and we headed to Brian and Lisa’s house. I had an officer go around back to make sure that nobody escapes out of the back of the house and I knock on the front door. Brian answers the door, and I go, “Hey, how’s it going?” “It’s going all right?” “Are you Brian?” “Yeah.” “Okay. Is your wife here?” “Yeah, Lisa.” Lisa comes. She’s upstairs now. I can see her. Brian’s down at that landing where the door is. I’m looking up the stairs, all the lights are on in the house, and Lisa’s standing there casually like nothing ever happened.
[00:08:43] I said, “Do you mind if I come in and talk to you guys for a minute?” “Yeah, sure. What’s going on?” I said, “Well, did you guys have a guest over at your house tonight?” Brian says, “Yeah, she left a bit ago though.” “Well, how long ago?” “I don’t know, like, 10, 15 minutes. Yeah, we don’t know where she left. She don’t want to be here anymore, so she left.” “Which door did she leave out of?” “I don’t know. I might have gone to the bathroom, but I think she went out the front door.”
[00:09:09] As I’m talking with Brian, I look down at his pants and I can see blood on his pants. He’s wearing jeans and he’s got a button up collared shirt on. I don’t think he’s changed his clothes. So, I look at his jeans. He’s got blood on his jeans, and they’re small, like, little blood spots on both legs on the front of his pants. I said, “What was the guest’s name?” And he goes, “Ah, what was her name, honey?” “Sarah.” “Yeah, I think it was Sarah.” “Did you guys get in a fight with Sarah?” “She got upset, but I wouldn’t call it a fight. I mean, she just protested and said, ‘I want to leave.’ So. we let her leave.” I’m like, “Oh.” I’m looking across the table at Paul and I’m looking at Dave, and I’m looking at you, Yeardley, and we’re all going, “Ah, this is bullshit.”
Yeardley: [00:09:53] That’s bullshit.
Dan: [00:09:55] Yeah. So, okay. “Anybody else here at the house?” He goes, “Yeah, my cousin’s visiting from back east and my parents live here.” I said, “Well, let’s round them up.” Brian goes up and knocks on a door and his cousin comes out, Jake. So, Jake comes out and he’s rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. At this point, it’s 03:00 in the morning. “Man, what’s going on?” He sees a couple cops in the living room. And I said, “Hey, do you mind going out and speaking to my partner outside?” He says, “Yeah, no, yeah, no problem. I’ll go talk to him.” Jake’s going out to talk to my partner, and I’m standing there with Brian and Lisa, and then I said, “Hey, let’s get mom and dad out here.” And he said, “Well, my dad’s sick, but I’ll have my mom come out.”
[00:10:43] So, mom comes out, she’s probably in her 70s. I have another officer go talk to the mother while I hang out with Brian and Lisa. These two officers, one’s talking to the mother, one’s talking to Jake, they come back and I said, “What are they saying?” “They didn’t hear anything. They don’t know nothing. They didn’t even know that there was anything going on downstairs that somebody even been here. They didn’t hear anything.” And I’m like, “I find that hard to believe,” because when you get punched in the eye and you’re fighting to escape, you’re making a lot of noise. You’re screaming, “Fuck you, leave me alone.” And these people are claiming that they didn’t hear anything.
[00:11:21] So, I go downstairs to the bedroom where they were supposedly at, Brian, Lisa, and Sarah. And I see there’s wet carpet down there that looks like it’s been cleaned. I said, “What’s up with the clean spots of carpet down here?” Brian says, “Oh, I spilled some red wine, so I cleaned it up.” Brian and Lisa have explanation for everything. And so, I said, “Hey, Lisa, what shoes did you wear tonight?” And she goes, “Ah, I don’t know, I think I wore some heels.” And I was like, “Why don’t you go grab those heels for me?” And she says, “Okay.” She comes back, she hands me some, I mean, they’re like stiletto heels. And I look at the bottom and they’re completely flat. There’s no ridge, there’s no traction on them at all.
Yeardley: [00:12:12] No tread or anything.
Dan: [00:12:13] There’s no tread at all. You had a shoe company, so you know what it’s all called.
Yeardley: [00:12:17] [giggles] Yes. It sounds like you’re talking about, either a smooth leather sole, which is what shoe designers put on the bottom of men’s and women’s dress shoes, or it could also be a smooth rubber sole, but those usually have even the finest, most infinitesimal bit of tread on them.
Dan: [00:12:40] I don’t even wear shoes.
Yeardley: [00:12:41] [laughs]
Dan: [00:12:42] So, I’m already thinking, like, these people are really casual with me and very comfortable lying to me. So, I asked Brian, I go, “What’s that on your pants?” And he goes, “What?” He looks down at his pants. And I said, “Those little red specks right there?” And he goes, “I have no idea.” I said, “Is there any chance that could be blood?” And he goes, “I wouldn’t think so.” I said, “When’s the last time you washed those jeans?” And he goes, “Honey, I mean, you do all my laundry. When’s the last time you washed them?” She’s like, “I washed them the other day. It’s probably just a stain that’s in them.” Everything that’s going on in this case, I’m just like, “They’re trying to explain away everything, and they’re so casual and relaxed about it.” It’s kind of making the hair on my neck stand up.
[00:13:26] And so, I’m like, “You guys need to start telling me what really happened,” because none of this is jiving. I ask Brian and Lisa, “Do you mind if I just kind of poke around?” “Yeah, sure. Go ahead.” They got nothing to hide. I go into the bedroom closet, and I find a shoe that has the same tread pattern on it that I saw on Sarah’s forehead. Now, this shoe, it’s got a rubber sole, it’s got a very fine tread pattern, and it’s a flat shoe.
Yeardley: [00:13:56] The shoe is bloody?
Dan: [00:13:58] There’s no blood on the shoe.
Yeardley: [00:13:59] Oh. I’m not saying that there hadn’t been blood on the shoe. They’ve already cleaned up part of the scene. Obviously, I don’t buy any of what they’re saying. I seize the shoe, I seize the pants, I seize their clothing, and I take Brian and Lisa to jail, and I lodge them on attempted kidnapping. I lodge them on assault charges, and off we go to the jail. Fill out my paperwork, my PC affidavit, go to the hospital to see Sarah. She’s got a fractured eye socket. She had a bloody nose. That print on her forehead is starting to bruise up, so you can see it a little bit. In some ways, you’re seeing a little more detail, in some ways, it’s a little less detail because of the bruising and the swelling.
[00:14:44] By the time I get done with my paperwork, it’s like, 07:00, 07:30 in the morning. I’m a patrol officer at this time and I’m thinking to myself, “There’s something way more to this story. It just doesn’t add up to me.” And so, I go into detectives. I talk to George, who ended up being my partner.
Yeardley: [00:15:01] When you became a detective?
Dan: [00:15:03] Yes. And I said, “Hey, this is what I got.” And he goes, “They’re in jail, Brian, Lisa?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he goes, “Let’s go back out to the house and see if they’ll let us take another peek.” “All right.” So, we go out there. We knock on the door. The mother answers. She says, “Yeah, sure, you can come in.” So, this is where I take a little deeper dive into this house. As you go downstairs, there’s a doorway on the right, and I assume that it’s a closet before I open the door. I opened the door, sure enough, it’s a closet. There are jackets and clothes and everything, and it’s filling up the whole space. Your typical closet. I separate the clothes just to see what’s behind the clothes. And there’s no wall there. There’s a hallway.
Yeardley: [00:15:45] What made you separate the clothes?
Dan: [00:15:48] I have no idea. I just did. I step through the clothes and I have no idea what I’m going to encounter on the other side of them.
Paul: [00:15:56] Isn’t this like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe type of thing?
Yeardley: [00:15:58] Yes, it is.
Paul: [00:16:00] [laughs] He goes into a different dimension.
Yeardley: [00:16:01] [laughs]
Dave: [00:16:01] He’s in the upside down.[laughter]
Dan: [00:16:05] So, I shine my flashlight in there. And it’s a hallway. It’s probably 8ft long. Then you can turn right, and it’s all concrete. So, I walk through there. I turn right. There’s a twin mattress just laying on the floor. It’s like a mattress on the floor with a sheet on it. There’s a video camera that is set up on a tripod and then there’s a little lamp.
Paul: [00:16:30] This is what we call a dungeon.
Dan: [00:16:33] I’m going to call it a sex room. I didn’t see any restraints on the walls or anything like that, but I think Brian and Lisa probably had sex in this room. I think an easy way for them to explain it is, it’s got big, thick concrete walls. Nobody can hear us.
Yeardley: [00:16:48] Right.
Dan: [00:16:49] My parents live upstairs. It’s a room that you would never know about if you didn’t push the clothing aside. Again, this house is built on a hill. If you were standing in this room, I think you’d be directly beneath the entryway of the house. I don’t think it was intended to be a room ever. Maybe possibly extra storage. It was 6ft of concrete. When you build on the downhill side of a hill, there’s a lot of concrete for that foundation, because you have to terrace your way down the hill. This room was basically one of those terraces. So, it’s under the stairs inside the footprint of the foundation. I think just a byproduct of the structure itself. They needed footings in certain areas and it created this space.
[00:17:36] So, then I go back over to the other section of the house and they’ve got a garage area. I go into the garage and there’s a half door in the garage wall. I open this half door. It’s a room that’s probably 15ft deep by 20ft wide dirt floor. The ceiling of this room is about 4.5ft. So, it’s basically the floor of the other level. I shine my flashlight into this room and there’s a coffin just sitting in the middle of this room.
Yeardley: [00:18:05] Oh, my God.
Dan: [00:18:21] So, there’s a coffin just sitting in the middle of this room. I was creeped out. And from the doorway, when I shine my flashlight on it, it’s shaped like an old pine box, like, in the old west.
Yeardley: [00:18:34] Like Dracula would sleep at.
Dan: [00:18:36] Yeah. Of course, I have to go look and I’m just thinking to myself, “Man, this is going to suck. I am not going to enjoy this when I get over there.” As I make my way closer to the coffin, you can tell there’s been foot traffic around it because there are footprints and it’s got no lid. So, shine my flashlight in the coffin. It’s empty, it’s clean, but it’s got a lining inside of it and there was a pillow in it.
Paul: [00:19:04] Is it like an open box that’s lined?
Dan: [00:19:07] Yes. And it’s got the tufted cushioning in it, like, you see in a normal casket. I think it was actually a very cheap commercial version of a casket.
Paul: [00:19:17] Would it have been easy to get out of this location.
Yeardley: [00:19:20] Like, to pull the box out of the location?
Paul: [00:19:23] To pull the box out of the house, in essence.
Dan: [00:19:25] Yes.
Paul: [00:19:26] Was this coffin on a stand, like, was it raised above the floor? It was on the floor?
Dan: [00:19:31] On the floor, just sitting on the dirt.
Paul: [00:19:34] So, in many ways, this coffin sounds like it was disposable.
Dan: [00:19:38] Yeah, I wouldn’t argue that. I also wonder if there was a lid to this coffin somewhere in the house.
Paul: [00:19:44] Let’s say they are loading this in the back of a vehicle and neighbors just happen to see it. Would it look like a coffin to them?
Dan: [00:19:52] I think from the side, it would look like a wooden box, but it was definitely a coffin. I think if you just glanced at your neighbor who was 100ft away and you just glanced and they were lifting something into a truck or a van, you’d say, “Oh, it’s like some piece of wooden furniture.”
Paul: [00:20:09] So, what I am tossing around inside my head is, we’ve got this hidden room with a mattress on the floor and video camera. Right now, that’s a red flag. And then you’ve got the coffin, which is just weird. Dan had consent to enter this residence and search it by the mother who lives in the residence she has standing in that residence. So, it’s a valid search. He sees something which is indicative of a type of criminal activity. You’re entering into a concrete room with a mattress and a video camera, and it’s hidden. This is a setup that we see where crimes are often committed. I throw out the term, dungeon, but that is really, in many ways, how certain types offenders keep their victims, so they’re accessible and hidden. This sounds like the typical sex dungeon torture room where victims are held for a period of time. And then once they are no longer of use, they’re not just set free. They are killed.
[00:21:20] Now, in another hidden location, you have, in essence, a disposal box in which a body could be placed and possibly removed out of the house. In the event that accidentally somebody sees what’s going on, it doesn’t necessarily stand out, like, they were carrying something heavy that’s been rolled up inside a carpet, like, a body. If your investigations, this is where digging into Brian and Lisa, and their past and figuring out more about them, how long have they lived in this jurisdiction? Did they come from somewhere else? Is there a case from wherever they came from that might parallel whether it’d be Sarah’s situation or there’s a missing person who maybe was chained inside a dungeon?
Dave: [00:22:13] I’m thinking about Robert Hansen up in Alaska. I’m thinking about Gacy those types offenders that have a little area set aside for these encounters with people they bring back to their house.
Dan: [00:22:26] Yeah. So, I’m like, “George, there’s a coffin.” George looks at it and he’s like, “What the fuck?”
Paul: [00:22:32] [laughs]
Dan: [00:22:32] And I show him the other room, He’s like, “WTF, what is going on here?” Everything is telling me, there’s way more to this story. So, I end up going back out to the jail, and I talked to Brian and Lisa, and they still maintain nothing happened. Now they’re in jail and they’re like, “Well, our original explanation didn’t work, so now we got to come up with something.” Brian and Lisa tell me that Sarah totally wanted Brian and that Lisa wasn’t down with it, and Lisa and Sarah got into an argument and Brian intervened. That’s how Sarah got her injuries, as they were trying to get her out of the house.
Yeardley: [00:23:10] My eyes just rolled into the back of my head.
Dan: [00:23:12] Yeah, I didn’t buy it. That was their explanation. When I went back to the jail to interview Brian and Lisa, I asked him, I said, “What’s up with the room through the closet?” And he goes, “Oh, you found that?” And I said, “Yeah, I found it.” He goes, “I don’t know. My wife and I hang out in there sometimes.” I asked Brian about the coffin, and he said, “I take naps in there.”
Dave: [00:23:36] Is he team Edward or team Jacob?
Yeardley: [00:23:39] [laughs]
Paul: [00:23:40] That’s over my head.
Dan: [00:23:40] Dave apparently reads The Twilight.
Dave: [00:23:42] It’s The Twilight Saga.[laughter]
Dave: [00:23:45] I got all the movie channels and a lot of free time.
Yeardley: [00:23:48] Really? I’m your boss.
Dave: [00:23:51] Well, that’s why I was speaking directly to the microphone [Yeardley laughs] and not looking at you.
Dan: [00:23:56] So, this thing ends up going down to our municipal court at a misdemeanor level of assault.
Yeardley: [00:24:02] So, you’re saying the DA says, “I don’t have enough. I’m not going to file the kidnapping charges on this case.”
Dan: [00:24:08] “The kidnapping, the assault, I’m not going to file any of that. See if your city prosecutor will take this case.”
Paul: [00:24:14] Well, and you have evidence of a stomp to this victim’s head. This is a significant injury. If a weapon had been involved, it would have been considered a bludgeoning with a deadly weapon. Stomping on somebody’s head, your foot is a deadly weapon. This is a serious charge here that they are just dismissing.
Dan: [00:24:39] Yes. I didn’t understand it. And I talked to George, who’s an experienced detective. I was a relatively new cop at this time and George is like, “You’ve done a good job. I don’t know why they’re no filing this.” I’m not throwing the DAs office under the bus at all. I’m just saying, they didn’t think they could prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt is the reasoning I got. So, they remanded it down to municipal court.
Yeardley: [00:25:03] Why would the municipal court file, if the DA won’t file?
Dan: [00:25:07] It’s a good question. I thought it was a good enough case. The DA did not agree. But I took this case to the city prosecutor, and the city prosecutor said, “I will file misdemeanor assault charges on this.” My city prosecutor can’t file felony charges. The DA has to do that.
Yeardley: [00:25:25] I see. So, in the municipal court, it’s still being tried, but it’s for a lesser crime in their eyes.
Dan: [00:25:31] Yes. I talked to my city prosecutor. He says, “Yeah, we’re going to trial on this.” I’ve offered Brian and Lisa a plea deal. They’re not taking it. “This is going to trial, so buckle up.”
Dan: [00:26:00] So, on the day of the trial, as typical, the defense attorney successfully petitioned the court that I could not be in the courtroom, even though I was the case agent. So, I had to sit outside.
Yeardley: [00:26:10] What’s the point of not having you there?
Dave: [00:26:13] You exclude witnesses so their testimony isn’t contaminated by other information they hear from other witnesses.
Paul: [00:26:21] The defense may have had an intent to call Dan as one of their witnesses.
Yeardley: [00:26:25] I see.
Dan: [00:26:26] I get excluded. So, I’ve got to sit out. I don’t hear any of the testimony that’s going on in the courtroom until I get to testify. While I’m sitting out in the waiting area, I see Jake, Brian’s cousin from out of town. Jake has been called by the defense to testify. Jake says, “How long you been a cop?” I was, like, “You know, four years.” I’m like, “And you’re from back east. They fly you all the way out here?” And he goes, “Yeah, I had to get time off.” I was like, “Oh, what do you do for a living?” Jake is a cop.
Paul: [00:26:58] Really?
Yeardley: [00:26:59] Really?
Dan: [00:26:59] Yep. Jake tells me, he’s a cop too, and he works for a large agency back east. And I’m dumbfounded.
Yeardley: [00:27:07] That he wouldn’t report it or intervene or do anything.
Dan: [00:27:11] And why didn’t he tell me that when I interviewed him the first night?
Yeardley: [00:27:14] Right.
Dan: [00:27:15] He didn’t say any of that stuff.
Paul: [00:27:17] Jake is minimally a witness. It appears that he was evasive in his conversations with us. And Jake needs to, either own up and go, “Okay, this is what I know about my family,” or he shuts down. He was inside a house where a woman was brutally stomped on and fought for her life, and he’s just going, “Well, I didn’t hear anything.”
Yeardley: [00:27:38] Right. Wouldn’t he be a mandatory reporter of something like that or does that not qualify?
Dave: [00:27:44] Yeah, he’s a mandatory reporter. If he’s witnessing or aware of a crime that’s occurring, he has some obligations. It’s not like a mandatory reporter with a child abuse type case. But you’re expected on or off duty to do the right thing and to act to protect when appropriate, those types of things. Departments in those situations can exert a lot of leverage on someone to say, “You are going to cooperate with this investigator and answer all their questions truthfully.” Command staff can exert that kind of pressure.
Jake’s thinking, “Who’s this little small town cop?” I’m not trying to get my name in any police reports while I’m on vacation out here. He can’t wait to get back to his home state and get away from this headache.
Dan: [00:28:31] Yeah. And so, Jake tells me, “I read your report. That’s a really good report. It’s very thorough.” And I said, “Yeah?” And he goes, “How long did it take you to write that report?” And I said, “I don’t know, a couple of hours.” He goes, “Really? Only it took you a couple of hours to write that?” And I go, “Yeah.” I said, “How’s it work where you work?” And he goes, “Basically, if we get a custody, we’re done for the day.” That’s what he tells me. And he also told me, he goes, “I would never put that much detail in my report.” And I said, “Why is that?” And he goes, “Because then I have to be able to testify to it. And what if I don’t remember?”
Paul: [00:29:06] There’s a reason for the report.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:29:10] Fair point.
Dan: [00:29:11] That’s why I write the report so I can remember all those things. And he goes, “Yeah, our command staff, they want it to be short and sweet.” And I’m like, “What? Like, saw thief, arrested same? Is that what we’re talking here?” And he’s like, “No. I mean, there will be a little more detail, but we testify off our memory.” And I’m like, “Okay. Well, in my jurisdiction, if it ain’t written down, it never happened.”
Yeardley: [00:29:31] Interesting.
Dan: [00:29:33] Anyway, I go in to testify. I tell my side of the investigation. We wrap up. They do closing arguments on both sides and everything. And prosecutor says, “Well, we’re done for the day. We’ll probably have a verdict tomorrow.” And I go, “Okay.” Come back the next day. Prosecutor calls me up to his office. I go up there and he goes, “Not guilty.”
Yeardley: [00:29:53] [gasps]
Dan: [00:29:54] They found them not guilty. Brian and Lisa are not guilty.
Yeardley: [00:29:57] What?
Dan: [00:29:59] This prosecutor told me, “Sarah had a rough time on the stand, and Brian and Lisa were very composed on the stand,” just the same thing that I encountered that night. Sarah’s reliving the worst night of her life. You’ve got a defense attorney who’s getting after her a little bit, because he’s trying to win the case for Brian and Lisa, saying, “This is self-defense. They were trying to get Sarah out of the house.” And the jury bought it.
[00:30:25] You never know what a jury is going to do, and you never know what they’re going to believe. I already had that intuition that there was more to this story, and that’s why I went and talked to detectives. But when I saw that room behind the coats, that’s when I said, “Absolutely, this isn’t the first time that Brian and Lisa victimize somebody, and they’re going to continue doing it.” Brian and Lisa end up getting away with it, which just empowers them too to say, “You know, it worked.” I think it’s really easy for them to say, “Well, it’s self-defense, because we asked her to leave, and Sarah didn’t want to leave.” And it didn’t match the evidence that I was looking at.
Yeardley: [00:31:03] So, Dan, your gut told you that Brian and Lisa’s story was bunk. Did you look into those two any further? I mean, I know you weren’t a detective yet, but I also know you and I wouldn’t be surprised, if you couldn’t let this go.
Dan: [00:31:23] We change names in this podcast, and their name is a very common name. I did some digging on them and I never found anything. Their name is so common that I can’t find anything.
Yeardley: [00:31:37] It would be like Smith.
Dan: [00:31:39] Yes. It’d be like John Smith.
Yeardley: [00:31:42] Yeah.
Dan: [00:31:43] I’ve never been more disappointed in myself. I felt like I failed Sarah. After that, I investigated cases differently.
Yeardley: [00:31:53] How so?
Dan: [00:31:54] I think what I probably would have ended up doing was doing a little more forensic work to prove the lies, like, the wine and a carpet. Was it wine or was it blood?
Dave: [00:32:03] I would have cut up their damp carpet and I would have taken it.
Paul: [00:32:06] You’re patrol for this case, right?
Dan: [00:32:08] Yeah.
Paul: [00:32:09] Could you have passed this into investigations?
Dan: [00:32:13] That’s what I was trying to do. I think my sergeant at the time was like, “You got this. You’re doing fine. You’re tracking.” Like, “You’re doing fine. Just keep going.”
Paul: [00:32:23] You’re working as a patrol officer. I mean, you went up and beyond. This is a case that patrol would never have discovered any of this. So, you were straddling both worlds. You’re a patrol officer, but you’re investigating.
Dan: [00:32:38] And again, I had George, who was a detective at the time, and he was kind of my sherpa on the back end of this case. And George was like, “Dude, it’s pretty good.” Like, “You locked him into a story. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Paul: [00:32:49] There’s more to these people. I would almost suggest that, today, somebody should be going and doing backgrounds on Brian and Lisa, and where they’ve lived previously, and what they’ve done since you’ve encountered them.
Yeardley: [00:33:02] Yeah. Paul, in your opinion, does this seem like a case where Brian is the aggressor and Lisa is just the passive passenger, the passive player, or is she a willing participant because she did stomp on Sarah’s head?
Paul: [00:33:20] There are these couples in which the women are merely doing what they are tasked with, but they’re not active participants in the violence or the sexual assault. But then there are a few examples in which the women themselves are sexually assaulting and committing the violent acts on the victims.
Dan: [00:33:40] Yeah. David Parker Ray and Cindy Hendy down in New Mexico. The Toy-Box murders. They lived in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. In Red Bluff, there was the woman in the box, and that was a male-female.
Yeardley: [00:33:53] And the Wests in Britain?
Dan: [00:33:56] Yeah.
Dave: [00:33:57] I got a better comparison. The Homolkas.
Dan: [00:34:01] Yeah. Up in Canada.
Yeardley: [00:34:03] Who are those guys?
Dave: [00:34:05] Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Karla has a little sister. Karla is married to Mr. Bernardo. Paul Bernardo has a fantasy of hooking up with Karla’s little sister. They drug her.
Yeardley: [00:34:18] How little is little sister? Like teenager?
Dave: [00:34:21] Either a high school senior or freshman in college, somewhere in there. Basically, they dose her, knock her out, have a sexual encounter with the victim, and then she is killed by her own sister and her brother-in-law.
Yeardley: [00:34:35] God.
Paul: [00:34:36] And Karla actively participates in this. This is where you have that couple, where the woman is not just trying to please what the man wants out of fear. She actually is getting something from doing these crimes.
Dan: [00:34:50] The sick thing about this case is Karla got offered immunity and didn’t have to go to prison.
Paul: [00:34:56] Right. To testify against Paul. There’s an article out there called the Compliant Victim of the Sexual Sadist. So, some of these women get looped into these serial predators, these serial killers, and they are literally just trying to survive versus you have some of these women who are these active participants in the crime, and they’re not doing it because they’re fearful for their own lives. They’re doing it because they are, in essence, also getting some sort of personal gratification out of committing the crime. Brian and Lisa sound more like that type of couple.
Yeardley: [00:35:37] Right. That is disgusting and terrifying.
Dan: [00:35:41] Yeah, really disappointing. I wish there were better news about Sarah. Sarah did not do well after this verdict. I had contact with Sarah afterward, and I’m just going to leave it at that, but Sarah did not do well after this at all.
Yeardley: [00:35:55] I’m sorry to hear that.
Dan: [00:35:57] Honestly, looking back on my career, this one case is like the biggest regret. I don’t talk about it a whole lot, because I really felt like I failed Sarah and that I made some mistakes along the way. It’s a hard pill to swallow. If Sarah’s out there, I hope she’s doing better.
Yeardley: [00:36:19] I hope so too.
Dan: [00:36:21] And again, I’m sorry, Sarah.
Yeardley: [00:36:24] It’s interesting and quite rare even on this podcast to hear early stories from our detectives’ careers, because usually, stories they bring us have happened when they’re a bit more established. But I think those seminal stories are so interesting and important, and I really appreciate and respect you for bringing that to us today, Dan.
Dan: [00:36:45] Thank you. I learned a lot in this investigation about myself and being thorough.
Paul: [00:36:50] Well, thanks, Dan, for that.
Yeardley: [00:36:52] Thank you. Won’t say goodbye to your brother Dave?
Dave: [00:36:56] Goodbye.
Yeardley: [00:36:57] [laughs] Don’t get too warm and fuzzy on us, Dave.
[00:37:04] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Logan Heftel, Christina Bracamontes, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and the Real Nick Smitty. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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Yeardley: [00:38:18] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [00:38:24] -in search of the finest-
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Dave: [00:38:31] So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley: [00:38:33] Nobody’s better than you.
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