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After receiving a 911 call from a concerned neighbor, police come upon a violent home invasion in a normally quiet neighborhood. One person is dead and another is struggling for her life. Lieutenant John, a homicide investigator with the DA’s office, is called out to the scene to help local authorities. In one of the many twists in this case, a chance meeting with a bystander leads John down the foreboding path of a suspect who is far more cunning and dangerous than he first appears.

The Detective: Homicide Lieutenant John

Homicide Lieutenant John spent more than two decades as a police officer, including 17 years as a Senior Homicide Inspector. Following his retirement from the force, John spent eight years as senior inspector in the homicide unit of his county’s District Attorney’s Office. He was then promoted to Lieutenant and now supervises other senior inspectors. He has investigated more than 400 homicide cases over the course of his career.

Read Transcript

Yeardley:  Hey, Small Town Fam. It’s Yeardley. How are you guys? I hope you’re all well and thriving. Welcome to Season 14. Yes. So, I was thinking as I was listening to the edit of this episode, how Dan and Dave have said time and time again that the police are largely reactive not proactive, because it’s not illegal to say I wish you were dead. It may be cruel, but it’s not a crime. So, until you actually kill someone or try to, the police can’t do anything. The case that new guest, Lieutenant John brings us today illustrates this very dilemma when he gets called out to a murder and during his investigation finds a trove of evidence that surely seems to indicate the suspect was planning a killing spree.

 You’re also going to hear about two very brave witnesses who could have kept themselves to themselves and not spoken up. But one called 911 and the other approached Lieutenant John in the field to say, “Is this related to that?” It made me think of the age we’re living in these days, where there’s so little privacy thanks to cell phones and the Internet and yet people are more reluctant than ever to come to the aid of a stranger. So, thank God the two curious neighbors in this case came forward and said something. We’ll never know how many lives they saved. Here is Signs of a Serial Killer.

[Small Town Dicks theme]

Yeardley:  Hi there. I’m Yeardley.

Dan:  I’m Dan.

Dave:  I’m Dave.

Paul:  And I’m Paul.

Yeardley:  And this is Small Town Dicks.

Dan:  Dave and I are identical twins.

Dave:  And retired detectives from Small Town, USA.

Paul:  And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State Killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.

Dan:  Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.

Dave:  Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.

Paul:  Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.

Dan:  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:  -out of respect for what they’ve been through.

[unison]:  Thank you.

Yeardley:  Today, on Small Town Dicks we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.

Dan:  Hello, everyone.

Yeardley:  Hello, you. We have Detective Dave.

Dave:  I am here as well.

Yeardley:  [laughs] I’m so glad you’re here. We don’t always have the A Team. Today is your lucky day, my friends. And we have the one and only Paul Holes.

Paul:  Hey, hey. [laughs].

Yeardley:  Hey, hey. Short and sweet today.

Paul:  Right to the point.

Yeardley:  Get on with it, Yeardley. Get on with it. And Small Town Fam, I know you guys don’t know this because you don’t actually always see how the sausage is made, but we’ve been trying to get this guy on the podcast forever. He’s a legend and he has a very special connection to one of our hosts. It is homicide Lieutenant John.

John:  Hello, everybody.

Yeardley:  Hello, John. And before we get started, John, I want you to tell our listeners how we have the great pleasure to have you with us today and who got you here.

John:  Well, I have a long and interesting relationship with Paul. We worked a lot of homicide cases, just in general and for whatever reason Contra Costa County, I think, has more than its fair share of high-profile cases and Paul has certainly been in anything that I was ever involved in my go-to guy. And we met when he was a lowly criminalist.


John:  And I was working homicide at the police department. And being the cop that I am, I recognized quickly. When you see a resource, and it’s a great resource, you grab onto it. And so, my partner and I at the time said, “Boy, that Paul Holes, he’s top notch. We going to make sure he gets on our cases anytime we need lab assistance.” And that just blossomed. We worked a lot of cases together.

Paul:  Well, and the reality is, it’s a two-way street. Because when John and I first met, and we were working this unsolved series of cases of women that were being killed, I recognized right away a top-notch investigator. Him and his partner were true partners, but also having this broad exposure that I had from the sheriff’s lab, where I’m working with everybody in the county, I recognized talent, I recognized experience and expertise. And so, it was an instant bond. And then we just continued to have that bond. Yeah, we still have that bond today.

Yeardley:  I love it. And with that, John, why don’t you tell us how the case we’re going to talk about today, how this case came to you?

John:  Yeah, it’s kind of an unusual circumstance. It was late in the afternoon. I was in my office. I was looking around, thinking, it’s probably time to get out of here. And the chief investigator showed up in my doorway. Great guy. And he said, “Are you busy right now?” And I said, “Chief, I don’t know, I was just getting ready to get out of here.” And he says, “I need a favor.” And I said, “You know, chief, I think I’ve told you several times, when the chief asks for a favor, that’s called an order.”


John:  He goes, “Well, I don’t want you to feel like it that way. But I do need your help.” And so, he had been in his office listening to the main dispatch channel for the sheriff’s office, which a lot of agencies were tied into. And he said that he thought that a local agency, a smaller agency, had caught a case where they had found a body of a child. And he says, “I think you need to grab somebody and get out there and maybe give him some advice or at least see what’s going on.” Because ultimately his take was, and it was rightfully so, all of that was coming our direction at some point. And so, he wanted to get in front of any potential problems. So, my partner at that moment was out of the office, tied up on something else. And so, I went over there. On my way, I phoned into the dispatch center and found out that it was not a child and that it was actually some kind of scene that was at a home. So, I went there and when I got there, it was a very interesting situation.

Yeardley:  John, why is your chief monitoring dispatch calls for other agencies and sending you to those?

Paul:  You know–

John:  Go ahead.

Paul:  So, John, at this time, is working for the DA’s office, and so he’s assigned to the homicide unit within the DA’s office, which the investigators at that point often are after the case, after somebody’s arrested, and then the prosecutor decides to file charges, then the DA investigators kind of sew the case up. But the unusual thing, particularly the chief of investigations that our DA’s office had, is we were very active on the front end and helping agencies out with brand new homicides. And in part, it’s because we had somebody like John available who had a lot more expertise than many of the investigators elsewhere in the county. So, when you have a small agency like the one in this case, whose investigators are relatively inexperienced and they catch a major homicide scene, the best people to roll out are John and his partner.

John:  Thank you for saying that, Paul. So, when I got on scene, this was at a home, and there was no PIO, there was nobody to contact, there was no real command staff present that I could go and talk to and figure out who was running the show.

Yeardley:  John, what’s a PIO?

John:  Oh, a public information officer. It was a very chaotic scene. There was a lot of personnel, a lot of other assisting agencies present. The sheriff’s office was there, highway patrol was there. It was that big of a scene in that unusual situation. And that’s also indicative of how small the agency was that had caught this. It was very unfortunate for them because it was going to eat up resources really quickly. So, when I got there, I recognized one of the detectives from the agency that had jurisdiction. I said, “Somebody said it had something to do with a kid.” And they said, “No, it looks like maybe some kind of home invasion.” And then he added, “I think we may have somebody detained.” They may be taking somebody into custody a block over from where I was.

 I said, “Can you give me a rundown on the case?” And he said, “Yeah. He goes, this is what we know so far.” So, this is a very quiet bedroom community. Most of the people who live in this area commute to San Francisco other jobs. During the day, most of the houses are empty or sometimes if there’s a stay-at-home mom or dad, there’s one adult home. And so, in the late afternoon, probably an hour and a half earlier than from the time I got there, there was a neighbor who was home, and he actually called 911. And what he said to the 911 operator was that he had been home and one of his windows was open. And he heard the best that he could describe was a commotion nearby.

 So, he went to the window, and he listened, and he could continue to hear this commotion. There were male voices, but he really couldn’t understand what was being said. But he said the tenor of it was that there was some kind of confrontation going on. So, he went outside, and he actually went out around the corner of his house and peeked into this court that was near his home. And he saw his neighbor Leroy, who he knew very well.

Yeardley:  What’s this witness’ name?

John:  Sam. And so, Leroy was on his own driveway, and there was another male, a black male, standing over him, straddling him. Sam said Leroy was slumped against the tire of his truck. The black male was standing, straddling the front of him. There was no confrontation going on when Sam saw them, but he said it just looked odd. So, he shouted at both of them and said, “Hey, what’s going on over there?” Leroy didn’t respond, which he said was very unusual because they did know each other. And he said the second male looked over at him and said, “Hey, we’re just working out.” We’re going to go and work out. And Sam knew that that was not the case. So, he actually said he got scared. And so, he retreated into his own home and called 911 and said this is exactly what I see. I think I need the police.

Dave:  Sam’s a good witness that he didn’t just leave it alone. He’s like, “Okay, that doesn’t seem right. I’m calling the police. They can handle this.”

John:  Yep. And he actually is instrumental in solving this case. So, Sam runs back inside, dials the phone, relays to the dispatcher and the first two patrol units get on scene. Now, they pull up to Sam’s house, which is within 250ft of the house where Leroy lives. And they get out of their cars, they talk quickly to Sam. Sam reiterates what he’s already told dispatch. So, the officers walk across the street, when they get to the front of the house where this incident occurred, where Sam sees Leroy sitting on the driveway with this unidentified male standing over him.

Yeardley:  How old is Leroy roughly?

John:  Leroy is late 50s.

Yeardley:  Okay.

John:  So, they get over to that house, to Leroy’s house. And one of the things Sam said was the garage door had been up. When they get onto the driveway, they see that the garage door is now down and it’s quiet. And so, they look onto the ground. There’s a pool of blood next to where Leroy was supposed to have been sitting. And there’s a smear mark that disappears under the now closed garage door.

[Break 1]

John:  So, again, it’s a small agency. So, they call for some assistance to make entry into Leroy’s house. And so, they move to the side of the house where the front door is. And now they see what appears to be a handgun laying on the walkway. And the front door is standing open to the house and it’s all quiet.

 They run some license plates on some vehicles, the officers do. And there is a car parked in front of the house that comes back to a female name. And they’re actually able to ask Sam, “Do you know this name?” And he says, “Yes, that’s Leroy’s girlfriend.” The girlfriend’s name is Sue. So, Sue is also late 50s and Sue and Leroy essentially live at this house together. She has her own place but she’s back and forth quite a bit. So, they establish who lives there. There’s no one around. There’s absolutely no indication that there’s anybody in the house or at home. Takes a little while for the assistants to get there, but they get enough extra assistance and they make entry into the house. One of the lucky things is they had fire and ambulance stand by stage right up the street.

 So, fire, an ambulance is staged a very short distance away. They make entry into the house and this is what they see. They make the first corner into the hallway and they see a female laying on the floor, she is bound with zip ties, hands behind her back. She has a plastic bag around her face and she appears to be deceased.

Yeardley:  Oh.

John:  So, they call the medics up and they move past her and go in to clear the rest of the house. Rest of the house is empty. They go into the garage and in the garage, they find Leroy. Leroy has a substantial head wound that’s bleeding and he also has his hands bound behind his back with zip ties and he has a plastic bag over his head. So, they get resources in. Medical aid comes in. They actually cut the bag off of Sue and she spontaneously starts to breathe. So, she was obviously moving some air past the plastic bag. Leroy was not as lucky and Leroy was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Yeardley:  Oh, my God.

John:  So, they start getting some neighborhood campuses. They’re starting to work their scene like anybody would. They transport Sue to the hospital. Initially, she was not expected to survive. Miraculously, she does survive. So, they’re working this scene. They’re trying to find some witnesses. They have the area cordoned. And in that cordon happens to be a sheriff’s deputy. And the deputy is a field training officer and he has a trainee with him. And so, they are on a particular post blocking the street. Now, one of the things that the deputy had noticed was against Leroy’s house, the side fence to Leroy’s house, was a bicycle. And the bicycle was parked in the bushes, leaning against the fence. Not all that unusual in that neighborhood. Everything’s not pristine there.

 But he notices that bicycle, and he makes a note to himself that he’s going to let detectives know. When he debriefs the investigators that come out there, he’s going to note to them, “Hey, the bike is there. I don’t know if it has anything to do with this. It could have nothing to do with it.”

Yeardley:  So, the deputy decides he’s going to tell everybody, you should take note of that bicycle.

John:  Correct? So, as the deputy is sitting there and he’s writing some notes, and he’s probably reviewing some reports, because he doesn’t have a ton of responsibility to this. He just came there as assistance for maintaining the crime scene. He hears initially and then sees his trainee talking to someone, and he looks up and he’s thinking, “Who’s this kid talking to?” And so, the deputy sees him talking and he realizes it’s a black male. Now, the only description they had of anybody involved in this, was just a very generalized description of a black male. And so, the deputy gets out of his car and he walks up, because he’s responsible for the trainee. He walks up to the trainee and the individual he’s talking to, and he says, “What’s going on?” And so, the trainee maybe doesn’t really understand the significance of what’s being said.

 And he said, “This guy right here, Mark. Mark says he was up here earlier riding his bike and he crashed his bike. That’s why he’s got some blood on his pants and his hands. And he left his bike to go look for some water to wash the blood off. And he just wants permission to grab his bicycle.” And so, the FTO said, “Hang on a second here. I’m sorry. Yeah, no problem, man. We can get that bike for you, but can you hang one sec? We had a little incident here. I want to make sure it’s okay to, you know, let that bike go.”

Yeardley:  How far away are the deputy and his recruit from Leroy’s house?

John:  Probably 200ft.

Yeardley:  Oh, okay.

John:  It’s a block away. They’re one street over kind of thing. But you can see the bicycle. And he has this patrol car parked. They have yellow crime scene tape up. And he’s got the overheads on his police car. He’s just controlling foot traffic and vehicle traffic into the area. So, the sheriff’s deputy, he’s aware that there was a witness. So, he grabs one of the other officers that’s there and said, “Hey, can we find this witness? Let’s get him out here and do an infield show up and see if he recognizes this individual.” So, they do.

Yeardley:  And the witness is Sam, who called 911.

John:  Yep. They go back and they find Sam. And Sam comes walking out of his house with a detective. The detective has given him an infield show up admonishment. Meaning tells him, “Hey, this could be nothing. Just tell us if you recognize this guy. Just by the fact that we have him stopped does not mean that we think he has any involvement in this.” So, Sam comes out with the detective, and I don’t think Sam got all the way down to the end of the walkway before Sam looked up the street and said, “That’s the guy. That’s the guy that was standing over Leroy in the driveway.”

Yeardley:  It sounds like an infield show up is a bit riskier than asking a witness to identify someone from a photo lineup. Yes?

John:  Right. And you have to be cautious with those just because when a police officer is standing there with somebody, even if- and in this particular case, they weren’t handcuffed. I mean, Mark was not handcuffed, but it can be very suggestive. You have to be very careful because being detained by the police might lead a witness to go, “Yeah, I think that’s the guy.” It must because the cops have him stopped.

Dave:  Plenty of IDs have been thrown out because of improperly performing these field show ups or lineups, those types of things. John’s exactly right. There’s a lot riding on these show ups, and you don’t want to screw them up. We had rules against bringing a suspect to a victim. You got to bring the victim to the suspect. That way, you’re not showing that you’re transporting someone in handcuffs in a police car. Like, there’s all kinds of rules about this.

John:  Right. It’s just so inherently suggestive. So, be cautious. Keep in mind, though, that there was probably plenty of probable cause, reasonable suspicion, to detain Mark, even take him into custody at that point. He has blood on him. He has blood on his hands, he has blood on his pants, and there don’t seem to be any corresponding injuries. He says he fell off his bicycle, but there’s no injury that would lead anybody to believe that’s where the blood originated from. So, it’s a pretty unusual circumstance to have happened.

Dan:  And that ID is pretty good too because Sam, your witness here, he’s not even basically face to face with Mark at this point. He takes a few steps down the block and says, “That’s him.” I mean, that’s pretty compelling identification right there.

John:  Right.

Yeardley:  John, how old is Mark?

John:  27.

Yeardley:  Oh, so he’s much younger than Leroy and Sue.

John:  Yeah.

Yeardley:  So, I’m curious if Mark has blood on his clothes, but he has no visible injuries himself, and his bike is right outside this house where a murder and an attempted murder have occurred, what’s his explanation for those details?

John:  So, there was some blood on his shoes as well. And Mark talked about how he had walked across some lawns and that potentially the blood might have been in the lawn, and he just got it on his shoes and clothing. And then the other one was, if DNA ended up being on his purse and that somebody had planted the DNA on his purse. He was getting pretty far ahead. You know, he was anticipating this could be problematic for me.

[Break 2]

Yeardley:  Okay. There’s a lot of moving pieces here, so let me just recap. Our suspect, Mark, is covered in blood and a block away from the scene of the crime, where he’s left his bicycle, there are two witnesses in the mix. We have Leroy’s neighbor Sam, who saw Mark standing over Leroy slumped over in the driveway. And there’s Sue, who was left for dead by her attacker, but miraculously survives. Speaking of, did Sue have any permanent physical injuries?

John:  So, Sue has no deleterious effects as a result of what happened to her, other than obviously she was traumatized by the loss of her boyfriend, but she has no memory of the incident.

Yeardley:  Huh.

John:  She was hypoxic.

Yeardley:  Which is a lack of oxygen.

John:  Correct? Yeah. And it robbed her of that short-term memory of what happened. But it appears that when we talked to Sue, she does have memory of what she was doing that day. And when the investigators talked to her, she said she was home with Leroy. Leroy went to the grocery store. Last thing, she remembers was she was making a decision to go outside and work in the yard, and she was going to do some gardening in the flower bed right next to the front door of the house. What it appears happened is we have evidence to suggest that Mark actually took the bus from his home in a nearby town with his bicycle, took it to Leroy’s town, and then started riding through the hills. It’s a hilly terrain.

 It’s, you know, obviously, it’s a residential area, but he was riding all around those neighborhoods. There was a witness that was located later on who said that she had gotten home with her grandchildren. She’d picked them up from school and she was home alone with these little kids, and she noticed Mark parked across the street at the curb watching her. And she said it made her feel very uneasy and she went in the house, and nothing further happened. But I’m sure he was probably sizing her up, and Sue was in the same type of situation. She was home by herself. Mark probably moved on from where he saw the grandmother and then found this second location where he saw Sue in the front yard actually working and it appears that he blitzkrieged her.

 That gun Sue talked about later on, she said, “You know, my boyfriend doesn’t have a handgun, and it ended up being an airsoft pistol.” And the gun was dropped potentially when Mark fled the house to go engage Leroy. So, he was probably in the house with Sue. He takes her into the house, gets her under control. She’s a very slight woman, very small in stature. He zip ties her, puts the plastic over her head, and then what’s also found is a condom, open but unused. So, there was maybe potential there that he was planning a sexual assault. So, Mark’s there with Sue inside the house, just inside the front door, in the entry hallway. She has no memory of it, but when he engages her, he probably has the airsoft pistol.

 And I think Leroy came home from the grocery store and opened the garage door to come inside. He popped the garage door with the garage door opener. I think Mark hears that garage door open and thinks, “O oh, somebody’s coming.”

Paul:  And Leroy coming home is this unexpected, dynamic aspect that Mark couldn’t account for. So, he’s thinking he’s home with the female victim, Sue, and is going to take his time with her. Looks like there’s a sexual assault component. And then Leroy comes home. And now all of a sudden, the shit has hit the fan for Mark, and he has to think on the fly.

John:  Yes. So, Mark abandoned Sue. She’s under control. She’s zip tied and immobile. She may be unconscious at that point. Mark goes out the front door. Maybe he thought, this airsoft pistol is not going to work against this grown man that’s in the driveway. I’m going to need something more than that. Drops the gun, picks up a rock and engages Leroy in the driveway and smashes his head with the rock.

Yeardley:  Mark seems to have his eye on older women, like this grandmother who’s looking after her grandchildren. And maybe he just figures these older women won’t fight as hard.

John:  Possibly. I’m definitely not the psychiatrist/psychologist, but Mark was raised by his grandmother, we find out later on. And she had since passed away. We always had some questions about what the nature of that death was, but we didn’t have the bandwidth to get into that. It was several years earlier.

Dave:  So, the injuries that sue sustained, was it just she was starved of oxygen or did she receive any stab wounds or strangulation?

John:  No strangulation and no stab wounds. And nothing would even be ultimately what would be considered a traumatic injury. I mean, it was visible, but it wasn’t a traumatic injury, I think, enough to get her under control. What she was suffering from at the hospital was hypoxia, yeah.

Yeardley:  So, now we have a sheriff’s deputy and his recruit having encountered Mark on the sidewalk. Mark wants to get his bike back, but he also has blood all over him. Does that give you probable cause to detain him? And what happens after that? How do you start to gather your evidence?

John:  So, I have to be cautious in these situations because I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be the guy that comes in and takes over. [Yeardley laughs] But I have a certain way that I’d attack that scene. Just prioritize things that need to get done. And certainly, the physical evidence on Mark, he needs to be arrested. He’s already talking about ways to excuse the presence of the blood. So, I think we’re past the, “Hey, would you mind coming down to the station and answering some questions?” Although that would be my ideal situation, you know, “Hey, Mark, this is a weird situation we have here. Maybe we can figure this out if we just get you down to the station and see if he’s willing to do that.” It’s much better to have him go voluntarily.

 But by the time I got there, he had already been arrested. I think when Sam comes outside and says, “That’s the guy,” I think the next sound you hear is the clicking of handcuffs. They put handcuffs on him pretty quick.

Yeardley:  On Mark.

John:  On Mark, yes. So, the officers that were there, the investigators that were there with Mark, they did a great job. Obviously, he’s in handcuffs. They bagged his hands to preserve the blood that was on his hands. It’s on his clothing. So, it’s going to be pretty tough for him to do much about that. And they transported him down to the local police department.

Yeardley:  But, John, just to be clear, when Mark is taken down to the station, nobody knows yet that Sue is actually going to survive.

John:  Correct? Yeah. So, we potentially have a double homicide here. The information that you get initially, it changes so much because you’re getting little bits and pieces, and people mischaracterize what’s going on. Major scenes like that can be kind of chaotic. My priority at that point was to make sure that the scene was secure and they looked like they were doing a pretty good job of that. So, I said I want to go where Mark was. So, went down to the police station and talked to the lead investigator, and I said, “You know, we probably need to get a game plan together here and find out a little bit about who this guy is.”

Yeardley:  This guy Mark?

John:  Yes, Mark. We need to find out where he comes from, where’s his house, where does he live, and make sure that this wasn’t the culmination of him killing everybody at his house, the lead investigator. This is going to take a while to write a warrant for. And I said, “Well, we’re not going to write a warrant. We’re going to go break the door down and make sure there’s no prisoners, and then we’ll back out and we’ll write a search warrant to go back in. But we have an exigency right now to see what this is all about.” So, we figured out who Mark was relatively quickly, figured out where he was living.

Yeardley:  Had Mark said, I live with somebody, do you at least have that much information?

John:  He was less than forthcoming about what his situation was. He did furnish an address, and we were able to confirm that that address was his current address based on police databases. So, the next step was to go to Mark’s house and figure out what was going on there.

[Break 3]

Yeardley:  So John, when you go to Mark’s neighborhood, what’s it like?

John:  It was housing that was not only for people who had a tough time affording housing, but also for people who maybe had developmental disabilities. So, it was kind of a mixture.

Paul:  This house where Mark’s at, I would describe it as a large apartment complex.

John:  Right. Yeah, that’s exactly what it was.

Yeardley:  Oh, Paul, you were there too.

Paul:  I don’t even remember how I got involved in this case. All I know is either John called me up or the prosecutor called me up.

John:  I was speed dialing you when I was driving to Mark’s home.

Paul:  [laughs] Yeah.

Yeardley:  Can I ask you one more question about this exigency about getting into Mark’s house?

John:  Sure.

Yeardley:  So, he’s been lying to you guys. He doesn’t indicate he lives with anyone. You do have one dead body and Sue, we’re not sure she’s going to survive. Just as a layperson legally, that’s enough for you to say, I don’t need a search warrant right out of the gate, I can get into Mark’s house because it’s very possible other people are in danger.

John:  It’s interesting that you asked that, because there are so many layers to that, but you’re absolutely right. So, we would go there and we wouldn’t break the door down out the gate. What we would do is knock first and see if anybody was home and then explain what’s going on. But we are ultimately, we’re going in to make sure that there’s no one in there in distress. But also, one of the things is, interestingly, the courts look at this as if you believe there’s an exigency there and you can articulate it. And I think we easily can. I mean, this is a violent crime scene. You know, the possibility are really endless about what could be going on back at Mark’s apartment.

 And, so if we go there and we believe there’s an exigency, we actually have to act on that in a timely manner. Because if we don’t act on it in a timely manner, the exigency actually evaporates. People are going to say, well, if it was that important, and we agree that it looked like it was that important, that you could go in there without a search warrant, and that’s a big deal. I mean, you’re violating the sanctity of somebody’s home without a magistrate’s authorization, but you need to act on it in a timely manner, because if you don’t act on it, then you thwart your own argument. You’re saying, if it’s that important, why didn’t you go there right away?

Dave:  Yeardley, the important thing here is you are going in looking for victims. You’re not going in looking for evidence. There’s quite a difference. So, once you clear that apartment, once you clear Mark’s apartment and you don’t find any other victims, then you back out. And now you write a search warrant or you try to get a written consent form from Mark.

Yeardley:  I’m so glad I asked that question. You guys are great. I really appreciate that. Okay, so, John, now you’re at Mark’s apartment and I’m assuming you’ve gotten inside.

John:  Yes. Nobody was home, so we ended up forcing entry, went in and cleared it. It was a relatively small place, so it was easily cleared quickly. And, again, that was a great point. We’re not in there opening drawers and doing those kinds of things because you know you’re not going to find victims in the drawers. But whatever you see while you’re in there, you can also use to further the probable cause statement to later write a warrant to go in there and now do a thorough search of it.

 So, if you see a handgun and drugs or whatever on the counter in there, as long as you didn’t find it by opening drawers and going places where you wouldn’t typically expect to find a victim, that’s all part and parcel of the narrative statement of probable cause to further your argument to the magistrate that you want to go inside.

Dave:  As a sergeant, especially a patrol sergeant, you get exposure to these types of exigent calls where you have to make a decision on whether or not we’re kicking in this door or not. And it could be for a welfare check, you know, a suicidal subject, whatever it is. But I’ve been on a few of those where you have to train your folks who haven’t been on a lot of those, because when they go in and they start pulling open drawers and you’re like, no, no, no, don’t fuck this up for all the other cops on the planet. We are in here, you have to start thinking in the realm of where could I hide a body? And that’s the container you can get into, anything that you couldn’t hide a body in. You can’t get into that container, drawer, whatever, fridge maybe, but probably not the freezer.

 You know, I’m talking about the icebox on top of your fridge, not the freezer in the case that we covered called 10 Below, where we had two dead bodies in a big chest freezer but really, you have to be very, very responsible with those types of forced entry that we’re going in. We’re looking for people, we’re not looking for evidence. But everything in plain view is fair game. But I don’t want you digging around. It has to be above board or else we lose this, the courts take it away.

Yeardley:  I think there’s really good distinctions that you guys make because certainly sitting on this side of the table, I don’t think I would have inferred those nuances. So, I appreciate that. So, John, when you’re in the apartment, do you find any evidence? Did the neighbors come over and go, “Hey, what are you guys doing here? Mark’s not home, but you’re in his place.”

John:  Well, I remember distinctly calling Paul because I remember talking to him as we walked in. Once we made entry and made sure there were no victims there. I stood for a minute and looked around, and then we backed out. And I said, if you were writing a story about, you know, some kind of serial murderer and what you might find at his home, what I saw in there would at least scratch at the surface and be the kinds of things I would expect to see in a Hollywood movie. There are tin foil hats and wires. There are appear to be like stolen dish TV network antennas inside the apartment pointing up at the sky. And there was definitely some bizarro world stuff inside the apartment. God knows what we’re going to actually find when we get in there and start looking around.

 So, I’m actually, I’m sitting in my car, and I phoned the chief. You know, he’s been texting me, going, “Any status? Any status?” I haven’t talked to him, so he still thinks it’s something about a kid in a park. And I’m talking to the chief, bringing him up to speed. And the complex, obviously, there was a pretty good sized police presence there. And as I’m sitting there, this guy walks up to my open window. You can see he’s standing there waiting because he wants to talk. And I said, “You know, chief, give me a few minutes and I’ll call you back. I said, there’s a lot of people around here.” So, I hung up the phone. As soon as I hung up, I go, “Hey, can I help you?” And he walks up and he goes, “Yeah. He goes, I just curious, you know, of course, the standard, what’s going on?” And, you know, I said, “We’re investigating something that happened earlier tonight.” He goes, “This doesn’t have anything to do with that thing up in the other adjoining town. It’s on the news.”

Yeardley:  He’s referring to Leroy and Sue’s attack.

John:  Yes. And I said, “Yeah, it might. We don’t really know right now.” And so, he said, “Okay.” And he goes, “Well, I’m sorry to bother you.” I said, “No, no problem.” He turns around, and it was like it was scripted. He turns around, and he takes about three steps away, and then he stops, and he turns around, and he says, “I don’t know if this is important, but is this anything to do with the lady who died in there three days ago?” He’s pointing at a door that has nothing to do with where we are.

Yeardley:  Oh, my God.


Yeardley:  Okay, Small Town Fam. There’s lots more to come, so we’re going put a pin in it until next Friday when we’ll be back with Part 2 and the conclusion of Signs of a Serial Killer. Here’s a preview of what’s to come.

John:  I don’t think he chose to live there, particularly, intentionally for victims, but I think there’s people there with problems. I think Mark recognized that there were some victims that were more vulnerable than others.

Paul:  Mark is probably slipping in and out of this access door that he had made in the porch and is prowling as Mark is trying to formulate his methodologies to commit more crimes.

Yeardley:  I’m telling you, Small Town Fam, that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to what’s in store for Part 2. So, authorize those notifications. We’ll see you next Friday.

 Small Town Dicks was created by Detectives Dan and Dave. The podcast is produced by Jessica Halstead and me, Yeardley Smith. Our senior editor is Soren Begin, and our editor are Christina Bracamontes and Erin Phelps. Our associate producers are the Real Nick Smitty and Erin Gaynor. Gary Scott is our executive producer, and Logan Heftel is our production manager. Our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell. And our social media maven is Monika Scott. It would make our day if you became a member of our Small Town Fam by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at @smalltowndicks, we love hearing from you.

 Oh, our groovy theme song was composed by John Forrest. Also, if you’d like to support the making of this podcast, hop on over to There, for a small subscription fee, you’ll find exclusive content you can’t get anywhere else. The transcripts of this podcast are thanks to SpeechDocs and they can be found on our website, Thank you SpeechDocs for this wonderful service. Small Town Dicks is an Audio 99 production. Small Town Fam, thanks for listening. Nobody is better than you.

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