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At the end of our first episode, Lieutenant John had apprehended a suspect in a brutal, but seemingly random home invasion murder. Now, after trying to find out what might have motivated the suspect, John hears an innocent question from a neighbor about what John assumes is an unrelated death. Always the dogged investigator, John starts to piece together a disturbing puzzle. He launches a new investigation and makes a chilling discovery that had been overlooked by local authorities. Now his suspect is looking less like a violent opportunist and more like a calculating serial killer.

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 in his career.

Read Transcript

Yeardley:  Hey, Small Town Fam. It’s Yeardley. Welcome back to Part 2 and the conclusion of Signs of a Serial Killer. Let me catch you up quickly from where we left off in Part 1. A man named Sam has called 911 to say he thinks his neighbor Leroy is in trouble. Homicide Lieutenant John arrives at the scene, but he doesn’t see Leroy, so he goes into the house, where he discovers Leroy’s girlfriend Sue.

John:  They make entry into the house, 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. They actually cut the bag off of Sue, and she spontaneously starts to breathe. They go into the garage, and in the garage they find Leroy. Leroy was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Yeardley:  A block away from the house where this attack occurred, a man named Mark, who has blood all over his clothes, is having a chat with the sheriff’s deputy. Mark wants to get his bicycle back from in front of Leroy’s house. But first, the deputy has questions about the blood on Mark’s clothes. Meanwhile, other officers near the crime scene are talking to Sam, who’s the guy who called 911.

John:  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. 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 was standing over Leroy.”

Yeardley:  Obviously, this identification by Sam of Mark is a problem for Mark. So, police put Mark in handcuffs. They find out where he lives and go to his apartment to make sure nobody else is in danger or deceased. Indeed, the apartment is empty of people but it is full of evidence.

John:  So, we figured out where he was living. If you were writing a story about 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.

Yeardley:  And then one of Mark’s neighbors casually approaches Lieutenant John and drops a bombshell.

John:  And as I’m there, this guy walks up and he says, “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.

[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:  So, John, you must be floored when this neighbor of Mark’s asks about another dead woman three doors down in the same apartment building where you guys are searching.

John:  Yeah. And I go, “What are you talking about?” And he said, “Well, there’s a woman who lives in that apartment or lived in that apartment, and she passed away.” And I think this was like a Friday. And he said, “Yeah, she died in there on Wednesday.” I said, “Okay. I go, well, was she elderly? Was she sick? Did the police come?” And he said, “No, she wasn’t elderly.” He said, “She was probably in her early to mid-50s,” very consistent with all the women that have been involved in this thing. I thought okay. And I said, “Well, was she ill or was she in horrible physical shape?” And he goes, “No, she ran marathons.” And I thought, okay. So, “Did anybody talk about what happened?” And he said, “They just found her dead in there.” I said, okay. “The police came, right?”

 And he goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Did the white van come and then take her away?” And he said, “Yeah.” I said, “Okay.” So, I knew the coroner had been there. I said, “Okay.” I said, “Can I get your name real quick?” And so, I wrote his name down and I said, “You know, if I have any questions, do you mind if I call you later?” And he goes, “No, no, absolutely.”

Yeardley:  Did this neighbor of Mark’s tell you the dead woman’s name?

John:  Her name was Lynn. So, I got back in my car and I called the morgue, and I thought, this is a wild goose chase, but it is a little weird. And so, the morgue closes at 05:00, but the coroner’s deputies that are on duty, they live in there during their 24-hour shift. And so, I got ahold of one of the deputies that I had dealt with a million times and been to a million autopsies where he’d been, the coroner’s deputy there, a deputy named Tim. And I said, “Hey, Tim. I said, sorry to bother you.” And I used to always clown those guys a little bit, because they’re done at 5 o’clock, this is probably now 9 o’clock at night, and they’re sitting there with their footy pajamas and a bowl of ice cream in front of Seinfeld.

Yeardley:  [laughs] With a bunch of dead bodies in the room behind them.

John:  They have a little living quarters there so but hey, you’re right, it is kind of a weird place to be [laughs] spending the night.

Yeardley:  Wait, you’re serious? The morgue deputies live at the morgue.

John:  When they’re on their all-night shift. It’s like a firehouse. So, they have quarters in there, there’s offices, there’s the morgue area, the refrigerators, there’s the autopsy rooms, and then there’s administrative area, and then there’s a living quarters in there too.

Yeardley:  I’ve never heard of that.

Dave:  They have a separate fridge for their snacks.

John:  No, they put them in there with the body.


Dan:  I think, like, when you’re sleeping at night and you hear a noise, that’s going to be a little weird. [Yeardley laughs]

John:  That’s what I said. I said every time the refrigerator is clicked on or something, I’d have my gun on my chest.


Yeardley:  That is just, I don’t know.

John:  I think Paul’s the one that used to tell me he goes, “The ones in the refrigerators, they can’t hurt you.”


John:  Yeah. I know that on an intellectual level, but there’s some part of me that doesn’t absorb that.

Yeardley:  [laughs] God.

John:  I wouldn’t be able to do it. And so, I said, “Hey, I need some info. I’m at this thing, we got a big case rolling, and did you guys happen to have a case out of–” And I give the address. Tim said, “Yeah.” He says, “Actually, I did the removal.” And I said, “Okay, what can you tell me about it?” And he said, “It may be natural. It’s pending talks right now. The autopsy is over and because there’s not a whole lot to it.” And I said, “Okay.”

Yeardley:  So, Lynn has had her autopsy done. Tim says they’re waiting on a pending tox. That’s a toxicology screen.

John:  Correct. So, the autopsy itself, the procedure was completed, but nothing jumped out from the physical assessment of her body. There was no indication of any trauma. There was no indication of a heart attack, vascular congestion, those kinds of things they look for. So, when they don’t see anything that would indicate what her cause of death would be, they put the tox out, and they wait for the results of the tox, and it can end up undetermined as a cause of death. But in the interim, what’s pending It’s undetermined pending tox.

Yeardley:  Okay.

Dave:  Tox takes several weeks to come back. That’s not like two days later.

John:  Yeah. And even longer if we’re doing some deep tox. We’ve done some of those. And I said, “Did you photograph the scene?” Yep. I said, “Okay, Tim, I need to look at those pictures.” And he said, “No problem. I’ll see you in the morning.” Nah, I need to come right now. “Now?” “Yeah. Put your robe on. I’m okay. You put your robe on.”


John:  And so, I drove over there. So, we went to the conference room, and he laid probably 10 or 12 pictures out. I remember looking at the photographs that he had taken at the scene, and Tim’s a very good coroner’s deputy. Works a lot of death scenes, but anybody, myself included, you can miss something. And so, I looked at the photographs laid out and I just started kind of absorbing them. And I said, “There’s something wrong here. There’s something really wrong here.” I said, “Tim, I don’t know for sure, but I think this is a homicide.” And he said, “How can you tell me it’s a homicide from looking at some pictures?” Well, number one, I said, “Did she get manipulated at all, this exactly the way we found her.”

Yeardley:  John, how did authorities first find out that Lynn was dead?

John:  He said her work had called. She never misses work. They thought it was unusual, so they tried to call her. She wasn’t answering, so they asked us to do a welfare check. Deputies did. They got a key to the place, went in and checked, and they found her in there. I said, “No fire and ambulance?” No, she was obviously deceased. Okay? No one, in all the years I’ve been doing this, nobody dies like this. Lynn was supine. She had her hands out to either side, looked like she had just gotten out of the shower. She was wearing a robe. Hair was in like a perfect crown around the back of her head. And I said, “Tim, this looks like a staged crime scene to me, man.” I said, “Nobody dies like that.” I said, “They die in a heap.” You know, they fall over and their arms over and their legs are crossed. They don’t go back like a tree. And I could see in the pictures that there were ligature marks around her wrists. Lynn did have very clunky, loose bracelets on both wrists. And I said, what did the doc say about the marks from the bracelets?

Yeardley:  Yeah, I’m curious, because loose bracelets wouldn’t make ligature marks.

John:  Correct? Yeah. I said, let’s go. I want to see her. Tim goes, she’s not here. I just released her to the funeral home.


Yeardley:  Oh, no.

John:  Oh. No, no, no, no, no. I said, “Get on the phone, put a hold on her. I want her back.” I said, “I need you to go tonight. I don’t want some screw up where they embalm her first thing in the morning, get Lynn back here.” So, I looked more at the pictures, and the more I looked at the pictures, I just didn’t have a good feeling about any of this. So, I said, “Tim, my partner is going to be in with me in the morning.” I said, “I may send him over here to check the autopsy.” I said, “The lab is going to come out on this. We’re going to do a full processing on Lynn, but just to let the doctor know that we’re going to need to look at some stuff a little more thoroughly.” And so that was the plan. So, I left the morgue and went back, because now they had completed writing that search warrant and they were in the apartment actually starting to search.

Yeardley:  So, they’re in Mark’s apartment?

John:  They’re in Mark’s apartment. They were photographing everything. One of the issues with the smaller agencies is sometimes they don’t have the resources for crime scene processing. To use the county crime lab, it’s expensive. I can imagine what the bill from the county crime lab to the smaller agency would be for a big scene like this and multiple autopsies. It would be a lot of money, right, Paul?

Paul:  It would be a lot of money, yes.

Yeardley:  And so, John, when you say that, you tell Tim that you’re going to need to get the crime lab involved in Lynn’s death, because now you’ve rescued her from the funeral home and brought her back to the morgue. Is that Paul’s crime lab?

John:  I can’t make that decision for the smaller agency, but I’m going to talk to my chief. They were trying to get the FBI crime lab to handle the house scene where Leroy and Sue had been. And that would have been an expensive endeavor in and of itself. The FBI will do it for free. The problem is the FBI’s response time is sometimes 24 to 36 hours before they can get on scene, get their people together, and process that scene. You know, there was moisture in the air. There were outdoor issues. There was the bicycle. There was the gun. There was a lot of things that needed to be photographed and collected before the moisture started getting to them.

Yeardley:  Right. So, are you at Mark’s apartment now with them searching or are you at Leroy and Sue’s house?

John:  No, I go back to Mark’s apartment because they had started searching while I was still at the morgue.

Dave:  Looking for zip ties.

John:  Looking for zip ties. And it’s very interesting you say that because we found packages of the same zip ties as the zip ties that were used at Leroy and Sue’s house.

Paul:  Now, this is when I’m on scene at Mark’s apartment, walking through the apartment, and like John had said, when he went in under the exigency and saw the weirdness, now we could spend some time and evaluate, well, what exactly is going on inside Mark’s apartment. Mark had, at several locations, aluminum foil taped down to desktop surfaces or countertop surfaces with the aluminum foil clipped into the grounding part of the three-prong outlet. And so, now you start to get into the psychology of this offender. He obviously had a mental aspect to him. And as he’s sitting there doing various activities within his apartment, he felt he was building up an electric charge that he had to dissipate by touching this aluminum foil every now and then. So, this is an interesting aspect about this offender.

 And he also had– Do you remember this John Mark in his apartment, had framed his latest sexually transmitted disease, the neuro disease health test, up on the wall hanging. I forget if it was in the living room or in his bedroom or something like that, where he could point to and say, “See, I’ve been tested.”

Yeardley:  Wow.

John:  Yeah, I think it was in the living room.

Yeardley:  And was it negative, that test result or positive?

Paul:  It was negative. So, I don’t know if– his idea was is he could bring over his dates and right away. “Hey, I’m Mark. Here I am Mark. I’m good. You’re not going to get a disease, a sexually transmitted disease from me.”

Yeardley:  Well, at least not VD that’s not the only STD.

[Break 1]

Yeardley:  So, you find zip ties. And Mark’s obviously got a narrative going on in his head that is not like most of ours, with his tin foil and his antennas and things. Does Mark have a history of violence? And was he known to law enforcement?

John:  He had a couple of very minor entries on his criminal history. So, no, he was not somebody who had multiple run ins with law enforcement. He would get stopped because he would be in different locations. And that helped us track his movements a little bit, because you can do what’s called a DOJ offline search, meaning even though you’re not arrested, every time a police officer, say, runs your name through the warrants database, or your driver’s license, those kinds of things. We can see how many times and where that happened, but Mark had no arrest entries. But while we were at Mark’s apartment, a woman approached one of the investigators and said that she had been sexually assaulted by Mark and this had occurred months before.

 I think she’s telling the truth. I mean, her story is very believable, but I think she suffered from, I don’t know if mental illness really, but I think she suffered from some horrible self-esteem issues. And so, she became friendly with Mark, and Mark invited her over to his apartment, and keep in mind, that’s the place where he had the negative sexually transmitted disease report hanging on the wall. He invited her over to watch a movie, and then he, according to her, went into his bedroom and came back out. He came out with a hatchet.

Yeardley:  Oh, my God.

John:  And told her he was going to have sex with her and proceeded to rape her at hatchet point. But then she told him, “You don’t need that hatchet. I’m okay with what you’re doing.” So, do we have the elements of a forcible rape there? And that’s why it was not a great case. But that certainly happened. And I think to the average person, one would think, even if you were planning on having sex with this guy, if Mark comes out with a hatchet, maybe the romance is gone.

Yeardley:  A 100% and whether or not this female neighbor of Mark’s was actually okay with having sex with him, as soon as he brings a hatchet to the party, all bets are off.

Dave:  I think the phrase is coercive in nature.

Yeardley:  That’s the phrase.

John:  Yeah.It’s inherently coercive to bring a hatchet to a sexual encounter.

Dave:  Yeah. I mean, the alternative argument easily could be that survive instinct going, well, maybe he’ll put it down if I tell him that this won’t be a problem. It could go either way. But I could also understand how juries, they’re unpredictable, they make decisions sometimes where we’re just like, “Did they hear the same trial that I was sitting through?”

John:  Yeah. Like I said, she was just in a really dark place with her self-worth, and I think she was extremely pleased to have Mark pay attention to her, invite her over, and according to her, unnecessarily involves a hatchet into the equation.

Paul:  This also is insight into Mark’s pathology, into his fantasy. He didn’t grab a knife. He didn’t grab a gun. He purposefully chose a hatchet, which is an awkward weapon, in order to force a victim to have sex with you. And my understanding of this relationship is probably prior to him going to the bedroom and grabbing the hatchet. She was cooperative in terms of engaging with him, whether there was any physical aspects or not, prior to him grabbing the hatchet. So, Mark is fantasizing about a certain type of violence. This is part of his experimentation. Mark is thinking, “Am I going to like this? Am I going to like the fear that I see put on her face?” And Mark is a serial predator. He was a budding serial killer at the point he was caught.

 If it wasn’t for Sam seeing Leroy and Mark out in the driveway and Mark got away, I guarantee Mark is going to have more victims. So, lives were saved in this instance. But Mark’s use of the hatchet for me is very telling about this evolving mindset that Mark has. He’s experimenting and is trying to determine, is this use of a hatchet in this sexual scenario going to be something that he would want to do in the future? Because he gets gratification from it in some capacity?

Dave:  So, John, you learned about the hatchet incident within hours of Sue and Leroy being attacked at their residence. And now you’ve got potentially three crime scenes,

John:  Right.

Dave:  You have one search warrant scene. You have the neighbor who has died of unknown causes, and now you’ve got Leroy and Sue. And I imagine you’re looking at your watch going, probably going to be sleeping at my desk tonight.

John:  Yeah. Yeah. So, I get back to Mark’s apartment, and like Paul said, there’s a lot of weirdness, but there’s no law against weirdness.

Yeardley:  Right? But didn’t you say that you found zip ties at Mark’s apartment that matched the ones that were on Sue?

John:  Right. Zip ties exactly the same length and style that were used at the crime scene up at Sue and Leroy’s house. Probably going to require some help from Paul in the lab to say that they are physically a match to what we find in his apartment, because black zip ties look like black zip ties to me, but there are some subtle differences. But then we got down to a little more of the nitty gritty about what they were finding. And one of the things that they found is in the refrigerator, and this ended up being significant later, was what appeared to have been a stolen bottle of Xylocaine, which is a local anesthetic. When you go get stitches or something, they’ll numb you up like Novocaine when you get your teeth worked on. And that’s not something you could buy at the drugstore. It’s not a controlled substance, but you have to be an MD to possess it or health facility.

Yeardley:  So, Mark has swiped this bottle of Xylocaine.

John:  That would be the presumption. And there were some syringes there as well. So, as we’re continuing to search, and they’re actually searching through the garbage, they poured the garbage out onto a tarp, and they’re going through just to see what’s in there and see if you can find things like receipts to track movement. But here’s the most interesting aspect of it. When they pull the liner out of the garbage can and pour the contents out, between the liner and the actual plastic bucket are two zip ties that have been used and cut. And so, they take those zip ties and they send them to Paul. And Paul let you– I want to steal your thunder because we wouldn’t have any thunder if it hadn’t been for you guys.


Paul:  No. At this point, I’m no longer with the lab. I’m with the DA’s office.

John:  Oh, that’s right.

Paul:  Yeah. Right. So, I was out inside Mark’s apartment. You had called me out, and then after the apartment, that’s when we rolled over to the quarters. You had already been out there. That’s where I’m having to talk to the captain over the coroners about the findings of the binding marks on Lynn’s wrists, saying that is not consistent with the bracelets that had been put on her wrist to hide those binding marks. And I completely agree with John that this is not looking like just a natural death or some sort of accidental. There’s enough here, in my opinion, to justify Lynn being brought back from the funeral home. There are sensitivities to that, because now the family has their loved one, and now their loved one is being taken away from them again, and they’re going, “What the hell in competence is going on here?” Right.

 So, when these zip ties are found, this is where my former employer, the sheriff’s crime lab, they start doing the testing, and of course, it’s documenting the zip ties, the fact that they’re cut. They’re taking measurements, but they’re also going to swab these zip ties, and I’ll let John talk about what was found on the zip ties.

John:  So, after they did the testing, I remember the police department, who was responsible for this case, called me and said, “Hey, we just got the lab work back on the zip ties from the garbage can.” They match the DNA from Lynn.

Yeardley:  Oh boy.

[Break 2]

Yeardley:  So, John, let me get my ducks in a bucket here. The crime lab found Lynn’s DNA on the zip ties that you recovered from Mark’s apartment, which is not good for Mark. And, of course, now I want to know how Lynn and Mark knew each other.

John:  Yeah. Now, the interesting thing about that was we needed to look more deeply into that. What was his relationship with her? Because there was a lot of bizarre stuff there. But Mark had some friendship, acquaintance with Lynn.

Yeardley:  So, they were just friends?

Paul:  Yeah. Mark and Lynn had utmost a casual friendship, really, as a result of being neighbors in the same apartment complex. The only known communication that we found was a result of looking at Mark’s cell phone.

John:  Correct. Yeah. And so, they knew each other. I think Mark developed some fixation with her. And here’s the really interesting part about that. The day that Lynn doesn’t show up for work, Mark had some weird app on his cell phone. Well, it takes time to get into those phones and then get through all the files that are on him. But he had this weird app on his phone where it actually recorded his calls and made it a WAV file onto his phone.

Yeardley:  Mark is recording his calls.

John:  His own calls. Yes. And so, when we got into his phone, there’s these WAV files, and we play it back. And one of the files on that WAV file list was a call to Lynn the morning she died. Mark calls her up and tells her, you left your headlights on in your car. And so, the presumption there is that that’s how he got her out of her apartment and then walked out with her and then probably did exactly what he did to Sue. He blitzkrieged her and took her back inside and killed her.

Dan:  It’s unfortunate for Lynn that she was murdered, but how fortuitous that had only happened a couple days before this case that John caught. If it happened a week prior, you don’t get all that evidence. It’s gone.

John:  Or even that that guy was home.

Dan:  Right.

Yeardley:  What guy?

John:  The neighbor who said, “Hey, a death happened in here.” Because that would have just been an undetermined cause of death in the same city. It wouldn’t necessarily– They wouldn’t have made the link just because they’re in the same complex.

Yeardley:  Right, which I think would be so hard on the family too. If the coroner says it’s undetermined, you would never feel like you had any. I mean, closure is an overused word, but you take my point like, no resolution.

John:  Correct? Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. Now, we don’t have a cause of death. We have undetermined pending toxicology. So, one of the things that I talked to Paul about, and we talked to some other MDs and just a bunch of different people weighing in on what we had and what we had found. And the pathologist agreed that if administered in a substantial enough quantity and intramuscularly or intravenously that Xylocaine could cause a cardiac event. So, now we’re going around for the second autopsy on poor Lynn, and we found two areas on her body that appeared to be injection sites.

Yeardley:  Oh, wow. Are you thinking Mark might have injected Lynn with this Xylocaine?

John:  Correct. Yeah. And so, the problem is that Xylocaine would metabolize in the body, much like adrenaline, and so it wouldn’t necessarily be detectable even in a DeepTox. So, we’re in a tough situation there. I asked the pathologist at the time, I said, “What if we excise the tissue where the injection takes place? Could we potentially find Xylocaine?” And he said, “There’s a possibility we could do that.” So, they did do that. But the preservation wasn’t exactly what the DeepTox lab wanted for that. They weren’t able to perform the test. It was a situation where we just lost that evidence.

Yeardley:  I just have to say, injecting someone with a barely detectable anesthetic is a really sophisticated way of killing them. And I wonder if you think Mark is that calculating.

Paul:  Mark was somebody who had a pathology, a mental aspect, but was also smart enough to start doing the deep thinking about, how can I commit a crime and get away with it? And one of the things in Mark’s apartment, he was on a bottom floor, and he had a porch out back. Well, he had completely covered this porch up, both with plywood and tarping to hide it. And then Mark had cut an access door into the porch barrier so he could slip in and out of the apartment without being seen. Because if Mark went out his front door now, you’ve got the neighbors watching him. Now, he’s possibly going to be caught on video camera. 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:  Mark is also living in this community of vulnerable people. And maybe he thought they’d potentially be easy prey.

John:  Yeah, I don’t think he chose to live there, particularly intentionally for victims. But I think there’s people there with problems. And some of them are developmentally disabled, and some of them are just down on their luck. I think Mark recognized that there were some victims that were more vulnerable than others.

Yeardley:  Did Mark ever give a reason as to why he killed Lynn?

John:  The motive, at least partially, for Lynn, was that Mark stole some checks from her.

Paul:  Yeah.

John:  He called a check cashing company, and he’s on his recorded phone, so he’s calling these places saying, “Hey, can I cash a check with just an ID” or whatever some question you have with that? And he took one of her checks down there. And actually, I don’t know if he successfully cashed it or tried to cash it. So, there was a robbery component there.

Yeardley:  And Mark is leaving quite a trail of evidence behind with his recorded phone calls. And I assume that he would fill the checkout to himself.

John:  Yes. Yeah. And I think he is using those recorded phone calls maybe to kind of relive the experience of getting her into the trap.

Yeardley:  To more laying out of the house about her headlights.

John:  Right.

Dave:  Now I’m really curious about an interview with Mark.

John:  I hate to let you down. It did occur, but he was just very vague and obstinate and would never fully answer a question. He pulled the old, I have amnesia. I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing. At this juncture in my career, it takes a while to get me really wound up. But I was pretty wound up with him a couple of times. And I’ll give it one aspect. They asked Mark, what would you like for lunch? At that point, he was just blanketly, “I don’t remember anything about it. I don’t remember I was raised. I don’t remember anything.” And he said, “A sandwich, any kind of sandwich. Just no shellfish. I have an allergy to shellfish. I have to carry an EpiPen with me everywhere I go.” And I was like, “Is that right?”

 So, I walked down the hallway and I jerked the door open. The tape is still running. And I said, “Hey, you sure remember you got a shellfish allergy, don’t you? But you can’t remember who raised you, but you remember you got an EpiPen and a shellfish allergy. You know what, man? That jury’s going to know you’re nothing but a goddamn liar.” [Yeardley laughs]

Dave:  Yeah.

John:  Didn’t get very far with Mark. Because he was just, like I said, he was just obstinate. So, it’s just no place to go with those.

Dan:  Like you bring to him. “Hey, we found some stuff in your apartment, like some zip ties that had been clipped. Those types of guys, you can put it in front of them. They go, “Okay, like, yeah, they’re zip ties. I can confirm that. What do they mean to me?”

John:  Exactly? or they come up with the stupid stuff he was saying about the blood.

Dan:  Right. I was dragging my feet through someone’s lawn and I just must have picked up some ambient blood.

John:  Yeah, it’s everywhere.

Dave:  So, you’ve been in lots of rooms with suspects for big crimes that get you decades in prison. And you’ve probably seen the whole spectrum of this person’s definitely on a different planet, crazy versus this person’s very calculated, but they’ve got some ticks versus completely sane, whatever. Where does Mark land on that spectrum for you?

John:  That’s a great question. So, Mark is very cunning and street smart. Mark constructs doors, like Paul was saying, to get out of his apartment, to be unseen. He’s very, very criminally sophisticated. But when it comes to things like how you would try to carve your case or how you would try to manipulate your case to make people believe that maybe you’re unfit to stand trial, those kinds of things, he’s not sophisticated. He does dumb things like get on the phone and talk to his sister and say, “All I need to do is make them believe that I’m this or that just for another few months, and I’m in the clear.” They’re not going to be able to prosecute me.

 I think the last time I heard, he’s at a locked facility and they’re still trying to determine whether or not he is fit to stand trial.

Dave:  And that’s frustrating for us because I recognize the sophistication here. And Mark’s acknowledging that he knows what he’s doing is wrong because he’s trying to hide it. He’s trying to veil it as a natural death and secreting evidence. Those types of things show a level of sophistication that. For us laypeople, I tend to think of us as reasonable people that could serve on a jury without being excluded. I think if I’m a juror and I hear these types of details, I go, I don’t care what Mark looks like on the interview. I can tell he knows the difference between right and wrong. I can tell that Mark was scheming, trying to avoid prosecution or detection. All these things show me that he is aware of what he’s doing.

 And it’s frustrating to us when a defense attorney and a psychologist come in and say, “That person’s not competent.” And you’re like, “Well, you want to let him out, see what happens.” There’s a cost to you guys making those types of determinations.

John:  From the very beginning, Mark recognized how having blood on his clothing need to be explained. They’re crazy explanations, but he does recognize the difference. He recognizes the difference between, certainly from right and wrong.

Dave:  Yep.

[Break 3]

Yeardley:  So, John what are you able to charge Mark with? Does he get charged with two murders for Lynn and Leroy and then the attempt at homicide for what he did to Sue.

John:  Correct. Yeah, he was charged with the two homicides and then the attempt murder of Sue.

Yeardley:  You said he hasn’t gone to trial yet because they can’t decide whether or not he’s competent to stand trial.

John:  So, he’s not trying to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Mark says he is incompetent and he’s been able to hoodwink some defense experts into believing that he does not appreciate the wrongfulness of what he did and that he doesn’t understand the process about what is happening with him. They have to understand that they’re being put on trial for what they did and that it’s a consequence to what they did. And so that’s the standard.

Yeardley:  Even though you have jailhouse recordings of Mark saying to his sister, “All I need to do is pull the wool over their eyes for a few more months.” That’s not stone-cold evidence.

Dan:  That is the frustrating part from our perspective, is that certain folks who are involved in the process conveniently ignore things like that. They think it’s a one off. But I think to reasonable people, we look at that and we say, “Mark is clearly competent.” He clearly understands what’s going on, and he is feigning whatever mental ailment that he’s trying to portray to the court.”

Dave:  Yeah. And I’ve had, I don’t know how many, but lots of defendants get, you know, their psyche vows, and you get those back and you get these sentences like this “Defendant cannot appreciate the circumstances they’re in,” those types of things. And I’m always like, well, I mean, can we at least assign a few points on this scale to, “Is this guy likely to malinger? Or is he basically, “I’m going to play the game. I’m going to fail this test on purpose” because the cost for me is I go to prison for life. So, I’m hoping to lessen that. So, it’s biased and the suspect controls the bias of the test by how they answer. So, there are ways to get around these things and to hoodwink experts who are like, oh, no, he can’t help.He doesn’t even know what planet he’s on. The rebuttal from the prosecution is always, well, here’s this jail tape, here’s the sophistication of the crime scene at Lynn’s, and then days later, more sophistication at another crime scene, except Mark was interrupted, and he didn’t plan for that. Now Mark’s got explanations for the FTO and his trainee. There’s all of this stuff that the prosecutor can bring back in and rebuttal to overcome the unreasonableness that we see coming from defense attorneys and their experts.

Paul:  And to underscore, I’ve been retired going on six years and this case happened several years before I retired. What year did this happen in?

John:  It was 2015.

Paul:  Yeah. So, I mean, this is now going on nine years. I thought there was a conviction, and Mark has holed up in one of the prisons, but no, he’s still playing the game nine years in. Yeah. So, charges are filed. Mark is in custody, and, John, did you get involved in the incident at the jail with Mark?

John:  I did not, because that was internal. The sheriff’s office handled it, but I’m familiar with it.

Paul:  Yeah. If you’re comfortable, talk about that.

John:  Yeah. Yeah. So, don’t get me wrong when I’m talking about some of the idiocy associated with Mark’s statements. He’s a very cunning, very dangerous individual. And like I said, he’s in good physical condition. And so, he was housed across the street from where I am right now at the jail. And he was on a module.

Yeardley:  What’s a module?

Dave:  It’s like a cell block.

John:  Yeah. He was restricted access.

Yeardley:  So Mark is intentionally separated.

John:  Right. So, Mark is in custody. It’s two deputies to open a cell. Not one single deputy. Mark enticed a female deputy to open the door for some purpose and she did that alone. And when she did that, he actually overpowered her and dragged her to another area of the cell block, to a utility closet, pulled her inside the utility closet with him. And at that point, she thought he was going to kill her. He had complete control over her. She was yelling. Some deputies heard that. Those deputies figured out something was going on, went there and freed her.

Yeardley:  Wow.

Dave:  Damn.

John:  I think the plan was Mark was going to use her as a hostage, have her open the door so he could get out of the jail.

Yeardley:  So, Mark is locked up, but he has not gone to trial for these two murders. I always think about the families, the frustration, you just must pull your hair out.

John:  The families are understandably beside themselves. But in this particular case, you know, you think you have all this great physical evidence, and you think, we’ve got this guy and he’s just playing this game about, I don’t understand what I did was wrong.

Yeardley:  This is a worst nightmare scenario. I just think it goes back to what you all have said time and time again, and that is, you’re at the mercy of whoever gets your case, from detectives to prosecutors, and all you can do is hope that you got the A team.

John:  Yep, exactly.

Yeardley:  I’m curious, as I listen to this case, and Mark is, as much as he is a predator, he’s a serial liar. Right?

John:  Not a great one, but, yeah.

Yeardley:  Not a good one. But for all of you, Dan, Dave, Paul, and John, so much of your job is every single day somebody’s going to lie to you, and they do it over and over and over and over. And my question is, how does that color your view of the world? And do you remember a time before you became a police officer that people didn’t lie to you every day? Do you remember what you were like back then?

John:  You know, it’s funny, my wife said to me recently, she says, “When I first met you were such a nice boy.”


John:  That was a long time ago.

Paul:  That was a long, long time ago.

John:  Long time ago. [Paul laughs] It’s funny you asked that Yeardley, because I’ve literally talked to people who are not even necessarily, some major criminal, but just somebody who’s up to no good and some aspect of a case maybe, or something. I remember one time, this one particular one was lying to me about something. And I said, “You’re lying and you’re lying about something that you don’t even need to lie about. What is the purpose of lying about this?” And this individual I was talking to flat out said, “I don’t know, man.” He goes, “I always lie when I talk to the police,” even about stuff that’s inconsequential, that’s completely meaningless.

Yeardley:  How does it color your view of the world even when you’re with family, at a holiday or you’re out with your friends? I think it can’t not color everything around you.

John:  Yeah. I mean, hopefully you don’t let it get to a point where you’re not fun to be around anymore. My wife’s comment there, that was a little. I was like, okay, what does that mean exactly? But, yeah, I mean, you hear people telling a story, just some innocuous story and everybody embellishes and you just listen to them and you think, “That’s a lie. That didn’t happen.”

Dave:  I think about it often. I’m like, “God, [laughs] you think I don’t have a well-honed bullshit meter?” Like, try me. [John Laughs] You know, it’s why I can look at certain things and I’m like, the light hasn’t come on for you yet. You still believe in people.

John:  Yeah. That’s a great way of putting it. Absolutely. Yeah. You still have some faith in people. New cops are good for that. I say, well, that’s all right. We’ll wring that out of you.

Dave:  Yeah.


Dave:  This case in particular is a good example of this. You’ve got an FTO with his recruit, and Mark is playing the name game with the recruit, and the recruit probably doesn’t even realize it. But then you’ve got the FTO who comes over and it’s the old wise one. Again, the bullshit meter. Your bandwidth for bullshit is completely changed when you become a police officer. And as you progress through your career, it takes you less and less time to know that someone is lying to you.

Yeardley:  I always say my Wednesday never looks like any of y’all’s Wednesday, ever, not ever, nor will it ever. And it is the most unusual, extraordinarily constantly stressful, but also, I’m sure incredibly rewarding profession. And the ones who do it well and do it right always consider it a calling. And it’s clear that you’re part of that club, John.

John:  Oh, well, thank you for that.

Yeardley:  Thank you so much for joining us.

John:  I’m sure everybody here has had very similar experiences with cases that they’ve worked. Sometimes things just fall into place and sometimes they don’t.

Yeardley:  Yeah. But I do feel like, when things don’t fall into place for me, when I used to go to an audition, I didn’t get the job. Nothing really bad happens. I didn’t get the job, I’m terribly disappointed but the world goes on. [laughs] When shit doesn’t fall into place for you guys, the ripple effect can be enormous.

John:  Yeah, it can.

Dave:  I just want to point out the witness that came forward at Mark’s apartment complex.

Yeardley:  The guy who approached John about Lynn’s death.

Dave:  Yeah, I think it would have been very easy for a lot of cops to just go, “Hey, basically, mind your business. Oh, thanks. Thanks for your info. I’ll let you know if I need anything.” But, John, you ask more questions. And that’s really our job, is to ask more questions and investigate that’s what we’re supposed to do and I think it’s really important that we point those things out.

John:  Yeah. Thank you very much for that. I appreciate that very much.

Paul:  You know, John, we’ve had amazing guests on the show, and listening to them talk about their careers and the work they’ve done, it’s obvious these guests are very dedicated. This is one of the few instances where I’ve seen that dedication and that expertise firsthand. So, thank you for taking the time and recording with us.

John:  Thank you, Paul. Don’t forget, half of what I know you taught me, so.


Paul:  They flowed both ways.

John:  Well, there you go. We swapped information back and forth.

Paul:  That’s right. [Laughs]

Dave:  We are honored to have you and greatly appreciate you coming on.

John:  Oh, well, thank you. That’s very, very, very nice of you guys. Thank you.

Yeardley:  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.

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