A husband calls 911 to report that his wife is dead – drowned in the hot tub. Investigators are immediately suspicious when they notice injuries to the husband’s wrists. As evidence begins to mount, the victim’s well-heeled friends and neighbors push back at the idea that it could be murder. Because that’s something which happens to other people.
Special Guests: Sergeant David & Lieutenant George
Sergeant David is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement. As a detective, he has lead investigations into murder, child abuse, robbery, narcotics, auto theft, burglary, and sexual assault. He has worked patrol, is currently the SWAT team commander, and is in charge of his agency’s detective bureau.
Lieutenant George has been in law enforcement for over 20 years. Before his recent promotion to Sergeant, he spent 12 years as a detective in the Violent Crimes Unit of his town’s police agency. George has been a member of SWAT for 17 years. He has also served on Bike Patrol and as a Field Training Officer.Read Transcript
Operator: [00:00:03] Okay, tell me exactly what happened.
Caller: [00:00:06] I just went out and I found my wife in the hot tub.
Operator: [00:00:09] Mm-hmm.
Caller: [00:00:10] And I think she’s dead.
Operator: [00:00:12] Okay.
Caller: [00:00:13] We had sexual relations in the hot tub.
Operator: And you left, and she was going to stay in for a while?
Caller: [00:00:18] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:00:20] When a serious crime is committed in a small town, a handful of detectives are charged with solving the case. I’m Yeardley, and I’m fascinated by these stories. So, I invited my friends, Detectives Dan and Dave, to help me gather the best true crime cases from around the country and have the men and women who investigated them, tell us how it happened.
Dan [00:00:46] I’m Dan.
Dave [00:00:47] And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from Small Town USA.
Dan [00:00:51] Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He’s now a patrol sergeant at his police department.
Dave [00:00:57] Dan investigated violent crimes. He’s now retired. Together, we have more than two decades experience and have worked hundreds of cases. We’ve altered names, places, relationships, and certain details in these cases to maintain the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dan [00:01:12] We ask you to join us in protecting their true identities, as well as the locations of these crimes out of respect for everyone involved. Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:01:28] Today, on Small Town Dicks, it’s a very big day, not only do we have the band all together, I have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:35] Good afternoon.
Yeardley: [00:01:36] Good afternoon. I have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:39] Glad to be here.
Yeardley: [00:01:40] Glad to have you. Thanks for showing up.
Dan: [00:01:42] I came with you.
Yeardley: [00:01:43] (laughs) True. We have two of our original guests from season one. George just keeps getting promoted, so I’m not even sure what to call you now.
Dave: [00:01:55] Don’t get me fucking started with that.
George: [00:01:59] Wow.
Dave: [00:02:00] He used his veteran’s points, got promoted to lieutenant. Sorry, I interrupted.
Yeardley: [00:02:04] First, he started out with us as Detective George. Then, he went to Sergeant George, and now he’s Lieutenant George.
George: [00:02:10] Hello, everybody.
Yeardley: [00:02:10] Hi George. Poor George.
David: [00:02:13] Were you even a sergeant for a year?
George: [00:02:14] Two years.
David: [00:02:15] Oh.
Yeardley: [00:02:17] That was like six months. Anyhow, we have our big silverback gorilla who we adore, who started us out on the podcast in season 1 as well. We have Sergeant David.
David: [00:02:29] Hello. Good to be back.
Yeardley: [00:02:30] Thank you for coming back. This really is exciting. I mean, when you have your favorite guests together, and you have the band all together, it’s a pretty big day. Gentlemen, George and Sergeant David, you have a great case for us today. I’m just going to stop talking and let you take it away.
David: [00:02:50] Okay, well, I was the Detective Sergeant when this case came out, and as per usual, my phone rings and off hours. I remember this is a Sunday night, and my phone rang about 10:30 at night. It was a patrol Sergeant who was telling me they’re out on a dead person. The person had, according to him, drank too much and drowned in the hot tub or had a seizure of some sort. Didn’t suspect anything foul. The victim, her name was Paula. She was a professional woman who lived in a nice neighborhood. Her husband was home at the time and her husband, and he was named Randy, which started my wheels turning a little bit like, “Okay, he’s home and she’s in the hot tub and she’s dead.” I asked the usual questions, “Who else is there? What are you looking at?” He said, “Well, she’s out of the hot tub because he tried to revive her, but she’s dead.” I thought, “Okay, well, I’m going to send a detective in to help you with the scene.”
I call one of my detectives to have him go in with the instructions, like, “If something comes up, please call me and tell me what you’ve figured out what might be happening or is happening.” About an hour and a half later, I get a call from this detective. He tells me the situation, which I don’t like. I don’t like what I’m hearing. He said he looked at Paula’s body and didn’t see any marks or anything like that. There was nothing out of the ordinary to him. I said, “Well, talk to Randy and see if he’ll come down the station and talk to us about the night. Kind of low key and let him know that we want to talk to him about what kind of things are leading up to her going to the hot tub and then him finding her dead.
[00:04:22] He did, and I went down the station and we were sitting down talking with Randy. He’s a normal-looking guy. He wasn’t a career criminal, he didn’t have any real record, didn’t know much about him at the time. He acted somewhat inappropriate in my view of things. He was not really that sad about things. He was kind of coming to terms with it pretty fast. In the course of talking to Randy, my little voice in my head, or whatever you want to call it or say it, there’s something wrong with this guy. There’s something not right with what he’s saying and I’m not believing that he just found his wife passed out. He said she had a couple glasses of wine and that she had fallen asleep in the hot tub and drowned or else had some kind of seizure, which she had never had before.
He was wearing a long-sleeved, buttoned-up shirt at the time. I said, “Well, we’re going to take some photographs of you to make sure that we know everything.” He goes, “Sure.” I had the other detective take pictures of him standing there in what he’s wearing. I said, “Could you roll your sleeves up for me?” He rolls up the sleeves and he’s he rolled up his sleeves, he had a couple scratches on the inside of his forearms. I go, “Where’d you get those?” “Oh, those, I was out doing yard work. There were blackberry bushes or something,” and they weren’t blackberry bush scratches. I said, “Why don’t you unbutton your shirt for us?” He unbuttons his shirt and takes it off. Right above his left nipple on his chest, he has a bite out of him that is like you would take a bite out of an apple. It’s still freshly bleeding. I go, “What’s that?” He goes, “Well, it’s embarrassing.” He goes, “My wife bit me.” I said, “Oh, really?” “We are really into rough role-playing sex and we had really rough role-playing sex right before she went and had a glass of wine to cool off in the hot tub.”
[00:06:11] Well, right now, everyone who’s listening to this and me at the time was thinking, “Bullshit.” But I’m at the point now where I don’t really know what caused her death, because we haven’t had an autopsy yet. I just played along with it and said, “Oh, really? Okay. Any other injuries on you?” He said, “No.” He ends up letting us photograph his entire body. There’s no other real injuries, but this bite on Randy’s chest was a big deal. I mean, it was one of those fighting for your life things. It’s not like, “I’m going to nibble on you a little bit,” sex kind of thing.
Yeardley: [00:06:45] Can I ask you a question?
David: [00:06:46] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:06:46] When somebody drowns, is there any telltale blood coming out of the nose, in the mouth, anything like that?
David: [00:06:53] A lot of time there’ll be– I call it comb foam. Basically, there’ll be a foamy substance in their nostrils and in their mouth a lot of times when they get stuff in their lungs, especially water.
Yeardley: [00:07:04] She didn’t have any of that?
David: [00:07:05] I never saw the body. By the time I got there, I never saw the body. This is something that’s going to go directly to the medical examiner at this point. So, Paula’s body goes to the morgue, and we let it Randy home that night, but we had taken these photographs. I called the DA’s office that night to let him know what was going on and this autopsy was pending, and that my instincts were that this wasn’t a rough-sex-relaxation-hot-tub-afterwards-drowning.
Then we started looking at a little bit of history of those two, how long they’ve been married. They hadn’t been married all that long at the time, and got married later in life. She achieved a lot in her life. She was a prominent person in the community. She had a lot of friends, including retired judges. Randy had been living with his mother all the way up into his early 40s and somehow found her and that was his meal ticket, I guess.
Yeardley: [00:07:55] When he moves out of his mother’s house is because he’s marrying Paula?
David: [00:08:00] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:08:00] I see. How old is she?
David: [00:08:03] She’s in her 50s. She had a lot of friends that were what you’d call prominent members community. There was people at a university and she had a pretty prestigious job there which required her to make a lot of contacts in the public. Anyway, the autopsy was performed the next day. Actually, I attended the autopsy. During the examination, she had small broken bones in her neck where she had been strangled. She also had seven contusions on her scalp. Basically, the theory was, he had her by the hair and was beating her head against the edge of the hot tub. You couldn’t see because of her hair at the time, but they were significant bruising all the way down to the skull. According to doc, probably would have actually knocked her out.
He determined she did not even die of drowning. She died of strangulation, and Randy just put her in the water to make it look like that.
[00:08:54] You would think at that point, “All right, now’s a good time to go talk to Randy about these things.” It’s Tuesday now. We go gather up Randy again. Of course, the first thing he wants to talk to you is a lawyer. We’re done. We serve a search warrant on the house. There’s a couple things we’re looking for. One, we’re trying to corroborate his story about this rough sex, if they have any bondage stuff, or any kind of porn in that realm or anything like that. None of that whatsoever. We did find correspondence with her and her lawyer that Paula was trying to divorce Randy.
Yeardley: [00:09:27] Oh.
David: [00:09:28] It was all fairly recent stuff. It’s really pretty obvious that this marriage is going south and it was his meal ticket. The motive is right there. He has every reason did not want her out– if he gets rid of her before she divorces him, he probably gets to get the house and whatever else he might have been the beneficiary of.
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David: [00:11:19] It’s really to me not a difficult case at all that we’re ready to arrest this guy for murder. We run into a snag with the DA’s office, saying we’re just not there yet.
Yeardley: [00:11:32] How can that be? The medical examiner had said that she was strangled and she has seven obvious contusions on her head.
Dan: [00:11:40] Well, in law enforcement, sometimes these cases are real head scratchers for us too. It seems obvious to us. The DA ultimately makes that decision on whether or not they’re going to indict for whatever charges. Depending on who your DA is, some are a little more risk averse than others, and going to trial is risky.
Yeardley: [00:12:03] Right. That would drive me– I couldn’t– Wow, I don’t know how you do it.
Dan: [00:12:07] Yeah, it’s frustrating for investigators, because where my barometer is, of getting beyond a reasonable doubt and securing a conviction, it could be different for the prosecutor.
Yeardley: [00:12:18] Right. But, I mean, ah!
Dan: [00:12:22] We feel the same way.
Yeardley: [00:12:24] Ugh!
David: [00:12:25] I’m perplexed, the medical examiner’s perplexed. We have a meeting with the medical examiner and the district attorney’s office and myself. When we have a homicide, it’s kind of all hands-on deck. We have a lot of people to contact on the periphery of these cases, so I have them go out and do it. They went out and made a lot of contacts on a lot of friends that they had about what kind of relationship they had or what they perceived the relationship to be.
Yeardley: [00:12:50] You mean, you sent officers out to talk to Randy and Paula’s friends just trying to get this information about what the couple’s relationship was like?
David: [00:12:58] Yes. The funny thing is none of these people that are in prominent positions believed for a second, that Randy would kill his wife. They just didn’t believe that because it was like, “I don’t know people that would do that.” It was almost that kind of thing. I’m going “Oh, you do know people that will do that, trust me.” Anyway, they went around and got all this information. When we had this meeting, I brought one of them to tell what he had found about this not so blissful marriage that they had, and one of the district attorneys walked in while we’re getting ready and we were starting to talk about the case. He had already been privy to this conversation I had about what my detective have found out and referred to him while I was sitting right there, “As I’ve already read what your douchebag detective came up with.” “Let me introduce you to my douchebag detective. He’s right here.” It was a pretty bright moment for me.
Dave: [00:13:47] He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?
David: [00:13:50] Yeah, it was one of those moments. Our medical examiner here is a very, very knowledgeable guy. He’s quirky as hell, but he’s a very knowledgeable guy. He shows up to this meeting and he gives his presentation, which is really good, and the DA’s office is still sitting there like, “Well, how do you know she didn’t fall?” He goes, “Seven times?” He’s just explaining this. He goes, “If you’re not going to call this a murder, then the next time I get somebody that is coming here with stab wounds, no matter how many, how am I going to say they didn’t fall on the knife?” They get into this big argument and I’m standing there. There’s lawyers and there’s doctors, and here’s me. It’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” They go back and forth and back and forth.
Anyway, they finally decide, “Okay, let’s arrest Randy.” We ended up arresting him and we ended up getting more information about their relationship and the fact that Paula is going to divorce him and it’s coming together really good. Paula had family in a city that was far away from here who came. We are getting ready to proceed with this and then it comes to the time they’re going to start talking about how to deal this away from a murder.
Yeardley: [00:15:02] Deal this?
Dave: [00:15:03] Plea deal between the DA’s office and the defense.
Yeardley: [00:15:07] I see, but how can they do that? It was a murder.
David: [00:15:12] Yes. Randy pleads not guilty, they will never let you just come in and plead guilty to murder.
Yeardley: [00:15:17] Why not?
Dan: [00:15:17] Well, a murder charge is about as bad as it gets. These judges want to make sure that somebody has been well informed of their choices. Upon your first court date, your first arraignment for you to just come in and say, “Guilty,” it just doesn’t happen. They want attorneys and defense attorneys to have a look at the case first, before they allow somebody to fall on the sword.
Yeardley: [00:15:41] What if they’re like, “No, I did it. I’m guilty of murder”? Why is it different that a DA would get to try to negotiate a lesser charge than a suspect saying, “No, I’m guilty. I did it”?
Dan: [00:15:53] I just don’t know of any situations that that’s happened like that. I mean they’ll take a guilty plea, but it’s not going to be at the initial arraignment. They’ll take a guilty plea eventually basically to prevent an appeals process that could overturn whatever that guilty plea is.
Yeardley: [00:16:11] It’s like, you got to check a bunch of boxes and do your due diligence.
Dan: [00:16:13] You’ve got to do due diligence. Defense attorney has to have an opportunity to take a look at the case before they’re going to allow that to happen.
Yeardley: [00:16:22] I see.
David: [00:16:23] Randy pleads not guilty, and then the long wait begins. During this time, we’re doing investigations all the time. I talked to people who were prominent people, some of whom were ex-judges and current judges, and they still could not believe that Randy murdered Paula. They just can’t believe that they know someone like that. One of these judges actually asked me, he goes, “How sure are you that this actually happened?” I said, “I’m so sure I’d bet my life on it.” He thought that was inappropriate that I had made up my mind so much about this. It was like I was supposed to be neutral all the way to the end. You start out neutral, but you don’t end up that way. You end up getting all the information. To me, this was so plain and so obvious, and so not well thought out, and this whole rough sex deal, “that’s how I got a bite out of my chest,” was just a bunch of-
Yeardley: [00:17:15] Crap.
David: [00:17:16] -crap. Yeah, it was not even close to being that.
Yeardley: [00:17:19] Now, was her hyoid bone broken?
David: [00:17:21] Mm-hmm.
Yeardley: [00:17:22] One of the telltale signs of strangulation, right?
David: [00:17:25] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:17:25] Yes.
Dan: [00:17:26] Backing up a little bit. At the house, Randy called 911.
David: [00:17:30] Yes.
Dan: Did you listen to the 911 call?
David: [00:17:32] I did. Yes.
Yeardley: [00:17:33] We actually have that call. Let’s have a listen, shall we?
Operator: [00:17:42] 911, what’s the address and emergency? Okay, tell me exactly what happened.
Randy: [00:17:46] Um, I just went out and I found my wife in the hot tub.
Operator: [00:17:50] Mm-hmm.
Randy [00:17:51] And I think she’s dead.
Operator: [00:17:52] Okay. Are you outside with her right now, are you back in the back house?
Randy: [00:17:55] I’m in the house.
Operator: [00:17:57] Is she conscious at all?
Randy [00:17:58] No, she’s quiet and stiff.
Operator [00:18:01] When did you last see her?
Randy: [00:18:03] Um, 9 or 9:30, we were in the hot tub together and I got out.
Operator: [00:18:08] Okay, are you able to take the phone outside to her?
Randy: [00:18:11] Yes.
Operator: [00:18:12] You’ve gotten her out of the hot tub?
Randy: [00:18:13] I just pulled her up and kind of hung her arm over the side.
Operator: [00:18:16] Okay, do you want to get her out and do CPR? Do you think that you can do that?
Randy: [00:18:19] Oh, no, I think it’s– [crosstalk]
Operator [00:18:21] Beyond helping much, okay, we’ve got the paramedics there right now. Is there anyone else there with you? Are you home alone?
Randy [00:18:28] Home alone.
Operator [00:18:29] Does she have any medical problems?
Randy [00:18:31] Uh, yes, she’s– um, just lately she went to this eye doctor for some sort of shadow she’s had in her eye and she’s, uh, she’s been unsteady, she’s– she’s got, uh, um, a bad hearing in one ear and it’s affected her balance, could’ve been–
Operator [00:18:47] Okay.
Randy [00:18:48] -minor or– I guess maybe now major.
Operator [00:18:56] Did they know what the problem was with her eyes?
Randy [00:18:58] Uh, at the eye doctor’s, they said it was, uh, something with aging or something. She’d look at the side of her eye, it was like something would cross over, like a dark shadow or something crosses her eye.
Operator [00:19:11] Mm-hmm. Okay. And they had to determine what it was yet or–?
Randy [00:19:15] They said it was something to do with aging.
Operator [00:19:16] Okay. Okay. Would you be able to unlock the door?
Randy [00:19:22] Yeah.
Operator [00:19:22] You may turn on the outside lights from them when they get there, they’re going to want to come, and the police will come to help you and assist you with that, and the paramedics, they need to check her and make absolutely sure there’s nothing they could do to help her.
Randy: [00:19:32] Okay. Okay.
Operator [00:19:37] Okay. Was she complaining of any pain, anything like that today, anything that led up to it?
Randy [00:19:40] No. Um–
Operator [00:19:42] Everything pretty normal?
Randy [00:19:42] Yeah. We had sexual relations, um, in the hot tub.
Operator: [00:19:50] Okay. And you left her, and she was going to stay in for a while?
Randy: [00:19:54] Yeah. I, um, I, um, well– [sighs] I’ll tell the police when they get here.
Operator [00:20:05] Yeah, they’ll be able to take care that when they there.
Yeardley: [00:20:11] I have to say, that guy, Randy, sounds like he called up some appliance shop to complain about his refrigerator not working. His tone is so casual. And then, the dispatcher is also casual, but her job is just to take down the information. Do you think she actually believes what he was telling her?
Dan: [00:20:34] A couple things. I think she believes Randy. She doesn’t have enough information at this point to really form an opinion, but I guarantee that she’s struck by his casual tone. He’s almost flippant at times during that call.
Yeardley: [00:20:49] Honestly, it doesn’t sound like he’s talking about his dead wife.
Dave: [00:20:53] Well, we’ve talked about it on this podcast before, the emotional event is over. He’s discovered her dead.
Yeardley: [00:21:00] But I don’t understand how 20 minutes later, you sound like, “Yeah, my, um, my refrigerator just seems– it’s warm now. It’s not working.”
Dave: [00:21:11] If you put yourself in Randy shoes, he’s just killed this woman. Now, he’s trying to figure out how do I not get caught? His brain’s on a different wavelength. He has escaped that emotional state at this point. Now, he’s probably got a lot of anxiety, maybe some panic has set in, of, “Oh, God, how do I clean this up so it looks like an accident?” His left brain, right brain– I’m not a psychologist. I’m far from a scientist or a doctor.
Yeardley: [00:21:43] He’s multitasking like crazy is what you’re saying.
Dave: [00:21:46] Yeah, I think he overlooked the fact that if he would have shown a little emotion in this call, it would have benefited him.
Yeardley: [00:21:54] Sure.
Dan: [00:21:55] I think he’s stuck in that anxiety of, “I know the police are coming. I’m going to have to talk to the police.”
Yeardley: [00:22:04] They’re going to have questions.
Dave: [00:22:07] A lot of questions.
Dan: [00:22:08] I think any investigator who listens to this 911 call, it raises your eyebrows.
Yeardley: [00:22:14] Right. Good point.
David: [00:22:16] Yeah. I listened to it way after the fact that I talked to everybody, so I wasn’t surprised at what I heard. Detective George, during the investigation when Paula’s funeral came, you went to her funeral, and why don’t you explain to why you went to the funeral?
George: [00:22:28] You go for a couple different reasons, but one of which is just to listen and hear what other people are saying, what suspicions they have, what information they have that hasn’t been disclosed, the stuff they may share amongst each other that they don’t want to tell the cops, for whatever reasons, privacy reasons or otherwise. So, you interact with people and just see what’s being said. See if it leads you a direction to, one, either eliminate a suspect or focus more on a particular suspect.
Yeardley: [00:22:52] What did you see at Paula’s funeral?
George: [00:22:55] A lot of what Sergeant Dave’s already explained. A lot of people just could not believe it happened, and then surmising, because it’s a drowning, those are often the hardest cases to prove when it’s just a simple drowning and looking further at other evidence is the important part. At the time, they weren’t aware of the forensic evidence, the bite marks, the fractured hyoid bone. They just thought drowning, there is no way that Randy could have done this, she must have just drowned. It’s hard to prove otherwise typically if it’s just water involved. A lot of conversations were about that.
Yeardley: [00:23:25] It’s interesting that it seems as though a fair portion of their disbelief means that would reflect badly on me.
David: [00:23:33] It’s exactly the vibe I got. I’m above living with people who are capable of murder, especially from judges. You guys see this every day, and I’ve talked to more than one judge in this case, and you hear it every day. But I think there’s such a separation, that’s what those people do. My people though, I live in this world don’t do that. It’s kind of sad. It’s kind of naive in a way. It actually got to be a little bit of a barrier in this case, because a lot of these people are people that people in the prosecution world know very well. When they start talking about during this case– I wonder, and this is strictly my opinion, if they were really kind of averse to even having a trial because of it, because all of these people will have come to testify about all of this stuff. Then, their name is associated with something that’s in the paper as a murder trial.
Yeardley: [00:24:24] All these fancy elites.
David: [00:24:26] Yes. They’re friends with, having cocktails with a couple, one of which killed the other. I just don’t think they wanted anything to do with that. Instead of honoring Paula– because she fought for her life, I mean fought hard. She bit of his boob off.
Yeardley: [00:24:43] (laughs)
David: [00:24:43] It’s like I don’t understand why you wouldn’t realize that. I was thinking about people in their victims of the terror and the fear they went through right before they got killed. That kind of stuff should stick with people and they should try to get some kind of atonement for that if you’re going to do something like this.
Dave: [00:24:59] Right, you’re looking over the fence from your yard into Paula and Randy’s backyard and you’re watching this. What would you have seen? You would have seen Paula, kicking, screaming, trying to scream, and clawing her way to get air and get him off of her. Those are her last moments, and that’s what he’s capable of.
Yeardley: [00:25:32] Hey, Producer Nick.
Nick: Hey, Yeardley.
Yeardley: [00:25:35] It’s so good to see you.
Nick: [00:25:36] It’s good to see you as well.
Yeardley: [00:25:38] It’s dinnertime, what’s on the menu with HelloFresh?
Nick [00:25:41] You know I always come with the best meals. Today, I want to tell you about the balsamic bell pepper boats.
Yeardley: [00:25:48] It’s so alliterative.
Nick [00:25:50] Yeah, but these boats don’t go in water, they go right into your tummy.
Yeardley: [00:25:54] (laughs) I love it.
Nick [00:25:57] It actually only took about 30 minutes, we get to cook it together, and it’s a lot of fun.
Yeardley: [00:26:01] Which is awesome, because I don’t think of you as being the cook in the family. Are you?
Nick: [00:26:06] No.
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Nick [00:26:15] Yes, it is.
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Dave: [00:27:02] Going back to the search warrant or the initial investigation when patrol arrives at the scene, Randy’s got this bite mark on his chest, a lot of blood, I’m guessing–
David: [00:27:12] It needed medical attention. That’s how bad it was.
Dave: [00:27:14] Really?
Dan: [00:27:15] He’s not asking for any of that?
David: [00:27:17] Mm-hmm.
Dan: [00:27:17] Because he doesn’t want you to know.
David: [00:27:19] No.
Dan: [00:27:19] Any blood evidence out on patio or the area surrounding this hot tub or–?
David: [00:27:26] No.
Dan: [00:27:26] It had all been cleaned up.
David: [00:27:27] It had all been cleaned up.
Dan: [00:27:28] Which is another sign that Randy’s trying to cover up things.
David: [00:27:31] This thing, if you’re having this so called “rough sex,” there should be evidence of that somewhere in the house, but there really wasn’t. One of the things back to the people in their circle is, when you send your detectives out there, you give them all the information that they have up to this time, especially about what he said about explaining his injuries. Those are things that are uncomfortable questions. They have to ask people like their people that are close him, “Do you know anything about their sex life?” A lot of people don’t want to talk about that, but when the girlfriends and the dudes get together, I’m sure that there’s all kinds of that talk, and it becomes important at some point to disprove what he’s saying because I would have been blown away if they had rough sex like that. It was just a total, total lie.
George: [00:28:11] That’s important to that initial conversation of that, sergeant Dave had with him that night. Sometimes, you’re not going to be able to make that arrest right away, but getting that initial statement, locking Randy into a statement, and at that point maybe disproving a lie as opposed to getting a confession. That’s sometimes just as important when you can pile up evidence to disprove the lie.
Yeardley: [00:28:31] Right. Also, Randy said that the scratches on his arms were from gardening and blackberry bushes. You knew that not to be true. Did they get fingernail scrapings?
David: [00:28:41] Yes, it was him. You go back, if you’re going to be the defense lawyer, you said, “Yeah, we’re having rough sex. She bit me and scratch me.”
Yeardley: [00:28:48] Except that he said it was blackberry bushes, but never mind.
David: [00:28:52] Yeah, Randy lies about that part. Then when we see the bite mark. He’s like, “Oh, that’s not from the blackberries.”
Dave: [00:28:57] You’ve got to scramble for an explanation.
David: [00:28:59] Yeah, and that’s the best he could do. Then, we have this lapse between letting him go that night and he knows we know that he’s got injuries, and we’ve got pictures of him, and he’s got an explanation for them. Also, after the autopsy, then the cops come back, and now as he said, “I don’t want to talk to you guys right now.” That’s it for us. Those initial conversations, like Detective George said, are so important. Any information is better than no information. At least you have something to either talk to close friends or relatives about or anybody else that you can, like I said, disprove something that he said.
Yeardley: [00:29:35] Did you confront him about the, “Well, you said it was blackberry bushes, but she has your skin under her fingernails?”
David: [00:29:42] No, because after that he had already asked for a lawyer and we’re not allowed to talk to him anymore about that.
Yeardley: [00:29:46] He didn’t go to trial because he pled out. Yes?
David: [00:29:49] Yeah. This investigation is continuing. He’s locked up, and I find out that during the negotiations they’re looking at charging him with manslaughter in the first degree, which is a 10-year sentence. My thought was, “Yeah, good luck selling that to Paula’s son,” because in my opinion, if your mother or your loved one, wife, husband is killed, if you’re going to start talking about plea agreements, it should be all run through the person who’s the spokesman for the family. They get the first choice about that. I don’t think it’s up to the DA’s office or the police department decide what to plead. If there’s a plea deal on the table, it should be run straight through the family.
Yeardley: [00:30:31] Would the DA do that?
David: [00:30:34] They do, but–
Yeardley: [00:30:36] Not if they want any objection. If they’re afraid they’re going to get an objection, then are they inclined not to run it by the family members?
David: [00:30:43] I think they sell it different.
George: [00:30:45] Yeah, it’s all about selling it. These things come up, because there’s court mandated settlement conferences, in which a judge says, “You come in and tell me what you think, to the prosecutor, and a judge says the same thing to defense attorney, “You tell me what you think,” and they have a mandated settlement conference, and that’s where these conversations of manslaughter start coming from originating, and then it becomes a prosecutors responsibility to try to sell it or explain it to the family of why that’s the best option.
Yeardley: [00:31:11] How did that go in this case?
David: [00:31:13] Well, in my opinion, and this is my opinion from observing, I think everyone wanted to just to go away including her son. They thought 10 years was a pretty hefty price. I’m not going to interject myself in there and try to talk Paula’s son out of that or anybody out of that. I wasn’t involved in that part of it. I just know that the DA’s office and him got together and I was told that he was fine with 10 years.
Yeardley: [00:31:43] The son was all right with that. The son is from her previous marriage, I’m guessing?
David: [00:31:48] Yes. This was a stepfather killing his mother, and when court time came for sentencing, I went to sentencing. I don’t know why I went, I just wanted to watch and be there. When it came time to be sentenced, Randy was sentenced and he had some words to say. He basically got up and said, he apologized for “murdering his wife, I had no right to.” I’m sitting in that courtroom watching a guy. As a son, if I was sitting in there, and I heard someone admit to murdering my mother, and this is no disrespect, it’s just that 10 years isn’t it going to cut it.
Yeardley: [00:32:28] Once he has been given that deal, even though he gets up and says, “I had no right to murder my wife,” which is a different charge than manslaughter.
David: [00:32:38] Absolutely.
Yeardley: [00:32:39] They can’t say, “Oh, wait. Oh shit! What?” And then, charge him for murder because that’s double jeopardy?
David: [00:32:45] The deal is in. If you really look at the manslaughter statute, what happened to her doesn’t even fit.
Yeardley: [00:32:52] Right. Manslaughter is something that seems accidental, unintended?
David: [00:32:55] Or reckless? Or, I guess you could– I don’t know.
Yeardley: [00:32:59] No, Sergeant David, no, this is not that.
David: [00:33:03] Well, if you’re a lawyer, you can make it work.
Dave: [00:33:05] Creative writing.
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Yeardley: [00:35:01] Randy got just 10 years for killing Paula.
David: [00:35:05] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:35:06] Is he still in prison?
Dave: [00:35:07] I just looked him up. Earliest release date is next month.
David: [00:35:10] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:35:11] That would be for good behavior or what?
David: [00:35:13] No, it’s a day for day thing.
Dave: [00:35:15] That’s when he’s going to get out.
David: [00:35:16] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:35:18] I wonder if he’ll go back and live with his mom. Damn!
Dan: [00:35:22] And he’s got a missing nipple.
Yeardley: [00:35:25] (laughs) Did Randy ever say why he killed Paula?
David: [00:35:30] Randy said later on in this whole thing that Paula was just constantly running him down and bitching at him and tell him how worthless he was, and he finally couldn’t handle it anymore. Of course, he can’t probably do it toe to toe out with her. He’s got to be down in the hot tub with her and takes her on then, and she put up a hell of a fight.
Yeardley: [00:35:49] Go, Paula! That’s just–
Dan: [00:35:53] Yeah, I just feel sorry for her. We’ve talked about domestic violence. The leaving is the hardest part. It sounds like she was right on the cusp of– I’m guessing that she was going to kick him out of the house.
David: [00:36:02] Yeah, she was a total breadwinner, he didn’t have a job.
George: [00:36:05] That’s what shows on the domestic violence cases, how it happens to any socioeconomic group, any population, doesn’t matter where you live or who you are, it can happen and elevates to this level. That was the same type of attitude gives us the pushback when we’re trying to figure out who did it that nobody could believe who could happen and that level of people. That domestic violence stuff doesn’t see those type of barriers, it happens everywhere.
Dan: [00:36:28] Dave and I with our family, we’ll talk about cases and you even see the difference in our family where they’re just in disbelief. They’re just not aware that people do those kinds of things. When you’re exposed to it so much, it’s such a reality for us, all four of us, that I think a lot of people, they don’t relate to that. Sometimes, it’s tough.
David: [00:36:51] Well, people live in a bubble, and that’s a good thing. To me, it’s a good thing if they can live in a bubble. But they need to be aware the bubble gets popped sometimes and that making it act like it didn’t happen isn’t going to make it go away. I think if the police department’s doing a really good job, and we’re doing our job and we’re out there, then people can live in their bubble. But the reality of it is, is the bubble gets popped a lot of times for people.
Yeardley: [00:37:17] That’s really well said. Well, Sergeant David, it’s always a pleasure. Detective-Sergeant-Lieutenant-George– (laughs)
George: [00:37:26] Who knows what it’ll be next time, right?
Dan: [00:37:28] Ladder climber.
George: [00:37:29] Keep moving on up.
Dan: [00:37:30] Got an Acme rocket up his ass.
Yeardley: [00:37:34] Wow. Don’t take that from them.
Dan: [00:37:36] I’m off work right now, he can’t order me to do shit.
Yeardley: [00:37:40] At least say goodbye.
Dan: [00:37:42] Thanks for coming on George and Sergeant David.
David: [00:37:45] My pleasure.
George: [00:37:46] Thank you very much. Absolutely, guys. Good to see both of you.
Yeardley: [00:37:48] Oh, it’s good.
David: [00:37:49] All right. See you soon.
Yeardley: [00:37:50] Thank you.
George: [00:37:50] Bye.
Yeardley: [00:37:58] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Soren Begin, 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.
Dan: [00:38:26] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, visit us on our website at smalltowndicks.com.
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Yeardley: [00:39:11] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dave: [00:39:17] -in search of the finest rare true crime cases told-
Dan: [00:39:21] -as always by the detectives who investigated them.
Dave: [00:39:25] Thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley: [00:39:27] Nobody’s better than you.