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Darrell, the donut maker, doesn’t show up for work one morning, which is highly unusual for him. When Investigator Tracey and her team are called in they find evidence of a violent, bloody confrontation at Darrell’s home, but still no sign of Darrell. This became a groundbreaking case for prosecutors in Tracey’s jurisdiction.

Special Guest:  Investigator Tracey

After reading her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 7 Inv. Tracey knew that she wanted to solve real-life mysteries.  She graduated from Auburn University with a BS in Criminal Justice/ Law Enforcement.  She attended the police academy in 1983 as one of only a few females in her class.  For the next 30 years, she was a Criminal Investigator for the Solicitor General and District Attorney’s offices.  She is married to a retired Federal Special Agent, has two grown sons and a Jack Russell fur baby

Read Transcript

Yeardley [00:00:11] 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 [00:00:36] I’m Dan.

Dave [00:00:37] And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from Small Town, USA.

Dan [00:00:41] Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He’s now a patrol sergeant in his police department.

Dave [00:00:47] 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 [00:01:02] So, 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 [00:01:17] Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.

Dan [00:01:24] Back again.

Yeardley [00:01:25] Here you are. [chuckles] So good to see you.

Dan [00:01:28] Likewise.

Yeardley [00:01:29] And we have Detective Dave.

Dave [00:01:31] Good morning.

Yeardley [00:01:32] Good morning, Sir. And we are so pleased to welcome back one of our very favorite guests, Investigator Tracey.

Tracey [00:01:38] Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

Yeardley [00:01:40] So Small Town fam, just to refresh your memories, Tracey has brought us some incredible fan favorites, including Jekyll and Hyde in Season Six, Disgruntled from Season Four, Murder in Plain Sight from Season Three. She’s a pro. Tracey, we are thrilled to have you back because you always bring us these really interesting cases, and today is no exception. So, tell us how this case came to you.

Tracey [00:02:08] Well, this is a very interesting case, because there’s a misconception that if murder has occurred, or a supposed murder has occurred, that if you don’t find the body, there’s no case. And that’s not true. The district attorney’s office that I worked for, back in 1992, tried the first no-body case in our state and the second in the nation. When you think about in 1992 versus today, well, how do you prove somebody is dead? It’s easier today. You’ve got social media presence, you have cell phone usage, you have all kinds of IT and telecommunications and that type of thing that you can use to prove someone has basically dropped off the face of the earth. Back in ’92, how did you do that? So, that’s what I’m going to talk about today, how we proved without a body that our victim was murdered.

Yeardley [00:03:16] Interesting. I can imagine it’s just ripe for the defense to say, “You don’t have a case.”

Tracey [00:03:23] Well, that’s pretty much what they initially said. So, the victim in this case was named Darrell. Darrell owned a cheesecake bakery that catered to restaurants in our area. He was quite well known in the community, in the restaurant industry, and people that just loved his cheesecake. He was very, very close with his family. His father, Hank, would go by the cheesecake bakery every morning, just to visit his son.

The morning that this happened, he went to the bakery and it was closed. Darrell was not there, which was highly unusual. Darrell should have been there baking the cheesecake, making the donuts. So, Hank went to Darrell’s condominium, which was nearby. Darrell’s car was not there. His father thought, “Okay, well, he’s just out running errands.” So, he waited a little while and called back to the bakery when he knew another employee would be there. She answered the phone and said that Darrell had never shown up. Then, Hank started getting very worried. He called his two other sons to join him at Darrell’s condominium. He had a key and they went inside. Other than a sheet over the couch, nothing seemed out of place, except the victim was missing and his little dog that he loved was missing.

Yeardley [00:05:09] Meaning, Darrell was missing and his little dog?

Tracey [00:05:12] Yes. Again, his car’s not there. So, they’re thinking, “Okay, something came up. He’s in a meeting. He’s going to drive up any minute now.” Well, in a minute, his car did drive up, and someone they did not know was driving the car and had Darrell’s dog in the car with them.

Yeardley [00:05:35] Oh, and about what time of day is this? Because I know that when you own a bakery, your workday starts at about midnight, and you bake all night in order to have your goods ready very early in the morning. Are we talking like 6:00 AM kind of?

Tracey [00:05:48] No, it was about 10 o’clock in the morning. They approach this guy who’s driving Darrell’s car and they say, “Who are you? And why are you driving Darrell’s car?”

Yeardley [00:06:00] “And where’s Darrell?”

Tracey [00:06:02] “And where’s Darrell? And why do you have his dog?” And the dog had an obvious wound to its snout area and was bleeding. This person who was driving Darrell’s car said, “My name is Philip, and I am a friend of Darrell’s.” Well, they had never heard of Philip. So, they’re like, “Hmm. Okay, we’ve never heard of you. When did you meet Darrell?” He said, “Well, I was out in the park. And Darrell was walking his dog, and he said, “Hey, how would you like to come to work at my bakery? And by the way, I’ve got a two-bedroom condo, why don’t you move in with me?”

Yeardley [00:06:48] Just like that, we meet in a park?

Tracey [00:06:50] Yeah, the story did not make any sense to the family. They actually told Philip to leave, and he left on foot walking. And they called 911 and filed a missing person’s report at that time.

Yeardley [00:07:08] I mean it’s such an outlandish story and he’s driving Darrell car and he has Darrell’s dog. I got a lot of questions.

Tracey [00:07:15] Well, the family had a lot of questions too.

Dave [00:07:18] Did they ask Philip, “Where’s Darrell?”

Tracey [00:07:21] They did. Philip said that Darrell had said, “You can borrow my car.” He assumed that Darrell was at the bakery. He said he didn’t know where he was. He woke up that morning, the keys to the car were there, and he took the car and was just running errands.

Dave [00:07:41] So, according to Philip, Philip lives with Darrell, but he just leaves on foot, he doesn’t go up to the condo?

Tracey [00:07:46] Correct.

Dave [00:07:47] Odd.

Yeardley [00:07:47] That’s suspicious.

Dave [00:07:49] Clearly this family, Darrell is a known commodity to them. Hey, just willy-nilly, pull this guy into your life and now he’s living with you, and now he has access to your car and takes care of your dog? For them to go file a missing person’s report like right away, it’s not jiving with the family. They’re not buying it at all. And I’m sure that given he’s a business owner, Darrell is not one to make flippant decisions about his life and who’s living with him and those types of things. So, family’s like, “This is bullshit. We’re going to the PD.”

Tracey [00:08:22] That’s exactly what happened. So, the missing person’s report was filed with the police department. But you have to understand that Darrell is an adult, he’s allowed to go missing even though he has never done this before. He is a business owner. He’s always there. It’s his business, it’s his condo, very responsible, very, very close to his family. They are Orthodox Jewish family, and Saturdays are spent together, and they’re really tight. So, yes, that’s why immediately they called 911 because the story was just not making any sense.

Yeardley [00:09:04] About how old is Darrell?

Tracey [00:09:05] Darrell is in his early 30s. So, the missing person’s report is on file. Later that night, Philip along with his father, Steve, show up at the police department, and they say we’re here about Darrell. And so, the officer looks up, sees that there is a missing person’s report on file. And Philip’s father, Steve, is doing all the talking and is not allowing his son to say anything at that time. But he does say that he thinks that his son killed somebody.

Yeardley [00:09:50] What?

Tracey [00:09:51] Yeah. He says, “I think my son killed somebody,” and that he wrapped the body up and drove up the highway and dumped it.

Yeardley [00:10:05] Wait. So, Philip, the guy who had Darrell’s car, is with his own father, Steve, and they’re together at the police station?

Tracey [00:10:13] Yes.

Yeardley [00:10:14] And Steve is saying, “I think my son killed somebody?”

Tracey [00:10:17] Correct.

Yeardley [00:10:18] Is Philip standing right next to him when he says that?

Tracey [00:10:20] He is.

Yeardley [00:10:22] Okay.

Dan [00:10:22] A normal person would say, “Dad, what the hell are you talking about?” So, this dynamic of having your father as your spokesperson, for him to even agree, “Let’s go to the PD.” Well, why are we going to the PD?” “Well, I’m going to tell them what I think happened.” I mean, if there’s not an indication, a huge red flag, like, all right.

Yeardley [00:10:42] Do you think that they’re on the same page about this?

Tracey [00:10:45] I think that they are. But I met the father and he seemed to be very controlling over his son. Philip actually had 13 prior arrests, one including an assault. He was on probation at that time, and he was afraid that he was going to get his probation revoked. So, yeah, dad drags him down to the police department and is trying to set up the scenario of what they’re going to say happened in this case.

Yeardley [00:11:23] You mean Philip is already starting to formulate his defense in his head, and figures that going to the police station confessing to this murder, sets him up to spin some sort of story that makes this murder justified?

Tracey [00:11:38] That’s correct.

Yeardley [00:11:39] Okay. I mean, it’s one strategy, I guess.

Dave [00:11:44] I’m sure Philip, at that point is understanding the point that he pulls up to the condo in a missing person’s car. He’s accelerated his timeline for the need to get his story out there.

Tracey [00:11:55] Yeah, he knows the police have been contacted, because Darrell’s family said, “We’re calling 911.”

Dave [00:12:01] I’m curious about that interaction. Does he relinquish the keys to the car?

Tracey [00:12:05] He does.

Dave [00:12:06] Okay, so now the family’s in control of the car, at least we have potential evidence that’s not now leaving the scene with Philip.

Tracey [00:12:13] Oh, no, they did not let him take the dog or the car.

Yeardley [00:12:17] Back to your original opener, it is so extraordinary to me that the father and son are standing next to each other. Father is saying, “So, I think my son killed somebody, wrapped the body up, and dumped it on a highway. I’m establishing the fact that you’ll never find the body and therefore you won’t be able to prove the murder.”

Tracey [00:12:33] I think that was part of it. But you’ll come to see he played games with us about all of this and how it happened and what happened, and what he did with the body and where he put the body. I will be getting to all of that to answer your questions.

Of course, a homicide detective, Detective Chuck comes out and says, “Okay, you’ve just confessed to a murder I understand. Can we chat?” And dad says, “No” He invoked rights for the son. And then, of course, Philip invoked rights. So, my DA was contacted, he went down to the police department. This is late at night at this point. We found an attorney because we wanted to get him an attorney right then. And he comes out and the DA says, “Okay, where’s the body?” And the attorney says, “Well, why should we tell you that?”

Yeardley [00:13:39] Really?

Tracey [00:13:40] Yeah. So, they were no help. Everything from that point was kind of shut down and we had to work the case without the defendant’s help.

Yeardley [00:13:52] Wow. It’s just one bizarrely bad decision after another, isn’t it?

Tracey [00:13:57] Yeah.

Yeardley [00:14:08] Hey, Detective Dan.

Dan [00:14:08] Yeardley?

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Tracey [00:15:32] So, a close friend of Darrell’s, we asked him to come over to the condo because the family, initially looking around, didn’t think anything was out of place.

Dave [00:15:45] As an investigator, my mind goes to when the family first enters that condo for the first time, and you’re hoping as an investigator that they don’t disturb anything. I certainly understand why they would want to touch things, maybe move things around. But the evidentiary value of leaving that place pristine is immeasurable.

Dan [00:16:06] It’s understandable.

Dave [00:16:07] It is.

Dan [00:16:08] But you’re thinking about your detective wish list, which is pristine crime scene, you don’t introduce additional players into the crime scene because now defense attorneys go, “Well, what was the timeline between the time the family discovers and goes inside this crime scene to the time the police actually take control of it and have actual physical control of this crime scene?” It all goes towards this reasonable doubt. Well, you can’t trust this because it could have been manipulated in between. It’s all things that the defense attorney is going, “This is good for me, this is good for me.”

Tracey [00:16:39] But fortunately, for us, the only thing the family noticed out of place was a sheet over the couch. And they just thought, “Well, this guy says he’s staying here, so the sheet is on the couch because he was sleeping on the couch,” so they did not touch anything, which was good for us. We get a search warrant obviously for the condominium. And when the sheet is pulled back off of the couch, there is a huge amount of blood sitting on the top back of the couch, down the back of the couch. And there were shopping bags and books, and magazines and papers that were stacked behind the couch. When those were moved, the carpet behind the couch was soaked in blood.

Yeardley [00:17:34] Oh my God!

Tracey [00:17:35] We call the medical examiner out there. And the medical examiner looked at the amount of blood and said, “This is not survivable.” There were also blood spatters found in the kitchen around the house, not enough that if you just walked in and looked, like the family did, that they would see. Also, in the couch cushions, the back of the couch cushions, were two– what we now know are knife cuts, which contained tissue and blood and hair.

Yeardley [00:18:11] Oh God!

Dave [00:18:12] I’m getting a picture of what happened in this house, at least.

Yeardley [00:18:14] You are?

Dave [00:18:15] I am. I’ll hold my judgment until I hear and let you know if it matches up. I know that’s an easy play for me, but I’m realizing what happened here. This assault happens throughout the house and ends up in a certain place.

Tracey [00:18:26] That’s pretty much correct. Yes. [blows trumpet]


Tracey [00:18:33] Thank you for solving my case!

Dave [00:18:35] As a detective, I’m looking at that going, “Okay, I’ve got blood spatter here, I’ve got blood spatter here, and then I’ve got an enormous amount of blood. I’ve got tissue in the couch. I’ve got knife marks. Okay.” Where do we think this thing ended? The answer is clear.

Yeardley [00:18:49] Right. I mean, it sounds like the victim was chased around the house and being attacked.

Tracey [00:18:55] Yes.

Yeardley [00:18:55] And then, ends up on the couch where it all ends. That’s horrifying.

Tracey [00:18:59] And you think about Philip’s return to this crime scene, but now in between him and the condo is the family. So, he’s got to get rid of this body. And he’s coming back because he wants to clean up and take care of his mistakes.

Yeardley [00:19:12] Oh!

Tracey [00:19:13] Yeah. He had just gotten rid of the body when he drove back up, and the family was there. And he didn’t anticipate that.

Yeardley [00:19:20] And he took the dog.

Tracey [00:19:22] Well, he later said he felt sorry for the dog because the dog got hurt. He was trying to protect his master, his daddy. There was animal blood found throughout the house too.

Yeardley [00:19:33] Oh, no!

Tracey [00:19:33] So, that’s the main area of the house. Up in the victim’s bedroom, we found a large amount of gay male pornographic magazines and videos. And this was back in the days of the VHS videos that you played in a VCR. He also had a camcorder on a tripod in his bedroom. So, immediately we’re thinking, “Okay, we can see where this is going.” And you have to understand, back in 1992, things were different for the gay community, and it turns out that our victim was closeted at that time. His family didn’t know, his friends didn’t know, but he was gay. And so, that started us in a direction for the investigation. Because there was that camcorder set up in the bedroom, we didn’t know what was on those VHS tapes. So, we seized all of them that we could find.

Yeardley [00:20:46] You assumed as tapes were homemade tapes, they were not tapes of pornographic films that you could buy?

Tracey [00:20:52] Well, they appeared to be ones that you can buy, commercial. But we didn’t know if he’s trying to hide what he’s doing or whatever. There could have been something hidden in those videos, or a fake label put on, we didn’t know. So, we took them all.

Yeardley [00:21:10] I see.

Dave [00:21:10] And somebody had to go through all those.

Tracey [00:21:12] And that was me.

Dave [00:21:13] Oh.

Yeardley [00:21:14] Oh. How was that for you, Tracey?

Tracey [00:21:16] Um, that was a very interesting experience. I was not familiar. And again, we’re more aware these days. But, yes, we had to watch every one of those videos. There was nothing on there that we found. But it’s one of those T’s that has to be crossed and I’s dotted that, just in case, we saw the victim and the defendant on a video, and that’d be goldmine for us. But it didn’t turn out to be that way. So, in comes a woman named Jane. Jane was a confidential informant for our drug task force. She said that a friend of hers named Mike told her that Philip had shown up at his house the next morning.

Yeardley [00:22:11] Shown up at Mike’s house?

Tracey [00:22:12] Shown up at Mike’s house. His clothes were covered in blood. He said, “I’ve got to get rid of these clothes. I’ve got to get a shower. And I’ve got to get rid of a body. I had to kill the fag.”

Yeardley [00:22:25] And Philip uses that slur to describe Darrell?

Tracey [00:22:28] Yeah.

Dave [00:22:29] This case hasn’t hit the media.

Tracey [00:22:31] No.

Dave [00:22:31] She contacts you guys. Sometimes, you get these cases that have hit the media because now there’s a story and somebody comes forward because they want to insert themselves and they send you down a rabbit trail, because they want to be a part of this.

Dan [00:22:44] Or, they want the crime stopper money. Or they want that–

Dave [00:22:47] In this case, it’s credible, because she’s now giving information that isn’t available.

Yeardley [00:22:53] I see. Right.

Tracey [00:22:54] Of course, we immediately go to talk to Mike and he’s like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He would never talk to us about it, so we couldn’t use that information because it was hearsay.

Yeardley [00:23:04] If he told you what Philip had told him, it’s still hearsay?

Tracey [00:23:07] No. If he had told us, that’s direct evidence.

Dave [00:23:11] Or if Jane had witnessed the conversation between Philip and Mike.

Yeardley [00:23:16] I see. But you couldn’t use what Jane said, because it’s hearsay because she’s a third party?

Tracey [00:23:21] She heard it from Mike, yeah, second hand.

Dave [00:23:24] And so, now Mike goes, “I don’t know what she’s talking about. That never happened.” So, now you don’t have a direct link to that statement.

Yeardley [00:23:30] And Mike is protecting Philip, we think?

Tracey [00:23:33] Yes, he is. They’re friends from that criminal element world.

Yeardley [00:23:38] So, Mike has a record as well?

Tracey [00:23:40] He does. But you can’t force someone to talk to us, and he never would. But we believe that information to be true, what Jane told us. The evidence indicated that. We had a very close friend of Darrell’s come to the condominium after it had been processed to take a look around and to tell us, “Okay, what’s out of place? What is wrong with this picture?” And he immediately said that, “Well, there’s two couch cushions that are missing.”

Yeardley [00:24:16] Like throw pillows?

Tracey [00:24:17] Yes. Those were missing, that Darrell kept an extremely tidy house. He would never drape a sheet over his couch like that. That he would never stack up bags and boxes and magazines behind his couch. But the clincher was because he was a chef, he had these really expensive nice knives, and they were in the dishwasher. And the friend said, “Oh, that’s a big no-no. Darrell would never put these knives in the dishwasher.” And it had been run, the dishwasher had been run. He said, “Darrell treasured knives. Those were very important to him. He handwashed them, he hand-dried them. He would have never run them through the dishwasher.” So, that was a big clue to us that, “Okay, we’re figuring this out.”

Yeardley [00:25:15] They’ve been run through the dishwasher, but there might still be microscopic bits of blood in crevices, or no?

Tracey [00:25:21] We tried, but remember, this was back in 1992, and they were not able to locate anything on the knives.

Dave [00:25:29] Yeah, back then the sensitivity that we’re accustomed to now– I mean, you think about the first cell phone that came out versus what we have now. We’re talking about the first cell phone that came out, that’s the DNA-type capabilities they had back then.

Yeardley [00:25:43] It’s night and day.

Dan [00:25:43] And also, depending on what cycle you run that dishwasher on, if you have a heated dry, it’s probably gonna kill your DNA, whatever detergent you put in there. Smart move.

Tracey [00:25:56] Yeah, for sure. But it was a big clue to us that something’s seriously wrong here. So, eventually, Philip, we went ahead and charged him with murder, even though we didn’t have the body. He had cuts and abrasions on his fingers. Knives get very slippery with blood and he did have cuts on his fingers.

Dan [00:26:20] So, you guys photograph all that– document injuries?

Tracey [00:26:24] Yeah, there were droplets of blood on the kitchen floor, on the victim’s comforter up in his bedroom, bedsheets, in a tub next to the guest room. There were two tears in the sofa containing hairs, tissue, and blood in the filler material of the sofa.

Dan [00:26:43] Was this condo two-story?

Tracey [00:26:45] Yes, it’s a two-story condo.

Dave [00:26:46] And where’s this living room with the sheet draped over the couch?

Tracey [00:26:50] It’s downstairs and the victim’s bedroom is upstairs.

Yeardley [00:26:54] He’s chased all over this condo.

Dave [00:26:56] Yeah, you see that this happened all over the place likely because Darrell is running for his life.

Tracey [00:27:01] Right.

Dan [00:27:02] And some of that blood likely belongs to Philip too.

Tracey [00:27:05] Well, I’m glad you said that. Back in ’92, we didn’t have DNA testing, you could only type for blood. So, there was type A blood found in the stairwell, which was Philip’s type blood. And the victim was type O and that was found on the TV, on a shopping bag, two sections of the carpet, a black vinyl chair, two sections of the sofa, and there was other blood spatter that was nonhuman from the dog that was spread around. He had an injury to his mouth. There was no blood found on the knives. So, my DA got word through a cellmate of the defendant out at the jail that Philip’s attorney said, “Well, he told me not to worry because if they don’t have a body, they can’t convict me.” And if you knew my DA, that was a throwdown.


Yeardley [00:28:12] Hey, Producer Nick.

Nick [00:28:13] Hey, Yeardley.

Yeardley [00:28:14] How are you?

Nick [00:28:15] I’m good. The Small Town fam must love me if you keep having me back here.

Yeardley [00:28:18] They do. They’re crazy for you.

Nick [00:28:20] Oh, stop it.

Yeardley [00:28:23] [chuckles] Let’s talk HelloFresh.

Nick [00:28:25] I can do this all day.

Yeardley [00:28:26] What inspired you to subscribe to HelloFresh?

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Yeardley [00:28:39] And would you say there’s something for everyone at HelloFresh?

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Tracey [00:29:58] So within two months, we had Philip on trial for murder.

Yeardley [00:30:05] Wow!

Tracey [00:30:05] Yeah, we worked really hard to show him, “Well, hold my beer.”


Tracey [00:30:12] “Watch this.”

Dave [00:30:13] I imagine in that scenario, you’ve got the defense attorney going, “We’ve got to overcome this medical examiner saying, “That much blood, it’s all the same type, that’s not survivable, you can’t lose that amount of blood.” So, the defense needs to now game plan, thinking, “Well, they can’t charge you.” Now, they’re like, “Oh, really?” Like you said, “Hold my beer.” Here it comes. So, now they’ve got to find somebody who can overcome that type of testimony. That’s a big hill to climb.

Dan [00:30:41] I do have a question. So, you guys indict him?

Tracey [00:30:44] Yes.

Dan [00:30:44] You indict Philip?

Tracey [00:30:46] Yes.

Dan [00:30:47] So, during that grand jury testimony, is Philip’s father there?

Tracey [00:30:51] No, in our state, grand jury is secret. So, the only person that can testify would be the homicide detective, assistant DA, the grand jurors, and the witness, the main witness. We came to trial, just like I said, a few months later, which is fast for our system. The actual elected DA tried this case, and the defendant testified.

So, how do we prove without a body that Darrell is dead? We had to use financial witnesses. We brought his home loan agent in to say he hadn’t made his home loan payments, and he had always been on time. We had his business partner, the workers from his business to say, he was there every day. This was his business. He would never not show up. This was really important to him. He was doing very well. We brought in from states all over the country, depending on where their home headquarters were, he had numerous charge cards, MasterCard, Visa, we flew in people from those companies to say that there had been no activity on his cards. So, that’s how, in addition to the blood evidence that we found, we showed the jury that he was no longer living. I mean he hadn’t just disappeared.

I mentioned earlier, he was very close with his family. His brother, who was one of the ones who had responded that initial day, had severe diabetes and was in a wheelchair, and subsequently had to have his legs amputated. And Darrell didn’t show up for that, and he would have never not shown up. Also, the High Holidays for their religion was very important, and he didn’t show up for those. So, we used family members, we used friends to establish his regular pattern of activity, and all of a sudden, it just stopped.

Dave [00:33:08] And it coincides with the day that a bunch of blood is found in his apartment?

Tracey [00:33:11] Correct.

Yeardley [00:33:12] Can I ask you, his family is very close, but they didn’t know that he was a gay man. How did they react to that news when you told them?

Tracey [00:33:22] It was very difficult for them. When I was talking with my DA before coming out here, we talked about that. There were Polaroids. People used Polaroid cameras back then. And we located Polaroids that showed the victim in activities.

Yeardley [00:33:41] Sexual activities?

Tracey [00:33:42] Yes. And they were in denial at first. “No, no way. He was engaged to a girl,” and all this kind of stuff. It was a broken engagement. So, finally, the DA said, “Okay, I’m going to show you something. You may not want to see it but I’ve got to make you understand that this is why this happened. This is important to the case. And you’ve got to be on board with us about this.” And he showed them the pictures and after that, they were like, “Okay, that doesn’t change the way we feel about our son.” And by time of the trial, they came to accept it.

Dave [00:34:20] It’s interesting, because back in 1992, it’s almost 30 years ago, and there are a few factors here that factor in. Where you work, your particular area of the country that you work and where Philip and Darrell were living, the religion, and that time where people were closeted. So many things working against Darrell actually being free and coming out and being proud of who he is.

Tracey [00:34:47] Correct.

Dave [00:34:48] So many factors.

Yeardley [00:34:49] So difficult at that time. I mean, difficult now as well.

Dave [00:34:52] Absolutely.

Yeardley [00:34:53] Especially in certain parts of the country.

Dave [00:34:56] Monumentally more difficult back then.

Yeardley [00:34:57] Absolutely right.

Dan [00:34:58] You know what I’m appreciating about this is that your actual elected DA is, like, “This one’s mine. I’m doing this.” It’s exceptionally rare.

Yeardley [00:35:06] I was going to say, what a breath of fresh air, considering all the times that we’ve heard you guys and other detectives have gathered extraordinary evidence and the DA says, “I’m not going to file.”

Dave [00:35:16] Yeah. And in this case, the higher up you go in the DA’s office, you get to more administrative and management type executive positions in a DA’s office. For this guy, and for the DAs that I’ve worked with, there are some cases where they’re like, “Oh, no, I’m not assigning this. I’m taking it myself.” And when you get that kind of commitment, it’s really empowering to the detective too because you’re like, “I’ve got total buy-in.”

Yeardley [00:35:41] Right.

Tracey [00:35:42] My DA is amazing. He and I, along with members of the police department, DA’s office, we literally went out and searched woods. I mean, we looked for Darrell. We really wanted to find him. We thought he was close to his condo. We weren’t sure. But there was a wooded area and office parks. And, man, the DA, he was right out there with us looking.

Yeardley [00:36:07] Really?

Tracey [00:36:08] He was.

Dave [00:36:09] So, I’ve got a few questions about the trial itself. Jury selection, were you present for that?

Tracey [00:36:13] No. And you have to understand working as an investigator for the DA’s office, I had trial after trial after trial after trial. Usually for the trial, I would definitely be in the courtroom in case the DA or the assistant DA needed anything, shuttling witnesses back and forth. I was a chauffeur, chief cook and bottle washer during the trial.

Yeardley [00:36:36] [laughs]

Dan: [00:36:38] Right, you’re herding cats.

Dave [00:36:39] During jury selection, both sides get a shot to figure out which jurors are going to benefit their side. So, I’m sure the defense attorney is hammering home, “You’ve got a case here where there is no body and they’re claiming my client murdered somebody.” So, you’re always reading the jurors and who that has traction with and who is looking like, “Okay, that is a problem.” But then, you hear the prosecutor say, “We’ve got gallons of blood as well.”

Yeardley [00:37:04] But also, what about the dad’s confession right at the top?

Tracey [00:37:09] Well, I’m about to get to that because the defendant testified and he claimed that this was self-defense. So, that’s where we’re going. He did testify after we had laid out our case, proving Darrell is no longer with us. We looked for his body as much as we could, couldn’t find it. My DA says, “We’re going for it.”

So, what Philip said was that he had met the victim in a park and that they started talking and became fast friends. All of a sudden, Darrell is offering him a job to work at his bakery. “Hey, come to my two-bedroom condo and be my roommate.” And so, that was all hunky-dory. So, Philip is there one night, they’re drinking, and they’re watching heterosexual porn. Well, there was no heterosexual porn in Darrell’s condo. And so, Philip claims that he falls asleep while he’s watching heterosexual porn. He wakes up and all of a sudden, now it’s homosexual porn. He falls back asleep again, and he wakes up and Darrell is sucking his penis. And Philip jumps up. “Oh, no. What are you doing? I’m not into that.”

Yeardley [00:38:44] What?

Dave [00:38:45] Remember, this is Philip’s story.

Tracey [00:38:47] He said initially he was paralyzed by fear and he does lay there letting Darrell suck his penis, and thinking, “I don’t know what to do.” Darrell started apologizing, but then continued touching Philip. So, Philip pushed Darrell into the kitchen counter. He turned around to leave the kitchen, and Darrell has one of his knives in his hand. So, they get into a scuffle in the kitchen over the knife, and Philip gets the knife from Darrell. And all of a sudden, he’s now cut his throat.

Yeardley [00:39:38] He’s cut Darrell’s throat?

Tracey [00:39:40] He’s cut Darrell’s throat.

Yeardley [00:39:41] All of a sudden?

Tracey [00:39:43] Right. It just all happened and the victim stood up, yelled, “My God.” And he hit Philip in the head. But he admitted, on the stand, that he had cut his throat and killed him. So, this was the first that we had heard his story about how this all went down.

Dave [00:40:04] That explains the volume of blood.

Tracey [00:40:06] That explains the volume of blood. Our theory is that Darrell was sitting on the couch. Philip came up behind him, and stabbed him and slashed his throat.

Yeardley [00:40:21] Because I was going to say if he says he cut his throat in the kitchen, all that blood would be in the kitchen, but it was on the sofa.

Tracey [00:40:27] It’s on the sofa. So, I think that Darrell was just sitting there. And for whatever reason, Philip felt like he needed to kill him.

Dave [00:40:38] So based on that, we don’t have this frenzied attack that goes throughout the house. It starts in the kitchen, ends on the couch, according to Philip.

Yeardley [00:40:48] Which is untrue, because the blood says otherwise.

Tracey [00:40:50] Philip went through the condo. I think he was looking for things to take. He was bleeding. He got his blood in the bedroom, in the hallway. I think the little dog was running around, spreading blood too. So, yeah, he was looking for the car keys probably, thinking, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

Dan [00:41:13] Philip sounds like a grifter to me.

Dave [00:41:15] And we’ve done multiple, multiple cases on this podcast. We’re talking about the same kind of person.

Yeardley [00:41:21] Crime of opportunity.

Dan [00:41:22] Yeah.

Dave [00:41:23] And he’s a leech. It’s all about him. He goes to a place where someone wants to actually have a relationship with him. And he, at some point has this, “I’m just going to kill him. This guy has nice stuff. I’ll take care of this.” Now, you’re hunting for loot throughout the house. He didn’t care.

Tracey [00:41:40] Right. And he leaves and he goes to Mike’s house and cleans up while Darrell’s body is still there on the couch. Philip realizes he’s got to do something. So, he said that he rolled Darrell’s body up in some sheets and shower curtain and a tarp from the hot tub. He drives him up the highway, and he puts Darrell out in the woods. We never could find where those woods were. Philip actually misdirected us after his conviction. He was convicted for murder, sentenced to life in prison.

Two years into his sentence, he decides, “Well, I want to get out of prison for the day. So, I’ll tell you all where Darrell is.” So, we would ride around, the media was following us. Philip would say, “Oh, this looks like it,” and he never took us close to where Darrell’s body was found five and a half years after the trial.

Yeardley [00:42:50] Oh, so you did find Darrell’s body?

Tracey [00:42:52] Yes.

Yeardley [00:42:53] But not thanks to Philip.

Tracey [00:42:55] Correct.


Yeardley [00:43:02] Detective Dan.

Dan [00:43:03] Hello.

Yeardley [00:43:04] Hello. I want to tell you about Best Fiends.

Dan [00:43:07] Best Fiends.

Yeardley [00:43:08] You know, I love that game. Want to know what level I’m on?

Dan [00:43:11] Yes.

Yeardley [00:43:12] 744!

Dan [00:43:13] Seems like a lot.

Yeardley [00:43:14] That’s a lot of levels. That’s a lot of fiends defeating slugs.

Dan [00:43:18] You’re not semi-pro?

Yeardley [00:43:19] I feel like I’m a pro. One of the things I love about Best Fiends, I love that you can play without Wi-Fi. So, you really can play anywhere. You can play on the plane, you could play in the basement, underground.

Dan [00:43:32] Deep in the woods.

Yeardley [00:43:33] Deep in the woods. Best Fiends is a match-three casual mobile puzzle game. And if you don’t know what that means, it means it’s awesome. And like I said, you can play it anywhere. It’s free to download and it has literally millions of five-star reviews on the Apple App Store and Google Play. And the fiends are so cute. They dance. When you win, they dance for you.

Dan [00:43:57] It really sounds like boredom’s worst nightmare.

Yeardley [00:44:00] Best Fiends is boredom’s worst nightmare. They add more levels and events and challenges all the time. There’s always new little themed characters to acquire that come with superpowers. They also come with great little outfits.

Dan [00:44:16] Gear.

Yeardley [00:44:17] Gear! They’re totally geared out. It’s great! So, if you love a good challenge, Best Fiends gives you over 5,000 of them.

Dan [00:44:27] Download Best Fiends free today on the Apple App Store or Google Play. That’s friends without the R, Best Fiends.

Yeardley [00:44:35] Do it!


Dan [00:44:44] Tracey, I’m guessing the reason why Philip didn’t take you to the body initially was he’s probably thinking, “Well, if I don’t show them where it is right now, I can get more field trips out of this.”

Tracey [00:44:56] Oh yeah, he took us on about four field trips before my DA said, “We’re done.”

Dan [00:45:02] The other side of that is when they actually find the body, if the injuries to the body don’t match up with what Philip said on the stand, he’s going to have a problem.

Yeardley [00:45:11] Why?

Dan [00:45:12] I think for Philip, it’s going to ruin his chances of maybe getting an appeal or getting parole down the road if he shows that he was not truthful about those things. The thing is, if he was just honest about it and led the investigators to the body, down the road, it actually looks like you’re remorseful and that’s a good thing for a parole board to see is that you have remorse.

Yeardley [00:45:34] They would take that into consideration.

Dan [00:45:35] And that you were trying to help, even though you’d made this grave mistake.

Dave [00:45:39] Yeah. And to think that you’ve gone through all of this after killing somebody to think that you just forgot where you put the body, Philip’s knowledge of where that body is, is currency for him. This is the leverage he uses on the victim’s and the investigators because they know that this family wants closure, they know the investigators want closure too, and they’re going to use that as currency. Like investigator Tracey said, the DA finally says, “No, we’re done. We’re not doing this anymore,” because you just indulge these guys to do more of it.

Yeardley [00:46:10] Sure.

Tracey [00:46:11] Right. He doesn’t want the body found. He, we later found out, had told someone that Darrell’s body was never going to be found unless some hunters actually stumbled upon it, which is kind of close. Some utility workers who were land surveyors are walking woods, about 75 miles up the highway from where we are located.

Yeardley [00:46:38] That’s far.

Tracey [00:46:38] Yeah, he drove him far. And he only took us right around the area where the incident happened. He never took us anywhere near where he actually had put Darrell. But it was very important for my DA and for us to find the body for the family, and that’s why we put up with a lot of stuff from Philip because we really wanted to find Darrell’s body. So, five and a half years after the conviction, thankfully, his body was found and returned to his family.

Yeardley [00:47:15] So, if you find the body five and a half years after Philip is convicted and DNA still really in its infancy, how do you determine that it’s Darrell?

Tracey [00:47:25] Through dental records. We had his dental records. Back to what Detective Dave was saying, a couple years into a sentence, Philip started making moves that, “Okay, I’ll take you to the body, I’ll help.” He underwent hypnosis because he claimed he couldn’t remember where the body was, and the hypnotist said that he actively resisted being put under hypnosis.

Yeardley [00:47:57] This guy, ugh!

Tracey [00:47:59] Then, he was polygraphed. He said, “I’ll take a polygraph.” And the area where he said that he placed the body, he was deceptive. About this time, Darrell’s father– again, they’re desperately trying to find their son. He got a contact who knew the director of the department of corrections for our state. The director of the department of corrections went to visit Philip and the prison where he was serving his sentence, and said, “Just tell us. We will help you in the long run with parole issues.” Back in ’92, life sentence, you are eligible for parole after seven years.

Yeardley [00:48:49] Oh.

Tracey [00:48:50] Yeah.

Dave [00:48:50] Most states have made progress on that.

Tracey [00:48:52] Yeah, now it’s 30. But back then, it was seven.

Yeardley [00:48:55] Wow!

Tracey [00:48:56] I mean, you can be turned down, that’s just when you’re eligible for parole, so only seven years. Philip is like, “I’m serving my sentence. Why should I tell you?” And he said, “Well, because it’s the right thing to do. It will help the family. It will help you with parole.” And he said, “No, that’s okay. I like it here. I have a cell to myself. I’ve got food. I’m taking college classes. I really like this prison. I think, no, I’m not going to help.” The next day, he was transferred to the most notorious awful maximum-security prison in our state.

Yeardley [00:49:36] Duh!

Dave [00:49:37] I love that.

Yeardley [00:49:37] This guy, twice now he’s made statements and then the gauntlet is thrown. Not in his favor, by the way.

Dave [00:49:44] Hubris.

Yeardley [00:49:45] Hubris, indeed.

Dave [00:49:46] He’s just like, “I’ve got them by the balls. I’m not going to tell them where this body is. [unintelligible] [00:49:51]” The Director of the Department of Corrections goes, “I can fix that.” That’s an easy fix.

Tracey [00:49:56] Yeah. Yes. So, the DA became very close with Darrell’s family. When the brother who had diabetes passed away, he was a pallbearer at the funeral, became Jewish for the day. They slapped a yarmulke on him because he said, “I’m not Jewish,” and they are, “You are today.” When the victim’s father passed away, it’s a tradition in Judaism that the family members bury the body. They have shovels and put the dirt on the coffin, and my DA buried Darrell’s father. And like I said, Philip became eligible for parole seven years into his sentence. Every year, my DA writes a letter to the parole board on his parole anniversary, asking them to keep him in prison, and he’s still in prison.

Dave [00:50:54] I’m betting that Philip looks back on those initial offers that he had made about leading the investigators to the body and said, “Wow, I missed a huge opportunity there.”

Yeardley [00:51:04] One can only hope.

Dave [00:51:05] I hope he’s miserable in prison.

Yeardley [00:51:07] Is he still in that maximum security, notorious?

Tracey [00:51:10] Oh, yes.

Yeardley [00:51:11] Oh, yes. There you go.

Dave [00:51:14] [chuckles] Talk about your all-time backfires.

Yeardley [00:51:16] Wow.

Dave [00:51:18] Who got the dog?

Tracey [00:51:19] One of the brothers took the dog.

Dan [00:51:20] What kind of dog was it?

Tracey [00:51:22] It was a small little mutt, a rescue dog.

Dave [00:51:26] But loyal to Darrell and fought for Darrell.

Tracey [00:51:28] Fought for Darrell. Yeah, and got injured during it.

Yeardley [00:51:32] Oh, man. Tracey, what about this case stands out for you? We’re always curious about that.

Tracey [00:51:38] Well, I love that– it was mentioned earlier that my DA said, basically fuck you to this defendant, to Philip. “Don’t tell me that I’m not going to convict you of murder without a body.” And we were kind of groundbreaking in that area. It had been done one time prior in another state. So, we were the second in the country to do that. And it was not easy to do, but we did it. We tried so hard for the victim’s family to find him. I searched woods, I turned over rocks and stumps, and ultimately, he was found, so that for me was the ultimate closure.

Yeardley [00:52:26] Right.

Dave [00:52:27] Trial wise. I’m curious about two things. A, how long was the jury out? B, when the verdict was read, what is Philip’s reaction?

Tracey [00:52:38] The jury was only out for like a day. He had no reaction. I don’t know if you all have ever noticed because I watch for a defendant’s reaction and if they’re guilty, they have no reaction.

Dan [00:52:53] Because they know they’re guilty.

Tracey [00:52:54] Right.

Dave [00:52:55] Sometimes, they put on a show though, too.

Dan [00:52:57] Yeah. Thing about 1992, you think about cars nowadays have GPS in them. You carry your phone. We have surveillance cameras everywhere. All these other tools that we have that we could find Darrel’s car on surveillance camera and a direction of travel, and have an idea of where Philip took him.

Yeardley [00:53:18] Like from a business or something.

Dan [00:53:20] Yeah, back in ’92, none of that. You’re just behind the eight ball, and now it’s so much easier. I mean, with phones, Philip might have even just lead you right to exactly where the body was.

Tracey [00:53:31] And that would have been the case today, I believe, we would have found him right away by using the cell tower pings and the technology that we have today. But we didn’t have that back then. We did it old school.

Yeardley [00:53:44] Tracey, some states have a law on the books that says you can’t even try a murder case if you don’t have a body. Did your state ever have a law like that?

Tracey [00:53:55] Well, no, which is why we tried it. We didn’t know if we’d be successful, but Philip hurt his own case. His best bet would be to say, “I have no idea what happened to Darrell. I wasn’t there. I don’t know.” But he put himself there. And then, he came up with a story, crazy story.

Yeardley [00:54:15] So arrogant.

Dan [00:54:16] So I’m wondering if the tale that Philip spins on the stand, where he talks about Darrell making sexual advances toward him and that he had to defend himself, this is his play to the jury and their potential preconceived notions, stereotypes, prejudices, about homosexuality, that this is going to gain him some sort of favor with the jury?

Tracey [00:54:39] I’m sure that he was, and that was part of the voir dire we had to question potential jurors about their feelings about homosexuality, and gay clubs and stuff like that. So, that was definitely a big part of the trial and making sure that we had open-minded jurors in that regard because really that had nothing to do with what happened to Darrell.

Dave [00:55:07] Yeah, all that stuff is white noise. Let’s boil this down to what really happened. One guy attacked another and brutally killed him, then took him away to a remote place and just dumped him like garbage and then wanted to return to his life and cover his own ass. That’s what it’s down to, but you have to overcome juries in their bias about well, this guy has a certain lifestyle, doesn’t matter.

Yeardley [00:55:33] Investigator Tracey, great case. It’s so enormously tragic.

Dave [00:55:37] Yeah, great work on this case. My takeaway is I love your DA, and I love Detective Chuck, and I love how hard you guys went after this.

Yeardley [00:55:46] Yeah, fantastic. That part is incredibly rewarding.

Tracey [00:55:49] Yeah, I mean, we went from a murder arrest to two months later a trial, and that was really quick.

Yeardley [00:55:59] Lightning speed.

Tracey [00:56:00] Lightning speed. And that was because my DA is awesome.

Dave [00:56:04] So, the defense wasn’t pushing for a postponement likely because the further we push this out, the greater likelihood they’re going to have a body by the time we get to trial. So, let’s fast track this.

Tracey [00:56:14] Oh, yeah, they thought they were going to win. I mean, no body, no crime.

Yeardley [00:56:20] I don’t know how you all do what you do. I really don’t. But I am deeply grateful.

Tracey [00:56:25] Well, thank you for that, Yeardley. I appreciate it.

Dan [00:56:28] Do it for the victims, that’s why you do it.

Tracey [00:56:30] Yeah.

Yeardley [00:56:31] Thank you. Thank you for joining us.

Dave [00:56:33] Thank you.

Tracey [00:56:34] Thank you for having me.

Dan [00:56:35] Well done.

Yeardley [00:56:39] 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 and 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 [00:57:06] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, visit us on our website at, and join the Small Town fam by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @smalltowndicks. We love hearing from you.

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Yeardley [00:57:34] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country.

Dan [00:57:40] In search of the finest, rare true crime cases told, as always, by the detectives who investigated them.

Dave [00:57:47] So, thanks for listening, Small Town fam.

Yeardley [00:57:49] Nobody’s better than you.