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The fire department is called to a fire in a small community where an elderly widow is found murdered in her own home. Which also happens to be the scene of the fire.

Special Guest

Detective Greg

Det. Greg has been in law enforcement for over 24 years. During that time he has worked in Corrections, Patrol, and Narcotics. He has spent 16 years as a member of his agency’s SWAT team, and the past 5 years as a detective in the Violent Crimes Investigations unit.

Read Transcript

Paul: [00:00:01] Hey, Small Town Fam, this is Paul Holes. Make sure you subscribe to The Briefing Room with Detectives Dan and Dave. Season 2 is out now. Subscribe now. And thanks.

[Small Town Dicks theme]

Greg: [00:00:18] We’re telling what a good job it was that his wife who was able to call a fire department so quick, she was able to save this house from being completely burned down and the body from being completely burned up, and we’re actually going to use it to solve this crime.

Yeardley: [00:00:32] I’m Yeardley.

Zibby: [00:00:33] And I’m Zibby. And we’re fascinated by true crime.

Yeardley: [00:00:36] So we invited our friends, Detectives Dan and Dave.

Zibby: [00:00:40] To sit down with us and share their most interesting cases.

Dan: [00:00:44] I’m Dan.

Dave: [00:00:44] And I’m Dave.

Dan: [00:00:45] We’re identical twins.

Dave: [00:00:47] And we’re detectives in Small Town, USA.

Dan: [00:00:49] Dave investigates sex crimes and child abuse.

Dave: [00:00:52] Dan investigates violent crimes. And together, we’ve worked on hundreds of cases, including assaults, robberies, murders, burglaries, sex abuse, and child abuse.

Dan: [00:01:01] Names, places and certain details, including relationships, have been altered to protect the privacy of the victims and their families. Though we realize that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we hope you’ll join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved out of respect for what they’ve been through. Thank you.

Yeardley: [00:01:28] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dave.

Dave: [00:01:36] Good afternoon.

Yeardley: [00:01:37] We have Detective Dan.

Dan: [00:01:39] Back again.

Yeardley: [00:01:40] And we are so pleased to have a new guest on our show today. Welcome to Small Town Fam, Detective Greg.

Greg: [00:01:46] Thank you.

Yeardley: [00:01:47] Thank you for coming. So Detective, you’ve brought us a really interesting case today. But before we get into that, tell us about the area that you patrol.

Greg: [00:01:58] Yeah, so my small-town department patrols an area that’s roughly 4,600 square miles. It’s the size of the state of Connecticut. It’s a lot of heavily forested areas, very mountainous. We do the best we can with the resources that we have. Our minimum staffing for each shift is three officers.

Yeardley: [00:02:16] That’s insane.

Greg: [00:02:17] And that’s our primary patrol force. We have another officer in a couple of little contract towns in our area. Then in our detective division, there’s only four of us and a sergeant. So because of the size of our patrol area and the amount of cases that come in, our primary focus is on violent crimes. So we don’t necessarily investigate a lot of burglaries, car thefts, check frauds, that kind of thing. It’s violent crimes, child sex abuse, any other sex crimes, homicides, robberies, kidnappings, and violent assaults primarily. So that keeps us pretty busy.

Dave: [00:02:54] And you think about these guys that are in the middle of the night with a county that size and a patrol area that size, you might be on your own on a call where you’ve asked for cover, you need cover. You might be on your own for an hour waiting for someone to arrive. And that’s pretty daunting when you’re out there dealing with things that go bump in the night and that could hurt you, and you’re waiting for another good guy to show up.

Yeardley: [00:03:17] That must feel like an eternity. Five minutes, I think in a situation like that could feel like an eternity.

Dave: [00:03:22] Yeah. Working in the city, it’s really rare to ask for Code 3 cover like, “Get here right now.” But when you hear those sirens coming and you see the lights around the corner and coming up to your location, it’s a great feeling. I can’t imagine going an hour waiting to hear those sirens.

Yeardley: [00:03:38] So Greg, now that we know what your jurisdiction looks like, tell us how this case came to you.

Greg: [00:03:44] So this case came to me I guess in a way, a lot of detectives would like it to come to you. I’m already at work. I’m not in bed at 02:00 in the morning and my phone rings. I was working on a report on another case, and I have our screen up where I can monitor the call screen for our patrol guys that are going out there. And I saw that there was a house fire that popped up on the screen. The fire department in this small rural area of our patrol area was requesting police response to assist. That’s not altogether uncommon because it may be assisting with traffic or keeping people away, trying to help keep the area safe. So we dispatch a couple officers to go up there and assist with that.

[00:04:23] Once they get there, probably about 45 minutes later, my Detective Sergeant Carl gets a phone call and then he shouts at me that our patrol guys who went up there are asking for us to come out. There’s something peculiar going on with this fire. I was the only one in our office at the time, so I got a head start started driving up there. This was January, winter had come early, and it was coming down hard. There was a lot of snow up there, a lot of ice. So the going was very slow, and we finally get into the area where this occurred. And this area is in a small community, so we park on this main road because the fire trucks and apparatus were plugging up the smaller road where the house fire actually was.

[00:05:05] I meet up with the patrol sergeant and another officer who was there. And they said when the firefighters were able to beat down the fire enough to push their way through, they tripped and found a body. Not altogether uncommon inhouse fires, but as the smoke started clearing and they could get a better view of it, they saw that there were some suspicious circumstances. There is a body. It’s laying on the floor between the foot of the bed and a dresser of clothes. The head was oriented towards the window where I was looking in at, and the feet were pointed towards the doorway, which went into the hallway. I noticed that the body was topless. It had a lot of heat. Smoke damage to the skin, and that the pants had also been pulled down to about midthigh, pants and underwear.

Zibby: [00:05:47] Is this a female?

Greg: [00:05:49] This turned out to be a female. It was hard to tell at first just from the debris from the firefighting efforts being blown down on top of it and still pretty hazy because it was cold. And now you’re introducing heat and smoke making some fog in there also. But after it started clearing out, it really start thinking that this might be a female. And sure enough, there’s a five-gallon marine gas can laying on her legs. Room was all cluttered up, but again, that could have been from the firefighting efforts and the walls falling in and all that.

[00:06:19] So we go in whenever they deem that it’s safe enough. There was still a lot of water in the attic area. The ceiling was bulging down. We make the determination that we don’t know how long this ceiling is going to support the water in it. We don’t want to be in there doing the scene investigation we’d like to do under those circumstances. So we go in and we take lots of photographs at first, and we make the decision to bring the body outside to get a better look at it. Again, we haven’t seen much, just the backside of her face down on the ground. So we decide the house is a loss anyway, “Let’s cut out the window in the wall and just bring her straight out,” instead of tromp her around back out through the door.

[00:07:00] So we lay her down, and once we lay her down and turn her over, so that she’s facing upright, we can see that there’s a lot of sparing.

Yeardley: [00:07:07] What is sparing?

Greg: [00:07:09] That means it’s spared from the fire.

Yeardley: [00:07:10] Oh, okay.

Greg: [00:07:11] She was faced down on the ground, so she has no heat or smoke damage to the front side of her body.

Dan: [00:07:16] Since she’s got no damage to the front of her body, are you able to roughly tell how old she is?

Greg: [00:07:21] She’s in her 60s. So we are looking at her. She’s still got some smoke damage and stuff. Skins peeling on the sides around the scalp. Scalp is pretty wet. That could be from the water being introduced in the house as well. We started taking a very close look at her, and sure enough, we see some different lacerations on her face. And then on her side and then I noticed her right eye is just swollen and purple underneath. And then we work our way around to her body and she’s got a massive three-inch gash on her right rib cage that spread open about an inch or two.

Yeardley: [00:07:52] Oh, jeez.

Dan: [00:07:53] Oh, man.

Greg: [00:07:54] She was topless. Her pants and underwear had been pulled down to midthigh. She was wearing some rain pants and had boots on. The call came in at 08:30 in the morning when the fire was reported. So reeking of suspicious, the gas can laying on her legs obviously didn’t belong in the house, and her pants are pulled down and why is her shirt off? Why does she look like maybe she’s running from something in her house into her bedroom? Don’t know. So my sergeant assigns me to be the primary case agent for this because not a default of being the first one to show up.

Dave: [00:08:23] This victim, what was her name?

Greg: [00:08:25] Victim’s name was Ruby. And so what we learned about this address through our dispatch was that my department had been there the week prior for a death investigation because Ruby’s husband had died from colon cancer. It was an unattended death. So we send officers out to go just do an investigation.

Yeardley: [00:08:42] What does that mean, unattended?

Greg: [00:08:44] An unattended death means the death was not witnessed by a supervising physician actually being present.

Yeardley: [00:08:50] I see.

Greg: [00:08:51] Like, in a hospital setting. So it’s a mandate that we investigate all unattended deaths.

Zibby: [00:08:56] So very, very recently had Ruby’s husband passed away from colon cancer. And what was his name?

Greg: [00:09:02] His name was Kyle. He had passed away just the week before. And so our officer who went up there had done a great job photographing the house inside and outside all the way around. So we were able to have those photographs to see what this house looked like and all the items in the house as they were laid out at that time.

Yeardley: [00:09:19] That’s amazing. What a stroke of luck?

Greg: [00:09:21] It is. Absolutely. And so it also goes to reinforce why we do that, because you never know when you’re going to come back to a house. There’s a lot of homes that I think people who work in any agency will agree. They go back to some homes often.

Dave: [00:09:36] Right. There’s addresses you hear and you’re like, “I already know who I’m going to be dealing with and I already know what their issue is.”

Greg: [00:09:41] Yeah.

Yeardley: [00:09:41] Interesting.

Dan: [00:09:43] What about Ruby and Kyle? Did they have neighbors close by?

Greg: [00:09:45] In this area, it was very heavily wooded. Like I said, it’s out in this remote part of our county. There are some houses. It turned out, because a lot of them were vacant that a lot of them are vacation rental homes. So they’re maybe there in the summertime, but there’s no tire tracks in the deep snow at this time. So nobody’s been to these homes in a long time. There’s a couple of neighbors, and then there’s a few trailers that sit back to the north of this house about 70 yards away. We are able to make contact with some of the people in one of these homes and the trailers and we were able to identify the people who called 911. The other investigators start questioning these folks and this is where we were able to start putting some things together and narrow our search.

Dave: [00:10:26] So as you get into this death investigation, what do you start to learn about Ruby, Kyle, and whoever it was that called 911?

Greg: [00:10:34] Well, Kyle, who had died the week before, was a river guide in the area. He had several boats, ran guide service, took fishing trips, whitewater, rafting trips down the local river. Pretty well known in the community and as was his wife. Everybody liked Kyle. He is real popular in that community. All around, good guy. Nobody in so much liked his wife, Ruby. And the main reason we got from talking with all the people we did was, Ruby was very much kind of a narcissist, and that she had nothing good to say about you or your lifestyle or the way you were eating or not exercising enough, and you needed to be more like her.

[00:11:14] And so she wanted to be everybody’s life coach to the point where it was very annoying for most people, where they’d go out of her way to avoid her when they saw her in the small market. So she didn’t have any friends. We talked with her son later. Whenever we found out she did have a son and said, “Hey, sorry to let you know. Your mother was a victim of a homicide.” No response. “Well, I haven’t talked with her in four years. She just got too crazy. I didn’t want my kids being around her. So it doesn’t surprise me.”

Yeardley: [00:11:39] Wow.

Greg: [00:11:40] We found out at that time that only Kyle and Ruby lived in the house. So the other investigators head off locally, and they identify the first house behind this involved house, long driveway shoots alongside the back of the property, and they talk to a woman there.

Yeardley: [00:11:57] What’s her name?

Greg: [00:11:57] Linda. So Linda says, “I was just getting up, making my coffee when Peggy starts banging on my door.” Peggy is a woman who lives in one of these small trailers.

Yeardley: [00:12:07] So another neighbor.

Greg: [00:12:08] Yeah, another neighbor. She’s pounding on the door saying, “Ruby’s house is on fire. We need to call 911.” She doesn’t know if she’s in there or not, but start calling. So Linda calls 911 with just the info she got. They live not far apart, but there’s a lot of heavy woods in there, so you wouldn’t see the smoke or the fire being that close even. So she calls, says, “Hey, I’m told the house next door to me is on fire. There is a woman who lives there, Ruby. We don’t know if she’s inside or not.”

Yeardley: [00:12:35] It’s curious to me that Peggy runs over to Linda to say, “We have to call 911,” instead of calling 911 and then running over to Linda.

Dave: [00:12:42] Yeah. And Linda’s house, she can’t see based on what’s between her and victim’s residence. Are these trailers in plain view of victim’s residence, or do they have the same wooded issue?

Greg: [00:12:55] If you look hard, you can see them through the woods, long ways off. So we find out later on that Peggy doesn’t call because she left her phone in her car when she runs up and tries to see if Ruby’s home, when she sees her house is on fire. And also this area is so remote, there’s no cell service there. So Linda has a landline phone.

Yeardley: [00:13:13] I see.

Dan: [00:13:25] What’s the relationship, if any, between Linda, Ruby, and Kyle?

Greg: [00:13:29] Well, they share a fence line along their driveway, and we come to find out there’s been history of them arguing over chickens, and dogs, and fences getting torn down and that sort of thing. Meanwhile, there’s Peggy. And Peggy’s an interesting woman. You get an idea what you’re going to get into as you’re approaching a residence or a trailer by the smells, by the things that are cluttered around outside and that sort of thing. So they go up, knock on Peggy’s trailer door, and there’s probably 400 dogs. It sounds like inside answering that knock on the door.

Yeardley: [00:14:03] Oh, my God.

Zibby: [00:14:04] Inside a trailer?

Greg: [00:14:05] Inside a small, little broken down, fifth wheel trailer. It’s just terrible outside. It’s what you would imagine very much squalor. And they knock on her door, and she had just gone back to sleep.

Yeardley: [00:14:18] So she runs over to the neighbor, says, Call 911. Then she goes back to her trailer and goes to sleep?

Greg: [00:14:23] Yup.

Yeardley: [00:14:23] Okay.

Greg: [00:14:24] So she tells investigators she had taken her husband to drop him off at his cousin’s house that morning. So they ask her, “What’s his name? Where does he live?” She says her estranged husband, Steve, lives 20 yards away in his own trailer. [Yeardley laughs]

Zibby: [00:14:40] I love that they’re estranged, but they’re 20 yards-

Yeardley: [00:14:43] 20-yards apart

Zibby [00:14:44] -away from each other in separate trailers.

Greg: [00:14:43] Yeah


Greg: [00:14:47] So “Where’d you take him?” “I took him to his cousins. He banged on my door early this morning said he needed to go right now.” And asked him, “Why? Can we go later?” And he says, “No, I got to go right now.” “What’s that smell? Do you smell that?” And at the time, she says it smelled like somebody was burning garbage or something. So her husband brings up this smell and was pretty urgent that he needed to go see his cousin right away.

Yeardley: [00:15:11] Does his cousin have a name?

Greg: [00:15:12] His cousin, Billy, and he lives about five miles away.

Yeardley: [00:15:15] Okay. And do you guys go check out Steve’s trailer?

Greg: [00:15:19] Yeah. So Steve’s trailer, equally filthy and smelly, just a broke down, hollowed out trailer with blankets in the windows and garbage laying all around everywhere.

Zibby: [00:15:31] Do these trailers even have running water?

Greg: [00:15:33] No. And that’s a little fun fact for a little bit later. A good trailer in good shape will have water in it.

Zibby: [00:15:39] Sure. All right.

Greg: [00:15:40] So after Peggy had dropped Steve off, she had come back, saw the house on fire, knew that Ruby lived in the house, and was banging on the door. She says, she’s able to open the door a little bit, and the heat just forces her back out while she’s yelling for Ruby. Doesn’t get any response, so she runs immediately down the adjacent long driveway to Linda’s house, because she knows that she’s got a good phone that can get out of the area.

Yeardley: [00:16:04] Okay. So now law enforcement has secured the scene. How do you start sifting through the evidence?

Greg: [00:16:11] We park an officer on scene for this house because it’s January now, it’s getting dark early. We’ve already removed the body from the house. Arson investigators are in there working. They’re doing what they can. House hasn’t collapsed yet, so we still want to hold on to it because you only get one chance to work a crime scene. In this case, there was enough of the house left that they were able to do, I think, a very good investigation. They were able to identify where the fire started, and it started in a closet in another bedroom on the backside of the house where there’s no fuel source, there’s no electrical source in there. It burned a hole completely through the floor, and it burned hottest straight up through the roof, and had all the indications of them of being set by an accelerant. That’s most likely from the gas can that we found on the body.

Zibby: [00:16:59] Inside of a closet.

Greg: [00:17:00] Yes. There was two bedrooms to this house. We found her in what looked to be the only used bedroom, the only bedroom that had a bed in it. The other one had been an office. So we know now, looking at the photos from the week before, that office had been packed full of files, books, and all kinds of stuff. So this office was pretty well packed with a lot of usable fuel for a fire.

Yeardley: [00:17:21] And was Ruby’s house also squalor like her neighbors?

Greg: [00:17:25] From the photos that we saw from the week before, it was very well kept. Just had a lot of things in it, but they were put away. They didn’t have animals. They had some chickens out back, but no dogs or no cats. Furniture was clean. Everything looked to be fairly orderly house, and we learned that’s how they kind of run their lives.

Dan: [00:17:42] So this fire has been intentionally set. It’s Arson. Someone knows something.

Greg: [00:17:47] Correct. So we don’t know where Steven is, but we definitely want to talk to him. We want to find out if he knew these people, if he had seen something that might have started this fire. We get a phone call from a person, we’ve identified as Brandon, who is Steven’s uncle. And Peggy had notified them along the way that we were looking for Steve and “If anybody sees him, give us a call.” Well, Steve had just turned up at his uncle Brandon’s house, and so he’s just letting us know. So two of our guys decide to run all the way back up there to go talk with Steve. So they’d go contact his uncle Brandon at his house. Billy’s, his stepson, who lives on the same property. And because Steve is playing some video games with Billy, says, “Hey, since Steve up here, the cops are here. They want to talk to him.”

Yeardley: [00:18:33] And Billy is the cousin that Steve wanted to go see.

Greg: [00:18:36] Yup. So here comes Steve. Steve’s a big guy. He’s about 6’5”, 300 pounds. They just want to find out, “Hey, we were in your neighborhood earlier. There was a fire. I just want to know if you’d seen or heard anything about that. Do you know anything about the people who lived there?” He starts telling them, “Yeah, I knew the people who lived there, Kyle and Ruby, they were good people. Kyle passed away. I just found out he died last week. Never got to say goodbye to him because I was at my brother’s house in another state for a couple weeks for the holidays.” So they’re talking to him. He’s smoking. And they notice while he’s smoking, his right hand has got lots of band-aids all over it. They asked him, “What’s up with your hand?”

[00:19:12] Looks like he cut it up. He holds it in the light, and there’s lots of little nicks and cuts and two old band-aids and two very fresh ones. He goes, “Yeah, I was playing around with a knife at my cousin’s house this morning. I cut my hand up.”

Dave: [00:19:22] I’d stopped playing with a knife after I cut myself the first time. [Yeardley laughs]

Zibbty: [00:19:25] Yeah, exactly. So he’s got a bunch of band-aids all over?

Greg: [00:19:29] Yup.

Zibby: [00:19:29] Okay.

Greg: [00:19:30] His right hand has got band-aids all over it, and other little open cuts and sores on it. So then he hides that out of sight while he’s finished to talk and wants to know if he’s done, can he leave? They go, “Yeah. Okay.” He doesn’t work, he doesn’t go to school, he doesn’t do much anything. So I think we’ll be able to find him pretty quick if we need to again.

Yeardley: [00:19:47] And how old is he?

Greg: [00:19:48] He’s late 40s. The other investigators went back up to the house. It was good weather that day, still snow everywhere, but they were going to start sifting the house. And so they’re just a few guys, they got some sifter buckets and tarps, and they’re just hand sifting the entire contents of this house.

Dave: [00:20:05] That’s adirty, dirty task.

Yeardley: [00:20:07] Oh, I bet.

Greg: [00:20:08] It is.

Dave: [00:20:08] Yeah.

Zibby: [00:20:08] Well, even just listening to this between the elements, so the snow, the rain, the cold, the sun setting earlier because it’s wintertime, and then the ash and the water.

Dave: [00:20:19] The smells.

Zibby: [00:20:20] The smells. The inconvenience of how long it takes you just to get there, all of those things are not necessarily working in your favor. I would hate that part of the job is going up there and sifting all day long looking for who knows what.

Dave: [00:20:33] It’s like mining at the same time though. You’re wondering, “Hey, this next bucket, am I going to come across something that might break this case open.”

Zibby: [00:20:41] That’s why you do what you do and you do it so well.


Greg: [00:20:45] So they’re sifting this house. They put on some coveralls. There are dirty clothes and we lay out tarps. They’re taking shovels full at a time from each room. And they’re sifting through little screens for small items, large items. Lot of things have melted, so there’s just unidentifiable chunks of could have been furniture, clothing, who knows what.

[00:21:05] So while they’re doing that, we go to the autopsy of Ruby and doctor who does these a forensic pathologist. Very good at what he does. Been doing it for a long time. He does his investigation while he’s scrubbing off the sooted skin from the burn and the smoke damage. It opens up some very clean looking flesh and then that’s when we see that there are a massive amount of wounds to this woman. He starts poking and looking into them and he decides they’re stab wounds. So he starts counting them up. She had been stabbed over her upper chest and on her head about 20 times.

Yeardley: [00:21:40] Oh, my God.

Greg: [00:21:41] He rolls around her back, washes away some of the skin from back there and uncovers probably another 10 stab wounds to her back.

Yeardley: [00:21:49] Vicious.

Greg: [00:21:50] Very vicious. There are lot of stabs again all over the face and the head. There was one that stands out to me where she had been stabbed in the chin and it had come all the way through. These were non-fatal wounds because they were stopped by the skull, but they had to hurt. She was alive for those.

Dave: [00:22:06] That’s horrendous.

Greg: [00:22:07] Yeah.

Yeardley: [00:22:08] Wow.

Dave: [00:22:08] That’s a violent, violent attack.

Dan: [00:22:10] And that says to me anger.

Greg: [00:22:12] Yes.

Yeardley: [00:22:13] And very personal, right? Isn’t stabbing considered an intimate crime?

Dave: [00:22:17] And the location. You start going after faces, that type of stuff. Yeah, this is a personal rage attack. Yeah.

Greg: [00:22:24] She also had a broken left jaw.

Yeardley: [00:22:26] [gasps].

Zibby: [00:22:26] Oh, man.

Greg: [00:22:27] Yeah. He discovered that one of the stab wounds on the back had severed the artery to the kidney. That would have been a fatal one. But the large one that we saw in her right rib cage that went very deep and was very wide and had cut a number of organs along the way. He said, she most likely bled out quickly from that wound.

Dave: [00:22:45] Did she have soot in her airway?

Greg: [00:22:48] No, she didn’t.

Dave: [00:22:48] Okay. If she had soot in her airway, that means she’s alive while the fire is starting to burn and give off smoke. If she doesn’t have soot in her airway, it means she’s already dead. She’s not breathing.

Yeardley: [00:22:58] Oh, right.

Zibby: [00:22:59] So that’s a lot of information about timeline.

Greg: [00:23:02] Exactly. And so we were talking to the doctor about this. We said, “This lady had been stabbed 20 to 30 times. Would you expect whoever did this to maybe have wounds or himself?” He goes absolutely on their stabbing hand, the more times you start stabbing somebody, the more blood is released under the weapon. You don’t have as good a grip on it. So your hand slides down onto the blade over and over, and you compensate by changing your grip. You’re still going to hit hard bone like she had been on top of her head, and your hands are going to slide down and get cut with the same knife.

Dan: [00:23:31] And when you question Steve at his cousin Billy’s house, he’s got cuts all over his hands, right?

Greg: [00:23:36] Correct.

Dan: [00:23:37] Imagine witnessing that attack and how violent it is. It just it makes you angry.

Greg: [00:23:42] And this is a remote location again. So undoubtedly, she was screaming or trying to, and there’s nobody there to listen to her.

Dan: [00:23:49] And is the medical examiner able to give you some idea of what kind of knife you’re looking for?

Greg: [00:23:54] Yes, but the knife wounds do tell us. The knife wounds that he found on the body went up to about three inches in width for a blade size. So a tapering sort of knife, like, a chef’s knife, a butcher knife, something like that, rather than a single length blade. That’s what he says we’re most likely going to be looking for.

Dave: [00:24:14] Did he do a sexual assault exam on her as well?

Greg: [00:24:17] He did. Removed the rest of the clothes, noted that there was a slight abrasion in the upper groin of this woman, and did a sexual assault kit. Nothing obvious. He’s able to take a pretty quick look and after his years of experience decide nothing that concerned him.

Yeardley: [00:24:32] Still, the person had pulled her pants down.

Dave: [00:24:35] Or, she’s being dragged and the pants come down. Depending on how you’re getting dragged through the house, your clothing might move.

Greg: [00:24:44] Those are the scenarios we run through. Why is she presenting like this? Why is her shirt off? Why is her pants pulled down? Was she in the bathroom when somebody came into her house? Was she getting ready to take a shower? Were these clothes removed from her? We don’t know. So we take a lot of swabs over her body, and swab the waistband of the clothes because somebody had to pull them down, so they’re going to leave some DNA behind. So we’re swabbing those waistbands, we’re swabbing everything.

Yeardley: [00:25:09] And it wouldn’t have been destroyed by the heat of the fire?

Greg: [00:25:12] Potentially. Who knows how many thousands of gallons of water been sprayed on her also by the firefighting efforts. So there’s always that potential that we lost evidence that would be very helpful.

Dave: [00:25:21] So what did the medical examiner determine was the actual cause of death?

Greg: [00:25:25] Homicide by stab force injury.

Greg: [00:25:40] Now we’re more focused on Steve. During that short conversation they had with him the night before, they asked him, “Where did you go today?” “Well, I met up with Tina, who’s my cousin Billy’s girlfriend in town. And so I just of rode around with her for most of the day.”

Yeardley: [00:25:56] Just riding around.

Greg: [00:25:57] Riding around.

Yeardley: [00:25:58] Does he mention anything about Ruby or house catching on fire? Because it’s a tiny community.

Greg: [00:26:03] Yeah. Well, he says he had heard that Ruby’s house had caught on fire and she was a friend of his. She was pretty much his only friend up that area and that she had actually given him a ride into town, so that they could do some shopping at Walmart a couple days earlier. So now we know who was the last person to have contact with her, which is Steve.

Yeardley: [00:26:24] So he hears the house is on fire and a friend of his is potentially in the house, but he doesn’t go back to the house to see if he can be of any help. He decides to ride around town with his cousin’s girlfriend.

Greg: [00:26:35] Yes.

Yeardley: [00:26:35] copy that.

Dave: [00:26:36] I think you recognize it’s suspicious. That’s what I’m recognizing.


Greg: [00:26:41] So we track down Tina, his cousin’s girlfriend, and we just want to confirm, “Was Stephen riding around with you all day yesterday?” She says, “Yeah, I picked him up at the McDonald’s here in town, and we drove around. I had to run some errands, and he said his friend’s house had burned down and he was really bummed out. He rode around with me. I picked up my kids from school, and we drove back up the river, and I dropped him back off at Billy’s house.” She didn’t want to go see Billy, her boyfriend, because they were fighting at the time. So she dropped Steve off nearby and so he could walk in.

[00:27:14] So we asked her, “How did he get to the McDonald’s that you picked him up?” She said, “Well, he rode the bus down there. There’s a bus line that goes all the way up to this part of our county and comes back in.” So okay. So we send guys down to the bus company and get their video footage on the bus, so they’re able to collect the footage of Steve getting on the bus from the local area up there, riding it into town to the McDonald’s, “Well, let’s go to McDonald’s and get video of there.”

[00:27:40] And sure enough, we got video of Steve enjoying us something of a lunch while he’s sitting around waiting for Tina to be available to come pick him up. We also noticed that Steve’s got this black backpack with a yellow stripe on it that he’s wearing on the bus this day.

Yeardley: [00:27:54] By the way, is this the same evening that Steve’s Uncle Brandon called you guys up to say, “Hey, I hear you’re looking for my nephew?” He’s actually right here playing video games with Billy.

Greg: [00:28:04] Yes. We’re going to go back and have another conversation with Tina and with Billy and his Uncle Brandon, just to confirm up. So “Tell me again exactly when did you see Steve? When did he show up? Was he by himself? What was he wearing? Did he have anything,” these sort of things? Tina says, “No, I just gave him a ride. But he did give me a couple of coins and a little bracelet.”

Yeardley: [00:28:25] Oh.

Greg: [00:28:26] Me and Sergeant Andy from this other agency decide, we’re going to go up and have a better interview with Steve. So we drive all the way up there. Sergeant Andy and I go walk up to Steve’s trailer, which is also filthy, smelly. There’s just a lot of plastic garbage bags of all sorts, just a lot of garbage stacked up underneath his trailer and all around his trailer.

[00:28:47] And we knock on the door and he answers. We’re like, “Hey, Steve, we just wanted to get a better statement about how you knew these folks up here, and we just want to know if there’s anything you can tell us that would be useful to help us out on this investigation.” We also notice his hand is very swollen. We say, “Hey, we’d really like to talk with you. How about we go down to the fire station down the road where we can talk inside? It’s clean, it’s warm.”

Dave: [00:29:09] No distractions.

Greg: [00:29:10] Yes.

Dave: [00:29:11] Get them off their turf.

Greg: [00:29:12] Right. And he was resistant to it initially until his wife could go along.

Yeardley: [00:29:16] Wait, so he says he won’t come down to the station and talk to you unless his ex-wife, Peggy, who actually lives 20 yards away in her own trailer goes with him.

Greg: [00:29:25] Correct.

Yeardley: [00:29:26] That’s funny. All right, so you’re all headed to the fire station?

Greg: [00:29:30] Yeah. So Sergeant Andy and I are starting to back out of the tire tracks in the snow is super deep out there. When the investigators, who was walking around now taking more pictures in the daylight, stops us and says, “Hey, there’s something back here in the road.” So we get out and look, and there’s a stapler and a $2 bill with obvious blood stains on it.

Yeardley and Zibby: [00:29:48] What?

Zibby: [00:29:49] Okay. Now hold on. So are Steve and Peggy in the car with you?

Greg: [00:29:53] No. They were going to get in her car and meet us over there.

Dan: [00:29:56] So this stapler and a bloody $2 bill are between the victim’s house and Steve’s house.

Greg: [00:30:01] Yes. It’s closer to Steve’s house, but definitely right between victim’s house and his house.

Dave: [00:30:06] That’s a problem.

Greg: [00:30:07] So we photograph it. We collect them both up. We don’t mention it to Steve or Peggy, and we drive down to the fire station. And then we get inside and we start our conversation with them. We just find out all kinds of things about how they know Kyle and Ruby. And Steve had developed a friendship with Kyle, and that he would help him do work around his house, and Kyle would help him do some brush removal around his trailer. Steve would go along on Kyle’s boat trips whenever he wanted to scout a new route through some rapids or whatever, because Kyle is a big guy. He would basically be ballast in this guy’s boat, so he’d got to run the river with him quite a bit.

Yeardley: [00:30:45] Did he get paid for these odd jobs?

Greg: [00:30:46] No.

Yeardley: [00:30:47] No. Just like pals.

Greg: [00:30:49] Something to do. Yeah. We asked him, “Well, when’s the last time you saw Ruby?” He had been up to his brother’s house for two weeks for Christmas and New Year’s and then rode the greyhound back. He knew that Kyle had colon cancer for the year leading up to it and that he was getting worse every time he had seen him and he was finally bedridden the last time he saw him. So he comes back and he finds Ruby at the mailbox and asks, “How Kyle’s doing?” She said, “Well, he died last week.” So he says he got pretty upset about that, and she was upset and crying and missing on him. He walks back to her house with her. And so this set the stage for over the next couple of days.

[00:31:26] He spends the next couple of days, “Well, do you need help around here? Do you need some company?” Finds out she was going to go do some shopping at the Walmart in town. Asked if he could tag along. So she drives them both there. We get video footage sure enough, shows them both. They’re shopping. They split up. She goes to customer service area because she was in the process of selling one of their trucks. Somebody was supposed to wire her some money. She didn’t quite understand what she was supposed to do on her end of the deal, so she wasn’t able to get it. We got him shopping around for other items. He tells us, they go to a couple of other stores while they’re in town. We get video from those places.

[00:32:02] They seem to be interacting normally. They drive home. Back up there, she says, “You got any money? I’d like to rent a movie at the little market down here.” He says, “Yeah, I’ll get you a movie.” So we got video of them in the market going around. They rent a movie. They come back and they’re at Ruby’s house watching the movie for a while. He says, “She doesn’t seem to be really into the movie. She’s just staring off in space and eating and didn’t offer him any food.” So he decided he was just going to leave. So he says, “I got up to leave and then I went outside.” I says, “You guys say goodbye, shake hands, you hug. Do you have that relationship?” “Oh, yeah, we hug all the time. We would hug pretty much every time I saw her.” It shows there’s some closeness there than you would with maybe one of your other neighbors.

[00:32:48] So he says, “He walks back to his house and then that’s it.” He sees her again at the mailbox the following day. She’s still sad, she’s missing her husband, all that. And then he said, “This is getting a little bit old. I just want to talk about other stuff.”

Zibby: [00:33:03] Yeah, because it’s only been a week and a half.

Yeardley: [00:33:04] It did. A week.

Greg: [00:33:04] Yeah

Zibby: [00:33:05] Get over it, Ruby. I mean–

Yeardley: [00:33:07] Wow.

Greg: [00:33:08] So then he says, that’s pretty much the last time he saw her. So we get back to that morning.

Yeardley: [00:33:14] The morning of the fire.

Greg: [00:33:15] Yes. “Where’d you go that morning, and why’d you have to leave so early?” “Well, I was just tired of being up here in the snow and the cold with no water. The toilets don’t work, and Peggy’s always on my case because we don’t have water in our trailers and stuff. So, my Uncle Brandon said he would look at it a long time ago and get it fixed. But we had a falling out, and he hasn’t talked to me, and my aunt says I can’t come back around until I make things right with my uncle. So I decided I was just going to go do that, apologize, do whatever it took so that he would come fix our plumbing.”


Greg: [00:33:52] What happens that morning? You’re up early?

Steve: [00:33:54] Yeah, I wanted to go talk to my cousin, man, and straighten things out with [beep]. Because I tried to get him to come over and fix the toilet, but he never did. And water broke. I hear it every day, “Don’t have water, can’t take the shower.” It’s my fault. I don’t know how to fix plumbing by myself. I want to see if I could work things out with my uncle to give him– come and look.

Greg: [00:34:18] Mm-hmm. Things were a little rough with your uncle?

Steve: [00:34:22] Yeah. We had a falling out, and I put all his business out on front street with my aunt, and my aunt didn’t like it. She said, “Until you straighten things out, [beep] don’t come back over here.” So now I needed to get it done. I can’t just keep pushing it on.

Greg: [00:34:43] Yeah.Okay. So what time did you get up that day to start making progress on that?

Steve: [00:34:51] 9’oclock, maybe

Greg: [00:34:52] 09:00?

Peggy: [00:34:53] Ah, no.

Steve: [00:34:55] Earlier than that?

Peggy: [00:34:56] Yeah, we left about 07:30 AM.

Steve: [00:34:58] See? She keeps chart, I don’t.

Dave: [00:35:02] I’m picturing her providing information that contradicts what Steve’s already told you and him giving her the look like, “Damn you.”

Greg: [00:35:09] Yeah, like, it’s all very surprising to him.

Zibby: [00:35:11] You didn’t get the feeling that Peggy was trying to get him in trouble. Like, she didn’t actually think he was a suspect. She was just treating him like the idiot she felt like he was and wanted to get his facts straight.

Greg: [00:35:20] Yes.

Zibby: [00:35:21] Okay.

Yeardley: [00:35:21] And he said something in his interview, something about the business on Front Street[?]. What is that?

Greg: [00:35:27] He was talking about his aunt was mad at him because he had put all his uncle’s business out on Front Street, kind of a term for me putting it out there for everybody to listen to or–

Yeardley: [00:35:37] Airing his dirty laundry.

Greg: [00:35:38] Yeah.

Yeardley: [00:35:39] Ah, okay. Are you now divulging to him, ”We know this is a homicide”?

Greg: [00:35:43] We’re telling him that we know this is more than an accident. So as we’re telling him this and about what a good job it was that his wife, who was able to call a fire department so quick, she was able to save this house from being completely burned down and the body from being completely burned up, and we’re actually going to use it to solve this crime.

[00:36:00] While we’re telling him this, he’s got his arms crossed, his chin’s down, he’s clenching his jaw quite a bit and says, “Well, are we done? Can we go?” “Almost.” I tell him, “You mentioned that you read her house watching a movie with her. So, you’ve been in the house.” “Yeah.” “So, while we’re sorting things around, we’re going to be getting some DNA, fingerprints, and all that stuff. Can we get some of yours just to rule you out, because we already know that you’ve been in the house?” [Yeardley laughs] “Okay.” So maybe I’ll get some buccal swabs from him.

Yeardley: [00:36:26] Buccal?

Greg: [00:36:27] Yes, swabbing the insides of his cheeks to get DNA profile.

Yeardley: [00:36:31] Okay.

Greg: [00:36:32] And then I’m photographing and said, “Hey, I don’t have a fingerprint kit exactly, but I got a really good camera. Do you mind if I take pictures of your fingerprints?” And his wife jumps in, “Oh, do you want my pictures too?” [Yeardley laughs] “Well, of course, we do.” So she gives us DNA sample as well. We photograph her. I photograph him close ups of his hands and then I mentioned, “Boy, your hands look a little cut up there, hands a little puffy.” He says, “Yeah, it happened a couple of days ago. I don’t know how that happened.” Ruby got her jaw broke and was stabbed up. That’s what I’m thinking.

Dave: [00:37:04] I love that you’re feeding him things that have already been done, but you’re trying to get his wheels turning like, “What did I leave in there? Oh, shit. The inside of the house isn’t destroyed like I wanted.” You get into these interviews sometimes where you have to feed them a little bit of information and later on a defense attorney will say, “This is a leading interview and you’re leading him into a disclosure,” the Brendan Dassey type stuff. That’s the claim is that they’re leading the defendant. So in this case, they’re giving an opportunity. You got anything you want to get out in front of right now?

Greg: [00:37:36] Yeah.

[00:37:40] Hands look puffy.

Steve: [00:37:42] Yeah. I don’t know, [unintelligible [00:37:47]

Greg: [00:37:45] Yeah, little cuts and stuffs all over area.

Steve: [00:37:47] [unintelligible [00:37:48]

Greg: [00:37:49] Let me get a picture of those. That’ll definitely help.

[00:37:52] “That’ll definitely help,” I tell him, getting close up pictures of his hands.

Zibby: [00:37:55] Could you feel his energy shift once you really laid out, “Oh, look, the house is so much more preserved and so is the body than it could have been”?

Greg: [00:38:04] Absolutely. He had been participating cooperative throughout this whole interview until we get to this point. The interview takes a turn, and we tell him we’re going to do the best we can on this investigation, find out what happened to Ruby and why.

Yeardley: [00:38:16] And it’s curious. If you really were her friend and you cared about her, then you’d be like, “Yeah, dude, please find out, because I want to know who did my friend wrong.”

Greg: [00:38:24] Exactly. It was a two-pronged attempt, hoping to get one or the other, a reaction of some sort that he’d be all on board. “Yeah, good. Well, I hope you catch whoever did this” or the one that we got, which is his arms cross up, clenching his jaw, asking if they could just go.

Dave: [00:38:39] I’m uncomfortable. Get me as far away from that detective as you can.

Greg: [00:38:42] Mm-hm. So we wrap up that interview that day.

Yeardley: [00:38:45] And even though you’re pretty sure that Steve is the one who killed Ruby, you let him walk and go back to building your case.

Greg: [00:38:52] Yeah. So we know all the players in this. All of Steven’s family, his uncle, his cousin, his cousin’s girlfriend, and his wife, Peggy. So we decided to take another run at it. Meanwhile, they finished sifting the house. The house burned up. The garage was relatively intact. So all of Kyle’s fishing gear, all of his guiding supplies, tons of totes of paperwork and files, all kinds of gear were still safe in the garage. There was a large safe in there also, and there was big bags of coins. We noticed all these coins were very unique ones. He liked to keep $2 bills, different things like that. So okay, that’s starting to sound more in line with what we have now. We’re deciding, do we got enough to write a search warrant for Steven’s place?

[00:39:38] He’s got swollen hand. We know she has a broken jaw. Ruby did a lot of stab wounds. The doctor told us whoever stabbed her would most likely have cuts on his stabbing hand. Steven has cuts on his stabbing hand. We know he was the last person to have contact with her by his own admission. He got some rides with her, saw her at the mailbox, and he had access into her house.

Yeardley: [00:40:00] And he’s right-handed.

Greg: [00:40:01] And he’s right-handed.

Dave: [00:40:02] And he’s handed off some gifts of jewelry and coins.

Dan: [00:40:05] And in the driveway.

Greg: [00:40:07] Yeah. We find this peculiar $2 bloody bill laying there. So we decide that we do. So I start writing the warrant. We serve it a week later to the day from whenever this fire first happened. And in that warrant, I wrote I wanted to photograph all of his body in case there’s scratches or evidence that Ruby tried to fight back, defensive wounds, things like that. Searched Steven’s trailer, and we wrote it for Peggy’s car because we know she gave him a ride to the market first to get some milk and then to his cousin’s house. So we thought if he’s wearing bloody clothes, it might transfer onto the seats or the car doors, all this stuff. I want to just cover our bases and include everything.

[00:40:46] So we invite out the mobile crime lab to go with them. We roll out there, and me and Sergeant Andy, we’re just going to grab Steven and bring him back to our office to take photographs and have an interview once and for all with this guy away from Peggy. And the other investigators, these guys, they’re my best friends, we have a lot of fun working together, but they got sour into the deal on this. They had to put on their dirty clothes and sift through this burned out smelly house, and now they got to put on their dirty clothes and sift through this guy’s smelly trailer.

Yeardley and Zibby: [00:41:13] Oh.

Greg: [00:41:14] But we do what we do. So we roll out there and knock on his door. Steve opens the door. Now I see that he’s shaved his head. Maybe he had lice, maybe he’s trying to change his appearance. But he did a really crappy job, and he just did it in the floor in the back of his trailer. He missed this one little dumb stripe all down the back of his head where he’s just going all down, so it just looked ridiculous.

Yeardley: [00:41:36] Oh, wow.

Greg: [00:41:37] I tell him, “Hey, Steve, got a search warrant for your place and for you. You need to come with us.” “Okay.” Grabs his clothes. “No. Why me? What’s this about?” He just kind of goes along. I read him the search warrant, tell him we’re going to leave a copy there in his trailer, and then we start driving into town.

Yeardley: [00:42:06] It’s about an hour from Ruby’s property to the station, right?

Greg: [00:42:08] Right.

Yeardley: [00:42:09] Is he talking to you in the car?

Greg: [00:42:10] Well, we’re making small talk. I don’t want to get into the case yet because we’re not recording it yet.

Zibby: [00:42:15] That’s a long time to small talk.

Greg: [00:42:16] It is.

Dave: [00:42:17] That’s also a test though, because they want to avoid the topic that they know they’re about to talk about. Whereas I would be like, “What are we going to talk about, guys?” This whole cloak and dagger stuff and not telling me what we’re talking about, this secrecy stuff is making me more suspicious. This guy already knows what the talk’s going to be about.

Greg: [00:42:35] Yeah. So Steven volunteers several miles down the road, “Oh, they’re going to find some meth pipes in there.” “Okay, well, thanks for letting us know.” “Were you smoking some meth?” “No, I couldn’t find any– It’s hard to find around here. I actually went out with Tina the other day, see if she could get me some. We couldn’t.” “Okay, well, thanks for letting us know.” So then we talk about just this and that, how long he lived up there and–?

Yeardley: [00:42:58] How long had he lived up there?

Greg: [00:43:00] About two years.

Yeardley: [00:43:01] And before that?

Greg: [00:43:02] Before that, he had actually been living in prison for six years.

Yeardley: [00:43:06] Oh, for what?

Greg: [00:43:07] Well, we run his background. We find out Steven had been arrested in another state and had served 10 years in prison for breaking into a neighbor lady’s house and violently raping her.

Yeardley: [00:43:18] [gasps].

Greg: [00:43:19] And as soon as he got out, he moved up to our area and lived with a woman roommate for a while, somewhere nearby in this area where all this was going on. Everything was going good until she opted not to stay up late with him on New Year’s one night, and that sent him into a rage. He began choking and attacking her and sexually assaulted her. So he went way to prison again for several more years.

Dan: [00:43:43] This guy is bad news.

Greg: [00:43:45] Yeah. So we started getting into his activities again that day with Ruby. “Just run me again through when’s the last time you saw her.” We talk about the trip to Walmart again. “And then tell me about why you had to get up that morning. Why did you have to leave so early? Why were you insistent on going to Billy’s house?” So that’s when he gives me a different story.

[00:44:09] We know that you went to [beep] give you a ride to your cousin’s house. What were you up to all night?

Steve: [00:44:15] Playing video games. Yeah. I slept for a couple of hours. And my brother’s been asking me to check in on my grandmother. He can’t get information from over [beep] here because they always say, “Oh, she’s fine, she’s fine, she’s fine.” But he never got a chance to talk to her. So back of my mind, I said, “You know what? I wonder [beep] if they give me a ride over there.” And I told her, “I need to get over there. I need to see [beep] to talk to my grandmother since she’s out of the hospital.” She goes, “All right. Now?” I said, “Yeah, I want to get over there before my aunt wakes up, because my aunt doesn’t want me over there because falling out that me and my uncle had.” So I wanted to be there and gone before she woke up.

[00:45:01] Got over there, talked to [beep] for a little while. He goes, “You here to see grandma?” I go, “Yeah.” He goes, “Well, I’ll talk to you when you get back.” That’s when– I got the phone call, like, stuck in the snow, like, deep in snow, and I got a phone call. I dug it all out. I go, “Hello?” He [beep] says, “Yo, the smell that we were smelling, it was a house fire. [beep] House is on fire.” I was like, “Crap.”

Zibby: [00:45:35] So now his reason is, I was going to check on grandma. Had nothing to do with the water and the toilets and trying to make things right. Do you call him out on that in the moment?

Greg: [00:45:43] I wanted to sort through some other things that he had told us, get around to. I asked him, “So you go see your grandmother? She wasn’t there.” He tells me, “He’s feeling bad that Ruby died. Now he doesn’t feel like he has friends anymore and just thinks maybe the only person he can talk to is Tina.” So he takes the bus and goes down and meets her. I said, “Well, when you go town, do you normally take anything with you?” He goes, “Well, if I’m going shopping or whatever, I’ll bring a backpack or a bag.” I said, “But you weren’t planning on going shopping this trip. It was a spur of the moment decision, right?” “Yes.” “So, did you have a backpack or anything with you at that time?” “No, I didn’t.” “Okay.”

[00:46:16] So now I got him lying about that, because we clearly have him on video with photographs wearing this backpack. And I told him, “You told us that you cut your hand by playing with a knife at your cousin, Billy’s, house all morning.” “Yeah.” “Well, we talked to your cousin Billy, and he says you never had anything in your hands but a bag of tobacco. You were rolling cigarettes in his house.” “No, that’s a lie. He was getting dressed, and he wasn’t watching the whole time.” Well, actually, he was, because his cousin, Billy, lives in a little eight by eight shack with really nothing in it, just the two of them and whatever clutter he’s got laying around in there.

Yeardley: [00:46:50] So there’s no hiding.

Greg: [00:46:51] There’s no hiding. And he tells us very clearly, “He doesn’t have a knife. He didn’t see Steve playing with a knife. He had tobacco in his hands.” So after that, he goes, “I probably better get a lawyer.”

Dave: [00:47:03] Done.

Greg: [00:47:04] Done. “Can I go now?” And I tell him, “No, why don’t you hold on? We’re waiting to hear back from the guys up the river.”

Yeardley: [00:47:12] You’re talking about your investigators at Steve’s trailer who are sifting through his stuff?

Greg: [00:47:16] Yes. I did hear back finally that they recovered a bunch of things. There was a black hoodie sweater hanging up on a nail. Looked like it had blood stains on it. But they had the meth pipes, for sure. And at that time, that was still considered a felony around this area. So I went in and advised him, “Well, you know what? You have to go to jail tonight for those meth pipes that you told us about.” “Okay.” He stands up, turns around, gives it up right away. We clink him up and off to the jail with him, so we can hold on to him we know where he’s at now because we really want to sort this out.

[00:47:47] I was hoping they would find blood-soaked clothes, a knife, something obvious, something that smells like gas. They drive all the way back in, and they talk about all the things that they did find. Nothing too obvious. But one of the detectives was looking around, really getting into this dirty, filthy trailer. They look underneath the refrigerator, the small little refrigerator unit and the little shelf deal that it sits on. And way back in the middle, there’s a cell phone laying underneath there. “So why do you hide a cell phone in your own trailer, unless you don’t want somebody to find it?” It was just dirty and cruddy with dust all around, but the surface of this phone was nice and clean, so it had been put there recently.

[00:48:24] So we get this phone, and we’re going back through our records, and we find Kyle’s death investigation report from the week prior when we’d been out there. Ruby had provided cell phone numbers for, both her and her husband, who had just passed away. So we start calling, I wonder if this is one of their phones. So we call her number first, nothing. We call her husband’s phone next, and it starts ringing in our hand.

Dave: [00:48:45] Gotcha.

Greg: [00:48:46] Yeah. Kyle’s phone was hidden in Steven’s trailer. So that’s our very direct connection from his trailer to our victim’s home. But we don’t know the circumstances and how he gets that phone. Was it gifted to him? Did he steal it? We don’t know quite yet, but we’re not going to charge him for that yet. We’re going to hold him on the meth for the night and then hope that other things develop. So the DA, who was working with us on this case decided, we’re going to hold him in there as long as we can until we absolutely got to kick him loose, which would be midnight the following night.

Dan: [00:49:16] And we all know that 24 hours isn’t a very long time for a suspect to be held in custody when you’re working on an investigation like this. So when he’s released, are you guys watching him?

Greg: [00:49:27] Yeah. He’s 70 miles from where he’s got anywhere to go. So we’re just going to follow him around, see where he goes, just to keep an eye on him.

Yeardley: [00:49:35] Not give him a ride back home?

Greg: [00:49:36] Not give him a ride home. We go back out and hit up his family again hard the next day. One of the detectives stops into the small market, gets something to eat, hears somebody gossiping, word it got around that there was a murder, there was a fire. So people are talking about it in this area. Somebody mentions that a radio that belonged to the victim was being held by one of steven’s relatives. So he asked this gal, “Where’d you hear that?” She goes, “Well, he was talking about it. He came in here.”

[00:50:04] So they go back to Uncle Brandon’s house and they said, “Hey, we heard you got a radio belongs to victim in this fire.” He eventually gives it up, says, “Yeah, after I gave Steve a ride home that night, after the cops were here talking to him that night, he showed me this radio and wanted offered up as a peace offering for our feud and I said, I don’t want that. But he left it in my truck anyway.” So he fishes it out, hands it over, it’s in a little case. The detectives pull it out and look at it. Sure enough, it’s a little emergency radio. They turn it around and written across the bottom in sharpie is the victim’s name handwritten, Ruby.

Zibby: [00:50:40] So this guy is just taking things from the deceased and handing them over to his family as gifts.

Greg: [00:50:45] Yup. So then the following day, the DA working on this case with us gives me a call and says, “Hey, Steve’s cousin, Billy, just showed up with an attorney, wants to talk to us about some stuff.” Okay. So we go up and meet with him in a conference room in the DA’s office. Billy basically says, “He didn’t tell us complete truth when we’d shown up that day, and he tells us that Steven showed up that morning, and then he showed up with a tablet and a big box of cameras, like video cameras and digital cameras, some little microSD cards, all this stuff, and told Billy, he can hang onto it or sell it for him or whatever, but he needs to leave it there right away. Then he splits, goes into town.

Yeardley: [00:51:24] So what was the thing that broke it wide open that made you know definitively Steven is our guy?

Greg: [00:51:30] Well, we sent off a lot of our evidence to the crime lab. A lot of burnt stuff, a lot of the clothing that we recovered from Steven’s house, just everything we could think of to send up there. We get a word back from the crime lab. The black hood sweater that had some blood stains on it. There was blood stains all over the outside of his trailer, all over a lock, all over everything, but it all came back to him because we’d submitted all these swabs. We knew he was going to say that he’d cut his hands that morning. And so it was his blood. But they dug around, they kept cutting up his sweater, and they found one spot of blood that belonged to Ruby.

Yeardley: [00:52:07] Oh, boy.

Greg: [00:52:08] So our DA was comfortable moving ahead to grand jury process to get a murder charge. So we got that. At the time when I was photographing Steven in our office, had him take off most of his clothing, and he took off his watch, large metal linked watch and he lays it on the table and something catches my eye. I see on the back of it something that looks like blood. So I take a lot of photographs, we send that to the lab. They got to that last, and then they send back, “Yep, this watch is full of the blood of our victim,” a lot of DNA on that.

Dave: [00:52:38] That’s hard to explain away.

Yeardley and Greg: [00:52:40] Yeah.

Greg: [00:52:41] So, throughout all this, we never did recover anything we believed to be the murder weapon. We actually don’t know what time the murder happened and the fire started. We know the when the fire started was that morning that it was reported because it had just got really cooking. It could have been hours before he went back to his trailer and changed clothes, at least. And this is a very rural wooded area with a fast-moving river, he’s had plenty of time to get rid of the murder weapon and any bloody clothes that he was certainly wearing at the time.

Yeardley: [00:53:09] What was up with the $2 bill and the stapler in the driveway?

Greg: [00:53:13] Our most likely assumption was it came from our victim’s home. Looking back through the photos that the officer had taken the week prior, we saw a stapler look very much like the one that we recovered.

Dave: [00:53:25] So this went to trial, or is it plea deal?

Greg: [00:53:27] It finally went to trial. It had been set over twice. He changed attorneys. It was a long, drawn-out deal. It finally went to trial.

Yeardley: [00:53:33] What does that mean, set over?

Greg: [00:53:35] Set over means everything’s ready, set to go until they want more time to look for more paperwork, get their own expert who’s not available or vacation schedules don’t line up, all that kind of thing. So trial did get underway, and it was a three-week trial in which the DA in the case brought up 35 people to testify in this case.

Yeardley: [00:53:54] 35?

Greg: [00:53:55] 35. There was all of his relatives, his uncle, his cousin, his cousin’s girlfriend, his wife, the people we talked to at the stores, the people who provided videos to us, DNA experts from the crime lab, our Arson investigators. Just a long list of people come up and really just put the screws in this case.

Dave: [00:54:15] How long is the jury out?

Greg: [00:54:17] The jury was out for four hours. They came back with guilty charges for murder.

Yeardley: [00:54:22] And how much time did he get?

Greg: [00:54:24] So with history and the circumstances of this case, Steve was sentenced to life in prison, eligible for parole after 25 years, which the judge said she didn’t think they would offer him parole at that point just because of his violent history with women.

Yeardley: [00:54:38] Right.

Dan: [00:54:38] It all just begs the question, why? What’s the motive here?

Greg: [00:54:43] My only theory myself is that they were together one of these nights, and he decides to start making some forward advances on Ruby. She’s telling him no or tries to shove him out the door, and he becomes enraged and grabs the first thing he can find, or maybe he did have a weapon that he was threatening her with and just started stabbing her. I don’t know if he ripped her clothes off, or if he made her take them off, or he was forcibly pulling down her pants, we’ll never know those details. But I believe that she was fleeing from him and ran into her bedroom, perhaps where she kept her husband’s gun to maybe defend herself before she was overcome by her injuries.

Dave: [00:55:23] This is an absolutely brutal murder.

Greg: [00:55:26] Yeah. And he’s a much bigger guy than this 60-year-old woman was. I can imagine the force of him punching her in the face and breaking her jaw. The pain she went through to be stabbed all over the face, in the head, and all over the torso, in the back repeatedly as he’s just in this rage because he couldn’t get what he wanted or she was telling him no. I’m certain he did what he thought was the only thing to do at that point, which was try to cover it up by starting the fire.

[00:55:52] After helped himself to some of the valuables that he could find in the house to maybe go trade for some meth, which we find out when talking with Tina. She also showed up with an attorney and really wanted to give us the story that she picked him up. He had a pocket full of coins that he wanted her to go pawn. They picked up her kids and then he asked if she had a connect to get some meth. So they swung by this guy’s house that she knew. He waited in the car with her kids while she ran and got him some meth and then took him back home.

Yeardley: [00:56:21] Good grief. Thank you for joining us, Greg. It’s always so fascinating to hear how you all do what you do and do it so well in order for justice to be served. We so appreciate you joining us today.

Greg: [00:56:35] Thank you.

Yeardley: [00:56:40] Small Town Dicks is produced by Zibby Allen and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave.

Zibby: [00:56:46] This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Yeardley Smith and Zibby Allen.

Yeardley: [00:56:51] Music for the show was composed by John Forest. Our associate producer is Erin Gaynor, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.

Zibby: [00:57:01] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, head on over to, and become our pal on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @smalltowndicks. We love hearing from our Small Town Fam. So hit us up.

Yeardley: [00:57:14] Yeah. And also, we have a YouTube channel where you can see trailers for past and forthcoming episodes.

Zibby: [00:57:21] That’s right. If you choose to subscribe, you’ll be supporting our podcast. That way we can keep going to small towns across the country and bringing you the finest in rare, true crime cases, told, as always, by the detectives who investigated them. Thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.

Yeardley: [00:57:37] Nobody’s better than you.

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