Cold Case Files - Abandoned Houses; A Son's Memory   View more episodes

Aired at 12:00 PM on Friday, Sep 17, 2010 (9/17/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00Family and friends hit the streets of West Akron.
00:00:03>> Just searching, looking, you know, asking questions, stopping people on the street and, you know, doing whatever we could to try to find her.
00:00:14>> KURTIS: After hours of searching, Sonya Merchant calls police.
00:00:21>> Actually, I took the report from her, but...
00:00:23>> KURTIS: The next day, Officer Bertina King gets the case and recognizes the name immediately.
00:00:28She stops first at the home of Malissa's sister, the last pe >> We're at 710 West Healey Road, Apartment F.
00:00:38This is where I took the missing persons report on Malissa Thomas.
00:00:43Went all through here knocking on some doors, asking anybody I see, "Do you know who Melissa is?
00:00:47We're looking for her." Telling people what she had on.
00:00:50And we put out, like, a BOLO.
00:00:52We put it on all the channels what she looked like, who we're looking for.
00:00:56And I stopped at all the businesses up Wooster Avenue and let them know she was missing.
00:01:02>> KURTIS: For days, there is no sign of Malissa.
00:01:05>> I was trying to think that nothing bad was happening.
00:01:08I was hoping that maybe, you know, she was with somebody and hoping that she would just come back.
00:01:20>> Me and my partner were working on the house, and I went to the second floor.
00:01:26>> KURTIS: On January 26, John Redd is cleaning up an abandoned house on East Avenue.
00:01:32>> I was walking down that hallway, and I discovered a body.
00:01:37It was a dead 13-year-old girl.
00:01:40>> KURTIS: Redd runs next door for help.
00:01:43Moments later, Detective Washington Lacy is on the scene.
00:01:50>> First thing on my mind was "We're in trouble." That was the first thing, "We're in trouble," because it just..
00:01:55that type of thing just doesn't happen every day in Akron.
00:01:59She was bound, both hands and feet.
00:02:02You could see just from looking at her, she had material in her mouth, and she had... like I say, it was obvious to us that she was pulling.
00:02:09She had pulled this material away from her bindings.
00:02:13>> KURTIS: A teenager trying to bite herself free-- it's an image that touches even the toughest of detectives.
00:02:22>> And there was a little tear coming out of her right eye, and that didn't help the situation either.
00:02:28>> KURTIS: The body is IDed as Malissa Thomas.
00:02:33A short time later, a mother's phone rings.
00:02:38>> They identified the body, and I lost it.
00:02:45I lost it.
00:02:50You see this type stuff happening to everybody else.
00:02:53You see it on TV.
00:02:54You see it everywhere else, but you never think that it will hit home.
00:02:59"I can't believe this." I couldn't believe it.
00:03:01You know, why?
00:03:03>> KURTIS: Malissa Thomas was strangled to death.
00:03:06Semen is also recovered from her body.
00:03:12Despite the forensic leads, no suspects are developed.
00:03:17>> We just didn't know.
00:03:18Just kept running into dead ends.
00:03:22>> KURTIS: Malissa's case falls into the cold files, and a child killer remains at large on the streets of West Akron.
00:07:07>> I had to go to traffic court that night, and she was going to go with me.
00:07:11>> KURTIS: Pat Huffman has a 7:00 PM date in traffic court.
00:07:16Pat's 12-year-old stepdaughter, Rosie, plans to join her.
00:07:20Rosie promises to be home by 6:00.
00:07:24>> And she says, "I'll be back." She says, "I want to go to court with you." She was all excited about going to traffic court.
00:07:31So come 6:00, and no Rosie.
00:07:346:15, still no Rosie.
00:07:366:30, no Rosie.
00:07:39>> KURTIS: Pat and Rosie's father, Jerry, search the neighborhood for hours.
00:07:45>> We had a big picture window in the apartment, and he sat there looking out that window, saying, "Rosie's going to be coming up here any minute now.
00:07:52We're going to see Rosie any minute." And he sat out there looking out that window all night long, and still no Rosie.
00:08:00>> KURTIS: The family files a missing persons report, then considers the worst.
00:08:08>> I knew in my heart then.
00:08:09Just something told me she wasn't coming home no more, because it wasn't like Rosie to do that.
00:08:14And I told Jerry, I says, "You know," I says, "hope for the best, but," I says, "I have a bad feeling." And he says, "What do you mean?" I said, "I don't think Rosie's coming back anymore." >> Well, right now we're standing beside property 154 South Maple, heading back to ..
00:08:30>> KURTIS: On March 5, 1996, Michael Johnson cleans up his latest purchase, a duplex on South Maple Street.
00:08:38>> And I had a trash bag with me, and I reached down and grabbed a handful of clothes.
00:08:43Therwas just trash everywhere.
00:08:45That's when I turned around.
00:08:46That's when I saw her leg.
00:08:51Well, I ran upstairs and called 911 and told them, "I think I found a dead body." >> We were dispatched to 156 South Maple roughly...
00:09:03>> KURTIS: Akron police officer Mike Stover drives up minutes after the call.
00:09:08>> We're outside of 156 South Maple, which was the scene of the homicide.
00:09:13We get to the bottom of the stairs, and they said that underneath some clothing, they had found her.
00:09:18I looked over, and as you can see there, immediately, there's a red line across the throat of the young lady.
00:09:28That was the first thing that jumped out at me.
00:09:31>> KURTIS: Stover tapes off the crime scene and calls homicide.
00:09:35Police suspect the victim may be Rosie Davenport.
00:09:39A knock on pat Huffman's door confirms it.
00:09:42>> And I knew it was the police.
00:09:44I opened the door, and he showed me a badge.
00:09:46And he says, "Did you report a little girl missing?" I says, "Yeah." He said, "Could you tell me, was she wearing a Garfield watch?" And I said, "Yes." I knew then that they had found her.
00:09:58He said, "Well, we just found her body." I mean, that was heartbreaking.
00:10:03>> Okay, I just transferred to the unit, the crimes against persons unit, and this was my second day on the job.
00:10:10>> KURTIS: Jerry Kelley takes the lead on the case and works with a team of detectives.
00:10:14They attend the autopsy on what would have been Rosie Davenport's 13th birthday.
00:10:21>> The evidence from the sexual assault was that it was very brutal, very painful.
00:10:28victim was so terrorized, was so innocent, was a victim with a capitalV, you know?
00:10:38This girl should have been out roller skating the next day with her friends.
00:10:41She shouldn't have been lying in a basement, mutilated, strangled, raped and murdered.
00:10:47>> We knew we were dealing with a monster.
00:10:51So what we need to do is, you know, to get busy and do our homework and get out there and beat the streets and find out who did it.
00:11:00We're on South Maple Street.
00:11:01Actually, one of our last spottings of Rosie on Saturday was in this area.
00:11:07>> KURTIS: Detectives find their first lead at the last place Rosie was seen, the home of Michelle Lindsey and her live-in boyfriend, Dondi Craig.
00:11:18>> She was visiting Michelle Lindsey, who has several daughters of Rosie's age, and it was a sort of a gathering place for a lot of the kids there.
00:11:27>> I didn't like her walking home because she was too little.
00:11:30>> At that time, Michelle Lindsey told us that Dondi Craig and his brother Dwayne was going to offer Rosie a ride because they didn't like her walking down the street after dark.
00:11:39>> It was too dark for her to walk home self, so that's the reason I offered her a cab.
00:11:45>> Michelle said that Rosie declined the offer, said she'd be fine, and left.
00:11:50A few moments later, Michelle said that Dondi, her live-in boyfriend, left the house as well, and she hadn't seen him since.
00:11:59The next thing we did was, of course, talk to Dondi Craig.
00:12:02He denied any knowledge of knowing Rosie Davenport, said he never saw the girl, doesn't know of her, never had any contact with her.
00:12:12>> Dondi said that, but Dondi seen her.
00:12:14Dondi met her.
00:12:16She was in the same house with Dondi.
00:12:18He stayed with us.
00:12:19So I don't know why he want to sit and say he never met her, because he was in the same house.
00:12:27>> KURTIS: When Dondi Craig refuses a polygraph, police dig a little deeper and find suspicious activity in Craig's criminal history.
00:12:36>> They were very similar cases where it involved abandoned houses, it involved being tied up and sexual assaults.
00:12:45It's kind of like the old, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding-- you know, the red flags come up.
00:12:49You know, the pointers start pointing.
00:12:51You know, like I said, he goes right to the top of the list.
00:12:53>> KURTIS: Smith returns to Craig's apartment looking to prove his case.
00:12:58>> We wanted to have a sample of his blood for DNA testing-- initially said he would do that, then he changed his mind.
00:13:06So now we were at the point where Dondi Craig was really looking as a strong suspect.
00:13:12>> KURTIS: Dondi Craig is arrested after refusing to provide his DNA.
00:13:17After a night in the lockup, he consents to a blood draw.
00:13:21Craig's DNA samples and the evidence are shipped to the DNA lab, but before testing begins, a problem arises.
00:13:31>> The problem that we had is the delay in finding Rosie.
00:13:34You know, we were talking 48 hours, maybe up to 72 hours, the time she had died to the time she had been found.
00:13:44The sperm evidence had already started to break down or deteriorate.
00:13:48>> KURTIS: Lab analysts are unable to develop a DNA profile from the semen evidence.
00:13:53With no physical evidence tying Dondi Craig to the crime, police are unable to press charges.
00:13:59>> We did not have enough evidence to make charges against him.
00:14:02We had our police instinct, but you know, that won't win you a case in court.
00:14:07>> KURTIS: As the months pass, little develops on Rosie Davenport's case.
00:14:12Detectives reluctantly set aside the case.
00:14:16Forgetting it, however, is another matter.
00:14:19>> There's some cases that just won't ever leave.
00:14:22Well, to me, this was the case.
00:14:25I'll never forget Rosie.
00:14:27I'll never forget at autopsy.
00:14:28We've had a lot of cold cases in our city that's been around for a lot of years.
00:14:34The one that we wanted to solve real bad was this one.
00:16:48>> The initial step was to come down here and locate the evidence with Rosie.
00:16:52Everything down this row is like murderer's row.
00:16:55>> KURTIS: Detective Jim Pasheilich is working overtime in Akron's evidence locker.
00:17:02Grant money is paying for DNA testing on unsolved cases.
00:17:07>> This is where these cases are won or lost.
00:17:10This is what we're looking for, is how good a job did we do back then at collecting?
00:17:15Storage-wise, is it still good?
00:17:17Can we still use it?
00:17:19>> KURTIS: The first case he pulls is one of only two unsolved child murders in Akron.
00:17:24Her name is Rosie Davenport.
00:17:27Six years earlier, the 12-year- old was found raped and strangled.
00:17:33>> There was something we were looking for, for that semen, what was present and left behind by the person that both kidnapped her, raped, and killed her.
00:17:41>> KURTIS: Up on a shelf, Pasheilich finds Rosie's rape kit-- inside it, hopefully, a DNA profile.
00:17:48>> The swabs-- the swabs that were obtained at the medical examiner's office in 1996.
00:17:56If you can get that DNA and get them to try to explain how that DNA got there-- and in this case, there's no good reason.
00:18:04You got a 12-year-old girl.
00:18:05How did your DNA get inside of her?
00:18:07There's no good reason.
00:18:10>> KURTIS: Pasheilich sends the swabs to the DNA lab, along with samples from several identified suspects-- of special interest to Pasheilich, an uncooperative suspect named Donald Craig.
00:18:24>> Dondi was the number one suspect from day one.
00:18:27There just wasn't enough to charge him with back at that time.
00:18:33>> When we start the DNA extraction process, we'll take a tube and open it and cut...
00:18:38>> KURTIS: In August of 2002, forensic scientist Lynda Eveleth tests evidence from Rosie Davenport's rape kit and isolates two distinct DNA profiles.
00:18:50>> Two DNA profiles-- itas consistent with Rosanna Davenport and Donald Craig.
00:18:55>> We're happy.
00:18:56The arrest is coming.
00:18:57It's not a matter of if it is; it's only when.
00:19:00>> KURTIS: Dondi Craig is easy to find.
00:19:03He's in prison on an unrelated charge.
00:19:07Before approaching him, cold- case detectives work up a little background on their suspect.
00:19:14>> We start looking back through police reports.
00:19:17We find a case in 1991 where he was arrested for raping a 17-year-old girl.
00:19:23>> KURTIS: The 17-year-old is Lavail Calhoun.
00:19:26Her case file reads like a blueprint for the attack on Rosie Davenport-- the only apparent difference, this victim lived to tell her story.
00:19:37>> That's a face I'll never forget.
00:19:41>> KURTIS: In 1991, Dondi Craig visits Lavail Calhoun's house with some friends.
00:19:47Lavail agrees to drive with him for fast food.
00:19:51>> He wanted to make a stop, and he said he wanted to... he was house sitting for somebody, he wanted to make a stop and check on the house.
00:19:58So we get through the front door, and he was like, "Wait right here." I said, "Why is it dark, you know?" And as I turned to grab the doorknob, he threw a sheet over me.
00:20:11And I was just screaming, started screaming, and he was like, "Shut up, be quiet, or I'm going to kill you." He picked me up, carried me up the steps.
00:20:22He threw me down on this bed.
00:20:24He got up on my back and pinned me down, tied both of my hands to the bed-- "Better not move." I couldn't scream no more, had tape on my mouth.
00:20:40After he tied my hands to the bed, he took my clothes off, and he raped me there.
00:20:47It seemed like hours.
00:20:49It really did.
00:20:51I was... really thought I was going to die.
00:20:54I really did.
00:20:57I really did.
00:20:59>> KURTIS: Lavail is eventually untied and allowed to dress.
00:21:03Donald Craig then drives his victim home, but not before making one more stop.
00:21:09>> He went through the drive thru before he took me home, and then he dropped me off.
00:21:17I jumped out of that car so fast, and I ran in the house, and I told my mother what happened.
00:21:22>> KURTIS: Craig is charged with rape and goes to jail, only to be released a short time later.
00:21:29>> I thought he was in jail.
00:21:31I went to court twice, testified, and I thought he was in jail.
00:21:37>> The ball got dropped at the grand jury level.
00:21:40Somebody dropped the ball for Lavail Calhoun.
00:21:43The detective who was assigned the case was on vacation.
00:21:47So they never heard from the detective in this case.
00:21:51It should have been picked up by the next grand jury.
00:21:53I mean, that's what it comes down to.
00:21:55It fell through the cracks.
00:21:58>> KURTIS: Lavail Calhoun might have fallen through the cracks.
00:22:01She will, however, get her day in court, on the witness stand in Rosie Davenport's murder trial.
00:22:10Before detectives take the case to court, they take it to prison, where Dondi Craig is finishing up a seven-year stretch for arson.
00:22:17>> I know that he had no idea that we were looking into this case.
00:26:42>> We're at the Belmont Corrections Institute, Belmont, Ohio.
00:26:46>> KURTIS: In January of 2003, Dondi Craig is in prison when he gets an unexpected visit from detectives.
00:26:54>> They make a mistake.
00:26:55You try to befriend him when you first go in there.
00:26:57I mean, the easy questions you start with, you know, do you even know who Rosie is?
00:27:10>> KURTIS: After 45 minutes of easy back and forth, detectives begin to tighten up on their suspect.
00:27:17>> There is a certain point in time where you have to get him with the science and say, "We know you did it." And then that's when it really escalated.
00:27:37>> KURTIS: After the expected denials, detectives confront Dondi with some science.
00:27:58>> Again he still denies everything.
00:27:59He knows now why we're down there.
00:28:01He knows we have DNA.
00:28:02We're coming down there for a reason.
00:28:04He's still denies it.
00:28:15>> That's what we did.
00:28:16We went to court with it.
00:28:18This was the courtroom that Rosie Davenport's case was tried in.
00:28:22>> KURTIS: In June of 2004, Dondi Craig goes on trial for kidnapping, rape, and aggravated murder.
00:28:30>> Dondi Craig was the last person to see her, and his face was the last face that Rosie Davenport saw.
00:28:42>> KURTIS: DNA evidence, coupled with Lavail Calhoun's testimony, makes for a compelling case.
00:28:48>> We, the jury in this case, find the defendant, Donald Lavell Craig, guilty of the offense.
00:28:53>> He was found guilty on all charges, the kidnap and the rape and the murder of Rosie Davenport.
00:29:01>> It still goes through my mind all the time, why?
00:29:05Why a baby?
00:29:07Because that's all Rosie was.
00:29:09He didn't even give her a chance for life.
00:29:13>> He's the devil.
00:29:15He's the devil.
00:29:18They ought to bring back the electric chair just for him.
00:29:22>> KURTIS: July 22, 2004-- Dondi Craig is sentenced to death by lethal injection.
00:29:28Rosie Davenport's homicide is officially closed, her files packed away.
00:29:34The investigation into Craig, however, continues.nk back in the back of our minds, we thought we'd be talking to Dondi again.
00:29:44>> I brought him here to a room similar to this one, and he and I, we talked for >> KURTIS: In 2004, Detective Gary Shadie interviews a jailhouse informant who says a fellow inmate might be good for an unsolved murder from 1995.
00:30:00>> He specifically told me that the young girl was killed in the west side of Akron, that she had been raped, that she was tied up, and that she had been strangled manually.
00:30:12>> KURTIS: Shadie asks around about the case and is quickly handed the file of Malissa Thomas, a 13-year-old raped and murdered in 1995.
00:30:22>> So I started putting pieces together and said, "Well, someone is giving him some information that's pretty reliable." >> KURTIS: The tipster refuses to give up the name of the suspect; instead, he leaves the detective work to Shadie.
00:30:35>> Once I ran him in the Summit County Jail, pulled up his housing, I realized Donald Craig was also in his unit.
00:30:43>> KURTIS: Shadie heads straight to the desk of the man who put Craig away for another child murder.
00:30:49>> I came to you because you were working on Roseanna, and I'm like, "Hey, man, this sounds like the same person." >> You're right.
00:30:56They're exactly the same, just change the names of the victims.
00:30:58If you change Rosie and Malissa, you can interchange them.
00:31:01They're exactly the same.
00:31:03>> KURTIS: In December of 2005, semen evidence recovered during Malissa Thomas's autopsy is compared with Dondi Craig's DNA-- the result, a perfect match.
00:31:14>> I was jumping out of my chair.
00:31:16I really was.
00:31:17>> KURTIS: With that, Dondi Craig is charged.
00:31:20Eight months later, he goes to trial.
00:31:24In the summer of 2006, Donald Craig is found guilty of a second crime against a child, the rape and murder of Malissa Thomas.
00:31:34On August 16, Craig returns to court for sentencing.
00:31:38>> Let the record show the sentencing of Donald L. Craig...
00:31:43>> KURTIS: Craig's sentencing begins with statements from the victim's family.
00:31:48>> To you, Donald Craig, just want you to know that you caused us a lot of sleepless nights.
00:31:55You caused me a lot of painful days, and I miss my baby that you took from me.
00:32:02And you sit there, and you don't make amends, and you don't act like you did anything to anybody.
00:32:07But I just want you to know that God bless you and may he bless your soul, but I am so glad that you can't hurt anybody else's child.
00:32:14Thank you.
00:32:15>> Thank you, ma'am.
00:32:16Thank you, Reverend.
00:32:18Mr. Craig, please stand.
00:32:23I hereby sentence you to be taken to the Ohio Department of Corrections and be put to death for that murder.
00:32:31>> KURTIS: No emotion crosses Dondi Craig's face as he receives his second death sentence.
00:32:36Behind him, however, Malissa Thomas's family is overjoyed.
00:32:46Outside the courtroom, a grateful mother offers open arms to the detectives who worked the case.
00:32:52>> We don't forget.
00:32:53We don't forget.
00:32:54>> You're welcome.
00:32:55You're welcome.
00:32:56>> KURTIS: There's one last stop for Sonya merchant and her family, a visit to Malissa's memorial on East Avenue, across the street from where Malissa's body was found.
00:33:07It's a place to remember and to pray.
00:33:14>> Father, I ask that you grab my baby and that you hug her and you kiss her and you tell her that we love her.
00:33:19I know that Melissa can rest in peace. Jesus' name, amen.
00:33:25She will never be forgotten, never.
00:33:29She will always be here, but we can go on with our lives now.
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00:35:25>> So he asked you to go with him to dump the body?
00:35:27Is that exactly what he said?
00:35:29That's his words?
00:35:31>> He asked me if I'd go with him to help get rid of the body.
00:35:36Wasn't nobody around, and he takes chains from there and wraps them around the body and ties them.
00:35:43I helped him dump the body into the water.
00:35:46>> You just rolled her right in.
00:35:47>> Just tossed her in.
00:35:50And he told me if I ever told anybody, he'd kill me.
00:35:55>> This is the Missing Person's Unit of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
00:35:59These are some of my old cases.
00:36:02>> KURTIS: Ruth Hodges works for Polk County, Florida.
00:36:06>> And she was 24 years of age when she disappeared.
00:36:09>> KURTIS: Her specialty-- missing people everyone else has forgotten.
00:36:14>> Fred Wright was 76 years of age.
00:36:17Cynthia Robinson disappeared.
00:36:20Clifton Patrick Leonard, no one knows what has happened to him.
00:36:25>> KURTIS: Among the hundreds of names, hundreds of faces, one in particular catches Hodges's eye, the missing persons file on Andrea Boyett.
00:36:36>> She was reported missing around Christmas eve of '94.
00:36:41She allegedly just up and disappeared because there was some argument or something, and then allegedly, according to her husband, she walked away.
00:36:53What woman that cares for her children is going to go off right on Christmas eve and never come back again?
00:37:00This is Ruth Hodges from Polk County Sheriff's Office, Missing Persons Unit.
00:37:05>> KURTIS: Ruth Hodges suspects Andrea Boyett was murdered.
00:37:08Andrea's grandmother believes she knows exactly who did it.
00:37:15>> I said, "My God, he's killed her," because we knew she wouldn't go off and leave the children.
00:37:20She couldn't wait for them to see those presents, you know.
00:37:24>> KURTIS: Mary Yon tells Hodges that Andrea's husband, John, killed her and recalls conversations the family had with Andrea shortly before she disappeared.
00:37:35>> Well, to me, she said, "Grandmother, you was right; I think I did make a mistake," which she told my daughter she was afraid of him.
00:37:44That was the day she come up missing.
00:37:48>> KURTIS: For seven years, Mary Yon has told anyone who would listen: her granddaugther's missing person case is, in reality, a murder.
00:37:57Now, in the persons of Ruth Hodges and her supervisor, Sergeant Gary Klinger, Mary has two investigators who believe.
00:38:05>> Somebody finally cared.
00:38:10Up until then, it seemed like nobody cared.
00:38:18Even my own family, I guess, got tired of me talking about it.
00:38:27And this Miss Hodges and him was the only ones that ever seemed to.
00:38:32>> It was really important that we go down and talk with the children.
00:38:40>> KURTIS: Hodges asks Sergeant Klinger to speak with Dustin Cunningham, Andrea's eldest child and someone never questioned by police in 1994.
00:38:52>> They were there the night that she disappeared, and I felt like that was really important, you know, that we needed to get down there and to talk to him.
00:39:05>> KURTIS: Klinger heads to the Florida prison where Dustin is currently serving some time to see what he remembers about his mom.
00:39:16>> She had these beautiful eyes, you know, and beautiful face, and it's like, she fell for the bad guys all the time, you know.
00:39:26>> KURTIS: On Feburary 12, 2004, Dustin Cunningham sits down with Sergeant Klinger, ready to share a memory that's haunted him since he was a nine-year-old boy looking out the window on Christmas eve.
00:39:40>> I didn't go to sleep because I was so... I wanted to see Santa Clause, you know.
00:39:43I was going to stay up all night.
00:39:47>> KURTIS: Dustin's excitement, however, dissolved into fear when his mom pulled into the driveway with Dustin's stepfather, John Boyett.
00:39:58>> He seemed so angry.
00:40:01I mean, I don't know what they was arguing about or why or what.
00:40:05I don't know nothing, but they was arguing.
00:40:08And whenever he got out of the car he just, it was like he was a different person, you know, like a person inside of him was just like the devil or something.
00:40:18>> He saw John put his hands around Andrea's neck and started strangling her.
00:40:24>> KURTIS: Dustin had seen his mom fight with John Boyett before.
00:40:27This, however, was different.
00:40:30>> She was bleeding from her nose and all in her mouth was blood, and there was puke on her shirt.
00:40:36She wasn't moving at all.
00:40:38I didn't even think she was slumped in the backseat of the car when John and his brother, Robert, pulled back out of the driveway and drove into the night.
00:40:52>> I kind of knew like, in my mind and in my heart, that my mom was never coming back, you know.
00:40:58>> KURTIS: The next morning, instead of opening Christmas presents, Dustin was told his mom had left the family.
00:41:04>> He told us that she ran away and that she needed time by herself, to think about the relationship and all kinds of crazy stuff.
00:41:16>> KURTIS: Within months, John Boyett abandoned the children, never to return, leaving Dustin to wonder what really became of his mother.
00:41:26>> I was young, and I knew that she didn't leave us like that.
00:41:30I knew that.
00:41:31But after a while of hearing it and hearing it and hearing it, you kind of... you're young, so you want to believe she just ran away, you know?
00:41:39Maybe she will come back, you know?
00:41:42>> I think he felt in his heart his mother was probably dead.
00:41:45>> KURTIS: Dustin says he tried telling people what he saw that Christmas eve but, as a child, was never taken seriously.
00:41:53>> That was the key that opened everything up.
00:41:57What he saw was obviously his father in the process of killing his mother.
00:42:03It was obvious, after talking to Dustin, that we were looking at a homicide case versus a missing person's case.
00:42:15>> This would have been the bedroom on Christmas eve of 1994 that he would have looked out of when he saw his stepfather, John Boyett, strangle his mother.
00:42:25>> KURTIS: Detective Louis Giampavolo, otherwise known as "Detective G," picks up the cold case, onthe that now hinges on a young boy's memory and no physical evidence.
00:42:36>> The biggest challenge would have been, one, we don't have a body, but that does not preclude the State of Florida from charging someone with murder without a body, but it makes the case a whole lot tougher.
00:42:48You have the right to remain silent.
00:42:50>> KURTIS: Detective G's case will soon get a boost when another family member shares some memories of a body, some chains, and a midnight drive.
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00:45:09>> So we suspect that she was killed at home.
00:45:12>> Yes, sir.
00:45:13>> Unfortunately, nothing was found...
00:45:15>> KURTIS: In 2004, the Polk County cold-case squad gets a hot lead in the case of Andrea Boyett, a 26-year-old mother reported missing nine years ago.
00:45:26The tip comes from Andrea's son, Dustin.
00:45:31>> December 24 of 1994, he looked out his window and saw his stepfather, John Boyett, choking his mother in the driveway by the car.
00:45:41He saw her vomit, and then he saw John push his mother in the vehicle and drive off with her.
00:45:48>> KURTIS: According to Dustin, John Boyett's brother Robert was in the car with John as they drove away with Andrea's body.
00:45:57Detective Giampavolo, otherwise known as "Detective G," locates Robert and asks him to come down to the station for a chat.
00:46:06>> We said we were the Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit and we wanted to speak to him about the disappearance of Andrea Boyett.
00:46:13So he agreed to come, and while we were there, he said, "You know, she's alive.
00:46:17I've seen her before." >> KURTIS: Detective G doesn't buy it but saves the tough talk for the interrogation room.
00:46:26>> Everything you're going to tell me the truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God.
00:46:29>> Yes, I do.
00:46:30>> I'd like you to go over the events of Christmas eve 1994.
00:46:35We basically told him that Dustin had come forward.
00:46:39Dustin said he saw from the bedroom window that night his mother being strangled, and he pretty much quickly came off on it and said it's been bothering him for a long time, and he wanted to tell the truth.
00:46:55>> You know, the real story is "John choked her that night.
00:46:58You know, I went out to the car and saw her body in the car and helped dispose of her body." >> KURTIS: Robert Boyett takes Detective G back to Christmas eve 1994, the night his brother had a fight with his wife and she wound up in the backseat of their car, dead.
00:47:16>> When you saw her body, was there any trauma?
00:47:24>> We asked him, "How do you know she was dead?" And he said, "Well, one, with the eyes open and, two, with the..." he could see she wasn't breathing.
00:47:31>> KURTIS: Robert says his brother then asks him for the favor of all favors.
00:47:36>> So he asked you to go with him to dump the body.
00:47:38Is that exactly what he said?
00:47:39That's his words?
00:47:45>> And you said no at first.
00:47:48And then what?
00:47:54>> KURTIS: Robert says the two made a midnight drive out to the mines where John Boyett worked.
00:48:00>> They arrive out there, and John directs them to a lake, which is near a plant on the property.
00:48:08And once they're there, they find some chains and some cinder block.
00:48:12>> Where did he wrap it?
00:48:24>> He said that he did help wrap her up with the chains and the cinder blocks and put her in the water.
00:48:32>> And you just rolled her right in?
00:48:41>> KURTIS: Robert says the two then drove back home and never spoke of the favor again.
00:48:47>> According to Robert, he told the police that he saw her, and John would do the same thing.
00:48:52That way, if anyone came asking questions, they would just say "We saw her recently" and leave it at that.
00:49:01>> KURTIS: Robert's story picks up where Dustin's leaves off, filling in the missing pieces for police.
00:49:09>> If she was placed in a lake, as Robert has said she was, and the companies have come out here and mined the area, there's basically no telling where she could be.
00:49:18She could be moved 100 feet away.
00:49:21She could moved a mile away from the location where they placed her body.
00:49:26>> KURTIS: In other words, the chances of recovering a body at this point: impossible.
00:49:32>> And here's a picture of John.
00:49:34>> Correct.
00:49:35>> KURTIS: Detective G hooks up with Sergeant Britt Williams...
00:49:38>> He's the killer.
00:49:40>> discuss the next step: talking to their suspect, John Boyett.
00:49:45>> We all kind of came to a group decision that it was best to go ahead and see what John was going to say.
00:50:30>> He came outside of the house or the trailer, and it was me and you standing there, looking at him, and his wife was on one side, and he was on the other.
00:50:40>> KURTIS: It's 11:00 PM when John Boyett gets a surprise visit from Polk County investigators.
00:50:46>> We asked him, "We're detectives from Polk County with the homicide unit," and we want to talk to him about Andrea.
00:50:53>> He kind of looked at wit that blank stare, and said again, "Andrea." And he's like, "Who?" >> And I said, "Your wife, Andrea, the one who's missing from 1994." >> "Oh, you mean Andrea," you know, acted like we