Cold Case Files - Death of a Deacon; A Wife's Mission   View more episodes

Aired at 01:00 PM on Tuesday, Mar 30, 2010 (3/30/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:09>> I start screaming and yelling at him and telling him, "This wasn't supposed to happen.
00:00:12You were just supposed to scare him.
00:00:13You're just supposed to tell him don't mess with married women.
00:00:16You weren't supposed to (bleep) kill him." >> KURTIS: In an interrogation room, police watch as a wife talks to her husband.
00:00:24>> And he told me if I ever said anything that he would kilu and kill the kids.
00:00:30TIS: The topic of conversation, murder.
00:00:33>> Why in the hell did these (bleep) people go and do this to me?
00:00:38>> KURTIS: It's a story that begins almost ten years earlier, with the end of a marriage.
00:00:50>> He took his ring off, and he put it on the counter.
00:00:53And I took mine off and put it on the counter.
00:00:55And we were just real quiet.
00:00:59>> KURTIS: In 1992, Christine Perry's life is coming apart at the seams.
00:01:04Her husband, a deacon at the local church, is having an affair with a member of his congregation.
00:01:10Now, Phil Perry wants a divorce.
00:01:13>> I laid down, and I couldn't even talk.
00:01:15And he just laid down next to me.
00:01:17There was a quiet resolution.
00:01:19It's over.
00:01:19It's done.
00:01:20It's done.
00:01:23>> KURTIS: Phil Perry leaves the house the next morning.
00:01:26The day after that, Christine discovers her husband has vanished and talks to police.
00:01:32>> The question specifically was "Do you know where your husband is?
00:01:36Does he always tell you where he is?" And I said, "No, I don't always know." And the officer said, "Okay." That was enough.
00:01:43He got the message.
00:01:44He understood that things weren't okay.
00:01:47>> KURTIS: Police generate a missing-persons report.
00:01:50Then Christine finds a letter in the mailbox purportedly from her husband.
00:01:55>> The content was just saying that he was going to be away for a while and to clear his head and he'd be okay and he'd check back later.
00:02:04He had signed it, and at the bottom, then, it said "Phil Perry" underneath it.
00:02:07Phil wouldn't be that formal with me.
00:02:09>> It just seemed too businesslike.
00:02:12Even with the subject matter that was there, it was just a little bit too formal to be the way it was.
00:02:17>> KURTIS: Bob Emmerson is a detective with the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.
00:02:22He sits down with Christine and her son Russell and talks about what might have happened to Phil Perry.
00:02:28>> When this first started, it's a missing person.
00:02:31"He'll be back in a couple days." And then when the letters started coming in and then the notification from San Diego is when it really turned hard that there was more to it than what we had just thought it was a missing person.
00:02:44>> KURTIS: The call from San Diego is about a body found south of the border.
00:02:47>> Back then, it was... it's still a day's worth of work.
00:02:55This one right here in front of me is a picture of Mr. Perry's car parked along the sidewalk in the street in the city of Tijuana.
00:03:06>> KURTIS: Three days after Phil Perry is reported missing, Detective Emmerson drives south to Tijuana.
00:03:12On a residential street, he finds an abandoned white Chrysler-- in the back seat, the body of Phil Perry.
00:03:20>> It appeared, from the evidence, that he had actually been pushed down, and the gun went off or shot him in the back as he was being pushed down.
00:03:28The entry wound was into his back, and it exited through his cheek area, as if it was shot in a downward trajectory.
00:03:36This document is from the U.S.
00:03:40It's a border crossing.
00:03:42>> KURTIS: Emmerson asks customs to determine when Phil Perry's car crossed the border.
00:03:47He also requests that customs check on two people who might want Phil Perry dead: his rumored lover, Lisa Bragg, and her husband, Karl.
00:03:57>> I had the license plates-- numbers of Mr. Perry's car, also the Braggs' two cars.
00:04:05I asked and requested that all three be run, and the Jeep did come across the border on the date that I requested.
00:04:13>> KURTIS: According to customs, Karl Bragg's Jeep crossed the U.S.-Mexico border the day Phil Perry was reported missing.
00:04:20Emmerson brings in Karl Bragg to ask him why.
00:04:24>> And then he asked me a bunch of questions about, you know, Phil Perry and Lisa and did I know about his murder and the disappearance, and at that time, I was saying, no, I didn't know nothing.
00:04:36>> KURTIS: Bragg's home and business are searched.
00:04:39Emmerson finds a stash of love letters written from Phil Perry to Lisa Bragg.
00:04:44Karl admits to finding the letters and confronting his deacon about them.
00:04:49>> Phil denied everything.
00:04:50Even when I told him I had the letters, he said, "No, those...
00:04:53it's not what you think.
00:04:55It's a... it's a sisterly, brotherly love of Christ.
00:04:59It's not what you're thinking." "You're thinking of the lust and the flesh," he says, "and we're... we got a spiritual love." >> KURTIS: Karl, however, reads something different in the letters.
00:05:09>> They mention that they were in a hotel room and they made love.
00:05:13It was in detail.
00:05:15I was angry.
00:05:16I was hurt.
00:05:16Mainly more hurt than angry.
00:05:18I was hurt because I trusted this man a lot.
00:05:20Phillip Perry and I were very close friends.
00:05:22He was like a spiritual advisor for me.
00:05:25I could talk to him about anything.
00:05:28>> KURTIS: Emmerson wants to charge Bragg with murder; however, he has a problem.
00:05:33>> He had a bunch of alibis.
00:05:34Number one, he'd never been to Mexico in his life.
00:05:37Number two, he was busy that night.
00:05:39>> KURTIS: Karl can prove he was at a hospital with a sick child the night Perry disappeared.
00:05:44Karl Bragg, it appears, could not have killed Phil Perry-- unless, that is, he had help.
00:05:55>> Right now, we're behind the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in the city of Upland.
00:05:59This is where Mr. Perry was last seen after a counseling session here in this building.
00:06:05>> KURTIS: Detective Emmerson returns to the church parking lot where Phil Perry was last seen alive and a story about a woman who claimed to have car trouble.
00:06:14>> An unknown female, described as a short Hispanic female, needed a pair of jumper cables.
00:06:21Mr. Perry retrieved the jumper cables, went with her.
00:06:25She came back a short time later and delivered the jumper cables back.
00:06:29No one seemed to know the person.
00:06:31We asked the priest if he had ever seen her before.
00:06:34He stated that he had never seen her before, had no idea who she really was.
00:06:39>> KURTIS: Emmerson wonders if the woman might have acted as Karl Bragg's accomplice and somehow helped to kidnap Perry.
00:06:46It's a theory that goes nowhere for more than a decade, until the mystery woman resurfaces with a vengeance.
00:06:53>> I yelled at him, said, "What did you go with Karl for?
00:06:56You know, what the (bleep) were you thinking?
00:07:00What did you do?" >> This picture was taken the day my dad died.
00:10:53This is me and my older brother David and my dad.
00:10:58So this is a picture I cherish.
00:11:01>> KURTIS: Three days after this picture was taken, Phil Perry, a church deacon, was found in Mexico, shot dead in the back of his car.
00:11:11>> What happened to my dad ate at me over the years.
00:11:15It just was eating me up inside.
00:11:17But what kept me going was hope that someday someone would have to pay for what they did.
00:11:24>> KURTIS: Russ Perry was 18 when his dad was killed in 1992.
00:11:28By 2001, he's 27, and the case is still cold.
00:11:33>> So I called the homicide unit in San Bernardino, and that's the first time I spoke to Sergeant Bobby Dean.
00:11:41>> This is the Sheriff's homicide detail, and the officer... the investigators' offices are over on the side, and this where they keep all the cold case files or the unsolved files.
00:11:52>> KURTIS: Bobby Dean opens up the Perry case file and begins to read.
00:11:56One name immediately comes to the fore.
00:11:59Karl Bragg was a member of Phil Perry's congregation and the husband of a woman rumored to be the deacon's lover.
00:12:06That makes Karl Bragg a person of interest once again.
00:12:10>> So definitely Karl was a suspect.
00:12:12But we knew from the investigation the detectives did in 1992 that Karl was alibied up.
00:12:17So we knew Karl wasn't actually involved in the kidnap/murder.
00:12:20We certainly suspected that he either paid or had someone kidnap Mr. Perry.
00:12:25>> KURTIS: Cold-case detectives believe that "someone" might be a woman seen with Deacon Perry just before he disappeared.
00:12:33>> We knew that a lady had went to the church that night and asked for some jumper cables, said her car broke down, and Phillip complied with that and helped her out.
00:12:42And that was the last time he was seen.
00:12:43So who was that woman?
00:12:44It was a Hispanic female with dark hair, short, about 150 pounds, heavyset, and it matched Liz Minor to a T.
00:12:56Bragg's stepsister.
00:12:59Detectives decide to tap her phone.
00:13:01Then they serve a search warrant at the Minors' home.
00:13:05Liz's husband, Robert, answers the door.
00:13:08>> We walked in and introduced ourselves to Robert.
00:13:11He immediately started chain smoking.
00:13:15As we kept searching around the house, he kept on following us around.
00:13:18"What are you guys looking for?
00:13:19What are you doing?
00:13:20What's this?
00:13:21What's this about?" His big telling statement that I thought was critical in this case was "Hey, you guys looked at this in '92, and you put it away.
00:13:28Why are you back?" >> KURTIS: Bob Minor is scared and makes the mistake detectives were hoping for.
00:13:33He gets on the phone with his wife, Liz.
00:13:51>> Their demeanor and their attitude and the voice inflections, you can tell with the first phone call between Liz and Robert, Robert's stressed out.
00:13:59He knows the cops are on to him.
00:14:10>> Liz is starting to worry because she knows she has more involvement in the case than Robert does.
00:14:14So she's trying to gain information from him.
00:14:16He's trying to tell her what's going on.
00:14:18There's a very strong dynamic going on there between them, and they're both worried, obviously.
00:14:24>> KURTIS: Robert Minor is taken downtown for an interview.
00:14:27Liz follows shortly thereafter.
00:14:30Husband and wife are placed in separate rooms.
00:14:33One will eventually be let go.
00:14:35The other will be charged with murder.
00:14:43>> How you doing?
00:14:44>> Fine.
00:14:45How are you?
00:14:45>> You're Elizabeth Minor?
00:14:46>> Yes.
00:14:47>> I'm Sergeant Dean.
00:14:48>> My hands are still a little bit wet.
00:14:49>> Oh, I don't mind.
00:14:50>> KURTIS: Cold-case detective Bobby Dean doesn't waste a lot of time with Liz Minor.
00:14:54>> Liz, what do we know about the death of this deacon?
00:14:59>> Just what my husband told me.
00:15:01>> KURTIS: With that, Liz Minor begins to tell her story-- one that places her husband on the road to Mexico with Karl Bragg and a dead body.
00:15:11>> What did Bob tell you that he did?
00:15:15>> He just said that he drove to TJ with Karl, that Karl told him that if he took a ride with him, that he would disregard a debt that we had owed him.
00:15:27>> What'd he tell you he drove?
00:15:29>> He said he drove the Jeep.
00:15:30>> The Jeep.
00:15:31>> Uh-huh.
00:15:31>> He drove the Jeep down to Mexico.
00:15:33>> Right.
00:15:34>> With anybody in it?
00:15:35>> I believe he said Karl was in the Jeep with him.
00:15:37>> Karl?
00:15:38>> Because Karl wanted to go to Mexico to leave Deacon Phil with the car in Mexico.
00:15:47>> Is that what Bob told you?
00:15:49>> Um, well, that's... yes.
00:15:52>> She tried to infer to us that the source of inform her husband, because her husband had given her that information, when we suspected all along that she was the person that lured Perry from the church so that she was directly involved in his kidnapping and the subsequent murder.
00:16:09>> And I yelled at him, said, "What did you go with Karl for?
00:16:13You know, what the (bleep) were you thinking?
00:16:16What did you do?" And he said he felt scared and intimidated.
00:16:20You've seen my husband.
00:16:21He's a wuss.
00:16:22>> It was time to cut to the chase.
00:16:24You know, she could tell us everything that Bob had told her.
00:16:27We wanted to know directly what she knew and what she participated in-- and in an attempt to roll her into a confession.
00:16:35Bob also tells us something about going to see Phil the night he disappeared.
00:16:44>> Okay.
00:16:46>> Because you wanted to confront Phil about why he was having an affair with Lisa.
00:16:50This is a time to get truthful here, huh?
00:16:53This is where the hard questions are coming in.
00:16:55I've been doing this a long time.
00:16:57You roll the dice, because, you know, she can... she's not in custody.
00:17:00She can say, "Hey, I'm leaving," which would have been all right.
00:17:03She could have left.
00:17:04Or she could have said, "I want an attorney," and played that card.
00:17:08So we're hoping that she feels enough motivation, enough pressure.
00:17:13>> KURTIS: Liz feels the heat and begins to wilt just a bit.
00:17:17As police suspected, she did meet Phil Perry on the night he vanished.
00:17:22According to Liz, it was Karl Bragg who pushed her into the meeting.
00:17:26>> He goes, "I want to talk to him." He goes, "I want to scare him." He goes, "I just want to talk to him.
00:17:30That's all I want to do.
00:17:31I just want to talk to him.
00:17:32I just want to tell him to leave my wife alone." And that's what was supposed to happen.
00:17:44>> What did happen?
00:17:49>> Can I have a cigarette?
00:17:51>> Sure.@h >> KURTIS: Liz Minor's talk with police is not going well.
00:20:25>> KURTIS: She has already implicated her stepbrother Karl Bragg in the abduction and shooting of a church deacon named Phil Perry.
00:20:31Sergeant Bobby Dean, however, wants a whole lot more.
00:20:49You're watching the body language, and you're trying to watch her demeanor and her attitude and what expressions she's giving off to see if she's ready to push that button and go all the way with it, and she did.
00:21:02>> Scott showed up at my house.
00:21:06>> Scott Harrison.
00:21:10>> Whatever his last name is.
00:21:12>> KURTIS: Scott Harrison was a friend of Karl Bragg.
00:21:17>> Scott's an intelligent, real cool character.
00:21:20I think there's another person inside that individual, and he's hidden it for many years.
00:21:26>> KURTIS: According to Liz, she and Scott Harrison drove over to the church parking lot.
00:21:31There, Liz approached Phil Perry with a story about car trouble.
00:21:36>> We were standing by my truck, talking, and the next thing I know, Scott is standing next to Phil, and I jumped, because I got scared, because I didn't see him come out.
00:21:47And he told Phil to shut up, and he had a gun.
00:21:55Scott has some sort of tape or something, and he puts it over Phil's mouth, and he forces Phil in the back seat.
00:22:05Scott points the gun at me, and he says, "Get in the car." And then the next thing I know, I hear a loud bang in the car.
00:22:20My ears are hurting, and I go (gasping), you know, and I jump, and he's all, "Just (bleep) drive!" And I'm like... you know, and I'm shaking, and I don't know what to do, and I'm like, "I need to go home." >> She was done at that point.
00:22:34Stick a fork in her.
00:22:37>> KURTIS: Liz Minor is booked on a charge of murder.
00:22:40Her husband, Robert, is released.
00:22:43>> Just relax.
00:22:44I'll be right back.
00:22:46>> KURTIS: Next up, the man detectives believe orchestrated the kill.
00:22:57>> Well, Karl, where shall we start?
00:23:00It's up to you where you want to start at.
00:23:03>> KURTIS: Karl Bragg is now known as Karl DiTommaso.
00:23:07Whatever the last name, Karl's story never seems to change.
00:23:10>> You know, I did not kill him, and I'm not going to admit killing somebody when I didn't kill somebody.
00:23:16>> I'm sitting down below, and this Karl sitting here, and I'm still trying to convince him to tell us the truth about some of the information that we obtained.
00:23:26What did you think was going to happen?
00:23:28>> Them to scare him.
00:23:29>> How were they going to scare him?
00:23:31>> By just... I mean, Scott was just supposed to tell him to stay away or else.
00:23:34>> Uh-huh.
00:23:35>> At this point, I'm getting close to him, trying to tell him, hey, what's he's telling us does not make any sense and that he needs to come off of that story that he didn't know anything about it.
00:23:45You already told me that you always know that Scott had a gun.
00:23:49So do you think he was probably going to bring that gun to scare too?
00:23:52Pretty safe assumption, right?
00:23:54>> Probably a safe assumption, but I didn't think he'd ever...
00:23:56I mean...
00:23:57>> I'm not saying you would know that he would do that, but...
00:24:01>> I know... I know for a fact Scott Harrison carried a gun with him at all times.
00:24:06>> Okay.
00:24:07Karl knew that he was armed and basically admitted that he sent an armed guy over to go slap somebody around.
00:24:13But what you're telling me is, realistically, honestly, is that you knew Scott was armed or always armed, and you told him, "Go slap around Phil." >> Uh-huh.
00:24:24>> And this was very crucial part of the investigation and in the case-- was finally he'd admitted his involvement, that he, in fact, as we believed all along, has set this whole murder in motion.
00:24:38>> KURTIS: Cold-case detectives have the man they believe set up the hit on Deacon Perry and the woman who acted as bait.
00:24:45But what about the alleged trigger man, Scott Harrison?
00:24:49>> Well, when we first knocked at the door, he was pretty surprised.
00:24:53He was pale, and his... we could see his pulse racing on his neck.
00:25:01He was quite concerned.
00:25:03Initially, he said he didn't know anything about Perry's death and had never driven a man down to Mexico in the backseat of a Chrysler.
00:25:11But after a few minutes of thought and reflection and convincing from his wife, he decided to tell us a different story.
00:25:50>> KURTIS: For cold-case detectives, the denial doesn't really matter.
00:25:54A murder charge is in Scott Harrison's future-- the suspect's only consolation, he wont be alone in the lockup.s who need assistance getting around their homes.
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00:28:48úúúúúúúúúúú >> We filed murder charges and special circumstances of lying in wait and kidnapping against Karl DiTommaso and Scott Harrison and Elizabeth Minor.
00:30:20>> KURTIS: In 2001, Mike Ramos is the D.A. assigned to the Perry murder.
00:30:25He focuses on Liz Minor, who cops a plea.
00:30:29>> She pled guilty to manslaughter and kidnapping and went to prison for 11 years.
00:30:34>> KURTIS: Karl Bragg-DiTommaso opts for a trial.
00:30:37>> I didn't want the man killed.
00:30:38I never ordered the man to be killed.
00:30:40I didn't kill him.
00:30:42I told somebody to go talk to him, not to kill him.
00:30:46>> KURTIS: That is essentially DiTommaso's defense.
00:30:50The D.A., however, tells a different story.
00:30:53>> They parked in a dark area.
00:30:55Scott Harrison was hiding in a dark area.
00:30:58They brought the tape to put over his mouth.
00:31:01He had a gun with him.
00:31:03When you bring those types of items to simply scare somebody, it doesn't make sense.
00:31:09No, they were there to lure him away and murder him.
00:31:14>> KURTIS: A jury finds the state's case persuasive and finds Karl DiTommaso guilty of second-degree murder.
00:31:21He is sentenced to 15 years to life.
00:31:24Next up, the murder charge against Scott Harrison.
00:31:28>> Sometimes, as a prosecutor, you know that somebody has committed a crime and that they're guilty, but your evidence might not be, you know, the best.
00:31:36>> KURTIS: Deputy D.A. Cheryl Kersey works the Harrison prosecution with Mike Ramos.
00:31:41Almost immediately, the case runs into problems.
00:31:53>> KURTIS: In a pretrial motion, a judge rules that police failed to read Harrison his Miranda rights and, therefore, Harrison's statement is inadmissible.
00:32:02With that, the state's case implodes.
00:32:05>> With that exclusion of evidence, Mike Ramos made a decision at that time to dismiss Scott Harrison.
00:32:12>> I told Bobby Dean's team, "Keep working on that case, because, since it's a murder, there's not a statute of limitations problem; we may be able to refile it in the future." And then they found some other evidence.
00:32:24>> KURTIS: The evidence consists of two letters signed "Phil Perry" and delivered the day after he was reported missing.
00:32:32DNA testing IDs two male DNA profiles.
00:32:36One, on a stamp, is Karl DiTommaso's.
00:32:40One, on an envelope flap, belongs to Harrison.
00:32:44>> We said, "Okay, there it is." His DNA is now on the alibi letter.
00:32:47It puts him there.
00:32:50>> KURTIS: In July of 2005, Scott Harrison goes on trial.
00:32:54His defense attacks the credibility of two people who point the finger at Harrison: Karl DiTommaso and Liz Minor.
00:33:02The defense works, and Scott Harrison is acquitted.
00:33:05In the courtroom that day is Phil Perry's son, Russ.
00:33:10>> A jury of 12 people heard the evidence and felt that the case didn't meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
00:33:22But their verdict also frees him from jail, from the fear of ever having to serve any custody time.
00:33:32>> KURTIS: Karl DiTommaso is not happy with Harrison's acquittal either.
00:33:36>> I don't understand.
00:33:38I really don't understand how the judicial system could allow him to walk and give me 15 to life.
00:33:44>> KURTIS: 15 to life will provide DiTommaso with plenty of opportunity to reflect on his role in the death of Deacon Phil Perry.
00:33:53>> I'd like to just say that I'm very sorry to the Perry family.
00:33:57I wish them... you know, my condolences go out to them.
00:33:59I'm very sorry for the pain and suffering that they've all had to go through.
00:34:03But I do want them to understand that I never, ever wanted Phil Perry murdered, ever.
00:34:09I didn't ask nobody, and I didn't do it.
00:34:12>> KURTIS: As for Scott Harrison, the jury has spoken, and he is innocent in the eyes of the law.
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00:36:19>> I jumped up, and I saw a man holding a knife.
00:36:23I needed to be there.
00:36:25I knew I couldn't pick that picture unless I got that image of what he looked like.
00:36:31>> He has what type of hair?
00:36:32>> Very frizzy.
00:36:33I was in there.
00:36:35There was nobody else there.
00:36:37I was in there.
00:36:39I pointed, and I said, "This is the son of a bitch." >> ♪ In the silence after digging a shallow grave... ♪
00:36:56>> I never look at this album.
00:36:58I can't.
00:36:59It's in my room, and it's odd to have something in your room that you're afraid of.
00:37:03I have not gone this far in years, I would say.
00:37:10>> KURTIS: On a morning in August, Lynn Lopez opens up a photo album and a window into her past.
00:37:17>> Every Christmas, my husband was the thing that you put bows on.
00:37:22You can see my husband so playful, so happy.
00:37:28This is really hard.
00:37:34It's very painful, and it almost makes me feel like it really never happened.
00:37:40>> KURTIS: But it did happen, almost ten years earlier, a handful of moments that changed Lynn Lopez's life forever.
00:38:03>> KURTIS: Around 4:00 AM, Hillsborough County Deputy Steve Donaldson responds tllo a call and finds a home in flames.
00:38:11>> Before I could even get out of my car, the man ran up to me, and he goes, "He's still inside.
00:38:15He's still inside." And I said, "Well, who's inside?" And he said, you know, "The owner, Mr. Lopez." >> KURTIS: Donaldson enters the Lopez home, finds the living room engulfed in flame and 42- year-old Jay Lopez on the bedroom floor.
00:38:29>> I could see Mr. Lopez lying on his back.
00:38:31He was covered in blood, and he had multiple stab wounds, and he wasn't moving.
00:38:37>> KURTIS: Firefighters extinguish the blaze, and police examine the body.
00:38:41Meanwhile, Donaldson approaches someone who survived the fire: Lynn Lopez.
00:38:46>> She was standing there on the lawn, and she approached me, probably just about as calm as I am right now, and ask me, "Is my husband okay?" And I just thought that was remarkable, considering how she had been terrorized over the last few hours.
00:39:02>> KURTIS: Lynn tells police she had been sexually assaulted by an intruder, then forced to shower as he set fire to the home.
00:39:10It's an account that leaves Donaldson scratching his head.
00:39:14>> Why did he leave you alive?
00:39:16Why would he stab your husband, murder him, commit this just heinous act, terrorize you over the course of three or four hours, and leave you as a witness?
00:39:29If he has that much of a demon inside him, how much more would it have been for him to just kill her as well?
00:39:37>> KURTIS: Lynn is taken to the hospital, where a rape kit is taken and semen recovered.
00:39:42Inside the home, investigators collect blood-stained blankets and bedding, all of which is sent to the state crime lab for testing.
00:39:50Meanwhile, detectives turn to their best piece of evidence: Lynn Lopez.?.=(=PCPCPCPCPCPCPCPCPC2h, >> It was important that we talk to Lynn that same day because she was the only eyewitness that we had.
00:42:07She was the only one that could provide us some details.
00:42:10>> KURTIS: Just hours after learning her husband has been killed, Lynn Lopez sits down with detectives.
00:42:29I remember I let out a scream that was so blood curdling to me, in horror.
00:42:48And I don't know if I'm seeing what I'm really seeing.
00:42:52Is it a dream?
00:42:53Did I jump up, and am I imagining this?
00:42:56>> KURTIS: According to Lopez, she watches as her husband tries to fend off the attacker with a baseball bat and is stabbed.
00:43:04>> My husband lets out an exhale breath, and quietly he just crumbles down, in the corner of the room, to the floor.
00:43:18>> KURTIS: Then the attacker turns to Lynn.
00:43:22>> He said, "Well, I'm probably going to get the electric chair for this, so I might as well enjoy you." >> KURTIS: Lynn Lopez tells detectives she was raped repeatedly.
00:43:29Then the attacker led her to the bathroom.
00:43:41I knew that you're not supposed to wash away the evidence.
00:43:44And I immediately shut the water because I wanted to hear what he was doing out there.
00:43:48He said, "I have two things left to do.
00:43:50One of them is to kill you, and the other is to torch the house." Those are the exact words.
00:43:56He laughed in this demonic laugh and, like, kind of hit the door and laughed and said, "Nah, I don't think I'm going to kill you." >> KURTIS: According to Lopez, her attacker set the living room on fire and left.
00:44:09Now sitting in a police interview room, Lynn hopes her account will help find her husband's killer.
00:44:16>> I felt that the questions, as painful as they were, were what... the questions I had to be asked to find the perpetrator.
00:44:44>> And the word she used was like a Michael Bolton haircut, which he had pulled back in a ponytail.
00:44:51>> KURTIS: A composite sketch is developed, but it leads nowhere.
00:44:54Instead, all paths and questions lead back to Lynn Lopez.
00:45:04>> This is a fight that she's describing that took place between two grown men, pretty good size men, based on their descriptions, with a baseball bat, and you can see that nothing appears to be disturbed on the bed.
00:45:14There's nothing broken.
00:45:15>> KURTIS: After taking Lopez's statement, detectives review the evidence and come to a difficult conclusion: Lynn Lopez might well be lying.
00:45:24>> The story that she was providing about how the attack took place, not just on her, but on her husband, didn't seem to match the evidence that we were seeing at the crime scene.
00:45:35>> KURTIS: Police question Lynn several more times.
00:45:38>> I remember the detective kept saying to me, "We have nothing.
00:45:41We have nothing." >> You have to wonder if there's... is there something else involved?
00:45:47Was there something else going on?
00:45:50>> KURTIS: DNA results come back from the Florida Crime Lab.
00:45:53A male profile is developed from the rape kit and some blood on the bedd It isn't from Jay Lopez or anyone else in the state's DNA database.
00:46:03>> Was it somebody that Mr. and Mrs. Lopez invited into their house, and then once they were in the house, you know, the situation became out of control and escalated to the point where someone was murdered and the house was set on fire?
00:46:17She may not want to incriminate someone if it was a friend of the family or something like that.
00:46:22>> KURTIS: Detectives ask Lynn to take a polygraph test.
00:46:24>> Of course I'll take a polygraph.
00:46:27I'll tell you everything.
00:46:28>> What I look for are reactions on all three components: the breathing, the heart rate, and the amount of sweat or moisture that's on the hands.
00:46:34>> KURTIS: Lynn Lopez takes her polygraph in November of 1996 and promptly flunks it.
00:46:40>> I completely lost it.
00:46:46What kind of deception?
00:46:48>> So I didn't know if she was being completely truthful about the information that she was provided that took place in her house or if she failed the polygraph simply because of the emotions involved.
00:46:58>> KURTIS: Emotions aside, police need to take a harder look at Lynn, and Lopez feels the heat.
00:47:05>> I was horrified.
00:47:06If I saw a police car, I would... I would panic because I would think they're coming to get me.
00:47:12So I had to secure an attorney to protect me from the people who are supposed to protect me.
00:47:19I couldn't fathom this.
00:47:23>> KURTIS: Although no charges are ever filed, a shadow of suspicion hangs over Lynn Lopez and stays there for seven years, until one day, when she decides to take the matter of crime and punishment into her own hands.
00:47:38>> I knew, from that minute, I am going to rattle this cage, and I'm not going to stop; no matter if I end up in a psychiatric ward, I'm never Pickles.
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00:48:37>> This is my psychologist's office, Dr. Cohen, where, two years ago, I reopened the case.
00:48:47>> KURTIS: The case Lynn Lopez is talking about is that of her husband, Jay, who was stabbed before her eyes in 1996.
00:48:54It's a loss she has dealt with for the past six years in private and in therapy, and this is where she asks for a meeting with detectives.
00:49:04>> I felt safe because my doctor was here and there was a trust issue.
00:49:10I wasn't comfortable with the detectives at that time.
00:49:13>> She had gotten to the point where she was ready for something to happen.
00:49:17And I think you can... you could see that in her... in her demeanor and in her eyes, that it was time for something to happen with this case.
00:49:27>> KURTIS: For six years, Lynn Lopez herself has been considered a person of interest in her husband's murder.
00:49:32Now she is determined to clear her own name and find her husband's killer.
00:49:38>> She wanted us to find the person who did this to her husband and to herself.
00:49:41I know it took a lot for you to come in here and talk to... talk to us.
00:49:46>> KURTIS: Detective Harry Hoover promises to give the case another look and Lynn Lopez hopefully a second chance.
00:49:53>> I know someone was listening to me.
00:49:58>> This is our evidence room for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office >> KURTIS: Amidst the hundreds of boxes lining these shelves, Harry Hoover pulls evidence from the Jay Lopez case.
00:50:07>> This would have been all the evidence that was originally secured from the crime scene back in 1996.
00:50:13We have the bedspread, blanket.
00:50:16>> KURTIS: A bedspread and a blanket stained in blood and taken from the crime scene more than six years earlier-- Hoover sends the items out for DNA testing.
00:50:30>> We're at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the DNA extraction laboratory.
00:50:35We're going to be entering the area where we actually extract the DNA profiles.
00:50:41>> KURTIS: Melissa Suddeth works the Lopez case.
00:50:44>> The samples were reran to generate an STR DNA profile.
00:50:48It's a highly discriminating test, and it's the current standard for databasing profiles in the United States.
00:50:54>> KURTIS: Developing an STR profile is a prerequisite for access to CODIS and the DNA of more than one and a half million convicted felons throughout the United States.
00:51:05Suddeth begins with blood found on the blanket.
00:51:08>> Out of all of the stained areas, there was only one particular stain that actually showed a profile that was different from the two victims involved in the case, and that was this one stain that was located here, in the bottom corner of the blanket.
00:51:21>> KURTIS: That profile matches the profile developed from Lynn Lopez's rape kit.
00:51:26When uploaded into the DNA data bank, the profile generates a hit to Chatsiam Adam Lioy, a name that does not appear in the old case file.
00:51:38Detectives dig into Lioy's criminal history and find a photo of the suspect.
00:51:44>> Lynn's initial description of the guy was almost perfect to what he was, the long, frizzy hair.
00:51:52>> KURTIS: Hoover asks Lynn, almost seven years later, to try to ID the man who raped her and killed her husband.
00:51:59>> I knew that I could not pick these out until I put myself, mentally, back in that room that night.
00:52:09I jumped up, and I saw a man holding a knife.
00:52:13I needed to be there.
00:52:14It was excruciating, but I knew I couldn't pick at picture unless I got that image of what he looked like.
00:52:21>> And with what type of hair?
00:52:23>> Very frizzy.
00:52:25It seemed like it must have been in a ponytail.
00:52:29I pointed, and I said, "This is the son of a bitch." >> That's the one she identified, and that's the one that DNA placed in her home the night of this crime.
00:52:39>> KURTIS: Before detectives can put Lioy in handcuffs, they have one more loose end to tie up.
00:52:46>> The next step we wanted to do is make sure he had no affiliation with Lynn.
00:52:51>> So we came up with the concept of doing a missing- person's alert, putting a picture of Lynn that would have been taken around the time this occurred, putting her picture on a flyer, and then going door to door, specifically to Mr. Lioy, and asking him specifically if he had ever seen this woman, did ever knowing her.
00:53:15>> KURTIS: Lioy's statement convinces detectives their suspect acted alone and removes the last hint of suspicion surrounding Lynn Lopez.
00:53:23Lioy is arrested and charged with the murder of Jay Lopez.
00:53:33>> This is the interview room at our office where Chatsiam Lioy was brought in.
00:53:37>> KURTIS: In an interrogation room, Detectives Harry Hoover and Frank Losat sit down with their suspect to talk about a murder seven years cold.
00:53:46>> It was interesting to sit across the table from Chatsiam Lioy and look into his eyes.
00:53:51He had shark eyes.
00:53:53They were black and empty.
00:54:13>> Then we start throwing out little bits and pieces of the crime scene and things we had, and he still kept denying it at that point.
00:54:57>> KURTIS: Lioy shrugs off the DNA match and hangs tough on his story.
00:55:05>> KURTIS: Detectives send Lioy back to his jail cell.
00:55:08Within minutes, however, the suspect suffers a change of heart.
00:55:18>> He basically told us that he had had, like, a vision that Jay, the victim in this crime, had kind of appeared to him and told him that the only way he could be free of this was to tell the truth.
00:56:14>> He could never be dead enough for me.
00:56:16They could put him in the electric chair 50 times; it's never going to be enough for me.
00:56:21>> KURTIS: Chatsiam Lioy pleads guilty to a charge of first- degree homicide and receives a term of life in prison.
00:56:28For Lynn Lopez, none of it really matters, as she lives out her own life sentence, one from which there is no respite and no reprieve.
00:56:40>> The love of my life was taken from me.
00:56:4516 years of a marriage that was a dream come true was taken in about two hours.
00:56:55Every morning, when I wake up, I still think I'm back at home and my husband is next to me.
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