Cold Case Files - Murder He Wrote; Caught by the Past   View more episodes

Aired at 12:00 PM on Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 (3/21/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:24>> The monster told you to get out of here?
00:00:25>> Yep.
00:00:46>> KURTIS: 20 miles east of Madison, Wisconsin, light frost covers a lonely stretch of woods.
00:00:53>> All right, this is what we've got.
00:00:56We've got an actual crime scene out here, okay?
00:00:58>> KURTIS: It provides a chilling blanket for a body.
00:01:01>> We've got a female, badly beaten, and partially decomposed.
00:01:06>> KURTIS: A young woman, maybe 15 or 16.
00:01:12Evidence technician Steve Gilmore has documented death for more than 25 years.
00:01:17Even so, the scene at Goose Lake leaves him cold.
00:01:22>> It was indeed gruesome.
00:01:24There had been a light dusting of snow, but you could still visibly see blunt-force trauma to her face, chest, abdomen, legs, virtually her entire body in terms of discoloration of contusions and abrasions.
00:01:40>> KURTIS: As Gilmore draws closer, the merely horrific turns bizarre.
00:01:45The woman's hands have been severed at the wrist.
00:01:49Five days later, they're found by some hunters, with their fingertips cut off.
00:01:58>> That spoke volumes to the person who did this.
00:02:03The person who did this is a person who knows her, who is known to know her, and who knows about the criminal justice system, who knows if we have her fingerprints, we can identify her.
00:02:17>> KURTIS: From the autopsy table, Jane Doe speaks to detectives: "Find my real name, and you will find my killer." That task, however, would prove to be daunting.
00:02:40(modem connecting) A morgue photo is downloaded into a computer and enhanced.
00:02:50The result is a photo of how the young woman might have looked in life.
00:02:55This image is put on a poster and distributed across the country.
00:03:01>> If you have any information surrounding the murder, you are asked to call detectives at...
00:03:07>> KURTIS: The story gets local, then national coverage.
00:03:10Over 2,000 possible victims are reviewed and rejected.
00:03:22And the girl's identity remains a mystery.
00:03:27>> ♪ I once was lost but now am found... ♪
00:03:38>> On the morning of her funeral, it was cold and rainy, and the procession came into the cemetery, and it stopped raining.
00:03:49>> ♪ ...was blind but now I see... ♪
00:03:58>> KURTIS: Forest Hill cemetery in Madison, Wisconsin.
00:04:01Police hold a simple ceremony, the nameless young woman interred, the hopes of ever finding her killer flickering.
00:04:09>> We are the family for this young woman.
00:04:12Two and a half months ago, she entered our lives, and we don't know a lot about her.
00:04:17We know she's young.
00:04:19We know that she was brutally murdered.
00:04:21>> It was kind of like, you know, the final surrender, that we're going to bury her and not know who she is.
00:04:26>> KURTIS: Jane Doe is laid to rest under a headstone without a name.
00:04:30The case goes cold.
00:04:32It does not stay that way for long.
00:04:4750 miles east of Madison sits Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a bigger town with more and bigger crimes.
00:04:54Cold-case detectives here had never worked the Madison crime.
00:04:58One day, however, they take a call.
00:05:02Suddenly, the missing girl becomes a Milwaukee problem.
00:05:06>> I got a call from police officer Dyer in Springfield, Illinois, indicating that he had information regarding a homicide that had occurred in the city of Milwaukee.
00:05:19>> KURTIS: A woman has seen posters of the girl, and pieces it together with some family gossip.
00:05:24>> Met with the informant.
00:05:25Showed her a picture of the morgue photographs that we obtained from Dane county.
00:05:29And when she saw them, she said that looked like the girl she had seen with Joseph White.
00:05:35>> KURTIS: Joseph White is a pimp working out of Milwaukee.
00:05:39In the previous year, he had recruited a snow bunny-- a young white woman-- to work for him.
00:05:46Then, one day, according to the informant, the young woman simply vanished.
00:05:51>> She told us a story indicating that the girl had been picked up out of Decatur, out of a group home in Decatur, where she had run away.
00:06:00>> KURTIS: The trail is cold, but worth following.
00:06:05Murphy and Becker head for the group home in Decatur.
00:06:09There, they show the morgue photo to the home's administrator.
00:06:13>> She was taken aback by it.
00:06:17She said it looks like her, but she didn't want to admit it was her, because she didn't want her to be dead.
00:06:23We interviewed other workers and Doris McLeod's roommates, and they all identified the photograph.
00:06:33>> KURTIS: Doris Ann McLeod.
00:06:36Finally, police have a name for this face, and a story that's all too typical.
00:06:41As a child, Doris was sexually abused.
00:06:45Eventually, she found herself in the first of 17 foster homes.
00:06:50A month prior to her death, Doris was on a greyhound bus, running away from the last home and into the waiting arms of her first pimp.
00:07:02On the street, Doris is considered fresh meat.
00:07:08In a matter of days, Joseph White puts her out on a stroll.
00:07:11From the beginning, there are problems.
00:07:20>> When he showed her to me, I was like, "Oh." She didn't look like the type who could make no money at nothing, you know?
00:07:27She just didn't look like the type, you know, who could make money.
00:07:30She just didn't look like the type.
00:07:32She didn't seem like a street person, you know?
00:07:35You know, like a ho.
00:07:36She just didn't have that...
00:07:37you know, she didn't have that.
00:07:39I told him that too, you know?
00:07:40"Oh, man, you're going to have a hard time trying to get paid with this one." >> KURTIS: Carl Clark's assessment of Doris McLeod is chillingly correct.
00:07:51On the street, prostitutes obey the rules of the game, rules set out by their pimps.
00:07:57Police believe Doris McLeod may have ignored these rules, tried to walk away from Joseph White, with fatal consequences.
00:08:05>> I think she wanted out.
00:08:07I think she had enough of the prostitution.
00:08:10She didn't like it.
00:08:11She didn't want to do it.
00:08:12She told her friends prior to that that she didn't care to be a prostitute.
00:08:15I think she's decided to get out of it, and he said, "You're not." >> And I think that's the pivotal part in the whole case, when she wanted to step away from this activity, and he had this grandiose plan that this was going to be the way it was.
00:08:29And that's what ultimately led to the falling out and her ?w?wóç >> KURTIS: 6:45 a.m.-- cold-case detectives approach a rundown two flat in Milwaukee's inner cicity.
00:11:35They're here to arrest Joseph White for the murder of Doris McLeod.
00:11:40But as they approach the front door, White heads out the back.
00:11:43>> And as we got to the upper level where they lived and into the kitchen area, a uniformed officer was bringing Joe White back up these stairs.
00:11:53He told us that he encountered Joe White coming down the stairs as we were going up the front, and that Joe told him he was going down to contact the neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar.
00:12:03>> KURTIS: Borrowing sugar at 6:45 a.m. strikes police as odd.
00:12:07Inside White's apartment, they find more oddities, amounting to a case for murder.
00:12:15Scattered about the apartment are fragments of Doris McLeod's brief time in Milwaukee: bus tickets for her and White, clothes and bits of jewelry.
00:12:30Taken together, they tie White to his victim, but remain largely circumstantial.
00:12:35Then, detectives find a smoking gun in the person of a three-year-old boy.
00:12:42>> Well, it was a warm day in Milwaukee.
00:12:45And because of that, we had our sport coats off.
00:12:48And naturally, children are curious by the things that police officers carry on their belts.
00:12:54>> And I felt, like, a tug on my coat or my gun.
00:12:56And it was this little boy.
00:12:58It was Joseph.
00:13:00>> Young Joseph, Joseph junior, came up to me and was very curious about the flashlight on my belt, asked me what it was, and wanted to see it.
00:13:10>> Detective Becker pulled out a picture of Doris McLeod and asked if he knew who that was.
00:13:15>> And Joe said, "that's Dee." >> I says, "Do you know her?" and he says, "Yes, that's Dee." I then asked him if Dee had ever been hurt while she was in the house, and he said, yeah, she had been hurt.
00:13:25The monster had hurt her in the basement of the house.
00:13:34>> KURTIS: This tape was shot by police four days after their first interview with Joey.
00:13:38In the basement, Joey first shows police Dee's bedroom, consisting of a mattress on a cellar floor.
00:13:48>> Back over here, and, in fact, I'm not saying it's the same mattress, but this little area over here... and there was a mattress.
00:13:56You can see the plywood on the wall.
00:13:58He indicated that this was Dee's room.
00:14:00>> KURTIS: Adjoining the makeshift bedroom is a laundry room.
00:14:04Here, Joey points to steam pipes near the ceiling.
00:14:08>> He said that he could see Dee, and that Dee was hanging.
00:14:13And we said, "what do you mean hanging, Joe?
00:14:15Where?" And he said, "Up there." So we could only assume that she was somehow suspended, based on what he was telling us.
00:14:21>> And I asked how she had been hurt.
00:14:23And said, "Well, the monster bit her fingers." >> On her where?
00:14:26>> Off her finger.
00:14:27>> On her fingers?
00:14:28>> On her finger?
00:14:29>> Yeah.
00:14:30>> Where on her fingers?
00:14:31>> And I held out my hand at that point in time, and I said, "Can you show me which one, Joe?" And he said, "This one and this one..." >> "...and this one and this one." >> "Here and here and here and here and here." >> Can you show Kevin?
00:14:42>> Can you show me where she was hurt?
00:14:44Anyplace there?
00:14:45>> Over here, over here, over here.
00:14:48>> Which was particularly unnerving to us, because the information about the fingertips being removed had never been released to the public.
00:14:55So he had some knowledge there that only someone that really knew what was going on would be aware of.
00:15:01>> I hear monster.
00:15:03>> You heard the monster?
00:15:04>> Yeah.
00:15:05>> What was the monster saying?
00:15:07>> He said (unintelligible).
00:15:09>> Get out of here?
00:15:12>> Yep.
00:15:13>> The monster told you to get out of here?
00:15:15>> Yep.
00:15:16>> An understatement, a classic understatement, would be to say that the hair stood up on the back of your neck.
00:15:21To think that a child of that age could have seen anything this horrific was a very telling moment in this whole case and an overwhelming moment for the four detectives assembled there.
00:15:31>> KURTIS: Based on Joey's account, cold-case detectives believe this might be where Doris McLeod was tortured and perhaps killed.
00:15:43Upstairs, they find more evidence of exactly how she was killed.
00:15:50>> Detective Murphy was concentrating his efforts on searching this area, and secreted behind a panel in this unit he found the gang pad.
00:16:00>> KURTIS: This is the gang pad Murphy found hidden in White's house.
00:16:05It provides a blueprint for the inner workings of the Gangster Disciple Nation, one of the largest and most violent gangs in the country.
00:16:13In the context of a murder investigation, however, the gang pad provides much more.
00:16:19>> It talked about what happens to you when you violate the rules of the gang.
00:16:25And it said right on there "50 to the chest." >> KURTIS: "50 to the chest," the punishment specified for a girl who refuses to work the streets, and a chilling echo of Doris McLeod's autopsy report.
00:16:38Repeated blows struck to the head and chest prior to her death.
00:16:45>> They called me and said, "Bob, you won't believe what we found.
00:16:48Remember her chest?" Oh, the 50 to the chest was something we knew about from other gang investigations, but to have it written that this is a penalty for noncompliance with the rules, with prostitution, with how much money you're supposed to make, this was... and then to have it in his handwriting, that came all because of her body.
00:17:36know ..
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00:17:42With yoplait kids, trix yogurt and go-gurt, they get both.
00:17:47Yoplait, the one for kids.
00:17:52Go-Gurt is specially made to freeze and thaw by lunch time?
00:17:55So kids can have their favorite yogurt in their lunch box Go-Gurt.
00:18:00Freeze it.
00:18:01Thaw it.
00:18:02Eat it up.
00:19:37>> KURTIS: On June 20, 1991, police question Joseph White in the Madison County lockup.
00:19:43They bring the gang pad with them and lay it face down on the table.
00:19:48White asks for a cigarette, then demands to see the pad.
00:19:53>> He started to page through the pages one by one.
00:19:58And you could just almost see the blood draining from his face as he did this, because he's now realizing that we have something that's very damaging to him.
00:20:05And he closed the remaining pages that he had opened, shoved it across the table, and said, "That's bull (bleep)." We shoved it back across the table at him and said, "No, Joe, that's evidence." And he individually looked at each of the three of us and said, "I want an attorney." >> KURTIS: The first day of Joseph White's murder trial, the defendant arrives in court wearing long black Muslim robes.
00:20:38His son waves to his dad.
00:20:40He will help police build their case.
00:20:43White then insists on defending himself.
00:20:49>> The evidence will show that I didn't kill Doris Ann McLeod.
00:20:54I had nothing to do with her death.
00:20:57>> I think he represented himself, first of all, because he thinks he's smarter than us, and he still thinks he can beat us at our own game.
00:21:03That's how smart he thinks he is.
00:21:05>> The prosecution may want you to believe that I killed her.
00:21:08And, in fact, if that is believed, then an innocent man will be sent to prison.
00:21:14>> Basically, I would compare it to trying to teach a six-year- old to drive your car at 100 miles an hour and tell him, you know, "Take a left at the corner." >> KURTIS: Mark Frank is appointed White's standby counsel, and in this case, that is exactly what he is forced to do.
00:21:32>> Any attorney will tell you it's never wise to represent yourself.
00:21:36First of all, if you're the person charged with an offense, you're way too emotionally involved to be able to step back and make objective decisions.
00:21:44And secondly, unless you've been to law school and tried 30 or 40 trials, you probably wouldn't want to be representing yourself in a murder case.
00:21:53>> It appears as if there's been very little preparation in terms of trying to prepare questions for the individual witnesses.
00:22:01I'm getting concerned that the jury might be getting very uncomfortable with the way the evidence is coming in.
00:22:08>> KURTIS: For Joseph White, the trial is a high-stakes roll of the dice, his freedom hanging in the balance.
00:22:16After six days of evidence, the jury returns in less than four hours.
00:22:21White is found guilty of murder in the first degree and first- degree sexual assault.
00:22:26He will be eligible for parole in the year 2074, on Doris McLeod's 100th birthday.
00:22:45Back in Dane County, Doris's gravestone now bears her name.
00:22:54Detective Hughes visits often.
00:22:59>> Doris didn't have anyone that was really advocating for her.
00:23:02And we took her on as...
00:23:06I don't know.
00:23:07Some people say we, like, adopted her.
00:23:11But, you know, I think those of us that worked on the case and became involved with it felt that somebody needed to be there, at least for her spirit.
00:23:20And that's why I think there's such an attachment, and that's why it continues.
00:23:26>> KURTIS: Those who never knew Doris McLeod now tend to her memory.
00:23:32And death provides a young woman with the acceptance and caring her short and troubled life w1ó >> I noticed what appeared to be stains of blood leading down A trail of blood doesn't mean anything unless there's a body at the end of the trail.
00:27:09>> There was a bloodbath in there.
00:27:15the hallways, there's blood in the cellar.
00:27:18>> I don't know what happened.
00:27:31>> KURTIS: South Portland, Maine-- a study in small-town America, where life is tidy, and life's secrets are kept tight behind closed doors.
00:27:56A Wednesday afternoon in South Portland.
00:27:59Police dig out the crawl space of a cellar.
00:28:01They are looking for a body.
00:28:03It is the endgame to a cold case that begins with a phone call.
00:28:07(phone ringing) >> South Portland police.
00:28:13how can I help you?
00:28:14>> KURTIS: On August 13, 1991, Elaine Woodward calls police.
00:28:17She is worried about her mother, 48-year-old Pearl Bruns.
00:28:22>> I'm thinking to myself, "Okay, if I report her missing and she shows up, I look like an idiot.
00:28:27If I don't report her missing and something's really happened, you know..." >> KURTIS: In South Portland, Pearl is known as a creature of habit.
00:28:36She likes a drink at the VFW, coffee at the local Quick Mart, and her daily fix from the lottery.
00:28:43On August 11, that routine is broken.
00:28:48Pearl Bruns vanishes.
00:28:51South Portland detective Linda Barker agrees to meet Elaine at her mom's home.
00:28:59>> So I made some observations while walking through the house, and went into the bedroom, and that's where things looked a little amiss.
00:29:11There was a suitcase that was laying on the floor that was very disheveled.
00:29:19>> She found the blood on the suitcase.
00:29:21She found some blood on the bureau, in the sink.
00:29:23She asked me if there was anyplace, you know, else that we had not looked.
00:29:29>> KURTIS: Elaine walks Detective Barker outside to a bulkhead and a set of stairs that lead to a cellar.
00:29:36>> I opened up the bulkhead.
00:29:38And when I did that, I noticed what appeared to be stains of blood leading down the stairs into the bottom of the cellar.
00:29:47>> KURTIS: In the cellar, Barker finds a cement floor and an opening that plays into a dirt crawl space.
00:29:57Some of the soil looks like it's been disturbed.
00:30:01Barker calls for backup and some shovels.
00:30:07>> We asked Elaine for a couple of shovels.
00:30:10We found some in the garage.
00:30:11And a number of us were digging in the basement, thinking, "Well, if something's happened, perhaps she's in here." >> KURTIS: The dig turns up nothing.
00:30:23South Portland's police chief declines to call in homicide investigators from the state, opting to treat Pearl Bruns as simply a missing person; yet another wife gone on a permanent holiday.
00:30:40>> They believed it was just a case of, you know, a woman who drank too much, and, you know, just went off on her own with another man or what have you.
00:30:51That's what they were thinking, and that's what they had pretty much said to me.
00:30:54They said, "With a trail of blood, a trail of blood doesn't mean anything unless there's a body at the end of the trail." >> KURTIS: Days become weeks, and still Pearl Bruns has not turned up.
00:31:07Linda Barker finds herself at a dead end, the investigation into Pearl Bruns's disappearance gone cold.
00:31:16>> We had closed off every avenue as far as her being missing.
00:31:21You know, there was really not a lot more that could be done.
00:31:24>> She told me point blank that she would have been going a little bit more headstrong, but her hands were being tied.
00:31:31And I think she was just as frustrated about the situation as I was.
00:31:36>> KURTIS: Elaine Woodward believes her mother is not just missing, but dead.
00:31:41On August 28, Elaine decides to make a second phone call, this time to the media.
00:31:49(phone ringing) >> Good afternoon, Channel 8 News.
00:31:55>> When I went out and talked to Elaine, she started telling me a lot of the information that the South Portland police hadn't told us, like that there was blood on the suitcase that her mother had left behind, and that there was blood on the bulkhead, in the cellar.
00:32:11And it all sounded very fishy.
00:32:13>> Both the police and Pearl's family say that Pearl and her husband had an argument here at the house just before she disappeared.
00:32:20>> KURTIS: In 1991, Christine Young is a beat reporter.
00:32:23She quickly strikes up a rapport with Elaine, and decides to step beyond her role as a journalist.
00:32:29>> So I called someone I knew in the attorney general's office, an assistant attorney general.
00:32:34And when I told him the situation, he uttered a profanity.
00:32:39And the next thing I knew, the state police crime lab was in the Bruns's driveway.
00:32:44>> KURTIS: Young's call to the attorney general jump-starts the Bruns case.
00:32:49This time, the state police would be at the forefront.
00:32:52And this time, murder would be cqccqqccqccecqqqqqqqqqcqec;qic; >> KURTIS: There's a rule of thumb among homicide detectives: when you start to look for suspects, start with the family.
00:35:51In the case of Pearl Bruns, there appears to be reason behind the rule.
00:35:56>> I had heard rumors, you know, but she never came right out and about and said it to me.
00:36:03But I had heard rumors where, you know, she'd tell other people, "If anything ever happened to me," you know, Bill had done it, that sort of thing.
00:36:09>> KURTIS: Bill is Bill Bruns, Pearl's husband, Elaine's stepfather, and a prime murder suspect for police.
00:36:16>> After I talked to him the first time, I kind of looked at him and I knew there wasn't something right with him, the way that he was talking.
00:36:25>> Bill was continuing to be matter-of-fact about the entire situation.
00:36:28We had indicated to him that we felt that Pearl didn't just walk away, that we had some concerns, Bill, that maybe things had got out of hand there at the home, and possibly something had happened to Pearl.
00:36:41Bill's indication over and over and over again is that "I would not hurt my Pearlie." >> KURTIS: Bill Bruns works the docks of Portland, hauling fish for money.
00:36:52The marriage, his fourth and Pearl's sixth, is not without its rough spots.
00:36:58>> They'd get in fights, you know.
00:37:02He might throw things, rip a phone out of the wall, that sort of thing.
00:37:05But I never thought it would escalate to this.
00:37:07>> And he kept talking-- "I would never hurt my Pearlie," and that "I loved her so much." And finally I said, "Well, why do you keep talking in the past tense?
00:37:16Is she dead?" >> KURTIS: Cold-case detectives reopen the investigation with a second trip to the Bruns home.
00:37:23Even months removed from murder, trace amounts of blood are picked up throughout the house.
00:37:30Detectives decide to call in the dogs.
00:37:34>> Let's find Fred.
00:37:36Come on, find him.
00:37:37Where is he?
00:37:39>> KURTIS: Rafe is an eight- year-old German shepherd specially trained in scenting for cadaver remains.
00:37:44>> Where is he?
00:37:45Good dog.
00:37:48What a good dog.
00:37:49>> KURTIS: Detectives set him loose in Bill Bruns's basement.
00:37:53Almost immediately, the dog begins to cast his head about the basement, a sign he's onto a scent.
00:37:59Then he alerts.
00:38:03>> He did his alert, which is, as you notice, is to lie down.
00:38:08At that point, I said, "Well, I can't say whether or not she's buried here, but I can say that there is human decomposition scent in this soil." >> KURTIS: Again, police dig in the Bruns cellar.
00:38:24Again, they find nothing.
00:38:28Meanwhile, a feeling begins to grow among investigators.
00:38:33Maybe Bill Bruns had hidden Pearl's body in the cellar, and then maybe he had moved it.
00:38:53Some 100 miles from Portland, the Bruns case takes a twist.
00:38:57Pearl Bruns's purse is found on a hiking trail in rural New Hampshire.
00:39:02>> Since they found her pocketbook, it just proves what I've thought all along, that she is dead.
00:39:09>> KURTIS: The area is close by Bill Bruns's trucking runs, raising at least two possibilities: Bruns has left the purse as a red herring for police, or he has dumped not only the purse, but his wife's body as well.
00:39:25The New Hampshire woods is swept for Pearl Bruns's body, sapping resources and energy from the investigation.
00:39:33>> We're looking in New Hampshire, and we're looking all over the place, and I'm saying, "You know, we're never going to find this body, because we're going in three or four different directions at the same time here." >> Now is a really discouraging point, where we thought, "Gosh, there's just too many paths to follow, you know?
00:39:51This case may never get solved." >> KURTIS: Ultimately, the search proves fruitless.
00:39:58Almost inevitably, the trail leads back to the Bruns cellar, where science would turn the case on its ear.
00:40:15Cold-case detectives descend on the Bruns house, armed with a search warrant and a substance known as luminol.
00:40:24Clear and odorless, luminol is a chemical reagent with a nose for blood.
00:40:31Months, even years later, luminol can detect microscopic amounts of blood lodged in a crime scene rug or baked into a panel of wood.
00:40:44detectives with a glowing map for murder.
00:40:55>> Upstairs with the tremendous amount of luminol reaction indicated to us that probably this was where the assault had taken place.
00:41:04>> There was so much of it.
00:41:05The rug looked like it had been saturated.
00:41:08You could see the footprints in the rugs.
00:41:10You could see the footprints on the linoleum floor.
00:41:13And we could actually follow the blood trail out of the residence.
00:41:22>> The blood on the stairs leading into the basement seemed to be an avenue of transportation of the body.
00:41:27Blood in the cellar might have been where the body was laying while a hole was dug for the burial.
00:41:37>> And you could actually see where the body was lying while he was either tired or he had to move the body up into the dirt portion.
00:41:45>> KURTIS: This is the final luminol image Lehan refers to-- what appears to be a body outlined in blood on the dirt floor of the basement.
00:41:56Coupled with the footsteps and the smears of blood upstairs, Lehan and Harriman now have no doubts the Bruns home had been visited by a violent crime.
00:42:09That night, they sit down with Bill Bruns for a heart-to-heart about luminol and murder.
00:42:15>> You, when you walk into the residence, don't recall seeing anything at all as far as blood?
00:42:20>> No.
00:42:22>> Not even on the suitcase?
00:42:23>> No.
00:42:25>> Listen to me.
00:42:26I've just been inside the house, and this is total bull (bleep), all right, at this point in time, okay?
00:42:31There was blood there.
00:42:32The blood was visible everywhere.
00:42:35And the blood is all over that friggin' house, all right?
00:42:37And to say that nothing was seen...
00:42:40>> Well, I didn't see anything.
00:42:41>> I don't believe you for a minute anymore, all right?
00:42:43>> KURTIS: When we return, the psychology of a police interrogation, and a final trip to Bill Bruns's cellar.
00:44:27know ..
00:44:28But they also need vitamin d to help absorb calcium.
00:44:33With yoplait kids, trix yogurt and go-gurt, they get both.
00:44:37Yoplait, the one for kids.
00:44:43Go-Gurt is specially made to freeze and thaw by lunch time?
00:44:46So kids can have their favorite yogurt in their lunch box Go-Gurt.
00:44:50Freeze it.
00:44:52Thaw it.
00:44:53Eat it up.
00:45:05>> For the purpose of the tape, it's about 6:13 p.m.
00:45:10>> KURTIS: In a police interrogation room, Bill Bruns sits quietly.
00:45:14>> Do you have any problems with me asking you questions?
00:45:18Do you have any problems answering those questions?
00:45:22>> I'll try to answer them.
00:45:24>> Oh, no.
00:45:25I understand you'll try.
00:45:25In other words, you're saying yes, you'll answer any questions?
00:45:28>> That I can.
00:45:29>> KURTIS: detectives Mike Harriman and Pat Lehan have just treated the Bruns house with luminol.
00:45:33Now, they're ready to question Bill Bruns about the results.
00:45:36The approach is carefully orchestrated.
00:45:39>> I said, "What happened when you came home that night?" He said, "Well, first of all, I went out to dinner.
00:45:45Pearl didn't want to go." >> Usually we get Chinese food, you know?
00:45:50>> Did you go anyplace else?
00:45:51>> Before I came home I went to Dunkin Donuts on St. Johns Street.
00:45:55>> "Then I came back home.
00:45:56The lights were on.
00:45:57No Pearl." >> I holler her name, call out.
00:46:00"Pearl?" No answer.
00:46:05>> I was a good guy and I let him think that I was on his side and that everything was an accident.
00:46:11>> What was going through your head?
00:46:13What were you thinking?
00:46:14>> I didn't know what to think at first.
00:46:17I thought she might have...
00:46:18probably she might have gone over to the VFW again.
00:46:22>> And then I had Mike Harriman come in and he was going to be the bad guy.
00:46:26>> You've been sitting here lying to me.
00:46:28>> No.
00:46:29>> Bill, I don't believe you for a minute anymore.
00:46:32Not after I see what happened in there.
00:46:34Now, Bill, I'm not saying that you killed Pearl on purpose, all right?
00:46:37>> I didn't kill anybody.
00:46:38>> You listen to me.
00:46:39>> KURTIS: For more than an hour, Harriman goes after Bruns hard.
00:46:43>> Well, I'll tell you, Bill, we're not going away.
00:46:45That's for darn sure.
00:46:46We know she died here, and we're But Bill...
00:46:50>> KURTIS: He uses body language, alters his tone and approach to the suspect, all the while hammering away at the damaging luminol evidence found in the house.
00:46:58>> All right?
00:46:59There's blood in the living room.
00:47:01There's blood in the bedroom.
00:47:02There's blood in the hallways.
00:47:03There's blood in the cellar.
00:47:04We're not done.
00:47:05We're just starting, Bill.
00:47:06>> I know.
00:47:07>> All right?
00:47:08>> I understand.
00:47:09>> And we're accumulating evidence here.
00:47:11There's no question.
00:47:12There was a bloodbath in there.
00:47:13I know you're involved, all right?
00:47:15I know you're involved, you know you're involved.
00:47:17I'm here to help you.
00:47:18The only way I can help you is if you start being truthful with me.
00:47:21I cannot help you if you're not being truthful with me.
00:47:23>> On one of the interviews, in fact, it's a technique that I used, I said, "Look, this happens all the time.
00:47:28Husbands and wives..." and I would tell him a story, you know?
00:47:32"I've been mad at my wife, and these things happen.
00:47:35But, you know, you're not a murderer.
00:47:37You're not a bad person." >> I'll have to admit to you, my wife's not an alcoholic.
00:47:41Yeah, but my wife runs up some bills once in a while.
00:47:43And that pisses me off, all right?
00:47:45>> KURTIS: On this night, Harriman borrows his partner's approach, and then some.
00:47:49>> We understand, Bill.
00:47:50We deal with cases every single day where people lose their tempers and husbands and wives don't agree, all right?
00:47:57>> Yeah.
00:47:59>> And this is what happened in this case.
00:48:01Pearl was a problem.
00:48:02There's no question she was a problem.
00:48:04We've researched that.
00:48:05We know that.
00:48:06We know she spent a lot of money.
00:48:07We know she was out drinking and gambling.
00:48:11And for who else knows, she might have been out seeing some other man, okay?
00:48:13You might know that better than I do.
00:48:15That would have pissed me off, all right?
00:48:17It would have made me very ugly.
00:48:18>> Yeah.
00:48:19>> All right?
00:48:19>> Maybe that's what happened to Pearl.
00:48:21I don't know that, Bill.
00:48:22Only you know that, because you're the only one that was here when it happened.
00:48:25>> No.
00:48:26>> You... don't tell me no.
00:48:27I don't want to hear that anymore.
00:48:29>> All right.
00:48:30>> Eventually, I had to hit him point blank with, "You must have killed your wife, here, because there's no other thing that it could be." >> You killed Pearl, or you had involvement in her killing, plain and simple.
00:48:42>> And he would get tears in his eyes, and say, "I would never hurt my Pearlie." >> I'm telling you you're full of (bleep).
00:48:49When you look at that rug...
00:48:50when you came back into that house, you mean to tell me you didn't see any blood in there at all?
00:48:54>> No, I didn't.
00:48:55>> The only way that you didn't see it is if you had blinders on, I'll tell you right now.
00:48:58>> It's impossible.
00:48:59It's impossible.
00:49:00>> I did not see any blood.
00:49:01>> KURTIS: As the two detectives turn full-bore on their suspect, Bill Bruns refuses to deviate en an inch from his story.
00:49:08>> I don't know what happened.
00:49:11>> That's not possible.
00:49:13>> I can't say it any different.
00:49:15>> KURTIS: The failure to gain a confession places the case in limbo.
00:49:19Despite the powerful luminol evidence, prosecutors still feel they need a body to support a murder charge.
00:49:26Pat Lehan believes that body is in Bill Bruns's cellar.
00:49:30Unfortunately, he's running out of legal grounds to continue his search.
00:49:36>> I was very dubious about the propriety of still another search warrant.
00:49:46We'd had a couple of searches there, a couple search warrants had been done.
00:49:49There'd been a consent search done.
00:49:51And there are only so many times that you can justify intruding upon somebody's property.
00:49:56>> I wanted to take a bulldozer in there and remove the house, and that's how desperate I was getting towards the end.
00:50:01We knew that body had to be in the cellar, because we've checked every other avenue.
00:50:05And short of taking that house off its foundation and digging in every little spot there, we needed something.
00:50:13And as a result, the radar came along, which was in the nick of time.
00:52:24>> This is Harding Lawson's ground-penetrating radar unit.
00:52:27It's a unit produced by geophysical survey systems in North Salem, New Hampshire.
00:52:33>> KURTIS: Ground penetrating radar-- the final tool available to cold case detectives.
00:52:38If it fails to turn up Pearl Bruns's body, the game of cat and mouse will be over.
00:52:43Bill Bruns will be declared the winner.
00:52:51Using radar waves, Scott Calkin can see into the dirt floor about three feet.
00:52:56Almost immediately, he registers some odd findings.
00:53:01>> It was apparent throughout all of the day that the entire data set was that there was a very hard reflector present at about 2.5 to three feet below ground surface.
00:53:14However, in one corner of the basement, that reflector was conspicuously absent.
00:53:20>> KURTIS: In layman's terms, a reflector is a hard layer of clay running below the dirt surface of the basement.
00:53:26The absence of a reflector could mean one of two things-- either the soil has been disturbed, or something buried there is absorbing the radar energy.
00:53:37As Calkin maps the anomaly, the focus of investigators begins to sharpen.
00:53:42>> I distinctly remember going to the area that I wanted the police to test pit and literally just stood over that area, and put my hands out, and said, "Right here." >> He told us exactly where to dig, and to what depth.
00:54:01We did so.
00:54:04And it was upon the second or third shovel full of dirt that we struck the plastic bag containing the head of the victim.
00:54:14>> KURTIS: Wrapped in plastic and bound in rope, Pearl Bruns' body is found right where Linda Barker suspected it might be all along-- in the Bruns cellar, less than three feet from the surface.
00:54:28>> It's just amazing to me the number of times, first, as investigators, we were in the basement and didn't find her, but especially that first day, when I was so suspicious that maybe there was foul play, and we were digging, and we were that close, that we didn't find her.
00:54:46>> Shortly after 6:00 tonight, investigators wheeled out a body they believe is Pearl Bruns.
00:54:52>> KURTIS: As they dig his wife out of the cellar, Bill Bruns sits in his kitchen eating dinner.
00:54:58Pat Lehan walks upstairs to make the arrest.
00:55:02>> I went into the house and I could still smell the odor coming up through the... from the cellar, through the boards.
00:55:07And I looked at Bill, and I said, "Bill, you'll never guess what we found downstairs." He goes, "I don't know, what?" and I said, "We found Pearl.
00:55:15she's downstairs.
00:55:17Can you believe that?" And he looks at me, and he goes, "You've got to be kidding me." I said, "No, I'm not.
00:55:23She's down there." And he says, "Well, how did she get there?" I said, "I haven't got the foggiest.
00:55:28But you know something?
00:55:29You're under arrest." And he said, "Well, what's the charge?" And I said, "Murder." And he looks at me, and he goes, "That's a strong word." And I said, "Bill, that's a strong odor coming up.
00:55:38How can you eat?" So he stood there, he looked at me, and says, "Well, let me finish my spaghetti before I have to go." So he sat back down and he started eating again.
00:55:48And I said, "Geez, I can't believe this guy's doing this." So we just grabbed him and took him out the door.
00:55:53>> KURTIS: Two years later, Bill Bruns pleads guilty to manslaughter.
00:55:58The autopsy on Pearl Bruns reveals a fracture of the left orbital bone, an injury that, had it been treated, probably would not have proven fatal.
00:56:10The most likely scenario-- Pearl Bruns was hit and knocked unconscious, and then left on the floor of her home to bleed to death.
00:56:21>> Hopefully, you know, he may have hit her and walked away, and not realized to what extent he had hurt her.
00:56:28My dread is that, you know, he hit her, she fell, and, you know, she was pleading in a pool of blood, and he was looking at her, and he didn't help her.
00:56:39I'm not quite sure what transpired.
00:56:41I'll never know.
00:56:42>> KURTIS: In a final touch of irony, the autopsy provides one additional detail.
00:56:49Pearl was in the advanced stages of cancer and probably would not have survived six months.
00:56:57live even that long.
00:57:00For his trouble, he was