Forensic Files - All That Glitters Is Gold   View more episodes

Aired at 12:00 AM on Saturday, May 08, 2010 (5/8/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


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00:02:22rator: AS POLICE SEARCHED For 20-year-old megan barroso, they tried to reconstruct her activities on the night of her her friends said she left a 45 in the morning and was alone.
00:02:38Her abandoned car was found at the bottom of an exit ramp off a deserted stretch of highway about an hour late >> we found that megan didn't have any boyfriend problems.
00:02:49She didn't have anyone that was upset with her.
00:02:52In fact, it was the opposite.
00:02:54Everybody liked megan.
00:02:56>> Narrator: Someone had fired multiple shotso megan's car with what investigators believed was an ak-47 assault rifle.
00:03:05To re-create the shooting, analysts used lasers to determine where the shooter was standing.
00:03:12>> Wuse a laser beam because it's a nice, straight light beam that we can just project through a number of holes.
00:03:21Makes a good display.
00:03:23It allows us to see where the bullet has passed through, what it's interacted with.
00:03:29>> Narrator: The laser analysis showed the shooter stood 60 feet away from megan's car when he started firing, and he closed the distance with each shot.
00:03:41One shot hit the hood.
00:03:43Three hit the windshield.
00:03:45Another hit the driver's-side door.
00:03:48Investigators concluded the shot fired through the passenger-side door happened somewhere else.
00:03:55>> It came in from a completely different direction.
00:03:57It couldn't have been part of the same series of gunfire without a dramatic change in the position of the shooter.
00:04:03>> Narrator: This gunshot, along with the sideswipe on megan's car, led analysts to conclude this altercation happened on the highy.
00:04:12With the laser information and event-data recorder, investigators put together this animation of what they thought happened.
00:04:21It was clear -- someone tried to force megan off the highway by sideswiping her car.
00:04:28Then megan's attacker moved to the passenger side and fired into her backseat.
00:04:34As megan drove off the exit ramp, her attacker must have sped in front of her, blocked her path, and started shooting.
00:04:43There were four shots.
00:04:45She floored the accelerator.
00:04:47A fifth shot went through the side door and hit megan.
00:04:51The blood evidence shows megan tried to reach for her cellphone, possibly to call police.
00:04:56Her car hit the median.
00:05:01Assailant apparently dragged her into another vehicle and drove away.
00:05:06>> You have to assume that the person that carried out this crime was very bold, very much a risk-taker.
00:05:14>> There were questions about who would do such a thing like this on a public roadway, and 118 is a very public roadway.
00:05:26>> Narrator: The blood inside the car meant megan was wounded, but was probably still alive when she was abducted.
00:05:34>> At that point, I realized that my daughter was in horrible trouble, that this was not a good situation.
00:05:42And this was a real big, bad thing that was happening.
00:05:47>> Narrator: The sheriff's department, along with other law-enforcement agencies, offered a reward for information leading to an arrest.
00:05:56But three long weeks passed with no leads on megan's abduction.
00:06:01Then a simi valley resident called police with some information.
00:06:07He said he found a homemade videotape in his roommate's trash showing sexual acts so horrifying, he knew it needed to be reported to police.
00:06:20>> Lo and behold, here's this guy raping these women.
00:06:25>> Narrator: The man said he had no doubt the rapist on the tape was his roommate, 30-year-old vincent sanchez, an electrician who worked in the local film industry.
00:06:38The tape showed sanchez raping numerous women on-camera.
00:06:43>> It was quite horrifying to actually see a woman being raped and sexually assaulted.
00:06:50>> Narrator: When investigators asked sanchez's roommate whether anyone in the house owned an assault rifle, he said he did.
00:06:58>> I'm sitting on the bed, and he tells me, "well, yeah, the gun's right here.
00:07:02" and as soon as I looked at it, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.
00:07:07>> Narrator: It was an ak-47.
00:07:11Detectives also found something near the trash outside the house.
00:07:17>> I excused myself from the interview to take a phone call, and I walked outside the residence, and over by some trash cans, I saw a garment of clothing on the ground and walked up to it.
00:07:30And I saw that it was a green jacket.
00:07:33>> It was a green gap jacket with an orange lining.
00:07:36It was fairly distinctive.
00:07:38And he saw what he believed to be a bullet hole in the side.
00:07:41>> Narrator: It was the same-color jacket megan barroso wore on the night she was abducted.
00:07:49Was it possible megan was still alive?
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00:10:42>> Narrator: Just days after investigators found megan barroso's green jacket in the trash outside a simi valley home, a search team with a cadaver dog discovered some skeletal remains in a ravine 10 miles from the abduction site.
00:11:00Dentalds confirmed it was megan barroso.
00:11:05>> I was devastated, oh!
00:11:10" you know, this is -- this is -- this is -- it was absolutely terrible.
00:11:16You know, it was like, "the lights are out now.
00:11:19" >> Narrator: The medical examiner recovered bullet fragments and determined that megan died from a single gunshot wound to her abdomen.
00:11:31>> But there was not forensic evidence to conclusively say that she had been sexually assaulted.
00:11:39>> Narrator: It looked as if megan was still alive when she was left in the ravine.
00:11:45>> She was in a fetal position with one arm bent under her head, like in a sleeping position.
00:11:52That wouldn't be a position that a body would land in.
00:11:55>> Narrator: Then the medical examiner noticed something unusual -- red glitter.
00:12:01>> What they call "pixie dust" in megan's hair and on her clothing.
00:12:06And it was red glitter, in essence.
00:12:08>> Narrator: Megan's green jacket was found outside the home of vincent sanchez, a part-time electrician who came to police attention when his roommate found a homemade videotape of sanchez sexually assaulting several women.
00:12:25When police studied the videotape in detail, they discovered the women were the victims of the simi valley rapist.
00:12:3415 Unsolved rapes police had been trying to solve for the past 5 years.
00:12:41>> The perpetrator would break in to the home of the victims, primarily in the evening.
00:12:48Some of the victims were young teenage girls, 15, 16 years old, with parents sleeping in another room within the household.
00:12:59>> Narrator: When questioned by police, sanchez admitted he was the simi valley rapist, but denied having anything to do with megan barroso's murder.
00:13:09>> Very hesitant to answer, didn't want to talk anymore.
00:13:14Said he didn't know her, didn't know what I was talking about, had nothing to do with that.
00:13:19>> Narrator: Investigators searched sanchez's pickup truck for possible clues.
00:13:24It was clear the truck had been thoroughly washed and cleaned.
00:13:28But tape lifts of the upholstery found something very difficult to get rid of -- tiny specks of red glitter.
00:13:39Investigators also found red glitter in the green jacket found outside sanchez's home.
00:13:45They even found one microscopic speck on the ak-47 rifle sanchez's roommate turned over to police.
00:13:54To find out if all this glitter was from the same source, investigators sent it to edwin jones, a forensic scientist with one of the largest collections of glitter in the world, with close to 1,000 specimens.
00:14:13>> I have an unusual hobby of collecting micro things, and I've been collecting glitter for many years before this case, and I've beellecting glitter since this case.
00:14:21>> Narrator: Under a microscope, jones discovered that this red glitter was a hexagon shape approximately 250 microns.
00:14:33Jones was unlike any of the red-mples he'd ever seen.
00:14:41>> I found out that the glitter had one layer of aluminum for reflection.
00:14:47that it's not the same on both sides.
00:14:51>> I one side and silver on the other.
00:14:54It was a very unique type of company had made.
00:14:59>> Narrator: Jones discovered that this glitter was not a best-selling item.
00:15:03Only 10,000 bottles had ever been made.
00:15:10party megan attended, the host threw red glitter on everyone, including megan.
00:15:17ou still have " " so we then went and recovered the remaining portion of the glitter.
00:15:26>> Narrator: Scientists confirmed the glitter in megan barroso's hair came from megan's friend, and it was the same glitter found in sanchez's truck, on the ak-47 rifle, on megan's jacket found in sanchez's trash, and in megan's own car.
00:15:47It was the only piece of evidence that tied sanchez to everything.
00:15:54Investigators also searched sanchez's truck for blood.
00:15:59>> When the tech put the luminol on the inside of the vehicle, it lit up like a christmas tree.
00:16:04>> Narrator: Dna testing revealed blood on the passenger seat was megan's.
00:16:10>> There was a horizontal apparent bloodstain right in the area where megan's wound was to her side, indicating that she had been sitting upright in the passenger seat of that truck at one point, so she wasn't dead.
00:16:26She was sitting.
00:16:27>> Narrator: Forensic tests on the scrape mark on the side of megan's car matched the paint from sanchez's truck.
00:16:35Investigators test-fired the ak-47 and compared the bullets to fragments found with megan's body.
00:16:43>> We tied that rifle to the crimscene and to the body, both, with the fragments that were taken from the car, from the crime scene.
00:16:52Certainly that helped to tie the sanchez, and sanchez then to the crime scene.
00:17:01>> Narrator: Then police disanchez's real target that night wasn't megan barroso at all, but someone else.
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00:20:30>> Narrator: Investigators learned that on the fourth of july, vincent sanchez had an argument with a former girlfriend, and he was angry because she hadn't invited him to her family picnic.
00:20:44>> We theorize he took that ak-47, he got in his truck, and he was probably out looking for his girlfriend.
00:20:53>> Narrator: Whether he planned to use the weapon on his girlfriend or her family is unclear.
00:21:00But along the way, investigators believe sanchez saw megan at an intersection, changed his mind, and decided to follow her instead.
00:21:14The evidence shows sanchez tried to get megan to pull over.
00:21:21He then fired into megan's backseat.
00:21:24[ Gunshot ] again, megan refused to stop.
00:21:37Sanchez pulled ahead of her, cut off her path, and started shooting.
00:21:49Megan tried to get away.
00:21:51She was hit by the shot through the car door.
00:21:54Megan may have reached for her phone to call for help, lost control, and hit the median barrier.
00:22:08Sanchez then abducted megan and drove off.
00:22:17The whole time, she shed the distinctive red glitter into his truck, onto his rifle, and on her jacket.
00:22:26Medical experts believe megan was alive when sanchez left her in the canyon ravine.
00:22:33He left her there without her pants and probably took her jacket as a trophy.
00:22:39>> I couldn't get away from the idea that this had happened to my little girl -- that beautiful little girl who always had a smile for me, who always gave dad a big hug.
00:22:51I miss her hugs.
00:22:52To this day, I miss her hugs.
00:22:55>> Narrator: In october of 2001, sanchez pled guilty to being the simi valley rapist and was sentenced to life in prison.
00:23:05He also pled guilty to megan's murder.
00:23:10Sanchez claimed he didn't sexually assault megan.
00:23:14>> The defense in this case, their main objective was to save e.
00:23:21>> Narrator: But given sanchez's ..
00:23:29And sentenced him to death.
00:23:32>> He has no conscience.
00:23:34I hate to say he's an animal because it's just -- it's too nice of a description for him.
00:23:40>> It was just so amazing, all effort that went into each little piece of the puzzle of the forensic science of it all.
00:23:51>> Narrator: No one dots that sanchez would have claimed more victims.
00:23:57But a strange combination of evidence, ranging from laser ballistics to analysis of a car's on-board computer to something as seemingly insignificant as glitter, proved his guilt.
00:24:13>> It was just amazing what the criminalists were able to do and the experts were able to say to put together a very vivid picture for the jury as to what happened out there.
00:24:26>> I would say the most compelling science was the blood -- the blood found in vincent's vehicle, and also the pixie glitter.
00:24:36That was amazing that they could put those pieces of pixie glitter together and show that it had been located at all those different areas, and it was consistent amongst each other.
00:24:48>> Narrator: Up next, three college students are murdered.
00:24:52It looks as if one person had killed them all.
00:24:56>> He picked on young women, picked on pretty women.
00:24:59Police immediately have a suspect.
00:25:01>> In law-enforcement terms, it's almost like winning the lottery.
00:25:04>> Narrator: But not everyone was convinced he was the one.
00:25:07>> If he's going to brag about three, why not four?
00:25:09>> He mentioned all the other cases, but never mentioned susan schumake.
00:25:13>> Narrator: For 20 years, questions remained, until decades-old evidence reveals the terrible truth.
00:25:21>> It's a horrifying thing to think that there's more than one monster in your community at one time.
00:25:36>> Narrator: It was a week before the fall semester began in 1981.
00:25:41Susan shumake moved back to the campus of southern illinois university at carbondale.
00:25:47She was anxious to start her senior year.
00:25:51>> She had just gotten a job at the radio station, and she was going to be doing some of the broadcast work.
00:25:59>> Sue schumake, section 3, description, narration, and dialogue.
00:26:05>> Narrator: On august 17th, susan left the radio station just before 6:00 p.m.
00:26:11She planned to meet her girlfriend for dinner.
00:26:14But she never arrived.
00:26:17>> The friend who she was supposed to have supper with calledate, mary.
00:26:23Mary did not know where she was at.
00:26:25Later into the night, approaching midnight, they started calling all their friends.
00:26:29They went to places where they thought she might have gone.
00:26:33>> Narrator: Then next day, with still no word from susan, the police were notified.
00:26:40That night, officers noticed some trampled vegetation near a dirt footpath students use to walk from one side of the campus to the other.
00:26:51>> As he walked into the weeds a little deeper with a flashlight -- and the weeds were quite high.
00:26:57It was very difficult to see.
00:26:59Then all at once, he saw susan's body.
00:27:01>> This was something th really undid us.
00:27:04This was -- it was obviously a horrible thing.
00:27:07And I immediately started crying.
00:27:10It was a very terrible moment for me.
00:27:13>> Narrator: It appeared that susan had been beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted.
00:27:20Police assumed the crime occurred just after susan left 00 , which meant she was abducted and attacked in broad daylight.
00:27:33>> This was in the middle of the day that this happened, and i think that really -- that was one of the more scary things to people, is that it was so random.
00:27:41>> Narrator: Police asked anyone who might have seen anng suspicious to come forward.
00:27:45They also interviewed all of susan's friends, including her past romantic relationships.
00:27:52>> There had been a few people who had attempted to date her that she had denied, so they, of course, became part of a growing suspect pool.
00:28:01>> Narrator: Police also had to consider whether the perpetrator was a stranger.
00:28:08>> Because of the location of the murder and its accessibility to a number of dormitories, they were looking at dormitory lists and who lived in the area.
00:28:17>> She was such a blameless victim.
00:28:19The thing that we're all afraid of is some monster coming out of nowhere and snagging someone we love or snagging ourselves, and that's what happened to susan.
00:28:28>> Narrator: Then police learned of a remarkable coincidence.
00:28:33On the day susan was murdered, a subcontractor working on the new campus gymnasium had employed a man who'd been a suspect in two murders.
00:28:44Both victims were students at the university.
00:28:47>> He was within 300 or 400 yards.
00:28:50You got to remember, he's working on campus, where there are 8,000 or 9,000 pretty girls walking around every day.
00:28:55>> The investigators on that day figured that if a woman was raped and murdered, he's the one that did it.
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