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Aired at 10:30 PM on Saturday, Jun 26, 2010 (6/26/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


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00:01:17>> Narrator: It was like most other days in beverly tillery's life -- having her morning cup of coffee and scanning the newspaper before going to work.
00:01:27But the forensic drawing of the unidentified woman found in yellow house canyon immediately caught herye.
00:01:35>> If you'll look at the pictures of my children, you'll see that they all have practically the same jawline and the same cheek structure.
00:01:43It's kind of a square-type thing.
00:01:46>> Narrator: Beverly was convinced it was her 17-year-old daughter, belynda, who had been missing for more than a year.
00:01:54>> She showed me the paper, and she asked me if I thought that looked like belynda, you know, and the more I sat there and looked at it, I said, "yeah, it's got a lot of her " >> Narrator: Dental records confirmed what the family suspected.
00:02:09The skull was belynda's.
00:02:14At the time of her disappearance, belynda worked as a dancer at a local nightclub owned by a gang called the bandidos.
00:02:23>> They're an outlaw motorcycle gang.
00:02:25They're into everything.
00:02:27The people that frequent their clubs are generally the same type of people, so the fact that belynda tillery was working there would not be a good thing.
00:02:40>> After I heard belynda's name, I drove down to the bar where she worked to see if anyone would talk to me about who she was so I'd have more than just a name to go on 6 inches of newsprint.
00:02:50>> Narrator: But no one at the club was willing to talk.
00:02:53>> Man selling tickets -- he certainly didn't know anyone named belynda.
00:02:57If this wasn't bleak enough, a woman came from the back, also a staff member at the establishment, and began to say the same thing he had said, just in a much more emphatic way.
00:03:10>> Narrator: According to belynda's family, belynda danced at the club on the night she disappeared.
00:03:15Her brother had given her a ride >> the last time I spoke to my sister, she wasn't feeling well.
00:03:21I just assumed she went to sleep, so I just went upstairs, and I'd had a couple of drinks myself earlier in the evening, so I was feeling kind of good, too, so I went upstairs to lay down.
00:03:35>> Narrator: But the next morning, belynda was gone and hadn't left a note.
00:03:41Belynda's family told police why she hadn't been feeling well lately.
00:03:46>> She kept getting sick, and we took her to the doctor and found out that she was pregnant, and in the very beginning, you know, like, the first week or so, she was kind of stunned about it, but, like I say, that's what caused her to change and want to settle down and be the daughter her mother wanted to raise, you know?
00:04:05>> Narrator: Belynda had plans to return to school, get her diploma, find a better-paying job so she could raise her child properly.
00:04:15Belynda's family believed the baby's father was her ex-boyfriend, troy armstrong.
00:04:22>> Drank too much.
00:04:23He was much older.
00:04:25He was 10 years older than her.
00:04:27I wasn't really enthused with him.
00:04:30>> He was older than me.
00:04:32I'm like, "this can't be right.
00:04:33And, of course, I didn't want to openly criticize belynda -- " >> he had a long history of just small, petty crimes -- very transient, lived in his cars, lived with friends, had a narcotic habit.
00:04:52>> Narrator: When police tried to interview armstrong, they discovered he had left town months earlier.
00:04:57>> He was reported to be living in roswell, new mexico.
00:05:02I drove to roswell, spent two days looking for him, and was not able to find him.
00:05:09>> Narrator: But they were able to track down his current girlfriend, angela allen.
00:05:15>> She said she loved him.
00:05:17As they stayed together awhile, he became more and more abusive, and eventually he beat her up a couple of times, best I recall.
00:05:26>> Narrator: Angela said she knew all about belynda.
00:05:29>> I'd heard a couple of messages on an answering machine.
00:05:33One of them was that she was pregnant and she needed to talk to him about it.
00:05:39>> Narrator: Angela told police that she and armstrong ran into belynda in a local bar shortly before she disappeared and there was a confrontation.
00:05:50>> She wanted to see him to clarify the fact that she was no matter who it belonged to.
00:06:05>> Narrator: Angel investigators she ended her relationship with armstrong when egnant.
00:06:12>> I told him that he needed to go talk to her.
00:06:15If she wanted an abortion, he needed to pay for it.
00:06:18If she wanted to have the baby, he needed to support her in that, you know -- no matter what her decision was, that he needed to be a part of it and help her take care of the problem he was to do with him.
00:06:30He needed to get the hell out of my life.
00:06:33Angela gave police several items armstrong had left with her before he left the police asked forensic experts whether this was the murder weapon.
00:06:46" >> in my experience, people who attempt to match a pcular knife to an injury venture a little too far from of sanity.
00:07:00>> Over time, the bones tend to warp, and the wounds change a little bit.
00:07:07>> Narrator: Nevertheless, investigators needed to find troy armstrong to ask what he knew about belynda's disappearance.
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00:11:00Suspect, but investigators had no idea where he was.
00:11:04Angela allen had dated armstrong after belynda did and was initially reluctant to help police.
00:11:11>> I had to talk to angela two or three times, and every time I'd talk to her, i little more information.
00:11:18>> I knew the second that i started helping the police I was putting myself in danger.
00:11:28when armstrong learned about belynda'sinvited belynda to go camng with him in yellow house canyon so the two could discuss the pr angela said armstrong acted suspiciously when he returned from yellow house canyon.
00:11:46>> He showed up on my doorstep on his return trip, and he had blood on his hands, and there was a cut on his hand.
00:11:52>> Narrator: Armstrong said he accidentally cut his hand during the camping trip.
00:11:57>> There was no reason for me not to believe it, you know?
00:12:01>> He was telling somebody else without using the exact words that he kill you have the location where the body was found, you have a that he had blood on his hands, which obviously means that she wasn't shot.
00:12:15It means it had to be a close physical attack as with a knife.
00:12:19>> He was pretty cocky about the whole thing -- pretty much did not make it any big secret that he had killed her.
00:12:28>> Narrator: When angela learned that belynda's body was discovered in yellow house canyon, she knew the truth.
00:12:35>> I think it was one of the first things that came out of my mouth was, "he really did kill " that was whenever it all hit -- that everything was real, and he really could have done something, you know, to me, my family, anybody.
00:12:56>> Narrator: As the circumstantial evidence mounted, police issued a warrant for armstrong's arrest, but they didn't know where he was.
00:13:05Angela allen told police that troy's best friend worked in california for a trucking company and suggested they look for him there.
00:13:13>> I wanted to maksure he was caught.
00:13:16I was very much up on that.
00:13:17>> Narrator: Police asked trucking-company officials for the location of troy's friend.
00:13:23Fortunately, they knew exactly where he was because every one of their trucks was equipped with a global positioning system, or gps.
00:13:33>> When detective watson heard that the truck had a gps in it, back then, you know, he was like me -- "g.p. what?
00:13:40" >> Narrator: 24 Satellites orbit the earth, tracking vehicles, boats, and even airplanes that are equipped with a gps receiver.
00:13:51>> It's just like leaving a trail of bread crumbs behind so that when you look at it on a map, you see a trail of dots representing the path of travel of that vehicle.
00:14:00>> Narrator: The gps satellite tracked the moving truck driven by armstrong's friend as it made its way through nebraska.
00:14:07>> They were giving me the information in real time.
00:14:11Kept him on the phone.
00:14:12I notified the nebraska highway patrol what I was doing -- asked them if they could attempt to locate this truck as it was approaching york, nebraska.
00:14:25>> Narrator: Within a few hours, nebraska police set up a roadblock and stopped the truck.
00:14:30They asked the driver if he knew of armstrong's whereabouts.
00:14:35Much to their surprise, they found armstrong hiding in the truck's sleeper compartment.
00:14:41>> I had no concrete evidence.
00:14:43I just knew that he was an acquaintance of this driver and that he had been riding with him at some point.
00:14:52>> Narrator: Troy armstrong was arrested and charged with belynda's murder.
00:14:56>> He's got these beady little eyes that makes you feel uneasy.
00:15:00Looks like a rat, smells like a rat -- pretty much gonna be rat, and he had "rat" written on him from the beginning.
00:15:08>> Narrator: Armstrong insisted he had nothing to do with belynda's murder, but among armstrong's possessions was the key to a storage locker.
00:15:20Inside that storage locker were items armstrong couldn't possibly explain why they were there.
00:18:17>> Narrator: When troy armstrong was arrested for belynda tillery's murder, he had a key to a rental in new mexico.
00:18:26Inside were belynda's personal belongings.
00:18:30>> They were the type ofe most likely would have been carrying the night that she was killed -- a driver's license and other things that she would have had in her possession after leavingthe nightclub.
00:18:44>> Narrator: Prosecutors believed troy armstrong had no interest in supporting lynda tillery's baby.
00:18:51They say he was angry that his rlfriend, angela allen, ended their relationship when she learned of belynda's pregnancy.
00:19:01Prosecutors uncovered evidence orrowed sleeping bags and camping equipment from a friend, then asked belynda to go camping with him so they could discuss her pregnancy.
00:19:17Later that night, troy picked up belynda at her home and went to yellow house canyon.
00:19:27Once there, prosecutors believe they argued and the situation turned violent.
00:19:33The forensic evidence suggests belynda was stabbed over a dozen times in her back and left for dead in yellow house canyon.
00:19:46Later, armstrong went to angela's apart he had cut his hand.
00:19:52>> Troy armstrong -- extremely violent individual -- somebody that had no regrets in stabbing a teenage girl that was pregnant 12 to 15 times with a large knife and leaving her in a field.
00:20:08>> Narrator: At the trial, angela allen revealed a devastating piece of information.
00:20:14>> He told me that he'd killed about it and about the blood on his hands -- all that stuff -- that he'd kill my kids and my dad, too.
00:20:27>> Narrator: After a 4-day trial, a jury deliberated for only two hours before finding troy armstrong guilty of >> my final argument was, "give him a life sen can find anything decent about " you know, in less than an hour, they came back with a life sentence, and I think that says a lot about troy armstrong.
00:20:50>> Narrator: Even angela thinks he got off too easy because armstrong killed two people that day.
00:20:57>> I believe that he should have gotten the death penalty because nobody considers that baby.
00:21:05>> Little man with a big ego.
00:21:07He's violent.
00:21:11..that's really him in a nutshell.
00:21:19He's a violent littl >> she wasn't famous.
00:21:23It wasn't a high-profile case, but it's a case that took a lot of people to put together, it something that you sometimes don't see in somebody that is forgotten about.
00:21:36>> Narrator: Belynda tillery's family still mourns the loss of their daughter, but because of forensic facial reconstruction and forensic anthropology, they know the truth.
00:21:50>> When karen taylor put the face on the skeleton, that's what broke the case.
00:21:55>> No doubt forensic art is art/science.
00:22:01a point where art kicks in and supplements science.
00:22:06That forensic art allowed the dead to speak, and I think that's a really good thing.
00:22:11--Captions by >> Narrator: A brutal ..
00:22:18>> You're telling us somebody took our daughter?
00:22:21What is this all about?
00:22:22>> Narrator: A desperate race ..
00:22:25>> You really start thinking that this is maybe more than just a kidnapping.
00:22:28It could be a murder, too.
00:22:30>> Narrator: A victim who is staking her life on a team of ..
00:22:34>> We know he's got guns, so i guess you could say went to war.
00:22:38>> Narrator: And her own will to ..
00:22:41>> We didn't have a scared 17-year-old.
00:22:43We had a 17-year-old survivor that was gonna do whatever she had to to stay alive.
00:22:48>> Narrator: The incredible story of a kidnapping in " friday, april 6, 2001, kearney, nebraska, it is approximately , and the local mall is bustling with shoppers.
00:23:29Enough of a crowd, in fact, to attract the attention of five witnesses to an alarming scene.
00:23:35>> We got ouof the car, and we heard screams.
00:23:39>> He was trying to get her to, basically, give up and fold in so that he could shove her into the door.
00:23:47I pulled my phone right away and called 911.
00:24:05He was coming down hard on her, hitting her on her back and her arms, beating her so that he could get her to fold.
00:24:18[ Siren wails ] >> Narrator: Police respond within minutes, but the man and girl are gone without a trace.
00:24:25Who are they?
00:24:26What had happened?
00:24:27Tony cordova of the kearney police department is the first investigator on the scene.
00:24:33>> We had a description of the subject -- a white male, approximately 6' tall, very muscular, wearing jeans.
00:24:39We don't know if it's a family-member abduction, a boyfriend-girlfriend, maybe even an argument over a parking space.
00:24:47>> Narrator: The police also have a description of the car -- a blue suburban -- that and the girl's purse, which contains her i.d. -- her name, anne sluti.
00:24:59Anne is only 17 years old.
00:25:01Police notify her parents that she has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
00:25:07>> You're telling us somebody took our daughter?
00:25:10What is this all about?
00:25:11What does this mean?
00:25:13That is just the perfect picture.
00:25:16>> She was a straight-a student.
00:25:18She was involved in track team, very active, a lot of friends, a lot of activities.
00:25:27Ever be in trouble.
00:25:31It's unreal.
00:25:32You just can't imagine that ever happening.
00:25:36You read about it, but never happening to your lovely child.
00:25:41>> We're a small town, and our first thought on this was that she was gonna show up.
00:25:48Give us another hour, 45 minutes.
00:25:51She'll call.
00:25:53She'll show up at home.
00:25:55She'll come back to get her car.
00:25:57>> Narrator: Investigators have their first suspicions.
00:26:01Whoever took anne must have known her.
00:26:04>> Basically, what we did in the anne -- her personal life, friends, family, her social life.
00:26:11We couldn't find anything.
00:26:12Anne was basically the all-american girl.
00:26:15We were very stumped from the get-go.
00:26:19APRIL 7th, Corporal greg urbanek takes charge of the investigation and raises the stakes.
00:26:26>> We started looking at known our jurisdiction locally, initially, who had been ntenced to jail, who was out of jail, who had prior arrests.
00:26:36We started looking at who might have something against the family.
00:26:40We were grabbing at straws at th point.
00:26:43We were starting to accept the fact that we have an abduction on our hands.
00:26:48>> Narrator: No clues, no dark secrets in anne's past to go on, no calls for ransom.
00:26:53With leads growing cold, and the longer with each passing hour, agent for erydyho w could possibly figure out might have a blue suburban, and we tried to match up those vehicles with individuals who they otels s ianyb registered last night from out from different witnesses, and this is the first lead that we were able to establish in this case as to who the identity of thetually be.
00:27:59We had thousands of flyers printed that day.
00:28:05>> I went out to pick up some groceries, and there on the grocery store door is one of those "missing children" posters.
00:28:12My daughter is on it.
00:28:13That sure made it horribly real.
00:28:15I meanto see that poster there, and say, "my daughter's missing," when we don't know where she is, who she's with, or what her condition is.
00:28:25We just -- just, just gone.
00:28:30Could be anywhere in the country.
00:28:33I just couldn't imagine such a horrible thing to happen to anyone happening, possibly, to us.
00:28:43>> Narrator: The alert is out across the 0 square miles of nebraska, finding anne will >> some of the counties, there a part-time deputy.
00:28:59>> Some don't even have a deputy, so we really don't know if this crime scene ends up to be 100 miles away in some ff's office.
00:29:08>> Narrator: on saturday, anne has been missing for less than 24 hours, but already time is running out.
00:29:17Approaching a bleak dead end.
00:29:19>> Can you run me a plate, please?
00:29:21>> Stranger abductions, most times, if the victim is going to be harmed, it's going to be in that first 24 hours.
00:29:26>> But when you start going into one day, and you haven't heard back from the victim, you really start thinking that this is maybe more than just a kidnapping.
00:29:32It could be a murder, too.
00:29:35>> People are getting very anxious.
00:29:38You'reearing the sunset because you know it happened a day ago when the sun was setting.
00:29:44>> Narrator: In the course of one day, investigators have gone from believing anne had a run-in with someone she knows to realizing this is a case of stranger abduction.
00:29:56Now they're confronting something worse -- that she may have been killed.