Forensic Files - Murder She Wrote   View more episodes

Aired at 04:00 AM on Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010 (6/15/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:02Statistically it's rare that a herself.
00:00:07>> As is our custom, we do perform autopsies on suicide victims.
00:00:13We are, under law, obligated to investigate such deaths.
00:00:17>> Narrator: In examining sandy duyst's head injuries, the forensic pathologist expected to find a single-bullet wound, but he found something else.
00:00:28>> At that point, he said, "oh, I think you should come see " >> Narrator: They found not one but two entrance wounds an inch and a half apart.
00:00:40>> It did show two separate wound tracks right through the middle of the brain, each one of them, indicating that the first one had to be incapacitating.
00:00:49>> And this ain't right.
00:00:51She's got two in her head now.
00:00:54 cohle's immediate statement " >> Narrator: Two entrance and two exit wounds meant that either the pistol double-fired or sandy pulled the trigger twice.
00:01:10>> I have had a number of cases in my own experience, and there have been a number reported in the literature, of more than one suicidal gunshot wound to the head.
00:01:19The common denominator in all those cases is that the first shot was not incapacitating.
00:01:25>> Narrator: Also suspicious, investigators found blood spatter on the 9-millimeter pistol but none on sandy's hands or arm.
00:01:34>> It really suggests that she is not in control of the weapon, but the weapon certainly was exposed to the spatter event.
00:01:43>> Narrator: Then investigators got a telephone call from sandy's sister.
00:01:48She told them about a conversation she had with sandy a year before her death.
00:01:55>> Sandra had indicated to her sister, "if anything ever happens to me, I've left a note for you in the china cabinet of the home.
00:02:01" >> Narrator: With a warrant, investigators searched the duysts' home.
00:02:08>> This china cabinet not only held china, but it also seemed to be like a repository, if you will, for family paperwork.
00:02:15And so I just began searching this china cabinet from top to bottom.
00:02:20On the very bottom shelf, way in the back, behind some dishes, there was a white envelope, and all it said on it was the name of sandra's sister.
00:02:28And I immediately retrieved it from where it was.
00:02:31It was sealed.
00:02:31I didn't open it up at that point.
00:02:33>> Narrator: The note was immediately sent to the crime lab, where it was opened by forensic analysts.
00:02:41It proved to be nothing less than a voice from the grave.
00:02:47>> To anyone interested in what happened to me, look first to david duyst.
00:02:51He could be my killer.
00:02:53>> Narrator: For the first time, sandy described what really happened in the horse stable 18 months earlier.
00:03:01>> ON NOVEMBER 19th, MY ACCIDENT Was no accident.
00:03:05David beat me with a hammer ax.
00:03:07He came up from behind while i was in dexter's stall.
00:03:10He hit me repeatedly.
00:03:12I figured he would come back to kill me.
00:03:14>> The only information that we had prior to this -- that duyst had always indicated that she was kicked by a horse.
00:03:22So now we have to begin kind of looking at this whole circumstance and trying to validate that.
00:03:28>> I would never commit suicide.
00:03:31He may have killed me.
00:03:32Respectfully, sandra a. duyst.
00:03:36>> Narrator: Investigators sent the note to a forensic document examiner who compared the handwriting to sandy's known handwriting samples.
00:03:45He found it to be consistent.
00:03:48Scientists found a fingerprint on the letter.
00:03:52It was sandy's.
00:03:55And dna testing confirmed that sandy licked the envelope to seal it.
00:04:00>> We were all stunned.
00:04:02It was kind of a jaw-dropper.
00:04:03You just don't see those kinds of things in a case.
00:04:06>> Narrator: Now that sandy claimed the incident was an attack, investigators reviewed hospital medical records and discovered that the attending physician doubted a horse had done that damage.
00:04:19>> They were semicircular in nature, and there were a number of them, and they'd put lacerations in her head which he had to staple shut.
00:04:27And he said, "it just didn't look like any horse-kick injury " >> Narrator: john hulsing was in the duysts' barn shortly after the incident.
00:04:36He, too, noticed inconsistencies.
00:04:39>> I went in that stall, and i couldn't find any blood on the wall where this reportedly happened.
00:04:45It was all outside of the stall in the walk-in area.
00:04:49>> Narrator: David duyst was confronted with the letter and denied that the incident was anything other than an accident, but he did make a confession.
00:05:00He admitted he was having an affair with his secretary, linda ryan, and that sandy had found out about it.
00:05:09David also gave police a voice mail sandy left on his office phone.
00:05:15He said it proved she was suicidal.
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00:09:04>> Narrator: Police now had evidence that sandy duyst's horse-barn incident was no accident.
00:09:11In a letter found among her private papers, sandy described the incident as a murder attempt perpetrated by her husband.
00:09:21>> My accident was no accident.
00:09:23Look first to david duyst.
00:09:25>> Narrator: Instead of leaving the marriage, sandy apparently tried to make it work.
00:09:30>> Sandy really truly loved david.
00:09:33She stayed with him because she did love him.
00:09:36And she wanted the whole family to stay together, and family was very important to her.
00:09:42And so I think that she just really loved him.
00:09:46>> I think family first.
00:09:48Stay with the family.
00:09:49Make it work.
00:09:51Do everything you can.
00:09:53>> Narrator: David duyst denied hitting sandy in the stable and insisted her shooting death was a suicide.
00:09:59He said the gun must have double-fired.
00:10:03To find out, investigators sent the weapon to gunmaker brad bachelder.
00:10:09>> It still had the original grease in the gun.
00:10:12The gun had basically been fired very little.
00:10:15There was almost no wear on the gun whatsoever.
00:10:19>> Narrator: The gun was designed for safety.
00:10:21It could not be fired without a complete pull of the trigger.
00:10:25Various safety mechanisms had to be in place for this to happen, all there to prevent an accidental discharge.
00:10:34>> So that gun can't accidently, through recoil or slam-firing or dropping or any malfunction that I've been exposed to thus far, involuntarily fire a second shot without full manipulation of the trigger.
00:10:51>> Narrator: And tests showed that this trigger was difficult to pull.
00:10:57On most pistols, it s between four and six pounds of pressure to pull the trigger.
00:11:03But this gun required almost 12 pounds of pressure.
00:11:09The conclusion -- the gun could not have double-fired.
00:11:14>> One of the beautiful things about mechanismsthey don't think.
00:11:18They'll either function or malfunction.
00:11:20It is very easy, with a right amount of background knowledge, to look at a mechanism and determine if in fact it could or did fail.
00:11:29With that knowledge, it makes it very hard for me to believe that story.
00:11:34>> Narrator: But it is possible for a suicide victim to shoot herself more than once.
00:11:39>> In 30 years, I've encountered two situations where a weapon >> Narrator: But in sandy's case, doctors say either shot would have caused massive brain injuries and would have killedher instantly.
00:12:01>> But what the wounds did that she received from th bullet was -- it went right through the center of her brain that controls your motor functions.
00:12:10The thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the basal ganglion were all destroyed in that first shot.
00:12:17So she was incapable of squeezing the trigger a second time.
00:12:21>> The fact that she had two contact gunshot wounds to the head, each of which would be instantly incapacitating and nearly instantly fatal, were sufficient for me to conclude that this was a homicide and not the suicide, as it appeared to be.
00:12:37>> Narrator: But if david duyst shot his wife two times at close range, why was there no blood spatter on his shirt?
00:12:45>> When the clothing was sent over, it was labeled as a suicide, not a homicide, investigation.
00:12:51They just basically held it up and looked at it with the naked >> Narrator: The clothing was examined again.
00:12:58This time criminalists used a high-powered microscopegh magnifition, there were stains invisible to the naked eye -- tiny, microscopic bloodstains.
00:13:19As back spatter.
00:13:20They're coming from the entry wound, and they are actually ejected back towards the shooter.
00:13:24>> Narrator: The blood penetrated into the fabric weave, the signature sign of high-velocity blood spatter.
00:13:34And there was high-velocity blood spatter on the back sleeve of david's shirt.
00:13:41>> Finding the spatter on the duyst's sleeve, i think, is rather telling because it suggests that his arm is not extended and up at the moment of ..
00:13:55Which is consistent with the position that one would have to be in if they're firing a weapon into mrs. duyst.
00:14:02>> Narrator: David duyst was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
00:14:08He continued to maintain his innocence.
00:14:10He said when he found sandy, shed how her blood got onto his shirt.
00:14:17It would be up to a jury to decide if david duyst was lying or telling the truth.
00:17:13>> Narrator: Prosecu didn't have to look very hard to learn the motive for sandy duyst's murder.
00:17:19The duysts were heavily in debt.
00:17:21>> All income that was coming into the duyst home was absolutely going out in expenditures.
00:17:28There was no money left over.
00:17:32agent, and he had written a $500,000 insurance would pay even in the event of suicide.
00:17:43And prosecutors also learned that david's lover, his secretary, was insisting hendy immediately.
00:17:53>> By having her out of the picture being dead, as opposed to just divorcing her, he adding further financial woe to his particular situation.
00:18:05So the motives were the oldest ones in the world -- money and women. both of them.
00:18:10>> Narrator: With $500,000 worth of life insurance on sandy, prosecutors think david duyst chose murder over divorce.
00:18:20They believe the first attempt on sandy's life took place in the horse stable.
00:18:27Sandy's letter said david hit her on the back on her head with an axhammer.
00:18:37But she survived those injuries and covered up the incident.
00:18:4218 Months later, with david and sandy sleeping separately, prosecutors believe david slipped into sandy's bedroom shortly before dawn and used the pistol he kept in the closet.
00:19:04The blood spatter on david's shirt and under his right sleeve proved he was the shooter.
00:19:12David left the gun on the bed, then called 911. the head.
00:19:20>> She must have had some inkling that he was gonna be doing something.
00:19:25And here's a guy who thought he was smart enough to get away ..
00:19:31If not for that second shot.
00:19:34>> Narrator: After he was arrested, david duyst continued to tell anyone who would listen that he was innocent.
00:19:41He claimed the gun double-fired and that his wife's letter was actually an attempt to frame him for her death.
00:19:49During his trial, david duyst took the stand to tell the jury his side of the story.
00:19:56>> Nothing was ever good.
00:19:59That kind of mind-set.
00:20:02That's what she thought.
00:20:03That's what she said.
00:20:04That's how she expressed herself.
00:20:07>> Narrator: But most trial observers said david's testimony hurt him more than it helped him.
00:20:13>> It was almost kind of lighthearted, jolly.
00:20:16I said this to someone right afterwards -- he testified like the insurance salesman that he was.
00:20:23>> Narrator: After a monthlong trial, the jury made its decision.
00:20:28>> All 12 jurors, being in agreement, find that the defendant, david duyst, is, as to count one, guilty of murder in the first degree.
00:20:37>> Narrator: David duyst was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
00:20:44>> I am the best expert witness in this entire case because i know what I did and I know what I did not do that morning.
00:20:54I am innocent, and I will maintain my innocence for the rest of my life.
00:20:59>> Oh, he's guilty.
00:21:00David duyst is guilty.
00:21:05I think he's a coward, and he's a coldhearted murderer.
00:21:11>> He can stick to his story all he wants, but there's nothing that supports it, certainly none of the evidence we found.
00:21:19>> He wanted it all.
00:21:19The kids -- he didn't want to lose the kids.
00:21:21He didn't want to lose the house.
00:21:23He didn't want to lose nothing.
00:21:24Those things he would have lost if he'd gotten divorced.
00:21:29And he knows that.
00:21:30>> Narrator: Prosecutors don't think david's girlfriend, linda ryan, had anything to do with the murder.
00:21:37But questions about the case remain.
00:21:41Why did david fire the second shot?
00:21:45>> Did he think that he needed to shoot her once, did so, but then she wasn't dead, and he figured he had to finish the job?
00:21:54That's possible.
00:21:55>> Did something that happened that night that had angered him so much that he wanted to walk into the bedroom and absolutely hold the gun to his wife's head and shoot her not once, but shoot her twice, and then say it was a suicide?
00:22:10It just doesn't add up.
00:22:11I don't know if I'll ever be able to answer that question.
00:22:14>> Forensics were the case.
00:22:15If we don't get dna off that envelope and fingerprints off the letter, we can't authenticate that she had written that.
00:22:22If we don't have the autopsy results that we have and the blood-spatter results that we have, we've got a whole different ball game here.
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