Forensic Files - Picture This   View more episodes

Aired at 04:00 AM on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 (5/4/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:01Not to u the telne, e morning.
00:00:05>> Yeah, you should've talked to him.
00:00:07>> Really? he's a senior?
00:00:08>> Well, you'll see him monday.
00:00:10>> Narrator:30, genna's conversation with her friend ended abruptly.
00:00:15>> Hello?
00:00:18>> One of the last people that she speaks with says that the phone goes dead.
00:00:22Genna doesn't call back.
00:00:23Her friend pages her a couple of times.
00:00:26Genna never calls back.
00:00:28>> Narrator: Police found genna's diary in her bedroom, which had an entry from the morning of her murder.
00:00:35>> "Dear journal, sorry i haven't written you, but I've been pretty busy.
00:00:39Things have been going pretty good at school, except for the fact that guys don't even know " >> Narrator: The diary expressed a specific interest in two boys.
00:00:51One was considerably older than genna, a boy she met at a local amusement park.
00:00:57>> He was a young man, about 18 or 19 years old, who was preying ..children that were not age-appropriate.
00:01:09>> He was older than us, not the best kind of person that you'd probably want to be with, but he -- there was something that she saw in him that attracted her to him.
00:01:24>> Narrator: Investigators needed to start checking alibis, and there was one that almost defied belief.
00:04:15>> Narrator: The mouser family had planned a traditional funeral service for their 14-year-old daughter genna until her friend sarah hollander told them about a conversation that the two once had about funerals.
00:04:29>> We got on the topic of funerals, and she did not want her funeral to be a sad thing.
00:04:34She doesn't like it when people are sad.
00:04:37She loves to make people happy.
00:04:39She loves to make people laugh, and so she definitely did not want her funeral to portray mething that she wasn't about.
00:04:48>> Narrator: So the mousers allowed sarah to help plan the funeral service, one that was closer to genna's wishes.
00:04:57Doug mouser took his stepdaughter's death particularly hard.
00:05:01He had raised genna since she was 2 years old and treated her like his own.
00:05:06>> She truly did have a great relationship with him and loved him, and he loved her.
00:05:12He was very active in her life.
00:05:14>> Narrator: In the search for genna's killer, investigators looked inside the mousers' home but found no clues.
00:05:23>> Everything was basically in its place, nothing knocked over or anything to indicate that genna was fighting and screaming as she went out the door.
00:05:31>> Narrator: This raised the possibility that genna left home voluntarily.
00:05:37>> What the sheriff's department did was try and identify any boy she might have know, or maybe if a boy she might have left the house with, even though she was grounded, maybe she'd get in a car with him and drive away.
00:05:48>> Narrator: Police were able to identify the two boys genna mentioned in her diary.
00:05:54Both had alibis for the day of the murder.
00:05:56So police turned their attention to the whereabouts of genna's family members.
00:06:03Genna's 18-year-old brother jerren had a solid alibi.
00:06:06>> The neighbors have him placed there for an hour, hour-and-a-half or so, and that's the time period where genna disappears.
00:06:14>> Narrator: Genna's mother, kathy, was teaching an aerobics class at the local gym, so her alibi checked out, too.
00:06:20Genna's stepfather, doug, said he went to work for a few hours.
00:06:25When police tried to verify his alibi, they discovered the security cameras at doug's office were turned off that day.
00:06:32>> When he went into the lab, he's got to go through a security gate where all the cars that are coming in are cleared.
00:06:38Initially, the person who was in the booth at the time said they didn't remember seeing him or his car come through.
00:06:45>> Doug mouser could give no description of the security guard, and for a man who'd worked at the lab for a number of years, you would think he would know the security guards, remember them, be able to give some description.
00:06:55He could not.
00:06:56>> Narrator: So doug provided a second alibi -- that he bought lunch at a local fast-food restaurant.
00:07:02Coincidentally, the restaurant's security cameras weren't working, either.
00:07:08>> If he didn't have bad luck, he would have no luck at all.
00:07:18You going into places that are supposed to have video cameras, and none of them record you.
00:07:25>> It was sort of because of snafus, if you will, you know -- we didn't have any tapes.
00:07:31We didn't have any solid stuff when police looked in doug's car, they found no blood or any evidence suggesting foul play.
00:07:42And there was no evidence the car had recently been cleaned.
00:07:47But underneath the car, investigators found something trapped in the undercarriage.
00:07:54>> There was a significant large pieces.
00:08:00And those were removed and analed later, but had this plant material been there for weeks, you certainly wouldn't expect to find such large pieces of it still attached to the undercarriage.
00:08:12>> Narrator: Could these dried weeds tell investigators anything about genna's murder?ne.
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00:11:28>> Narrator: Doug mouser told police he was the last person to leave the house on the morning his stepdaughter went missing.
00:11:36He claimed genna was cleaning her bedroom when he left.
00:11:40>> There was no physical evidence that linked him, you know, like hair samples or dna or anything like that.
00:11:47>> There was no physical evidence -- none.
00:11:50There was zippo, zero, nil, nada, nothing.
00:11:54>> Narrator: Yet, investigators found some suspicious plant material underneath doug's car, which they sent to forensic botanist dr. fred hrusa.
00:12:04He identified the usual specimens you'd expect to find underneath a car -- grass, dirt, and debris.
00:12:12But he also found large quantities of yellow star thistle, a weed.
00:12:19>> I saw the yellow star thistle, and then I saw the small scraps that had been taken off the body, and I was able to compare that to material that had been collected from the area around the body and also from the trees that were in the overstory above the canyon where the body was found.
00:12:34>> Narrator: hrusa was looking for what botanists call "diagnostic characteristics," unique aspects of the plant that differentiate it from ot of the same species.
00:12:46>> Every plant has a life cycle and a life sequence.
00:12:50Early in the season, they look different than they do late in the season, and prior to death, plant materials -- through a sequence of developmental events.
00:13:02>> Narrator: hrusa discovered the star thistle under doug mouser's car was identical in development to the star thistle found near genna's body.
00:13:13While this was significant, it wasn't enough to tie doug mouser to the murder.
00:13:19>> Yellow star thistle is not a rare plant.
00:13:22It is an extremely common plant, so in any given area -- especially of northern california and at low elevations -- yellow star thistle could be there.
00:13:32>> You can't show that the evidence that was found underneath his car came from the crime scene.
00:13:39It's too common in california, and that with the other flora under the car, it shows that he's been off-road.
00:13:46So he could've picked it up anywhere.
00:13:49>> Narrator: Investigators agreed, so they turned their attention to the linear marks found on genna's thigh.
00:13:57>> The marks were made by a man-made object.
00:14:00They were clearly of a shape and appearance that would not be normally found in nature.
00:14:06>> Narrator: While looking inside doug mouser's car, detective bosma thought he found what caused them.
00:14:12>> The hair on the back of your neck stands up, and you're going, "this could be one of the " >> Narrator: But he didn't tell anyone about his discovery.
00:14:23Instead, he sent photographs of genna's skin marks to gary robertson, a pioneer in the field of photogrammetry, to see what he thought might have caused them.
00:14:35Robertson wanted to identify the exact size of the marks down to the micromillimeter, so he scanned every autopsy photograph of the marks, which enabled him to create a three-dimensional model.
00:14:52>> We're extracting the measurement, say, from the left photograph, extracting it from the right photograph, and the computer software merges that into a three-dimensional measurement or a model that we can extract and view later.
00:15:07>> Narrator: Judging from the size and shape, robertson suspected that at least one of the marks was caused by the top part of a seat belt buckle.
00:15:17This was precisely what hans bosma thought, too, but he wanted robertson's independent analysis.
00:15:25>> Normally, I don't have any information, so I wasn't aware of anything about the vehicle.
00:15:31>> Narrator: Next, robertson flew to modesto, california, to conduct an experiment in doug mouser's car.
00:15:38He wanted to try to re-create the same skin pattern that was on genna's thigh.
00:15:41He placed a live model the same height and weight as genna in the backseat of the vehicle over the rear seat belt buckle.
00:15:43It was a hatchback, and one of the backseats was broken and was kept flat.
00:15:45The model remained in the same position for 15 minutes, the time it would've taken to drive from genna's house to the dump genna's leg.
00:16:19>> When he placed her in there, there's carpet on the back of that seat back because it lays flat, so you have a nice carpeted area.
00:16:28The carpet bead folds over as he pulls or pushes her over that particular area, and that carpet bead was what one of the indentations were on her leg.
00:16:42>> Narrator: Just to make sure, robertson put the model's pictures into his computer and compared them to the marks on genna's leg.
00:16:51It was a virtual match.
00:16:54>> The beading which would cause the imprint on the model and on the victim's leg matched precisely, down to microns.
00:17:03The width of the carpet and the orientation on that matched, as well.
00:17:10Also, the length matched.
00:17:12>> Narrator: Interestingly, the ripped carpet in the backseat of doug's car was unusual, something you wouldn't find in other cars.
00:17:22>> When he came back and said, "it's a match," boy, we were just ecstatic.
00:17:26We finally were gonna be able to nail this guy.
00:17:29Now we got him because now we can put genna in that car.
00:17:32>> All the pieces fit together only one way, and that's showing doug mouser guilty of killing genna.
00:17:39>> They didn't theorize [bleep] excuse me.
00:17:43They didn't theorize [bleep] I'll say that on the screen.
00:17:47I'd even say it in a courtroom.
00:17:49They have [bleep] any theory other than he threw the body -- he killed her and threw it over ..
00:17:55And that she was in his car because of the mark on her leg.
00:17:58That's all there was.
00:18:01>> Narrator: Based on the forensic botany and ..
00:18:06Doug mouser was arrested and charged with his stepdaughter's murder.
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00:21:00>> Narrator: Prosecutors wondered, what motivated doug mouser to kill his 14-year-old stepdaughter genna?
00:21:08>> How can you possibly imagine someone doing something so horrible?
00:21:13I can't imagine it, but it happens, unfortunately, all the time.
00:21:18>> Narrator: Prosecutors found evidence that genna didn't always do what her parents asked.
00:21:24>> She saw a counselor with some regularity.
00:21:26She had oppositional defiant ..very defiant, very aggressive, very confrontational with the family, with the parents.
00:21:37>> Narrator: The mousers' telephone records provided a possible clue.
00:21:42>> Hey, what are you doing?
00:21:43>> I just got back from the mall with annie.
00:21:45>> Narrator: On the morning of her death, genna was on the telephone, violating her parents' rules.
00:21:51>> His name's scott.
00:21:52>> Really? he's a senior?
00:21:56>> Narrator: Prosecutors belive doug caught genna on the phone, lost his temper, and struck her.
00:22:03>> Hello?
00:22:05>> Narrator: Prosecutors believe doug's impulsive act of violence threatened his career.
00:22:11>> He couldn't risk an allegation that he had hit her, struck her.
00:22:14He was working at lawrence livermore lab, and he had security clearance, so any kind of a criminal conviction on his record would've been very difficult for him and put his job in jeopardy.
00:22:24>> Narrator: With genna unconscious, and not sure what to do, prosecutors think doug panicked and strangled her to death.
00:22:33[ Telephone beeps ] he removed genna's clothing to eliminate possible trace evidence.
00:22:41When doug pushed genna's body into the backseat of his car, he displaced the carpet.
00:22:47The underside of the carpet and the seat belt buckle left signature marks on her skin that wouldn't disappear since there was no blood flow.
00:22:57Doug chose a dump site 15 minutes away, pulled his car off the road, which picked up the bits of star thistle the same stage of development that was found on genna's body.
00:23:19Prosecutors think doug simply got lucky when the security cameras at both his office and the fast-food restaurant weren't working.
00:23:28But doug made a crucial mistake during his interrogation.
00:23:33He said he used his computer ..
00:23:37But his employer found no evidence that doug logged in.
00:23:42>> They couldn't find any evidence whatsoever that he had done to his computers what he said he did.
00:23:49Basically, we caught him in a lie.
00:23:52>> Narrator: Doug mouser was tried and convicted of-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
00:24:01He continues to maintain his innocence.
00:24:07>> For me, this is the greatest failure of my life.
00:24:12The only way I live with the situation is that I did the best that I could.
00:24:20I did everything that I could think possible.
00:24:25>> Definitely a jekyll-and-hyde personality there.
00:24:28 calm and cool, and the next me's something totally different.
00:24:35>> I think she would be really happy to know that people love her so much to fight to find the real answers to what happened to her.
00:24:46And she would be happy to know that we haven't forgotten about her.
00:24:51>> Narrator: The case against mouser was largely circumstantial, but the photogrammetry helped convince the jury.
00:24:59>> Photogrammetry was the key element, and it was used to solve the case.
00:25:05And without photogrammetry, this case would have gone unsolved.
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