Forensic Files - Smiley Face (The Brenda Robinson Case)   View more episodes

Aired at 09:00 PM on Friday, Aug 06, 2010 (8/6/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00T tohappen ad to assist police in any way that he could to see that that attacker was apprehended.
00:00:09>> Narrator: The 38-YEAR-OLD doug DeSilva.
00:00:14In his truck, taped to his windshield, he had a newspaper article about the case with a copy of the attacker's composite sketch.
00:00:23>> When he was asked about that -- why he had that -- he said that so that he could drive down the road and look for the suspect and keep his eye on the composite at the same time to try to find someone that looked just like that.
00:00:36>> Narrator: But someonedid look just like that -- doug DeSilva.
00:00:42>> He very distinctly resembled the composite drawing of the suspect in that attack.
00:00:48>> Narrator: Desilva lived a both lived in the same mobile-home park as kaye robinson.
00:00:58A year earlier, he was a suspect in the murder of a 16-year-old girl at a nearby high school.
00:01:05>> He was also a person of interest in a murder that had occurred six months prior to the attack on brenda kaye robinson.
00:01:14>> Narrator: Police brought DeSILVA IN FOR QUESTIONING.
00:01:18In the middle of the interrogation, he did something very odd.
00:01:22He asked for a job application because, he said, he wanted to >> we thought maybe that he might even be taunting us at that point.
00:01:32We were very suspicious of that.
00:01:36>> Narrator: Police put together A PHOTO LINEUP, anDeSilva as the man who attacked her.
00:01:44>> She immediately picked him her house.
00:01:48There was no doubt in her mind.
00:01:50>> I know that this is the man that did it.
00:01:53It was more like an internal so with the physical appearance and that, I was very confident that that was the person that attacked me.
00:02:01>> Narrator: And kaye's son ALSO identified DeSilva.
00:02:06>> The man actually came into his room, and he was able to see him, but he pretended to be asleep.
00:02:12So he was able to also get a good enough look at the person that he was able to also identify him in a photo lineup.
00:02:19>> Narrator: When desilva completed his job application to become a policeman, he turned it in.
00:02:26That's when investigat noticed the most bizarre thing they'd ever encountered.
00:02:33>> There was a smiley face on the bottom of the document, and that had t same chilling effect on the investigators because they knew that on kaye robinson's back that the attacker had drawn a smiley face in blood.
00:02:48>> Narrator: Since this detail dn't been released to the press, investigators were certain they had their man.
00:02:56>> doug DeSilva never did deny that he was involved in the kaye robinson case.
00:03:01He'd made several statements that he was sorry for what happened to her, wanted to apologize for what happened.
00:03:08>> Narrator: But investigators and kaye robinson were in for a big surprise.
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00:06:33>> Narrator: Just two weeks after kaye robinson's vicious attack, she identified doug DeSilva as her assailant.
00:06:40>> From the photo lineup, I was very certain.
00:06:44I wanted to hear him say something to be sure that that was him.
00:06:48When I heard him speak, i thought that that was the person that was in my home.
00:06:53>> Narrator: Desilva had no alibi for the night of the crime.
00:06:56>> I've never been so sure in my life as a detective that doug DeSilva was the right person.
00:07:03>> Narrator: Desilva was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of kaye robinson.
00:07:08>> He said to "tell her I'm sorry.
00:07:10I didn't mean to do it.
00:07:12I remember going there, but i " to me, that's a confession.
00:07:18>> Narrator: But then came the bad news.
00:07:21DeSILVA'S FINGERPRINTS DID NOT Match the prints taken from the blue plastic glass in kaye's home.
00:07:28>> The fact that we didn't get any fingerprints that matched doug DeSilva's from the scene never led us to believe that he wasn't the suspect, because a lot of times we don't find any fingerprints.
00:07:40>> Narrator: And perhaps the worst piece of news was that DeSILVA'S DNA PROFILE DID NOT Match the evidence collected from kaye robinson's rape kit.
00:07:51>> Dna evidence has conclusively RULED OUT douglas DeSilva as being involved in this crime.
00:07:56It was, I mean, almost like being struck in the head by a 2x4.
00:08:01>> We were extremely shocked.
00:08:03It was like someone had punched you in the stomach.
00:08:06>> This was devastating.
00:08:08The investigators, the prosecutors in the case, were just flabbergasted, did not know what to do.
00:08:16>> Narrator: In fact, they ran the dna test twice just to make sure.
00:08:21Again, the dna didn't match.
00:08:24>> And at that point, you can't go forward with the prosecution OF douglas DeSilva.
00:08:29>> Even though the dna report said that this wasn't the person that broke in to my home, I was still convinced that it was.
00:08:34I couldn't believe they were ossibly do this to somebody else.
00:08:41>> Narrator: So kaye decided to take matters into her own hands.
00:08:45>> I bought a gun, I found out he lived, I went to his house, I s outside of his home.
00:08:53I wanted to go to the door and knock on the door and just ask him if he remembered me, and, i mean, I just wanted to take care of it myself.
00:09:01>> Narrator: But kaye thought better of it.
00:09:04>> The primary reason was my son.
00:09:06I wanted to raise my son.
00:09:07I didn't want to be in jail.
00:09:09>> Narrator: But if desilva wasn't the perpetrator, a violent sexual sadist was walking the to understand why a man who was innocent of a crime allowed himself to get so close to the crime and allowed himself to become so suspect.
00:09:32>> You go back through your investigation, because then you start to doubt yourself a little bit.
00:09:37"Did I miss something?
00:09:38" >> Narrator: Years passed with no solid leads.
00:09:44>> The longer we worked, the colder the case got.
00:09:48>> Narrator: Then, nine years later, detective rob hudson got a call from detectives 30 miles away in neighboring maryland.
00:09:57>> They had a case that was very similar to the 1995 case with kaye robinson.
00:10:06>> Narrator: The maryland victim was a single mother living in a bile home.
00:10:15>> Said she saw a man in her bedroom, and she thought she was dreaming.
00:10:19She saw a knife and a rolling pin in his hand.
00:10:21And he told her he was not going to hurt her if she gave him what he wanted.
00:10:26>> Narrator: The man tied her up, sexually ass carried on a lengthy conversation.
00:10:33When she pleaded for her son's life, the man's demeanor changed.
00:10:38>> He begged her for forgiveness, and then he gave her some directions to not get up until a certain time and takeked the window up after he busted it and set it l trailer at the base of it.
00:11:03>> Narrator: 43-Year-old mark eskridge was tied to that crime through his fingerprints.
00:11:10>> The known standards of one that were recovered from the glass from the point of entry from the crime scene.
00:11:19>> The kaye robinson case is park with a son, early-morning hours, lots of conversation, a knife was used in both.
00:11:33Similar to the composite drawing of kaye robinson's attacker nine years earlier.
00:11:38>> He matched the height, the ad the facial configuration that she hadh the scruffy beard.
00:11:47>> Narrator: Unfortunately, ge's fingerprints did not match the prints on the drinking glass found in kaye robinson's wasn't her attacker.
00:12:01>> I did tell the detectivesnot the person.
00:12:06>> Narrator: Would this be yet another dead?
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00:15:27>> Narrator: Mark eskridge was the prime suspect in the rape and attempted murder of kaye robinafter he committed a similar crime in maryland.
00:15:38A background check revealed that eskridge, who was married and same mobile-home park as occurred.
00:15:49>> He lived, in fact, just a few streets away from kaye robinson.
00:15:54He may have had the opportunity resided in that house with her >> Narrator: Investigators were sure that eskridge was their man, but there was only one problem -- kaye robinson was unable to identify mark eskridge t was not the man that broke in to my home.
00:16:16>> Narrator: But it had been nine years since her attack.
00:16:20Memories change, and so did eskridge's appearance.
00:16:26Fortunately, investigators had the dna of kaye robinson's attacker.
00:16:32And when they compared eskridge's dna to the biological sample from kaye robinson's rape test kit, investigators finally got the answer they'd been waiting for.
00:16:43>> When I received the call that the dna atch, I couldn't believe it.
00:16:48I was overjoyed.
00:16:49I couldn't wait to call kaye robinson.
00:16:51>> I went through a lot of emotions.
00:16:53I thought, "oh, my god.
00:16:55I'M GLAD I DIDN'T kill DeSilva, because it would've been the "n, he could've been his twin.
00:17:02They were identical.
00:17:04>> Narrator: Investigators believe mark eskridge targeted kaye robinson since thelived in the same mobile-home park, and he probably knew she was a single mother living alone with her son.
00:17:18Prosecutors think that eskridge knocked on kaye's door, claiming wanted to make sure no men were in her home.
00:17:35Later that night, he broke in and attacked.
00:17:45[ Indistinct yling ] that heived nearby, because he had no intention of letting her live.
00:17:55He attacked her repeatedly with a knife, but kaye robinson's will to survive was too great.
00:18:02>> I still had a life to live, and I wanted my life back, and i was gonna take it back a piece at a time.
00:18:08>> Narrator: Eskridge left valuable dna evidence behind -- more reliable than any eyewitness.
00:18:16A decade after the crime, mark eskridge went on trial for the sexual assault and attempted murder of kaye robinson.
00:18:25He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
00:18:32>> Hewasa sick individual.
00:18:33I don't believe that you can stab somebody that many times, taunt them, and then spend that much time with them, and not have something really, really wrong with you.
00:18:44>> Would he be considered a serial rapist, or is he a serial sex predator?
00:18:48I mean, he's a serial something.
00:18:51>> Narrator: Authorities cite the case as a reason to be skeptical of eyewi identifications, especially when the witness is undreme duress.
00:19:01>> You have an eyewitness identification, which is as certain as certain can be, but ce and dna evidence telling you otherwise.
00:19:12>> Narrator: Doug desilva' bizarre behavior and his equally bizarre resemblance to the actual attacker almost landed him in jail.
00:19:21doug DeSilva's whereabouts are ..even to his ex-wife.
00:19:27>> It's still very, very strange and very puzzling as to WHY doug DeSilva had ever gotten involved in the case, why he introduced himself into the case.
00:19:38>> You always know somebody's gonna get caught or you're gonna catch him.
00:19:42It's just, you don't know when sometimes.
00:19:45>> So I just state, you know, hats off to dna.
00:19:48It's a great tool.
00:19:50And I tell you, in this case, to be able to free one man and convict another, I say that says a lot for justice.
00:20:02>> Narrator:..
00:20:04A young aspiring singer disappears.
00:20:07>> A telltale sign of someone who is running away from something.
00:20:11She had a history of running away.
00:20:13She's always come back.
00:20:14>> Narrator: Surveillance cameras tell at least part of the story.
00:20:18>> When I saw the video, i started feeling very confident that we were focusing on the right guy.
00:20:24>> Narrator: All they had to do now was to find him.
00:20:35>> ♪♪ I wanna love someone that will stand by my side ♪♪
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00:20:42>> Narrator: 16-Year-old joshan ashbrook had dreams of stardom.
00:20:47>> Her sister and joshan used to write songs all the time, different little lyrics and things, and they wrote one song " and joshan sang this song, and they really wanted to get it recorded and to do something nice with it, and she just didn't get the chance to finish that.
00:21:16>> Narrator: And if a singing career didn't work out, she had a baup plan.
00:21:21>> Joshan wanted to be an entertainment lawyer.
00:21:23She could make deals and make everybody happy.
00:21:25>> Narrator: Like many teenagers, joshan had her share of conflicts with her parents, but they were usually resolved.
00:21:31>> Joshan did have a history of running away.
00:21:34Normally, she would run away, spend the night somewhere else, and comee the following day or maybe two days later.
00:21:41>> Narrator: But after an argument with her parents about smoking marijuana, she left -- this time for good.
00:21:47>> Joshan's parents were very concerned about her.
00:21:50They were aware that she had substance-abuse problems.
00:21:53>> Narrator: Her parents notified the police, called all her friends, and went to all of her known hangouts.
00:21:59>> Towards the end of the evening, it was more frustrating because it was like we had no other leads.
00:22:05We had nowhere else to go.
00:22:06We couldn't think of any other places or any other people to talk to.
00:22:11>> Narrator: The next morning, electricians working for the power company spotted a woman's body off the side of the road outside of tampa, florida.
00:22:21The body was identified as joshan ashbrook.
00:22:26>> You could see that her throat was cut, blunt trauma to her face, her head.
00:22:31There was cuts, defensive wounds on her hands.
00:22:34>> Narrator: Joshan's pants weren't found at the scene.
00:22:37>> Looking at her body being nude from the waist down, you cannot help but think that maybe she was sexually assaulted.
00:22:45 I don't know how to describe that feeling.
00:22:47I'm never gonna see my daughter get married or have babies.
00:22:53I'm never gonna hold her first ..
00:22:58And I'm never gonna see her make her dr >> Narrator: Investigators found a single hair in a defensive might be the hair from her attacker, like if she went to grab him and when she was fighting him and she grabbed him and it just got embedded in there.
00:23:19>> Narrator: The hair had the root intact.
00:23:23About 30 feet from the body were vious that whoever was driving that vehicle backed into the area and then dragged her body into the woods.
00:23:37>> Narrator: The tire tracks were in the sand, a surface making plaster casts.
00:23:43>> These were so clear, I could say that there was not any rain had occurred or any damage in nment at that ti, because they were such nice, clear, quality impressions.
00:23:56>> Narrator: No one knew of anyone who wanted to harm these clues were a very goodis an opon clean n.
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00:27:17>> Narrator: As police search for joshan ashbrook's killer, the medical examiner learned throat was not the cause of death.
00:27:28>> The medical examiner explained that the suspect may have put her in some type of wrestling move, like a half nelson, and turned or put treme pressure on her, which dislocated -- which broke her found no evidence of sexual assault.
00:27:46In aearch for suspects, joshan's family suggested police interview anson, a 60-year-old family friend who lived nearby.
00:27:56>> John was an older gentleman.
00:27:58He hung out at the house all the n, he seemed, after a while, to get nted to be their friend more so than the friends of an adult.
00:28:09>> Narrator: Within 24 hours of finding joshan's body, investigators went to hanson's trailer to question him, but he was gone.
00:28:19>> We've talked to the park manager and some of the neighbors, and they said they hadn't seen him in a day or two.
00:28:24>> Narrator: There was no sign of violence in his trailer.