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

Aired at 01:00 AM on Saturday, Apr 10, 2010 (4/10/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:01Pretended to be asleep.
00:00:04When the man left the house, kaye's son rushed to their neighbor's house felp.
00:00:17[ Siren wailing ] >> Narrator: Police arrived to find kaye near death.
00:00:23>> Her neck was cut as bad as anyone's neck I've ever seen in my life.
00:00:27She was stabbed several times in her back.
00:00:30It was over 25 times.
00:00:32And her neck was cut, basically, from side to side.
00:00:37>> Narrator: As kaye was rushed to the hospital, paramedics noticed that her attacker had drawn a smiley face on her back in her own blood.
00:00:47>> The smiley face was one of those chilling details of a crime scene that seems to serve no purpose other than to, sort of, mock or demean the victim of that attack.
00:01:00>> You have to know that this person's very sick and very violent and possibly a serial killer.
00:01:08>> Narrator: Miraculously, despite being stabbed 28 times kaye survived.
00:01:14>> When I woke up, I didn't want to be there.
00:01:17I was furious that I was on life support.
00:01:20My throat was cut in 10 to 15 different places.
00:01:23I basically felt like he was trying to decapitate me.
00:01:27I felt like I was in a horror movie.
00:01:30>> They didn't sever her carotid artery or her jugular vein or spinal cord so that she would've been paralyzed or anything like that.
00:01:37She's extremely lucky.
00:01:39>> It's just unbelievable -- a miracle, in my book.
00:01:43And I think everybody felt that way.
00:01:45>> Narrator: Kaye not only survived, she said she'd be able to identify her attacker if she ever saw him.
00:01:54>> He didn't blindfold me.
00:01:55I was making myself remember every little detail that I could about him, right down to the length of his fingernails.
00:02:03>> Narrator: All police had to do was find him.
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00:04:51>> Narrator: Kaye robinson will never forget the look on the man's face who mercilessly stabbed her, over and over again.
00:05:00>> He was asking, "are you dead " and when I tried to reply, i mean, he continued stabbing me with even more force.
00:05:10I knew right away that I was gonna have to pretend to be dead.
00:05:14>> This was a very brutal crime.
00:05:17And the way it happened -- the random way it happened and the horrific way it happened -- led everybody to start feeling a little bit uneasy and a little bit unsafe.
00:05:26>> The intent was to kill.
00:05:28It was not to wound, it was not to leave a mark -- it was to kill.
00:05:33>> Narrator: The attacker did something police found highly unusual.
00:05:37He left the bedroom light on throughout the attack.
00:05:41So kaye was able to watch him over an extended period.
00:05:46From her description, police artists created a composite sketch, which was released to the media.
00:05:53However, they didn't tell the media about the smiley-face drawing the attacker made on kaye's back.
00:06:00>> It was not part of any press release, therefore this would be something that would only be known to the attacker or be familiar to the attacker.
00:06:11>> Narrator: Kaye also said she made a mental record of everything he touched.
00:06:17The man took pains to wipe off his fingerprints, but kaye thought he might have overlooked one of the items -- a blue glass.
00:06:28>> He drank out of the glass, and then he made a point to take his sleeve and wipe the prints off of the glass but then grabbed the glass out of his hand and set it back on the table.
00:06:39>> Narrator: There were several prints on the glass.
00:06:43>> We thought it may have been some kind of a lubricant used by the perpetrator.
00:06:49>> Narrator: Fearful that the prints might smear, or even melt, hegman placed the glass in a freezer.
00:06:56>> The idea to put the tumbler in the freezer was actually to set the print, to cause it to become rigid so we could apply powder at some point in time and lift it.
00:07:08>> Narrator: Three full prints were lifted and photographed.
00:07:13Two weeks after the attack, police were called again to kaye robinson's home -- this time by her neighbors.
00:07:20They said a man drove up to kaye's home, lit a candle, and got down on his knees to pray.
00:07:28>> He was very concerned that the person who attacked kaye robinson be apprehended and wanted to pray for that to happen and to assist police in any way that he could to see that that attacker was apprehended.
00:07:44>> Narrator: The man was 38-YEAR-OLD doug DeSilva.
00:07:48In his truck, taped to his windshield, he had a newspaper article about the case with a copy of the attacker's composite sketch.
00:07:58>> 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.
00:08:11>> Narrator: But soedid look just like that -- doug DeSilva.
00:08:17>> He very distinctly resembled the composite drawing of the suspect in that attack.
00:08:23>> Narrator: Desilva lived a hundred miles away, but his ex-wife and daughter both lived in the same mobile-home park as kaye robinson.
00:08:33A year earlier, he was a suspect in the murder of a 16-year-old girl at a nearby high school.
00:08:39>> He was also a person of interest in a murder that had occurred six months prior to the attack on brenda kaye robinson.
00:08:49>> Narrator: Police brought DeSILVA IN FOR QUESTIONING.
00:08:52In the middle of the interrogation, he did something very odd.
00:08:57He asked for a job application because, he said, he wanted to become a state trooper.
00:09:02>> We thought maybe that he might even be taunting us at that point.
00:09:07We were very suspicious of that.
00:09:10>> Narrator: Police put together a photo lineup, and KAYE ROBINSON identified DeSilva as the man who attacked her.
00:09:19>> She immediately picked him out as the person that was in her house.
00:09:23There was no doubt in her mind.
00:09:24>> I know that this is the man that did it.
00:09:27It was more like an internal reaction.
00:09:30So with the physical appearance and that, I was very confident that that was the person that attacked me.
00:09:35>> Narrator: And kaye's son ALSO identified DeSilva.
00:09:41>> The man actually came into his room, and he was able to see him, but he pretended to be asleep.
00:09:46So he wae to also get a good enough look at the person that he was able to also identify him in a photo lineup.
00:09:54>> Narrator: When desilva completed his job application to become a policeman, he turned it in.
00:10:01That's when investigators noticed the most bizarre thing they'd ever encountered.
00:10:08>> There was a smiley face on the bottom of the document, and that had the 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.
00:10:22>> Narrator: Since this detail hadn't been released to the press, investigators were certain they had their man.
00:10:31>> doug DeSilva never did deny that he was involved in the kaye robinson case.
00:10:36He'd made several statements that he was sorry for what happened to her, wanted to apologize for what happened.
00:10:43>> Narrator: But investigators and kaye robinson were in for a big surprise.
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00:13:53>> Narrator: Just two weeks after kaye robinson's vicious attack, she identified doug DeSilva as her assailant.
00:14:00>> From the photo lineup, I was very certain.
00:14:03I wanted to hear him say something to be sure that that was him.
00:14:07When I heard him speak, i thought that that was the person that was in my home.
00:14:12>> Narrator: Desilva had no alibi for the night of the crime.
00:14:15>> I've never been so sure in my life as a detective that doug DeSilva was the right person.
00:14:23>> Narrator: Desilva was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of kaye robinson.
00:14:27>> He said to "tel sorry.
00:14:30I didn't mean to do it.
00:14:31I remember going there, but i " to me, that's a confession.
00:14:37>> Narrator: But then came the bad news.
00:14:41DeSILVA'S FINGERPRINTS DID NOT Match the prints taken from the blue plastic glass in kaye's home.
00:14:47>> 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.
00:14:59>> Nartor: 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.
00:15:10>> Dna evidence has conclusively RULED OUT douglas DeSilva as being involved in this crime.
00:15:16It was, I mean, almost like being struck in the head by a 2x4.
00:15:20>> We were extremely shocked.
00:15:22It was like someone had punched you in the stomach.
00:15:25>> This was devastating.
00:15:27The investigators, the prosecutors in the case, were just flabbergasted, did not know what to do.
00:15:35>> Narrator: In fact, they ran the dna test twice just to make sure.
00:15:40Again, the dna didn't match.
00:15:43>> And at that point, you can't go forward with the prosecution OF douglas DeSilva.
00:15:48>> 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.
00:15:53I couldn't believe they were gonna let him walk, to possibly do this to somebody else.
00:16:00>> Narrator: So kaye decided to take matters into her own hands.
00:16:05>> I bought a gun, I found out where he lived, I went to his house, I sat outside of his home.
00:16:12I 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.
00:16:21>> Narrator: But kaye thought better of it.
00:16:23>> The primary reason was my son.
00:16:25I wanted to raise my son.
00:16:26I didn't want to be in jail.
00:16:28>> Narrator: But if desilva wasn't the perpetrator, a violent sexual sadist was walking the streets, and police had no new suspects.
00:16:39>> I will never be able 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.
00:16:51>> You go back through your investigation, because then you start to doubt yourself a little bit.
00:16:56"Did I miss something?
00:16:57" >> Narrator: Years passed with no solid leads.
00:17:03>> The longer we worked, the colder the case got.
00:17:07>> Narrator: Then, nine years later, detective rob hudson got a call from detectives 30 miles away in neighboring maryland.
00:17:16>> They had a case that was very similar to the 1995 case with kaye robinson.
00:17:25>> Narrator: The maryland victim was a single mother living in a mobile home.
00:17:34>> Said she saw a man in her bedroom, and she thought she was dreaming.
00:17:38She saw a knife and a rolling pin in his hand.
00:17:40And he told her he was not going to hurt her if she gave him what he wanted.
00:17:45>> Narrator: The man tied her up, sexually assaulted her, and carried on a lengthy conversation.
00:17:52When she pleaded for her son's life, the man's demeanor changed.
00:17:58>> He begged her for forgiveness, and then he gave her some directions to not get up until a certain time and take a shower, and then she was allowed to go to work but not to call the police.
00:18:09>> Narrator: The man's point of entry -- a broken window at the front of the house.
00:18:15Appeared that he picked the window up after he busted it and set it leaning against the trailer at the base of it.
00:18:22>> Narrator: 43-Year-old mark eskridge was tied to that crime through his fingerprints.
00:18:29>> The known standards of one mark eskridge were identified to the latent prints that were recovered from the glass from the point of entry from the crime scene.
00:18:38>> The kaye robinson case is similar in many ways -- single mothers in a trailer park with a son, early-morning hours, lots of conversation, a knife was used in both.
00:18:50>> Narrator: And eskridge looked similar to the composite drawing of kaye robinson's attacker nine years earlier.
00:18:57>> He matched the height, the weight, he had the facial configuration that she had described, with the scruffy beard.
00:19:07>> Narrator: Unfortunately, eskridge's fingerprints did not match the prints on the drinking glass found in kaye robinson's home.
00:19:16And kaye robinson said eskridge wasn't her attacker.
00:19:21>> I did tell the detectives that this was not the person.
00:19:25>> Narrator: Would this be yet another dead end?
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00:22:46>> Narrator: Mark eskridge was the prime suspect in the rape and attempted murder of kaye robinson after he committed a similar crime in maryland.
00:22:57A background check revealed that eskridge, who was married and had a small child, lived in the same mobile-home park as kaye robinson when the attack occurred.
00:23:08>> He lived, in fact, just a few streets away from kaye robinson.
00:23:13He may have had the opportunity to observe her and know that she resided in that house with her son.
00:23:21>> Narrator: Investigators were sure that eskridge was their man, but there was only one problem -- kaye robinson was unable to identify mark eskridge as her attacker.
00:23:32>> That was not the man that broke in to my home.
00:23:35>> Narrator: But it had been nine years since her attack.
00:23:39Memories change, and so did eskridge's appearance.
00:23:45Fortunately, investigators had the dna of kaye robinson's attacker.
00:23:51And 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.
00:24:02>> When I received the call that the dna was a match, I couldn't believe it.
00:24:07I was overjoyed.
00:24:08I couldn't wait to call kaye robinson.
00:24:10>> I went through a lot of emotions.
00:24:12I thought, "oh, my god.
00:24:14I'M GLAD I DIDN'T kill DeSilva, because it would've been the " but, I mean, he could've been his twin.
00:24:21They were identical.
00:24:23>> Narrator: Investigators believe mark eskridge targeted kaye robinson since they lived in the same mobile-home park, and he probably knew she was a single mother living alone with her son.
00:24:37Prosecutors think that eskridge knocked on kaye's door, claiming he had car trouble, because he wanted to make sure no men were in her home.
00:24:54Later that night, he broke in and attacked.
00:25:04[ Indistinct yelling ] he told kaye that he lived nearby, because he had no intention of letting her live.
00:25:14He attacked her repeatedly with a knife, but kaye robinson's will to survive was too great.
00:25:21>> 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.
00:25:27>> Narrator: Eskridge left valuable dna evidence behind -- more reliable than any eyewitness.
00:25:35A decade after the crime, mark eskridge went on trial for the sexual assault and attempted murder of kaye robinson.
00:25:44He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
00:25:51>> Hewasa sick individual.
00:25:52I 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.
00:26:03>> Would he be considered a serial rapist, or is he a serial sex predator?
00:26:07I mean, he's a serial something.
00:26:10>> Narrator: Authorities cite the case as a reason to be skeptical of eyewitness identifications, especially when the witness is under extreme duress.
00:26:20>> You have an eyewitness identification, which is as certain as certain can be, but you have science and dna evidence telling you otrwise.
00:26:31>> Narrator: Doug desilva's bizarre behavior and his equally bizarre resemblance to the actual attacker almost landed him in jail.
00:26:40doug DeSilva's whereabouts are ..even to his ex-wife.
00:26:46>> 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.
00:26:57>> You always know somebody's gonna get caught or you're gonna catch him.
00:27:01It's just, you don't know when sometimes.
00:27:04>> So I just state, you know, hats off to dna.
00:27:07It's a great tool.
00:27:09And I tell you, in this case, to be able to free one man and convict another, I say that says a lot for justice.
00:27:20>> Narrator: Up next, a college co-ed is left for dead in a lovers' lane.
00:27:24>> The blood's consistent with her being struck up to 10 times.
00:27:27>> Narrator: There were plenty of suspects but very few answers.
00:27:32>> The samples could have originated from 20% of the population.
00:27:35>> Narrator: Was it a random murder or jealousy?
00:27:38>> If he couldn't have her, nobody else could.
00:27:40>> Narrator: For decades, the case went unsolved -- until now.
00:27:44>> He is a cold-blooded killer.
00:27:47>> They wanted to solve this.
00:27:57>> Narrator: At the end of a long day in may of 1984, a farmer in tennessee made a startling discovery.
00:28:05>> He noticed some clothing lying in the field.
00:28:08There was actually a body lying there.
00:28:11>> Narrator: The victim was a young girl, wearing only a bra.
00:28:15Her body was covered with two pairs of jeans and a dark jacket.
00:28:22One pair of jeans was hers.
00:28:24The other was a pair of men's jeans.
00:28:28>> Also, there was a black jacket across her body with the sleeve tied around her neck and a pair of panties that she was clutching in her right hand.
00:28:35>> Narrator: She was identified as 18-year-old laura salmon, a local college student.
00:28:43>> Her life was stolen.
00:28:45Her life was stolen.
00:28:48And in such a horrible way.
00:28:50>> Narrator: The autopsy revealed laura salmon died of blunt force trauma to the head.
00:28:57The murder weapon appeared to be the rocks found near her body.
00:29:01>> The blood on those rocks and other material was consistent with her being struck up to 10 times in the head with those rocks.
00:29:14>> Narrator: The medical examiner found evidence that laura had consensual sex sometime before the murder, most likely unrelated to the crime.
00:29:23 salmon had been involved in an intimate relationship with someone within