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

Aired at 01:00 AM on Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 (8/7/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00Time by her neighbors.
00:00:02They said a man drove up t kaye's home, lit a cane, and got down on his knees to pray.
00:00:09>> 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.
00:00:25>> Narrator: The man was 38-YEAR-OLD doug DeSilva.
00:00:30In his truck, taped to his windshield, he had a newspaper article about the case with a copy of the attacker's composite sketch.
00:00:39>> 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 o composite at the same time to try to find someone that looked just like that.
00:00:53>> Narrator: But someonedid look just like that -- doug DeSilva.
00:01:01of the suspect in that attack.
00:01:05>> Narrator: Desilva lived a red miles away, but his ex-wife and daughter both lived in the same mobile-home park as kaye robinson.
00:01:15A year earlier, he was a suspect in the murder of a 16-year-old girl at a nearby high school.
00:01:21>> He was also a person of interest in a murder that had occurred six months prior to then brenda kaye robinson.
00:01:34In the middle of the interrogation, he did something very odd.
00:01:39He asked for a job application because, he said, he wanted to become a state trooper.
00:01:44>> We thought maybe that he might even be taunting us at that point.
00:01:49We were very suspicious of that.
00:01:52>> Narrator: Police put together a photo lineup, and KAYE ROBINSON identified DeSilva as the man who attacked her.
00:02:01>> She immediately picked him out as the person that was in her house.
00:02:04There was no doubt in her mind.
00:02:06>> I know that this is the man that did it.
00:02:09It was more like an internal reaction.
00:02:12So with the physical appearance and that, I was very confident that that was the person that attacked me.
00:02:17>> Narrator: And kaye's son ALSO identified DeSilva.
00:02:22>> The man actually came into his room, and he was able to see him, but he pretended to be asleep.
00:02:28So 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.
00:02:35>> Narrator: When desilva completed his job application to become a policeman, he turned it in.
00:02:42That's when investigators noticed the most bizarre thing they'd ever encountered.
00:02:50>> 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.
00:03:04>> Narrator: Since this detail hadn't been released to the press, investigators were certain they had their man.
00:03:12>> doug DeSilva never did deny that he was involved in the kaye robinson case.
00:03:18He'd made several statements that he was sorry for what happened to her, wanted to apologize for what happened.
00:03:25>> Narrator: But investigators and kaye robinson were in for a big suse.
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00:05:32ñç >> Narrator: Just two weeks after kaye robinson's vicious doug DeSilva as her assailant.
00:06:42>> From the photo lineup, I was very certain.
00:06:45I wanted to hear him say something to be sure that th was him.
00:06:49When I heard him speak, i thought that that was the person that was in my home.
00:06:54>> Narrator: Desilva had no alibi for the night of the crime.
00:06:57>> I've never been so sure in my life as a detective that person.
00:07:05r: DeSILVA WAS Arrested and charged withd murder of kaye robinson.
00:07:12do it.
00:07:13I remember going there, but i " then came the bad news.
00:07:23Silva's fingerprints did not blue plastic glass in kaye's home 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.
00:07:41>> 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.
00:07:53RULED OUT douglas DeSilva as being involved in this crime.
00:07:58It was, I mean, almost like being struck in the head by a 2x4.
00:08:02>> We were extremely shocked.
00:08:04It was like someone had punched >> this was devastating.
00:08:09The investigators, the prosecutors in the case, were just flabbergasted, did not know what to do.
00:08:17>> Narrator: In fact, they ran the dna test twice just to make sure.
00:08:22Again, the dna didn't match.
00:08:25>> And at that point, you can't go forward with the prosecution OF DOUGLASeSILVA.
00:08:30>> Even though the dna report said that this wasn't the person that broke in l convinced that it was.
00:08:35I couldn't believe they were gonna let him o somedy else.
00:08:42>> NarED TO Take matters into her own hands.
00:08:47>> I bouout where he lived, I went to his house, I sat outside of his home.
00:08:54I wanted to go to the door and him if he remembered me, and, i mean, I just wanted to take care of it myself.
00:09:03>> Narrator: But kaye thought better of it.
00:09:07I wanted to raise my son.
00:09:08I didn't want to be in jail.
00:09:14Violensexual sadist was walking the streets, and police had no new suspects.
00:09:21>>L 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.
00:09:33>> You go back through your hen you start to doubt yourself a little bit.
00:09:38"Did I miss something?
00:09:39" >> Narrator: Years passed with no solid leads.
00:09:45>> The longer we worked, the colder the case got.
00:09:51Later, detective rob hudson got a call from detectives 30 miles away in neighboring maryland.
00:09:58>> They had a case that was very similar to the 1995 case with m was a single mother living in a mobile home.
00:10:16>> Said she saw a man in her bedroom, and she thought she was dreaming.
00:10:20She saw a knife and a rolling pin in his hand.
00:10:22And he told her he was not going he wanted.
00:10:27>> Narrator: The man tied her up, sexually assaulted her, and carried on a lengthy for her son's life, the man's demeanor changed.
00:10:40>> 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 allowed to go to work but not to call the police.
00:10:51>> Narrator: The man's point of entry -- a broken window at the it appeared that he picked the window up after he busted it and set it leaning against the trailer at the base of it.
00:11:04>> Narrator: 43-Year-oldrk eskridge was tied to that crime through his fingerprints.
00:11:11>> 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.
00:11:20>> The kaye robinson case is similar in many ways -- single mothers in a trailer park with a son, early-morning hours, lots of conversaon, a knife was used in both.
00:11:32>> Narrator: And eskridge looked similar to the composite drawing of kaye robinson's attacker nine years earlier.
00:11:39>> He matched the height, the weight, he had the facial configuration that she had scribed, with the scruffy beard.
00:11:49>> Narrator: Unfortunately, eskridge's fingerprints did not match the prints on the drinking glass found in kaye robinson's home.
00:11:58And kaye robinson said eskridge wasn't her attacker.
00:12:03>> I did tell the detectives that this was not the person.
00:12:07>> Narrator: Would this be yet another dead end?
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00:15:28>> Narrator: Mark eskridge was the prime suspect in the rape and attempted murder of kaye robinson after he committed a similar crime in maryland.
00:15:39A 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.
00:15:50>> He lived, in fact, just a few streets away from kaye robinson.
00:15:55He may have had the opportunity to observe her and know that she resided in that house with her son.
00:16:03>> 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.
00:16:15>> That was not the man that broke in to my home.
00:16:18>> Narrator: But it had been nine years since her attack.
00:16:21Memories change, and so did eskridge's appearance.
00:16:27Fortunately, investigators had the dna of kaye robinson's attacker.
00:16:33And 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.
00:16:44>> When I received the call that the dna was a match, I couldn't believe it.
00:16:49I was overjoyed.
00:16:50I couldn't wait to call kaye robinson.
00:16:52>> I went through a lot of emotions.
00:16:54I thought, "oh, my god.
00:16:56I'M GLAD I DIDN'T kill DeSilva, because it would've been the " but, I mean, he could've been his twin.
00:17:03They were identical.
00:17:05>> 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.
00:17:19Prosecutors 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.
00:17:36Later that night, he broke in and attacked.
00:17:46[ Indistinct yelling ] he told kaye that he lived nearby, because he had no intention of letting her live.
00:17:56He attacked her repeatedly with a knife, but kaye robinson's will to survive was too great.
00:18:03>> 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.
00:18:09>> Narrator: Eskridge left valuable dna evidence behind -- more reliable than any eyewitness.
00:18:17A decade after the crime, mark eskridge went on trial for the sexual assault and attempted murder of kaye robinson.
00:18:26He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
00:18:33>> Hewasa sick individual.
00:18:34I 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.
00:18:45>> Would he be considered a serial rapist, or is he a serial sex predator?
00:18:49I mean, he's a serial something.
00:18:52>> Narrator: Authorities cite the case as a reason to be skeptical of eyewitness identifications, especially when the witness is under extreme duress.
00:19:02>> You have an eyewitness identification, which is as certain as certain can be, but you have science and dna evidence telling you otherwise.
00:19:13>> Narrator: Doug desilva's bizarre behavior and his equally bizarre resemblance to the actual attacker almost landed him in jail.
00:19:22doug DeSilva's whereabouts are ..even to his ex-wife.
00:19:28>> 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.
00:19:39>> You always know somebody's gonna get caught or you're gonna now when sometimes.
00:19:46>> So I just state, you know, hats off to dna.
00:19:49It's a great tool.
00:19:51And I tell you, in this case be able to free one man and convict anher, I say that says a lot for justice.
00:20:03>> Narrator:..
00:20:05A young aspiring singer disappears.
00:20:08>> A telltale sign of someone who is running away om something.
00:20:12She had a history of running away.
00:20:14She's always come back.
00:20:16>> Narrator: Surveillance cameras tell at least part of the story.
00:20:20>> W started feeling very confident that we were focusing on the right guy.
00:20:25>> Narrator: All they had to do now was to find him.
00:20:36>> ♪♪ I wanna love someone that will stand by my side ♪♪
00:20:41.. ♪♪
00:20:43>> Narrator: 16-Year-old joshan ashbrook had dreams of >> her sister and joshan used to write songs all the time, things, and they wrote one song " and joshan sang this song, and lly wanted to get it recorded and to do something nice with it, and she just didn't get the chance to finish that.
00:21:17>> Narrator: And if a singing career didn't work out, she had a backup plan.
00:21:22>> Joshan wanted to be an entertainment lawyer.
00:21:24She could make deals and make everybody happy.
00:21:26>> Narrator: Like many of conflicts with her parents, but they were usually resolved.
00:21:34Running away.
00:21:35Normally, she would run away, spend the night somewhere else, and come home the following day or maybe two days later.
00:21:42>> Narrator: But after an argument with her parents about smoking marijuana, she left -- this time for good.
00:21:48>> Joshan's parents were very concerned about her.
00:21:51They were aware that she had substance-abuse problems.
00:21:54>> Narrator: Her parents notified the police, called all her friends, and went to all of her known hangouts.
00:22:00>> Towards the end of the evening, it was more frustrating because it was like we had no other leads.
00:22:06We had nowhere else to go.
00:22:07We couldn't think of any other places or any other people to talk to.
00:22:12>> 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.
00:22:22The body was identified as joshan ashbrook.
00:22:27>> You could see that her throat was cut, blunt trauma to her face, her head.
00:22:32There was cuts, defensive wounds on her hands.
00:22:35>> Narrator: Joshan's pants weren't found at the scene.
00:22:38>> Looking at her body being nude from the waist down, you cannot help but think that maybe she was sexually assaulted.
00:22:46 I don't know how to describe that feeling.
00:22:49I'm never gonna see my daughter get married or have babies.
00:22:54I'm never gonna hold her first ..
00:22:59And I'm never gonna see her make her dreams come true.
00:23:03>> Narrator: Investigators found a single hair in a defensive wound on joshan's thumb.
00:23:10>> It appeared that this 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.
00:23:20>> Narrator: Tthe root intact.
00:23:24About 30 feet from the body were fresh tire tracks.
00:23:28>> It was obvious that whoever was driving that vehicle backed into the area and then dragged her body into the woods.
00:23:38>> Narrator: The tire tracks were in the sand, a surface ideal for making plaster casts.
00:23:44>> These were so clear, I could say that there was not any rain had occurred or any damage in the environment at that time, because they were such nice, clear, quality impressions.
00:23:57>> Narrator: No one knew of anyone who wanted to harm joshan, but for investigators, these clues were a very good start.
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00:27:19>> Narrator: As police search for joshan ashbrook's killer, the medical examiner learned that the knife wound to her throat was not the cause of death.
00:27:29>> 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 extreme pressure on her, which dislocated -- which broke her neck.
00:27:43>> Narrator: An autopsy found no evidence of sexual assault.
00:27:47In a search for suspects, joshan's family suggested police interview john hanson, a 60-year-old family friend who lived nearby.
00:27:57>> John was an older gentleman.
00:27:59He hung out at the house all the time with us, but in my opinion, he seemed, after a while, to get too close to the children.
00:28:05He always wanted to be their friend more so than the friends of an adult.
00:28:10>> Narrator: Within 24 hours of finding joshan's body, investigators went to hanson's trailer to question him, but he was gone.
00:28:20>> 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.
00:28:25>> Narrator: There was no sign of violence in his trailer.
00:28:29A background check revealed hanson, a day laborer, estranged from his wife, had no history of violence.
00:28:36>> A 60-year-old man having teenagers visit the house and hang around -- I think it does lead to suspicion as to what is going on.
00:28:44>> So, now he is somebody we really want to talk to.
00:28:47>> Narrator: While police searched for hanson, criminalists measured the tire impressions found near joshan's body.
00:28:56Those measurements and tread patterns were entered into a computer database of 20,000 different tires manufactured around the world.
00:29:05Here was, then, seven different manufacture models that could have made that tire different manufacturers sometimes sell theird to other manufacturers, so therefore you would have the same mold bu different manufacturer model names.
00:29:26larger vehicles, which meant joshan's killer was driving either a