The Investigators - The Disappearance of Dawn   View more episodes

Aired at 03:00 AM on Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 (8/3/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:02So, of course, you know, people didn't even lock their doors back then.
00:00:04This is not supposed to happen here.
00:00:06You know, it's just,i guess, a shock, and that underlying fear factor that, you know, you're gonna have when something like this happens.
00:00:17Narrator: Tony hornus went to school with dawn and her husband don.
00:00:21Hornus: We were at corunna high school for all 4 years, and dawn was just a sweet girl-- very personable, very kind.
00:00:30[School bell rings] I did have a couple of classes with dawn.
00:00:35She was a very good student.
00:00:36She was dating don magyar all through high school, actually.
00:00:44Everybody knew that dawn was committed to don, our friends, one of our buddies.
00:00:51Narrator: Police return to the family for more questioning.
00:00:56Every possible angle has to be checked out.
00:00:58Could someone close to dawn-- like her husband-- be responsible for this crime?
00:01:03Barnes: The husband?
00:01:05I didn't think,from the very beginning, that he was a suspect.
00:01:08I did eliminate himas best I could at that time through blood groupings and typing and that-- and his whereabouts and verification as to where he was and what he was doing at that particular time-- which, in fact, he was baby-sitting the son when she became missing.
00:01:25Narrator: Police continue collecting evidence.
00:01:28Ironically, the cruel winter weather proves to be a tremendous help.
00:01:32The cold had preserved her body.
00:01:36Barnes: We had blood type from the suspect.
00:01:39We had the fact that she'd been shot with 22 long rifle goldtone shells and one winchester .22 long rifle shell.
00:01:51Narrator: Police are deluged with tips.
00:01:54They begin compiling lists of possible suspects.
00:01:58Detective barnes investigates a man who had a crush on dawn and another who lived close to where the body was found and is having marriage problems.
00:02:07Barnes: We just had all kinds of tips that we were running down.
00:02:12Narrator: Nothing pans out.
00:02:17But the press keeps the story alive.
00:02:20Helen bough was the managing editor for the argus press.
00:02:25Bough: We went after it with both barrels.
00:02:28We really covered it, you know, completely.
00:02:34I mean, this was something that, "gosh, I hope we can find out soon," and every little thing that happened was really a big deal.
00:02:43It was emotional for everybody, this was personal.
00:02:52Something that was just another story.
00:02:54This was one of us.
00:02:57Narrator: June 1974.
00:02:59A year after her body was found, police get their first major break in the case.
00:03:07Barnes: A young boy going swimming in the shiawassee river in downtown owosso, and they had been swimming and floating over the edge of the little dam.
00:03:17Climbing up the edge of the dam, he stepped on what felt different than any stone or anything on the river bottom.
00:03:24He reached down, and it was our .22 pistol.
00:03:27Narrator: The detective, excited by the discovery of the murder weapon, believes it will lead him to the killer, but his hopes are quickly dashed.
00:03:37The river has taken a toll on the gun.
00:03:40Barnes: Of course, it is extremely rusty.
00:03:43And I took it to the crime lab, and they said, well, there's nothing they could do for me.
00:03:47 no ballistics, no this, no that.
00:03:51Narrator: There is no way to match e bullets taken from dawn's body.
00:03:55The gun is just too rusty to fire.
00:03:58Barnes: About a month later, I started working on it to get the cylinder open.
00:04:03I wanted to see what kind of shells, if any, had been fired in that particular gun.
00:04:08I got it open, and lo and behold, 22 long rifle shells and one fired winchester super-x shell in that particular gun.
00:04:20Narrator: Those 3 shells match the 3 bullets that killed dawn magyar.
00:04:26While the gun is rusty, the serial number is still visible.
00:04:30Police put a trace on the gun.
00:04:32Barnes: We started with the alcohol, tobacco and firearms out of the lansing office, and we traced it back to germany-- the factory in germany.
00:04:43It was a rohm-- r-o-h-m.
00:04:44Narrator: Records from the factory show the gun was shipped to a weapons wholesaler in california.
00:04:51Atf officials then discover the gun had been sold to a pawnshop in yuma, arizona.
00:04:56Yuma police are alerted, but learn the pawnshop owner had moved to panama city, florida.
00:05:02Detective barnes then contacts the panama city police department, and they find the owner.
00:05:08Amazingly, the pawnshop owner has kept all his records.
00:05:12Barnes: He looked through some of his records and told us, yes, in 1965 he'd sold that particular serial-numbered weapon ..
00:05:23And he gave us an address in yuma, arizona.
00:05:25Narrator: The detective alerts the yuma, arizona police, who check out the address.
00:05:30Robert shaw doesn't live at that address any more, but could he still be living in the area?
00:05:36Barnes: Back then, you looked through the phone book.
00:05:38Is there a robert shaw listed?
00:05:39That's basically about what you had to go on.
00:05:42There were several robert shaws living in that particular area, none of whom professed to have ownership of the gun or know anything about it.
00:05:51Narrator: Frustrated, police come to a dead end.
00:05:56Then in 1976, 3 years after the murder, two boys are playing on the other side of the river when they make another discovery--a wallet.
00:06:08It is dawn magyar's.
00:06:09Can po the killer's trail?
00:06:12Barnes: Whoever abducted her from the store came from here, took her north, raped or killed her, left the body; came back and disposed of the gun, thinking it was gone, on the north side of the river, and will throw the billfold on the south side into the river, and it will never be found.
00:06:33Bad luck struck him both times.
00:06:36Narrator: The discovery of the wallet contains no new clues.
00:06:40The investigation stalls.
00:06:43It's as if the case is in limbo, but detective barnes does not let up.
00:06:48Woman: The man was driven.
00:06:50It was never a cold case to him.
00:06:53He just--he wanted this one really bad.
00:06:56Narrator: 3 Years later, in 1979, detective sergeant bart barnes retires from the michigan state police.
00:07:04Barnes: It always bothered me.
00:07:06I have had other unsolved murders, don't get me wrong, but this one-- ..
00:07:15It just bothered me a lot more than some crimes do.
00:07:18Bough: None of us ever forgot.
00:07:20Everything wentback to normal, yes.
00:07:24We weren't as afraidany more, yes, but nobody forgot dawn swan magyar.
00:07:30Nobody forgot her.
00:07:32Narrator: The case is cold, and it will be 15 more years before it heats up again.
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00:11:45Narrator: In the early 1990s, the use of dna was still in its infancy.
00:11:51In fact, some courts didn't even allow dna to be admitted into evidence.
00:11:55But in michigan, the state police were beginning to use this new tool in their investigations.
00:12:02In 1994, michigan state detective gayle toben is assigned to look at unsolved cases.
00:12:09The hope is that now, with dna, some of these murders can be solved.
00:12:13One of the files is the 20-year-old case of dawn magyar.
00:12:18There was evidence that wastaken from dawn magyar's body which I believed wouldlend itself to dna testing.
00:12:26In addition, the detectives, back in the seventies, had developed several suspects.
00:12:31However, they couldn't rule them out as suspects, nor could they prepare a case against them.
00:12:36If we could extract dna from the semen samples found in dawn magyar's body, we would then be able to pinpoint who her killer was.
00:12:46Narrator: First, all the evidence-- 98 separate packages-- is retrieved from storage and painstakingly evaluated.
00:12:54Fortunately, 15 years earlier, detective barnes had the foresight to store everything, including the semen sample that was taken from dawn's body.
00:13:04Toben: The actual body-fluid samples were in remarkably good condition, and that made me very, very hopeful that we would be able to do a successful dna extraction.
00:13:15Narrator: Now, after all these years, police have a genetic profile of dawn magyar's killer.
00:13:21It is a major break for detectives, who are now able to go back to that list of possible suspects.
00:13:27Through dna, they gradually eliminate most of them.
00:13:31In 1998, detective toben gets transferred, and the file is handed over to yet another investigator-- 13-year veteran detective mark pendergraff.
00:13:42This is his first time heading up a homicide investigation.
00:13:45Pendergraff: This book here contains all the police reports concerning the investigation.
00:13:52Narrator: With a fresh eye, detective pendergraff pores over old files and visits the crime scene.
00:13:57Pendergraff: Looking for the mistakes is the key to solving crimes.
00:14:01It's looking for the mistakes that the criminal makes; the clues that he leaves behind.
00:14:06I went back to the location where she was abducted from, e location where her body was found, and I also went to the river to view the areas where the gun and the wallet had been found.
00:14:19You're looking to give yourself a basic understanding of the case.
00:14:26It's one thing to be able to read something, but it's another to be able to see it.
00:14:29Na, detective pendergraff quickly eliminates the last two suspects on the old list.
00:14:35He then reinterviews family and friends in the hope that some new information will come out that leads him to new suspects.
00:14:43Pendergraff: When you're investigating a crime like this, potential suspects could include former boyfriends, current boyfriend, anyone that wanted to be her boyfriend but maybe she had turned down-- that type of thing.
00:14:57The other information that you're looking for is, what type of girl was she?
00:15:02What type of activities did she participate in?
00:15:06What areas did she frequent?
00:15:07 did she have any problems with coworkers?
00:15:11That type of thing.
00:15:12Narrator: But pendergraff runs up against the same mystery detective barnes had more than two decades earlier.
00:15:19They described dawn as basically your all-american girl, and it was a very accurate description.
00:15:25She was a good student, she was a good person.
00:15:29She was faithful in her marriage, she was a good mother.
00:15:32She was just an all-around good person.
00:15:36Narrator: Now, with no new leads and little else to go on, pendergraff takes another hard look at the gun.
00:15:44He hopes it will eventually lead him to the killer, but first, he must find its original owner-- the elusive robert shaw.
00:15:53Pendergraff: I felt that we needed to find out how the gun got from arizona to michigan and who brought it here.
00:16:01I felt that if we could locate that person, or potentially this robert shaw who bought the gun in arizona, that it may ultimately lead us to the killer.
00:16:10Narrator: Back in 1975, the only resource detective barnes had to track down robert shaw was a telephone book.
00:16:18Now police have access to a database that lists drivers' licenses all over the country.
00:16:24We'll enter his first and last name and then an approximate age.
00:16:28Considering that the gun was bought in 1965 and that he would have been probably at least 18 years old at that time, we came up with 29 robert shaws that could have been old enough to purchase the gun in 1965.
00:16:42Narrator: He then asks state police offices throughout michigan to check on the robert shaws in their area.
00:16:49Detective steve harshberger in lansing ends up with 4 of those names.
00:16:54Harshberger: I was able to go out and contact each of those individuals and actually locate the robert shaw that was identified as being the purchaser of our murder weapon back in yuma, arizona in 1965.
00:17:08Pendergraff: I was surprised.
00:17:09I was amazed, number one, that we found him; number two, that he was still alive.
00:17:16Narrator: Finally, police come face-to-face with the man who owned the murder weapon.
00:17:21He's a truck driver who lives less than an hour from the crime scene.
00:17:27Man: They asked me my name-- "are you robert shaw?
00:17:29" " " I mean--i mean, they had me down right there, and they said, "we traced this gun that you " and then they asked me to describe it.
00:17:45I knew nothing about a crime or nothing.
00:17:47Harshberger: He was very clear on where he purchased the firearm and that it was in yuma, arizona in 1965.
00:17:53However, he could not remember what had ever happened to that gun, which, again, left us very suspicious of potentially his involvement in the homicide.
00:18:01Narrator: Police call shaw into the lansing station house for some tough questioning.
00:18:07Shaw: I was certainly scared because, well, I knew it was my gun.
00:18:12Narrator: Shaw takes a polygraph test and gives blood samples for dna testing.
00:18:16Still, the detectives believe he knows more than he's letting on.
00:18:21Shaw: Steve was doing all the asking of the questions and everything, and mark was just sitting there.
00:18:26Finally, steve says, "i gotta go do something," and left.
00:18:29And I seen this same thing in a show.
00:18:31Steve's around the corner watching through the one-way mirror.
00:18:35Watching it--you know, good cop, bad cop thing.
00:18:37And at one point, mark says, we'll take it from " he says, "you give me a name, because you've got the key.
00:18:45" Narrator: Shaw does have the key, but he just doesn't realize it.
00:18:53Next, the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together.
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00:22:12W desperately wants police off his back.
00:22:16So for months, he does nothing but try to figure out how the gun he purchased in 1965 could end up in t of a killer.
00:22:25He has already given police the names of 7 people who might have had access to the gun, but they are all cleared through dna.
00:22:34So shaw keeps at it, replaying his life over and over again in his head.
00:22:39Shaw: I was going to detroit one day.
00:22:42The radio don't work in the truck, so all I've had to do for 6 months or 7 months is think about this--coming up with names and what happened to the gunand who could have got it and how they could have got itand things like that.
00:22:56Narrator: Finally, another name comes to him.
00:23:00The name is jerald wingeart.
00:23:03That's the man his ex-wife darlene left him for-- and married-- 30 years earlier.
00:23:08Shaw: When she finally moved the rest of her stuff out, she said that jerry had been accused of rape.
00:23:19And I thought-- I said to her, "why do you even want to get involved with " you know, I mean, he was accused of rape, you know?
00:23:26" he " he was let go, or he got " Narrator: Shaw immediately calls the detectives.
00:23:36A background check reveals that jerald wingeart had indeed served time in prison for a rape in 1961 and was a suspect in a homicide in 1979.
00:23:47Harshberger:THE FIREARM WAS KEY IN THIS-- shaw and then having himfinally remember the actual suspect's nameand providing that to us.
00:23:56It was everything in this case.
00:23:59This is the 1961 mug shot for jerald wingeart, when he was convicted of the rape and robbery in ann arbor, michigan.
00:24:10That was the first time that we had a suspect that had a history of committingthese type of crimes.
00:24:15Narrator: But as police begin to investigate wingeart's background, another side of the man comes into focus.
00:24:23Despite his conviction, for the past 30 years jerald wingeart was considered a respected member of his community.
00:24:30People saw him basically as a good person, someone that wouldn't hurt anyone, was friendly.
00:24:37He was a very intelligent person; very good with computers.
00:24:41He was involved in initiating several computer programs back in the early seventies, when computers were just coming into use.
00:24:51Narrator: In fact, that expertise helped set up the michigan state lottery.
00:24:57At the time of the magyar investigation, wingeart is married to his fourth wife.
00:25:01He works in the payroll department at daimlerchrysler, in a suburb of detroit.
00:25:06Pendergraff: We found that, for the most part, though he had a few friends, he spent most of his time alone or with his spouse.
00:25:14He also had what you'd call the dark side, which he didn't let anyone know about.
00:25:19Narrator: Further investigation into his past reveals that wingeart was highly regarded by his high-school classmates.
00:25:25The tall, good-looking athlete was an honor student who married his high-school sweetheart after graduation.
00:25:32In 1960, wingeart's little boy tragically died.
00:25:36Then, a year later, his first wife filed for divorce.
00:25:41Just a few days after that, he commits his first known rape.
00:25:45Now, 40 years later, he is suspected of murder.
00:25:49Harshberger: Jerald wingeart's name had never come up in this investigation before.
00:25:53This was a name totally out of the blue.
00:25:56We had nothing to connect him to this crime other than potentially the murder weapon itself.
00:26:01So we felt that if we were gonna tie him into this at all, it was gonna be through dna.
00:26:07Narrator: But police don't believe he will willingly give them a sample for testing.
00:26:12Pendergraff: Based on his interactions with those other police agencies, we didn't feel that he would be cooperative.
00:26:18We also felt that he could potentially be a flight risk.
00:26:21Narrator: A surveillance team is set up to watch wingeart.
00:26:25They know he is a smoker and are hoping that he leaves something behind that can be tested for dna.
00:26:32We would watch for him to dispose of a cigarette, dispose of a piece of chewing gum, to obtain a glass that he had taken a drink out of.
00:26:40Narrator: At one point, detective harshberger almost blows the cover of the surveillance team when he comes face-to-face with him.
00:26:48He did come outside and walk right past me and briefly looked at me for just a moment within probably 4 or 5 feet.
00:26:55We were within 4 or 5 feet of one another.
00:26:57As he lit up a cigarette and looked at me, I knew at that point he was our killer.
00:27:02I personally knew that he was the one involved in our case.
00:27:06I can't explain it, I have no idea why I knew that.
00:27:09Narrator: When police can't get anything they can use for dna testing, they decide to do what police call a trash pull and search wingeart's garbage.
00:27:18Pendergraff: I went to his residence in the early morning hours and took 4 bags of trash from the curbside.
00:27:25I found numerous merit brand cigarette butts in the trash.
00:27:29Narrator: The cigarettes and other items are taken to the state crime lab.
00:27:34Ann chamberlain is a forensic scientist for the state.
00:27:38The results she comes up with astound the detectives.
00:27:42Chamberlain: This cigarette butt that was brought in from the potential suspect matched the male profile from dawn magyar's vaginal swabs.
00:27:51And the chances that this profile from the vaginal swab and the cigarette butt 15.9 quadrillion.
00:28:06Considering that there are only about 6 billion people in the world, that gives you some indication, then, of the profile.
00:28:16It always felt that we could solve this that we could find the person that did this.
00:28:21But when that that they told us that we had a match, I was in shock. it was just unbelievable.
00:28:27Narrator: While the dna brings them closer to solving the case, police know that dna alone is not enough to put wingeart behind bars.
00:28:36But circumstantial evidence does link the gun to wingeart, and police also know he had been visiting the owosso area in 1973, visiting a friend.
00:28:48Pendergraff: One of the thinthat we learned about jerald wingeart through the various investigations is that he liked to go for long drives.
00:28:59He liked to take a bottle of beer, drive the backoads, and in our theory, scout for potential victims.
00:29:08I believe that he had drove up to the owosso area, pulled into the parking lot of that mall--that plaza, saw her exiting the store, and decided to make her his victim.
00:29:22Narrator: On march 7, 2000, detectives pendergraff and harshberger decide it's time to confront wingeart.
00:29:32The interview was very brief.
00:29:33 wingeart indicatedthat he had been hassled by the police basically over his entire life.
00:29:40He had very little interest in answering our questions.
00:29:45I think he probably only answered 2 or 3 of our questions in regard to this case.
00:29:50Narrator: Wingeart tells police he didn't know dawn magyar and refuses to look at her picture.
00:29:56However, he does admit to being in the owosso area on several occasions.
00:30:01And at some point, he just flat-out stated that he did not want to speak with us any further without first consulting with an attorney.
00:30:08My feeling is that he is a arrogant, cocky, self-confident person.
00:30:17Narrator: Minutes later, they received the go-ahead from the shiawassee county prosecutor's office to arrest jerald wingeart.
00:30:25His family and friends are shocked by his arrest.
00:30:28I am not guilty.
00:30:29Narrator: For detective barnes, the man who refused to let this case die, wingeart's arrest is at least the beginning of a vindication.
00:30:38He comes out of retirement just to see wingeart put behind bars.
00:30:42Barnes: They allowed me to go along to the jail, and it was a great feeling when the jail door slammed shut on him.
00:30:52Narrator: Next, arresting wingeart is one thing, but convincing a jury of his guilt would be something else.
00:34:44Narrator: It is an investigation that has spanned almost 30 years.
00:34:49During that time, the magyar case has involved 4 lead detectives, hundreds of tips, dead ends, evidence found, tagged, marked, and tested.
00:35:02Police now believe they have the man who murdered the 20-year-old wife and mother so long ago.
00:35:09Pendergraff: It goes back to the way the original officers investigating the case processed it, packaged it, and stored it, that it made itpossible for us to get the dnaevidence from him.
00:35:19Narrator: Now the case is moving into the courtroom.
00:35:23Man: This is the final chapter to it, and, hey, we can move onwith our lives.
00:35:27We've been tryto do that for20-some years now.
00:35:30Narrator: In november 2001, the case goes to trial, but the task ahead is not as easy as it appears.
00:35:39There's no such thing asa slam dunk in a jury trial.
00:35:42Narrator: For the prosecution, their job is to make an old crime come alive in the courtroom.
00:35:48Jerald wingeart raped and killed dawn magyar.
00:35:53It just happened so long ago, it's history.
00:35:57And when you look at somebody that, you know, no longer looks dangerous, if you will; has a long history of employment; juries sometimes make their decisions on sympathy.
00:36:16Narrator: But the prosecution is lucky.
00:36:18Everyone connected to the case is still alive and testifies.
00:36:22That includes all the investigators, family, and friends.
00:36:26Even wayne somers, who was 11 years old when he found dawn's body, testifies.
00:36:32Attorney: Is that an accurate depiction of how she was?
00:36:36Narrator: For the prosecution, it's the dna evidence that is their strongest weapon against wingeart.
00:36:42Every marker that was run for jerald wingeart was a match.
00:36:52Colbry: This wasn't a prosecutable case without the dna.
00:36:56It's just as simple as that.
00:36:57You had to have that.
00:36:58Narrator: But the defense downplays the importance of the dna evidence.
00:37:04I ask that you not baseyour ultimate conclusion or conclusions only on dna, but that you listento the dna evidence in conjunction with all of the other testimony as well.
00:37:18Narrator: Although he doesn't dispute the dna evidence, wingeart's attorney vince green maintains the sex was consensual.
00:37:26Green: I have no doubt he had sex with her, but I don't believe he killed her.
00:37:30Narrator: Green tries to establish reasonable doubt.
00:37:34He argues that someone else could have murdered dawn magyar.
00:37:39Our experts said that he could have had sex many days before her disappearance.
00:37:45Narrator: But scientist ann chamberlain says forensic evidence refutes that.
00:37:49Her tests reveal that 80% of the sperm cells were still intact.
00:37:55In other words, not enough time had elapsed for the tails to separate-- meaning that whoever had sex with dawn probably killed her.
00:38:06Chamberlain: The condition of the evidence means that the intercourse hadto have taken place very near the time of death or within about 4 hoursof death.
00:38:15Narrator: But the defense keeps hammering back.
00:38:18They also claim there's not enough evidence to link wingeart to the murder weapon.
00:38:23Green: wingeart to this handgun is through his ex-wife darlene rossow.
00:38:29Darlene rossow was married to robert shaw, and after they divorced, we don't know where this gun went.
00:38:36Narrator: But prosecutor colbry argues there are just too many coincidences that point directly to the defendant.
00:38:44Colbry: How in the world would you happen to come upon a coincidencethat led you to this individual whose dna matchedso completely, without that beinga link?
00:38:58To me, there's--it's not really arguable.
00:39:01Narrator: Throughout the trial, the defense portrays jerald wingeart as a loving father, husband, and upstanding citizen.
00:39:07But then, that strategy is quickly thwarted when the prosecution wants to call someone from wingeart's past.
00:39:15The witness is the woman that put him behind bars for rape in 1961.
00:39:22Green: We argued very strongly, and we've objected to that.
00:39:25We thought that wasmuch more prejudicial, letting the jury hear that.
00:39:31Narrator: The judge allows her to testify on the grounds that the two crimes have similarities.
00:39:37Colbry: Like the fact that a gun was used; the fact that the victim was taken to another location and raped; it was the fact that-- taken by car and so forth-- that there was a kidnapping in both cases.
00:39:53The question, again, is not whether mr. wingeart is probably guilty.
00:39:59The standard is whether he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
00:40:03Narrator: After two weeks of testimony, the jury adjourns for deliberation.
00:40:10The magyar family is worried.
00:40:13Swan: I feel the guy is guilty.
00:40:15I hope they come backwith a guilty verdict, but we'll just have to wait and see.
00:40:23I mean, you can't guess on what they're gonna do.
00:40:26Narrator: By the end of the second day, there is still no verdict.
00:40:30Green: They've had two weeks of 42 witnesses, a lot of testimony, a lot of exhibits, so this is not surprising that they're out this long.
00:40:39Narrator: When we return, the verdict.
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00:44:57Ing and waiting are over.
00:45:02On november 28, 2001, after 2 1/2 days of delib the jury returns.
00:45:11Woman: Count one, first-degree felony murder: Guilty of first-degree felony murder.
00:45:19Narrator: Jerald wingeart is found guilty.
00:45:21The detectives are thrilled with the verdict.
00:45:24All their years of hard work and dedication have finally pai Pendergraff: The opportunities for what we've done for that family by bringing some closure to this and by having this manfinally face justice for the crimes that he com I'm happyfor the prosecuting attorney, detective pendergraff, I'm glad bart barnes-- his thought was, he always wanted to live long enough to see it solved.
00:45:57I can relax now.
00:46:00I' Narrator: Just as relieved is robert shaw, the original owner of the gun and the man who led detectives to jerald wingeart.
00:46:09E, but when I heard the verdict, it was like 10 tons of bricks taken off my shoulders.
00:46:17Then all the questioning and stuff that I had gone through trying to figure out ..
00:46:23I was so glad that the verdict came in the way it did.
00:46:27Just--it was just a relief.
00:46:31In fact, I think I broke down and cried.
00:46:34Narrator: For law enforcement, this case is a perfect example of how science and technology assist in solving cases.
00:46:43Without the dna evidence, jerald wingeart would have gotten away with murder.
00:46:47Harshberger: You know, back in the early 1970s, Dna was just 3 lettersof the alphabet.
00:46:53Nobody had a cluewhat that meant.
00:46:55Narrator: On january 18, 2002, jerald wingeart is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
00:47:03Pendergraff: I'm sure that jerald wingeart has believed for years that he'd gotten away with this crime and that he was never going to be caught.
00:47:11He was wrong.
00:47:12Narrator: And dawn magyar may not have been his only victim.
00:47:17There's still the unsolvedionia county case.
00:47:22THERE'S STILLTHE CASE OF laura McVeigh that needed to be dealt with.
00:47:26Narrator: 15-Year-old laura mcveigh was found murdered in 1979, 6 years after dawn magyar's body was found.
00:47:36In 1981, ionia sheriff dwain dennis arrested jerald wingeart FOR THE MURDER OF laura McVeigh.
00:47:43Dennis: Jerald wingeart had a dog that he carried with him on many of his trips.
00:47:51AND WHEN WE FOUND THE BODY OF laura McVeigh, she was covered with dog hair that matched jerald wingeart's dog.
00:47:57Narrator: But ju was about to go to trial, it was thrown out of court on a technicality.
00:48:04Dennis: The judge determined that the information in the affidavit for the search warrant was in error.
00:48:14Narrator: Jerald wingeart was set free.
00:48:17Dennis: It was devastating.
00:48:18I became very involved with this case.
00:48:21I had hundreds of hours into this case and was there during the autopsy and saw the devastation, and the man walked because of a technicality.
00:48:33Narrator: But now that jerald wingeart's behind bars for the murder of dawn magyar, dennis believes it will be easie TO REOPEN the McVeigh case.
00:48:42Dennis: I think it's a great thing.
00:48:44A person that we are totally convinced committed a homicide 20 years ago is now finally behind bars.
00:48:56Narrator: The magyar case is unique in that it was one of michigan's longest unsolved murder cases.
00:49:03Without the dedication and persistence of police, this case might never have been solved.
00:49:11Pendergraff: One of the personality traits of a police officer is tenacity.
00:49:16And I think that's what makes a good police officer, is that they don't give up easily-- that they don't give up at all.
00:49:23It's by far the greatest sense of accomplishment that I've had so far in my career.
00:49:27I think that you're going to start seeing more of these older cases solved, though, with the technology, and I think suspects who have committed these type of crimes in the past better start wondering when we're gonna knock on their door.
00:49:45Captioning made possible by >> Narrator: For 12 long years, the murder of a young hospital worker went unsolved.
00:49:54Police had their suspicions, but little proof.
00:49:59But an old, used tissue told the story far better than any eyewitness.
00:50:33From the moment she was born, laura wynn was fighting the odds.
00:50:39>> She weighed one pound and 14 ounces -- three months premature.
00:50:45But she was so determined to live that she made it.
00:50:49And they took her home, was blind in one eye from the incubator at that time, and she also had a paralysis on her right side.
00:51:02>> Narrator: As laura grew up in poplar bluff, missouri, she slowly overcame these physical challenges and emerged as a gifted student.
00:51:12>> She worked that paralysis nearly completely out, and she never let that disability blindness ever hold her back from her desires of what she wanted to be and what she wanted to do.
00:51:26>> Narrator: Laura's dream w to work in healthcare, to help others as she had been helped.
00:51:33And she achieved that by becoming a hospital pharmacy technician.
00:51:39>> She was a sweetheart.
00:51:40The people that she associated with there were pretty much her friends as well as her co-workers.
00:51:50Nice girl. nice girl.
00:51:52>> Narrator: Laura's friends looked out for her professionally and personally, and when she didn't show up for work one morning, they called her mother.
00:52:03>> So, her mother said, "well, I'll go down and check and see," you know?
00:52:07So, the landlady opened the door and let her in.
00:52:10And when she went in, she found laura.
00:52:13>> Narrator: Laura had been murdered on her bed, strangled with her stocking.
00:52:20Laura's eyeglasses were on the living room couch.
00:52:23Without them, she was literally blind.
00:52:27It appeared she'd been attacked in her living room and murdered in her bedroom.
00:52:34>> This was a crime of power and control, and she was hit in the head on her blind side.
00:52:40>> Narrator: At first, the motive appeared to be robbery.
00:52:43>> We discovered that there were several items missing from the apartment -- her purse, some of her underwear, some shoes, some clothing.
00:52:54>> Narrator: But there was no sign of forced entry.
00:52:57Did that mean laura knew her killer and let him in the apartment?
00:53:03In retracing laura's steps on the night of her murder, investigators discovered that she left her job at the hospital 30, then went to her usual hangout, a local bar where she had a few drinks and talked with friends.
00:53:20Laura's neighbor recalled seeing her get out of her car and walk into her apartment around 11:15.
00:53:29And red something else.
00:53:32He said that a man walked up to laura as she unlocked her apartment door and walked in with her.
00:53:39>> Well, he told me that the reason why he didn't call the police because he thought that maybe she was just sneaking a boyfriend in her apartment.
00:53:48>> Narrator: But according to laura's friends, she had no current boyfriend.
00:53:54The neighbor described the man as white, medium height, around 160 pounds.
00:54:00But he didn't see face.
00:54:04Unfortunately, the description matched about half the population of poplar bluff, missouri.
00:57:25>> Narrator: Laura wynn's autopsy yielded several surprises.
00:57:30A 2 1/2-inch contusion over laura's right ear indicated she'd been hit hard enough to incapacitate her.
00:57:39>> What would have caused it?
00:57:42It was blunt trauma -- something that didn't lacerate the skin, so it was probably a smooth-surfaced, hard object.
00:57:51>> Narrator: But the cause of death was strangulation, and the amount of force was excessive.
00:57:58>> The ligature itself would have done the job over a period of a few minutes, if that was the intent, but that wasn't good enough.
00:58:08The emotions got high enough that he had to lay his hands on her neck and squeeze and crush two cartilages.
00:58:17>> Narrator: She had also been sexually assaulted.
00:58:21Investigators found no foreign fingerprints in laura's apartment, but underneath laura's body was a clue -- a used paper tissue.
00:58:33There looked to be biological evidence on the tissue.
00:58:37Unfortunately, at the time, the sample was too small for dna testing.
00:58:42Investigators also found two foreign hairs in laura's living room.
00:58:49>> These were sent to the lab found to be pubic hairs of an african-american.
00:58:55>> Narrator: But thi match the description given by the eyewitness, who said a caucasian followed laura into her apartment.
00:59:05of people -- all over their body, every day.
00:59:08She also had a friend who was an african-american who'd been in