tv Forensic Files CNN July 16, 2014 1:00am-1:31am PDT
for years, criminals used women's hosiery as a mask to hide their identities, but because of its signature characteristics, and textile science identified a killer where an eyewitness couldn't. in the small midwestern town of herron, illinois, murder was like a virtual stranger. it's so rare, that police thought this 911 call was a
prank. >> 911 emergency. >> there's been a rape and murder at the dry cleaning place. >> a rape and a murder? >> yeah, can you tell me where the body is at? >> what is your name sir? >> i can't tell you. the police traced the call to a pay phone near the center of town, just up the street was a dry cleaning store. the front door was open and no one was there. behind the counter was a purse with its contents scattered all over the floor. >> right at that moment is when we thought there's something serious here. >> in the back room, behind a water heater, police found a woman's body. she had been beaten, apparently, with the bloody mop ringer nearby. >> i checked her for a pulse she did not have one that i could locate. >> the victim was identified as
a store employee, 40-year-old kathy woodhouse. he was a married woman with three children. >> she was my mom, she disciplined me and all those things, but she was also my friend. sorry. i'm sorry, guys. >> outside the store, police found a piece of panty hose which the killer may have used as a disguise. investigators wondered whether the man who made the 911 call was somehow involved. >> we listened to this 911 call, could he be a witness or was he the actual assailant of kathy woodhouse. at an investigation we were relatively certain he was probably the killer. >> a gas station attendant saw the man who made the call and described him as a caucasian about 6 feet tall. police took the phone's receiver to the forensics lab for
testing. at the dry cleaning store on the counter, investigators found a check made out in the amount of $14.30. signed by one of the store's customers. when police contacted the woman, she said she was in the store that morning, but no one was there. she found her clothes, wrote a check for the amount she owed and was about to leave when a man came out of the back room and asked if she needed help. >> she told him at that point she was there to get her cleaning. she assumed he was an employee there, she had no reason to believe otherwise. >> the witness described the man as 30 to 35 years old. 6'2" tall and weighing over 200 pounds. >> the police realized that she had come face-to-face with the killer. g, to just losing their balance. and not being able to get up from a fall can have
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i also thought she very well may have been extremely lucky that things happened the way they did and she was not killed at that point in time. >> police used her description to create a sketch, which was distributed to the local media. an autopsy revealed that kathy woodhouse died from blunt-force trauma to the head. >> she received three blows to the left side of her head because there was three separate lacerations to the left side of the head, so that the mop wringer fit the bill as far as its weight, its mass, the variety of surfaces. and when you look at the mop wringer itself, there was at least one part of the mop wringer metals which was bent. >> she had also been sexually assaulted. unfortunately, biological material collected from the rape test kit could not identify the killer's blood type because he was what's known as a nonsecreter. >> a nonsecreter does not
secrete their abo blood type into their secretions. approximately 20% of the population would fall into that class of being a nonsecreter. >> with little else to go on, police turned their attention to the phone receiver used to make the 911 call. the brushes that apply fingerprint powder can sometimes remove some of the fingerprint. so, technicians wanted to stabilize any possible prints by using super glue fuming. it's a little like putting chocolate over ice cream. it creates a protective shell over any print. the heated super glue adheres to any amino acids present. then, fingerprint powder is applied. to better visualize the print, technicians used a dye called ardrox. >> the prints that have soaked up the ardrox will appear a
yellowish color, and then we can photograph those using specialized film. and the end result is, we have a print, potentially, that we would not have without using that dye stain. >> and under an ultraviolet light, investigators found what they were looking for -- a clear print. >> once i told them the news, i could hear other officers in the background, and there was definitely a level of excitement that we hadn't heard for a while with this case. >> but was this the print of the killer? after all, in any given week, hundreds of people use a pay phone. unfortunately, the print did not match any known criminal offenders who had prints on file. >> there were times that we became frustrated, yes, but we still weren't going to give up in the event that this individual was still here, because we had to get him off the street so he wouldn't strike again. >> then police got a valuable tip.
a friend of the murder victim came forward with a startling piece of information. >> the day before kathy was killed, she received a telephone call from someone wanting to know what color of toenail polish that she wore. and when the police got the lead, they went and got all the telephone records from the calls coming into the cleaners on that day. >> according to the phone records, there were only a few calls made to the store that night. one came from a man who lived in town of zeigler, several miles away. >> officers thought at that time, with it being a sex crime, the type of call that they made, that this is probably our guy. >> the man, a 25-year-old construction worker, at first denied making the call. >> we confronted him with the statement concerning the color of the toenails. and he immediately -- you could tell on his expression that he
was the one who made the calls. >> the man eventually admitted that he called kathy woodhouse, but said he meant no harm. >> he stated that he did those type of calls a couple times a month. he was very nervous about that, which is understandable. >> he said he knew kathy because he was a customer of the dry cleaning store, but insisted he had nothing to do with her murder. but investigators weren't so sure.
police investigating the murder of kathy woodhouse were worried. it looked like the attack was random. >> something that scares people to death. they're not accustomed to this type of crime. >> we truly feared that he would possibly strike again and kill another woman, and it was basically a race against time. >> police thought they had their killer when they found a construction worker who made an obscene telephone call to kathy woodhouse on the night before the murder, but he said he had an alibi, that he was teaching a class at a local community college on the morning of the murder. >> we were able to confirm where he was at that following morning of the homicide and was able to rule him out.
>> then, police got another tip. >> the police received an anonymous telephone call that they should check out a paul taylor as a possible suspect in the kathy woodhouse murder and rape. he had recently in december just been released from louisiana prison for aggravated sexual assault. that's all the caller said, and they hung up. >> taylor, only 20 years old, lived with his mother just two blocks from where the murder took place. and police learned that taylor worked at a fast-food restaurant that used the dry cleaner to launder the employees' uniforms. investigators called the manager and asked if taylor was the one who took the clothes to the dry cleaners. >> they said, no, paul taylor would not have brought the clothing over there. however, he just quit his job 15 minutes ago and was planning on going to louisiana. [ sirens ]
>> police rushed to paul taylor's house. >> and when they arrived, paul taylor told them that he had just gotten home from work. one of the officers confronted him with the fact that you didn't just get home from work. the manager just told us you went over there and quit your job, that you were going back to louisiana. >> when questioned, taylor denied any involvement in the murder. taylor's grandmother provided an alibi. she said paul was at home that morning. and taylor bore no resemblance to the description given by the eyewitness. >> he came across very believable. when asked questions like, what should happen to someone that killed kathy woodhouse, his response was "fry him." do you think that individual should get a second chance? his response to that was, "no, there should be no second chance." >> on a hunch, police asked
taylor if they could search his home. he agreed. >> while doing the search, i lifted up the mattress on his bed and immediately saw a pair of women's pantyhose with one leg missing lying on top of two pornographic magazines. >> then police remembered the piece of pantyhose they found on the ground outside the dry cleaning store. was it possible it was cut from the pair found in taylor's home? >> that really raised my curiosity, because now i've seen some physical evidence that may connect him with the crime scene. >> police sent both pieces to forensic microscopist glenn schubert. >> the first exam i did physically then was to try and match up the edges in what we call a physical match. >> but the ends were too frayed for any sort of comparison. but under a microscope, schubert was able to find similarities. >> i was able to determine that
they were both similar knit, a jersey stitch knit pattern. >> next, using high magnification, schubert found another striking similarity -- both pieces contained some unique chemical properties. >> the titanium dioxide is the small, little dots. those are just particles they put in, synthetic fibers, to keep them from being too shiny. and in this particular case, there was a moderate amount of the titanium dioxide delusterant particles in both samples. >> to see if the colors were the same, schubert turned to microspectral photometry. >> the spectra is very unique. it had several peaks, which is a little unusual in color fibers. so, the fact that it had several peaks that was very consistent between two samples made this color comparison very unique. >> since they were both dyed the
same color, had the same amount of titanium dioxide and were the same knit pattern, schubert made a definitive assessment. >> with our cutting-edge technology here, we were able to come up with the results that proved that he was likely the perpetrator of this crime. >> finally, investigators compared taylor's fingerprints to the print found on the pay phone. it was a match. and the fingerprint evidence revealed something else. investigators found paul taylor's left palm print on a plastic garbage bag found near kathy woodhouse's body, proof he was in the back room of the dry cleaning store on the day of the murder. forensic science proved what the eyewitnesses couldn't, that paul taylor had killed kathy woodhouse. >> the truth of the matter is that positive identification is
oftentimes wrong. >> paul taylor was arrested as he was leaving a rock concert with some friends. >> i have a funny feeling he knows it's coming down. he's waving to us, so he's still in good frame of mind. >> he's waving one finger, though. >> that's true. >> police found his nonchalance alarming. >> it was sort of a big joke to him was the way it came across to us.
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prosecutors are unsure whether paul taylor walked into the dry cleaning store to commit robbery, sexual assault, murder or all of the above. >> it would be speculation on our part as to whether he had actually planned on killing her or not. he didn't bring a weapon with him. however, he did apparently have the stocking with him. >> the evidence suggests taylor wore the pantyhose over his head as a disguise. he forced kathy woodhouse to the back room of the store and sexually assaulted her. then he heard someone enter the store. it was a customer who found her dry cleaning and wrote a check for the amount she owed.
taylor needed to make sure she didn't look in the back room, so he removed the disguise, walked out and asked her if she needed help. afterwards, he may have realized kathy woodhouse could identify him, so he killed her with the mop wringer. he left his left palm print on a plastic garbage bag in the back room. then he took $3 from kathy's purse and left the store, but dropped the pantyhose outside. a few blocks away, he called 911 and left his fingerprint on the receiver. >> i can't tell you why paul taylor made the 911 call. sometimes they'll do it to taunt the police, to try to show them they can get by with something, for the reaction that they may get. >> when faced with the forensic
evidence against him, paul taylor confessed. >> he did not hesitate much about telling us that he did kill her. he told her that she was going to rob her and stated that he did take $3 from her purse, but first, he denied having sexually assaulted her. >> investigators discovered taylor was a nonsecreter, consistent with the biological samples from the rape test kit, and they told taylor they didn't believe him. >> at which point he looked down at the floor for several seconds, and then he looked directly at me again, and he said, "i raped her." >> maybe he thought that murder okay, but sexual assault was not. i think he just tried to lessen the severity of it when he first told us that he'd murdered her. >> paul taylor was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
>> i'm glad to know he's going to be in prison and never going to get out and walk the streets and do something like this to someone else. however, i felt like he should have been put to death for what he did. >> after the trial, taylor spoke to the media about the crime. >> as far as murdering her, herself, i don't have any remorse. but going along with her children, i feel sorry about that, you know, but that's all i can say, you know. i can't do anything more. at the time, like i said, i wasn't thinking about murdering her, so i didn't think if she had children. i didn't know if she was married. i didn't know anything about that. >> to be honest, i don't think about paul taylor very much, 'cause i don't focus on my mom's death. i focus on her life more.
and, so, i guess the hardest part is just being without her, not being able to go to the phone, you know, tell her what's going on, not being able to come home to illinois and see her, and you know, just all the fun things that we did and enjoyed before. >> this was a case where an eyewitness's description wasn't nearly as accurate as the forensic evidence. >> the forensic evidence in this case was extremely important. without that, i don't believe we would have been able to make an arrest on taylor. i doubt we would have got a confession from him. >> this case is a classic example of all of the law enforcement community working together, from the local police departments to the sheriff's department to the state's attorney's office to the crime lab. >> i think in my 20 years, this is the most obvious case of a situation where without the forensic evidence, we would not have had the probable cause to
arrest paul taylor. he very probably would still be walking the streets, and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would have killed again. the murder of an eccentric millionaire was not entirely a surprise. he flaunted his wealth and cared little about personal security. the evidence clearly indicated robbery, but investigators wondered if there was more. battle creek, michigan, is home to one of the largest breakfast foodmakers in the world. some call it cereal city. 80-year-old robert rogers lived his entire life in battle creek. through some real estate investments and his ownership of a small trucking business, he was a millionaire many times