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tv   Forensic Files  CNN  August 1, 2015 11:00pm-11:31pm PDT

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with forensic evidence but might not be his last. >> i am sure i'll probably never see anything like it again in my career, but i'm ready for it if i do. -- captions by vitac -- at times, a perpetrator's dna is the only clue at a murder scene. but what happens when you don't have a suspect to compare it to? this case made forensic history when scientists saw in these genes literally the killer's physical description. in the 1600s, baton rouge in louisiana got its game from settlers that means red stick and referred to the pole marking the hunting area of local indian
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tribes. to this day, baton rouge is one of the most racially diverse cities in the country. pam kin more knew the history well by birth and by profession. pam operated an antique store. >> pam loved life. every day she couldn't wait to do all the things she wanted to do. she was fun. she was exuberant. she was enthused. she was intelligent. >> shortly before midnight on a friday in july, 2002, pam's husband byron reported his wife missing. he said when he got home the front door was wide open. his wife's keys were there. but pam was gone. strangely, the bathtub was full of water. >> it looked like she had been
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taking a bath and also there was blood on a rug under the bed and the bedroom that hadn't been there before. >> forensic testing revealed the blood on the carpet was pam's. it appeared that she left her keys in the door inadvertently and an intruder walked in while pam was in the bathtub. the couple's son was sleeping overnight at a friend's house and couldn't shed any light on what had happened. investigators had to consider whether pam had simply run off. but her mother refused even to consider that possibility. >> i told them, i said i'm sure your next thought is she might have had a boyfriend. i said i give you my word of honor, if she had a boyfriend, i would have known and that would be the first name i would give you. pam never looked at another man. byron was her sweetheart. >> pam's family posted missing
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posters and billboards all over the city and offered a $75,000 reward for information as to her whereabouts. for four days, the search continued. pam's body was discovered in the marsh land under the whiskey bay bridge about 60 miles from her home. there was a telephone cord found near her body. >> it's amazing it was found. it was found by surveyors. she was just dumped at whiskey bay. the coroner's office took her into custody. >> the medical examiner discovered pam had been stabbed to death. she had also been sexually assaulted. >> pam was a beautiful young woman. she had a lot of admirers and i thought you know, maybe somebody had a crush on her and took her off. i guess we wanted hope. i never dreamed that she was murdered. do you know what it's like to
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know you will never have any more memories and all the happy time are gone forever. so that's what it's like to lose your child. >> the medical examiner determined that pam had been killed on the night she disappeared. pam's byron had an alibi and it was corroborated by others and he was not considered a suspect. police got a tip from a potential eyewitness. he thought he saw pam slumped forward in a white pickup truck on the night she went missing just a file from where the body was discovered. >> this was a very desolate piece of interstate and very dark. not many vehicles at all would get off here. they need to know where her body was found. >> they described the driver as a young white male. >> police began to look for a white male in a white truck. >> unfortunately there were
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35,000 white pickup trucks registered in the baton rouge area. woman: this is not exactly what i expected. man: definitely more murdery than the reviews said. captain obvious: this is a creepy room. man: oh hey, captain obvious. captain obvious: you should have used their genuine guest reviews are written by guests who have genuinely stayed there. instead of people who lie on the internet. son: look, a finger. captain: that's unsettling. man: you think? captain: all the time. except when i sleep. which i would not do here.
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at pam kinamore's autopsy, pathologists found biological evidence that she had been sexually assaulted, and it also contained the dna profile of her killer. naturally, investigators wanted to know if this perpetrator had been apprehended before. >> we had already taken his dna profile and searched it into the fbi's codis database, which was a national database of offenders as well as evidence from other cases, and we knew then at that point that he had not been linked to any other crimes. >> but this dna evidence did tell police something important. the same man who killed pam kinamore killed two other women several months earlier. >> i had never had experience with a serial killer, you know, other than seeing tv shows. so, all of a sudden, this was
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something that baton rouge hadn't dealt with before and i hadn't dealt with before. >> two months earlier, charlotte murray pace, a graduate student at louisiana state university, had been sexually assaulted and killed in her apartment. >> she was stabbed 81 times. her throat was cut. she was missing part of her ear. it was a very violent, horrible attack. >> all the people, all the women in the world, he picked murray. why? i'd give anything to know why. and i don't know if you can know why because i wonder if he could articulate why, if he knows why himself. >> like pam kinamore's case, there were no signs of forced entry. >> this person was absolutely vicious. >> also in that same neighborhood gina green, a nurse, was sexually assaulted and murdered in her home.
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in all three cases, the common thread was the telephone. either the killer took the victim's telephone or used the cords to restrain his victim. this led to speculation the killer asked his victims for assistance. >> everything he touched he took with him. those were his trophies. it didn't take much for him after he killed them to wipe down the doorknob. he knew everything he touched. >> when residents of baton rouge learned a serial killer was on the loose, they took every possible precaution. at night, the streets were all but empty. but it wasn't enough. several months later, the killer struck again. 23-year-old dene colomb never returned home from visiting her mother's grave. her body was discovered 26 miles away from the cemetery.
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she was sexually assaulted and beaten to death. a witness reported seeing a white male in a white pickup truck near the cemetery, just like pam kinamore's case. and the killer wasn't through. the body of 26-year-old carrie yoder, a doctoral student at lsu, was found near the whisky bay bridge, not far from where pam kinamore's body was discovered. dna tests confirmed the same man sexually assaulted and presumably killed all five women. >> he's very intelligent. i think he was doing a lot of, as i call it, surveillance work. he was stalking his victims. he knew their movements, methods and movements, and he's going to be tough to catch. >> desperate for a lead, police called the fbi in washington, d.c., and asked for a criminal
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investigative analysis of the crimes. >> we thought this was someone who followed women and watched women from afar. and when he interacted with women, it would be shortly into that interaction before they felt uncomfortable with him. >> the fbi predicted the killer was antisocial and earned a below-average income. >> the fbi profile, we had folks come in and that was the whole gist, that we were looking for a white male, 20s, 30s, single, white male. >> although 90% of all serial killers are white, the fbi says they made no prediction of the race of the baton rouge serial killer, despite the perceptions of local officials and information carried in the media. >> i know that there's been some confusion about that. i know what was written and was in the paper, and it just simply wasn't there. >> nevertheless, the local police obtained dna samples from over 1,000 men, most of them
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white between the ages of 20 and 40. most had a history of criminal activity. but not one of them was a match. that's when molecular biologist dr. tony frudakis called investigators with a warning that eyewitnesses and behavioral profiles are not always right. >> that type of information is oftentimes wrong. sometimes people lie. sometimes they're just flat out mistaken. >> so dr. frudakis made police an offer. he said he'd perform a new dna test and promised he could identify the killer's physical characteristics. >> to be honest with you, i didn't really believe. i thought he must be a quack. how can he do this? but he purported he can determine the race of folks from dna, and i said, there is no way in the world he can do that. >> this new test called dna witness ascertains the exact
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ancestry of an individual based on information in their dna. it's rooted in the fact that all humans are descended from a common gene pool. >> so, instead of measuring the pigmentation genes that control pigmentation of the skin, we can make an indirect inference about your skin shade through a very precise knowledge of your ancestral background. >> so the baton rouge police gave dr. frudakis the go ahead. the results made forensic history and changed the course of the investigation. nobody's g and eat like i skipped lunch. why? because red lobster's crabfest is back. and i'm diving into so much crab, so many ways. like crab lover's dream with luscious snow and king crab legs, and rich crab alfredo or this snow crab bake. who knew crab goes with everything? whoever put crab on this salmon, that's who. with flavors like these, i'm almost too excited to eat!
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honey, we need a new refrigerator. visit and get started today. based on statements from two eyewitnesss, baton rouge police were searching for a white male driving a white pickup truck in connection with five unsolved murders. with little to lose, investigators joined forces with a molecular biologist to perform a new test on the killer's dna. >> it's brand-new technology. a lot of these people are unaware of what it can do. we have to go into the human genome and screen through large numbers of people in order to find these positions of dna so that we can harness their power and use them for the purposes we're using them.
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>> to test dr. frudakis' claims, investigators sent him 20 dna samples and asked him to identify the race of each one. >> he nailed them to a "t," even to the percentages of indian, white, black they had in them, so he was able to do it. >> when he passed that test, dr. frudakis went to work on the killer's dna. the results? the dna test showed the killer was not a caucasian. >> the crime scene dna sample corresponded to an individual that was 85% sub-saharan african and 15% native american. >> at first, police couldn't believe it. >> i remember the phone line going silent for a few minutes. i guess they had to digest it. >> kind of threw you off because you know, traditionally, a serial killer's usually a white male. and when it became a black male, just, it threw everybody off.
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>> police now realized the so-called eyewitnesss were wrong, and they realized something else. around the same time of pam kinamore's murder, about 60 miles outside of baton rouge, someone knocked on the front door of a woman named diane alexander and asked to use the phone. when her back was turned, the man ripped the phone cord from the wall and tried to strangle her. as she fought for her life, her son came home unexpectedly. the attacker ran away still carrying the telephone cord. >> the phone cord was actually already sticking out of his vehicle, and her son was able to describe the vehicle very well and describe the phone cord sticking out of it. >> and police remembered finding similar telephone cord near pam kinamore's body.
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was it possible that the killer took diane alexander's telephone cord with him when he killed pam kinamore? to find out, forensic experts compared the telephone cord found with pam kinamore's body to the ripped piece of cord from diane alexander's home by performing a fracture match comparison. although plastic stretches when pulled, the ends usually remain intact. >> they actually took the remaining cord from diane alexander's house and were able to match it to the cord they found at pam kinamore's dump site. in a police lineup, diane alexander identified her attacker as 34-year-old derrick todd lee. he had previous arrests for burglary, stalking women and peeking into their homes. if lee was the baton rouge serial killer, diane alexander was fortunate to be alive.
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derrick todd lee, a manual laborer married with two children, was identified by diane alexander in a police lineup as the man who assaulted her in her home. but he denied he was the baton rouge serial killer.
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lee's dna sample was sent immediately to the forensics lab for testing. it matched the biological samples from all five victims. >> just a sense of relief and joy come over me. you know, and it's like, i had to smile. i said, "we got him." >> derrick todd lee was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. >> the first thing i would tell him is he's a coward. he picked on women. he took advantage of their good nature. >> after his arrest, investigators learned that lee's dna matched skin cells under the fingernails of yet another murder victim, an lsu student, 21-year-old geralyn desoto. prosecutors believe lee followed his victims so he knew when they would be home alone. he would knock on the door, ask to use their phone, and once inside, overpower them.
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fortunately for investigators, he left crucial dna evidence behind. at lee's trial, the sole survivor, diane alexander, identified lee as the man who tried to kill her. and dna from perspiration found on ms. alexander's blouse after the attack matched lee's dna profile, forensic proof he was the perpetrator. >> this is the real deal. and now this lady has come to you and face you and pointed you out. it was devastating. >> derrick todd lee was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death. >> the death penalty is too good for him. they should execute him a little bit at a time. i mean, to do -- you know, rape was not enough. murder was not enough.
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the coroner called it -- these murders, he said, are an overkill. >> some of the victims' families are angry that police relied so heavily on the eyewitness accounts of a white male in a white pickup truck and the fact that most serial killers tend to be white. >> the profile itself was, of course, wrong. it was erroneous. but it was also accepted by the task force as -- it was given the force of fact, when what it is is an educated guess. >> they were getting tons of tips from every direction. they were getting thousands of tips. so, i certainly wouldn't say that, you know, i think they did the best that they could and they worked very hard. >> in this case, dr. tony frudakis made scientific history. it was the first time this biogeographic testing was ever used in a criminal case.
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the technology now has a 99% accuracy rate, and new tests can even predict eye color with 92% accuracy. >> if it can tell you the race, it might be able to tell you exactly who you're looking for. but if it tells you the name and the address and phone number, it's time for me to leave this place. dna's too good then. >> this new test also shows the limitations of behavioral profiles and the fallibility of so-called eyewitnesses. >> i don't think it's too far out there to say that in the future there probably will be much less crime than there is today because people are going to realize that when they commit that rape or they commit that murder, they might as well take their driver's license out of their wallet and toss it on the ground. because they're going to get that information anyway. >> if people are going to commit violent crimes, they need to be accountable, and we need to take
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whatever means necessary to hold them accountable. and that just makes the job of police officers so easy. i think we need to take advantage of science as much as we can when it's for valid reasons. a beautiful home, an affluent woman, a vicious murder. while her husband mourned, investigators searched for clues. a greetings card, an exotic dancer, and an operating room schedule showed investigators a side of medicine they hadn't seen before. y it was valentine's day 2001, and susan hamilton had a busy day planned. her husband, dr. john hamilton, was an obstetrician. susan ran his medical cl.


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