tv Forensic Files CNN September 5, 2015 9:00pm-9:31pm PDT
up next, three college students are murdered. it looks as if one person had killed them all. >> he picked on young women, picked on pretty women. >> police immediately have a suspect. >> in law enforcement terms, it's almost like winning the lottery. >> but not everyone was convinced he was the one. >> if he's going to brag about three, why not four? >> he mentioned all the other cases, but never mentioned susan schumake. >> for 20 years, questions remained, until decades-old evidence reveals the terrible truth. >> it's a horrifying thing to think that there's more than one monster in your community at one time. ♪
>> it was a week before the fall semester began in 1981. susan schumake moved back to the campus of southern illinois university at carbondale. she was anxious to start her senior year. >> she had just gotten a job at the radio station, and she was going to be doing some of the broadcast work. >> sue schumake, section three, description, narration and dialogue. >> on august 17th, susan left the radio station just before 6:00 p.m. she planned to meet her girlfriend for dinner. but she never arrived. >> the friend who she was supposed to have supper with called her roommate, mary. mary did not know where she was at. later into the night, approaching midnight, they started calling all their friends. they went to places where they thought she might have gone.
>> the next day, with still no word from susan, the police were notified. that night, officers noticed some trampled vegetation near a dirt footpath students use to walk from one side of the campus to the other. >> as he walked into the weeds a little deeper with a flashlight, and the weeds were quite high, it was very difficult to see, then all at once, he saw susan's body. >> this was something that really undid us. this was -- it was obviously a horrible thing. and i immediately started crying. it was a very terrible moment for me. >> it appeared that susan had been beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted. police assumed the crime occurred just after susan left the radio station between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m., which meant she was abducted and attacked in broad daylight. >> this was in the middle of the day that this happened. and i think that really -- that
was one of the more scary things to people, is that it was so random. >> police asked anyone who might have seen anything suspicious to come forward. they also interviewed all of susan's friends, including her past romantic relationships. >> there had been a few people who had attempted to date her that she had denied. so they, of course, became part of a growing suspect pool. >> police also had to consider whether the perpetrator was a stranger. >> because of the location of the murder and its accessibility to a number of dormitories, they were looking at dormitory lists and who lived -- who lived in the area. >> she was such a blameless victim. the thing that we're all afraid of is some monster coming out of nowhere and snagging someone we love or snagging ourselves. and that's what happened to susan. >> then police learned of a remarkable coincidence. on the day susan was murdered, a subcontractor working on the new campus gymnasium had employed a
man who had been a suspect in two murders. both victims were students at the university. >> he was within 300 or 400 yards. you've got to remember, he's working on a campus where there are 8,000 or 9,000 pretty girls walking around every day. >> the investigators that day figured that if a woman was raped and murdered, he's the one who did it. there's a more enjoyable way to get your fiber. try phillips' fiber good gummies plus energy support. it's a new fiber supplement that helps support regularity and includes b vitamins to help convert food to energy. mmmmm, these are good! nice work, phillips! the tasty side of fiber, from phillips'.
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digestive core.r so choose ultimate flora by renewlife. it has 30 billion probiotic cultures. feel lighter and more energized. ultimate flora. more power to your gut. within days of susan schumake's murder, john paul phillips topped the list of suspects. >> he was known about town as kind of a hellion. i met him early in his life. he was -- had a terrible temper. i met him when he was perhaps 15 or 16 years old in a fight. he tried to beat some kid to death with a baseball bat. >> phillips had been a suspect in the rape and murder of two other southern illinois university students five years earlier. 21-year-old theresa clark was found raped and murdered in her apartment off campus. at the time, john paul phillips lived in an apartment about 100 feet away.
>> we worked that case to death. we didn't have any fingerprints. dna was way in the future. we had no witnesses. we didn't have much of anything to go on. but we felt pretty comfortable that he might be our person. >> one year later, 24-year-old kathleen mcsherry was also found raped and stabbed in her apartment. again, john paul phillips lived in the neighborhood. >> again, no dna, no fingerprints. where's john paul now? well, it turned out he lived just a few blocks north. >> there had been insufficient evidence to arrest john paul phillips for either murder, but in susan schumake's murder, police finally got a break. at susan's autopsy, the medical examiner found two foreign hairs on her body, presumably from her killer. >> one was a body hair, one was a pubic hair that was recovered from susan's body. >> phillips willingly provided hair samples for comparison. based on microscopic
examination, phillips' hair was not similar, so he was eliminated as a suspect. despite the hair analysis, susan's family was convinced that john paul phillips was susan's killer. >> and they didn't take phillips into custody at the time. they didn't arrest him or charge him, which i didn't understand at the time, because i thought that they had enough reason to. >> later, phillips committed several assaults that landed him in jail. >> he went out to the devil's kitchen, spotted a young lady and her boyfriend at one of the campgrounds, approached them with a gun. he went over to carterville and kidnapped a girl, too. >> but police finally got a break in susan schumake's case. first, they found susan's yellow backpack in the piles fork creek behind the dormitories. her wallet was missing. friends said she usually carried
about $10. and a campus worker found a small red bag with some toiletry items not far from where susan schumake was murdered. inside, police found some identification. >> he finds a pharmaceutical bottle that has the name daniel woloson, but it was prescribed at the menard correctional center. >> they did some checking on him and found that he was on parole, and so he became a person of interest. >> 21-year-old daniel woloson campus at the time of the murder. >> daniel was working at the quad apartments, which is probably about a quarter mile away from the crime scene. >> when questioned by police, woloson said he had an alibi for the night of susan schumake's murder, that he was with a friend. >> and the officers took him to the various locations trying to
find this person with whom he spent the night, were unsuccessful. >> woloson cooperated with police and provided hair samples. but the next day when police went to speak with him again, he was gone. in his room, they found a torn note. some of the pieces were in the toilet. the rest were in a trash can. >> it read almost like a suicide note. >> i don't know why it's always me. i know i can't handle prison again. i know everyone is better off this way. >> police continued to search for woloson until they examined his hair sample. woloson's hair was not consistent with the hair found on susan's body, so he was eliminated as a suspect. the case threatened to go cold, until john paul phillips, now in prison for rape and kidnapping, allegedly bragged about his murders to his prison cellmate, thomas moccabe.
>> he provides detailed information about these murders, detail that only the killer would have known. >> phillips provided details about the murders of college students kathleen mcsherry and teresa clark, but also confessed to killing a third woman, a >> if he's going to brag about three, why not four? >> police believe that john paul phillips killed susan schumake, too. but if they were wrong, a murderer was still at large.
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in november of 1986, john paul phillips went on trial for the murder of joan weatherall, one of the three murders phillips allegedly confessed to during a conversation with his prison cellmate. >> in fact, when we were done, the judge said, i'm not only satisfied he did this one, i think he put on a good enough case, i could convict him for the other two. the judge said that in open court. >> on the day he was sentenced, phillips addressed the court. >> he said, "well, i didn't kill her, but i hope she felt every bit of it." and the judge immediately sentenced him to death. then he went off to prison on death row.
>> but before the sentence was carried out, he died in prison of a heart attack at the age of 40. although phillips bragged to his prison cellmate about killing three women, he never mentioned susan schumake. but her family still believed he was responsible. >> we thought that phillips was the murderer, and he went to jail and he died in jail. so, my family, consequently, thought, well, this is done with. it's over. he's dead. >> others weren't so sure. for one thing, susan's murder was different from the others. >> most of his murders were under darkness, and that wasn't the situation with susan schumake. >> lieutenant paul echols was susan's classmate in college and had kept the picture from her case file on his desk. >> you could just look at that picture. you could see that this was a happy moment.
a father standing with his daughter. very proud. and knowing the story that i knew by that time, that she had been murdered, it was something that always held my attention. >> by the year 2000, almost two decades after susan's murder, a new dna process called pcr made it possible to test a small biological sample, where in the past, much larger samples were needed. >> essentially, that process is just xeroxing dna. so we're just copying the specific portions of dna that we're interested in analyzing. >> so analysts tested the small biological sample taken from susan schumake's autopsy and were able to identify the dna profile of the killer. >> john paul phillips' dna sample was not on file, so investigators took the extraordinary step of requesting that the state exhume his body.
a dna sample was obtained from phillips' bone marrow. it did not match the dna from the crime scene. >> i called and spoke with susan's mother, and she was very disappointed. but you know, i tried to assure her that we would continue to go forward and try to identify the suspect. >> i was angry at the time, because i felt we had closure, it was done with. >> and there was more bad news. the dna did not match anyone in the statewide database of known criminal offenders. if the killer wasn't phillips or anyone who committed a felony before the dna database was created, then who was it? >> you know, where do we go from here? and the obvious answer is, let's dig back into the case and let's see who else was a suspect in those days. who else can we get a dna standard from? let's just keep going until we run out of suspects.
>> the first person on their list was daniel woloson. he was originally a suspect. he was working a quarter mile away on the day of the murder. then he ran off when police tried to question him. police found him in michigan where he worked at an auto salvage yard. by this time, he was divorced with one child and did not want to talk with police. >> woloson told them that he had provided hair samples and fingerprints back in 1981. he was not interested in cooperating with their investigation. >> investigators wanted a dna sample. woloson refused to provide one, and the courts refused to order one, citing the lack of probable cause. woloson's hair was on file from the original investigation, but the samples didn't contain root material, so they couldn't be
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paul echols was convinced he was closing in on susan schumake's killer. but only dna could prove it. and the suspect, daniel woloson, wasn't willing to provide it. so michigan state police decid they'd take his dna in a perfectly legal manner. >> they decided to run surveillance on him. the whole purpose was to try to get something that might have daniel woloson's dna so we could either identify him or eliminate him. >> it wasn't easy. since woloson worked in an auto parts salvage yard, only other employees could get close to him without arousing suspicion. then police learned he had recently sold his car. and they knew he smoked cigarettes. so they traced the car to its new owner. >> they asked him about the cigarette butts in the ashtray. he says, well, i don't smoke, and all my friends throw their
cigarette butts out the window. so these are, like, when i bought the car. >> there were more than a dozen cigarette butts. police hoped at least one was from daniel woloson. they gave the evidence to dna analyst jennifer andrew. >> what i gathered from speaking with the investigator in charge, there was a homicide about 20 years ago of a college student. and you know, me being recently out of college, it was a little bit personal for me. >> one by one, andrew cut open the cigarette filters, often a good source of dna. >> because that's where all the saliva and skin cells would be deposited. >> the samples were treated with a solvent that separates the dna. a profile was generated from an unknown male. the profile was sent to illinois for comparison with the 20-year-old genetic material left at susan schumake's murder. and it matched daniel woloson.
naturally, lieutenant echols would need another dna test to confirm the dna results from the cigarette. until then, echols wanted to prevent woloson from fleeing, so he tried a ruse. from him that would give me enough to get an arrest warrant. i gave him the story about the witness, which is not true. i tell him that there was a person that he worked with at the quad apartments who had stepped forward and had seen daniel woloson walking down a path behind wright 1 carrying a yellow backpack during the evening that she was murdered. and i took it just a little bit further and told him that i had a fingerprint that was identified to him from that backpack. and then immediately, without me saying a thing, he said, "you know, i only took $10 from that
backpack," so i knew he was telling me the truth. >> so woloson was arrested and he was forced to provide an additional dna sample. that test left no doubt he was the source of the dna found on susan schumake. prosecutors cannot fathom a reason for susan schumake's murder. they believe woloson saw her walking alone along the dirt path. and he decided to attack her. [ screaming ] it was late in the day. no one heard or saw anything. he left behind his dna. then, took her yellow backpack. stole $10 from her purse, dumped it in the creek, then dropped his bag with the pharmacy prescription in it not far away. >> it's that randomness that's so frightening. she wasn't stalked. she wasn't selected.
she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. >> despite the evidence against him, woloson pleaded not guilty. in march of 2006, 25 years after susan's murder, daniel woloson was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. the university has now built a well-lighted pedestrian overpass so students no longer have to walk through the overgrown dirt path where susan was abducted and murdered. it was named in susan's honor. >> my wife had made the comment, she said, you know, i wonder how much it costs to have one of these overpasses built. and i said, i'll tell you what it costs. it costs one human life. >> that's why we do what we do, you know, to bring justice to these families, so the families deserve a lot of credit, as well. they're the people who push us along the way.
>> i went back to the site again after the trial. up next, a well-known business owner is brutally attacked at work. >> there was a lot of blood on the floor, on the walls, on the door. >> is it the work of a disgruntled employee? >> no one trusted him. he leaves due to stress. >> or a robbery gone wrong? >> i had given her $1,000 the night she was killed. that $1,000 was never found. >> a witness comes forward with a possible motive. >> she made me promise that if anything happened to her, i'd go immediately to the police. >> the evidence answers some questions and raises many more. >> it didn't look planned. ♪