Soldier and young father Layne Schmidtke is brutally beaten to death by a mob of teenagers. Kenda must reconstruct the chaotic scene through forensic evidence and witness testimonies, which reveals an unlikely suspect as the murderous ringleader. -Slaughterhouse Six, Homicide Hunter (S2, E5)
On September 21, 1991, Layne Schmidtke was found near death on the streets of Colorado Springs, Colorado just before midnight. Layne was transported to the hospital where he later died of blunt force trauma. The death was a result of what was believed to be a street fight gone bad. Lt. Joe Kenda needed to find out why this happened. What were the dynamics that lead to the fight? Investigators wanted to speak with witnesses and found Joseph Reeves at the scene of the crime who admitted he was with Layne when the fight began. Joseph and Layne were great friends and he described Layne as a nice guy and married father of twin daughters. There appeared to be no reason for the brutal attack. Kenda and fellow officers found some individuals with blood on their clothing but until they had more information, it wasn’t enough to arrest them.
Joseph Reeves helped Lt. Joe Kenda understand what happened on the night they were randomly attacked. He said they went out and grabbed some dinner and were on their way home when they were confronted by a group of teens. The trash talk lead to a fight and Layne was punched in the face which resulted in him falling to the ground. Joseph Reeves was able to extricate himself from the fight but in the chaos realized Layne was still under attack. The group of teens were beating and kicking him while he was on the ground. An ambulance arrived on the scene and this ended the fight and the participants scattered. Kenda said it appeared Layne was attacked without any provocation whatsoever. Kenda wanted to know why these kids were motivated to harm Layne? Reeves didn’t know who attacked them during the fight. It all happened so fast.
Kenda learned that Layne Schmidtke and Joseph Reeves were in the Army and served together with the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Kenda wondered if Layne was attacked because he was a soldier. Kenda found another eye witness at the scene of the crime: Dan Davis. Davis told him that the group of teens who attacked Layne were from the local high school. Kenda learned these were good kids who came from good homes so it was surprising to learn of their involvement in this crime. Davis admitted yelling “COPS!” hoping to break up the fight and the group of teens did indeed scatter. Davis said he didn’t know the names of the individuals in the fight. The police collected evidence from the scene and Kenda went back to the station to speak with the individuals found with blood on their clothing.
The first teen they spoke to didn’t fit the modus operandi of someone who would beat a soldier to death. This teen’s dad was an Army soldier himself and this kid was more likely to join the Army, then beat someone serving in the Army. This teen was not able to identify suspects involved in the fight. But nonetheless, Joe Kenda wanted to test the blood on his clothing to determine who it belonged to. Next Kenda spoke with Anthony Phenix and Kevin Moore. When Kenda questioned Anthony, Anthony admitted the blood on his clothing came from the chaos of the fight. He said he was accidentally dragged into the fight and was hit and hit others but he didn’t know who he was fighting. Kenda needed more information and interviewed Anthony Moore next.
Kevin Moore said he was drunk and passed out in the backseat of a car when someone awoke him to inform him of the fight. Kevin went to the scene and admitted dragging Anthony Phenix from the brawl. So far all the individuals involved in the fight made it appear they were accidentally involved in the fight. Kenda collected the bloody clothing from all three suspects and sent it to the lab to be analyzed. Then Kenda got a call from a witness who claimed she was being threatened if she said anything to the cops. Kenda questioned this high school student to learn more. She said she didn’t see anything but she heard a friend admit that they ‘killed the dude’ while they were on their way home after the fight. She gave Kenda the individual’s name. His name was Dominic Peres.
Kenda had probable cause now because Dominic threatened a witness, a felony crime. They went to Dominic’s home to confront him about the incident. Dominic denied any involvement in the fight. He claimed he was down town but he never saw an assault. Kenda wanted to collect his clothing as evidence but Dominic’s mother admitted she washed the bloody clothing the day before. Before leaving their home, Kenda observed the shoes Dominic was wearing had blood on them. As a result, Dominic was arrested and taken to the County lock-up. Kenda now had to determine who did what that fatal night and had to sift through all the lies. Kenda wasn’t about to let anyone get away with this level of extreme violence. There were now four suspects in custody while they waited for the results from the lab.
Meanwhile, Kenda went to the high school and the principal provided Kenda with a group of female students who witnessed the fight. They were able to provide Kenda with the circumstances that lead to the deadly fight. Apparently these same teens fought with two other Army soldiers in a car, not Layne and Joseph. The GIs were hitting on the girls and the teens were trying to run them off. They drove away. When the teens noticed two other individuals who looked like GIs, they decided to take out their anger on these two unsuspecting individuals. The teens told them to get off their turf and then struck Layne first. They wanted revenge on a pair of soldiers and any two soldiers would do. Kenda finally understood what happened that night; these teens were looking for trouble. But Kenda still needed to find out who was responsible for the attack.
The teen high school students were able to tell Kenda exactly who was involved. A new name was dropped that he hadn’t heard yet. Kenda asked who threw the first punch and it wasn’t Dominic as suspected; it was Anthony Phenix, a star quarterback high school football player. Kevin Moore, Dominic Peres and Shawn Stancil all jumped in the fight and started punching and kicking Layne while he was on the ground. They also identified two more teens involved: Robert Dean and Daniel Davis. Kenda remembered Davis was the helpful teen at the crime scene and at the time they had no idea he was involved in the fight too. Kenda went to Davis’ home and confronted him with the new information. Davis continued to lie to them but cracked and finally offered a confession, claiming he only kicked him once in the feet area. Davis was arrested and in placed in custody.
Kenda searched for the sixth suspect: Robert Dean. Kenda confronted Dean and he denied everything but Kenda observed blood on his shoes as well. Dean was arrested and placed in custody too. The blood analysis from the lab came back and the results were mixed. Nonetheless, all six suspects were charged with murder because of the eye witness testimony. Three were juveniles and three were adults but they were all charged as adults. Daniel Davis and Robert Dean were each sentenced to several years of probation; Robert Dean had violated the terms of his probation and was sentenced to three years. Kevin Moore was sentenced to 12 years of hard time in prison. Shawn Stancil and Dominic Peres receive sixteen years in prison. And Anthony Phenix, the guy who started the fight, was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 24 years in prison. The police believe no one intended to kill anyone that night but their collective actions resulted in the untimely death of Army Pfc. Layne Schmidtke.
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