Retired Marine Brian Brimager Pleaded Guilty to the Second Degree Murder of Yvonne Baldelli in Panama; Sentenced to 26 Years in Federal Prison (2011)

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Yvonne Baldelli and Brian Brimager, US Marine Corps Veteran

Retired Marine Brian Brimager pleaded guilty on February 24, 2016 to murdering his girlfriend Yvonne Baldelli in Panama on November 27, 2011. Brimager admitted in a California US District Court that he had viciously beat, stabbed, dismembered and dumped Yvonne in the jungle. In his guilty plea, Brimager also admitted to obstructing the investigation into her murder by destroying, concealing and disposing of evidence, including a blood-stained mattress, clothes and jewelry;  killing Baldelli’s two dogs; accessing Baldelli’s email account after her murder and impersonating Baldelli in emails sent from her account to friends and family; withdrawing money from Baldelli’s bank account in Costa Rica after her death; and providing false statements to an FBI agent in an attempt to make it seem as though Baldelli were alive and well and traveling with another man in Costa Rica. The prosecutor told the court that Brimager killed Baldelli in order to silence her because she discovered he had a girlfriend and daughter in San Diego, California. Brimager was afraid Baldelli would ruin his relationship with his new girlfriend by revealing their relationship to her. In an interesting twist, Brimager married his girlfriend in San Diego two weeks after he killed Yvonne. Brian Brimager was sentenced in federal court to twenty-six years for second degree murder and ordered to pay $11,132 in restitution to Baldelli’s father and a $10,000 fine.

“This murder was particularly cruel and depraved…The lengths Mr. Brimager went to to avoid detection were particularly brazen and ultimately shattering to the Bardelli family. I dare say they will never recover. A day may never go by without them thinking of Ms. Baldelli’s murder and the images seared in to their psyches.” –US District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller

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FBI: Retired Marine Sentenced to 26 Years in Prison for Fatally Stabbing his Girlfriend, Dismembering her Body with a Machete and Dumping her Remains in the Panamanian Jungle
Retired Marine admits killing, dismembering girlfriend
Machete Slicing of Girlfriend Nets Ex-Marine 26-Year Term
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‘Island of Lost Dreams’: Wife Stands by Husband Convicted of Killing Girlfriend
Wife stands by Marine husband who killed girlfriend (Pt. 1)
Wife stands by Marine husband who killed girlfriend (Pt. 2)
Wife stands by Marine husband who killed girlfriend (Pt. 3)
Wife stands by Marine husband who killed girlfriend (Pt. 4)
Wife stands by Marine husband who killed girlfriend (Pt. 5)
‘Semper free!!!!!!’: The ‘cruel and depraved’ case of the murderous Marine veteran
Parents of woman BRUTALLY murdered by ex-Marine boyfriend speak of their heartbreak


An ex-Marine with a secret life has a girlfriend who goes missing in Panama – was it murder? -48 Hours

Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Secret Life’ on Investigation Discovery: Nolly Depadua Strangled Married Woman to Silence Sextortion Threats (November 22, 2011)

ID Go: After Lourdes Riddle in found strangled to death in the trunk of her car, homicide detective Joe Kenda follows the trail through a twisting maze of military and cultural secrets. Just what was Lourdes doing behind her husband’s back? -Secret Life, Homicide Hunter (S1, E5)

Investigation Discovery featured back to back episodes of Homicide Hunter with Lt. Joe Kenda. Kenda is a retired detective from the Colorado Springs Police Department. Colorado Springs is also the home of US Army base Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base. As a result, Lt. Kenda worked closely with investigating authorities at both bases throughout the years when one of his murder cases involved a member of the military or their dependents. If a crime against a military member or their dependents occurred off-base within the jurisdiction of Colorado Springs, Lt. Joe Kenda had the legal authority to investigate the strangling death of an Air Force wife found in the jurisdiction of Colorado Springs.

Construction workers found an abandoned car that had been set on fire on their property on March 26, 1985. The scene looked suspicious so they contacted the police to investigate the situation. The police found Air Force spouse Lourdes Riddle strangled to death in the trunk of her own car. Lt. Joe Kenda was called to the scene to investigate the crime further and determined that whoever killed Lourdes also tried to cover up their crime. They found that an accelerant (gasoline) was used to burn the car and a brick was on the driver’s side floor of the car (as if it was used to hold down the gas pedal). As Kenda was processing the crime scene, two Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) personnel showed up and claimed they were taking charge of the investigation. They informed Kenda they had the husband, TSgt Mark Riddle, who worked at NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain, in custody on Peterson AFB.

Kenda’s response to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations personnel was priceless and proves that he truly is a fierce detective that all law enforcement should emulate. He was not intimidated by the feds in the least bit when the crime occurred in his jurisdiction. He shared that even it was their house, how dare they walk into his crime scene. Kenda was absolutely shocked when they shared they had enlisted soldier, Mark Riddle, in their office at Peterson AFB. Their attitude was that it was obvious who did it because in most cases it was the husband or boyfriend. When in fact, Kenda was disappointed that they may have tainted the case by initiating an ‘immediate arrest’. He was afraid that this outside agency, who had no jurisdiction, had advised Mark Riddle of his rights and he would want a lawyer now. His guilt was not obvious to Kenda who did not automatically assume that the husband committed the crime. He simply wanted to talk to him, not accuse him. Kenda felt that their actions may prevent him from doing an interview which could really damage the case. Kenda admitted to making mistakes in his lifetime but he also shared that he gets really upset when someone else makes them for him. If all investigators operated like Kenda and made assumptions based on fact finding, we could better protect the due process rights of individuals.

Kenda gains access to Mark Riddle and learns that Lourdes is a 31 year old from the Philliphines who has been married to him for nine years. There was in fact trouble in paradise and Mark admitted that his wife had been spending time with and maybe even sleeping with other men. They were not happily married. He claimed he was home the night of the murder and had no alibi. Mark asked for a polygraph test to prove his innocence and passed it, then let the investigators search his home. Although adultery is a motive for murder, Kenda determined that Mark Riddle was honest, credible, and was no longer considered a suspect. This case was not a sex crime but it was a personal and angry crime as evidenced by the ligature strangulation. Kenda felt that this person wanted to punish her and wanted to feel her die. This person was deemed the “Pantyhose Strangler” in the media. After talking to Lourdes family, Kenda learned that Lourdes was threatened by more then one person. Kenda wasn’t sure if she was a target because of Mark’s work at a secret military base or if it was because of her own secret life.

The Air Force couple lived on Peterson AFB. Kenda learned that Lourdes went to night clubs that soldiers frequented. She was into the nightlife, partying, and dancing. Her neighbors reported that she was in and out of the house all the time, usually dressed up with high heels, short skirts and make-up. During Kenda’s investigation into the circumstances of Lourdes secret life, rumors began to circulate at the enlisted men’s club on Fort Carson that she was extorting Army soldiers. In the meantime because of media coverage, an eye witness came forward with a description of a suspect that was found near the scene of the crime that night. He was a black male about 6’8. Kenda asked those who frequented the enlisted club on base if she was dating anyone matching the description. He learned that she only dated Phillipino men and wouldn’t give any other guy the time of day. The rumor was that she draws soldiers in like a Venis flytrap. She specifically sought out Phillipino soldiers. She would have a relationship with them, claim that she was pregnant, and threaten to go to their military Commander if they did not give her money for an abortion.

Lt. Kenda learned of blackmail accusations involving Nolly Depadua, a Phillipino soldier stationed at Fort Carson. Nolly had a friend named Brian Hawkins, also a Fort Carson soldier, who matched the description of the suspect described near the scene of the crime the night Lourdes was murdered. Kenda spoke to Brian with the approach that the facts would give him a theory. Initially Hawkins denied any involvement but Kenda believed that he was lying based on his body language during the interview. He requested he undergo a polygraph test and Hawkins failed miserably. When confronted with the results, Hawkins begins to cry. Hawkins told Kenda that Lourdes wanted money from Nolly Depadua. She claimed she was pregnant and was going to contact the Commander if he didn’t give her money. Nolly was concerned that his family would be ashamed of him if he got kicked out of the military. Nolly strangled Lourdes with the pantyhose.

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Nolly Depadua, U.S. Army

Kenda arrested Nolly and learned from him that they had sex, and she wanted $1000 for an abortion. According to Nolly, Lourdes took his Army dress uniform, used it as ransom, and threatened to burn it if he didn’t give her the money. His career and that uniform meant everything to him. The night of the murder, Nolly asked Lourdes to meet him and give him back his uniform. Lourdes showed up without the uniform. He snapped and strangled her to death in an effort to solve his extortion problems and save his career. Nolly elicits the help of Brian to help him get rid of the body. Unlike in the movies, the car did not explode in a ball of flames like the pair was expecting. The evidence at the scene of the crime was mostly unharmed. According to Kenda, both of the soldiers appeared to show remorse for the crime. Although Lourdes Riddle was a participant in her own death and her behavior caused this reaction, she did not deserve to die. Nolly Depadua made a decision to take a life and you can’t do that. Due to the circumstances surrounding the homicide, he was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. He was released after seven. Lt. Kenda ended the show with: “saying she got what she deserved is not fair.”

A couple issues come to mind when it comes to the way the military handles investigations of felony crimes. Why did the Air Force Office of Special Investigations want to take jurisdiction of this case? Why did they do an ‘immediate arrest’ instead of investigating the circumstances and basing their decisions on fact finding? Why don’t they realize that their actions actually hinder the thorough investigations of cases. Research does in fact support that most spouses are murdered by their significant others but we have this thing called due process in the civilian world. The way Kenda felt about OSI interfering and possibly damaging the case was legitimate. And Kenda approached the investigation of the case in the way that detectives should move forward. He simply wanted to talk to the spouse, not accuse of him of the crime. So far there was no evidence to prove that Mark Lourdes had committed the crime. The way the Air Force OSI handled this case is part of the reason that the military justice system is under fire. They have been accused of overreach to include not affording due process rights to both victims of crime and those accused of a crime. They have been accused of railroading military members with an iron fist and as Joe Kenda would say ‘draconian and ruthless’ tactics. They have been accused of making a victim fearful of coming forward if they were involved in a military crime, like adultery or drinking underage. Nolly Depadua is yet another example of a crime involving the motive of fear when someone threatens to go to a military commander.

This is the heart of the military justice system debate. A commander hears each person’s story and determines who is guilty and who is not guilty based on that evidence alone usually. Commanders make the decision whether to prosecute someone in the military. If felony cases were handled by prosecutors who understood the modus operandi of sociopaths, psychopaths, and predators, would our soldiers feel more comfortable reporting a crime without the fear of damaging or losing their own career. It’s a theme that comes up over and over in military cases and needs to be examined. Are soldiers hesitant to report crimes perpetrated against them to their Commander if they have engaged in illegal behavior of any kind to include drinking under age and adultery? If this is the case, we must remove this barrier so that our soldiers feel safe to report felony crimes perpetrated against them without fear of losing their careers because they committed a misdemeanor.

If Nolly had a safe place to report that Lourdes was extorting him despite the adultery issue, could we have prevented this murder? We don’t want our soldiers to feel like they have nowhere to turn if they are targeted by those who know how to manipulate unsuspecting Commanders. It’s important to recognize that both male and female soldiers can be targeted by male or female sociopaths and predators. Reporting crimes to your commander is currently a battle of whose story is more believable and what they feel or don’t feel like dealing with. Commanders hold the key to moving forward with a case or not in our current military justice system. Do they have the skills necessary to investigate and determine who should be prosecuted for crimes? Commanders may not realize that they could tip people off who need to be questioned simply by prematurely inquiring into something which creates an opportunity for collusion.

In the civilian world, you most likely will not lose your career for adultery. Yet in the military, adultery is treated like any other crime in the courts martial process and soldiers can and do lose their careers. It’s not worth a life when people feel that they have to take matters into their own hands to protect what should never been taken from them to begin with. This is why the reporting of felony crimes needs to be moved away from the Commander and to a trained investigator who can help the prosecution determine whether a crime has been committed or not. Prosecutors cannot win cases if the defendants are not afforded due process rights. And this is what gives civilian law enforcement the advantage because they are forced to work within a justice system that protects the constitutional rights of the accused. We want to respect those rights in our pursuit of justice because that is how we will get justice. We should ensure our soldiers that if a felony offense is committed against them that they can safely report the crime without the fear of losing their career.

Source: ‘Secret Life’ Homicide Hunter

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Secret Life | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (S1, E5)
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado
Nowhere to Turn: Soldier Extorted by a Military Wife Ends in Murder
Army CID warns Soldiers to beware of ‘sextortion’ scams

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Nico Cruz SantosStandoff Gunman’s Past Includes Sex Charges

Air Force officials say 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Nico Cruz Santos was taken into custody at Schriever Air Force Base at about 8 p.m. Monday. They’re still investigating how he managed to get his personal handgun into the base before barricading himself in a building for ten hours.

Read more:  http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/Security_Increased_At_Schriever_134254968.html?device=phone

Disabled Army Veteran Justin Crowley-Smilek Shot and Killed By Farmington, Maine Police Officer in Confrontation Outside Station (2011)

Justin Crowley-Smilek

Justin Crowley-Smilek, US Army Veteran

Army veteran Justin Crowley-Smilek was shot and killed by a Farmington, Maine police officer on November 19, 2011. According to reports, it is believed that Justin went to the police station for help but would be accused of yielding a knife and chasing the officer when he was shot. Justin had deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and returned suffering with Post Traumatic Stress. He was eventually honorably discharged from the military for PTSD. He moved back to Maine to live with his parents after his discharge from the Army. The Maine State Attorney General’s office deemed the shooting justified. In January 2013, the family pursued civil justice in the U.S. District Court against Officer Ryan Rosie and the Town of Farmington. The wrongful death lawsuit claimed their son had gone to the police station in mental distress seeking help and that Rosie used excessive force against him. They believed Rosie had insufficient training and panicked when their son confronted him. According to a notice filed with the court, the lawsuit settled in January 2016.

Related Links:
Man fatally shot outside of town office by Farmington police
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Beyond the yellow ribbon: The tragic death of Justin Crowley-Smilek
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Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘A Killer Always Rings Twice’ on Investigation Discovery: Lt. Joe Kenda Hunts for Serial Rapist & Killer Tracy Spencer (November 8, 2011)

ID Go: When 22 year-old Micki Filmore is found raped and murder in her apartment, detective Kenda focuses his investigation on her activities the previous night. Micki was seen dancing with a man who then paid a late night call to her door. -A Killer Always Rings Twice (S1, E3)

Colorado Springs is the home of five military bases made up of about 40,000 personnel. A lot of them live off-base in local apartment units. On July 19, 1986, as Army Spc. Tracy Spencer was walking by, he noticed his neighbor Micki Filmore was laying lifeless on the floor in her apartment. He was alarmed and ran to his wife Lisa to seek help. She claims she went through the window of the apartment because of her own concern for Micki and discovered that she was in fact dead. They called the police. Lt. Joe Kenda of the Homicide Unit at the Colorado Springs Police Department was assigned to investigate the case. Kenda deduced from the observation of the crime scene that there did not appear to be any struggle, the victim’s wallet and cash were present, and she was naked with her legs open and bruising around her neck. He suspected Micki Filmore was raped and strangled in a quick and brutal attack.

Joe talked about the crimes of rape and murder for a bit. He talked about how rape is unfortunately a very common crime but he also noted that rape and murder is not that common. Lt. Kenda educated the public about the fact that rape and sexual assault is mostly a punishment of women. And in this particular case, the perpetrator surprised Micki Filmore while she was in bed. His only purpose was to rape and kill her. While Joe waited on the results of the autopsy, he tried to figure out the modus operandi of this particular offender because he would strike again. Joe wondered why it was so important for this person to get in and out of the apartment quickly. Was he a local and making sure that nobody saw and recognized him? Neighbors Lisa and Tracy Spencer reported they saw Micki the night before; she was happy, eating pizza, and nothing appeared out of the ordinary.

Joe canvassed the neighbors in the apartment complex and learned that Micki was having troubles: he heard from neighbors that her fiancé left her, she was pregnant, and broke but nobody knew who the father of the child was. One neighbor told Lt. Kenda that he went to a night club with her the night before. He claimed that while they were there, she saw someone she knew. She left the club with her neighbor around 2 a.m. but she did give a piece of paper to the friend she ran into at the club. The neighbor claimed they talked for a little bit and then went their separate ways. After lying down, the neighbor heard knocking on her door. He looked out briefly and saw the same man from the club standing there. Another neighbor said she was awoken by a loud scream and then a thumping noise around 3:45 a.m. She assumed whoever it was they were fighting. Joe still had little evidence to go on but the autopsy helps tell a story.

The autopsy revealed that Micki Filmore’s last moments were met with violence, anger, and rage. And she had engaged in sexual relations within the last twelve hours. Despite what her neighbors said, she was not pregnant and there were no drugs or alcohol in her system. Lt. Kenda learned Micki was twenty-two years old and originally from a rural community in North Carolina. She joined the Army straight out of high school, did a three year tour of duty, traveled the world, and her service ended in December 1985. She was looking forward to leaving to be with her fiancé in a few weeks. Lt. Kenda contacted the fiance and learned that he had not abandoned Micki. The fiance was finalizing a divorce so he could marry Micki and he could verify his whereabouts at the time of the murder. The fiance shared he asked his friend Frank Lynch to look out for Micki while he was gone; but now he had concerns that maybe he was involved. This gave Kenda a new lead and potentially a new suspect.

Kenda met with Frank Lynch who denied any involvement in the murder and could account for himself on the night in question. As a result, Kenda closed out Lynch and in the meantime got a phone call from DiCarlo Dowden. DiCarlo was the man at the club that Micki gave a piece of paper to and the same man suspected of showing up at her apartment the night of the murder. DiCarlo admitted that he ran into Micki at the club, they chatted, they danced, she told him she was not ‘with’ her neighbor (he was an escort), and then gave him her number. She also gave him her address which to him was an invitation so DiCarlo dropped by her apartment but no one answered the door so he left. DiCarlo noticed that a neighbor did see him after looking out their window, which also matched the neighbor’s story. DiCarlo denied any involvement in the crime and there was no probable cause to arrest him, he did volunteer to provide biological evidence for testing.

It takes several weeks for the comparative analysis testing to be completed at the labs. Joe reiterated that DiCarlo was not off the hook yet. On August 12, 1986, another body was discovered in the same apartment complex. Lt. Joe Kenda knew this was not a coincidence. The victim was twenty-four year old Barbara Kramer who was a nurse at Eisenhower Hospital in Colorado Springs. She didn’t show up to work so her sister and a friend went over to her apartment to check in on her. They discovered the newspaper outside her door, signs of a struggle in the apartment, and the friend found Barbara Kramer dead in her bedroom. The family was devastated because they were already worried about her safety after the first murder in that apartment complex but they reported that Barbara was cautious and playing it safe. Kenda was horrified by what he saw at the crime scene because he immediately knew it was the same guy.

The modus operandi of both crimes was exactly the same aside from one woman was black and one woman was white. Both were displayed with their legs open after they were murdered; both were attacked in the middle of the night between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m.; both were single females living alone; both were strangled; and both were living in the same apartment complex. Lt. Kenda was feeling an even more heightened sense of urgency because this guy was a serial killer and was not going to stop; he wanted to prevent a third victim. He also deduced that the killer probably lived in the area and he was carrying on as if nothing mattered. He questioned DiCarlo about his whereabouts and DiCarlo was cleared as a suspect because his girlfriend could alibi him. Kenda knew DiCarlo wasn’t his man because the person he was looking for killed Micki Filmore and Barbara Kramer.

Lt. Kenda knew these murders were similar offenses; they were the same crime, different targets. He wondered how many more had to die before the Colorado Springs Police Department could stop him. Kenda theorized that the perpetrator most likely stalked his victims before the attacks. He did not feel that these crimes were random and he believed that the perpetrator surveilled his victims. This offender simply waited for the right place and right time. Kenda noted that these guys are not as intelligent as one would think but they are cunning. He knew the guy made mistakes and he had to be the one to find them. After interviewing more neighbors about the night before, Kenda learned that one neighbor was awakened to screams around 6 a.m. and another neighbor saw Tracy Spencer banging on Barbara’s door with a piece of paper in his hand around 6:25 a.m. She saw the door open, Spencer enter the apartment, and then the door slam.

This new information intrigued Lt. Kenda because now Tracy Spencer not only found Micki Filmore’s body but a witness saw him knocking on Barbara Kramer’s door around the time that she died. Kenda looked into his criminal history and found only minor offenses, nothing to indicate a propensity for violence. But Kenda was going to apply for a warrant regardless and arrest Tracy Spencer based on the evidence he had. But first he wanted to talk to Tracy’s wife. Lisa was still claiming that Tracy was with her the night of the murders so Kenda told her that a witness saw him and she began to cry. Kenda did not understand why she would protect him and told her she could be arrested next. She told him she did lie and that Tracy was not with her all night. As a matter of a fact, she admitted that he left the apartment in the middle of the night often and went for walks. She claimed Tracy told her he kept finding Barbara’s mail on the ground and wanted to return it to her, despite locked mailboxes at the apartment complex.

Lisa Spencer also admitted to finding an empty envelope with Barbara’s name on it so she threw it away. She observed Tracy get angry when he couldn’t find it but she never told him she threw it away. She also confessed that she did not go through the Micki’s apartment window like she originally shared with the police; she went into the apartment to help Tracy cover up the crime. When Kenda asked her why, her response was that she loved him. Kenda learned that Tracy was on the move so he made a decision to arrest and take him to the station before he hurt someone else. Kenda got a search warrant for his apartment and found the letter he couldn’t find right in the trash where his wife said she put it. And it did in deed have Barbara Kramer’s name on it. Kenda questioned Tracy at the station and even after he was told there were witnesses, Spencer stuck to his story. Eventually he folded some and admitted to taking mail to Barbara but said he didn’t go inside her apartment.

Kenda realized Tracy Spencer was a prolific liar. He denied everything. Kenda confronted him with the semen he said matched him (which was a lie) and then Tracy admitted that he was lying to him because he was having an affair with Micki and did have consensual sex with her that night. He had an explanation for everything. The bottom line was that he was going to commit the crimes regardless of the consequences and then lie about it. That’s what they do. The lab results came back and showed that both Tracy’s blood and hair samples matched those at the crime scenes. Tracy Spencer was arrested for the first degree murders of Micki Filmore and Barbara Kramer. On December 31, 1986, Tracy Spencer was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison plus twenty-four years. He is eligible for parole in 2032. Lt. Kenda ended the show with the fact that Spencer overpowered, raped, and killed two girls he didn’t even know for no real reason. Two women paid the price for his crimes and there could have been more, and that scared him.

Source: ‘A Killer Always Rings Twice’ Homicide Hunter

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunters: Lt. Joe Kenda Episode 3- Double Murder In Mayberry
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado
A Killer Always Rings Twice | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (S1, E3)