A popular army vet is found bleeding to death on the cold asphalt of a shadowy parking lot -his chest littered with too many knife wounds to count. A gruesome clue leads Kenda’s team to an unlikely killer whose motive for murder is as heartless. -Investigation Discovery
Recently discharged Army veteran Brandin Penza was found stabbed to death in a Colorado Springs, Colorado parking lot on September 23, 1994. Apparently Brandin was on his way home when he was attacked. Detective Lt. Joe Kenda of the Colorado Springs Police Department was assigned to investigate the homicide. Lt. Kenda turned to Brandin’s friends first to learn more about him. He learned from his roommates that he had got out of the Army two weeks earlier and was only staying with friends temporarily until he moved back to Kansas to be with his girlfriend. Brandin was figuring out what he wanted to do next. He had a large group of friends in the military that he considered his family. They spent a lot of time together barbecuing and having fun. He was described as a happy-go-lucky guy who would give anyone the shirt off his back. They couldn’t think of anyone who had a motive to hurt him. His roommates informed Lt. Kenda that Brandin told them he was going out to the Rodeo Night Club. Lt. Kenda had very little evidence to work with so he turned to Brandin because his body tells a story.
Lt. Kenda discovered that Brandin Penza was stabbed 74 times. Kenda also deduced, based on where the stab wounds were located, that the killer was probably left handed. Only 10% of the world is left-handed. Kenda then ordered a K-9 unit to the scene of the crime to see if they could get a scent on their killer. Dogs can track the existence of a subject and where they may have gone. The K-9 and handler proceed about one hundred yards and then stop. It was a dead end. Kenda continues the investigation into the daylight which offers up more evidence. They found a tear drop of blood which helped them determine which way the person was going. Kenda and the team follow the trail of blood all the way to the door of one of the nearby apartments. Blood smears were present outside and inside the building and on the door where the apartment was located. They knocked on the door to find out who was behind it and they got no response. As they were about to kick the door, it opened and a scared kid in his underwear was standing there with his hands up. His name was Kevin Gooley, 21, and he was covered in blood and had injuries consistent with a knife attack. Kevin Gooley’s injuries suggested to Lt. Kenda that he was Brandin Penza’s killer.
Lt. Kenda asked for his signature and discovered he was left handed as well. They searched his apartment and found blood soaked cowboy boots under his bed. Lt. Kenda opened the dresser drawers and discovered they were not drawers, they were cabinets with an arsenal of weapons. Lt. Kenda arrested Kevin Gooley for the murder of Brandin Penza. Lt. Kenda interrogated Gooley to find out why he killed him. This type of stabbing usually accompanies a very close, personal relationship. Gooley claimed he didn’t even know him but ran into him on the way home after having a few drinks at the bar. He claimed he was approached by an individual (Brandin) who asked him for money and it caused him alarm. He claimed Brandin put his arm around him as if to suggest that he was hitting on him. Kenda was suspicious of his reasoning for the crime. Regardless of the reason, Gooley admitted to killing Brandin Penza. He claimed he freaked out but his claims of self defense were hallow. Most likely, Kevin Gooley had no reason why he stabbed Brandin. Lt. Kenda suspected that Gooley most likely had a psychotic episode. Facing a death sentence if convicted of murder, Kevin Gooley took a plea deal in exchange for a 32 year prison sentence.
Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery featured yet another military spouse who murdered because they were motivated by greed, selfishness, and sociopathic tendencies. While Navy sailor David Russo was at work at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, his wife was getting high on meth with her secret lover. Susan didn’t like that David controlled the purse strings because he might find out that she was blowing their cash on drugs. Then one day a military advisor stopped by the house to advise them of their financial affairs and Susan learned that her husband David was worth more dead then he was alive. He had a grand total of 1 million dollars worth of Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance and other insurance policies on himself. Susan saw her way out of domestic boredom and hatched up a plan with two of her drug addicted buddies, Jason Andrews and Bobby Morris. She offered them $100 to kill her husband and promised them more later after she got her hands on the life insurance payout. On July 14, 1994, the trio striked. While David lay sleeping in his bed, the two men entered the marital home with Susan’s assistance, walked into David’s bedroom, and shot him one time in the back of the head. They then drove the body to a remote location so they could torch David and the car in an effort to destroy evidence. This plan would never come to fruition because they ran out of gas and then didn’t have enough gas to torch the car. When military personnel stopped by David’s home to see why he hadn’t showed up to work, Susan told them she didn’t know where he was and asked if she would still get his paycheck that week. Eventually David’s car and body was discovered by a local farmer. Of course investigators looked to the spouse first to determine what may have happened to David. Susan told investigators during the interview that they would find no evidence of wrong doing which of course intrigued them to probe further. Susan Russo was a self proclaimed clean freak and cleaner by trade and was confident she had covered her tracks. But she did not account for the microscopic blood spatter on the headboard of the bed or the spent bullet casing located in the bedroom. Police charged Susan Russo and her two friends with the murder of her husband David Russo. Jason Andrews and Bobby Morris were both convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life. In 1996, Susan Russo was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Investigators described Susan as an evil, psychopathic person who manipulated her two drug addicted friends with the promises of money for more drugs. She didn’t care about David whatsoever, she only saw David as a way to cash in.
On the evening of Sunday, March 20, 1994, Charlotte “Amy” Gellert was attacked by an intruder outside her residence in Cocoa Beach. She died as a result of her injuries. The intruder was described as a white male, early twenties, 5’07″ – 5’10″ tall, weighing between 165 to 185 pounds. Any persons providing information in reference to this case may be eligible for a reward up to $5,000.00. –Brevard County Sheriff’s Office
In the more than 20 years since the murder of a 21-year-old woman outside her home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, there have been a number of men investigated in connection with the case — but the crime remains unsolved. Members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office share details with “48 Hours”‘ Erin Moriarty.