Army Doctor Col. Dennis Taylor Attempted to Kill Wife Carol in an Effort to Escape Domestic Abuse and Threats to Commander After Asking for Divorce

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Army Col. Dennis Taylor was court martialed at Fort Carson, Colorado and found guilty by a jury of ten off his peers for the attempted murder of his wife Carol. (Photo credit: Investigation Discovery)

Lt Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter featured another case where he was tasked with investigating what hospital officials suspected was an attempted murder. Upon arrival at the hospital, he was bombarded by the press because they heard the call for service over the scanner. The hospital was secure and police officers were on the scene. Upon an initial briefing, Lt Kenda discovered that a nurse suspected that someone had tampered with one of their patient’s IVs. Lt Kenda then interviewed Carol Taylor, the wife of an Army officer also present at the hospital with their two children.

Lt Kenda learned that Carol had broken her leg and had developed some blood clots. She was simply visiting with her husband and children when all of a sudden the alarm on the IV infusion machine went off. And somehow the IV had been pulled from her arm. Lt Kenda immediately began to suspect that someone was trying to kill her because it looked like someone had either tampered with or inserted something into the IV line. Because the crime lab was not proficient in the hospital’s medical equipment, they called in a hospital employee who was considered an expert. This person determined that someone had injected something into the line. The only other people in the room were her husband and children.

Lt Kenda started his next line of questioning with the husband. He learned that Lt Col Dennis Taylor served in the US Army for 27 years and was currently working as the Chief of Oral Surgery at the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. Lt Kenda observed that the doctor was unusually calm and appeared to be minimizing the event and brushing it off as a mistake. So then Lt Kenda went back to the wife and asked her if she thought that maybe her husband did this. The wife claimed she was fine and that everyone was making a big deal out of it and she just wanted it to go away. She claimed that they had a great marriage and life. Lt Joe Kenda had a hard time believing that her marriage was as perfect as she made it out to be and moved forward with the investigation because there was in fact liquid in the IV pump that was not supposed to be there.

Kenda reached out to a family friend who worked alongside the doctor over the years. He learned from Stan that the doctor had confided in him that Carol was verbally abusive, demeaning him, telling him he is pathetic, and even punched him. She also was upset about his drinking and knew that he had been having extra-marital affairs. Stan told Kenda that the doctor wanted to leave Carol but she had threatened to go to his commander and report him for the drinking and adultery (both considered UCMJ infractions and punishable under military law) if he left her. Carol enjoyed the privileges of being a military wife too much to lose them to divorce. He felt trapped in his current abusive marriage and was drinking more and having affairs as a way to cope with his current situation. In the civilian world, Carol would not be able to get away with threatening her husband because it is not illegal to drink and have affairs.

As it turns out, the results of the pump came back and they found Diazinon, which is a poison used to kill ants, spiders, cockroaches, etc. She would have been dead in a matter of minutes and would have been in excruciating pain, as the poison would have burned her from the inside out. As a result, Kenda arrested the doctor for attempted murder. During the arrest he found a plunged hypodermic in his pocket. The doctor told him he didn’t need an attorney and admitted his guilt. He told Kenda that earlier that morning while he was out shopping, the idea came to him that this was the only way out. Because he is a doctor, he knew how to do it. He inserted the poison and the alarm went off so he pulled the IV out of her arm for fear of arrest.

Instead of the civilians pressing forward with a case, the Army decided that they were going to court martial the doctor. They claimed they wanted to make an example of the disgraced colonel in front of a jury of his peers. He was sentenced to 18 months hard labor and he and his family were stripped of all Army privileges. And this may be why Carol Taylor protected her husband despite the fact that he just tried to kill her. Why would the Army doctor rather kill his wife then report the domestic violence to the commander? Why would the doctor feel that going to the commander was not an option and his only way out of this abusive situation was to murder his wife? Why was the doctor so intimidated by the threat of his wife reporting what would be considered minor infractions, even under UCMJ standards?

We need to evaluate why the doctor felt that he was not able to report the abuse and threatening to the Commander. Would he automatically be in trouble with military leadership if he admitted that he had been drinking and having affairs? Was he concerned about losing his career, his retirement, or facing disciplinary action? Why did he feel that he had to choose murder over reporting the threats and abuse to his commander? These are all things that we must ponder. We are seeing a pattern over and over. Our military men do not feel that reporting to the commander is an option when they are the victim of a crime. If that is the case, how can we help our military men, who find themselves the victim of threats, domestic violence, or sexual assault, report to a safe place? Right now, some would rather resort to murder then report the crimes to their commander. There must be a better way.

Related Links:
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado
Only Way Out: Army Wife Threatens to Report Doctor to Commander if He Leaves Her


When the lifeless body of Willie McCarty is found at the base of a staircase, neighbors direct Kenda to a mysterious truck spotted fleeing the scene. Then… Kenda must solve a bizarre case of poisoning at a busy downtown hospital. -Investigation Discovery

Army Veteran James Neal Broke Into Estranged Wife’s Home, Shot New Boyfriend & Fled; Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison for First Degree Murder (1996)

James Neal

James Neal, US Army Veteran

On July 9th, 1996, 911 received a phone call from a distressed man who reported a burglar was in his apartment. And then the operator hears a bang and the line goes dead. Homicide detective, Lt. Joe Kenda, of the Colorado Springs Police Department was informed shots were fired after what appeared to be a burglary gone wrong. He was informed Danny Richmond, 34, was dead and his roommate Savannah Neal, 50, was present at the time of the shooting. The pair had met at work. Danny was the 911 caller; he reported someone broke into the apartment before he was shot. Kenda has learned from experience that burglars usually pick locks but in this case, whoever this person was, shot at the front door multiple times. This person had a motive to kill the person behind the door. Danny was shot in the central chest and he was shot in excess of 48 inches away. They didn’t find any casings in the room.Kenda observed that Danny was laying in his bed and eating when he was shot.

Kenda noticed Danny’s wedding ring and assumed he was married so he thought maybe Savannah was letting him stay at her apartment because he was having troubles. Did Danny’s estrange wife have something to do with this? Kenda wondered why Savannah was not dead? Why was she not harmed? Kenda deduced the shooter was after one person: Danny Richmond. The police eventually found a 357 Magnum casing at the threshold of the door. It appeared this person reloaded the gun quickly and Kenda thought it very likely could be someone military because Fort Carson is in Colorado Springs. Kenda set out to learn more about Danny. Danny was described by his co-workers as great. One co-worker shared that Danny met Savannah Neal at work; she acted as his mentor. Kenda also learned that Danny was not really married but he wore a wedding ring to show his commitment to Savannah. Kenda learned they were in a personal relationship and were romantically involved.

Kenda was looking for a third person now that he learned about the relationship between Danny and Savannah. A co-worker shared that Savannah was married for 25 years to James Neal but they were having problems so she moved out. The co-worker confirmed that James was in the Army but now worked as a security guard. Kenda then went to the hospital to question Savannah. She admitted things were bad with James and when he found out about her seeing Danny, he was angry. She alleged that he stalked her and Danny; he made threats; and he followed her all over the city. She said the night of the shooting she fixed Danny something to eat and served him in bed. They both heard loud pounding at the door so she went towards the door as it exploded open. She observed that James had a gun in his hand and went straight to the bedroom and shot Danny then he just left. The whole thing happened in the course of 30 seconds.

Kenda needed to find James Neal. He put out an all points bulletin (APB) asking officers to be on the look out and aware that he was armed and dangerous. Minutes later a police officer spotted the gray Camry and pulled him over. James didn’t move so the police officer approached him unsure of what he may do. The officer went up to the driver side of the car and observed that James had blood on him near his shoulder and stomach; next to him was a 357 Magnum revolver. James was telling the officer that he wanted to die and was speaking coherently. He admitted to shooting himself as the officer pulled him over. One officer explained that he shot himself in those locations most likely because he lost his courage to commit suicide. James Neal admitted to Kenda that he wanted to die and he shot his wife’s boyfriend. James Neal was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to forty-five years in prison. Some relationships can turn to nightmare scenarios and this is one of them.


When the severed head of a wife and mother is found, Lt. Joe Kenda uses forensics and interrogation to find both her body and her killer. Then… a young man’s murder looks like a robbery gone wrong until Kenda learns the odd reason he’s living there. -Investigation Discovery

US Army Veteran Brandin Penza Stabbed 74 Times in Colorado Springs Parking Lot by Stranger; Kevin Gooley Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison (1994)


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.

Related Links:
Life is Random
Homicide Hunter ‘Bad Blood’
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado

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Kevin Gooley, Colorado

Fort Carson Army Soldier Michael Pelkey Convicted by Military Court Martial of Murdering Wife Diane; Sentenced to Life in Prison (1993)


When the severed head of a wife and mother is found, Lt. Joe Kenda uses forensics and interrogation to find both her body and her killer. Then… a young man’s murder looks like a robbery gone wrong until Kenda learns the odd reason he’s living there. -Homicide Hunter

On October 16, 1993, a mother was home with her son cooking supper. She went outside to call her dog Shadow to return home. When the dog returned, he had something large in his mouth. Danielle and her son realized that the dog had a human skull in it’s mouth. Lt. Joe Kenda of the Colorado Spring Police Department was grocery shopping when he got the call. He left his grocery shopping cart as is and headed to the scene. When Kenda arrived on the scene, the medical examiner was observing the skull. The medical examiner observed another animal got to the skull before the dog did and the time of death was within the last couple of weeks. The skull appeared to be a female with no obvious signs of bullet wounds or trauma. But they didn’t have the rest of the body to determine the official cause of death. Lt. Joe Kenda decided to start with the missing persons reports first.

Kenda also wanted to find the rest of the remains. Unfortunately, it was dark outside so they decided to resume the search the next day in during the daylight hours. The police used cadaver dogs to find the rest of the body. Cadaver dogs are trained to notify their handler when they make a hit. Kenda knew this would be a daunting task because El Paso County is the size of Rhode Island. An hour into the search, the K9 officer got a hit. They found a few more human bones; some still had flesh attached and some had teeth marks on them. Kenda theorized maybe she was a hiker out for a walk one day and got attacked by a bear. Now Joe Kenda needed to identify the dead female. They used dental records to determine if the dead woman’s teeth matched any dental records on file. On the third missing woman’s dental records, they finally found a match. Diane Pelkey, 36, was reported missing one week prior by her husband Michael Pelkey.

Michael Pelkey paid for a full page ad in the newspaper looking for Diane Pelkey. Police learned Michael was a 16 year veteran in the US Army and lived off post in Colorado Springs with his wife. Kenda now had the unfortunate task of informing Michael Pelkey of his wife’s death. He told him positive identification was made through dental records. Michael Pelkey was overcome with grief. They had been together for over 15 years. They had a son and she was four months pregnant.  Michael claims the last time he saw Diane they were out at dinner and then got in an argument. He said she walked away from him and he had not seen her since. Kenda deduced she would have had to walk ten miles to get home. Kenda decided she was not killed by a bear, she was killed by a human. They didn’t know if maybe someone picked her up hitchhiking and killed her. Michael Pelkey claimed he didn’t look for his wife because he had to go home and take care of their five year old son.

As Kenda was reviewing the missing persons report for Diane Pelkey, he noticed one of the officers put JDLR (Just Doesn’t Look Right) on the bottom of the report. This is usually done when an officer feels something isn’t right or the person making the report was suspicious. Kenda spoke with the officer who took the report. They both decided the missing persons report was suspicious because Michael didn’t say anything about their child, Diane’s pregnancy, or that they got in an argument that same night. Kenda explained that usually if someone thinks something happen to a loved one, they won’t leave him alone. Kenda ran Michael Pelkey’s name through the data base and found there was a history of domestic violence, restraining orders in the past, and the couple had filed for a divorce. Kenda believed Michael Pelkey may have killed his wife but he wasn’t sure he had the authority to pursue the case.

Diane Pelkey’s remains were found in El Paso County, Colorado so the case may be out of Kenda’s jurisdiction. He pressed the sheriff’s office to put the squeeze on Michael Pelkey. They brought him into the sheriff’s department and started questioning him. They presented all the evidence they had to Pelkey and he became overwhelmed. Michael broke during the interrogation and admitted to killing his wife on October 8, 1993. He claimed they were in the car and he wanted to do some fishing. They started arguing; he accused her of being unfaithful, she accused him of being unfaithful. He said she wanted out of the vehicle to get some space from him and that didn’t sit well with him. Michael claims he snapped and started strangling Diane. Michael tried to claim that it was an accident. Kenda thought this was not an accident because it takes two to three minutes to strangle someone to death.

Michael Pelkey then told detectives he panicked after strangling Diane and decided to drive to a rural area in the Rocky Mountain foothills to dispose of her body. He put a seatbelt on her and drove as if she was simply a passenger in his car. He drove to a ravine near the highway and left her in an area where he didn’t think anyone would find her. Afterwards, he filed a missing persons report and took out an ad in the local paper to deflect suspicion from himself. Michael Pelkey probably thought he would get away with murdering her wife. But his plan unraveled and he was arrested for murder. The District Attorney allowed the Fort Carson Army leadership to court martial him despite the fact that the crime occurred in El Paso County. Michael Pelkey was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life. He is serving his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, a military penitentiary in Kansas.

You are held to a higher standard in the United States military. You will not behave in this way and if you do, you will be one sorry son of a bitch. Sgt. Pelkey found that out the hard way. -Lt. Joe Kenda

Related Links:
Obituary: Diane Lee Armendariz Pelkey
Military Convicts Do Time But Also Draw Paychecks
United States v. Michael Pelkey, US Army (1997)

Army Spouse Melinda Stewart, Army Sgt. Daniel Stewart, Jill Yousaf & Army Soldier James Catlin Conspired and Murdered Homeless Colorado Teen Maggie Fetty (1991)

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Margaret ‘Maggie’ Fetty (photo credit: http://www.FindAGrave.com)

When the time came to handle funeral arrangements for Maggie Fetty, no one was there to do it so Lt. Joe Kenda and his fellow officers did it themselves. They chipped in and bought her a head stone to assist with the evidence of her passing. The headstone is a reminder for Joe Kenda of why he chose a life in law enforcement. Joe said he can’t stop a murderer or undue the murder once it’s been done but he can certainly find the person responsible and make sure they don’t do it again. Society has a way of forgetting about the most vulnerable but when it comes to Joe Kenda, nobody slips through the cracks, not a culprit, not a co-conspirator, and certainly not Maggie Fetty. -Homicide Hunter

Patrol officers received a call that a body was found on Gold Camp Road near Point Sublime in Colorado Springs, Colorado on December 3, 1991. It was a fully clothed female who appeared to be a teenager. Homicide detective Lt. Joe Kenda of the Colorado Springs Police Department ordered the officers to turn the body over. They observed a ligature mark on her throat. A ligature is used to apply pressure to the neck and it’s a torturous way to die. This wasn’t just a who done it, but a who was it? Detectives went through her pockets and didn’t find anything. Although they did find an identifying marker, a tattoo on her hand with the initials JM. An anonymous tipster called and said the victim’s name was Maggie and they should talk to Jill Yousaf. Jill had an arrest just recently; she was arrested for shoplifting. According to the police report, Margaret Fetty, 16, was also arrested. This tied the two together.

Investigators dug into Maggie’s records but there were none. She was a ward of the state; her mother disavowed her and her father’s whereabout were unknown. Maggie was part of the children’s program Chins Up but ran away from the center a year ago. She was living on the streets all alone and she had nobody looking out for her. She was an adolescent girl who was murdered and thrown away like trash. The only people looking out for her were Kenda and his guys. Kenda met up with 28 year old Jill Yousaf to try to obtain some information from her. Jill agreed to go to the station for questioning. She described Maggie as her best friend. She said she met her a year ago and had become somewhat of a big sister to her. According to Jill, they clicked well and even had matching ‘JM’ tattoos. Kenda informed Jill that Maggie was dead and she broke down in tears. Kenda observed that Jill’s demeanor and body language had guilt all over it.

Kenda informed Jill that he thinks she had something to do with the Maggie’s death. Jill claimed she knew the killer’s identity and that the person who murdered Maggie was Melinda Stewart. Kenda ran a background check on Melinda Stewart and learned that she was married to an Army soldier at Fort Carson. According to Jill, on November 30, 1991, she was hanging out at her home with her friends while her husband was playing cards with his Army buddies. The girls decided they were going to go out. Jill claimed she was driving and Maggie was in the passenger seat. They were all talking, laughing and passing around a bottle of tequila. Then for no apparent reason Melinda began to strangle Maggie from behind. Jill said she tried to stop Melinda but she threatened her and said she would be next. Once Maggie was dead, Melinda asked Jill to help her discard the body. Detectives needed to find out why Melinda wanted Maggie dead. Jill said it was because Melinda was ‘crazy’ and told them she was placed in a psychiatric institution the day before.

Joe went to Cedar Springs psychiatric hospital to find Melinda. She was there and her husband brought her in the day before. She appeared to be deeply disturbed and the interview was anything but routine. Melinda was saying very bizarre things, she wasn’t very helpful, and she appeared to be speaking in a child-like voice. Her bizarre behavior did not let up so Kenda played along and addressed Melinda like a little girl. Melinda started talking about Maggie being cold and needing a coat. She then said she went to Point Sublime with Jill and Maggie to look at the city lights and drink. Melinda claimed she was driving and Jill was in the backseat. She was telling a story opposite that of Jill because she claimed Jill was in the backseat of the car and strangled Maggie. Kenda couldn’t help but wonder if Melinda’s story might be true. Kenda didn’t have enough to hold Jill or Melinda on murder charges but he did have enough to hold them on charges of obstruction of justice. By believing them both, he could keep them in jail until he got to the bottom of things.

With Jill and Melinda in custody, Kenda needed to find a witness who could shed some light on the situation. They started with Melinda’s husband Army Sergeant Daniel J. Stewart. He had been in the Army for quite some time and worked in the Engineer Battalion; he built bridges and seemed to be reasonably intelligent. Sgt. Stewart seemed astounded to learn his wife was being charged with murder. Kenda took Sgt. Stewart down to the station. Lt. Kenda wanted to learn more about his wife’s mental illness. According to Sgt. Stewart, his wife had multiple personalities but she didn’t have a dangerous bone in her body. He denied that his wife had anything to do with Maggie’s murder. He claimed there was no unusual behavior with his wife on the night of the murder after they returned. He also said he was playing some cards with some Army buddies when the girls decided to go out. A few hours later, Jill and Melinda returned. They were fine.

But the next day, Melinda had a psychiatric melt down. Her multiple personalities surfaced and Sgt. Stewart was afraid his wife was having a nervous breakdown. Detectives believed the meltdown was connected to the murder but weren’t sure if she was having a meltdown because she strangled Maggie or if she witnessed Maggie get strangled by Jill. Sgt. Stewart finally admitted that he believed Jill Yousaf was the one who killed Maggie. Sgt. Stewart told detectives they needed to speak with James Catlin who was a boat specialist in the Engineer Battalion; they worked together. Sgt. Stewart shared that Catlin dates Jill Yousaf. When James Catlin was questioned, he provided a story that was consistent with that of Dan Stewart. Kenda needed a hook, another piece of information that could help them put the case together. Then he got a phone call that changed everything. On December 17th, two weeks after Maggie’s body was found on Gold Camp Road, detectives received a phone call from Melinda’s sister Penny Rhoads. Penny said she spoke to Dan Stewart who admitted to her that he burned all the evidence.

Detectives learned Sgt. Stewart burned the clothing worn by Melinda and Jill on the night of the murder. It was burned in an effort to protect both of them. As a result, Sgt. Stewart was booked for conspiracy after the fact. Detectives confronted him with the new information they learned from the conversation with Penny Rhoads. Dan Stewart realized he needed to start talking. He claimed once Melinda and Jill arrived home, they talked about the murder and each woman was blaming the other. He didn’t want Jill accusing his wife Melinda of murder so he burned all the evidence to protect her. In the course of the interview, Sgt. Stewart also mentioned Silas Nelson. At first he said he was there, then he backtracked and said he wasn’t. For Stewart it was a slip of the tongue, for Kenda it was one more clue to look into. Stewart was booked. Then Kenda set out in search of Silas Nelson. Detectives tracked down Nelson at Fort Carson and questioned him. Nelson told Kenda he was at Sgt. Stewart’s house the night of the murder and also spent the night.

Silas Nelson claimed he was in bed when Jill and Melinda returned home. But he said he was present before they went out and the two of them were talking about killing Maggie. Kenda thought if this information was true, the two of them conspired to kill Maggie Fetty. According to Nelson, Stewart and Catlin joined the conversation and they were all talking about how they could kill Maggie. Now Kenda has learned Catlin and Stewart assisted with the cover up and were active participants in the planning of the event. But Kenda still wanted to know who strangled Maggie and why? As a result of the information gleaned from Nelson, Sgt. Catlin was arrested and grilled by detectives for answers. Catlin finally broke down and admitted they didn’t like Maggie and decided to kill her. According to Catlin, Maggie was heavy into drugs and the two had no toleration for that because they didn’t want Jill and Melinda doing drugs. But Maggie was feeding the pair drugs so it was a hard bond to break. They were tired of her being around.

Nelson helped confirm when Melinda and Jill discussed killing Maggie and Dan Stewart and James Catlin jumped at the chance to show the girls how to do it. This proved that all of them conspired together to kill Maggie. Catlin claimed Melinda was the one who strangled Maggie. He said she attacked Maggie from behind and Jill did not stop her but she did help dispose of the body. When Melinda and Jill returned home, Sgt. Stewart disposed of and burned the evidence. All four co-conspirators were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In exchange for her testimony, Melinda pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 48 years in prison. James Catlin striked a similar deal and received a 30 year sentence for second degree murder. Jill Yousaf maintained her innocence all the way to trial. The jury found her not guilty of murdering Maggie but did find her guilty of accessory to murder. Jill was sentenced to six years in prison. Sgt. Dan Stewart was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder.

After she was dead, nobody ever came knocking on my door, what about my daughter, what are we doing, how do we know what happened, nothing. No inquiries from concerned relatives because there aren’t any. We can say to ourselves we did the right thing here, for a girl who desperately needed someone to do something right for her. We were just too late to save her life but we took punishment against those who took her life. -Lt. Joe Kenda, Homicide Hunter

Related Links:
Obituary: Margaret Ann “Maggie” Fetty
Woman, 29, Pleads Guilty to Killing Teen
Lt. Joe Kenda: A Gathering of Evil
Inside the Kenda Files: Fetty
Homicide Hunter: Joe Kenda ‘A Gathering of Evil’


Teen runaway Maggie Fetty is found strangled to death on a mountain road. An anonymous tipster blames Maggie’s best friend, but she accuses a mental patient with multiple personalities. Kenda must turn the suspects against each other to learn the truth. -Investigation Discovery

Fort Carson Army Soldier Christopher Walton Shot Outside Night Club in Colorado Springs; Leroy Davis Sentenced to 20 Years in Leavenworth by Military Courts (1991)


A massive brawl erupts at a local bar ends with the shooting death of a young army soldier. To unravel the murder, Lt. Joe Kenda must infiltrate a revered military institution, and expose a dangerous vendetta. -Investigation Discovery

Lt. Joe Kenda of the Homicide Hunter series on Investigation Discovery discussed the murder of Fort Carson Army soldier Christopher Walton, 21, outside a night club in Colorado Springs, Colorado on November 21, 1991. What started out as a good night out on the town turned deadly after two rival units started a brawl at a local bar in Colorado Springs. The fight spilled outside of the bar and that’s when Christopher Walton was shot with a gun in the neck. Christopher Walton was getting ready to get out of the Army and move back to North Carolina. He was a described by his friends as a really good guy who took care of people.

As Kenda investigates the case, which is in his jurisdiction, he learns that a few months earlier a couple of soldiers got in a fight over a girl and that’s when everyone chose sides and the rival began. The rival was between the artillery unit and the maintenance unit at Fort Carson. An informant told Kenda that she thought Chris Smith may have committed the murder. Kenda pays Chris Smith a visit and in deed finds a gun similar to the gun they were looking for in his possession. It was later determined by ballistics that this gun matched the bullet recovered from Christopher Walton’s body.

Chris Smith was arrested for the murder of Christopher Walton. He never admitted to the murder and told Kenda that he had given the gun to someone else that night but would not give up the name. While Smith was in custody, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) called Lt Joe Kenda to tell them they had a witness to the event and they thought he might have the wrong guy. The witness, Eric Walker, identified Leroy Davis as the actual shooter. Leroy was a member of the artillery unit at Fort Carson which was the rival unit to Christopher Walton’s maintenance unit.

As it turns out, Chris Smith was telling the truth. He did give the gun to someone that night outside the bar after shooting it in the air because he didn’t want it on his person. Eric Walker told Kenda that Chris Smith gave the gun to Leroy Davis who eventually returned the gun back to Smith. Chris Smith refused to implicate his Army brother, even after he was arrested and jailed. According to Walker, Christopher Walton pushed one of the artillery unit members and Leroy Davis acted on emotional impulse, pulled the gun out of his jacket, and shot Walton in the neck causing his fatal injuries.

For some unknown reason, Leroy Davis faced a court martial as opposed to a being tried by the civilian courts in Colorado Springs. Lt Joe Kenda described military discipline as a whole different game, sharing that they are “draconian and ruthless.” The military has its own internal justice system and has been at the center of a controversial debate in Congress for the past few years over the way it handles violent crimes. In this case, Davis was sentenced to twenty years at Fort Leavenworth where he will be expected to do hard, physical labor the entire time. We learned from one of the soldiers present at the scene that fifteen military members from Fort Carson got discharged as a result of their involvement in this incident.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunter ‘Victim Zero’
Lt Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter Outlines Murder of Army Soldier Christopher Walton
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)

Brian Hood and Army Spouse Jennifer Reali Found Guilty of Murdering Dianne Hood; Brian Sentenced to 37 Years in Prison and Jennifer Sentenced to Life with Possibility of Parole (1990)

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Brian Hood and US Army Spouse Jennifer Reali

Lt. Joe Kenda, a homicide detective with the Colorado Springs Police Department, was angry when he found out about this murder. Whoever did it gunned down a housewife and mother and he vowed to catch them. On September 12, 1990, a Lupus support meeting was held in a recreational area in Colorado Springs, Colorado. One of the participants was Dianne Hood, who just 18 months earlier after her third child was born, was diagnosed with Lupus. But Dianne was a fighter and was in remission. After the meeting let up, she walked outside with a fellow Lupus support group member, Karen Johnson, and was robbed and shot twice. Karen went flying back into the building and informed the others that Dianne had been shot. Another support group member Sarah was a registered nurse so she ran outside to help. Sarah found Dianne laying in a pool of blood and observed her gasping for breath as she began compressions. EMTs arrived on the scene and took over for Sarah. Dianne had two bullet wounds, one in the shoulder and the other in her chest area. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. This crime sent a shockwave through the community.

After Lt. Kenda arrived on the scene, he found blood on the ground and a couple shocked witnesses. It was assumed initially that this was a robbery gone bad. Kenda interviewed Karen Johnson first because she was the best witness he had. Karen reported that she and Dianne were walking to their cars when they heard footsteps from behind. The person was wearing dark clothes and a ski mask. Dianne gave up her purse to the robber and began to run. The shooter first fired at her shoulder and that put her down and then this person fired a fatal shot at her chest. Everything did in fact look like a robbery gone bad. Unfortunately, Karen didn’t know much about the shooter aside from they were shorter they she was. Kenda and fellow police officers began canvassing the area to see if they could find any additional evidence. Criminals usually have a planned exit so Kenda used a K9 unit to comb the area looking for the scent of the shooter. About about a mile, the dog locked onto a scent. The dog led officers to a garbage can and then sat down. This is dog’s alert system. Inside the garbage can the police found an olive drab field jacket, a pair of gloves, a black ski mask, and some camouflage pants.

The items in the garbage can matched the witnesses description of the shooter at the scene. They also found brown hair in the ski mask and evidence of gun residue on the gloves upon testing at the forensic’s lab. The K-9 dog eventually lost the scent of the shooter because this person most likely got in a car and drove away. The only promising lead just hit a dead end. Kenda didn’t have a suspect, he had a masked maniac so he decided to look into Dianne Elaine Hood’s life; he wanted to know everything about her to find out who in her life wanted her dead. With no other substantial leads, police started canvassing the neighborhood, knocking on every door, to see if anyone saw anything. They encountered a woman who indicated David Burns could have had something to do with it. Kenda learned the locals gave Burns the nickname Homicidal Dave. Kenda wanted to know who this guy was because he wore camouflage similar to that of the shooter. Kenda learned Burns was a veteran of the first Gulf War, spoke loudly and obnoxiously to others, and the community felt he was dangerous. Upon further investigation, David Burns was cleared because he alibi checked out on the night of the murder. With no suspect or person of interest to investigate further, Kenda needed to expand the investigation.

Expanding the investigation meant combing through all the evidence to find new clues. After reading through Karen Johnson’s testimony again, Kenda deduced that someone wanted to make this look like a robbery. Kenda believed Dianne Hood was targeted and that this was an assassination. During the autopsy, two bullets were recovered from Dianne Hood’s body so they were sent to ballistics. Kenda received a call the next day informing him he was looking for very rare and valuable gun, a Colt Peacemaker patent 1872 single action Army revolver, a cowboy gun. This was a huge limiting factor because this rare gun was worth thousands, maybe this person was a gun collector. During a homicide investigation, the police look at everything. Dianne’s life didn’t raise any red flags; she was a devoted mother of three and housewife. Kenda turned to Dianne’s husband Brian Hood and after bringing him to the station, Brian’s life appeared to be just as idyllic as Dianne’s was. Brian Hood was extremely well liked by his neighbors and co-workers. He used to play football and Dianne was a cheerleader; that’s how they met. Brian’s physical stature eliminated him as the shooter.

During the interview, Brian admitted that he was addicted to working out and went to the gym almost every day to keep up his physique. So Kenda went to the gym, spoke with a couple employees, and learned that Brian spends a lot of time with a girl named Jennifer, who worked at a flower shop. Joe went to the flower shop and learned her full name was Jennifer Reali. She was married to Benjamin Reali who was a Captain in the Army and an intelligence officer. The shop owner shared that he liked Ben because they both collected antique guns. This was a solid lead for Kenda. Does Ben own the same antique gun used in the shooting? Did Ben shoot Dianne Hood because of the relationship Brian had with Jennifer at the gym? Did Jennifer shoot Dianne? Ben worked at Fort Carson as a criminal investigator for the US Army so he knew as a soldier, he is an expert in killing and as an investigator, he knew how to get away with it. The clothing recovered in the garbage can was military clothing. Was this his clothing? Ben’s stature did match that described by the shooter. Kenda surprised Ben at work and he immediately went on the defensive. Ben admitted to owning several antique guns and one of them was a Colt 45 Peacemaker (patent 1872).

Kenda wanted the antique gun so it could be analyzed. Ben appeared to be confused and concerned but he handed over the gun. The police couldn’t recover any fingerprints on it. Kenda then invited Ben to go to the police station so they could interview him. The police put Ben on their turf so he wouldn’t be in his normal comfortable setting. Ben was seated and Kenda laid out the clothing they found in the garbage can. Without even looking, Ben said he didn’t recognize the clothing. Kenda said, Ben you need to look at these clothes and examine them. Kenda then threatened to call his military Commander and ruin his career overnight or at a maximum arrest him for murder. Ben admitted the clothing were his and the ballistics office confirmed his gun matched the one they were looking for. Ben claimed he last saw the clothing in his closet at his house but he hadn’t been living there for about 3 weeks; he was staying on post. Ben then told Kenda his wife asked him to hold the gun that morning and a couple weeks ago, she wanted to shoot it so he took her to the gun range to practice. Ben went from a person of interest to a witness. Kenda remembered the witness telling him the shooter put the purse over their shoulder like a woman would do.

Ben Reali was eliminated as a suspect because Kenda knew they were looking for a woman. Forty-eight hours after Dianne was murdered, Kenda was on the hunt for twenty-eight year old Jennifer Reali. He needed to find out more about his prime suspect. He learned she was a college graduate and a mother of two daughters. From outward appearances, she didn’t fit the modus operandi of a killer. Kenda brought Jennifer to the station in the hopes that she would break after he pressed her. While at the station Kenda realized Ben was not a co-conspirator but was struggling with the fact that his wife might be a murderer. The clothing was Ben Reali’s and the bullet casings matched the same gun owned by Ben Reali; as a result Jennifer was arrested for first degree murder and Ben had a hard time with it. After the arrest, Kenda turned all his attention to Jennifer Reali. She denied any knowledge of anything so Kenda presented the evidence to her and backed her into a corner. He could tell she was used to being in control and didn’t like being cornered. Jennifer tried to say the gun must have been stolen but that was ludicrous, as if someone would return the gun after stealing it. Jennifer finally broke and admitted that she did it; Kenda got his confession.

Jennifer Reali admitted to killing Dianne Wood and that she did try to make it look like a robbery. She also shared that someone else was involved in the plot to kill Dianne; she claimed it wasn’t her idea. Jennifer disclosed that she killed Dianne for Brian Hood. She admitted to having an affair with him for the past eight months. She met him at the gym and they became close; this is how the personal and romantic relationship started. Their innocent flirtation eventually turned into a full-blown affair, she says they were in love. She brought Brian to her house when Ben was out of town. Jennifer was very specific about all the details with her affair with Brian. Brian told Jennifer that killing Dianne would help end her suffering with Lupus, a disease he said was going to kill her. He also had an insurance policy on her for $100,000 and if she was murdered, it would double the pay out to $200,000. For a period of months, Brian brainstormed various ways to kill his wife as if he was her mercenary. In the end, Brian decided a staged robbery in a parking lot would do.

Brian told Jennifer they already committed the sin of adultery and the sin of murder was no worse. He claimed that Jennifer was his whole life and he used passages from the Bible to let her know it was okay to kill Dianne as long as she repented. Brian also believed the police were stupid and would assume this was an armed robbery. This was his final plan to convince her they would get away with it. Brian pressured Jennifer for three months to kill his wife and then on September 12th, she went through with it. Jennifer was held in the El Paso County jail for first degree murder but the architect of the plot was still at large. The police hunted down and arrested Brian for conspiracy to commit first degree murder, solicitation to commit first degree murder, and first degree murder. In the meantime, one of Brian’s friends came forward with damning information after reading about his arrest in the paper. He told the witness that he wanted his wife dead. Police learned Brian’s friends were afraid of him because they wondered if he was capable of killing them too. Brian Hood pressured his friends until he found one that would do his bidding; he used his wife’s disease as an excuse to justify murder.

Brian maintained his innoncene throughout the investigation and trial. But the family doctor testified at trial that he told Dianne and Brian that she had the mildest form of Lupus and it could be easily managed; she was not going to die. Brian told his friends he wanted Dianne dead because she was going to die anyways; he knew that wasn’t true. A year after Dianne Hood was shot and killed on December 23, 1991, Brian Hood was found guilty of two counts of criminal solicitation, one count of conspiracy to murder his wife, however on the charge of first degree murder, he was found not guilty. Instead of life in prison, he was sentenced to 37 years. The police felt like he got away with murder. Jennifer Reali plead insanity claiming she had been brainwashed by Brian Hood. The jury didn’t buy it and she was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Jennifer Reali was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole at the Colorado State Penitentiary. The police got justice for Dianne when she couldn’t do it for herself but this murder was devastating to the Hood and Reali families. They couldn’t help but ask: Why would Brian do this? Why not get a divorce? Why kill her? Kenda explained that this was human nature at its worse.

What does a murderer look like? As it turns out they look like the cute mom next door. -Lt Joe Kenda, Retired Homicide Detective

Related Links:
A Most Dangerous Liaison
Convicted kIller Jennifer Reali decribes her crime
The case a lawyer wouldn’t give up on
Killer makes tearful plea for release
Convicted Murderer Reali Goes Before Parole Board
“Fatal Attraction” killer Reali denied parole in 1990 love-triangle slaying
‘Fatal attraction killer’ moved into halfway house
Jennifer Reali, Fatal Attraction Killer Turned Gospel Singer, In Lakewood Halfway House
‘Fatal Attraction Killer’ Jennifer Reali Will Enter Halfway House
Parole Rejected for ‘Fatal Attraction Killer’
Convicted Colorado Springs killer denied parole
Jennifer Reali, convicted in Colorado Springs ‘fatal attraction’ murder, denied parole again
Jennifer Reali, convicted Colorado Springs ‘fatal attraction’ killer, denied parole
Colorado Springs’ ‘fatal attraction killer’ denied full parole
Colorado Springs’ ‘fatal attraction killer’ denied full parole
‘Fatal attraction killer’ Jennifer Reali one step closer to parole
Between the Lines: The next step for convicted killer Jennifer Reali
Jennifer Reali wants to help others stay out of prison
Reali reaction
Female Domestic Violence Killings In Colorado — 1990-1995
Facing Evil: Love Before Life (Investigation Discovery)
Facing Evil Podcast: Jennifer Reali
Deadly Women: Under His Control (Investigation Discovery)
Jennifer Reali interview released


Mother of three Dianne Hood is shot to death by a masked gunman on her way home from a Lupus support meeting. Police initially assume it’s a robbery, but Lt. Joe Kenda uncovers a sordid web of lust and greed, revealing a killer no one ever expected. -Investigation Discovery

Fort Carson Army Spc. Tracy Spencer Sentenced to Life in Prison for Double Rape and Murder of Army Veteran Micki Filmore and Colorado Springs Nurse Barbara Kramer (1986)


“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.” -Investigation Discovery

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.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunter ‘A Killer Always Rings Twice’
Homicide Hunters: Lt. Joe Kenda Episode 3- Double Murder In Mayberry
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado

Ft Carson Army Soldier Nolly Depadua Killed Air Force Spouse Lourdes Riddle to Silence Sextortion Threats; Sentenced to 14 Years, Out in 7 (1985)

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Nolly Depadua, US Army

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.

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.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunter ‘Secret Life’
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


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? -Investigation Discovery

Air Force Captain Ronald Ball Shot & Killed Michael Faast, Exercised Right to Remain Silent, Plead Temporary Insanity, Found Guilty But Insane (1979)

Officers find the lifeless body of furniture salesman behind the wheel. But Faast didn’t die in the wreck – he was shot point-blank in the temple. Lt. Joe Kenda must track a killer whose promising career took a dark and deadly turn. -Investigation Discovery

On February 16, 1979, police found Michael Faast shot and killed in his vehicle in a parking lot at an apartment complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They also found a traumatized Lori Firth in the vehicle who was transported to the hospital for treatment. After an investigation, Lt. Joe Kenda learned from Lori Firth that Air Force Captain Ronnie Ball was the shooter. Captain Ball was an up and coming military officer stationed at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at Peterson Air Force Base. Lt. Kenda learned from Lori that she started dating Ronnie about three years prior and followed him out to Colorado. After realizing that Ronnie was married to his career in an attempt to make rank and not really interested in marrying her and creating a life, Lori dumped him. Apparently this is what triggered Captain Ball’s downward spiral. Ronnie was devastated by the break-up. This was the first time he had ever been rejected and he didn’t like it. Ronnie tried to propose marriage to Lori over the phone and left her a couple letters saying that his life was not worth living without her. Ronnie just didn’t get it; Lori was done with him.

On February 16, Ronnie showed up to Lori’s apartment. Lori described his behavior as erratic and he smelled of alcohol. His behavior was scaring her. Ronnie accused her of sleeping with her friend Michael and Lori told him to get out. Shortly after that encounter Michael Faast showed up to Lori’s place to pick her up. They jumped in the vehicle and were confronted by Ronnie Ball on the driver’s side of the vehicle with a gun in the apartment complex parking lot. Michael rolled down his window in an attempt to make peace. Ronnie asked Lori to get out of the vehicle, she refused. Ronnie told Michael to leave Lori, he refused. Lori asked Michael to get out of there and that’s when Ronnie Ball shot Michael Faast from about a foot away in the head. Faast died instantly. Michael’s vehicle then crashed into the side of the apartment building and rolled back into the parking lot with Lori in it. Ronnie Ball took off. Ronnie Ball was arrested after police secured a formal statement from Lori Firth.

The Colorado Spring Police Department never found the murder weapon therefore they needed a confession from Captain Ball to make the first degree murder charges stick. Right from the get go, Ronnie Ball exercised his right to remain silent and asked for an attorney. While he was waiting for his attorney, Lt. Kenda observed unusual behavior, extremely bizarre behavior; Ball was talking to himself and going on and on. Captain Ronnie Ball never admitted to committing the crime and despite exercising his right to remain silent was discharged from the US Air Force before he was even left the police station where he was being questioned and fingerprinted. Captain Ball then hired one of the best defense attorneys money could buy. He was found guilty but insane for the murder of Michael Faast by the civilian justice system. Ronald Ball was sent to a treatment program and given no prison time. He has since been released.

Captain Ronnie Ball’s case is an excellent example of the value of exercising the right to remain silent in an attempt to help protect a defense. Lt. Joe Kenda and the court systems definitely protected Ball’s due process rights. But the Air Force on the other hand ended his career before they even knew the facts of the case. They learned that he had been charged with first degree murder and made a decision to end his career without providing him with any due process rights as a military officer or a government employee. At the time of the charge, they had the testimony of an ex-girlfriend and that is it. In a fair, just, and ethical world, the Air Force should have waited until he was found guilty before they discharged him from the service. According to military leadership at NORAD, Captain Ronnie Ball was admired and his work was admired. He was bright and intelligent. It wasn’t until after Ronnie was rejected for the first time in his life that he began to downward spiral. The obsessive, erratic, and paranoid behavior is indicative of a personality disorder triggered by rejection which may be why Captain Ball was deemed insane. This is what justice looks like in the civilian courts; the injustice lies in the hasty actions of the US Air Force.

Related Links:
Revisiting murder cases ‘therapeutic’ for ex cop
Homicide Hunter: Death Grip – Season 4, Show 4, 2014
The Fastest Discharge in Military History
Homicide Hunter: Death Grip (Investigation Discovery)