Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Bring My Baby Home’ on Investigation Discovery: Maritza Beato Rentz & Paul Rentz (February 7, 2018)


A four-week-old girl is kidnapped, leaving her mother in anguish and police scrambling to find her. As days go by with no sign of the baby or demands for ransom, sergeants Joe Kenda and Robert Sapp fear she’s been sold on the black market or worse. -Homicide Hunter, Investigation Discovery

On February 19, 1988, 5 week old Rachel Ann White was abducted from her grandmother’s Colorado Springs, Colorado home. Detective Joe Kenda met Robert Sapp of the Colorado Springs PD Juvenile Crimes Unit at Evelyn Reed’s house. Evelyn explained that she was taking care of Rachel for her daughter Cora Abbott and was interviewing potential baby sitter candidates. One of the potential candidates was a hispanic woman by the name of Sharon Sanchez. Evelyn was interviewing Sharon when the phone rang and Evelyn asked ‘Sharon’ to hold Rachel while she went into the other room to answer it. When Evelyn returned, Sharon and Rachel were gone and when she ran outdoors to see if she could stop her, Sharon was driving away in a light colored vehicle with Texas plates.

Investigators were not sure where to go with the investigation because Sharon Sanchez was an alias but they worked on the case around the clock and used the media to reach out to the public. Then they got a phone call from an Air Force Major. The Major informed Kenda that he had an Air Force officer, Captain Paul Rentz, working for him who said his wife had a baby and this was suspicious because Paul never said anything about his wife being pregnant. The Major and his wife stopped by Captain Rentz’s home to give the baby a proper Air Force welcome and to congratulate them. But his wife Maritza made excuses and was reluctant to let them in the house to see the baby; she eventually relented. After visiting the baby and leaving their home, the Major’s wife said it was not a newborn baby and she definitely wasn’t 3 days old. Then they saw the news that a baby was kidnapped and called the police right away. Kenda and Sapp didn’t hesitate to investigate this promising tip.

Kenda and Sapp went straight to the Rentz’s home. When they arrived at the home, the first thing they spotted was a small silver car with Texas plates that matched the description of the vehicle they were looking for. Kenda and Sapp questioned Maritza Rentz and asked her where she had the baby, who was the doctor, and where was the birth certificate. When Maritza produced a birth certificate, the birth certificate lead one to believe the baby was two days old. Kenda and Sapp knew this wasn’t a real birth certificate because they both had children. They demanded to see the baby. Maritza retrieved the child and she was a perfect match to the composite drawing. They also observed this was not a newborn and they knew immediately it was Rachel White. Captain Rentz appeared to be dumbfounded that the baby wasn’t his. Kenda and Sapp notified Cora Abbott that they found her baby.

Kenda said that when Cora was reunited with her daughter, the daughter she never thought she would see again, it was a very touching moment. Maritza Rentz was charged with kidnapping and Paul Rentz was questioned. He told investigators that Maritza didn’t have sex with him throughout the ‘pregnancy’ because she said it was harmful to the child. She also wouldn’t let him see her body. He admitted that things were rocky. Paul Rentz’ culpability was definitely in question because investigators couldn’t imagine that he didn’t know. But Maritza confirmed Paul didn’t know. She told investigators that she was pregnant but lost her baby and didn’t have the heart to tell Paul. She said she put pillows under her clothes so it appeared she was pregnant. She said she couldn’t see any other way and hoped the baby would help the relationship. When it was time for the baby to be born, Maritza said she was faced with a choice: come clean to her husband or find a baby.

Maritza read the newspaper ads and the difficulty she ran into was that most of the kids were too old. And then she found Cora Abbott’s ad looking for someone to watch her infant while she was at work. Maritza created a false identity, responded to the ad, and visited Evelyn Reed’s home for the interview. She admitted she almost didn’t follow through with the abduction but when the phone rang, the opportunity presented itself and she took it. When she returned home, she called Paul and told him she just got back from the hospital where she had the baby. Paul didn’t question any of it. Kenda reminded the viewer that being stupid isn’t against the law and believing your wife is not a criminal act. He admitted it was difficult to prosecute Paul Rentz because they didn’t have enough evidence to prove anything against him. As a result, he was found not guilty. Maritza pleaded guilty to second degree kidnapping but the judge didn’t give her any jail time. Instead, she claimed mental insanity and was confined to an institution for one year. The happy ending is that Rachel was found against all odds and she is thriving as a young woman.

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:
Baby Recovered Four Days After Kidnapping
Woman Alledgedly Abducted Infant to Aid Marriage
Timeline of Maritza Beato
Baby Snatcher | TV Movie (1992)
Baby Snatcher Movie (true crime movie)
Infant Snatcher – The Narrative That Motivated the Movie Starring Veronica Hamel
Baby Snatcher – True Narrative That Stimulated the video Glaring Veronica Hamel
‘Baby Snatcher’ true story of Maritza Beato aka Maritza Rentz
Movie Based on the Case of Cuban American Maritza Beato
Bring My Baby Home | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (website)
Bring My Baby Home | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Cora Abbott with daughters Brittany and Rachael Ann White/Below Kidnapper Maritza Beato Rentz

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

Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Victim Zero’ on Investigation Discovery: Christopher Walton and Leroy Davis (October 20, 2015)


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. -Homicide Hunter, 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.

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.


Preview: Victim Zero | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery

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

Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Bad Blood’ on Investigation Discovery: Brandin Penza and Kevin Gooley (August 18, 2015)


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. -Homicide Hunter, 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.

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Kevin Gooley

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 hollow. 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.

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.


Preview | Every Body Tells Its Own Story | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery

Related Links:
Life is Random
Every Body Tells Its Own Story | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery
Bad Blood | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Army Veteran Brandin Penza Stabbed 74 Times in Colorado Springs Parking Lot by Stranger; Kevin Gooley Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison (September 23, 1994)
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado

Facing Evil with Candice DeLong Premiered ‘Love Before Life’ on Investigation Discovery: Jennifer Reali Fatally Shot Lover’s Wife in Colorado (November 26, 2010)

Full Episode: Jennifer Reali was having a wild affair with Brian Hood, he made her shoot his wife to death in a parking lot. She did, and now she is serving life in prison. Former FBI profiler Candice DeLong talks face to face with Jennifer to find out the truth -Love Before Life, Facing Evil (S1, E3)

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

Investigation Discovery:

Preview: She was broken down by every man who crossed her path, so when Jennifer’s lover told her that his wife had to die – Jennifer made sure she did. -Under His Control, Deadly Women (S4, E10)

ID Go: 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. -I Now Pronounce You Dead, Homicide Hunter (S2, E1)

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.

In the News:

The Colorado Springs woman, who’s been called the “fatal attraction killer,” Jennifer Reali, has a new address. -KRDO Colorado (August 5, 2014)

Gazette city editor Cary Vogrin talks with Eric Singer on Between the Lines about Jennifer Reali’s release to a halfway house from prison after years of serving time for a “fatal attraction” killing. -Colorado Springs Gazette (August 5, 2014)

A rare interview from three years ago sheds new light about the “fatal attraction killer.” -KRDO Colorado (August 6, 2014)

The Department of Corrections says Jennifer Reali has been transferred to a halfway house, despite having her parole denied three years ago. -KRDO Colorado (August 6, 2014)

Audio from the recent parole hearing for Jennifer Reali. The Colorado Springs woman explains why she killed Dianne Hood and why she’s sorry. -Colorado Springs Gazette (November 7, 2014)

Audio from Jennifer Reali’s recent parole board hearing telling officials why she can do more good being free to help others not follow the same path she did. She was convicted of killing her boyfriend’s wife. -Colorado Springs Gazette (November 7, 2014)

No parole for convicted killer, Jennifer Reali (2015) -KRDO Colorado (October 14, 2015)

Reali shot and killed her lover’s wife in 1990. -CBS Denver (April 6, 2018)</p

Related Links:
A Most Dangerous Liaison
The State of Colorado v. Jennifer REALI, Defendant-Appellant (1994)
Sweet Evil: A True Story of Religious Manipulation and Deadly Love
Escaped killer caught
The case a lawyer wouldn’t give up on
Convicted Murderer Reali Goes Before Parole Board
“Fatal Attraction” killer Reali denied parole in 1990 love-triangle slaying Manipulated Against Our Natures: When Good People Do Bad Things
Killer makes tearful plea for release
Convicted Colorado Springs killer denied parole
Jennifer Reali moved to halfway house
Jennifer Reali, Fatal Attraction Killer Turned Gospel Singer, In Lakewood Halfway House
‘Fatal Attraction Killer’ Jennifer Reali Will Enter Halfway House
Jennifer Reali, convicted in Colorado Springs ‘fatal attraction’ murder, denied parole again
Parole Rejected for ‘Fatal Attraction Killer’
Facing Evil Podcast Ep 3: Was This Woman ‘Under the Spell’ of a Religious Man When She Shot his Wife?
Colorado Springs’ ‘fatal attraction killer’ denied full parole
Colorado Springs’ ‘fatal attraction killer’ denied full parole
Parole denied, but Jennifer Reali remains out of jail after killing lover’s wife
No Parole for Colorado’s “Fatal Attraction Killer”
“Fatal Attraction” Killer Jennifer Reali Finally Granted Parole
Woman who killed lover’s wife in Colorado granted parole
Woman Who Killed Lover’s Wife in Colorado Granted Parole
Son says he’s ready to forgive “Fatal Attraction killer” Jennifer Reali, who killed his mother
Mayor John Suthers on Jennifer Reali (the Fatal Attraction Killer)
‘Fatal attraction’ killer Jennifer Reali dies after release
‘Fatal Attraction Killer’ — Who Disguised Herself to Gun Down Romantic Rival — Dies After Parole
‘Fatal atttraction’ killer Jennifer Reali dies at 55 three months after release from Colorado prison
‘Fatal attraction’ killer Jennifer Reali dies after release
‘Fatal Attraction Killer’ — Who Disguised Herself to Gun Down Romantic Rival — Dies After Parole
‘Fatal Attraction’ Killer Jennifer Reali Dies 3 Months After Parole Release
‘Fatal Attraction’ killer, who was jailed for 28 years for shooting dead her lover’s wife at point blank range while wearing a ski mask, dies three months after her release
Reali death harkens memories of big trial that came to Glenwood Springs
Lieutenant Joe Kenda | Homicide Hunter | Crime + Investigation
Episode 3 – Jennifer Reali | Facing Evil with Candice DeLong (Podcast)
Deadly Women: Face To Face | Facing Evil with Candice DeLong
Deadly Women: FBI Profiler Makes a Confession
Female Domestic Violence Killings In Colorado — 1990-1995
Update: Jennifer Reali | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery
Army Spouse Jennifer Reali Shot & Killed Lover’s Wife; Sentenced to Life in Prison, Paroled in December 2017 & Died From Pancreatic Cancer Three Months Later (September 12, 1990)

Video Links:
Reali denied parole
Reali reaction
Jennifer Reali wants to help others stay out of prison
Jennifer Reali interview released
Convicted kIller Jennifer Reali decribes her crime
‘Fatal attraction killer’ moved into halfway house
Colorado ‘Fatal Attraction’ killer Jennifer Reali granted parole
Between the Lines: The next step for convicted killer Jennifer Reali
Jennifer Reali Dies After Being Released From Prison
Under His Control | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S4, E10)
I Now Pronounce You Dead | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (S2, E1)
Love Before Life | Facing Evil | Investigation Discovery (S1, E3)

Army Veteran Brandin Penza Stabbed 74 Times in Colorado Springs Parking Lot by Stranger; Kevin Gooley Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison (September 23, 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. -Homicide Hunter, 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.

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Kevin Gooley

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.


Preview | Every Body Tells Its Own Story | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery

Related Links:
Life is Random
Every Body Tells Its Own Story | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery
Bad Blood | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, 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. -Homicide Hunter, 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:
Preview: Victim Zero | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Victim Zero | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Victim Zero’ on Investigation Discovery: Christopher Walton and Leroy Davis (October 20, 2015)
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)


Preview: Victim Zero | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery