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

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 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)

Army Spc. Layne Schmidtke murder 9/21/1991 Colorado Springs, CO *Six teens convicted of his murder*

#Army #FtCarson #Colorado #1991

Bonnie's Blog of Crime

Incident as described in the 1996 appeal of Kevin J. Moore:

On Saturday night, September 21, 1991, Moore and several of his companions gathered near a popular street corner, the intersection of Pikes Peak and Nevada Avenues in downtown Colorado Springs. Moore and his friends left a party they considered too crowded, for a location Moore liked to frequent. The group encircled a group of soldiers and began to shove and yell at them, with Moore ordering them, “Get off our block.” A fight ensued. Several soldiers got into their cars and fled. A soldier who was being beaten in the street escaped by leaping into a passerby’s car. Three soldiers got into another car. Through an open win­dow Moore attempted to punch a person seated on the passenger side of the car. Moore kicked the side of the car, denting it before the car was driven away. Enraged, Moore…

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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

Fort Carson Army Soldier Nolly Depadua Murdered Air Force Spouse Lourdes Riddle Because She Attempted to Extort Him for Abortion Money After Sex (1985)


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

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

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)

Estevan Maestas Tragically Killed After He Detonated Live Hand Grenade Found in Rental Garage; Colorado Springs PD Believes Explosive Device Stolen from the Fort Carson Army Post (1978)


When a mysterious explosion rocks a sleepy suburb, it’s up to Kenda to ID a pile of charred remains and find the killer who triggered the blast. -Investigation Discovery

Homicide Hunter is an Investigation Discovery show featuring retired police Detective Lt. Joe Kenda (1973-1996). Lt. Kenda worked for the Colorado Springs Police Department for years and investigated and solved hundreds of cases during his employment. Now in his retirement, he outlines the cases that he encountered on the job and explains how he eventually solved the case. Colorado Springs is home of Fort Carson, an Army base with about 30,000 soldiers. This show is especially interesting given the fact that Lt. Kenda worked in a city with a close proximity to a large base. We have learned over time just how intertwined his job was with a military base known for an active role in fighting wars overseas over the years.

Exercises and deployments continually hone the skills of the Fort Carson Soldiers. When not deployed, Soldiers train annually at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and the National Training Center in California. Additionally, units participate in joint exercises around the world, including Central and South Africa, Europe, and Southwest Asia. In 2003, most Fort Carson units were deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. ~Fort Carson History

Last night, Lt Joe Kenda discussed an explosives case that had been assigned to him. A powerful explosion occurred in a suburban neighborhood of Colorado Springs.  He was actually working on paperwork on a Sunday when he received a call from police on the scene. They think they found human remains in the remnants of a detached garage near a single dwelling home.  Joe was asked to investigate because this could be an intentional act of murder.  Joe shared that the scenes he has investigated over the years have been horrific and quite shocking to include this one.  As a result, he admitted that he has a hard time eating and sleeping, which are both signs of Post Traumatic Stress of which he admitted he has. This is a normal response for anyone who witnesses these acts of horror, especially over a long period of time.

After Joe arrived on the scene, he deduced that the damage looked like shrapnel damage. But his immediate thought was that it was most likely a gas explosion. He notices in the garage what looks like a large pile of human remains. Based on the remains, he assumed that it was most likely an adult male who was killed. If it’s not a gas explosion, what is it? A couple theories began to emerge including maybe the man lit a cigarette in an area with gas cans and exposed fuel or the victim was booby trapped with hidden wire. This could have been a murder.

Based on his fears of more explosives on scene, he decided to call the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) Bomb Squad to investigate further to determine whether there were any more active munitions. He explained how explosive technicians truly understand explosives and other various devices. As soon as the Bomb Squad arrived at the scene, they immediately recognized the explosive had the smell of a military explosive. Fort Carson had this kind of ammunition on their base since before World War II. The Bomb Squad theorized that somebody from the base most likely smuggled it from Fort Carson and brought it to the current location.  A CSPD detective explained how now we have robots to investigate bomb scares but back then we didn’t have that. Explosive technicians put their lives on the line everyday but more so before the advent of robots and other technologies to help minimize the danger of their jobs.

The CSPD Bomb Squad found another hand grenade in the garage that appeared to be live. An ordinance specialist entered the garage and not only found another grenade but he also found evidence of the dead man who was blown up by the first grenade. The second grenade appeared to be untampered with and there were no other explosives found at that location. Police suspected that the victim could have been in the building when someone threw the grenade in. They needed to learn more about the victim to determine if he had any enemies that would do something like this. They learned that the house is a rental and the current tenants only moved in a couple of months ago. The neighbor shared that a man named Estevan had recently retired and moved into this location. While on scene, a police officer found a human index finger quite a distance from the remnants of the garage. This discovery changed the whole direction of the case because the finger was found with a wire around it and this was the pin ring from the hand grenade. The victim may have pulled the pin and detonated the explosive. This could have been an accident.

Joe needed to identify the victim so he started with taking the victim’s finger to the lab so they could attempt to identify him by finger print. The lab technicians told him that without a name, it could take months before they get a match. In the meantime, Estevan’s wife showed up at the police station after learning what happened at her residence. Joe had to tell her that her husband was dead. She shared that his name was Estevan Maestas and he was a custodian at the school with finger prints on file. Estevan was simply going to clean out the garage because the people who lived their before left a bunch of junk in there. She left the house after he went out to the garage. Because his past did not indicate that this could have been a suicide attempt, it was theorized that this was in fact a tragic accident. Estevan most likely found the grenade, had no idea that it was live and maybe he thought it was a toy. He pulled the pin and he never felt a thing, he never knew what hit him.

The CSPD speculated that the grenades had been stolen from Fort Carson and brought into this rental home by a soldier. They assumed that most likely this guy didn’t want to deal with having to dispose of the grenades so he just left them there to become the next person’s problem. This was a hard pill to swallow given a man lost his life over this reckless act. Why was it not followed up on? Given how the military has strict regulations and is supposed to have strict chain of custody records to help them track all explosives, it should be easy to determine whether or not this grenade came from this base. It could have been brought home as a souvenir from World War II, Vietnam, or the Gulf War era. Were they able to cross reference the rental records at the location of the explosion with Fort Carson soldiers? This case revealed more mystery then resolve. If a soldier did smuggle the grenades from the base, why was there no investigation for theft, and now maybe even manslaughter? It is assumed that this person intentionally left them behind because they didn’t want to properly dispose of them.

In theory, no soldier should have been able to get these grenades on a plane or off the base without a search or a documentation trail given how the military usually conducts business. Much like communications security equipment (COMSEC), ammunition is inventoried and kept under lock and key in an effort to prevent compromises with dangerous repercussions.  In most circumstances, if Fort Carson recognized that ammunition was missing, they would shut down the base until they found it. If someone dropped the ball at Fort Carson, a man lost his life because of careless documentation and security practices. And the Colorado bomb squad and Lt. Joe Kenda risked their lives in an effort to prevent anyone else from getting hurt or killed. Hopefully, soldiers learn a valuable lesson from this circumstance given it could have been a harmless act that went terribly wrong. Whoever left the grenades behind may not have intended for Estevan Maestas to die but he did. If a military member was responsible, it would be nice to know that the military has implemented safety and security procedures that can help prevent this kind of a tragedy from ever happening in our communities again.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunter ‘Point of No Return’
Va. Man Finds a Hand Grenade While Doing Yard Work
Army Vet Arrested For Storing Anti-Tank Round On Roof Of His Home
War keepsakes, lookalike grenades surface unexpectedly
Bomb squad investigating grenade ‘donated’ to Goodwill
Neighbors Make Explosive Find While Cleaning Veteran’s Closet
Former Army explosives tech pleads guilty to having live grenades
Grenade Found in Maryland Home During Eviction
Mom: 12-year-old finds old grenade near family’s front porch
2 grenades found in refrigerator at nursing home
‘Don’t assume it’s safe,’ police warn of finding veterans’ explosive memorabilia
Lessons Learned from a Military Ammunitions Explosion in Colorado Springs