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Episode 200: Identical Twin Murder

Around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2008, according to April Lewis, intruders broke in to her home in Columbus, Ohio twin 17-year-old sons, Dennis and Derris. They held April at gunpoint, ransacked the home, then fatally shot her 17-year-old son Dennis. Prosecutors said that Dennis was killed by his identical twin brother Derris, jealous that his twin had more money than he did, and a car. Both twins were model students and devoted to each other.

In March 2009, of the following year, Derris Lewis went on trial for murder, but after a juror needed to be excused during deliberations and no alternate jurors were available, the judge declared a mistrial.

Then on Aug. 6, 2009, all charges against Lewis were dismissed after what prosecutors claimed was a bloody palm print on the wall of the Lewis home turned out not to exist at all, and Derris Lewis was released after being in custody for 18 months. He was awarded $950,000 compensation by the city of Columbus, Ohio.

This episode contains testimony from Derris’s girlfriend, Kristian Holloway, about Derris’s personality, and the night in question. She calls him a “goody two-shoes” who dearly loved his brother.

 

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Episode 200: Identical Twin Murder
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Episode 199: The Perfect Son

Jeffrey Pyne 22, was a star athlete, high school valedictorian and University of Michigan biology student. He was all set for a career in medicine when his mother, Ruth, developed bipolar disorder and Jeffrey began to get concerned for the safety of his  behaving violently and erratically. She became hyper-religious, and Jeffrey became. concerned about the safety of his sister Julia, 12, who was being home schooled. Ruth spent time in jail for assaulting Jeffrey in 2010, but charges were dropped when she promised to stay on her medication.
    On May 27, 2011, Ruth Pyne, 51, was beaten and stabbed to death in the family garage. Jeffrey and his father, Bernie, believed she was attacked by an intruder. Prosecutors argued that Jeffrey killed her in a fit of rage after years of tension and pressure. In her testimony, Jeffrey’s girlfriend Holly Freeman said Jeffrey was very emotional about his mother, and shortly after the crime, his hands were bandaged and blistered, which he claimed came from lifting pallets at his job on a local farm.
    In January 2013, Jeffrey Pyne was found guilty of second degree murder andsentenced to twenty to sixty years in the Michigan Department of Corrections. His father and sister continue to protest his innocence.

 

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Forensic Transmissions
Episode 199: The Perfect Son
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Episode 198: Uber Rideshare Murder

At 2 AM in March 29, 2019, Samantha Josephson, 21,  ordered an Uber to take her home after a night out at a bar in Columbia, South Carolina. Outside the bar, she mistakenly got into a car driven by a man named Nathaniel Rowland, 27, who trapped her in the vehicle by activating its childproof locks,  then kidnapped and murdered her. Her body was found the following day by turkey hunters in the woods 65 miles away.
In court, Nathaniel Rowland’s ex-girlfriend, Maria Howard, testified she saw blood inside Nathaniel’s car hours after the victim vanished — and also saw him cleaning a hunting knife. She saw blood on the back seat and on the dashboard of his car, and a sheet had been draped over the seat. When she asked Nathaniel what had happened, he told her to “mind her own business”. Rowland was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

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Forensic Transmissions
Episode 198: Uber Rideshare Murder
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Episode 197: Winslow Jane Doe #2

(see episode 120 for Jane Doe #1). This episode contains the testimony of Jane Doe 2 in the rape trial of Kellen Winslow Jr., a former NFL tight end, in San Diego County Superior Court in early November. Jane Doe, who remained nameless and was not shown on camera, was a 59-year-old homeless woman from Encinitas, California who was picked up and raped by large black man with tattoos who drove a black Hummer and identified himself as “Kevin.” She testifies that he drove her to a parking lot close to a shopping center and raped her violently, causing extra pain due to his “gigantic penis.”

 Winslow was also charged with raping another homeless woman, as well as a 17-year-old at a 2003 party when he was 19. There were also indecent acts where he allegedly exposed himself to an elderly female neighbor who was in her yard gardening and a 77-year-old in a health club hot tub while Winslow was out on bail and awaiting trial.

    With incontrovertible evidence accumulating against him, Winslow finally accepted a plea deal that spared him from the possibility of a life prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to raping the unconscious teen in 2003 and to the sexual battery of Jane Doe 1, while the San Diego County Superior Court agreed to dismiss other felony charges including kidnapping, sodomy, forced oral copulation and two charges of forcible rape.

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Forensic Transmissions
Episode 197: Winslow Jane Doe #2
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Episode 196: Menendez Subplot

Brothers Erik and Lyle Menéndez  were convicted in 1996 for the murders of their parents, José and Mary Louise (“Kitty”) Menéndez (see episode 169 for testimony from Lyle’s girlfriends).

The trial had many subplots. One of the most juicy involved the brothers’ therapist, Dr. Jerome Oziel, and his mistress / patient, Judalon Smyth. Erik Menéndez, torn apart by guilt after the murders, apparently confessed to Oziel, who then told his mistress, Judalon Smyth, who went to the cops. The affair was a stormy one (Judalon said she once made Oziel an IOU for 500 sex acts). Judalon said Oziel was obsessed with her; Oziel said it was the other way around. In fact, the affair seems to have been a folie a deux. This episode contains testimony from both parties.

Erik and Lyle Menéndez are currently both serving sentences of life without parole in the California Department of Corrections. Jerome Oziel lives in Portland, Oregon where he offers relationship and marriage seminars. Judalon Smyth is an EMT technician in Beverly Hills, California.

 

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Episode 196: Menendez Subplot
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Episode 195: Alex Murdaugh Trial

This episode contains testimony from the Murdaugh family’s longtime housekeeper, Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson, during South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh’s trial for the murder of his wife Maggie and youngest son, Paul. Simpson testified that said she never knew Alex and Maggie to argue, other than “some minor disagreements” over things like like over the paint color of their beach house remodel. But Maggie also told Blanca that the couple were worried about a lawsuit against Paul, who had been recently involved in boating accident in which a friend had been killed. Maggie said she was very concerned about money, and felt Alex was “not being truthful” with her about the lawsuit.

On March 27, 2023, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of double homicide and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

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Forensic Transmissions
Episode 195: Alex Murdaugh Trial
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Episode 194: Sandy’s Beauticians

This episode contains more audio from the trial of Sandy Murphy and Rick Tavish for the murder of Ted Binion. Binion was a wealthy American gambling executive and one of the sons of Vegas casino magnate Benny Binion, owner of the Horseshoe Casino. Ted, a multi-millionaire, loved the high life and ran the Horseshoe for a while, hosting the casino’s poker tournaments. But in 1998, Ted, 55, was having problems. Due to his heroin addiction and associations with known criminals, he’d recently lost his gaming license and his ties to the casino. His wife Doris had moved out, taking the couple’s daughter, Bonnie, after learning of Ted’s affair with a topless dancer named Sandra Murphy. Just before his death, he discovered that Sandra was cheating on him with a man named Rick Tabish.

On September 17, 1998, Ted was found dead from a combination of Xanax, heroin, and Valium. He’d recently bought 12 pieces of tar heroin from a street drug dealer, and had a Xanax prescription from his next-door neighbor, a doctor. Police believed the scene was staged by Sandra Murphy and Rick Tabish, who wanted Ted’s money (after losing his gaming license, Ted had taken all his gold out of the Horseshoe safe and buried it in a 12 foot deep underground vault in Pahrump, Nevada). In 1999, Sandra and Rick were found guilty of murder, but the verdict was overturned.After a second trial, they were acquitted of the murder, but found guilty of conspiring to commit and committing burglary and/or grand larceny. Rick served 11 years; Sandy was sentenced to time served.

This episode contains testimony from the second trial, in May 2005, featuring two of Sandy’s gossipy beauticians, hairdresser Georgia Gastone and Michelle Gillian.

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Episode 194: Sandy's Beauticians
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Episode 193: Dahmer Redux

This episode returns once again to the 1992 trial in which Jeffrey Dahmer pleaded guilty but insane to the murder and dismemberment of 15 boys and men. A number of psychiatrists testified at Dahmer’s tril. Judith Becker, a professor of psychiatry and psychology, was the second expert witness for the defense. Dr. Becker diagnosed Dahmer as a necrophiliac, although she added that Dahmer was not a “classic” necrophile in that he preferred comatose sexual partners to deceased ones “75 percent of the time”. In this excerpt from the trial, Dr. Becker, reading from her notes, summarizes Dahmer’s crimes in a remarkably monotone voice. Dahmer was found guilty and sentenced to life. He was killed in prison on November 28, 1994.

 

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Episode 193: Dahmer Redux
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Episode 192: Mark Fuhrman Tapes

During the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995, screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny testified about the 13 hours of taped interviews she conducted with LAPD officer Mark Fuhrman, who was involved in the investigation of the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. McKinny claimed the tapes contain many instances of Fuhrman expressing racist opinions and using offensive language and misogynistic slurs. Fuhrman and McKinny began meeting for taped interviews in February 1985 and continued meeting until July 1994. Only a very small portion of the audio was played in court.

This episode contains McKinny’s testimony at the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995.

 

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Episode 192: Mark Fuhrman Tapes
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Episode 191: Doomsday Demons

Renegade Mormons Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell developed their own doomsday cult, telling their small circle of followers that demons had turned their family members into “zombies” or “vampires” who needed to be killed. On May 14, 2023, an Idaho jury found Daybell guilty on all charges, for her role in the deaths of her two children and her husband’s first wife. Chad Daybell will be tried separately next year.

On Day 5 of the Vallow Daybell trial, Zulema Pastenes, the widow of Lori’s brother Alex Cox, took the stand. She explained Lori ‘s beliefs about casting out evil spirits, and how she was convinced various people–including her two children–had been ‘possessed’ and ‘attacked’ by demons.

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Forensic Transmissions
Episode 191: Doomsday Demons
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