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Ep 2 - Angie Dodge. Angie lived in Idaho Falls with her family. At 19yo, she had just moved out of the family home into her own apartment. On June 13 1996, she was discovered by coworkers who came to her place to check on her because she hadn’t shown up for work. Angie’s body and clothing were in such a way that it was obvious that she had been sexually assaulted. She had been stabbed to death, namely to her chest and a deep cut at her throat, almost decapitating her. Before a full year is up after her murder, police zero in on Chritopher Tapp, a 20yo acquaintance of hers. He was put under interrogation for upwards of four days, interviews on and off, and by the time it was over, he had confessed. Once out of the interrogation and able to get his wits back together, Chris once again told police and then the courts that he was innocent. There was only one DNA sample found at the scene and Chris didn’t match it. But still, prosecutors argued there were two men that night, not one. Chris was just able to clear the scene of his own evidence… maybe he was the lookout? They never came up with the other suspect to take to trial - the one who’s semen was actually left on Angie. Chris was sent to trial, was convicted, and spent 20yrs in prison for Angie’s murder. All along, Angie’s mom, Carol, believed in Chris’s innocence, and often spoke on his behalf during his appeals and court proceedings. But it wasn’t until fall of 2016 that Chris was able to convince a judge to grant a new set of DNA tests in an effort to prove his innocence. And in March of 2017, the DNA results righted a horrible wrong, to an extent. The district attorney’s office refuses to admit they were wrong, but they do admit to the judge that, ‘well, maybe he’s served enough time, so it’s okay if you want to release him.” It wasn’t until July of ‘19 that Chris was officially exonerated for the murder of Angie Dodge, 23 years prior.
After Chris was released in 2017, and the DA was keeping with the theory, they had changed the theory to two men, not just the one. But if it wasn’t Chris, then who was it? So police turned to forensic genealogy to find the killer, and arrest Brian Dripps a few hours away in Caldwell, ID in May of 2019. POS Dripps was 30yo at the time, 10yr older than Chris was, and he and Chris, it turns out, had nothing to do with one another other than the fact that they both lived in Idaho Falls. [Side note - they’re still going to wait another two months before they hold a press conference to admit they were wrong about Chris… just sayin’.]
Dripps had been interviewed by police the day after Angie’s murder, because he was a neighbor, he lived right across the street! In his confession, he tells police that he was alone that night, working through getting a divorce and losing time with his kids… and he only went to the apartment to rape, not to kill her. Dripps would later recant his confession, but this brings us to our update:
POS Dripps did end up pleading guilty in the end, and on Tuesday, June 8 of this year, 2021, just under two months ago, he was sentenced to 20yr to life. This sentence was agreed upon beforehand, as part of his plea deal. The argument being that he is now 55 and his health has been failing for last few years.
Angie’s brothers Todd and Roger as well as their mother, Carol, gave their victim impact statements before the sentence was handed down. He talked of the chaos his family endured since Angie was taken from them. He told the court that they are the forgotten victims of Dripps crime, the ones left behind. And he himself has had to navigate through PTSD, depression, anger, anxiety and antisocial behaviors. He also makes a point to illustrate the changes within the family after Angie was killed. And he makes a very important point here. It’s one thing to mourn the loss of a loved one. What about when these victims - and here I mean the tangential victims (the murder victim’s family and close friends) - what if they aren’t built to handle this kind of trauma? *See any married couple that ends up divorcing after a child dies. But imagine she was killed, and you cannot find her killer? Now, the government believes they have put away the guy that killed your daughter and sister, but you know in your heart that they are wrong. But because someone is in jail for that crime, they are no longer looking for any other truths - they’ve closed the case. How does a mother, or a father, get through the day? Going through the motions of life, still parenting other children. Would you be able to do it? Imagine the siblings of murder victims… not only has their sister been killed - they are grieving themselves. But now they are being parented by parents who barely know how to function themselves because of their own grief. And as the years go on… I think especially in cases like these - cases with no answers, no justice, no resolution, it’s very easy to see the rippling effects of the trauma. And who else will be affected? The next generation - the kids of the siblings left behind? We saw a little bit of that with Pat Dwyer’s niece last episode. Whew… it’s a lot. Todd also spoke about other who were affected all this time but were not able to give their own statement. Chris’s wrongful conviction, the jurors that found him guilty, a second man that was strongly suspected, the community that took sides - what Chris Tapp guilty or not? Before closing, Todd tearfully laid out a giant photo of the crime scene to remind the court of the horrific nature of Angie’s murder while he spoke.
When it was time for Carol to speak - whew - this mom, every time I’ve seen her speak, my heart breaks for her. Still, after 25yrs, her voice is filled with what feels like the same emotion she had back before Y2K… She made Dripps look at her, and told him, “we had to go through 25 years of pure hell trying to find justice. Looking for you. And now you have to live …. Live it out. Because I’ll never forgive you.”
Whow. it’s heartbreaking to watch but it also feels so good to see the Dodge family get to face the POS that ripped Angie from their lives.
Our next update is for Episode 4. This was the case of Ellen Matheys and David Schuldes of Green Bay WI. Ellen, 24, and David, 25, were engaged to be married in the summer of 1976, and had just set up a weekend campsite at a McClintock Park when they were killed. It was theorized that Ellen and David were making a pit stop at the bathroom before heading out for a nature hike when David was shot, and then Ellen was taken from the bathroom. David was found killed right near the bathroom, and Ellen was found in the woods a few hundred yards away. Like Angie, she, of course, had been sexually assaulted. Ellen had been shot in the chest. As part of the investigation, a local LE officer, who had gone camping with his girlfriend and another couple a few weeks before Ellen and David were killed, reported that they did notice a creeper in the woods late into the night when they were hanging out around the campfire. Fuckin’ creeeepy! In the aftermath of the killings, park-goers stopped camping there in groups of less like 8-10 people. There were no phones at the parks to call for help, and now there was a crazy killer on the loose, stalking camper at night AND during the day.
Ellen and David’s murders would go unsolved - with no suspects at all - until an arrest was made through a genealogy investigation in March 2019. Damn this name - POS Raymond Vannieuwenhoven actually made us all go thru a trial. His defense? Wasn’t me. Ok, I won’t argue that that’s my semen, but I didn't kill them. So we are to believe you had sex with her, but you didnt kill her? So what came first? A ladies room hook up while her fiance is outside; then immediately they’re killed but you manage to escape? OR is it that they were already murdered when you came across them, so you just decided “why not rape a corpse”?
The charge for Ellen’s rape was not able to be brought because the statute of limitations had expired by 2021 - we are talking 45 years now. But, I think the vindication for the rape, here, is that the rape is what was ultimately able to find Vannieuwenhoven AND offer his motive. Both Ellen and David were shot, so there was not killer’s blood drawn from a slippery knife, or skin found under any fingernail. As morbid or maybe insensitive as it sounds… with some of these cases, we need the sexual assault in order to solve the murder.
Just this last Tuesday - four days ago - the jury took two hours to come back with a guilty verdict. At this point though, few family members are still alive. Ellen and David would be about 70yrs old themselves now. Sadly, most of those who loved and cared for the couple did not live long enough to see their killer brought to justice. David’s sister does tell the media after the verdict, “He took 45 years away from them. 43 of those 45 years he spent going about his business with the freedom to live his life. So, is there an equal amount of justice here? No. But we are very for them. This is what’s left for them and we are very happy to get it.”
Sentencing it not until the end of August, so we will see how things go down. The thing is, judge’s have to use sentencing guidelines for the whent he crime in question occurs, so we’re going to be looking at whatever was in place for murder back in 1976, not whatever is in place here in 2021.
Finally, we have a lil update in the Sherry Black case. Sherry’s case was highlighted in Episode 16. She was 64yo happily married grandmother in the Salt Lake Utah area. She was working in her rare bookstore in 2010 when her killer came into the store, killed her and - it’s believed - sexually assaulted her after she was killed. Sherry’s bookstore was a mess - she didn't keep an inventory and there was no rhyme or reason to the way the books were stacked. It was like as long as she knew where a book being asked out was, that’s all that mattered. The store also wasn’t normally open to the public, with regular open hours, where you can walk in and shop. She mostly sold books on Amazon, or had buyers make appointments if they were nearby. So police had a really hard time tracing any kind of person who might be connected to her through the bookstore that might want to hurt her. And they couldn’t even figure out if any actual books were missing. But they also considered maybe it was just a local who knew about the bookstore and minimal security it had. Maybe it had nothing to do with books, maybe it was a sex offender who saw easy prey.
Ten years later, in Oct 2020, just last year, Adam Durburow was arrested for her murder after the family tree from the suspect’s semen was created. He had been 19yrs old at the time of Sherry’s death. Durburow’s childhood is pretty memorable if you’re a regular listener here. His dad was the guy that “owned” a photography studio and declared himself a modelling scout. He was later found guilty of taking photos of his subject in the studios changing rooms and selling them on the black market. Yup, international child pronography. Years later, when Adam became an adult, he would make these rage filled comments and post on Facebook about justice, and hating the world, hearing his enemies scream… blah blah blah.
We ended our episode questioning what exactly could be the motive. POD Durburow was very vocal about his father’s crimes against children - and he had committed those crimes when Durburow was a child himself. And with the belief that Sherry was raped aftershe was killed, we wondered if the rape was an afterthought, so to speak. OR was he somehow in the rare book game? He had been convicted a few times of shoplifting from local stores before Sherry's killing. But they were, like, supermarkets. Would he really care to do the research on some rare books? And shoplifting is way different than an armed robbery. In the first case you’re laying low, trying not to be seen, keeping a low profile. In the second case, you are aggressive, threatening, and violent. So was it sexually motivated or was it the theft? Or was it something else? What else could it be?
Well, we do not have a court date, that I could find at least, but there was a recent lil blurb in the local paper about what detectives found when they executed a search warrant back when he was arrested. Prosecutors office had just unsealed the warrants - and the outcome of what they found seems to be still under wraps. Which is fine - because whatever it is needs to be used to try him. But supposedly, Durburow knew she sold rare books there, and they believed something was coming for him in the mail because they wanted all his mail confiscated. Also, the warrant tells us that he did in fact confess to killing Sherry, but clearly, he’s taken the concession back since then. So I guess it really isn’t much of an update, but at least it looks more like she was singled out for her books that it was a random invasion.
I cannot find their trial dates. And we really just have to chalk all these delays up to COVID. Before COVID shut the world down last year, like just about every other area of life, the court system had millions of cases pending trial, pending pleas, pending hearings. But with everything coming to a complete halt, starting proceedings up again became a nightmare. I can only imagine how rough it was for these judges and calendar clerks to begin scheduling again. We’ve got the defendant ready to go to trial in March of 2020, but they weren’t able to resume the case until, what July? October of last year? So then we have Durburow here, arrest last October, but because of everyone else essentially in front of him in line… his trial is going to ake that much longer to come to court. And so on and so forth.
With that said, I’m glad we are able to see some of our cases here get some movement and lock in a sentencing - in Angie Dodge’s case - and a guilty verdict in the Matheys/Schuldes case. It was such a long time coming to get a measure of justice for these victims, but it’s finally here.
So for our roster, we still have to wait out Clark Perry Baldwin, the truck driver who picked up female hitchhikers in the 90s. And then also Gary Hartman, charged with killing and sexually assaulting Michella Welch in 1986.
With perspective we have here at The Ties that Find, I’d like to go back to something Todd Dodge said as part of his victim impact statement. Because I think it really gets to the heart of the importance of keeping the hope alive for these long term investigations.
“He kept silent for 23yr while the chaos in our lives raged on. Had it not been for advances in forensic technology, Mr. Dripps would never have been apprehended, would never have confessed, would never have come to face those whose lives and community he destroyed and brutalized. He was completely happy to sit back, retire, watch another man do time for a crime only he committed.”
The tragedy of a rape or a murder… the sorrow and trauma don’t fade over time in cold cases, like Todd tells us, they fester. They change you. But in the age of this genealogy angle, there really is a lot of hope for victim and Doe families and communities. Of course, if the evidence was there and collected properly at the time. And it might sound preachy here, but I think as citizens in a civilized society, we are on the side of good. We are on the side of doing what’s right. And I think we have the responsibility to do what we can, when we can, to help get these cases resolved. Please consider uploading your profile to a database accessible to law enforcement, making sure to OPT-IN. At this point we have GEDmatch, Familytree DNA, and DNASolves. (I will put them in the show notes.) The perpetrators of these crimes won’t all end up serving time like Dripps and Vannieuwen-fucker, as they should, or for as long as they should. But even so, the families of these victims deserve a place and the space to speak about the aftermath and face of the monster that so horrifically altered their lives.
Finally, we have Clark Perry Baldwin, our first serial killer here on the podcast. He was a truck driver who picked up female hitchhikers. Then there’s Gary Hartman, accused of killing and sexually assaulting Michella Welch in 1986. I cannot find their trial dates, but they are coming, that’s for sure.