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Cold Justice: Daughter cleared in murder of parents

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Sometimes complete justice includes clearing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty. Viewers who were fortunate enough to see the third episode of season two of TNT's Cold Justice last Friday saw a great example of that.

When a daughter was left alive in a house while her parents were brutally beaten to death with a hammer, many people in the small community of LaPorte, Tex. assumed she must've had something to do with their brutal murders. And when she and her boyfriend are married following the murder the finger of suspicion points at both the daughter and her new husband for 16 long years. That's a long time to live under the stress of people of believing one's a murderer.

They might still be considered murderers in the eyes of the community if former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and former Las Vegas Police Department investigator Yolanda McClary hadn't rolled into town and set the record straight on the show which aired Friday, Jan. 31. Not only were the crime-fighting duo able to clear the reputations of two innocent people, but they were also able to solve the case.

One question which had to be answered before the daughter could be eliminated as a suspect was how could she have slept through the violent murder of her parents? The logical answer was she was a deep sleeper and the air conditioner was blowing strong. And as loud as the air conditioning was in that house, it was understandable how she could've slept through a double homicide.

Tiffenie Stanczak was in a deep sleep when she was awakened by what she thought was loud breathing. When she walks out of her bedroom her foot touches her mother's body laying on the floor. She called 911 immediately. She then turns and sees everything. Tiffenie felt of her mother's back and realized she wasn't breathing. She walked over to where her dad was sitting in a recliner and put her hand on his chest. He was still breathing.

She then calls her boyfriend and future husband Brian Stanczak to tell him the grim news.

"We lost almost all our friends," Brian told an investigator from TNT on last Friday's show. "People gave us the cold eye. They all thought we murdered Tiffenie's parents. But we didn't."

Siegler and McClary prove he was telling the truth. McClary and former Houston homicide detective Johnny Bonds recreated the crime scene. McClary said, "The hammer was on top of the refrigerator. Victim Charlie Hays was sitting in the recliner when the killer hit him 14 times with the hammer. He sets the hammer on the mat. The blood on the mat was Charlie's. Then Charlie's wife Cathy walks into the room, sees what's happened and tries to flee."

McClary further explained, " She's knocked to the floor. She tries to flee by crawling across the floor. He keeps beating her with the hammer."

Although the DNA does not prove who committed the murder, Siegler said they needed to interview all the people who had been in cousin Craig Houser's life once they zeroed in on him as the chief suspect.

Siegler said, "We need to talk to all the women Houser dated, flirted with, had a drink with, had sex with or married."

This strategy works as one ex-girlfriend said Houser confided to her the murder happened when a man was sitting in his recliner and was attacked from behind. Bonds wonders how Houser knew this detail unless he was the murderer himself.

Another former girlfriend said he admitted to her that he was there in the murder house, and when he woke up he had blood on his hands.

"I thought this was going to be a feather day, but it turned out we got some chicken," Bonds said happily upon discovering all this evidence.

Another witness said Houser told him he'd kill Charlie. Charlier and Houser reportedly had a fight a week before the double homicide after Charlie caught Hauser kissing his wife Cathy on the mouth. Charlie told Houser he couldn't come back to the house.

For his part, Houser told the TNT team of investigators he frequently slept on the couch in the Hays home because he practiced with Charlie's band.

The investigators concluded Houser is the main suspect when Donald Reed destroyed his alibi, saying he was not with him at a motel the night of the murder as Houser had tried to claim previously.

The show concluded with the investigators receiving word the district attorney's office would present the case to the grand jury and request an indictment for capital murder. The death penalty may be sought in the Lone Star state if two people are murdered in the same transaction.

Episode three of season two marks the third consecutive case the Cold Justice team has solved. The show will air again next Friday on TNT at 9 p.m. CST.

Siegler and McClary are doing their part to reduce the number of unsolved cold cases across rural America. The show announces there are 200,000 such cold cases since 1980.

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