John Walsh hosted a special edition of Cold Justice Friday, July 18 in which fans of the popular TNT show were updated on the progress of several cases Kelly Siegler and Yoland McClary have investigated. Walsh, the famous host of America's Most Wanted, opened the show saying he'd been a big fan of Cold Justice and followed it during its first two seasons.
As a powerful advocate for victims of crimes, Walsh praised the former Houston prosecutor and Las Vegas investigator for the work they've done solving previously unsolved cold cases. He introduced them both.
Yoland McClary responded, saying, "It was the show that brought us together." Siegler said, "I've had to teach Ms. Bling Bling here from Vegas to say ya'll instead of you guys." She gave McClarly a playful shove after saying that.
The first case updated on the show was in Cuero, Texas and was originally ruled a suicide in January of 2001. But investigator Johnny Bonds said suicide didn't make sense to him.The lady victim's bags were all packed to either move or travel somewhere. Why would she go to all that trouble packing her bags and then go into the next room and commit suicide?
Yolanda said she studied every inch of the bathroom photos and the trajectories of the bullets on the case. The trajectory of the bullet from where it entered the left side of the victim's head and then exited at a slightly highter level convinced the origninal investigators it was a classic suicide .
Bonds explained, "That's the classic suicide shot. Entering the side of the head and coming out slightly highter. It took me awhile to get past that.'
Because of the expert investigation by the Cold Justice team, the suicide verdict was set aside and Ronnie Hendrix pled guilty for the murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. A victim's family member responded that she had waited so long for justice that the conviction was the main thing. Kelly explained that "cold cases are different. There are complications in cold cases that you don't have in regular cases. Any prison sentence is good in a cold case."
What Kelly was referring to was the fact that during the time that passes after a person is murdered in a cold case, key witnesses sometimes die or move away and are difficult to locate. Memories of some witnesses fade. Sometimes physical evidence is even lost or destroyed.
In the second case John Walsh updated, Clint Mackey confessed to murdering Ericka Case as a result of the TNT team's investigation. The victim was found stabbed to death by a swimming pool in Vigo County. While two other people were originally the suspects in the case, the Cold Justice team was able to narrow it down to Clint Mackey who then confessed. Cold Justice investigators Steve Spingola and Johnny Bonds showed Mackey a picture of the deceased and asked him, "Are you sorry for this?"
Mackey said, "I didn't do it."
After watching Bond and Spingola relentlessly interrogate Mackey in the TNT van, John Walsh asked them, "Do you play good cop and bad cop?" Bond responded, "It's more like Bad Cop and Worse Cop."
The case in LaPorte, was notable for clearing a young lady whose life had been negatively impacted for many years as the chief suspect in the murder of her parents. Tiffany watched people turn their backs on her for many years as she lived under a cloud of suspicion. She lost friends and even her sister who went to live somewhere else. It was only when the Cold Justice team dug up evidence which pointed the finger at Craig Houser that Tiffany was cleared in the minds of community members. Houser was indicted on two counts of capital murder for the deaths of Charlie and Cathy Hayes, parents of Tiffany and sister Samantha.
Tiffany said, "The Cold Justice people are our angels."
Siegler and McClary were able to find a witness who said Houser told her he attacked the Hayes from behind. Only the killer himself would know that fact. Tiffany said it meant a lot that her name was cleared and her reputation restored.
The strangling death of 78-year old Louise Callum in 2005 was at first a puzzle. Who would have the motive to murder the popular Louise? DNA connected Markus Heard to the crime as they TNT team sent evidence to the Sorensen Forensics Lab for testing. Yolanda interviewed Kathy Green of the lab who explained to viewers who the DNA process works.
When Walsh asked Yolanda to explain the significance of DNA, she said, "The first thing we look for now is DNA. But before DNA became accepted, there were fingerprints. They were the biggest thing before DNA."
Houston homicide investigator Johnny Bonds said, "We solved a lot of crimes before DNA."
Kelly reclled that, "Back in the 90s federal funding to do DNA came out for law enforcement agencies and that solved a lot of the cases. However, DNA is not the end all and be all in our cases. We get cases often where there is no DNA evidence."
Walsh said, "Well, Yolanda you inspired the investigator for the CSI television series (Marg Helgenberger)."
Kelly said, "Because of CSI prosecutors and others will sometimes ask, 'Well, do you have DNA. They expect it now. But that's not the real world."'
John Walsh also showed some clips of future Cold Justice shows. In one scene the TNT van is pulled over by a law enforcement officer for speeding. Kelly laughed, saying, "I went to school with the cop who stopped us. We ate crayolas together in the second grade."
Walsh also offered the help of his program to try and solve one of the few cases Kelly and Yolanda were unable to unravel. In 1995 in Thatcher, Arizona Marion Holmes was murdered in her home the same morning she had a garage sale which means there a multitude of possible suspects. Houston investigator Alan Brown said it would take a "deranged" person to do what this murderer did. Marion's daughter Ashleigh was a small child at the time and ran for help to the neighbor's house. She had bloodstains on her. A now grown-up Ashleigh appeared on the show with Walsh and the TNT investigators. She explained, "I have some good days and bad days. I just have to keep going, keep getting up every day."
Walsh asked people with information about the unsolved Arizona case to call 1-800-222-TIPS to help catch this killer.
Cold Justice shows will continue next Friday, at 9/8 CST on TNT.
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