Hey, it's just an errand from the Generation Y where we explore hundreds of unsolved murders and conspiracy theories. This week we're talking about the murder of Hannah Hill. Some people considered it a wrongful conviction, but we always like to follow the evidence and not narratives.
So listen to new episodes of Generation Y Appeal, Apple podcasts, Spotify or The Wonder you join 100 plus in the wonder. You have to listen ad free. I'm Lester Holt. Tonight on Dateline. A cold case mystery and a 40 year mission to solve it. What I focus on when I'm working a case, what drives me the most is the victims. I wanted to speak for them. I wanted to speak for Eileen.
I just turned on the news woman found murdered in Denver, Colorado. I just grabbed my son and screamed and cried. Was it somebody she worked with at the radio station? Could it be the boyfriend that she just broke up with in December? You're giving the detectives names of people? Yes, we looked at everything. I was even like, where was Ted Bundy at that time? We have to look under every stone, every pebble you're talking about hundreds of millions, hundreds, thousands.
She is driven. Her tenacity is just remarkable. I knew I was going to find him. It was a competition between him and I. The heart is pounding like, oh, my God, this is real. I said, I found him.
I know who killed Helene. Here's Josh Mankiewicz with a promise to healin. Forty years is a long time. That's 40 winters here in Colorado. And countless snowfalls. It was on a day like this that a young woman disappeared. Her name was Helene, and Helene had a friend named Kimberly, a friend who kept her word. Do you have any idea how many years you were signing up for when you made that promise? No. For those nearly four decades, Kimberly LaTourette kept her promise 40 years looking at faces, 40 years meeting with detectives, 40 years retracing Helen's steps.
When I make promise and make a commitment, I follow through.
Colleen never knew it, but she had another friend. You never met, Helen. You feel like you know her? I do. I feel like I know her well as well as I possibly could.
Shannon was three years old when Haleem disappeared. It was only last year that she accepted a challenge.
I had to when I wanted to win for Holly. Haleem Brezinski grew up as the baby daughter in a close knit family of five in Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Everybody that met her liked her company. Janet was her older sister by nine years. But you didn't treat her as like annoying younger sibling. You guys were not right. We were. We were. She was my best buddy. She came. She was a surprise, I think, to the family. And she just brought sunshine and life to our household.
I met her my freshman year of high school.
She was a sophomore. We both were part of a singing group called Harmony.
And that's really where I. I got to know Jolene very well.
She loved to sing. Yes, she loved to perform.
I'm involved with a harmony musical group at the regional.
Ilene's spoke about her school life for a classmate's local radio show.
My philosophy on life. Yeah, I have one. You should just be yourself and make the best of everything. Smile. Smile. Yeah, that's what I do all the time. Here she is smiling along with Kimberly and their musical group, also joining in, Kimberly's older brother, John.
There was a real feeling of camaraderie, but also a dedication to excellence in our and our singing.
He remembers the day camaraderie turned to something else.
We started talking. And for me, there was an immediate spark.
It was that kind of fluttery feeling that you have when you know you're talking to somebody that you realize you really like immediately.
They were just in love. They were, you know, each other's first loves in high school, but very genuine.
It didn't last beyond high school. But John and Kimberly both kept in touch with Harlene. After graduation, Eileen attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she sang in another group, The Tones. There she is in the back row with the black dress on. One more thing, as much as she loved her singing, Helene had another passion journalism.
What did you think was going to happen to her? Where was she headed for great things.
I saw her leaving the Christmas December of 1979 at church.
She told me that she was going off to Denver to do this internship to further her interests in journalism.
And she was very excited about it. Palin arrived in January 1980 to begin that internship at a radio station in Denver, a long way from home. Fortunately, she had some relatives nearby.
Your family didn't worry about her going off to Colorado because she wasn't going to be alone and she was staying with your aunt and uncle.
Exactly. Then came that day, January 16th, Harlene had barely been there two weeks when she grabbed the bus from the radio station around 6:00 p.m. to go back to her aunt and uncle's house. She made the commute before without a problem that night, Helene Brezinski never made it home. My parents called me and said they would. They had just gotten a call from my uncle and this was, I think, maybe 10 o'clock at night, would you think it happened?
We had no idea it was. This is so unlikely. Something had to be wrong.
The next morning, the news, none of it good, made its way back to Massachusetts.
That was the first thing that came up. Hamilton woman found murdered in Denver, Colorado.
And then from there, it was just horror and chaos.
I went crazy. My son was 16 months old. I just grabbed my son and screamed and cried. And I just couldn't believe it was happening now. Totally. That moment would launch a 40 year quest for justice. To find Helen's killer and to learn what happened on that wintry night. When we come back, detectives, family, friends, desperate for clues, grasping at straws, she gets off the bus and then she just disappears.
She just disappeared. Was it somebody that she worked with at the radio station? Could it be the boyfriend that she just broke up with in December? I thought I would be a suspect, actually. In Elaine Brezinski small Massachusetts town, her family and friends sat stunned.
She'd been found murdered in a snowy field in Colorado.
She was my first love, so she had a very special place in my heart.
And what happened to her was so devastating, her wake was just horribly sad.
I mean, no one could even speak. What could you say? You just go through the motions and then when it's all over, then you sit and you you still say, I can't believe it's happened. Murder changes everything.
Oh, it does it change the mood in rural Douglas County, Colorado, a high profile murder case will do that as snow began to fall in the field where the body of young Helen Basinski was found, obliterating any clues. Back in 1980, Tony Spurlock was a rookie sheriff's deputy in Douglas County, Colorado. Today, he's the sheriff. What was Doug was like then?
You know, Douglas County was a completely rural community between Colorado Springs and Denver.
Not a lot of homicides back then, maybe one every four years.
Investigators determined Palin was last seen alive getting off that bus after work. From the bus driver, we knew that she got off that bus from there and nobody got off with her. She didn't have any trouble on the bus. There was no indication from any witnesses there that she was in any distress or anyone was following her.
She gets off the bus and then she just disappears.
She just disappeared. Helen's body was found the next day in a field nearly nine miles from that bus stop. She'd been stabbed nine times. An autopsy revealed she was also raped. What did you learn from the body, the scene, the autopsy?
A number of her clothes were missing. She was wearing a midsize winter jacket for Colorado at that time and a scarf. She was lying on her back.
She had no defensive wounds, but she had wounds on her knees and lower leg area, which would tell us that she had either crawled on her knees at some point into that rough area, the grass based upon the injuries.
And she didn't have defensive wounds suggesting that she was not fighting her attacker. She was trying to go along with them, maybe get him to let her go.
Right. And some of the forensics that they shared with us led some of us to believe that it wasn't a stranger, that it must be somebody that she knew.
But she didn't know anybody there, did she? She didn't know anybody there, but she was working at a radio station. So was it somebody that she worked with at the radio station? Could it be somebody that she turned down for a date or a ride or something that got angry?
Elaine's friend, Kimberly, started thinking about the men in Hellenes life. They were mostly just friends, but she passed their names to investigators anyway. You're giving the detectives names of people and saying you need to check out this guy and this guy. And this guy. Yes.
We said, could it be the boyfriend that she just broke up with in December? Could it be?
You know, I looked at my brother. I said, John, you know, could it be you?
Of course. John was Helen's ex-boyfriend as John worked through his own grief. It occurred to him police might come knocking.
I thought they would I thought I would be a suspect, actually, but they never contacted me.
That's because investigators quickly determined John was in Massachusetts when the murder happened. Back in Colorado, investigators focused on what little evidence they had, different world of law enforcement back then, no surveillance cameras, no license plate readers, none of that.
This was during the age of law enforcement where we still did not have DNA. There was no technology that would help us track where she was at.
Their old school police work did turn up something. A witness had seen a young man of medium build in his 20s or 30s, five, nine, maybe five, 10. He was standing by a car at the side of the road. It wasn't much. Investigators wanted more from the witness. Investigators put that person under hypnosis and used a sketch artist to draw a rendition of the person that she saw standing next to a car on Daniels Park Road, which would have been 100 yards or so away from where the body was found.
That works, putting somebody under hypnosis. Here's the thing. I've been doing this business for 40 years and I heard where it worked and I've heard where it didn't work.
The result was this sketch wasn't the killer and would it lead anywhere? Coming up, a chilling new possibility, I was even like, where was Ted Bundy at that time?
Could a serial killer have committed this crime? You're being questioned in connection with the crime of homicide.
These prolific serial killers that certainly fit it certainly fit. When Dateline continues.
Hi, I'm Brooke and I'm a writer and where the hosts of Even the Rich, a show about people with a lot of money and a lot of feelings, Brooke.
What's the worst thing that can happen to a politician getting voted out of office? Hmm.
How about driving your car off a bridge and leaving a young woman trapped inside, which is exactly what Ted Kennedy did in 1969. It was a scandal that rocked the nation and threatened to bring down the entire Kennedy empire.
Subscribe to even the rich Chappaquiddick on Apple podcast's, Spotify, the wonder free app or wherever you're listening right now, join Wonder E-Plus in the Wonder app to listen ad free.
I'm Lindsey Graham, the host of One Reshow American Scandal. We bring to life some of the biggest controversies in U.S. history presidential lies, corporate fraud, corruption and sports. In our new series, we look at an accident at a nuclear power plant called Three Mile Island. What began as a series of small technological errors soon ballooned into a crisis as technicians and government officials struggled to avoid a massive spread of radiation. Subscribe to American scandal on Apple podcasts. Spotify or listen ad free in the wandering app.
In the weeks after Helene Brzezinski's murder in 1980, police at last had a possible image of their suspect, except it wasn't leading them any closer to her killer.
You start showing that sketch around and you put it up every place and nobody knows who that is. That is correct. No one came forward and said, oh, I know who that guy is.
Months went by and detectives just hit a dead end.
It was clear that they had exhausted all of the leads by the winter time of of 1980 going into 81.
The case had gone cold for a victim's family. There may be no greater frustration than having a loved one's case go cold.
Often someone needs to play the role of the tireless advocate, even that only 26 Kimberly realized that and made her promise, which was I saw Helen's parents and I just promised them.
That I would not stop for as long as I was living and doing everything in my power to find Helen's killer.
Everything to Kimberly meant constantly calling detectives, generating press coverage, anything to keep a laser focus on the case.
I didn't want to see her parents or her sister or her brother have to not only deal with just day to day living, take some of that burden off of them and for them to feel good that somebody was still actively working on it and keeping that case alive.
And then in 1983, the case did seem to gain new life.
Throughout the 70s and early 80s, a number of serial killers had been grabbing headlines.
We looked at every serial killer. I was even like, where was Ted Bundy at that time? You know, was he in Colorado?
And so we even looked at every known serial killer that was active at that time to see if they could possibly have been in Colorado.
And then there were these two men, Henry, Lee, Lucas and Honest Tooele. They were drifters, arrested and jailed in the early 80s and began telling law enforcement something astonishing, how they had killed more than 200 women in a dizzying spree across the country.
Crime analysts there have painstakingly recorded hundreds of details of dress, mode of travel and method of killing in the Lucas Toole murder cases.
That's Dennis Murphy reporting on the pair for NBC Nightly News.
They're known as serial killers. And according to law enforcement officials, there are at least 35 of them roaming the country now.
And these two admitted killers told police about one particular victim in Colorado.
They confessed to committing the murder of Haleem Brezinski.
What was unique about that means is that detectives often thought that there might have been another person maybe in the car waiting for whoever they took out into the field. That was one of the theories.
And so these two guys who worked together, these prolific serial killers that certainly fit it, certainly fit.
It's pretty seductive when a couple of serial killers who are on the hook for a lot of other murders confessed to your murder because you can close a lot of cases if you're going to link them to these guys.
That's right. Obviously, they were like, this is awesome. We've got a confession.
Colorado investigators headed for Texas to interview Lucas' themselves to being questioned in connection with the crime of homicide.
The detectives showed him a map and asked him to pinpoint where he and Tooele picked up Elain South Carolina train, took out a car, and we cut her own way out of the country after a bunch of rock stuff out there. He would have tried to cover it up, but I think she complied with.
Then Lucas added another detail.
She was stabbed to death and shot one bank and had. Who shot her? I shot her in the head at that moment, they had a problem. Helene was stabbed, not shot to detectives. This confession was starting to sound phony. They dug deeper, looking into Loukas and Tool's long trail of arrest records.
We could link them to other jurisdictions by other legal documents that could be authenticated, that there would be impossible for them to be in two places at one time.
So they weren't in Colorado at the time the Marine was killed. They were not in Colorado at the time she was killed.
Why would somebody confess to a murder that they did not commit? What would be in it for them?
They were becoming famous and they knew that they were going to spend the rest of their life in prison, if not on death row.
And so so why not be there as the most prolific serial killer in the country? Exactly. As for any other serial killers on the prowl back then, none could be placed in Colorado at the time. Ted Bundy actually had spent time there in the late 70s, but he was behind bars in Florida at the time of Allen's murder. The serial killer leads had dried up. Was that disappointing when that didn't pan out?
That was disappointing because we knew at that point we were again back at point zero with nothing to work on.
It wouldn't happen quickly, but over time, this case would go from point zero to 100 with a young detective up for a challenge. Coming up, what I focus on when I'm working a case, what drives me the most is the victims. A new investigator and a bold new approach. You're talking about hundreds of names here, hundreds of thousands.
I knew I was going to find him. Really. It was a competition between him and I.
Pauline Brzezinski's murder had become the textbook example of a cold case. But in 1988, a ray of hope sprang up, it came from a somewhat newer textbook, the use of DNA evidence had become a revolutionary tool in criminal investigations, and Douglas County detectives realized there was DNA from their suspect in evidence. There was body fluids on these pieces of material or swabs from the autopsy that had not been tested. And so we were very excited at that time because we had an abundance of DNA evidence available to us.
Investigators were able to put that DNA kit into the FBI's database of criminal profiles known as CODIS.
That's a huge, lucky break. Very huge, except it doesn't match anybody in CODIS, doesn't match to anyone.
Spurlock and his team were disappointed and so was Kimberly, but always mindful of the promise she'd made, Kimberly wasn't about to let the case freeze up again.
I would jump on it and shake the trees. And I was never met poorly.
I was always met with welcome arms by the Colorado detectives.
She was key in connecting us to other people that we felt was very important to the case.
In 2004, Kimberly was arranging a reunion concert of their singing group Harmony to celebrate Helene's birthday when she had an idea.
I said, it's time. We need to get this solved.
Let's fly out on the anniversary of Helen's murder and retrace her steps in real time.
I mean, you know that detectives had done that before, probably right after the murder and probably a bunch of times since. What did you think you were going to get out of it that they hadn't done?
Create a media stir in the news, hoping that the killer would see us, would know that there's eyes still on the case, make a lot of noise for high school.
Friends of a young woman murdered 26 years ago say there is still hope that their friend's killer will be found.
The plan worked.
They made all the local newscasts, 30 of us decided to band together to do whatever we could to make sure that this case is reopened and solved.
They also set up a website about the case, hoping the killer might click on it and reveal his Internet address.
That was our hope, was just to get the worm to crawl out from under the rock. That didn't happen. The worm stayed hidden.
He did. In 2009, Helen's brother died. Then her mom and dad followed. In 2012, sister Janet was the only one left. You've settled into this life where you don't know, right? It was heartbreaking. By June 2019, Helene had been dead almost 40 years, the coldest of Colorado cases. That's when a new detective, Shannon Jensen, was assigned to the case. What I focus on when I'm working a case, what drives me the most is the victim's.
Jensen had been a competitive rower at Cal Berkeley before she enrolled at the police academy and joined law enforcement. She got to know, Harlene through all the pictures and information in the case file, and she was hoping to get to know someone else.
What do you know about your unknown suspect? You know, it's a man. You know, he's between the ages of we don't know his age.
We know that the witness said he was in his early 20s, but ultimately, nobody else saw him.
Detective Jensen decided the key to all of this was that DNA profile. She decided to consult with a genealogist and upload the suspect's profile into a website called DJed Match, a site people used to track down relatives. But it's also a tool for law enforcement. Absolutely.
They allow law enforcement to upload kits or DNA. That DNA is matched with other kits who opt in, who want to assist law enforcement.
So Janzon started looking for any people with DNA similar to that of the suspect. This is not just a matter of plugging jumbles of code into a computer. It's the equivalent of old fashioned shoe leather detective work. But for the 21st century, that's because a similar DNA profile is just another lead that needs running down. So instead of knocking on doors, Jensen was picking up the phone. Interesting. Thank you for returning my call asking for cooperation from possible distant matches.
You're this disembodied voice on the phone saying, tell me about one of your relatives who might be a murderer and I need you to help me. And I need you to give up some personal information.
Yes. Would they be willing to share their entire family history on the chance they were related to a murderer? It's a big ask.
And I would contact these matches and they would give me their family trees and any family history that they had and so that we could fill in safer adoptions or unknown pregnancies.
We're talking about hundreds of names here, hundreds of thousands.
And the people that spoke to me about it all said, hey, if this is somebody in my family that did this, then they should be arrested for the crime. There should be justice for this young victim.
What's that like for you, knowing you're sort of pursuing this, the safer?
Having been a competitive athlete most of my life, I think really it was a competition between him and I. I knew I was going to find him. I wanted to win for Holly.
And by the fall of 2019, Detective Jensen seemed to be making progress. After speaking with contacts through the database and building those family trees, she had found a woman whose DNA was so close to that of the killer she might be a first cousin. There was just one problem.
That first cousin didn't really know her family. The family wasn't close.
Would there be any way to fill out that possibly critical family tree? The cousin put Jensen in touch with another cousin. When you talk to that woman, you think, this is it? We're getting close.
Yeah, and I knew this is it. I'm on the right track and I'm going to figure out who he is.
Real simple coming up. She's like, I know who did it. I'm like, did what? And she's like, I know who the killer is for Halloween. The beer mug that just might seal this case.
I mean, the heart is pounding like, oh, my God, this is real. This is the guy.
When Dateline continues, if you're feeling a little lost or overwhelmed right now, I can relate. And that's why I can't recommend our sponsor better help enough. They'll assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist and you can start communicating with them in less than 48 hours. This is not a crisis line and it's not self-help. It's professional counseling done securely online. One of the best things about better help is that you can log into your account any time and send a message to your counselor.
You'll get timely and thoughtful responses. Plus, you can even schedule weekly video or phone sessions. There's a broad range of expertise available and they're recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states. So you're sure to find a great match to get ten percent off your first month visit. Better help dotcom slash DL. NBC join the over one million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional at better LPI Dotcom, Dell, NBC Better help dotcom slash DL NBC.
Kimberly LaTourette had spent years determined to help solve her friend Hellenes murder, and she was nothing if not resolute, that's it. Fate tends to keep its own schedule. Kimberly, with a husband and kids, learned that in 2010, my older one went off to college right the same week that my husband died.
His dad and my younger one was 15 and fell into a deep depression.
I didn't know how depressed until he went off to college at Northwestern University and ended up taking his own life.
It was a one two punch that would have crushed a lot of people. Despite that, Kimberly never lost sight of her friend Arlene.
Certainly no one will blame you for saying I still want to solve Helene's murder. I still want to help the police. But that's on the back burner now. I have other things to deal with.
Well, maybe that's when I became obsessed with Dateline episodes, because any tiny thing that I could pick up on an episode, I would immediately call Douglas County or the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and say, did you think of this? Did you look at that?
At her desk in Colorado, Shannon Jensen was asking some questions of her own with a computer screen and a telephone as her tools, and she had tracked down a promising lead.
She spoke with someone whose DNA profile was close enough to that of the killer that they were likely cousins. That cousin told Jensen about two men who'd been estranged from her family for years.
There were two brothers and essentially it had to to look at both of them.
And as she started digging, something stood out about one of the brothers outcomes, the criminal history for Curtis Island. White Curtis White was convicted of rape in the late 70s.
He served time for rape before he was paroled here to Douglas County, Douglas County, Colorado, where Helene Brezinski was murdered. It all fit. He was how old at that point?
21, when he was paroled here. Same age as. Yeah.
It was time to tell Lieutenant Tommy Barella, the boss of the cold case unit.
And I come around the corner, I see her and she's like, I know who did it. I'm like, did what? And she's like, I know who the killer is for Halloween.
And I'm like, No, you don't. Barella knew all about the investigative dead ends in this case, he'd seen plenty of them over the years. I'm like, how do you know you do? And she understood the DNA. She understood the genealogy. I didn't know she had to explain it. Well, then there's still that little bit of doubt, you know, like, do I go upstairs? Don't I?
So I did. Lieutenant Barela and Detective Jensen made the walk upstairs to face the sheriff and they say, we believe we've got him.
This is the guy you'd been on the business end of a few other. This is the guy conversations where it didn't pan out.
I was Detective Jensen laid out our case, two brothers, only one in Colorado at the time of the murder. And there was another thing. As Jensen dug through White's criminal history, she discovered an old mugshot from 1988. Remember that initial witness sketch drawn with the help of a hypnotist? You get that booking photo from 1998 in Florida. And it looks like the sketch, doesn't it?
It looks like one of the sketches pretty remarkably. Those two you could blame over each other. It was the mustache, the hair, the eyes.
I mean, it was so eerily positive the sheriff was sold. I was convinced very quickly by their determination and I think also their confidence and what they had learned through this genealogy, that this was the one we needed to go after. And I mean, the heart is pounding like.
Oh, my God, this is real. This is the guy they needed to find, Curtis White, and tracked him to Florida, where he'd been living under a new name, James Curtis Clanton.
He became James Curtis Clanton and just went on with his life, got married, had had a child, built a career for himself, and just went on with his life as if nothing happened and stayed out of trouble.
Yeah, pretty much.
Douglas County detectives went to Florida to watch him. He's living in a trailer on somebody's property. We see his van. He had a white van with a shark on the side of it. We knew that was his van. We see it, OK? We got his house. We got the van.
When you're down there and you're surveilling this guy the first time you see him, you think. That's Helene's murderer right there getting into his chest. Yes, they surveilled the newly minted Mr. Clinton as he drove to a local bar to grab a beer. Then investigators ask the bar's owner to save those mugs.
He grabbed them, put them in bags for us and met us at the back door and hand them to us. Three beer mugs? Yes, a three beer mugs. The detectives brought the mugs back to Colorado. Do you say to the DNA lab, this is it. Step on it. They knew a lot of your investigations. They had been working on this case since 1980.
Everyone waited until finally Shannon Jensen got the call.
The lab tech said, hey, it's a match. One of them had your suspect's DNA sample on it and it matched the semen that was left on the coat.
What's it like? I don't even know if I can describe what it's like. It's extremely rewarding. And then the bad news, the statute of limitations had expired on the rape, meaning Clinton could admit to that with no consequence and then deny the murder to make their case stronger. Detectives needed to get Clinton to talk with them. So Barela and his team came up with a strategy.
The plan was to go talk to Mr. Klein to see if we can get him to come down voluntarily, to talk to us and kind of slow play into why we're really there.
The technique we used was that his Social Security number had been used in a large identity theft case.
The officers wore body cameras. Would you mind voluntarily coming down to the sheriff's office here in Union County with us just to talk on the video recorded interview room for a few minutes after four decades.
What would he have to say? Coming up. With regard to Colorado, I would, Helene, get justice at last we lost it. I really, really freaked out. I just was paralyzed. I couldn't even breathe. Colorado investigators were finally in the room with the man who might have killed Helene Brezinski more than 40 years ago. James Clinton thought he was there to answer questions about an identity theft ring. Have you ever lived or done business in Colorado that were not aware of how many, many, many years?
OK, well, that's helpful. When was that? Approximately 79. That was important.
Clinton was now on tape saying he'd been in Colorado when Haleem was killed. It was time to change the subject.
You care about a young woman in Colorado and I show you a picture of a cigarette. Let me go to your Kate in New South Wales. I know Clinton stopped speaking with investigators.
It didn't matter. His DNA spoke for itself.
You have a watch for your arrest for first degree murder. Kidnapping. Wrong guy. We actually have the DNA on.
Later that day, Janet Brezinski looked down and saw a Colorado number on her phone.
It was Sheriff Spurlock.
He said, we want to tell you that we have found the murderer. And so I lost it. They were saying, I really, really freaked out. It was the realization that after 40 years, there will be justice served. And it was just hard to comprehend because it's a relief.
But it's also reliving. Exactly.
Lieutenant Tommy Barella began escorting Clinton back to Colorado. As they spoke, the detective began gaining his trust.
You're building a rapport with this guy? Kind of, yeah. I'm just a personable guy here. They're suspected, clammed up in that interview room, then suddenly seemed to have a change of heart. He wants to talk.
He wants to talk, and they want to talk, by gosh God, to let him talk.
As they drove to the airport, Barela grabbed his iPhone and pressed record.
My name is Tommy Barella. Jimar advised me. I'd like to talk to me about the crimes that he's being accused of.
Clinton told Borella he wasn't surprised when detectives asked him about Halloween.
I knew that I was going to give me one day when I was going to get you. Did you? I did it. OK, you did what? I killed the girl. They're accusing me.
And at that moment I was like, holy crap, it pinch me. He just admitted it like, oh my God.
Clinton laid out the details of that cold day in January 1980, how he'd seen Haleem getting off the bus and forced her into his car.
I put my arm around her and had a knife in my hand and showed it to her.
Did she say anything? She said, I'll go.
Healin, he said, was cooperative, which explained the lack of defensive wounds on her body. He confirmed that he raped and stabbed her multiple times, then left her in that snowy field. The fact that she was alive and on that bus was the only reason that he kidnapped, raped and murdered her. And he's going to pay for that.
Yes. And Clinton had one more thing to say. He claimed his life of crime could have been much worse. He said it wasn't because something about Halloween had haunted him.
You know, you got got a conscience. And in my mind, it actually took a step over to become a serial killer with Allen. Right. And. I couldn't because of who she was an. And the serial killer on. Kimberly, who made so many calls trying to keep the case alive, now received a call herself. I couldn't even breathe.
It wasn't it wasn't jumping for joy. It wasn't crying. It was just pure shock. I just was paralyzed.
After 40 years, the end came quickly. There was no trial. James Clinton pleaded guilty to Hellenes murder. Many of her friends and family traveled to Colorado this past July to speak remotely at his sentencing hearing.
Leanne was never forgotten.
I saw Clinton. I sentence you to sentence in the Department of Corrections for the rest of your natural life.
And then they had a reunion of sorts with some of the many investigators who'd worked Helen's case over the years.
It was amazing to sit across the table from them all and just soak in. Who Harlene Brzezinski was in their minds, Janet still thinks about her baby sister every day when you're doing OK. You have grandchildren now, two grandchildren.
Yes, yes. And one of them was born on Helene's birthday. My granddaughter. What do you tell him about Halloween? Oh, well, we have pictures of Halloween in the house. She's only five, so I haven't said too much yet. But she will know a lot about Halloween. You finally have justice for Halloween and her family, all the victims that were left behind. It's it's kind of why you got the police work in that.
It is after a 40 year crusade for answers. It was the truth that connected to women. The detective who took on a quest. And the friend who never forgot Harlene needed to be heard. She needed people to know what happened to her, so she's not alone anymore. That's all for now. I'm Lester Holt, thanks for joining us. The Meet the Press Chuck Todd cast, it's an insider's take on politics, the twenty twenty election and more candid conversations with some of my favorite reporters about things we usually discuss off camera.
Listen for free wherever you get your podcast.