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I'm Lester Holt, and this is Dateline, a small town, a small circle of friends and a young woman's murder that haunted them for decades. Sitting in the floor of my parents bedroom crying, it was just so out of the blue. Her nude body was slumped over the bathtub. Susan was the breadwinner? Yes. What was he doing all that time?


Lifted weights, slept late. We didn't have any evidence.


It just seemed like it was somebody that she knew. What kind of woman was she was real trusting many people who had met somebody, I just didn't know who. I knew I made a mistake when he locked the doors, he said I killed before. Yes. And I'm not afraid to kill you. You never say mean or violent. He was quiet. He was shy. He's smiling. Not a care in the world. Smiling ear to ear.


Smiling because he got away with this because somebody looks innocent. Doesn't mean they are.


Here's Natalie Morales with the monster at large. A gentle life ended by an act of violence I'll never get the image out of my head was brutal. It was just absolutely brutal.


There were obvious clues, but no easy answers had the evidence.


That's what's so frustrating about it, especially when it hasn't been solved, a crime that left one woman dead and a trail of other victims in its wake. I felt hurt. I felt betrayed. The justice system is so broken.


Sometimes justice delayed is no justice at all. And even three decades later, the pain is still raw.


I have a good 20, 30 years of rage. 1987 was a year of fresh starts for Susan Woods after the most challenging stretch of her young life. Thirty year old Susan was looking forward to a better future. Susan was a very shy, timid but happy go lucky person after six years of marriage.


Susan filed for divorce and was single again. She even met a new guy.


She loved life. She was looking forward to a new part of her new chapter of her life.


Cindy Hayes was Susan's closest friend. We did everything together. Just get out and have a good time. Were you like sisters? Yes, ma'am. Just we could finish each other's sentences. We really could. Did everybody like her who met her? Oh, yes. Oh, everybody did. I believe everybody at her where she worked loved her. She was just a sweetheart.


Susan worked at a factory that made sandpaper in her hometown of Stephenville, Texas. She liked the independence and security of holding down a steady job, and she was a reliable employee.


So on July 28, when Susan's dad, Joe, found out she hadn't shown up at work for two straight days, he thought something was wrong. And went to her house where he found her as no parent should go, immediately, called the police.


I got the call to house all hands on deck. Sergeant Donnie Hensley, an investigator with the Stephenville Police Department, headed to the scene. I imagine that's a call that sticks with you a lot.


OK, so stuck with me from day one. When Sergeant Hensley pulled up to Susan's house, Joe was outside throwing our condolences.


He's a good guy. That's what's going on, Joe. He said Susan's dead. I took his hand, I said, Joe, I'm so sorry, seeing a man who has just discovered his daughter dead, I imagine that had to be pretty powerful, his only daughter. Joe had found Susan inside the scene, made it clear she had died a horribly violent death at the hand of someone else, no father.


And to see that their baby. No. And it's still hard for you to talk about that moment. Well, yeah, but having lost, his world just ended. The investigation ramped up quickly. A team of investigators and crime scene techs descended on the house. It was one of those sticky Texas summer days. Temperatures in the 90s muggy. It was stifling. Inside a Sergeant Richard Pringle walk through the house, camera in hand.


What was your primary responsibility in processing the crime scene? I concentrated on the bathroom.


Her nude body was slumped over the bathtub. Her hands were tied behind your back. It appeared like it was maybe a tank top or something and twisted up and in one hand tied to one hand, the other hand tied to the other hand. How high up behind her back? They were pretty high up, which told me that hurt. That had been used as leverage to keep her in the water. It was a sickening scene. There was also a mark on Susan's neck that looked like it came from a cord, Danny Hensley tried to make sense of it.


Could you tell how she had been killed based on that position?


I could tell he was probably sexually motivated and that usually results in strangulation or something. I mean, how brutal can you be? I don't care what you call psychopath. Sociopath. I don't care that just a damn monster.


In those first moments, there was a lot Handsley didn't know, but he felt certain about one thing. He was dealing with a sexually motivated crime committed by a monster who is now at large. What he couldn't have known then is how hard it would be to bring that monster to justice. Inside a troubled marriage. When we come back, Susan was the breadwinner. Yes. What was he doing all that time? Lifted weights, slept late, watched a lot of TV, friends in shock, sitting in the floor of my parents bedroom crying.


It was just so out of the blue. Susan Woods was dead, the victim of a terribly violent act that seemed to come out of nowhere.


It was, of course, a tragedy for her family and friends.


I was just dumbstruck.


Susan's friend, Gloria Martin, sitting in the floor of my parents bedroom crying.


It was it was just so out of the blue.


Susan's murder was also a shock for her hometown, Stephenville, Texas, is a place that prides itself on its small town values.


It's a little place, but it also has a big time reputation.


They call it the cowboy capital of the world home, they say, to more rodeo cowboys and cowgirls than any place on earth. Susan and Gloria grew up here.


We like the same things. We got closer with every passing day.


It seemed like she may have lived in the cowboy capital of the world, but Susan was no cowgirl. She preferred cars. What did you all enjoy doing together? Making the drag. When you say making a drag. What does that mean? Making the drag? You drive from one Dairy Queen on the main street in Stephenville to the other Dairy Queen. Think you turn around and you drive to the other Dairy Queen.


A lot of guys in Stephenville had a definite look, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, shirts with pearl snaps, the whole nine yards. But it was a very different kind of guy who caught Susan's eye. His name was Michael Woods.


I wore a leather jacket and engineer boots and I didn't look like them. They also tended to make fun of my hair and my beard and didn't think much of my accent. You stuck out like a sore thumb here, then? Yeah. So when she met you, what was it about you that attracted her? I was absolutely different.


And what was it about Susan that attracted Michael? Just about everything. Was it love at first sight?


Yeah, she was gorgeous. She was absolutely gorgeous. And she was amazed to hear my stories about other places because she'd never been anywhere or gone anywhere. And she was just fascinating to be around. She was so full of love when they met.


Michael was 23, Susan was 22. He fell hard for her, but not for her hometown. He was an Indiana guy who never felt at home after moving to Stephenville.


I just didn't jive with the whole civil vibe, including its music.


Michael was a musician, and country music wasn't his vibe either.


In Stephenville, that meant he was an unemployed musician.


You're a rock and roller in a little bit of country. Yeah.


So Michael took jobs he didn't like and couldn't keep, mostly in fast food joints. Eventually he had trouble finding any job. There was always the same story.


You got long hair, you got a beard. You're weird. We don't like you. You know, it was very hard for me to find work.


Even as Michael's prospects for a good job hit rock bottom, his romance with Susan flourished after they got married in 1980. She was the one paying the bills.


Susan was the breadwinner. Yes, she was the one who was making the money. Keeping the house? Yes. What was he doing all that time? Lifting weights.


Slept. I watched a lot of TV and. Played around and what was Susan doing while he was doing all of that, working at the Sandpiper Factory on the line, and then she'd come home and cook dinner? She did do everything for him.


Not quite everything, all during their marriage, Michael wanted to pack up and move somewhere else back to Indiana would have been perfect for him. But Susan didn't want to leave Stephenville.


Was it a constant struggle? It was a constant struggle for me.


It wasn't so much of a struggle for her because she was in a place she liked. It was just unlivable for me there. And that's what the arguments were about. I got to get out of this town.


Those arguments became a bitter stalemate. There were trial separations followed by uneasy reconciliations. And when Michael's brother bought an apartment building back in Indiana, Michael drove Susan's classic 1965 Mustang there, leaving her alone in Texas without a car. She wasn't happy.


I moved to Indiana to help him renovate the apartments and she kept insisting, if you don't come home, I'll divorce you. And Stephenville is not my home.


Michael chose Indiana, and Susan made good on her ultimatum. She filed for divorce in February 1987. It was never finalized, but they didn't live together after that. Five months later, Susan was dead and now detectives were combing through the evidence, looking for leads, they would find plenty.


Coming up, a killer who made himself right at home.


Somebody's been sitting there smoking and watching TV, sitting there for a while. It just seemed like it was somebody that she knew when Dateline continues.


A husband is always a suspect when a wife is murdered, but in this case, Michael and Susan Woods had separated months earlier and Michael said he was a thousand miles away in Indiana when Susan was killed. Sergeant Donnie Hensley couldn't find anything to prove he wasn't. We didn't have any evidence if we had will him.


So Hensley and Sergeant Richard Pringle clean the slate and took a closer look at the evidence from the crime scene. Whoever did this left quite a trail and there was no trying to clean up the crime scene.




When you look at the movies, always trying to wipe down everything and sanitize it so nobody knows they were there, but they didn't do that in this instance, did it look like anybody had tried to break in or could it have been a robbery attempt? Well, that's the first question that comes to mind. There was some problems with the screen on the front door look like some fresh damage to the lock. That would indicate there may have been some forced entry or something.


But once Pringle stepped inside, the scene in the living room suggested another possibility.


You walk in the door and there's a TV there. And it was on it was playing. And then directly across from it, there was a chair inside. That chair was a small table and it had an ashtray with cigarette butts in it. And I think a package of potato chips and a can of coke and some Twinkies unopened.


There was a lot to unpack from that scene, especially when investigators found out Susan didn't smoke and rarely drank coke in the living room itself looked tidy, undisturbed.


The bedroom was a whole other story.


It was all in disarray. Her clothes all over the floor. The mattress was hanging over the edge of the bed. Scratch marks on the floor suggested the bed frame itself had been moved from the wall several inches, as if there had been a struggle. Each piece of evidence in the bedroom was more chilling than the last.


There was a black smudge on the pillow. Could have been eyeshadow like her face had been into the pillow possibly. Yeah, that's. That's what possibly smothered. Yeah. And a cord, as I understand on the bed, it was some kind of an electrical thing.


And the cord too in that position over the pillow. Does that suggest maybe to be used for asphyxiation.




Strangling everything pointed to a vicious attack in the bedroom, an attack that carried over to the bathroom where Susan's body was found. Was there blood in the water and the bathtub was there? The water was red, which indicate there was blood on the floor. There was it looked like overalls and there was like a blouse right beside it. The toilet seat was up in that position. She's the only one that lived there.


Pringle snapped pictures around the house and started collecting evidence. The electrical cord and cigarette butts were packaged. Fingerprints were found everywhere on the bag of chips and coke in the bathroom sink and mirror. The most promising print was found on the tub right next to Susan on the left side of her body.


I found some real good, almost a whole palm print where somebody had grabbed hold of the the tub. So I dusted that and brought them up good and lifted them.


It was a crime scene, rich with clues. But what was the story they were telling? The first thing the sergeant noticed at the house was that broken lock on the screen door, a sign that Susan's killer might have broken into the house.


But Pringle changed his mind when he checked more closely for signs of a break in, go around the whole house and check all the windows and all the doors, see if there's any evidence of being broken or pride or whatever. We didn't find anything. In fact, the windows had been nailed shut and only the screen door was damaged, it looked like there was no forced entry. The evidence in the living room supported the theory. It was a scene of domestic tranquility.


Tyvon, snacks on a table, cigarette butts in an ashtray. Those items in the living room look like a calling card for a killer who felt right at home.


Somebody's been sitting there smoking and watching TV, sitting there for a while sometimes. Yeah, it just seemed like it was somebody that she knew or was comfortable letting me in her house.


The idea that she would go have a one night stand or bring somebody home from a bar, had that been explored as well. According to all her friends, she wasn't the type of person that would bring a stranger home.


But in the months before she was killed, Susan did start dating someone new. There was also a short list of family and friends she would be comfortable letting into her house. And Stephenville police were about to knock on their doors.


Coming up, one potential suspect had a hobby that raised eyebrows around town, they even ran an ad in the newspaper talking about it being satanic instead of another put himself right at the scene of a crime.


She said, well, I'm going go take a bath.


And then she called me and then I got in to it was a crime scene chock full of clues. But remember, Stephenville police were dealing with 1987 technology. We do not have DNA and we know it now.


Of course, they could still rely on old fashioned shoe leather. And when investigators canvass Susan's neighborhood, they came up with a witness who said he spotted a pickup truck and a large framed man near Susan's house around the time they believe she was killed.


Everybody does pick up steam mail. Could have been anybody.


But Hensley was interested in the description of a large framed man. So when he learned Susan's best friend, Cindy, was dating a big guy named Roy Hayes, he wanted to talk to him. I had an alibi.


I was with a couple of friends. What were you doing with your friends?


Oh, I'm a geek. We were playing Dungeons and Dragons and playing Dungeons and Dragons.


Sounds innocent enough, but at the time, some religious leaders in America thought the fantasy role play game was the work of the devil. That idea had taken hold in the very conservative Stephenville.


They even ran an ad in the newspaper talking about it being satanic instead of to playing Dungeons and Dragons was considered. Yeah, very unconventional, possibly satanic, possibly.


So that just automatically threw you under the bus. Roy is a big guy and also a big talker. He didn't do himself any favors running his mouth when he was questioned by Sergeant Hensleigh, like when he shared some inside knowledge about how someone might get into Susan's house.


It was a very secure house. From what I know, the only way I saw was there was a six inch crack over the kitchen sink.


Always been an avid mystery person. I'd watch Rockford Files and Magnum P.I. and all that stuff. I was trying to pick out things I thought that might have been why? What happened?


You talk too much. I talk too much. Way too much. Weird things you look for in any case. Is people who jump in and try to get involved in the case. That's one of the hallmarks of the. The suspect was arrested and gave ourselves your name, I guarantee you that Roy Hayes had talked himself into some serious trouble.


And even though a lawyer told him it might not be a good idea, he agreed to take a lie detector test.


I came out for the lie detector test. Mr. Hensley met me there and he said, well, Roy, you failed a lie detector test. You might as well go ahead and confess.


Was it nerve racking, though, for a minute there, think, oh, yeah, I didn't pass. I'll be honest. I was 22 years old. Not a clue in the world. No real experience. I was definitely concerned.


Roy didn't really fail his polygraph, telling him that was just a ploy. And when his performance didn't match the ones next to Susan's body, Hensley put him on the back burner but didn't clear him.


He's right there behind Mike Woods or anybody else I. I have somebody in custody.


Another man on Hensley's radar was Jaycee Bowman, who met Susan at the bar where he worked the first time she came in. Susan was wearing an Albert Einstein T-shirt that caught Jaycee's.


I made a comment about how I like that. I used to have the poster and the next time she came in, she came and gave me that shirt. So she literally gave me the shirt off her back and we started dating because she was separated from her husband.


J.C., describe one of those dates to police. A romantic evening at Susan's house.


She said, well, I'm going go take a bath. And then she called me in and then I got down to and so on, so forth. And it was pretty much normal. If there's such a thing normal of setting on a washing machine in. It's hard to argue that taking a bath with a girlfriend who ends up dead in that same tub is normal. Some other normal things about Jaycee also worked against him. And what about drinking Cokes or smoking cigarettes?


Yeah, that's when I drank Coca-Cola soda pops. The items found in Susan's living room led to a profile of the suspected killer as somebody who smoked and drank Coca-Cola, so JSI checked those boxes and a few more, there was some fingerprints.


Yeah, that's one of the reasons why they suspect to me is my fingerprints were all over the bathtub and all over the house because I'd been there several times.


A bad set of facts only got worse when police asked JSI where he was the night Susan was killed. Did you have an alibi on that night?


No, I couldn't even remember where I was or what I was doing that night. And I'm pretty much of a loner now.


It was Jaycee's turn to take a lie detector test. The test was inconclusive. They couldn't tell if I was lying or telling the truth, in other words. So Sergeant Hensley dialed up the pressure on Jose Marti.


You are suspect. I didn't do I couldn't do something like that with myself. Well, as you and your guy.


But Jaycee wasn't charged. Hensley's focus was on someone else. He was fixated on the idea that Susan's ex, Michael, was the likely killer, especially after talking to Susan's friends. Their description of him was damning. Everybody I talked to says she's scared.


Mark, Gloria Martin told Hensley why Susan was so afraid when they finally broke up the last time he left horrible, horrible notes all over her house and a cassette tape saying the most horrible things you ever heard about her and to her. And I remember coming over there and she was just crying her eyes out.


The cassette tape Michael left behind was a 30 minute rant of grievances about Susan.


Did it sound threatening to you? It sounded crazy, irrational, and it sounded bad enough that when she got killed, I had no doubt in my mind who had done it. There was no doubt it had to be.


Mike Hensley had heard enough. He developed some solid leads on suspects in Stephenville, but he decided to set them aside. It was time to turn up the heat on Michael Woods.


Coming up, the talk around town, what were the red flags that led you to him, the friends, what they were saying, and Michael Woods, difficult last talk with his wife.


She said that she had made new friends and. I was glad to see men that didn't have my problems. When Dateline continues. In July 1987, the investigation into Susan Wood's murder had sparked new leads and police wanted to talk to Susan's husband, Michael. He was living in Indiana. So two days after Susan was found dead in her Texas home, Indianapolis police brought him in for questioning.


They want to cooperate. Is that correct? I'd like to know.


Michael told the officers he was in Indianapolis at the time of Susan's murder and said he had last spoken to her a couple of weeks before she was found dead.


Would you say that was a friendly conversation on both ends? Not as friendly as I would have liked. What did she say specifically? She said that she had made new friends and. I was glad to see men that didn't have my problems. It was refreshing. The officers probed further.


Did your wife ever have an affair while you were married? I had heard rumors, but she never said that she did.


Michael was not officially a suspect then. But as months went by and the investigation shuffled into 1988, Stephenville detectives Donnie Hensley and Richard Pringle refocus their attention on him.


What were the red flags that led you to him, the friends, what they were saying and people who knew him and possibly a motive? Breakup of the marriage, they'd also heard from Susan's friends about a cassette tape Michael had left for Susan in which he let loose all his complaints about her in the most vitriolic language.


Very offensive. Very offensive. You know, just like putting her down every which way could. I wish to be able to hear that tape. You never got to hear it yourself.


Now, the tape might be strong evidence against Michael, but Michael had asked for the tape back.


He apparently told Susan he needed it to work through his anger issues with a therapist in Indianapolis.


We determined that she had mailed it back to him. So we were just going on what we were told about it, which, while we were told, made him a good suspect in the case.


It wasn't just the cassette the detectives learned when he'd suddenly left Stephenville with Susan's vintage car. Michael had also made off with some of her precious belongings.


He packed up her bag figurines, her Revit coat and her 65 Mustang. And he was gone. He's gone. If Michael was volatile enough to leave that anger filled cassette and steal her things, the detectives reasoned, maybe he was capable of traveling a thousand miles back to Stephenville in a rage to murder Susan.


So was it your thinking that he either flew or drove back to Texas, committed the murder, then went back to Indianapolis right after?


Right. But they needed evidence. Maybe they could put their hands on that cassette. Did you go to Indianapolis then to interview Michael Rituparno?


An idea. And they enlisted the help of Indianapolis P.D. to surveil him.


We found where he was living at the time and we went out in a truck. They had a surveillance van and we did surveillance on it for a few days.


Almost immediately, they spied something they thought was suspicious. Michael and his brother were having a yard sale. And among the objects laid out on a table, they spotted what they thought were some of the items missing from Susan's home.


We saw what appeared to be some of those on the table. We didn't go up and look at them. We just did it from a distance with telephoto lens.


The detectives had seen enough to believe there could be more evidence in Michael's home, maybe evidence he was a murderer. And did you get a search warrant to look at his place in Indianapolis? Oh, yeah, we did that when we recovered the Coke and figurines.


But as for the cassette, with Michael's potentially incriminating rage towards Susan, you never were able to get that as evidence. That tape just disappeared.


There are handwritten notes he left either.


However, the search of Michael's home did turn up marijuana that gave the police grounds to arrest Michael and gave the detectives a golden opportunity to grill him about Susan's murder at the local police station.


While the detectives hadn't found any evidence in Michael's house, what might they find in Susan's car?


I asked him. I said, well, back to her car, your car. I said, the car you took and came back in Aposhian, I think that YALLAH 55 Mustang Owosso, that another red flag going up because you wanted to process that car. Absolutely.


What did he say his alibi was that night?


He was working on his brother's house and living with his brother. Michael stuck to the story he'd given police two days after Susan's murder. He was a thousand miles away in Indianapolis.


Did he ever, at any point in time crack or seem like he was going to give you any information? No, no.


Never that surprised you because you took a pretty tough approach with them or would talk tough. Really assertive. Yeah, I was very assertive with it.


Did you try to shake him into confessing? Prego. Tell me I made him cry. Let me just tell you that that might occur. But as the detectives continued to put the squeeze on Michael, he had enough and clammed up.


He asserted his right to remain silent and have a lawyer. So at that point, we'd stop questioning.


Even so, the detectives did come away with something they'd wanted from the beginning Michael's fingerprints, as they waited to see if his prints match those lifted from the crime scene, the detectives were confident they'd get their man.


Coming up, a suspect seemingly still in mourning. I love her and I love her now. Yes, but to some, it didn't matter.


It was never a doubt in my mind. I thought he got away with murder.


Michael Woods had become the prime suspect in the Susan Woods murder case, detectives had not been able to nail him, but they believe they would they'd gotten his fingerprints.


And if those matched prints from the crime scene, they could send Michael to prison for the rest of his life.


I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't even in the state. Michael stopped answering police questions years ago in Indianapolis, but he did agree to answer ours. So where were you on the night she was murdered?


I was at my brother's house in the front yard drinking heavily.


He says when police questioned him two days after the murder, he had just sold Susan's car.


The car that I sold, I had sold like a day, maybe two earlier. It's like, well, how can I be doing business here? And being Stephenville, Texas, it's not possible.


But what about Susan's crystal figurines? He was apparently selling in the yard sale.


They said that Susan was missing crystals she had bought right before her murder. And me and Susan collected crystals. When I left, I took my half of the crystals.


But he did admit to being frustrated by life in Stephenville, not being able to find steady work, relying on Susan to pay the bills. And yes, he admitted he did leave that anger filled cassette tape. What do you remember saying on that tape?


That I wasn't going to be your maid and I wasn't going to be taken care of by a woman? That I'm a man and I intend to be a man, and I wasn't going to be less than a man because it makes her happy. A lot of people, when they heard that thought angry enough to kill, I was never angry enough to hurt Susan.


I never struck her. Not once. Not once. I curse and I raised my voice. I did not threaten her in any way.


I think you you wish you hadn't said that. I do wish I hadn't said anything mean or spiteful.


As angry as he was, he said he had no motive to murder Susan. I love her.


I love her now. Yes. She the love of your life. Yeah.


I never met anybody like her. She was. She was so sweet.


He says the first he heard about Susan's murder was when Indianapolis cops picked him up and started questioning him.


What kind of woman was what? She was a little stubborn sometimes, but she was real sweet. She was real trusting. Too many people.


Guess he wanted to be cooperative. He told us.


Have you been truthful? Yes. We asked you to submit to a polygraph. Would you do that? I'm going to go ahead and say I.


I wanted to find her murderer. I did everything in my power to help them until they turned on me and said, well, you did it and we're going to prove it. But there was no confession of any kind that you signed.


No, I had tears in my eyes. I was freaking out when they finally said, well, you're free to go, but we're going to get you.


Nine months later when Michael was arrested for marijuana possession and his prints were taken by Stephenville detectives, they thought they had last had him. Sure, his prints would match those from the crime scene and they didn't match.


No match, no match. But that wasn't enough to convince Donnie Hensley he's on the back burner now. OK, but he's not eliminated.


No, no, no, no, no. Still, it was a devastating blow to the case against Michael with no more strong leads to follow. The Susan Woods case went cold.


Did you think it would ever be solved? No. You thought somebody got away with murder here? Exactly, a monster was walking the Earth. I should not be.


However, Susan's family was determined to hold Michael responsible and filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against him.


I thought it was ridiculous because I wasn't guilty.


As the final hearing date approached, Detective Hensley called Michael.


I said, hey, Mike, do you want to be there to stand up for your rights?


OK, but Michael would not be there in person to defend himself with the day before he called Kobe.


You put me in jail. You never showed up for the wrongful for.


If Michael's absence was seen as evidence of liability. The hearing also included damning testimony that he did not even show up for Susan's funeral or assist in the investigation. And witnesses poured cold water on Michael's alibi that he was with his brother the night of the murder.


I still do not believe his brother was not alive for my brother. If he is looking a murderer, probably so. Then the ruling came down in court. They found by a preponderance of evidence that I had caused her death and therefore I owed them seven hundred thousand dollars and I've never seen seven hundred thousand dollars in my life. Never will. But now you have a ruling against you, right?


How are you feeling? I have pretty much given up on the justice system of the United States.


The civil ruling only confirmed to Susan's friends that Michael should be convicted in a criminal case.


Did that convince you of his guilt even more? Yes. Yes. Was there anything else that made you think he certainly did it? Yeah. Nobody else would have hurt her.


I really didn't need convincing. There was never a doubt in my mind. I thought he got away with murder. After the wrongful death case, life moved on in Stephenville, Detective Hensley retired from the PD in 1993. Cindy and Roy had gotten married Gloria, too, but they never forgot their dear friend Susan Woods. And there was someone else who never forgot the case solving Susan's case.


Was it always top of mind for you? I never let it go.


Yes, Pam. Coming up, a breakthrough, amazingly, I got a hit and a break down. I had smoked in over a year and a half and the first thing I did was grab a cigarette and start crying. When Dateline continues.


Nearly 15 years had passed since the murder of Susan Woods. Investigators had run out of leads and moved on to new assignments. But Don Miller, a lieutenant at the Stephenville Police Department, was using new DNA technology to help solve crimes.


And so on a whim as he was sending evidence from another case to the lab. He also threw in items from the Susan Woods case, including the cigarette butts, though he was all too aware it might be no use.


After so many years, they were not properly stored, and I was afraid that the DNA would have decayed.


But then Lieutenant Miller received a phone call. Amazingly, I got to hear it.


I didn't think I would because of the age we got male DNA and all of the cigarette butts. But unfortunately, it was unknown.


Mel, DNA, you know, his male, you know, his DNA, even you just don't have a match.


Precisely with no match in the system. Susan's case went back on the shelf. It wasn't until a few years later when out of the blue, Lieutenant Miller got an email from a friend of Michael Woods asking for his name to be cleared.


Officially, Michael in the Woods family were having a real hard time dealing with the fact that he was still named as a suspect, which pretty much spurred me to try to aggressively reopen the case because it needed to be done.


For Michael to be cleared, Miller needed his DNA, so the detective traveled to Indianapolis to meet him.


Don Miller realized that a murderer doesn't cry two decades after the fact, and he felt like there was some chance that I was innocent. He believed you then? Yes.


So Michael allowed detectives to swab the inside of his cheek.


The DNA was submitted and of course, naturally it came back not being his DNA.


For nearly 20 years, Michael had been the prime suspect in the Susan Wood's murder case. And for all those years, he'd been living under a dark cloud. And now the DNA had finally cleared him.


I had a complete breakdown. I had smoked in over a year and a half. The first thing I did was grab a cigarette and start crying.


As for Lieutenant Miller, it was back to square one.


And we have DNA, we've got fingerprints, we have palm prints on either side of Susan. There was no forced entry to the house, so she knew who it was. So I knew when miss somebody. I just didn't know.


Who was a big miss, though, right? Yeah. Yes, ma'am. And so he tried a different technique in 2006, he submitted prints taken from the crime scene to the national computerized fingerprint database, a system that was just getting started around the time of Susan's murder. And finally he caught a break.


Does somebody call you and say you've got your guy? He said, we're going to hit. The prince entered were a match to a man arrested in 1988 for armed robbery in Las Vegas one year after Susan's murder. His name was Joseph Scott Hatley. The name meant nothing to Lieutenant Miller, but he would soon find out. It was very familiar to Susan Wood's friends.


He was your friend's younger brother? Yeah, he was Regina's baby brother, Gloria, Cindy and Susan.


We're all friends with Regina Hadley. And so naturally, they knew Scott or Scottie as they called him.


He'd pastries like little brothers do, but he was just a beaver cleaver type, just a little round face, little goofy guy that tagged along with the older people.


Roy Hays knew him, too. They were classmates, even appearing side by side in the yearbook.


Me and him had played football together. He was quiet. He was shy. He was not one of these people who got into fights. He normally was always pretty much a pacifist.


After high school, Scott left small town Texas and served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. But in 1987, the 21 year old moved back home.


He started working for his his parents as company. They had a US company here in Stephenville.


He settled right back in. But the boy who once reminded them of Beaver Cleaver had clearly grown up.


Well, sometimes I would go over to Regina's house on Friday night and he would always be over there and he was always drinking very heavily.


He was developing a reputation as a party boy, but seemed harmless, Scott never seemed mean or violent, never saw any kind of that in him at all.


But all Lieutenant Miller knew at the moment was that Scott Hatley had been charged with armed robbery and was now a match in a decades old murder case. Still, those fingerprints from Susan Wood's house could only prove Scott had been there. Lieutenant Miller needed to find out more.


I called the district attorney and asked him, do we know Joseph Scott Hatley? And he said, yes, I do. I know exactly who he is.


He said, I'll have the file ready when you get here with Lieutenant Miller started reading through the DA's file. He knew he was onto something. The pages contain the excruciating account of a woman who has only told her story publicly while wearing a disguise. Until now, this is the first time you're revealing who you are.


Yes. Yes. Coming up, this after 10 is very dark. A young girl who says she came face to face with evil. I knew I made a mistake when he locked the doors. Lieutenant John Miller had just been given a case file that contained the story of a woman who was just a teenager when she knew Scott Hatley.


Her name is Shannon. She doesn't want us to use her last name. And she sat down with us on camera for the first time without wearing a disguise.


I'm not his victim anymore.


She took us back to 1987 when she first met Scott. And it's still emotional. It's been 30 years. Yeah, yeah.


She says she endured years of sexual abuse growing up in her teens. She sought companionship and founded at the home of next door neighbor Regina, whose younger brother was Scott Massaro.


What their son got was paying attention to. And we struck up a conversation and and started dating almost immediately.


But there was one red flag already. Scott was twenty one and Shannon was just 15. She says she was attracted to the big teddy bear of a guy who like to party.


At the time, I was drinking and smoking. So it was, you know, something we had in common. And it was a physical relationship.


Yes, it was physical sexual relationship, which meant it wasn't legal because of her age.


You had previous relationships with other boyfriends. And how was he different?


He was very controlling, controlling and worse.


She says there was a side to Scott most weren't aware of, we'd argue.


And he hit me a few times and I I was scared.


In 1987, two months after Susan Woods was murdered, Shannon even reported Scott to Stephenville police for raping her at knifepoint. Police didn't find any evidence that had happened, seeing it as a case of he said she said so no charges were brought against Scott. But Shannon didn't lose contact with him.


One July evening in 1988, when she was 16, she says Scott picked her up outside a laundromat. Why did you go with him?


I wanted answers. I wanted to know why he did what he did.


I knew I made a mistake when he locked the doors, it cold, cold look in his eyes like he would just look like a monster.


She says Scott drove her to a park by a creek hidden from the road. It was after 10:00 and so it was very dark. I was very scared.


Scott started kissing her, she says, but not tenderly. It was very rough. Like, you know, he was he was mad. He was in a rage. And tell me what happened next.


We got out and he started demanding sex. I refused.


And then he slapped me and I screamed. And immediately he started raping me. Then.


She says that was just the beginning of the assault, he would rape me, then he would smoke a cigarette, raped me again and beat hit me, choke me.


She says he pushed her head down into the creek. He held my head down in the water like he was trying to do is trying to drown me. Yes. Yes.


OK, he's starting to let me live because he told me that he killed before.


He said I killed before. Yes. And I'm not afraid to kill you had no doubt that he killed before because a few times I passed out because he would beat me so hard in the face. In the head. She says she was so desperate that she left her bra, her banana clip and hairpins as a trail of clues just in case, you know, I was I was killed, that they could you know, they could investigate.


They could find me, she says. Scott's furious assault went on for about four hours before she made what she believed was a last ditch effort to save her life. So I started manipulating him, telling him, I love you. You know, you're the best thing that came into my life. You had to play games.


Yes. Yes. Somehow she says she survived. Why do you think he spared you? That I don't know. He goes, I'm not going to kill you today. And I was like, OK. And he drove you then back back to the Laundromat and let me out and he told me, you tell and I'll come looking for you.


She says she ran home and collapsed into the arms of her stepfather. Then she reported the attack she shared with us to the sheriff's department, which documented injuries to her limbs, body and face. The investigation that followed was another trauma, she says.


Scott said that this was a little rough sex was consensual sex.


Said you wanted it. I wanted it. I asked for it. I mean, you can you can see the pain in my face in this in this picture. I was 16. I was. As a child, that in itself would have been a crime, right? Right.


Others questioned by police said she was a troubled teen with a history of making false accusations. Cindy says Scott's family stood foursquare behind him. They were just saying he's innocent, he's just being falsely accused.


Did you believe that? Well, yeah, I did. And what were they saying about the young girl? Who that she was just. Wow. And it was all her. She's doing all this to try to ruin his name.


Eventually, Shannon's horrific story was presented to a grand jury. John Terrill was the D.A. back then. He says Shannon's case was complicated because it came at a time when defendants in Texas were allowed to present as evidence the sexual history of accusers under 17 years old and as young as 14. It was known as the promiscuity defense.


In essence, the victim had to prove themselves innocent. And and promiscuity was was a tremendous hurdle to get over and then make a case.


Given your knowledge of the evidence that existed, do you think it was credible?


I thought she was credible. That coupled with the medical evidence that we had, Mr. Hadley was from a local family that was well thought of in the community. But if the grand jury indicted, we would have prosecuted it. But they just didn't feel like they have sufficient evidence. We can't second guess them.


So Scott Hatley wasn't charged with assault. How hard was that for you to endure that?


It was very hard. Less than two weeks after Shannon reported she'd been assaulted, Scott was arrested in Las Vegas and later pleaded guilty to robbery. Nearly 20 years later, he was living in Round Rock, Texas, with a wife and two kids working as a training supervisor at a food wholesaler. Little did he know that after his prints in the national database were matched to the Susan Wood's crime scene, Lieutenant Miller was on to him. The detective concluded the man who murdered Susan Woods was the same man Shannon said had attacked her.


So our pictures and she had been beaten. And the story she told about the manner in which she was assaulted, sexually assaulted. I knew for a fact that this had to be the guy. It was time to confront Scott Hatley. Coming up, did you ever have sex with. So there be many reason why your DNA would be anywhere around the body.


So tough questions, a cool customer. Was he nervous? No. Nervous at all? Well, I'm sure he was, but he sure was showing it. When Dateline continues. It had been 19 years since the murder of Susan Woods, finally, Lieutenant Miller was on his way to Round Rock to confront the man he believed to be her killer, Scott Hadley. Miller's case was built on fingerprints and police reports of Hartley's alleged violence against women. Any reason to think that this guy could have done that?


Not in my mind. At a local police station, Miller and a fellow detective took Hartley back to 1987. How do you feel about this? I mean, personally, I had nothing to do with it. I mean, we all knew that he did it. We were just trying to get him locked into a story. It's got to feel pretty good when you're questioning somebody like that, but you already know how it's going to go down. Yeah, Miller got to it.


I keep hearing about Susan's death. When was the last time you were in the house? If I remember rightly what it was like a day or two. OK, were you there by yourself? I don't think so. He admitted that he had been with Susan a couple of days or. Well, he said, I don't know. But yeah, I was there and I was a shopping channel for all those. And what was his demeanor during the interview?


Calm, cool, collective and calculating, calculating, trying to figure out ways around. I would say so, yes, ma'am. Hadley said who he thought was responsible for Susan Wood's murder, Michael, people just said, you know, I gather people were scared. Then the investigators turned the tables on Hadley. Did you ever have sex with Susan A.. So there wasn't any reason why your DNA would be anywhere around her body, potentially.


OK, the sex and DNA questions seemed to jab Hatley. His story shifted.


No, I'm asking you again. You have sex with, like, several times.


Was he nervous? No, not nervous at all. Well, I'm sure he was, but he sure wasn't showing it. Good poker face then. Oh, very good. Yes, ma'am.


And through it all, Hatley maintained an air of cooperation. He began to take a polygraph course and. I would if I could talk to the attorney, even though Miller could show how his fingerprints were lifted from Susan Wood's home, his case would be stronger if he could match Hartley's palm prints to her bathtub and also matches DNA to the crime scene where he might have been.


A sample of your DNA today on. They should talk to Attorney General Miller, turn the screw. I mean, he sat here and he told me that you guys want to go around the body. So there should be any evidence, a human being. And I think there's always going to be DNA that so far in your the game is DNA. The that. And they got grants from friends you didn't tell them at this point that we've got into the bathtub now, then Miller asked the question at the center of the Susan Wood's case.


Did you kill to kill Scott Hadlee? Might have thought he was getting the better of the detectives, but he had no idea that as he was being questioned by Lieutenant Miller three miles across town at his home, his wife was being questioned by Round Rock police.


She told the officers she'd endured sickening torture during her 13 year marriage to Hadley. She said he sometimes assaulted her in the bathroom and sometimes he tore up her clothing and tied her hands behind her back before raping her. In one incident, she said she thought he was suffocating her to death. All the more shocking because Hartley's wife is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Miller realized Hartley's wife was describing in uncanny detail some of what had happened to Susan Woods. So he asked Round Rock police to interview Hadley again the following day.


Have you ever been arrested before?


Hadley made excuses for all his problems with the law issue, the robbery in Vegas.


It was blown up more than it was his troubles with Shannon. She really harassed me, stalk me a lot.


And as for the allegations by his wife, it wasn't the first time I was arrested in Nashville for a domestic one at the job, one that we got into it. I held her against the wall.


Then the police asked Hatley about Susan Woods and why Lieutenant Miller might want his DNA and prints.


It makes me nervous as hell.


Maybe Hadley felt the walls were closing in because he came up with a news story about Susan Woods.


He said he did have a sexual relationship with her because he has actually had sex over the course of your relationship that he had to say. I mean, he had to guess 10, 12, 15 always that her house was nothing. Yeah, yeah.


And he explained away why police might have found evidence of his presence in Susan's home.


Of course, my fingerprints are probably in the damn house. I was there, but at last he was cornered.


We know him. You knew was him? Yes, ma'am. He just didn't know that he had been pegged yet. Oh, I got a feeling he did. Hadley's fingerprints from the Vegas robbery matched the Susan Woods murder scene. And it wasn't long before Miller also matched Hartley's palm prints and DNA.


I knew the DNA on the cigarette. We're going to be here. I know the palm was going to be years. I knew everybody else. Not a partner, not the DNA. We all know it. How soon before you arrested Scott? Haply the next day.


Scott Hadlee was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault in his wife's case and was later charged with the murder of Susan Woods. He seemed to have evaded justice for nearly two decades and now face the rest of his life behind bars. But as his case headed to court, he still had a big play up his sleeve. Coming up, Scott Hartley's story, he had talked a lot about, you know, wait and don't judge until all the facts come out.


News of an arrest in one of Stephen Bell's most notorious murders made headlines for weeks. Scott Hatley was charged with murder and booked at the Erath County Jail. That's where reporter Sarah Vandenberghe interviewed him for the Empire Tribune.


He didn't scare me.


He didn't make me nervous. If I bumped into him on the street, he wouldn't have made me think twice.


He was just an ordinary guy, and the father of two hardly seemed like a cold blooded killer. He had talked a lot about, you know, wait and don't judge until all the facts come out. And then he alluded to things like, when I tell the truth about the situation, people are going to be sort of sorry. They asked, did you know what he meant by that? When I didn't, I just felt like he was going to say that him and Susan had some type of relationship that was other than being an acquaintance, a consensual sexual relationship that maybe got a little carried away.


That's what I that's the take I, I got from our interview.


It was something prosecutors would have to plan for as they prepared their case. Erath County District Attorney John Tarryl led the team. Did you feel like you had a pretty strong case against him?


There is no such thing as a lay down case and criminal law, especially with juries. But I thought we would get there.


The D.A. plan to present all of the physical evidence recovered from Susan's house, the fingerprints, the DNA from the cigarette butts, and most damning, the palm prints lifted from the bathtub next to Susan's body. But he also wanted the jury to hear from Scott's wife, whose own harrowing story seemed very familiar.


Facts in that case were somewhat similar to our facts, similarities in terms of the manner in which the manner in which the crime is the crime, but sexually assaulting her and holding her head down in a way that she had trouble breathing at the time.


What's more, investigators found evidence on Scott's computer that showed he had disturbing interests.


There were photographic images similar to those that were of our crime scene involving women being attacked and subdued and actually having their head submerged in water at the time they were being sexually assaulted.


Pornographic images with violence of very, very similar to our case and to what was occurring with his wife.


But the D.A. knew there would be some challenges because the case was so old, 20 years had passed.


The evidence appears to be a problem. Sometimes you get pieces of evidence mixed up in the police locker room or lost people. You know, the memory fades.


Meanwhile, rumors about Scott's defense strategy made their way around Stephenville.


Scott's defense was going to be that they were secret lovers and it just got out of hand.


Susan's friends were certain that she, 30 at the time, would never have dated a 21 year old.


And if there's one thing I know about Susan, there wasn't anything appealing about Scott.


If she had a type, an ugly little boys that don't even shave, it was not her type, but that he was going to drag her name through the mud.


But just before the trial was to begin, Scott asked to make a deal. He said he had information and was ready to turn jailhouse snitch on another inmate.


In another case, in hopes of evading a life sentence, he had the important evidence that we could use against his roommate in the jail that involved evidence of the commission of a capital murder, a double capital murder involving two individuals here in this county.


Scott was willing to plead guilty to killing Susan and cough up details on the capital murder case in exchange for a 20 year sentence. I said, no, this won't be less than 40. And he's going to have to testify and give us everything he knows. The D.A. told Susan's parents about the possibility of a plea deal.


We laid it all out for him. What what would happen if we agreed to it and have not told him why we would be willing to do it. But if they didn't want to do it, we were not going to do it. And how did they feel about that? Well, I think it would be obvious to say that they were not happy. Knowing what the defense might try to present at trial, they agreed to the deal and in October two thousand seven, Susan's family and friends were in the courtroom when Scott pleaded guilty.


I was just staring him down like, you know, I want you to look at me in the eye. And he never would. I was mad, I was hot, there was no no. No reason. None whatsoever for him to do what he did to her and put her through that. In the end, Scott was sentenced to 30 years in prison with the possibility of parole. Did you think it was enough? No, ma'am, I still doubt in his wife's abuse case, Scott pleaded guilty to injuring a disabled individual and was sentenced to 10 years to run concurrently.


Even though Shannon did not get the justice she felt she was due in her case, she was relieved Scott was finally off the streets.


Did you feel like finally you're free?


Oh, I lived lived life up. I mean, I left my door open. You know, I didn't have to look over my shoulder looking to see, is he there? That a little bit of that fear was gone. Oh, yeah. A lot of that fluoroscope. Susan's friends felt the same relief, but we're no closer to understanding what happened and why their friend was murdered.


Why why did you do it? What did she ever do to you to hurt you?


And now, after all these years, Scott Hatley is finally ready to talk. Coming up, a killer's confession. Drugs and alcohol don't make a murderer. No, no, you have that in your head first. You actually have that in your heart and you have that in your head and in your heart when Dateline continues.


You know, Joseph Scott Hatley, now older and grayer, agreed to sit down for an interview to tell us what he says is the truth about the crimes he's committed, starting with the night he killed Susan Woods.


It was madness.


It was out of control. The day I stepped on her porch, I had no idea what I was going to commit murder.


When Scott showed up at Susan's door, he said she invited him in and the two sat in her living room snacking and listening to music.


Then at one point, I get too friendly with her, try to kiss her. She ends up slapping me. At that point, there was just a total rage. You know, luckily I can't remember a lot of that. But it was rage. It was pure rage.


It was it's like everything in my life culminated at that point because she didn't want anything to do with you.


Well, it was a slap. It just seemed to just really set me off to to an uncontrollable. So that rage then what happens when I do horrible things, you know? Did you rape her repeatedly? When? Not repeatedly now.


And at the end, I had suffocated her. I hadn't drowned her. I'd suffocated her. You pushed her face into the pillow.


Yeah. And there's a picture of a pillow. And in that pillow, you can see her face, the pillow suffocated her with I'm sure she was dead at that point, the bathroom in my mind was just like a setup. And I have no idea why. I don't know why I wanted to look like a murderer.


After she was dead, you tied her hands behind her back.


It was a noose, placed her body over the tub and filled it with water.


Like I said, I committed a horrible act of murder. And then I tried to make it look like a horrible act of murder. It was just insane.


Scott was certain he'd get caught for days. I just kept waiting for him every shift change, the police cars would come by the house and I'm thinking, well, they're coming to get me, you know, what's wrong with them? Why aren't they coming to get me? And you never at any point in time tried to go and turn yourself in.


I don't have that much courage.


As for his wife's abuse, Scott admits it's true and served his time, you assaulted your wife. Yes. And you have to live with that. Your children saw you do that. I put my children through a lot.


Your wife told investigators she was unable to breathe. She was held down, are abused or there's no doubt about that. She was black and blue and almost unconscious.


Well, I mean, like I say, I'll admit what I did. But a lot of times they they spin things to nobody's spinning anything here.


These are the facts. And you pleaded guilty to it. Yes, I plead.


And if you if you look at that, that conviction, I told you to plead guilty to the maximum. We also asked God about Shannon, the then teenage girl who accused him of rape, but he said he would not talk in detail about the case since he was never charged. There is more to the story, not saying I'm innocent of things, but are you guilty? I'm guilty of some things. Do you want to say sorry to her?


Here's your chance to tell Shannon you're sorry.


Well, anything that I did to hurt her, I'm sorry. Anything I did to hurt anybody, I'm sorry.


According to Scott, drugs and alcohol controlled a good part of his life. I have been high on drugs or intoxicated every time I've done something wrong. As far as a crime. But it didn't create that crime.


Drugs and alcohol don't make a murderer. No. Now you have that in your head first. You actually have that in your heart and then had that in your head and in your heart.


I just didn't really realize how I could explode one day. But at the point I am now, I regret everything that I ever did. You know, that was was like, I regret my early life.


You don't consider yourself an animal or a monster. I was one, are you not now. Are you a changed person? Absolutely.


I'm changed. The older I get, the more remorse I have, the more understanding I have that what I did was something unchangeable.


Despite what Scott says, there are plenty of people who think he's still a monster and incapable of change when he was sentenced to 30 years.


Most everyone expected he would be behind bars into his 70s, but they would be in for a painful surprise. Coming up, one last troubling twist, though, was probably the hardest part for him to have to tell me that the monster is out. Why should we not be scared of you? You probably have every right to be. Scott Hatley was just shy of five years into his 30 year sentence when he became eligible for parole under a Texas law that applied to crimes committed at the time he killed Susan Woods.


It seemed unlikely that he'd walk out of prison, but Susan's friends, including Gloria, weren't taking chances and sent letters pleading with the parole board.


I wrote them so many times, I asked them to consider what he did. He should never walk the streets. He should have never gotten 30 years.


Shannon routinely check the Department of Corrections website every three weeks to three months. I would look up to make sure that he was still there.


Still, that part of you living with that fear, right? Exactly. Scott was denied parole twice. But in August 2013, Shannon looked online and was stunned. He was released. I was mad. I called Miller and had a few choice words for him and, you know, what did he say? He goes, let me find out. In a few minutes later, he called me back. And that was probably the hardest part for him to have to tell me that the monster's out.


Because Scott committed the crime in 1987, he fell under the old Texas parole law, which, due to prison overcrowding, gave automatic release to prisoners who served a certain amount of their sentence with good behavior to the disgust of those who loved Susan. Scott walked out of prison after serving only 12 years.


He's dangerous. He should never be allowed to walk amongst the people. Scott Hatley, now in his mid 50s, said he understands how they feel. Why should we not be scared of you?


Well, you probably have every right to be. You know, I don't blame you for that.


But people say it's a manipulation and of course, it's a manipulation of the system, but everybody's going to get the best deal they can.


Speaking of manipulation, you are a master manipulator, would you admit?


Yes, in my life, yes, I will.


I will admit that. Are you manipulating us now by doing this? No, no, absolutely not. Because this is a bigger negative for me than if I did an interview. You are going to turn me up on TV. If I don't do an interview, you are going to tear me up on TV. I'm the bad guy, so I understand that.


Scott will have to check in with a parole officer until his sentence ends in 2036, but for Susan's family and friends, that's not enough.


Do you feel justice was served in the case now, ma'am? I think people who sell drugs get more time than he did for my partner and my best friend.


For Cindy, it was even more difficult to process because Scott Hatley was more than just her friend's little brother. How do you know Scott Hatley? He is my first cousin on my dad's side of the family. Family? Yeah, family.


Which explains in part why the friends never suspected Scott and why they never mentioned his name to police. Gloria remembers him attending her birthday party seven months after Susan's murder. Susan was the main topic of interest, and Scott just sat there typing in with his opinions on the case when the all the while he was the killer.


A photo was taken that night that haunts her, is leaning over, smiling, not a care in the world. When you see that picture, you know why nobody would have believed it was him smiling ear to ear.


But yet it's no one.


He's the one that killed her, smiling because he got away with it. Gloria sees it as a lesson learned and an important one for law enforcement, sometimes it's not the most obvious thing. Just because somebody looks innocent doesn't mean they are somebody that looks guilty like Mike. Does it mean they are?


And perhaps it was that failure to look beyond the obvious that caused investigators to take so long to finally connect Scott to Susan's murder. Remember, both the police and local sheriff's department had investigated Scott Hatley for the alleged sexual assaults on Shannon. But despite the fact he'd been on the radar of local law enforcement investigators working the Susan Woods murder, never talked to him and never collected his fingerprints.


Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and as a long time detective, is there a part of you that believes that this is a case that could have been solved so much sooner had the dots been connected that much sooner?


Had the sheriff's department and police department been adequately communicating their two cases, then, you know, perhaps it could have been solved? You know, I don't know. I was lucky enough to connect the dots. I can't speak for anybody else, ma'am.


Of course, the failure to quickly bring Scott Hatley to justice created other victims in the case. Michael Woods was under suspicion for nearly two decades and it took a toll on him.


Honestly, I drank way too much. I spent way too much time alone. I cried way too much. I withdrew as much as I could from life.


Michael is now remarried and trying to find joy in life. He's even started playing his music again.


A 60s child is turning 60 today, but his life is forever altered.


Collateral damage of an investigation that focused on him. So much for so long.


Perhaps time does eventually heal, but more than three decades later, there is still little consolation for all that was lost a daughter, a friend, a young woman just on the verge of discovering who she really was when her life was so savagely taken.


Is there a day that goes by that you don't think of your friend? No, no. Not a single day. She deserved to live. She deserved to have her own family. One day she would have made a great mother. She was just a wonderful person, very loving, very caring.


It's just a sweetheart. That's all for this edition of Dateline, something different. Next week, the premiere of an epic true crime series, The Widower, a story we followed for 12 years. And we're airing over three nights starting Thursday at 10:00, 9:00 Central. And of course, I'll see you each weeknight for NBC Nightly News. I'm Lester Holt. For all of us at NBC News, good night.