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[00:00:01]

This is exactly right. On the murder squad, we discuss details of crimes that are often violent in nature. Listener discretion is advised.

[00:00:18]

I'm Billy Jensen. I'm Paul Hols. This is the murder squad. Three thousand square foot house with a tin roof is burnt to the ground inside the body of a woman and her beloved animals, also inside 30 guns and a surveillance system that should be able to identify her killer.

[00:00:46]

But the surveillance system is disabled and burnt. It's a case with a laundry list of motives and persons of interest. A three year old unsolved murder investigation with family and community members pointing fingers in a never ending circle. The circle keeps spinning, but hasn't brought any justice to the case. Our job to find out who killed the net rental. This is the murder squad.

[00:01:18]

Bill, you're actually looking quite stylish over there. Thank you. Thank you very much. We shall we shall post my Parioli shirt. But I'm also pretty frustrated, too, because see that there's another soldier in Fort Hood who has gone missing, and we know that so many of our listeners have stayed on top of what's been going on for at Fort Hood. And we have Google Alert set up. So we obviously heard about it. But so many of the murder squad, you guys wrote to us and said it's happening again.

[00:01:52]

So when we started looking into Fort Hood was with the Vanesa in case. And since then we've had other updates about deaths and now there's another missing soldier. So. Twenty three year old Sergeant Elder Fernandez was in the on base hospital for undisclosed reasons earlier this month. His family spoke with him on August 16th for the last time, and Elder was discharged from the hospital the next day. His staff sergeant picked him up after his discharge and drove to a residence on the twenty seven hundred block of Woodland's drive in Killeen, Texas.

[00:02:24]

At one point, he lived at the address, but he hadn't stayed there recently. And his former roommate said he never entered the dwelling that day. So Elder went missing. We haven't seen him since. And division spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Branagan confirmed that Elder had made claims of abuse of sexual contact towards him. The investigation is ongoing. So according to Elders brother, the situation under review involved another male soldier grabbing elders buttocks. He told his brother he was taking care of the situation, but this was an investigation that was going on.

[00:02:55]

Currently, Elder has been listed as AWOL and many of his fellow soldiers believe he left on his own accord. But the army has stated that they will continue to search for him until he's located.

[00:03:05]

Elder is five foot four, one hundred thirty five pounds, has brown eyes, brown hair, last seen wearing black army shorts, a t shirt and red shoes. If you have any information, please let us know. But again, though, this is another missing soldier, another sexual harassment claim, this time reported before he went missing. You know, the. Even if this is something that he went AWOL on his own, it goes to the problems that we're seeing with sexual assault in the military and how they are reported.

[00:03:41]

And there is supposed to be a lot of our listeners wrote in with a very detailed explanation of what is what is supposed to happen. But bottom line is, is that when you report it, a lot of times the reports go to the commanding officers and we don't know where. You know, there's also this differentiation between doing sort of like I forgot the terminology was an official report or unofficial report, one where you just tell somebody and another one you tell somebody and then they're like, all right, do we want to investigate this further?

[00:04:13]

And I've got to wonder if, you know, he took the steps, Elder took the steps to report it. Did other soldiers find out about that? Do we have a level of retaliation that are occurring amongst the troops?

[00:04:28]

You know, and could that create that stress or for he's now going, I got to get out of here just just to save his own life or just save himself from further harassment that may be up and beyond sexual. Yeah, it's just it's just so we want to talk about there's a safe help hotline. It's anonymous help for military sexual assault survivors. Eight seven seven nine nine five five to four seven. We're going to continue on this.

[00:04:57]

Since recording this episode, the body of Sergeant Elder Fernandez has been recovered. The body was found hanging from a tree twenty five miles from where he disappeared. According to the Boston Globe, more information has come out about the sexual assault claim Fernanda's filed. He had been reassigned to a new unit for his safety after being harassed. According to the family attorney, Natalie Khawam.

[00:05:19]

The harassment included being followed, teased and picked on. This behavior has to stop or we will continue to potentially lose more soldiers.

[00:05:29]

We've been talking with a couple of different activists about this problem that's been going on with the entire military justice and how it is is worked out. And it's not good. It's not good. So we also want to bring you one more update, we received an email from one of Joseph de Angelo's old neighbors, the listener said. I almost fell off my chair when I saw Daniel's picture in his police uniform until two weeks ago, the only picture I'd ever seen of him was recent.

[00:05:59]

He was in a wheelchair and looked very much as 70 plus years. I was shocked because he was my neighbor in Citrus Heights, same neighborhood I lived at. He was on Libardo Street and Daniel lived on Canyon Oak, which was a stone's throw from our residence.

[00:06:15]

I lived there from nineteen seventy seven to nineteen eighty one. When I viewed his photo as a young man in his police uniform, I recognized him immediately. I encountered him on several occasions. We had an arsonist setting fires to the front doors of neighborhood homes in the middle of the night. The perpetrator would use a rag to wipe down the front door. Neighbor's homes would do so in the middle of the night. And one night he selected a home belonging to the family of my daughter's best friend.

[00:06:41]

Understandably, this terrified the family as well as my girls. The family was lucky to exit the home prior to it being fully engulfed. I took several days vacation, vowing to catch the perpetrator, coordinated a surveillance plan with the local police department and fire department arson squad. Our meetings would take place at a fire station on Old Auburn Road, which was less than a half a mile from my residence. The first time I ever saw D'Angelo was one evening at the fire station.

[00:07:09]

He was in his police uniform. I would say there was maybe 15 to 20 men and women in attendance. Wow. You know, this is so.

[00:07:17]

So did you know about this, these arsons that were going on and D'Angelo was with. Working on an arson investigation, the first I'm hearing about it, and I don't know if the active investigators were made aware of this, this may be the first time this information has come in. Yeah, we'll definitely forward this over to Ken and and all those guys there. Anything anybody that ever had any run ins, we certainly had a lot of people come up and written us about run ins that they had with D'Angelo once.

[00:07:48]

He was the sort of, you know, curmudgeonly old man. But this is right in the heart of it. Right then. Seventy seven. Eighty one.

[00:07:56]

I don't absolutely. You know, and we know that this is something that these these guys will do, right? Not only are they sexually assaulting, not only are they killing, you know, but some of them are into the fire setting in the arson.

[00:08:09]

It's just part is just part of this that triangle killer triad. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:08:14]

So, you know, this is something we discussed and one of our stitcher premium episodes, which are coming out on September 9th, we did a deep dive in the first two episodes are we recorded just a few days after Joe D'Angelo was sentenced. We had Paul Haynes on with us and all three of us just discussed Dansville at length.

[00:08:36]

And part of that and part of what we were talking about was his movements and how much of his activity is still a mystery.

[00:08:47]

And that's something that it just as a personal. Favor I'm asking of the listeners is, please, if anybody knows somebody that could have known D'Angelo during war really at any point in his life, but in particular when he was known to be active, you know, from nineteen seventy four as Visalia Ransack or up through nineteen eighty six as the original Night Stalker, we need to know what he is up to, who he knows, where he was working, what vehicles he was driving, why is he in certain locations like Goleta, Santa Barbara.

[00:09:24]

So please anybody reach out to people you know, that may have had any interactions with him and pass that information on so we can really piece this man's life together and figure out what the hell was going on.

[00:09:37]

Absolutely. Because what he spoke a little bit, but we're still unsure if he's going to continue to talk. But we actually and those stitcher premium episodes, Paul, has not been able to talk about the case for a while. He was finally able to open up about about some things that I did not know, some things that you learned within the last three or four months. Yeah, you know, there's just so much on this case, you know, and so obviously we discussed about some aspects and then there's more to come.

[00:10:08]

All right. But now we're going to go to Larcombe, Louisiana. So. Forty nine year old retired prekindergarten teacher Nanette Quintel, she felt safe in her rural home in Larcombe, Louisiana, which is about 50 miles northeast of New Orleans. The house sat on 100 hundred acres and it was equipped with nine surveillance cameras. And between her and her fire chief husband, Steve. Twenty two years, there were over 30 guns on the property.

[00:10:34]

It was reported that on many occasions she told her father, As long as I have my guns and the cameras and I'm at home, I'm safe.

[00:10:41]

But at some point during the summer of twenty seventeen, the feeling of safety left her. At the end of June, she sent her father an email and the email contained an image of a mysterious person on the property. And she captioned the email with this quote, This was the day I got out to get the mail and looked up and this man was walking towards me.

[00:10:59]

He just looks creepy. Nanette told her father that she felt like she was being followed and according to the Advocate, she had found a knife and cigarette butts on her property. So those items kind of prove to them that somebody's been on my property, somebody's watching me. The question in her head was then, will this person come back? Seventeen days after Ninet sent the email to her father, it would be the question that echoed in the investigators and community's ears.

[00:11:31]

Yeah, and for me, just to clarify, she's sending an email with this this image of this mysterious person and she's saying, this is the day I got out to get the mail and this man was walking towards me. So it sounds like she she was out there and and physically experienced this guy walking towards her and then went back to her surveillance recording and was like, oh, here it is. I got it caught on tape. Yeah. And this was when we talk about the surveillance, she had a hardcore surveillance situation.

[00:12:05]

I mean, she had it's nine cameras. It's not like you're your typical you got a ring cam and the in the front and in the back and then on the side yard. I mean, this is this was really, really set up. Plus 30 guns inside the 30 guns inside the house. Yeah. So on Friday, July 14th, twenty seventeen, Nanette and Steeves day started as usual. She made his lunch and walked them outside around seven forty five a.m. Then she drove away in a Mercedes and bought breakfast at the local McDonald's.

[00:12:34]

She arrived back home at nine 11 a.m. At 00 a.m., Annette called Kmart to refill a prescription. Then at one thirty pm, she placed a call from her cell phone. After that, there was no outside contact from the residence. Around two thirty that afternoon, a nine one one call was placed to report a fire. A neighbor's child was out riding their bike when they saw flames coming from the house. The fire department rushed to the house on Philip Smith's road.

[00:13:01]

Once there, the department began to put out the engulfing flames that would reduce the entire house to ash. They searched for the net. Most of them knew her and her husband, Steve, who had arrived on scene with his unit, District Twelve. And that's remains were discovered in the master bedroom. Her body was on the floor lying face up. She was burned beyond recognition. The family's dog and two cats were also killed in the fire. The dog, a Chihuahua named Harley, was next to Nanette.

[00:13:33]

We have this crime scene right here. If your first at a crime scene and Paul, have you been an investigator where the victim was burned in a fire?

[00:13:44]

So not as an investigator, I have responded out to multiple crime scenes in a in a crime scene investigator capacity in which a fire had occurred and a body was recovered.

[00:14:01]

What is that situation like and how different is it than your typical crime scene? I mean I mean, because you've got I have to imagine they're trying to put out the fire. That's their first thing. Put out the fire. So evidence is going to be literally washed away. Yeah.

[00:14:17]

You know, it is almost the worst set of circumstances to start a homicide investigation.

[00:14:27]

You know, first, when you read about her house is reduced to ash, I will tell you, having been in a situation like that, just even finding her body is a chore.

[00:14:38]

It is not recognizable.

[00:14:40]

Most of the items that you see in everyday life are not recognizable, different substances. Let's let's just say a phone. Different substances in the phone will melt while other substances will remain. And then you've got all the soot. Everything is piled on top of each other, and then you have all the water and the fire suppressant material that the fire department lays down, plus them walking through everything. It's it's an absolute mess. So there is no original crime scene typically in this particular situation.

[00:15:17]

So just at this point, anybody that's responding to this scene is looking at this as a fire scene. And then it could be hours after the fire is is put out and then there is going to hold on. There's a body here and it's not uncommon for first responders, fire department, law enforcement to leave. And then somebody else, like a family member, discovers a body because it is that hard to find these bodies. So the fire investigators made their way through the home and it started becoming clear to them that the fire was intentionally set, that a living room, which is where the digital recorder for those nine surveillance cameras was located, it had been doused with accelerant.

[00:16:02]

And the master bedroom where Nanette's body was discovered also had signs of accelerant. This left investigators conclude that there were at the very least two points of origin for the fire and it was ruled arson.

[00:16:15]

So the offender made sure to try and destroy that footage that could place them there.

[00:16:20]

And that's actually significant to me because oftentimes the surveillance systems, in essence, the cameras are going to be distributed throughout the house. And we don't know if this is a wired or wireless setup, but the the actual recording box, the brains of the system just looks like a standard little box. And so it tells me that this person either recognized what that was or had knowledge of it ahead of time. Yeah, the coroner conducted the autopsy and found something.

[00:16:57]

Very suspicious, there were no signs of soot in the Nats lungs. That's a circumstance we discussed last week in the case of Henry Lewis Wallace and the murder of Valencia Jumper. But unlike that case, Nanette's cause of death was actually much easier to discern. Because upon further examination of her body, there was a bullet wound that was found above Nanette's right temple, there's no exit wound. It left a small caliber bullet inside the body of evidence. So the coroner ruled Nanette's death a homicide.

[00:17:32]

We're not exactly sure of the caliber, they just noted it was small caliber, the we've got a offender then who is attempting to cover up a murder with fire. Now, is this. When we talk about cover up, especially in this day and age, everybody's seen CSI and everything like that, I don't want to give anybody ideas, but like you were saying, fire because of not only the fire, but then the the the response to the fire.

[00:18:04]

It kills so much. If if the fire is allowed to progress and you burn the areas of importance and that's the big variable that the offender who is setting the fire can't necessarily account for unless he or she has confidence in how to actually, you know, get the fire going in order to completely consume what they are interested in having consumed know. But fire destroys all at all, and that's it. I shouldn't say all, but it destroys so much that it does make life very difficult for investigators in order to get evidence that is typically used.

[00:18:44]

And this is where any time you have an arson, most homicide investigators will have had some exposure and some training related to arson homicides. However, you do need to bring in an arson investigator and work very closely with that person because they have a level of expertise that is just hugely beneficial in terms of recovering evidence and understanding the actions that the offender took in order to commit the homicide, as well as to create the fire.

[00:19:17]

So the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office disagreed with the homicide finding. At first, they reported they believed in dad's death to be a suicide because investigators found two handguns near the body. So with the placement of the wound and the guns nearby, the sheriff's discontinued the criminal investigation, they just said, nope, this is a suicide. She obviously doused her her her place with accelerant, set it on fire, and then shot herself in her room, which is just so.

[00:19:51]

Just as a pet owner and I think every pet owner is screaming at their at their stereo right now, at their hi fi, listening to us pet owners don't do that. If you have it. If you have pets, you're not going to set your house on fire yourself. This created a stall in the investigation and according to the family, they left behind evidence at the crime scene because of this stall. Some of the evidence was that burnt DVR of surveillance footage and the bodies of two cats and other weapons.

[00:20:19]

Now, this lasted for five days because what comes back, the ballistics come back. Neither of the guns that were found near ninet matched the tests of the bullet that were in her head. So the sheriffs then go and say, oh, you know what, OK, this is a homicide. And then they pick back up their investigation.

[00:20:38]

Yeah, you know, and I think the autopsy is usually handled relatively quickly. It's not in most jurisdiction. It doesn't take five days for an autopsy to occur. So they would have gotten information as to whether or not there was soot in the Nats lungs in her her airways well ahead of time, typically the next day. And even under a scenario where, let's say Ninet starts a fire, shoots herself in the head, and so she ends up dying and stops breathing before the fire is able to really take hold.

[00:21:13]

And you get a lot of smoke, it at least is falling in that gray area where you have to consider this a homicide until you can prove that it's suicide and you start making sure that you're proceeding with your investigation as a homicide investigation because of the fear of the loss of potential evidence and witnesses moving further away or or other things happening in those first forty eight hours or 72 hours that are so critical to any investigation.

[00:21:47]

And what have you ever seen law enforcement contradicting the coroner's office like this?

[00:21:52]

Oh, yeah, I've been involved in that type of situation in which a pathologist will make a finding. And I've sat down with the pathologist and have said this is the let's say, the forensic examination that contradicts your opinions.

[00:22:11]

And fortunately, with the pathologist that I've worked with over time, they've all been readily willing to to change their opinion. But it is something that can possibly happen where you have two different entities, a law enforcement agency such as a sheriff's office and a coroner's office or medical examiner's office that have two different functions. One is the determination of cause of death, and the other one is the determination as to whether or not a crime has occurred and if they contradict themselves.

[00:22:43]

Oftentimes you do see now the case just stalling because now it's like, well, where are we going to go if the coroner's office is saying suicide? Am I going to invest, you know, man hours and forensics and all the other resources to conduct a full blown homicide investigation or I'm just going to close this case out and it's not going to hit the numbers.

[00:23:06]

It's not going to hit their clearance rate, et cetera, et cetera. And here's what's crazy, is that even after picking back up their investigation, many at the sheriff's office still weren't convinced there was an unnamed source told Huffington Post in November of twenty eighteen. We don't understand the coroner's ruling. This is all for naught. We know what happened. There's no mystery. This is a suicide. That's what they said. So, you know, just as perplexed as the sheriff's office was with the coroner's office, the coroner felt strongly that they got it right so strongly they asked for other autopsies to be conducted.

[00:23:38]

Now, how often does that happen?

[00:23:40]

Well, you know, and that is really showing they are going, hey, you know, we have formed an opinion based on our expertise. And we are so confident in our opinion that other independent experts. We'll say the same thing. It will just help reinforce it in order to be able to convince the sheriff's office were right. So he had two different pathologists perform their own autopsies. And Annette's parents and family also had an independent autopsy performed. All three additional autopsies reached the same conclusion.

[00:24:13]

They said Homicide said Ninet was killed before the fire ever started. So for pathologists firmly believe Nanette was murdered, which leads to the still unanswered question, who killed Nanette? So and, you know, obviously, as far as the the homicide versus suicide, let's just break that down for a second. No soot in the lungs, a caliber of of or at least the ballistics don't show up from the guns that were near her. So they can't find the murder weapon, which doesn't happen in a suicide.

[00:24:52]

And her pets were there. Those are my three biggies. For me, I think the big question that I have is, as was the the firearm, you shed 30 guns, her and Steve had 30 guns. Inside the house was the gun that was used to kill her found inside that house. And if so, where was it found? What we have right now is that at least the two guns that were found near her body did not match the bullet that was found inside her head.

[00:25:26]

But the scenario that I'm thinking of is the one that I presented before is if she were to start a fire and then shoot herself in the head and then wander into the master bedroom before the fire fully engulfed the house and she's starting to breathe smoke and she actually stops breathing, there is a scenario. And so I need to know more information to fully clear this as not being a suicide.

[00:25:50]

But right now, I'm still firmly in the camp that this must be. Investigated as a homicide with the information that we have, OK? And I would have to see what what kinds of guns, you know, what kinds of examinations were done. There are some guns that do not mark bullets very well. And also we have a fire that we have to take into consideration. And the fire is potentially going to be detrimental to some of the aspects of the firearms examination, just depending on the circumstances.

[00:26:25]

But it's all information that needs to be assessed within the context of the circumstances. And you need to have the right experts. Who are able to form the right opinions to help guide the investigators, to help give a recommendation to the sheriff's office. Hey, there is a problem here. We need to keep charging forward and look at this as a homicide.

[00:26:48]

So when law enforcement began to investigate Nanette's murder. They had no shortage of people of interest. First, you had this mystery man from the next screen shot. We're going to post that on the website. And that man still has not been identified to this day. But as we always say, you start with the victims circle, specifically love interests, in this case, her husband, Steve. Now, shortly before Nanette's murder, she discovered that Steve had been having an affair with a co-worker, and that was information that she had told her family.

[00:27:20]

According to her family, Nanette wanted to leave Steve because of the affair. They said she was set on ending the marriage. However, Steve had a different story. Steve said he stopped seeing the other woman.

[00:27:31]

And beyond ending that relationship, he and Annette had worked through their problems and things were going well. So an affair means motive, but motive doesn't always make someone a killer.

[00:27:43]

That's absolutely right. It's just something in which now there's a red flag in which you have to investigate. But there's been probably more often not.

[00:27:52]

We're in these types of relationships. You do see affairs and the individuals involved in the affair are not responsible for the homicide.

[00:28:04]

So even more suspicious were two other things. Now, Steve Spier unit was actually the first to arrive to sheriffs are already present, but Steve's unit arrived, but they didn't actually have the the firefighting apparatus that wasn't equipped with that. So that's kind of strange to the second odd coincidence is that Steve told investigators that the surveillance system at the home had been accidentally deactivated the night before the fire. It was this system that Ninette, remember, said over and over again repeatedly.

[00:28:37]

It's the system that makes her safe this in her guns. Two weird things here, I don't like it. Well, you know, and I'm not from from the firefighting standpoint, I'm not entirely sure like Steve's unit, if they're not completely equipped with whatever apparatus they didn't have, you know, is that is that typical for the unit that he was in to arrive? Was this something that was was overlooked? Like I mean, it's it's sort of like if your sole job as a unit is to go fight fires and you roll out of the station without the ability to fight fires, somebody has really dropped the ball.

[00:29:17]

Then the other thing about the surveillance system is, is how to Steve know that it was accidentally deactivated? You know, that, of course, the timing of the deactivation is concerning. But why is he saying it's accidentally deactivated?

[00:29:31]

Yeah, yeah, that's weird, yeah, why is he saying that he didn't even have to say that, you know, now, unless he's being asked by investigators, hey, can you pull the recording off this unit or, you know, I mean, I imagine with the amount of fire damage that that I think is happening inside this this crime scene, that that unit probably has potential fire damage.

[00:29:55]

And they're having to use some I mean, some forensic specialists in order to be able to remove whatever's on the hard drive. And then they're finding, hey, you know, this thing is showing it was shut off the night before. And then now the investigators are asking, Steve, why was this shut off? Yeah. And then he's going well, is accidentally deactivated. You know, how often are they interacting with their surveillance system? Are they having to purposely put it on when they are in the house?

[00:30:22]

You know, it's it's gathering all that information.

[00:30:25]

Yeah. And, you know, sort of the the DVR. This is twenty seventeen.

[00:30:31]

You have nine cameras. That's a lot of. Of storage space, I have to think that this was going to a cloud somewhere, so maybe that was potentially it as well.

[00:30:41]

Oh, yeah, that that's a good point. Yeah, I think twenty seventeen. You know, it's possible this is, what, seven, 20 or 10 ADP type of resolution. You know, you've got good quality video from the surveillance system potentially, and it's shut off the night before.

[00:30:59]

Is there any indication that somebody broke into the house the night before, which would be tough because of the fire to to to to ascertain.

[00:31:08]

So it starts either somebody knew that that surveillance system was in place to deactivate it, Steve, deactivate it, or it's just just that random, coincidental thing that does happen. And it's just you're having to assess, you know, what is what really happened. Yeah.

[00:31:28]

You know, the investigators could clearly see from the fire station, though, that Steve had an ironclad alibi. It was 17 miles away. They even conducted a polygraph, he passed it. So now they got to widen their circle around the net. Hello, I'm Bridger Weininger, you may know that I host a podcast called I Said No Gifts, and if you don't know that, that's fine. Learning is a lifelong journey. But now that we're all on the same page, I want to invite you to listen to I said no gifts.

[00:32:05]

Every Thursday. I have a guest on the show with one rule, no gifts. And every week my guest flagrantly disrespects my request. Fortunately, I'm a very gracious host and I never fly into a fit of rage. Rather, we discuss whatever my guest brings me. I've had all kinds of terrific guests, people like Emma Thompson. I have a slight obsession with vacuum cleaners. I have a lot of vacuum cleaners and actually I'm literally looking at one now that vacuums this floor and basically takes if you vacuum yourself with it, it would just take your skin off.

[00:32:49]

Yes. Or Lester, basketball shorts go to Melinda Gates because there's just no world in which basketball shorts have come across her like life in the past twenty five years. It is impossible. It's impossible. I like, hey, you know, wear these while you're, like, handing out the malaria.

[00:33:11]

Andy Richter, you at your most relaxed. It's not it's not pretty. Oh, speak for yourself. I am just staying gorgeous. Right, like a reclining alabaster statue.

[00:33:27]

Karen Kilgariff, is that another Patrick Wilson horror movie? Yeah, I think he's like in two different series. Right. He's all over the map of his choice. Loves demons. He wants to fight them. He wants to be the father around them.

[00:33:41]

Father of a demon. Lauren Lackas. Zachary Tyler.

[00:33:45]

Yeah. Zachary Ty Bryant. Yeah. Is now the proud owner of a BYU or the entire chain or something.

[00:33:52]

He started sobbing. OK, well, you can say a lot of things on a podcast. They become true. But he is not the CEO of Buffalo. And I found out and more.

[00:34:02]

If you want to know what all these wonderful people have given me, you have to listen to I said no gifts. Thursdays on. Exactly right. Subscribe now on Stitcher, Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you like to listen. I don't care where you listen. That's none of my business. I said no girls.

[00:34:29]

The next person in the circle was the next twenty four year old stepson, Justin, and according to family members, the two were not getting along. Ninet noted Justin owns several guns when telling her family about the problems, and she has specifically told her friend Lori she was scared of Justin.

[00:34:46]

Yeah. So, you know, again, with Justin investigators, you know, they were able to clear him. He was out of state when the net was killed. They also found no evidence he ever threatened the net. So the circle became bigger, but still within the family this time, the focus was on Steve's brother, Brian Gruntal. On paper, Brian is a much better person of interest than Steve or Justin. He had a rap sheet of thirty six arrests.

[00:35:12]

One of those arrests, Brian suspected, was because of a tip that Ninet had given law enforcement. So in twenty fifteen, Brian was arrested for drug paraphernalia, an arrest that he served jail time for, according to our friend Laurie Nanette's that the night he got arrested, he told Steve he was going to get out to kill us and then himself.

[00:35:34]

Even Steve agreed with this fear when the investigators began looking into Brian. Steve told People magazine investigates Brian was definitely somebody that I was worried about because Brian had a strong contempt for Ninet. And that's a pretty big point in pointing a finger at your brother there. Yeah, there's no question in the direction of the book and the direction in its it's understand understanding family dynamics. How were they just completely disenchanted with each other their entire lives? Were they close at the time?

[00:36:07]

Steve is pointing to his own brother, but still it's pretty significant. He's going, hey, you know, look at my brother Brian. But at the same time, I got to consider, is there an element of self-preservation there? He'd rather throw his brother under the bus than him himself being the focus of the investigation.

[00:36:28]

Yeah. Now, Brian's whereabouts should have been easy enough to prove because he was required to wear a GPS anklet because of his arrests. But just like those surveillance cameras, someone had disabled his GPS anklet. Authorities tracked down his alibi, he was actually at his parents house, which was 15 miles away from the net and Steve's house. And unlike Steve's cameras and Brian's GPS anklet, their cameras were actually working at the parents house, so there was footage that confirmed Brian's alibi.

[00:37:01]

So we have another person of interest gone. Where do we start going looking now? Well, first, you know, I think I want to point out, like Steve's alibi, he's found on camera at his employers, the fire station. Right. And an independent entity surveillance system is finding him at the house at the time of Nanette's homicide. You know, I put a lot of weight on that type of alibi now with Brian. He's at his parents house, somebody who potentially has a reason to protect him.

[00:37:35]

And so now I want to know more about the cameras and their surveillance system as to whether how readily they could alter dates and times in order to make it look like Brian was physically present at their house at a time when he wasn't so in in this particular case.

[00:37:55]

If you start eliminating family members, you just continuing to widen the circles. And it is, you know, quite frankly, with with Nancy that I want to know who her best friend is. You know, we have the mystery man that she sees on on camera. But I want to know who is the person that she is most likely to divulge her most close and intimate secrets to and track that person down and talk to them and see if any suspects come out of.

[00:38:23]

Yeah. Now it's a good call. But then so we're still looking for the mystery man on the tape. I hear you when you're talking about the best friend who is her confidant. But then there's another bizarre twist. In May of twenty eighteen, Steve Comptel was demoted from fire chief. And a week after that demotion, the board found validity in claims made by another firefighter. Now there's a guy named Tom Williamson, and he filed a list of complaints the previous year.

[00:38:52]

He'd actually filed them the day Steve returned to work after morning over at Ninet. And based on Williamson's claims, the board found that Steve had affairs with two women. The board also discovered he had been taking air conditioning units from decommissioned ambulances. So he was ordered to pay restitution for the AC units and got a 60 day suspension for his improper relationships. So he sent a retirement resignation letter to start on September 1st. Now, Williamson claimed that Steve tried to intimidate him and actually left a bullet outside of his residence.

[00:39:30]

Now, none of this makes him guilty, but you do spin back to him even with that clear alibi, because there is you've got not one but two affairs. And then you've got this, you know, just just like there's stuff going on in this guy's life that police are going to go home and then leaving that bullet outside the residence, if that was true, makes you say, yeah.

[00:39:57]

And I think, you know, and looking at how I would approach it, you know, I would I would readdress that alibi, you know, most certainly. Did I receive that video directly from the fire department? How confident am I in that video showing him on that date? Was that surveillance system, the date time stamp accurate?

[00:40:22]

You know, if all of that starts adding up, you know, I still have an issue with Steve at least being the one that was present at the house causing the homicide and would consider considering some of these red flags. Did he have somebody go and kill in the net now, him leaving a bullet outside Williamson's residence on one hand? That's interesting since the net was shot. But at the other time, Nanette and Steve had 30 guns inside their house.

[00:40:57]

They're very firearms focused. And so that would be something that I see Steve readily resorting to in this type of, you know, kind of co-worker, a beef, so to speak.

[00:41:07]

Yeah. And I think this is one of those areas where if you do have hey, look, I'm on I'm at the firehouse. Look, I am on tape at the firehouse, but you have the situation with the surveillance footage and you also have the situation with the that he was he was she told the parents that she was going to leave. You have to look at a potential murder for hire. You have to know. Absolutely. And what what we're not hearing about right now is any any investigation into a cell phone.

[00:41:43]

And, you know, as to at the date and time and Annette's homicide words, a cell cell phone putting him, what conversation is he having? What kind of searches is he doing in addition to, you know, you have video surveillance of him at the station. What about his co-workers, his bosses talking about at that time what kind of interviews were conducted? So that's stuff that's still in the dark. But I would imagine that the original investigators on this case would have followed up on all of that.

[00:42:10]

And everything is adding to Steve being present at the fire station at the time of his wife's homicide. Yeah, and here's another thing, too.

[00:42:17]

So the month before his demotion, Steve actually filed a trespassing claim against Annett sister. His name was Wendy. Wendy and a friend had wanted to see the memorial that was set up at the site of her sister's death.

[00:42:30]

And according to reports, she didn't think it would be a problem since no one lived there anymore. The house was burned to the ground, but she was wrong. Steve then chased them on the street, leading to an all out high speed chase down I twelve and ten into Mississippi. Wendy contacted a friend at the sheriff's office. Then she was told to come in to sign a summons for trespassing.

[00:42:53]

Again, doesn't make him guilty, but that's weird, you know, and I'm looking at that and going. There is a family dynamic going on here. You mean this is Nanette's sister, his his dead wife, sister, and yet he's chasing them off. Why is that happening? If this was a happily happy family dynamic, you'd think he'd be welcoming to to Wendy. So there is a there is a family situation that is contentious is the way I'm interpreting that.

[00:43:29]

So we've got more twists for you.

[00:43:31]

So in September of twenty nineteen, the sheriff's office arrested a federal agent in regard to the case. And the arrest was due to what the office called false and defamatory information about a detective on the case to the death family and the investigator. His name is Jerry Rogers and according to the St. Tammany Parish sheriff, Randy Smith. Caused the family to doubt the detective and hinder the investigation after rodders arrest, the St. Tammany Parish sheriff's office released a letter to the media and I'm going to read it to you now.

[00:44:01]

This is from Sheriff Randy Smith. And then it gets political and politics in Louisiana are like no other. Let me just let's just point that out there right now. I'm disappointed that my political opponent has enlisted the aid of both of your media organizations to try and use the tragic death of the Net comptel for his own political gain. As we get close to Election Day, the spread of misinformation and half truths by my opponent with the apparent aid of certain members of the media is disgraceful, which is why I have decided to issue the statement to set the record straight.

[00:44:32]

First, and most importantly, since McChrystal's death two years ago, my office has worked tirelessly to try and solve her murder and give her family peace.

[00:44:40]

To date, we have unfortunately been unable to obtain sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant for anyone's arrest. Now stopping here. That's interesting, that wording saying we have unfortunately been unable to obtain sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant for anyone's arrest, no question about it.

[00:45:01]

And taking a look at the state of the investigation, I don't doubt that that's the case. However, he's now just laying it out. There he is. He's doing exactly what he's you know, he's accusing his political opponent of doing. He is utilizing this case to his own political benefit. Right, yes, so then he says this is not, however, because of a lack of effort to date, my office has executed in excess of sixty five search warrants in connection with this case.

[00:45:31]

They reviewed in excess of forty five hours of surveillance footage. We have conducted in excess of 80 interviews and we have asked for assistance and have worked with the FBI, the ATF, the Postal Service, the DA's office, Louisiana, all this stuff you're saying like, all right, we worked really hard. And then he says, I understand the Watson family's frustration. I share it. We're very professional. You have my word. We're going to keep working until this case is resolved.

[00:45:58]

Then he digs into the issue at hand regarding the recent arrest by my office of Jerry Rogers. Since certain members of your organizations, for reasons unknown, chose to only tell part of the story, let me again set the record straight regarding this individual. We were contacted by one of the members of the Watson family months ago and asked to look into anonymous emails that were being sent to the family as these emails concerned an open homicide investigation, my office was obliged to investigate.

[00:46:22]

As we have done with each and every lead on this case. He's always trying to say, why don't we do it?

[00:46:26]

We still do it. Through the course of this investigation was discovered that the person sending those anonymous emails was Jerry Rogers, currently an investigator with HUD, which is the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. And some of these emails were, in fact, sent from a US government IP address that prior to working for HUD, Mr. Rogers had been a longtime employee, a former sheriff, Jack Strain. My investigators at first tried to meet with Mr. Rogers at his place of employment, which is the Hale Boggs building on Poydras Street in New Orleans, when my investigators first tried to speak with Mr.

[00:47:00]

Rogers. He refused to open the door to speak to them. A few days later, we learned that Mr. Rogers, while at a training event in West Monroe, Louisiana, refused to come out of his hotel room and was threatening to commit suicide.

[00:47:11]

Finally, after several hours on the scene, a negotiator with the West Monroe Police Department was able to get him to exit his hotel, but not before Mr. Rogers tried to commit suicide by cop by pulling his cell phone out and pointing it directly at the officers on the scene in a very quick motion. Fortunately for all involved, due to their discipline and training, the West Monroe Police Department did not open fire on Mr. Rogers and instead he received the psychiatric help he obviously needed following this incident.

[00:47:37]

The information was shared. With your media organizations, however, for reasons only you can explain, you chose not to share it with the public. I also find it curious that your organizations did not share fully the not fully share with the public excuse me, the extent of Mr. Rogers political activity specifically, it was learned through this investigation that while he was sending these anonymous emails to Watson family, Mr. Rogers was also exchanging emails with my opponent in the upcoming election.

[00:48:04]

Now, regarding the constitutionality of the LSA Dash 14 for seven, which is a statute that Mr. Rogers was charged with violating, I'm aware that some courts have ruled that the statute may be unconstitutional insofar as it relates to public expressions about public officials. Mr. Rogers activity, however, does not fit with that description. On the contrary, this is an individual who used fake email accounts in an effort to hide his identity and make misstatements of fact concerning detectives working in open homicide investigation.

[00:48:33]

This was a deliberate effort to mislead the victim's family and aim and to discredit the detectives. This harmed our ability to solve this crime. Based on these facts, my office felt that there was probable cause to seek a warrant for Mr. Rogers arrest. The district attorney's office has appropriately recused itself from this matter, as Mr. Rogers wife works for the D.A..

[00:48:55]

Of course, the matter will now be handled by Louisiana attorney general's office. And since it's the exclusive province of the attorney general to defend the constitutionality of Louisiana's laws, I defer any further comment to the AG's office many times. To be clear, the arrest had nothing to do with me. It relates directly to stopping efforts to that impair our ability to investigate and solve this crime. Turning now to miss Wendy Watson's claims that her trespassing arrest was made to shut her up.

[00:49:22]

Let me state unequivocally I have no interest in trying to keep anyone from expressing their opinions, including Miss Watson. I would also point out that Miss Watson has not, in fact, been arrested. There is, however, an active warrant for Miss Watson's arrest and thus she is currently a fugitive. This warrant was not initiated by me, but was in fact sworn out by the complete complainant who owns the property upon Mitsch, which Miss Watson was trespassing, which, of course, is Steve.

[00:49:48]

I would encourage Miss Watson to turn herself into the sheriff's office in order to let the court perform his duty to adjudicate her guilt regarding this alleged crime.

[00:49:57]

All this information was shared with your media organizations. Why you only chose to tell half the story as a question only you can answer. My job as sheriff is to give all the facts and let the citizens make informed decisions about how my office operates. That is how I have always conducted myself, and that is how the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office will operate as long as I am sheriff. Finally, in closing, I said for the past two years we will continue to run down every lead, no matter what it takes, and we'll never stop working to try and solve this case and bring closure to Mrs.

[00:50:24]

Quintals family. That is my promise to the victim's family and to all the citizens of St. Tammany Parish. Now. Breaking down this letter, we noticed in the very beginning that he he says this of we don't have evidence to make for a warrant. Makes it sound like they have they have somebody in mind when you when you say something like that, because sometimes you hear police to say we throw up their hands. We don't know who it was.

[00:50:57]

You know, him saying this is definitely leading towards that. They're looking at somebody. And if they did have just one piece of evidence, they they would do that.

[00:51:08]

But the rest of the letter is so defensive about his what he's doing and what the that I almost wonder if we shouldn't even be reading into that at all.

[00:51:21]

Yeah. You know, I can't think of a time in my career in which my agencies that I worked for, the elected official, put out a letter like this. You know, the way it starts out.

[00:51:38]

He's definitely concerned about the way that I mean, I would I would bet that this letter went out right around, you know, leading up to. Yeah, he says it as we get close to Election Day, you know, so he's a politician. He's concerned about his political future.

[00:51:58]

His opponent has grasped on aspects about this particular case that the sheriff is concerned about that could potentially harm his ability to get elected. Some aspects in this letter in terms of all the agencies that they've asked for assistance for assistance from, if true, I applaud that agency in that sheriff for doing but just because of the tone of this letter, what he's doing is, is this really is more for political gain than advancing the case. That's the way that I'm reading it.

[00:52:34]

And it's so hard to tell. Any time you step into that world of politics, what is truth versus what is half truth? Yeah. In July of twenty twenty, the charges were dismissed against Rogers by the court, so who knows?

[00:52:56]

I don't believe we know what these emails said, that these apparent emails that this guy was sending, it seems like it may have been politically motivated. Hey, this guy this is the this is the highest profile murder, trying to rile them up, you know, into into potentially speaking out on the matter.

[00:53:15]

Well, and a little bit of insight, you know, so Rogers was an investigator with Hudd, the local Hudd office.

[00:53:23]

So this he would not have any type of information as to what the sheriff's office is doing in their investigation, or at least he shouldn't. But the fact that the sheriff is pointing out that Rogers is a friend of the former sheriff. Right. I want to know, well, what's the relationship between the former sheriff and Sheriff Rogers? There could be a huge political issue just right there.

[00:53:52]

You know, it just kind of knowing how this works over time between the past elected official, the current elected official and then the current elected officials opponent. There is an interesting dynamics from a political side going on here, and he's just putting it out there. It's something that should be done behind the scenes.

[00:54:14]

That's what that's what bugs me.

[00:54:15]

Yeah, well, he also not only pointed out that he was friends with the previous sheriff, he felt the need to point out that his wife worked at the district attorney's office, implying that it could have been pillow talk about the case. Mm hmm.

[00:54:26]

Well, and, you know, and there is another political relationship is that sometimes the elected sheriffs and elected DA's are friends and sometimes they are political enemies. And again, it's what is going on there is this now casting shade on the DA's office and directly, you know, and is that day and some in the process of a contentious campaign at that point in time, the sheriff may be very indirectly trying to manipulate voters away from something that may be happening in order to get some somebody more friendly into the D.A. position.

[00:55:04]

So, you know, that's going to lead us to our final thoughts. Could have been a stranger, could have been somebody unknown to Nanette. Could have been a murder for hire a stranger. We don't know because the house was so decimated, we don't know exactly what could have been taken. It's tough to tell. I don't know. Would they have gone through a a list of, OK, these are all of the expensive things.

[00:55:39]

We had a safe. We had this. We had that. Would they have gone through all of that to to look through it in the wreckage first?

[00:55:46]

Well, they should have, you know, and of course, the person that is going to be relaying that information is Steve, who's also a we're at at least at this point in time, he may still be a suspect, though his alibi, from my perspective, seems pretty solid, at least from directly being involved in the killing in the net at the house versus hiring somebody.

[00:56:12]

However, having been at these types of fire scenes is that there's so much that is just gone or so many things that you just can't recognize. I remember going through items that I'm literally peeling there, melted, and they're stuck together and I'm peeling them off. And I'm having to rely on this great arson investigator in my area who was a with the state fire marshal's office. And he, having been to so many fire scenes, was able to recognize what these things were at one point in time when I was like, I don't even know what the hell this is.

[00:56:49]

So it would be so tough to determine what is missing or not missing from that house after such a devastating fire.

[00:56:57]

Yeah, I do have one question. We're mentioning murder for hire. We're mentioning, OK, he had affairs. Maybe that's why you want it out. But I'm digging in and can find nothing about life insurance. And I know with suicide being a probability, it may not have been released yet, but it still seems like that's something local media or any of these other investigators would have mentioned at some point. And no one's mentioning it. And it seems odd to me.

[00:57:25]

Well, you know, it really comes down to the personal motivation of the individual that is hiring somebody to kill Ninet. It may be that the personal reasons are so. They're so attached to a change in life that it's not a financial issue. I mean, life insurance is one of the most financial. Gain is a motive and life insurance is the ability to get financial gain, however, sometimes.

[00:57:55]

The person's perceived improvement in life, quality of life, change by the elimination of the net may be strong enough that the financial aspect is not even a consideration. And so it's one of those things to look at and consider. But it's not something that necessarily has to be there. The inner motive of the offender is what drives this.

[00:58:20]

So that brings us to our assignment. This case has a lot of persons of interest. Most have been cleared by law enforcement, but tensions are still running high in this community, as we've seen a very incestuous community. But regardless of anyone's own self-interest, Ninet deserves justice, and as of today, no one has been charged with her murder. If you have any information about this case or any personal details about Nadette, again, this goes to the friends, goes to any text that she might have sent, anything along those lines that could help develop a link to someone in her life not yet identified or some information about the people that were identified.

[00:59:01]

Please contact us. And there very well could have been the idea that. If this was a potential murder for hire, would somebody have been caught on a doing surveillance, doing doing some recon, or would they be doing it during the day?

[00:59:22]

Tough to tell the fact, yeah, the fact that the arsonist focused in on adding accelerant, possibly directly to, if not immediately adjacent to the recording device, to the surveillance system. Obviously, that person had concerns about their image being being captured. So there there is a the offender has a level of awareness, either because of a level of recognition and professionalism on how to commit this kind of crime or personal knowledge of what the surveillance system was doing inside that house where it was located and what it was capturing, for whom the bell tolls.

[01:00:03]

Yes, Paul, I did see you roll your eyes at one point. And I think a lot of people at home or in their cars or taking a lovely walk, roll their eyes as well with the rules.

[01:00:16]

Again, we want to stress these do not name names in public.

[01:00:20]

This is this it's unfortunate, but it's going the the the evidence in this crime is going to be potentially something digital or a wire case, as we always talk about, or somebody somebody's getting picked picked up for something else and saying, you know, I want to make a deal, you know, and then in training some info.

[01:00:45]

Absolutely. And if there is, let's say, a murder for hire from any of the people of interest, you have the possibility that multiple people have knowledge. And that's something that the investigators might be able to exploit down the road.

[01:01:01]

Yeah. All right. So now we get to our. Somewhat favorite part of the show, but it's harder and harder to do during quarantine. It is a weekly distractions. What has been distracting you this week?

[01:01:18]

Well, I'll tell you, you know, I struggled with these weekly distractions before quarantine. And so now you're putting the burden on me during the quarantine to come up with something. But today I was out. Currently, I'm working out of my garage and my. Nemesis, the squirrel came back into my life and the squirrel kind of did its little jaunt up the sidewalk and sat underneath my jeep, which is like, OK, now you're getting it to sacred grounds.

[01:01:53]

And then he went over and I'm assuming it's a he because I can't really identify gender a squirrel, but I'm assuming it's a he. And we know it's it's the men that always do the bad things for the most part. He goes over and right now it's A'Court season. The the the scrub oak that's around my my property is has dropped all these these acorns and he just starts eating. And so I kind of approach and I actually capture him on on camera and he gets closer and closer to me.

[01:02:24]

He doesn't care anything about my presence. And I was kind of offended by that.

[01:02:29]

You know, I want to kind of think that I'm intimidating to this squirrel and he's not intimidated at all.

[01:02:36]

He was just like, you know, screw you. I'm going to do whatever I want to do. I'm going to sit underneath your Jeep. I'm going to walk up on your driveway and I'm going to eat your acorns. And I was like, oh, hold on here, you know, so I'm kind of a little bit taken aback about, you know, the aura that I am casting towards the squirrel and a little bit concerned about what the squirrel might do next.

[01:03:02]

All right, it's the same guy. Oh, absolutely. There's no question about it. All right. Well, right now they're trying he's trying to fatten up at the moment. Well, mine is a little bit happier, somewhat so. I love tiki bars, love going to tiki bars. And you can't go to tiki bars now, particularly also because not only are bars you can't go to, at least in California, tiki bars are usually kind of small and intimate.

[01:03:34]

And, you know, they're being passed around there. But there's a guy. So it's like, you know what? You know, and whenever I go to a Tiki Barber new tiki bar, I will collect a mug.

[01:03:44]

I will I will go order the mug from there. And I have a tiki mug collection.

[01:03:49]

And there's really only two things that I really you know, a lot of people think that I collect Happy Meal toys, I get the toy and I open it and I put it together. And then I, I leave it on the sidewalk or something, not on the sidewalk, but like, I leave it up against the sidewalk.

[01:04:03]

That's fine. But all right, OK, this looks I was like, oh, wow. I thought, you know what I mean, whatever.

[01:04:11]

I don't know. So but you know, I collect a view master will not, you know, and and I collect tiki mugs. I guess those are really the only two things like light and sadness too. But so as the as this guy there's a guy named Tiki Tony, you could find him on on Instagram and he's got this this new tiki mug and he makes all these great tiki mugs. He's got this new Tiki McCall, the Beachcomber Bahamadia.

[01:04:37]

And it's and as the story goes, the Beachcomber Bombadier fashioned a helmet from coconuts and driftwood and held it together using rope made from coconut husk. I found this helmet washed upon the shore, drew a sketch and worked with my pal thought picture portal to bring this helmet to life. And it's this helmet tiki mug that looks like it's something out of The Rocketeer. It's so cool. And they're all kind of handmade. So I'm waiting for it. I've ordered it already and I'm waiting for it.

[01:05:04]

And I'm trying to just create a little. And this guy actually does a lot of the Tiki's for Trader. Sam's at Disneyland, which is like some place that I love going to. I'm waiting patiently at home for my for this tiki mug in order to have a little bit of cheekiness at home until these bars can open back up. So that's where that's what my distraction has been. And trying not to buy too many of them, too, because all of them are really, really cool.

[01:05:35]

So his name is Tiki. Tony, just want to throw that out there.

[01:05:37]

Well, you know, my heart is kind of heavy right now because I keep flashing back to Toy Story and thinking about you leaving these abandoned toys on the sidewalk.

[01:05:49]

I'm just sweaty for Halloween and with the two of you. That's right.

[01:05:55]

It's all these toys that have just been abandoned on the sidewalk by Billy. So anybody out there that sees a plastic Happy Meal toy on the sidewalk first, you know, Billy was there. And second, I think you need to do a rescue.

[01:06:09]

They go to group therapy based on the movies. Yeah, that's right. They do.

[01:06:15]

Wow. I never thought of that. I never thought of that. Now it's. Yeah, well, my life just got a little bit sadder. So thank you for that, Paul. You know what you were going to make in the Teekay.

[01:06:28]

I don't know. It'll be same thing. I was going to go much lighter and dark and something with Rose.

[01:06:35]

So thank you, everyone. Please subscribe, buy some merch. We posted a picture of Paul wearing some merch and the merch just flew off the shelves.

[01:06:44]

We've got holidays coming up. Follow us on social and until then, keep digging and don't be in a hurry. Jensen and holds the murder squad is produced by Exactly Right Media and Bench Clearing Productions senior producer Polly Kotowski, engineer Steven Rae Morris, music Tom Bribable executive producers. Karen Kilgariff, Georgia. Howard Stark. Danielle Cramer.