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Hey, Prime members. You can binge eight new episodes of the Mr. Ballon podcast one month early, and all episodes ad-free on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app today. In February of 2000, a police officer in a small Missouri town stepped into an apartment where a man had just taken his own life. Now, this police officer felt bad for the guy, but at the same time, when he walked inside the apartment, he fully expected this to be a pretty straightforward and easy case. Man commit suicide, the end. However, after walking over to the body, the officer spotted something odd laying on the ground near the dead man's head. It was a book, and it was open to a page with writing on it. So the officer knelt down and read what was on the page, and it sent shivers down his spine. Clearly, this writing was meant to be found. But before the officer could flag this to anyone at the scene, another discovery was made. A videotape was found in the dead man's trash can. And when the police watched that video, they were not prepared for what they saw. But before we get into that story, if you're a fan of the Strange dark and mysterious Delivered in Story format, then you've come to the right podcast because that's all we do, and we upload twice a week, once on Monday and once on Thursday.


So if that's of interest to you, the next time you're working out at the Amazon Music Follow Buttons Home gym, be sure you sweat like a pig all over everything. But when you're done, don't wipe anything down. Okay, let's get into today's story. Many put their hope in Dr. Serhat. His company was worth half a billion dollars. His research promised groundbreaking treatments for HIV and cancer. But the brilliant doctor was hiding a secret. You can listen to Dr. Death's Bad Magic ad-free by subscribing to Wendri Plus in the Wendry app or on Apple podcasts. On a morning in late October of 1999, 48-year-old Bruce Miller grabbed his car keys off the kitchen counter, quickly devoured a piece of toast, and then headed into the living room of his ranch-style home in the small town of Clio, Michigan. Bruce was over 6 feet tall and lanky, with graying hair and a mustache. He wore a button-up shirt, jeans, and work boots. Bruce walked towards the front door as his 28-year-old wife, Cherie, rushed into the room from the hallway. Cherie was short with dye blonde hair and light eyes. Mornings were always a bit crazy in the Miller household.


Cherie had two young children from a previous marriage, and so she had to get them ready for school, and Bruce was always in a hurry to get to the business that he owned. Bruce leaned down and kissed his wife, and Cherie's face lit up. But when she got a good look at Bruce's shirt, her face completely changed. Cherie reached up to the front pocket on Bruce's shirt, and she pulled out a huge wad of cash. Then she held the money up in front of Bruce, and and gave him a look like, I can't believe what you're doing. Everyone who knew Bruce knew he always carried a whole bunch of cash right in his front shirt pocket. Bruce said it was to make change for customers at work, but Cherie and others told him he was crazy to have that much cash just out in the open like that. It was like you're inviting getting robbed, and Cherie really wanted him to stop doing it. But Bruce smiled and took the money back from Cherie and slipped it right back into his shirt pocket. He told her he'd be fine. He kissed her again and then walked outside into the cool fall air.


Bruce could see the bright yellows and reds and the changing leaves on the trees, and so he knew the cold Michigan winter would be arriving soon. But for now, Bruce was enjoying the pleasant fall weather, and he felt like today was a perfect day to work outside. Outside. Bruce got into his car and drove a few minutes down the road to the outskirts of town. There, he turned off the main road onto a dirt road and drove for a couple more minutes until he finally arrived at the B&D salvage yard. Bruce drove through an open gate into the yard and parked his car in front of the small, one-story white building that served as the salvage yard's office. Bruce hopped out of his car and surveyed the yard. Abandoned vehicles and stray auto parts stretched out in heaps and rows for acres. Bruce smiled. He never felt more at home than when he was right there. Bruce loved everything about cars. He loved watching NASCAR races, he loved driving, but most of all, he loved working on cars that other people thought were beyond repair. And so Bruce had always felt like having a salvage yard would be like having a personal playground.


And so that was actually why, years earlier, he and a business partner had gone ahead and bought this salvage yard. But Bruce didn't just see this yard as a place for him to have fun and work on old beat-up cars. Instead, he saw it as the key to his and Cherie's future. Bruce had spent the last 30 years of his life, since he was about 18 years old, working for General Motors or GM. At the time, GM was the top selling automotive manufacturer in the entire United States, and it was one of the largest employers in the state of Michigan. In the three decades that Bruce had worked there, he'd held a range of different positions, and he had done really well. Bruce had loved working for GM from the time he started as a teen. It allowed him to be around cars all the time, and it had given him a chance to save a good amount of money. But after 30 years on the job, Bruce was ready to start a new phase of his life. And so that was where the salvage yard came in. Bruce had already reduced his time at GM, but he planned to walk away entirely within the year.


And so at that point, the salvage yard would have to become his primary revenue stream. But Bruce was optimistic because historically, people from all across the area flocked to the B&D salvage yard to get good deals on used automotive parts or to just buy old cars and trucks that they wanted to try to fix up themselves. Standing outside his office, Bruce gazed out over the piles of metal that looked like they went on forever. He knew a lot of people saw this yard as nothing more than a dump, a place that was filled with junk that had no use. But Bruce saw potential in that junk. He knew that with hard work and a little care, almost any car part could be made as as good as new. And in some ways, Bruce felt like he owed his entire life to the discarded car parts on that lot, because when he had bought the salvage yard, it ended up giving him way more than just a potential retirement plan. Years earlier, when he'd just become the new owner of the yard, Bruce had gone to the office to meet his employees, and the young blonde bombshell who took care of the financial books for the salvage yard almost stopped him in his tracks.


Her name was Cherie, and Bruce could just not stop staring at her. So not long after that day in the office, he had asked Cherie out. And as he had gotten to know Cherie more, he had fallen in love with every aspect of her, not just her looks. Cherie was kind and caring in a way that Bruce just wasn't used to. He had actually been married three times before, and he always felt like his ex-wives had been purposely cruel to him. But Cherie was different. She spent her time when she wasn't working, just trying to help people. She took care of her two young kids. She had worked for years at a local retirement community, and she did everything she could to advocate for victims of child abuse. Cherie had witnessed child abuse at different periods of her life, and she felt compelled to stand up for kids who could not stand up for themselves. And it was her dream to someday make or raise enough money to start a nonprofit organization that was dedicated to helping victims of child abuse across the country. When Bruce and Cherie had really begun dating, it became clear pretty quickly that they both wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.


So early Earlier that year, in 1999, they had gotten married, and Bruce had begun to see the Salvage Yard as an opportunity for Cheri to realize her dream of starting her own nonprofit. So not long after the wedding, Bruce and Cheri had bought out Bruce's business partner and taken over full ownership of the salvage yard themselves. They hoped the money they would make from the yard would allow Bruce to fully walk away from GM and enable Cherie to become a full-time advocate. Bruce took in one more breath of fresh air and then walked inside the office. Inside, it looked like the place had not been updated or even really cleaned in years. There were stained walls and boxes and supplies and files sticking out all over the place, and there were all these beat-up metal tables with ashtrays on them that were overflowing with cigarette butts, but it still felt like Bruce's happy place. Bruce said hello to the woman who now handled the financial books for him, but he could tell she was upset about something. Bruce asked her what was wrong, and she said when she was going over recent sales, she was sure that some auto parts, including some tires, had disappeared without being paid for.


Bruce shook his head. Despite keeping the yard gated and locked when nobody was there, theft was often just part of this business. But Bruce was angry because he was sure he knew who had taken off with the parts in question. So Bruce walked to the cluttered front counter, sat down in a swivel chair, picked up the phone, and called a man named John Hutchinson. John had been an employee at the salvage yard when Bruce first took over, and almost right from the start, the two men had clashed. At first, Bruce didn't understand what John's problem was. After all, Bruce was a pretty laidback guy who did his best to get along with everyone. But eventually, Cherie had told Bruce that she knew why John didn't like him. Cherie and John had once dated. And even though Cheri had broken things off, she believed John still had a thing for her, and so he was jealous when she and Bruce had started dating. Even with that news, Bruce still tried to along with John. He felt like it wasn't right to just get rid of John simply because at one point, he had dated Cheri. But after a short time of working together, John had basically given Bruce no choice.


The two men just kept clashing at work, and then Bruce discovered that John was selling parts from the yard to his friends and family for way below asking price. And then John had just begun outright stealing things from the yard. So Bruce had fired John, but the stealing didn't stop. John knew every way in and out of the salvage yard, and even though Bruce couldn't prove it, he was pretty sure John was still ripping him off. Bruce clutched the phone tight when he heard John's voice on the other line. And within a few seconds, the two men were screaming at each other on the phone, Then, Bruce accused John of stealing, and John denied that he had done anything, and he attacked Bruce for firing him out of sheer jealousy. Finally, Bruce slam the phone down and took a deep breath. Then he walked outside, made his way through the salvage yard, and began to look for a car to work on to take his mind off the fight he'd just gotten into. And after spending a large chunk of his day outside in the beautiful fall weather working on cars, Bruce did feel a lot better.


So by the time Bruce got home that night and had dinner with Cherie and her two young kids, he was able to stay calm when he told Cherie about the phone call he'd had with John. Cherie said she was sorry he had to deal with that, that she couldn't help but feel a bit responsible for the trouble John continued to cause her husband. But Bruce told her, Don't worry, it was not her fault at all. Later that night, after Cherie and Bruce got the kids to bed, Cherie suddenly had this huge smile come across her face. And before Bruce could ask her why she was so happy, she just grabbed his hand and led him into their small home office. There, Cherie went to the computer on the old wooden desk and turned it on and waited for the dial-up Internet to connect. Then, after it connected, Cherie, still with her huge grin on her face, pulled up an Internet chat room and pointed at the screen for Bruce to see. Back in 1999, the Internet was really just starting to take hold in the United States, and more people than ever before were connecting with each other online, mostly through instant messaging services and also through chat rooms where people could meet others who shared the same interests.


It's been 20 years since she had 20 years. Being 20 years younger than her husband, Cherie had grown up loving video games. She'd gotten into computers as soon as they became common in households across the US, and now she loved the Internet. And recently, Cherie had found a number of chat rooms rooms where she said she could talk to people from all over the country and maybe even all over the world who were also advocates for victims of child abuse. And so that was what she was pointing at on the screen, was one of those chat rooms. Cherie told John that she believed the internet and her ability to connect with these other people would make it a lot easier for her to learn the best ways to establish and run the advocacy group she had dreamed about starting. Bruce looked at the screen and then smiled, hugged Cherie and gave her a kiss. He didn't really understand the point of the internet or chat rooms, but Cherie knew way more about it than he did. So if she believed the internet could be an effective tool, then he was happy for her. That night, as they lay in bed, Bruce and Cherie talked about how they felt like their future plans were really starting to fall into place.


Bruce was sure he'd be able to make the salvage yard his only job soon, and Cherie would get to help more children on a much larger scale. They just had to keep working hard and being patient, and eventually, everything would work out just like they had planned. On the afternoon of Monday, November eighth, 1999, so a couple of weeks after Bruce and John had fought on the phone, Bruce headed out to the salvage yard. He was exhausted because he'd worked a late shift at General Motors the night before, but he still wanted to go into the yard to check on business and to spend some time working on an old car. Bruce drove through the gate and parked his car in front of the office. He stepped outside, breathed in the fresh air, and immediately began to feel a bit more awake. Then he walked into the office and saw his wife sitting behind the front counter. Cherie smile, stood up, walked around the counter, and gave her husband a big kiss. She had opened up the salvage yard that morning after she dropped off the kids at school. That way, Bruce could get some extra sleep after his late night at GM the night before.


Cherie said it had been a pretty quiet day so far. Then she told Bruce she'd see him later at home. After Cherie was gone, Bruce checked in with the one other employee who was in the office, and then Bruce went to the yard to spend the rest of the day working outside. A little after 05:00 PM, so just as the sun was setting below the horizon, Bruce decided it was time to head back inside the office to get some paperwork done before he went home. When he went in there, The one employee was still inside, and so Bruce told them they could head home and that Bruce would stick around and close up the yard on his own. And so after the employee thanked him and left, Bruce sat down in his old metal swivel chair and began digging through a stack of papers on the front counter, looking for a few forms that he needed to sign. About an hour later, at 6:00 PM, Bruce was still inside the office doing paperwork when the office phone rang. Bruce answered, and he heard his wife's voice on the other line. She told him that the kids really wanted pizza from their favorite restaurant for dinner that night, and so she would call the order in if he could just pick it up on the way home.


Bruce said that sounded great, and that he would, and that he'd close up shop in just a few minutes. Sheree told Bruce she loved him, and they both hung up. Bruce pulled out a cigarette and lit it and then exhaled a puff of smoke, and then glanced back down at the paperwork on his desk to make sure he'd finished everything he wanted to. But as he was doing this, suddenly, the front door to the office swung open, someone stepped inside side and the door slam shut behind them. If you're listening to this podcast, then chances are good you are a fan of the Strange, Dark, and Mysterious. And if that's the case, then I've got some good news. We just launched a brand new Strange, Dark, and Mysterious podcast called Mr. Balin's Medical mysteries. And as the name suggests, it's a show about medical mysteries, a genre that many fans have been asking us to dive into for years. And we finally decided to take the plunge, and the show is awesome. In this free weekly show, we explore bizarre unheard of diseases, strange medical mishaps, unexplainable deaths, and everything in between. Each story is totally true and totally terrifying.


Go follow Mr. Balin's Medical mysteries wherever you get your podcasts. And if you're a prime member, you can listen early and ad-free on Amazon Music. Hey, Mr. Balin fans. Did you know you can listen to episodes of this very show, ad-free, and one month early on Amazon Music with your prime membership? That's right. All your favorite Mr. Balin episodes can be heard on Amazon Music ad-free, and you'll always be the first one to catch our new episodes. But that's not all. You get access to other amazing shows like Mr. Ballen's Medical mysteries, Morbid, 48 Hours, and 2020, all ad-free, too. And you know what that means? Uninterrupted listening, so no more Cliffhangers. Amazon Music is your home for all things true crime and offers the most ad-free top podcasts, so we definitely have something for you. And it's already included in your prime membership. To listen now, all you need to do is go to amazon. Com amazon. Com/ballin. That's amazon. Com/ballin, or download the free Amazon Music app. It's just that easy. A little after 08:00 PM, so 2 hours after Cherie had talked to Bruce on the phone about pizza, she paced around her living room.


The kids were sitting in the kitchen still waiting for pizza, and Bruce had still not arrived home. Cherie went to the kitchen, grabbed the phone, and called to the salvage yard. She told the kids that Bruce must have been delayed with a last minute customer, but as she sat there, the phone just kept on ringing and nobody picked up. So eventually, Cherie hung up, called Bruce's brother, and asked if he had heard from Bruce. The two brothers talked all the time, especially about football, and Cherie knew there was a big Monday night football game on. But Bruce's brother, surprisingly, said they actually had not spoken at all that day. But Bruce's brother could tell Cherie sounded very worried, so he tried to calm down. He said Bruce was most likely somewhere between the salvage yard and the pizza place, or maybe he had already gotten the pizza and he was on his way home. But either way, he was probably just fine. And so after that, they hung up. But Cherie did not feel any calmer. So she grabbed the kids, put them in her car, and drove to the pizza place. But she didn't pass Bruce on the way.


And when she got to the restaurant, they told her that Bruce had never come in to pick up the order. Cherie grabbed the pizza and then raced back home with the kids and immediately called her brother-in-law again. And this time, when he heard Cherie's voice, he could tell she was far more anxious, and he admitted to her after hearing what had just happened, that this did seem pretty strange. So he told Cherie that he and his wife would go right now over to the salvage yard to just check on things. A few minutes after that phone call, Bruce's brother and his wife drove through the open gate at the salvage yard, and right away, they spotted Bruce's car still parked out in front of the office. Now, the of his car made Bruce's brother actually feel better. He figured Bruce must have gotten caught up with work, and he must have just been on the phone with somebody else when Cherie had tried calling him. Bruce's brother and his wife stepped out of their car and walked up to the office door, and right away they froze because when they looked down, they could see the front door to the office was actually cracked open a bit, and they knew Bruce never left this door open when he was working alone at night because of all the theft.


And so this was a big red flag. Bruce's brother and his wife began calling out Bruce's name through this gap in the door, but nobody answered from inside. So the couple nodded to each other and then pushed the door open and stepped into the office. Right away, they saw a huge pile of cigarette butts on the floor in front of the counter. Then they walked around the counter and looked down at the floor, and when they did, they just stood there in total shock. Bruce was sprawled out on the floor in a thick pool of blood. Bruce's brother instinctively dropped down to try to revive Bruce, but he already knew Bruce was dead. Bruce's sister-in-law's hand started shaking uncontrollably, but she still managed to grab the phone on the front counter and dial 911. About an hour after the 911 call, Detective Sergeant Ives Petraffca, of the Genesey County Sheriff's Department, drove down a dirt road towards the salvage yard. And as Petraffca got closer, he began to look around and think to himself that the salvage yard at night seemed menacing. These huge piles of metal rising up into the sky, creating paths and hidden corners everywhere that made it impossible for somebody there to ever really know if they were actually alone.


Petrovka drove through the open gate and parked his car near the front office, where a local police cruiser with flashing lights was already parked near several other state police vehicles. Petrovka stepped out of the car and saw a fellow Sheriff's Department Detective, and Shanlian pull into the lot behind him. Petrovka's tie was hanging loose, and he always looked like he was in a hurry. In contrast, Shanlian was very calm and was the person who never had a hair out of place. But despite their huge differences, the two detectives got along well. In the parking lot, Petrovka and Shanlian walked over to the first officer who had arrived at the scene. The officer was standing outside of the office with Bruce's sister-in-law and his brother, who both still looked like they were in shock. Petrovka introduced himself and said he was sorry to ask them to stay longer, but he would probably need to ask them some questions shortly. Bruce's brother nodded blankly and said that he and his wife would stick around to help. Then, Petrovka and Shanlian walked into the office. The cramped office felt like it was totally packed with people, even though there were only a few members of the state crime lab forensics team inside.


The county detectives introduced themselves, and a woman from the crime lab who had short hair and a quiet voice, motioned for them to join her on the other side of the front counter. Petrovka and Shanlian took a few steps across the office, avoiding the pile of cigarette butts on the floor, and walked around the counter. There, they saw Bruce's body, and by Bruce's head was another pile of cigarette butts. The forensics officer was crouched down over Bruce's body. She was using pieces of one-sided tape to pull potential hair samples from Bruce's shirt. But Petrovka barely noticed what she was doing because he was stunned by the amount of blood covering Bruce's chest, the floor, and the wall behind Bruce's body. Even at first glance, it was clear to the detectives that Bruce had been shot at close range with a powerful weapon, most likely a shotgun, but no expended shells had been found at the scene. The forensics officers cataloged and stored hair samples from Bruce's shirt, and then the woman with the quiet voice, motioned for the detectives to follow her back to the front door. They walked around the counter, and then the woman told them to take a look at the office from where they were standing.


And then when they began doing this, she asked them if anything jumped out at them. The one thing that really jumped out at Detective Petrovka was what a mess the place was. There were papers overflowing from boxes. There were ashtrays that looked like they hadn't been emptied in weeks, scattered all across these small tables, then grease and oil stains all over the floor. The forensics officer said Petrovka was exactly right. The place was a complete mess, which is why she was surprised that they hadn't found any fingerprints or physical evidence on the front door where the killer would have had to enter and exit. And she said what was even stranger was that they had not found any footprints in the grease and oil stains on the floor. Normally, those types of stains were very effective at capturing Prince. And so Petrovka and Shanlian assumed, based on this information, that whoever had killed Bruce must have taken time to really wipe the place down afterwards. The forensics officer said that would explain the door being totally clear of Prince, but she didn't find any evidence that the floor had been cleaned. Instead, she thought whoever had killed Bruce had known where the grease stains were on the floor, and so they had just avoided stepping in them.


Petrovka glanced over at Shanlian with a very knowing look on his face. They both knew if that theory checked out that somebody knew where these stains were, then that meant they were very likely looking for someone who knew Bruce and who was familiar with this office. So the detective stepped outside to talk to the people who had found Bruce's body, his brother and his sister-in-law. Outside in the salvage yard, Bruce's brother saw the detectives walking his way, and so he tried to pull himself together. Since finding his brother dead inside of the office, Bruce's brother and his wife had pretty much just been in shock and had barely even spoken to each other. But when Petrovka asked Bruce's brother why they had been at the salvage yard in In the first place, he told the detective that Bruce's wife, Cherie, had called him twice in a panic because Bruce had not come home from work. So he and his wife said they would go check out the salvage yard to see what was going on, and that's when they found Bruce's body. As he spoke, Bruce's brother choked back tears. He told the detectives that he'd already called his mother to tell her that Bruce was dead, but that he couldn't bring himself to say what had happened to him.


So he just told her that they thought Bruce might have had a heart attack. After speaking with Bruce's brother and sister-in-law for several minutes, Petravka and Shanlian felt like these two witnesses were telling the truth. It was way too early to actually rule anyone or anything out, but the detectives felt like they'd learned everything they could from Bruce's brother and his wife for the time being. And so now the detectives wanted to talk to Bruce's wife, Cherie, to see if she had any information that could help. The detectives thanked Bruce's brother and his wife for coming and talking to them, and then the detectives got into their cars and headed towards town. It was well after midnight on November ninth, so several hours after Bruce's body had been discovered, when Petrovka and Shandlian stepped inside of Bruce and Cherie's house. The detectives stood in the living room and Cherie sat on the couch. Her face was pale, almost gray, and she looked totally lost. Cherie had heard about what happened to Bruce from her mother-in-law, and then also a uniformed police officer had come by her house to confirm the news. But neither of them had told Cherie what actually happened.


All they told her was that her husband was dead. However, now, the two detectives told Cherie what they actually found at the crime scene, and Cherie would tell them that she had been terribly worried about her husband when he didn't come home, but she never imagined anything as horrible as what they had just told her. Petraffga leaned down in front of Cherie and told her how sorry he was for her loss, and he was sorry that she had not been informed properly about what happened. Then suddenly, Cherie looked right at Petraffca And she seemed way more alert than she had since the detectives got there. And she asked Petraffga if they had found a large amount of cash in Bruce's shirt pocket. Petrafka said they had not found any money, at which point Cheri explained that her husband always had a couple of thousand dollars in cash in that front pocket. Petrafka asked if anybody else knew this, and Cherie nodded vigorously. She said most of Bruce's friends and family knew about his habit of carrying around a whole bunch of money, and anybody who worked at the salvage yard would also know that, too.


The detectives shared a quick glance. The evidence the forensics officers had found made them pretty sure whoever had killed Bruce knew him and knew the layout of the salvage Yard office. So Petrafka asked Cheri if she could think of anyone who knew Bruce, who also might have had it out for him, or who might have just wanted to rob him. Cherie closed her eyes and thought for a second, and then she looked back up at Petrovka and told him there actually was one man who could not stand her husband. He was a former employee at the salvage yard who actually she had once dated, and she said his name was John Hutchinson, and he had a history of stealing from her husband. Petraffga thanks Cherie for her help and told her again how sorry he was for her loss. Then he and Shanlian headed outside to their cars. Back at the Sheriff's station, the two detectives talked about what Cherie had told them, and they agreed that this John Hutchinson guy seemed to fit the description of who they were looking for, someone who knew Bruce, who to the salvage yard and who literally had a history of stealing from Bruce before.


And so certainly this guy, John, would also know that Bruce carried thousands of dollars in cash on his person. So by the time the sun started to rise that morning, the detectives believed they had identified their very first major suspect. At 1:30 PM on November ninth, the day after Bruce's murder, Detective Shanlian led John Hutchinson into a small interrogation room at the Sheriff's station. John was tall with a square jaw, a shaved head, and piercing eyes. People who knew him said he was good-looking enough to be a Hollywood star. Shanlian motioned for John to take a seat at a small table in the center of the room, and Shanlian then sat down across from him. The room was warm, and John was already sweating, but Shandlian figured that might have more to do with nerves than with the room's temperature. Shandlian was very calm, and he had an ability to put people at ease really quickly, which is why he'd been chosen to conduct this interview. Shandlian said he knew John was nervous, and that was totally normal. Shandlian said he was not going to try to trick John or get him to say anything that wasn't true.


He just needed John to answer a few simple questions. John nodded and said he wanted to help. During the course of the interview, Shandlian got John to talk about his past relationship with Cherie, and he even got him to admit that he had, in fact, stolen auto parts from in the salvage yard before. But John also said that he had owed Bruce money. When Shandlian heard that, he barely reacted, but inside, he thought that that information made John an even more likely suspect. Then Shanlian asked John if he owned any weapons. John said he was a hunter, so yes, he had several rifles and a shotgun. Now, at this point, Shanlian knew Bruce had been killed with a shotgun, so he leaned forward and started to press John a little bit harder. He asked a series rapid fire questions, keeping the focus on John's past with Cherie and a strained relationship with Bruce. But John kept insisting that whatever issues he'd had with Bruce, none of them would have led John to kill Bruce. He even said that Bruce had always been pretty cool to him and that he himself was probably to blame for the tension between them.


Then, without prompting from Shantlian, John stood up and said, Hey, can I take a lie detector test? He'd seen on TV and movies that a lie detector test could prove he was innocent. Shantlian said he would have to make a quick call first, but he was pretty sure they could schedule a polygraph test for John that day. So John sat back down and said the test would make it clear he really did have nothing to do with Bruce's murder. At this point, Shanlian nodded, got up, and walked out of the room. But he didn't leave to go set up the polygraph test just yet. Instead, he joined the other members of the investigative team behind a two-way mirror that looked into the interrogation room where John was. And when Shanlian looked through that mirror, he saw something that totally threw him for a loop. John was sitting in the interrogation room alone, and then suddenly he just bent over and began sobbing. And the sobbing didn't stop, and it went on for so long that Eventually, Shanlian and the others decided that this guy must be having a total breakdown. Finally, after several minutes, it seemed like John was beginning to calm down, and so Shanlian stepped away from the mirror and went and scheduled the polygraph test, and then he returned to the mirror, looking back into the interrogation room.


By this point, John had managed to calm himself down a bit, but it was clear he just could not stop crying. Shanlian and the others had no idea if this guy was just totally racked with guilt over something he had done, or if maybe just the pressure of being in this interrogation room had caused him to snap. A little later that day, John would sit down for his polygraph test, but he would keep changing his answer to every question. And then by the end of the test, it was clear John had just failed. And so, Detective Shanlian and Petrovka became even more convinced that they had found Bruce's killer. On November 13, 1999, five days after Bruce's murder, members of the investigative team stood amongst Bruce's friends and family in a cemetery for Bruce's funeral. Bruce's casket was driven through the cemetery on the back of a flatbed truck, and inside the closed casket, Bruce was dressed in a black Dale Irnhardt jacket. Dale Irnhardt had always been Bruce's favorite NASCAR driver. Everyone there thought the entire funeral was the perfect send-off for a man who had loved cars as much as Bruce. Detectives Petrovka and Shandlian listened as Bruce's brother talked about how happy Bruce had been in the final days of his life.


Bruce's business was doing well, and he finally saw a future where he could be his own boss at a place he loved. And Bruce's brother said that after years of searching in many failed marriages, Bruce had finally found the woman of his dreams in Cherie, and that Bruce had really come to love her kids like they were his own. Hearing about how loving Bruce had been to his family and friends really made Petrovka and Shanlian want to bring his killer to justice as soon as they could. They knew nothing would ever bring Bruce back, but his family deserved some closure. And with their main suspect, John Hutchinson, right in their sights, the detectives thought they were very close to actually solving this case. But in the The following weeks, Petrovka and Shanlian could not find any evidence that directly linked John to the scene of the murder. Now, they didn't think this proved that John was innocent, really the opposite. They thought this just showed that John really did know how to cover his tracks at the salvage yard. They even brought John in for a second polygraph test, and he failed it again. Still, investigators and the district attorney didn't think they had nearly enough evidence to actually convict John if this case went court.


So as 1999 came to an end, Bruce's murder remained unsolved. At that time, Detective Petrovka had been training in the relatively new field of computer forensics, an investigative practice that looks at data and evidence from computer devices potentially used in crimes. And Petrovka had proven to be quite good at computer forensics, and he had set his sights on working for state authorities in this new field. But he made it clear to Shanlian and the rest of the investigative team that he was still fully committed to Bruce's case. He wanted to bring Bruce's killer to justice. But as January 2000 passed by with still no more new evidence linking John Hutchinson to the murder, both Petrovka and Shanlian began to worry that maybe they had set their sights on the wrong person. On February 17, 2000, so over three months after Bruce's murder, Petrovka was sitting at his desk when he got a call from a police officer in nearby Flint, Michigan. As Petrovka listened to the officer on the other line, he couldn't help but feel really confused. The Flint officer said he'd received a call from an attorney who worked in a small town in Missouri.


That attorney had spoken to local law enforcement in that Missouri town, and they had told him that they'd stumbled onto a case that they believed was somehow linked to Bruce Miller's murder in Michigan. And so after this officer explained everything they could to Petraffca, Petraffca hung up the phone feeling pretty excited, but also still feeling pretty confused. How could anything in this random small Missouri town be connected to this Michigan murder case he had been working on for months? But nonetheless, Petraffga pushed forward and contacted the local police department in that Missouri town, as well as the County Sheriff's Department that had jurisdiction in that area. Then, after talking to both of those departments, Petrovka rushed over to Shantlian's desk and told him they might have a huge break in the Bruce Miller case. Petrovka said he was going to book a flight to Missouri, and he would know more when he got back. The following day, Petrovka was in Missouri meeting with detectives and sitting in on interviews regarding a suicide that had happened in this small town. And this suicide was the case that police believed was linked to Bruce's murder. And sure enough, by the time Petrovka returned to Michigan a couple of days later, he was absolutely positive he knew who had killed Bruce and how they'd done Based on evidence collected from the scene of the suicide in Missouri and the murder scene at the salvage yard and interviews conducted throughout the investigation into Bruce Miller's death, here is a reconstruction of what authorities believe happened on the night someone murdered Bruce Miller, November eighth, 1999.


On that day, at around 2:00 PM, the killer pulled into a rest stop in Flint, Michigan. The killer stepped out of their car and stretched their legs. They had been driving nonstop for over 10 hours. After stretching, the killer walked across the parking lot to the rest stop pay phone. They put a coin in, dialed a number, let it ring once, and then hung up. The killer then stepped away from the phone, walked over to a picnic table, sat down and waited. The air was cool, and the killer felt relaxed for the first time since they'd started driving earlier that morning. A few minutes later, the killer saw a car pull into the same rest stop parking lot they were in, and they watched as a person got out of that car and walked right towards them. The killer stood, and the person who had just arrived handed them a cell phone. Then the person headed back to their car, and the killer slipped that cell phone into their Jean's pocket and then sat back down at the table. After sitting at the rest stop for hours, that cell phone in the killer's pocket began to ring.


Killer calmly pulled it out and answered the call. They spoke to the person on the other line, and then afterwards, the killer walked to their car. At about 6:45 PM, almost five hours after arriving at that rest stop, the killer cut their headlights off as they drove down the dirt road leading to the salvage yard. They pulled through the open gate and parked their car several yards away from the office. The killer stepped out of the car, walked around to the back, and opened up the trunk. They reached inside and pulled out a shotgun. The killer closed the trunk, and then they marched right up to the front door of the office. They threw it open and slam it shut behind them. Bruce, who was inside the office, looked up from behind the counter right as the killer raised that shotgun and fired. A deafening bang echoed off the walls inside the office, and the shell from the shotgun struck Bruce right in the throat. Blood and gore spilled and spattered on the floor and walls. The force from the shot actually spun Bruce's metal swivel chair around, and his arm hit an ashtray as he tumbled from the chair to the floor, scattering cigarette butts on both sides of the counter.


The killer took a breath and lowered the shotgun. Then they looked down at the floor and took note of several grease stains. Then they stepped around the counter being very careful to avoid those grease stains. Once the killer had made it around to the back of the counter, they stared down at Bruce, and they were sure he was dead. So the killer reached into their pocket, grabbed that cell phone, and made a call. They let it ring once and then hung up. The killer then slipped the phone back into their pocket, walked to the front door, avoiding the grease stains again, and walked back outside to their car. The killer put the shotgun back in the trunk. Then they got into the driver's seat and began the 10-hour drive back to where they had come from. And as the killer's car headed down the highway into the darkness, the person who had delivered the cell phone to the killer at that rest stop walked into their kitchen, and they told their two kids that Bruce, their stepfather, would be home soon with their pizza. Bruce's wife, Cherie, had orchestrated Bruce's murder. It would turn out that Cherie had not been using those online chat rooms to find other people who were advocates for victims of abuse.


Instead, she had been visiting chat rooms to play out her sexual fantasies with men from all across the country. And whenever she found a man she liked, she would send them explicit photos of herself online, and she would also literally mail them explicit videotapes of herself because in 1999, most people were not sharing videos online yet. And one man in particular who had met Cherie in one of these chat rooms and who had received photos and videos from her had fallen totally in love with her. He was 39 years old from Missouri, and his name was Jerry Cassidy. After talking for a few weeks via chat rooms and an online direct messaging service, Cherie and Jerry had carried out their digital affair in real life. Cheri had flown to a couple of different cities to meet and have sex with Jerry. And when Cheri was with Jerry, she concocted this far-fetched fantasy life for herself, in which her husband, Bruce, was actually this powerful member of an organized crime family who regularly beat her and threatened to kill her. Then, a couple of months before Bruce's murder, Cheri sent a message to Jerry to tell him she was pregnant with Jerry's baby.


She even sent him a picture online showing a positive pregnancy test and an ultrasound. But not long after sending those along, Cherie would again message Jerry to tell him that Bruce had beaten her so badly that she had lost their baby. She had used makeup to create bruises all over her body and then sent photos of those bruises to Jerry. And Cheri told Jerry that she would never be safe and they could never be happy together until Bruce was dead. And after seeing these horrible photos of Cheri with all these bruises on her and believing that he and Sherry had just lost their child, Jerry agreed to go kill Bruce. So via online direct messages, Cheri planned the entire murder with Jerry. She chose the rest stop where they would meet. She bought the cell phone he would use to let her know the job was done. And she was the one to tell Jerry to make sure he didn't step in any of those grease stains on the salvage yard office floor. And so Jerry would carry out the murder, and then afterward, he waited patiently for Cherie to come join him in Missouri.


But in the weeks and months following the murder, Cheri started ignoring Jerry, and she eventually told him that she actually didn't want to be with him anymore. Feeling alone, betrayed, and totally riddled with guilt, Jerry took his own life. And so when When local police arrived at Jerry's apartment in Missouri after receiving a call from one of his family members, they would find a Bible next to Jerry's body. The Bible was open to a verse in the Gospel of Matthew that read, Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. Then police also found a videotape in Jerry's trash can, and when they played the tape, they saw a scantily-clad Cherie making explicit sexual comments directly to Jerry. That's when Missouri authorities, learned about the murder of Cherie's husband in Michigan, at which point they contacted that Flint police officer who then called Detective Petraffga. After returning from Missouri, Petraffga confiscated Cheri's computer, and using his skills in due to forensics, he was able to uncover the entire murder plot that she had carried out with Jerry online. Cheri was ultimately convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 2055.


From prison, Cherie would admit her guilt. She said Bruce had been a good man and had never done anything wrong. She said she had just convinced herself that her online life was like a video game and that killing Bruce had become like beating the final level. Some in the media would come to call this case the first murder in the United States that was planned on the Internet. This case would alert authorities to the alarming speed at which conspirators could communicate and plan man, simply by using direct message services and online chat rooms. And so as a result, US law enforcement agencies would greatly increase their investment in the growing field of computer forensics. Thank you for listening to the Mr. Balin podcast. If you enjoyed today's story and you're looking for more strange, dark, and mysterious content, be sure to check out all of the Balin Studios podcasts. We have this one, the main show, and we also have Mr. Balin's Medical mysteries, we have Bedtime Stories, and we have Runful. You can find all of these podcasts simply by searching for Balin Studios wherever you listen to your podcasts. Also, there are hundreds more stories like the one you heard today that are in video format on our YouTube channel, and that channel is just called Mr.


Balin. So that's going to do it. I really appreciate your support. Until next time. See you. Hey, Prime members. You can binge eight new episodes of the Mr. Ballon podcast one month early, and all episodes ad-free on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app today. And before you go, please tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at wondry. Com/survey. In May of 1980, near Anaheim, California, Dorothy Jane Scott noticed her friend had an inflamed red wound on his arm, and he seemed really unwell. So she wound up taking him to the hospital right away so he could get treatment. While Dorothy's friend waited for his prescription, Dorothy went to grab her car to pick him up at the exit, but she would never be seen alive again, leaving us to wonder, decades later, what really happened to Dorothy Jane Scott. From WNDY, GenerationY is a podcast that covers notable true crime cases like this one and so many more. Every week, hosts Aaron and Justin sit down to discuss a new case covering every angle and theory, walking through the forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case to try and discover what really happened.


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