A BRUTAL MURDER – POLICE HAVE DNA EVIDENCE – COULD A DISCARDED CIGARETTE LEAD TO A KILLER?
“48 Hours” Investigates in “The Twisted Case of Angie Dodge”
Saturday, Nov. 9
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Correspondent Anne-Marie Green and 48 HOURS investigate the 1996 death of Angie Dodge and have the latest news in the hunt for her killer, which led law enforcement on a circuitous trail through a genealogy database, in “The Twisted Case of Angie Dodge,” to be broadcast Saturday, Nov. 9. (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
It’s an unusual case about a brutally murdered Idaho teenager and an unknown killer who left a DNA sample behind. The story hinges on new technology, developed since the murder, that has led investigators to multiple suspects including a New Orleans filmmaker. The case raises questions about what happens when police use publicly available DNA databases to solve cases – and what goes on when an innocent man is tagged as a suspect.
“Nobody ever thinks that they’re going to get picked up by the police and taken into an interrogation room and questioned about a murder,” filmmaker Michael Usry tells 48 HOURS. “When it happens to you, it’s definitely a game-changer.”
After the murder, police and Angie Dodge’s family believed the DNA, a semen sample, would quickly lead investigators to her killer. Police tested the DNA of men Angie knew, but none matched. But then along came Christopher Tapp, who knew her. His DNA did not match either, but after 28 hours of interrogation over 23 days, Tapp confessed to being there when she was killed. He said he participated while others stabbed her. One of the men, he said, was named “Mike.” But with no last name it seemed like a dead end. Tapp was convicted of second-degree murder and rape. Officially, though, the murder case was still open because Tapp’s DNA didn’t match the man who left semen at the crime scene.
In 2014 police took a new approach. They searched a public database that had been bought by Ancestry.com. The goal was to find a close match, perhaps a family member to the alleged killer, through a process called familial searching. The search resulted in a partial match. Armed with a warrant, police got Ancestry.com to reveal the name of the anonymous man behind the DNA sample. His name was Michael Usry Sr., and it turns out he had a son, Michael Usry Jr. Police wondered if Usry Jr. could be the “Mike” that Tapp told them about.
Usry Jr. is a filmmaker with a short film titled “Murderabilia.” Given the subject of Usry’s film, along with the fact that he’d been through Idaho Falls at one point in his life, police thought they had their man. But in truth, Usry Jr. had nothing to do with the 1996 death of Dodge and was officially cleared.
Usry Jr. joined with Dodge’s mother to search for the man who left his DNA at the scene. And through their search they came to believe that Chris Tapp, the man who was then serving time for the murder after his confession, was, in fact, innocent.
The case took yet another turn when a new police chief told his team to take another look at the evidence in the Dodge murder and find out who matched the DNA sample. In May, police announced they had arrested a man who matched the DNA, after getting a sample of the suspect from a cigarette butt.
Is the case closed? Green and 48 HOURS have the latest.
48 HOURS: “The Twisted Case of Angie Dodge” is produced by Judy Rybak, Lindsey Schwartz, Elena DiFiore and Chris O’Connell. Gregory McLaughlin is the producer-editor. George Baluzy, Michael McHugh, David Spungen and Michelle Harris are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.