Episode 01 – Release Me
Release Me chronicles the story of Texas killer Kenneth Allen McDuff who received the death sentence in 1966 for a murderous rampage that left three teen-agers dead. He was paroled years later only to kill again. His subsequent recapture and trial resulted in another death sentence, carried out in 1998. After a public outcry over his parole, there was a complete overhaul of the prison and parole systems in Texas. All told, the killer was positively linked to six murders, but it is believed that he was responsible for as many as 13 during his lifetime. Viewers gain an inside looks at the teams of prosecutors who brought him to justice and who put him on death row, not once, but twice.
Episode 02 – Pride and Joy
Pride and Joy focuses on Eric Napoletano who brutally murdered his victims, including his wife Myra. Protected by a mother, who worked for the New York City Police Department, Napoletano eluded the law from New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico before he was finally arrested on March 27, 1991. A New Jersey prosecutor coordinated a multi-jurisdictional investigation and secured two murder convictions and two consecutive life terms in prison for the killer, who is currently in the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. This episode recounts the cooperative efforts of law enforcement agencies to catch this serial killer and the challenges the Clifton, New Jersey prosecutors faced when seeking to put him away for life.
Episode 03 – Young Love
Young Love tells the story of a high school student whose overpowering obsession for his girlfriend led him to murder a rival for her affections in the parking lot of their high school in Fayetteville, Tennessee. The alleged killer, Jacob Davis, was an honor student involved in the drama club at his high school. The victim was a football player. The shooting shocked the small Tennessee town. The prosecution’s task was to dismantle the defense’s argument that the shooter was acting under a diminished mental capacity and to prove to a jury that his act was premeditated.
Episode 04 – Like Father, Like Son
This is the story of two young men whose paths tragically crossed on September 29, 1998 in Houston, Texas. One was a sheriff’s deputy while the other, like his father, stayed on the wrong side of the law. The deputy made a routine traffic stop one night that ended with him being brutally shot to death by the other young man, Michael Lopez. Prosecutors argued that 17-year-old Lopez deserved to die, but would the jury agree?
Episode 05 – Every Parent’s Nightmare
This episode recounts a heinous crime that is every parent’s nightmare, the death of a child. On an autumn evening in November 1998, a man randomly killed a 9-year-old boy in a public bathroom in southern California. The little boy was only feet away and within earshot of his young cousins, relatives and Mother. The murderer was captured days later as he tried to kill again, prompting a startling courtroom confession and an insanity defense. For his crimes, San Diego County prosecutors argued that he deserved to be put on death row. This episode is the story of the killer’s monstrous acts and the prosecution team that fought to bring him to justice.
Episode 06 – The Green Widow
The Green Widow focuses on Mary Ellen Samuels, a woman whose lust for money and drugs led her to arrange for the 1988 murder of her husband, a successful Hollywood cameraman. Worried that authorities were catching up to her, she also arranged for the murder of the hit man. Meanwhile, as investigators continued to gather evidence against her, she went on a yearlong, $500,000 shopping spree with the insurance money from her husband’s death. She bought a brand new Porsche and a condo in Cancun, Mexico. With the hit man dead, little forensic evidence, and no eyewitnesses, prosecutors faced an uphill battle in their attempts to secure a double murder conviction against her.
Episode 07 – Lone Witness
Lone Witness is the story of Buffalo, New York gang leader Donald “Sly” Green and a lone witness to a gangland slaying which helped bring Green to justice. By the fall of 1988, the east side of Buffalo was rapidly becoming a war zone. There was little that authorities could do. Green’s murder of a rival in broad daylight was just another in a string of gang-related killings. But this time there was a witness: James Wright. Armed with the testimony of Wright, who refused to give in to death threats and attacks by Green’s gang, Prosecutor Joseph Marusak put the case before a jury. Green’s conviction would be the first step toward reclaiming the streets of Buffalo from the bands of drug-dealing murderers.
Episode 08 – Deadly Revenge
In the early ‘80s in southern Florida, a major war was declared on illegal drugs. One of the champions of that war was Assistant State Attorney Gene Berry, whose tough and unbending indictments of drug traffickers made him respected by prosecutors, and feared by criminals. One of those criminals was Steven Vance Taylor, who was in line to be prosecuted by Berry on narcotics charges. On a Saturday evening in January of 1982, Taylor’s girlfriend, Bonnie Kelly, knocked on the door of the Berry’s residence. When Gene came to the door, Kelly shot and killed him. Deadly Revenge is the story of State Attorney Joe D’Allesandro’s quest to identify, capture, and prosecute the murderer of a fellow prosecutor.
Episode 09 – The Missing Heiress
In February of 1977, Helen Vorhees Brach walked out of the famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and into the pages of Chicago folklore. The wealthy widowed heiress of the Brach Candy fortune was never seen again. Early investigations yielded no answers, and in 1984, Helen was declared legally dead. It wasn’t until 1989, when successful Chicago attorney Steven Miller was shown a case involving the fraudulent selling of horses, that connections were made between conman Richard Bailey and Helen Brach. The Missing Heiress is the story of Assistant US Attorney Steven Miller and how his investigative team waded through the seedy underworld of the equestrian industry and gained 36 indictments and the conviction of the man who had caused the death of Helen Brach.
Episode 10 – Fatal Error
When a family outing in the mountains of picturesque Oregon ended with Joyce Boyd’s fatal fall off a 75-foot cliff, authorities called it an accident; that is, until they delved deeper into their investigation. Soon the accident was being dubbed a murder and Joyce’s husband, Randy Boyd, was the prime suspect. The problem for Prosecutor Joshua Marquis was that Randy Boyd was the only witness to his wife’s plunge. Arguing his case solely before a judge after Boyd refused his right to a jury trial, Marquis would have to prove not only that Joyce’s fall was her husband’s fault, but also that he had planned it. To Marquis, losing this case could mean a killer going free.
Episode 11 – Short Fuse
Robert Peernock was an expert in pyrotechnics who knew how to blow things up. But when he tried to kill his wife and daughter by rigging their car to explode, something backfired, and his daughter survived. She testified against him. Bringing Peernock to justice would be no walk in the park for Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Craig Richman, since the daughter’s attack left her hazy on the details of what happened that night. As for her father, he was a loose cannon with a short fuse, and had plenty of legal expertise. In a case that spanned years, it would take some meticulous investigative work. A week before the trial, a compelling discovery was made by Richman, which would be used to try to convince a jury that Peernock should be put away for the rest of his life.
Episode 12 – Deadly Commission
Salvatore Thomas Ruscitti, a former policeman, was a well-liked and respected southern California car dealer. When he was shot and killed on his doorstep one September evening in 1988, friends and family began pointing at the class action lawsuit that Salvatore had been spearheading against his former employers. When the initial investigation could not find any connection between the lawsuit and the two men who shot Ruscitti, the Ruscitti family began to fear that the killers would never be brought to justice. Years later, the case was brought to the attention of Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Burns, who found a different method with which to investigate the murder. Deadly Commission is the story of Larry Burns and his investigative team, and of how they unraveled the plot to kill Salvatore Ruscitti.
Episode 13 – Silent Partner
Roy Radin was a successful New York theatrical producer with a knack for making money and a taste for the high life. His hopes for making it as a Hollywood producer ended abruptly in a remote canyon outside of Los Angeles. His connections with a major Hollywood producer and with a Miami cocaine dealer had investigators baffled as to who was responsible for his execution. Before the case came to trial, it would take several years and the dogged determination of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Investigator, Bill Stoner. Facing a battery of high-priced defense attorneys, Prosecutors David Conn and Sally Thomas would spend a year in court trying to bring four killers to justice. Silent Partner is a story seemingly taken from the pages of a dime novel – but in this case, the truth is even more chilling than fiction.
Episode 14 – Without A Trace
When 27-year-old David Wahl disappears without a trace from a state park in Oregon, he leaves behind a distraught family and a host of unanswered questions. Months later and 100 miles north, Wahl’s body washes ashore. The death is ruled an accident, until a shocking admission by his girlfriend leads to criminal charges. District Attorney Joshua Marquis takes on one of the nation’s foremost authorities on coerced false confessions in a battle that will either bring justice for a grieving family or freedom for an accused killer.
Episode 15 – Defenseless Victim
The disappearance of seven-year-old Amanda Brown from her Florida home sparks a massive search effort by dozens of law enforcement agencies and hundreds of concerned citizens. While the search for the missing girl continues, investigators look into the history of the last man to see her alive, and make a chilling discovery. When an examination of the suspect’s home reveals blood evidence, and DNA analysis confirms it was Amanda’s, murder charges are filed. Her body is never found. Assistant State Attorneys Jay Pruner and Chris Moody will have to prove to the jury not only that a murder has been committed, but also that the man seated before them is the killer.
Episode 16 – Unlikely Support
The community of Dover, Delaware is shocked when human body parts turn up throughout the city. Authorities determine that the remains are all from the same victim, but it will take the best forensic scientists in the country to make a positive identification. State Prosecutor Eugene Hall spearheads a massive effort to find the killer, and to prosecute an unlikely suspect in a case that hinges entirely on circumstantial evidence.
Episode 17 – Death of the Disciples
In 1992, gang activity in Chicago is on the rise. With local law enforcement unable to curb the growing drug trade and its resulting violence, a multi-agency task force headed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Safer focuses on one of the city’s most vicious street gangs, the Gangster Disciples. The investigation reveals that one man rules the 35,000-member gang from behind bars. To rid the streets of the Gangster Disciples and the drugs and violence they bring, Safer and his team will have to put an end to the reign of its leader, Larry Hoover.
Episode 18 – The Fast-food Killer
For many teenagers, their first jobs are at fast-food restaurants. Parents feel that these are safe environments for their children. That image is shattered when seven employees of three different fast-food restaurants in the Nashville, Tennessee area are murdered over a two-month period in 1997. Months of investigation reveal a Texas parolee as the prime suspect after he is thwarted in an attempt to abduct his former restaurant employer. Prosecutors have to piece together the few clues left at the grisly crime scenes to prevent Paul Dennis Reid from killing again.
Episode 19 – Halloween Ambush
A community is horrified when seven trick-or-treaters in Pasadena, California are sprayed with gunfire on Halloween night in 1993, leaving three young boys dead. Investigators rely on forensic clues, eyewitness accounts, and street informants to find the killers, three gang members bent on avenging a friend’s death. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Antony Myers leads the prosecution and paints a picture of that harrowing night; a picture that he hopes will lead the jury to decide that the defendants are guilty of capital murder.
Episode 20 – Fallen Friend
An evening of pick-up basketball in Houston turns tragic when prosecutor Gil Epstein is murdered in a community center parking lot. Investigators depend on anonymous tips and hazy eyewitness accounts to track down a killer. District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal leads a prosecution team whose chances for a conviction are put in jeopardy by a single holdout juror.
Episode 21 – Deadly Medicine
When the death rate at a rural Indiana hospital skyrockets, an investigation implicates a nurse, Orville Lynn Majors. State Police are left with a daunting task. In order to conclude that Majors is a serial killer, police first have to first figure out if the deaths were murders and then determine how he killed the patients. A two-year, $1.6 million investigation ends with the arrest of Majors on seven counts of murder. With the statistical evidence that spawned the investigation barred from court, prosecutors Greg Carter and Nina Alexander will have a difficult time convincing the jury of Majors’ guilt, and putting an end to his deadly medicine.
Episode 22 – Father’s Pain
When a mother and her infant daughter disappear from rural Huntsville, Texas, suspicion quickly falls on the woman’s husband. Lacking evidence, authorities cannot make an arrest. With the case growing cold, a teenager hundreds of miles away confesses to the murder of Margaret and Kori Rae Owings. Prosecutor David Weeks builds a capital murder case around the confession, but defense attorneys argue that it was illegally obtained. It will take the United States Supreme Court to decide whether an admitted murderer will go free.
Episode 23 – Deadly Fixation
On Memorial Day Weekend 1996, a woman’s body is discovered in a storm drain in Marietta, Ohio. Police eventually identify the woman as college student Sheree Petry and begin to focus the investigation on one suspect, Dennis Rydbom, who had been spurned by the victim. But with little evidence, no arrest can be made. When a second search of Rydbom’s residence turns up Sheree’s personal belongings, he is arrested and charged with her murder. With a completely circumstantial case, prosecutors Ginny Conley and Scott Durig have to prove Dennis Rydbom believed that if he could not have Sheree Petry, then no one else would either.
Episode 24 – Flames of Rage
When firefighters in suburban Indianapolis are called to a house fire, what they find inside shocks the entire community, a respected minister and his wife have been murdered with an ax. An exhaustive investigation leads authorities to a teenage church member and his accomplice. Prosecutors Carole Johnson and Gary Chavers make a deal with the accomplice to testify against his friend, but when the case goes to the jury, confusion over a point of law puts the killer’s possible murder conviction in jeopardy.
Episode 25 – Northside Rapist
A string of rapes spanning two decades goes unsolved in Jacksonville, Florida, until Detective Diana Clarke finds a link among the crimes and discovers that a serial rapist is terrorizing the community. After a suspect is finally arrested, Detective Clarke teams up with Prosecutor Libby Senterfitt to track down the rapist’s victims and convince them to testify. But facing their attacker in open court proves too difficult for some of the terrified women. Unless prosecutors can convince them to testify, it may be impossible to rid Jacksonville’s streets of a dangerous predator.
Episode 26 – Death in Store
A robbery and double homicide at a grocery store in Raleigh, North Carolina shocks the community. With little evidence left behind, and no eyewitnesses, the investigation stalls. Then a tip to authorities implicates a store employee in another robbery and leads Prosecutor Evelyn Hill to believe that that employee, and his brother, committed the murders. Using state-of-the-art forensic technology and the testimony of a third brother, Hill hopes to convince a jury of the brothers’ guilt. But the stakes are raised when the defendants attempt to cheat the system, and put themselves back on the streets.
Episode 27 – A Question of Sanity
A shoot-out in a church in Northern Virginia leads authorities to the home of an ex-FBI agent out for revenge. When an unwitting accomplice comes forward, investigators begin to understand the scope and complexity of the man’s scheme to get back at his estranged wife. In the ensuing investigation, police uncover numerous packages containing explosives throughout the northern Virginia area. It will be up to Prosecutors James Willett and Paul Ebert to convince a jury that these were not the acts of an undercover agent driven to insanity, but the work of a devious criminal bent on murdering the wife who scorned him.
Episode 28 – Murder in the Desert
The brutal double rape and murder of two young women terrifies the small, desert community of Twentynine Palms, California. Investigators struggle to link a suspect with the physical evidence they find at the crime scene. Their investigation leads them to the largest Marine base in the world and Prosecutor Gary Bailey will rely on state-of-the-art forensic evidence to bring a murderous sexual predator to justice.
Episode 29 – Infant Mortality
On the morning of January 23, 1994, a slumber party in Alvin, Texas becomes the scene of a terrible tragedy when 2 ½-year-old Renee Goode is discovered dead. The mother of the child accuses her estranged husband, but when the medical examiner rules the death undetermined, the investigation draws to a close. The girl’s vigilant mother and grandmother mount an investigation of their own and are soon joined by a detective and Brazoria County Assistant District Attorney Jeri Yenne. It will be up to them to find the cause of the young girl’s death and bring to justice the man responsible, Michael Shane Goode, her own father.
Episode 30 – Career Criminal
A loving mother disappears without explanation in Arlington, Texas. Investigators suspect foul play but search fruitlessly for any sign of her whereabouts. When investigators discover a link between the woman’s disappearance and another murder nearly two decades earlier, they contact Prosecutor Sandy Gately. It will be up to her to re-open a 16-year-old case and work with limited evidence to bring bring to justice a criminal responsible for multiple murders.
Episode 31 – Silencer
On September 18, 1985, the life of a small-town bank president is shattered when he receives a call from an unknown man who has kidnapped his wife. The kidnapper demands a ransom for her safe return. When local police respond to the home, they find the woman dead, shot seven times. The FBI is called in and an intense investigation ensues. The case is broken when a man comes forward with the murder weapon, leading to two arrests. With the testimony of one of the co-conspirators and a mountain of circumstantial evidence, it would be up to Assistant District Attorneys Sam Ponder and Charlie Strauss to prove that Lesley Lee Gosch was the mastermind of the extortion plot, and a remorseless murderer.