Anatomy of Murder

A murder case has many layers: the victim, the crime, and the investigation. To truly understand it, you need to dissect each piece of a tragic puzzle. Join Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger every Wednesday for an insider’s perspective, as they reveal to you the Anatomy of Murder.

Forever Mother's Day (Rosemary Denis)

Forever Mother's Day (Rosemary Denis)

Tue, 03 May 2022 07:00

A mom’s fatal accident forces her daughter to suspect a close loved one... A case that truly tests family bonds.

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If you're looking for a new show unlike anything you've ever heard before, check out audio Chuck's latest series killed. Each episode of killed covers a story that you may have never read because it was killed before it got published. I'm Justine Harman, who some of you may know from my show OC swingers, and I'm here to bring these dead stories back to life binge killed right now to get the full story. Hi everyone, Ashley Flowers here and I have exciting news to share. My debut novel, all good people here is officially out now. Our fans are blowing up our social talking about it. You do not want to be left out and the worst thing that could happen is for someone else to spoil it for you because there are some wild twists in this book. If you love true crime content, mysteries, and a grown up Nancy Drew style detective work then I have a good feeling you won't be able to put this book down. So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of all good people here now, wherever books are sold. I remember sitting home the night of my birthday, so it would have been, you know, when midnight hits, my birthday is over. Mother's Day begins, and I remember sitting there next to my phone. I was just crying. My husband said to me, what are you doing? And I said I'm waiting for my mom to call. I actually was saying out loud, mom, please call me. There's only a couple of minutes left in my day and this is my day. The call never came. And then I began to panic, thinking what's going to happen. When I forget what her voice sounds like. And I knew that someday that day is gonna come and I'm not gonna remember what she sounds like. I'm Scott Weinberger's, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Delizie former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's true conviction, and this is anatomy of murder. Today's story holds a special meaning for us here at OMB because it came from one of you, a listener. I'm an avid fan of anatomy of murder, and I've always been so impressed with the way you approach things. You're very respectful, basically. Shelley had us from hello. I spoke with Shelley Dennis for our story today, and when I say that, it's because when she reached out it is to trust all of us with her own story. I've never reached out to anybody before to say, hey, this might be interesting to you. I know it's interesting to me because they were my parents. Maybe there's something good that can come out of it. We've always said that we are so fortunate that families put their trust in us to tell these stories, and that just reinforces that I believe what we set out to do, which personally makes it all worthwhile. And this story is so, so personal to Shelley because it is about her mother. My mom was my best friend. Her name is Rosemary Dennis. She was one of twenty children. She was child #4. Having twenty children in a household is probably, I would think, one of the most chaotic things that could ever happen to a family. As she grew up with those 19 other siblings, ultimately she landed up in an orphanage. And it was, yes, an orphanage at the time, what is now the present day foster care system. And she really was shuffled from one home to another until she ultimately ended up in a home slash School for Girls as a teenager until she was taken in by a family and it was really the first time that she once again had security and love around her. I remember my mom as a cute little short, giggling goofball. She always needed to be loved and needed to feel important. It didn't take her long until now. As a young woman she found love of her own and that was with Marvin Dennis. He was an engineer, smart, analytical, basically a 6 foot 2 figure that enveloped him in her arms, and soon the two of them were married and had children of their own. I was my parents first child. My brother was born 14 months later. I think it was right after he was born. My parents moved to Scotia, NY and we lived there our whole childhood lives. Shelley had developed a strong bond with her father. My dad and I used to go on a father, daughter, camping trip, just the two of us. We would go to a campground. Marvin Dennis was also known as a real outdoorsman. Hiking, fishing. If it was something you'd do outside, they would do it together. And I remember that really fondly. As Shelley admits that they didn't have much when it came to money, but yet they didn't seem to want for a lot financially either. That they made sure to get the kids out. And just the way she talked about these trips and really kind of being out there in the land and under the stars and it sounds, although never really my thing, pretty special from the way that she remembers it. When I was little, my dad taught me how to tie flies so that I could learn how to fly fish. And I remember when I would get my hair cut. He used to ask them to put some of my hair in a little baggy, and my dad would tie flies with my hair and say these are going to catch the best fish. Compared to the incredibly rough upbringing that Rosemary face, life in the dentist home was typical for the 1970s a suburban Western New York neighborhood. A home that Rosemary was so determined to be. A happy home, the kind of home she only dreamed about as a child. We were always dreaming about ohh, you know what? If we could have all of the money in the world, where would we live? And so we used to take pads of graph paper, and her and I would sit next to each other and we would dry out our dream houses. And somehow mine always had a pool inside and always had all kinds of space for all kinds of friends to be there, and we would draw them all to scale. And it was quite fun at the time. So we're going to jump you now from the 70s all the way to 1992, and let's basically go to where Shelly Dennis is in her life. She is married. She has two children under the age of two. So we can imagine how busy she was at that time. And she was living in a nearby town of Ballston Lake. Now a mother herself, Shelly knew the typical ups and downs that families normally go through something. I'm sure we all can relate here, but like many of the stories we cover here on AO M in an instant. Tragedy would strike. It was a Sunday, May 3rd. Me and my husband at the time were watching Terminator 2. A knock came at my door, and I opened the door and there was a state police officer there, and my neighbor was standing next to him and I thought, Oh well, clearly something must have happened with my neighbor, and I let them in and he said, I'm here to let you know that your mother has been in an accident. I said OK, didn't really think a whole lot of it. I said, well, you know, where is she? And he said unfortunately she's passed away. I became a statue. I just stood there and didn't know what to do. You're even just hearing her say it. It's like you just feel like just the blood, like drain out of your face. He said your neighbor is here because I understand that you have two small children. Your neighbor has offered to watch your children. I said no, I'll be fine, thanks. And I immediately went into autopilot. I turned around and I started to call my mother-in-law to tell her to come and get my kids, and I called her and I said my mom's been in a car accident. Because what else could it be? And he handed me a slip of paper. And the paper said SP Roscoe, and it had a phone number on it. He goes, this is where your father is. Here's the paper. So you may be asking the same question. Who is SP Roscoe and what does he have to do with Rosemary's death? All I knew was it was an accident and my dad was at some guy named SP Roscoe's House. Well, I think Shelly at that very moment was thinking the very same thing. So I turned around and I called this number of Mr SP Roscoe and it was busy and I called for like an hour and it was busy. And when I finally got through they answered the phone and said state police Roscoe. I realized that SP was not the initials it meant. This was the state police barracks in Roscoe, NY. Now, your gut reaction may be that it's suspicious that her dad was at the police barracks, but not really, if you think about it, of course, no. When there is any type of death, whether it is accidental or obviously criminal, just trying to figure out the what, and the police need to know one way or the other what has occurred. It would make perfect sense for him to be there, for them to speak there, away from wherever this horrible tragedy had just happened, to try to sit him down, to recount for them. What occurred that had just taken Rosemary's life? I said hi, my name is Shelly Dennis and I've, I've been told that my dad is there. He handed my dad the phone. My dad said hello. And I said, dad, it's me and he, said Shelly, she fell. Dad, what did you say? And he said she fell. I swear she fell. You know, sitting back, hearing this, first thing that he said out of his mouth. Shelly, she fell. I swear she fell. When you hear that, knowing where he is and who is surrounding him, investigators for the state police, you have to scratch your head a bit and wonder why. And that was when I realized that my dad was being questioned by the police. And while talking to her dad, he also told her that he was about to go home. He said he was going to be leaving there shortly and he had a friend driving there to pick him up and I said I will be at your house when you get there. Right now, Shelly was trying to process so much information. What happened? How did it happen? Picture all these questions swirling like one after the other after the other, at the same time processing that her mom is forever gone. And most importantly, a question that she didn't want to face was wasn't an accident or something much worse. But through it all she keeps just coming back to she cannot figure out why it is that the police want to be questioning her dad. I couldn't go there at that point in time I was really doing whatever I could to protect myself and I had to put myself in a safe place and that didn't allow me to really think about it until he got home. Shelly and her husband drove to the family home and waited for her father for hours, hours and hours and hours, and my father pulled in the driveway in the middle of the night. Then she met him at the door. And I hugged him and he didn't really reciprocate the hug too much. And he was doing this whining and whimpering thing, which I've never heard him do. And he said, oh, Oh no, she's gone, she's gone. And now it's the first time that her father is actually able to tell her what happened that had taken her mom's life. We started to talk about it and he was just not making a whole lot of sense and he had said that they went on a picnic. He decided to take her on a picnic. He said that the two of them had gone out for a hike. They went up to an area called Russell Brook Falls. They went up. They set out this whole spread. They were going to have fruit and shrimp and candy bars. They had set this whole spread up. And then he decided that he was going to go on a hike. He left my mother up there. She was taking pictures. Then he heard something. Then all of a sudden when he came back, he said he was looking around and he was yelling to her and he kept calling for her. Rosie stopped screwing around. Stop messing around. Where are you like? As if she was like purposely hiding and they didn't think it was a joke anymore, but that all of a sudden. Then he looked down. He saw her. She apparently had slipped and fallen and that it was 35 feet down below where she lay still in a pool of water. Drowned. I was trying so hard to do what I could to help him that I just said, you know what? Don't worry about it. I'm going to take care of this and tomorrow is another day and tomorrow we're going to figure it out. But when tomorrow came, it arrived with a troubling revelation. The next morning I woke up and my dad said to me, there's a bag of your mother's clothes in the back of the car, I need you to go put them in the trash can. I was questioning like what? Shelly could accept many things that her dad was telling her, but not this next thing. He goes they're evil. There's a bag of your mother's clothes in the back of the car, and they're evil. They need to go in the trash can and the garbage is going to be picked up. You know, Scott, from a police perspective. What did you make of that? Well, anything that she was wearing that day was placed into evidence until the investigation or determination could be made. So while we're not talking about that clothing, it is a bit unusual, but it's too early to draw any conclusions. Suspicions? Yes. Conclusions? Not yet. You know, I have to say, when I first heard it, I already did like a backstop because it didn't strike me as the norm. But then I hadn't really said to myself pretty quickly, like, who? Am I right? It's not my wife that just has been declared dead. And we all do process things differently. And if it's just that reaction at that moment, like just too much for him to bear to even see any of hers, like, it might strike us at odds. But as we've said before, we all process things differently. At first I thought, well, this is odd, but then I went, you know what? Here's a guy who doesn't know how to handle emotion, so clearly he isn't really thinking like the rest of us would. He was the. Really smart, really analytical. He was really so nondescript. As part of the scope of their investigation, state police would ask Shelly to come in to learn more about the relationship between her mother and father. Is there anything they should be suspicious of, or is there a history of perhaps domestic violence? Clearly they needed to determine the cause and manner of death. Was this an accident or something criminal? They said, what do you know about your dad? And I said, Oh my gosh, my dad would never do anything. He loved my mom. You know, my mom loved him. And at that point, I was so bright that my dad was going to get in trouble that I just painted him as the most perfect person on the planet. But deep down, even as she's telling this quote UN quote story to the police, Shelly knows that it's a lie. Because while she definitely enjoyed a positive relationship in certain ways with her father, not everyone in that house did. My father used to love to fight with my brother, to the point where he would say things to get my brother to really just come unglued, and he's only 14 months younger than me. Shelly always felt that her parents were having such a hard time with her younger brother. She didn't want to be a problem to them. She was completely opposite as a child. She never talked back to them and she always listened when she could. When I looked back, I realized that was somewhat detrimental to my brother's mental health at that point in time because it just made him seem that much worse and he wasn't doing anything. The relationship with Shelly's brother and the father got worse, and when he got older, at around 11 years old, he was removed from the home because the fighting between the two of them became so bad. But it wasn't just her brother who was at odds with their dad. My mother and my father would fight not physically, but my father was always very he would fight with words. My father was very hurtful in that way, but he was such a smart man that he knew what to say and when to say it. And I remember my mother actually walking out of the house. I think I was probably 5 years old, and my mother would say, that's it, I'm leaving and she would be yelling at my father. My father would be standing there. Just saying things to just trigger her. My mom would walk out the door and scream that she's leaving and she's never coming back. I remember standing at the back door just sobbing and begging her to please take me with her. She would get in the car, my father would tell me to shut up and get out of the way, and he would pull me out of the door and slam the door and I would watch my mom drive away. It was devastating. You know, Scott, as I'm listening to this, obviously it strikes me as awful, and it's really hard to even think about how rough that must have been on Shelley and her brother. But by this time she's a young adult and I'm really starting to wonder what role that may have been played in the investigation. If Shelley's in there sitting down with investigators painting a very rosy picture of growing up within this family. But in the end actually it wasn't that way. That information would be critical at this stage of the investigation to determine frame of mind, state of mind, how the relationship with the Father and his wife and his children developed or went wrong. She only has her father's perspective if she feels like investigators are at least turning their heads. Sideways doubting, or at least seeing if there is something to doubt about what he's saying that is leading her to maybe question if this was even an accident at all. Once the medical examiner finished their investigation, it was determined that Rosemary's death was by drowning. To report concluded that she likely was alive at the bottom of the Cliff only to drown in that shallow pool of water. But that determination did not close the investigation officially. There was so much more to this story. Obviously a case that wouldn't be featured on AOM unless we had so much more to tell you about it. For Rosemary, and probably for investigators too, they're starting to do this back and forth, but then they start to look at the area. I went there once. It was years later, decided that I needed to see what it looked like. Russell Brook falls. It was known for campsites and it was in the Catskills, the Big Open places. It wasn't a place that was known for accidents. So she had to think about what actually happened to her mom. There is not a place my mother would have gone. First of all, my mom was not overly coordinated. She was afraid of heights, basically. But then what she thought about her mom is that her mom didn't have the best of health. She was not overly active. My mom suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and somewhere. Near the end of her life, she had been discussing lupus and fibromyalgia as well. She was also rather overweight, so she could not hike up mountains. She could not do these things that my dad wanted to do, so there's no reason that my mom would have been up there, much less up there taking pictures or having a picnic. Shelly starts to put two and two together and realizes that her father's behavior at their home could really mean something else. He goes. They're evil. Dad, what did you say? No, he didn't reciprocate. She's gone. She's gone. She fell. I swear she fell. Shelley is becoming hyper aware of everything her father is doing and seeing, and she's watching around herself all the time. She started to notice that her father very quickly was getting rid of her mom's things. He said, OK, why don't you go in and pack up your mother's clothes out of her closet and her dresser. I'm going to have a homeless shelter come and pick them up. I said, what? And he said, yeah, I'm going to call. There's a shelter that'll come and pick them up. So put them all in garbage bags and you can just go put them in the garage. And my mom hadn't even been dead 24 hours. And that's when the wheels were beginning to spin much faster. Then I said he probably could never do anything. And I think part of it was to protect him. He's my dad and I don't have my mom. I have to do what I have to do. We're talking about things in a way we haven't talked about before because it really almost is a very conflicted survivors response. And here it's Shelly. And the other part of me was, I think, for my own mental health. I couldn't go there at that moment and I thought, you know what? This is just me being weird and paranoid, so I'm sure it's fine. Hearing her talk about it with UNC guy I just pictured in my mind of Shelly walking around the house pacing, thinking, how do I do this? What do I do? I don't want to lose my dad. I just lost my mom. But this isn't right. This doesn't feel good. And then a few days after that, Shelly notices something that really shakes her, that makes her even more suspicious. It was a rather nice day, so we had the windows open. I went upstairs into my dad's house. I heard my dad walking through the house and he was crying. Shelly says she really never heard her father cry and really, he never showed emotion. He was doing his, as I referred to it, as kind of fake crying. There was still never a tear. It was just the all, you know. Ohh no. Oh Rosie, she's not coming back. He walked outside and I happened to be standing at the window and as I was looking out the window with the window open, I heard whistling and I realized he was walking to the garage to get the garbage can and he was whistling the entire way and he whistled the entire way. Out to the end of the street, deposited the garbage can out there, walked back to the house and the moment he hit the door he started whimpering and crying again and came back in the house. Well, that is a huge exactly. You know what you would call it there, Scott? Big red flag, for sure. I mean, we've all seen people handle grief differently, but yeah, that was surreal to her. So she had a really big decision to make. Had no choice. I mean, it was glaringly obvious. I had no choice but to acknowledge that there's something more to this and that I needed to do something about it. She went back to the state police barracks to talk to those investigators. That while I wouldn't think my dad could do something like this, I can't rule that out. And and I apologize for what seemed like misleading them earlier in the day. And I told them about what had just happened, about all of the clothes and this and that, about the garbage, about the whistling. I said, you can do with this what you like, but there's something wrong here. And indeed, there was something wrong. And so while her mind is swirling, Shelly decided she has no choice but to help the police, even if that means sharing a secret she had buried deep down. Shelley decided that she needed to speak up, that if it was possible that he was involved and it was possible that he committed murder, she needed to let them know everything. Including this one story she never shared before. I was 21, I was working at a women's clothing store, and my father came in there one day and he asked me if I could help him buy, in his words, a negligee. And I said what for? Because my mother is certainly not going to wear that. And he said no. He said it's for my friend Rodell. She's my best friend. It's for her. She's never had one, and I just thought she would really want to feel special. You know, I have to right away say that there was such an incredible ick factor when I heard this. I think I actually just went like, uh, like the second she said it like, first of all, if you're buying that for another grown up, why are you asking your child? Especially when it's for someone that is not that child's parent? I mean, there was nothing good about this. No reason, no matter that I could think of it all, that he ever should have done it. But it definitely is strange because if you were even going to buy someone a negligee, why wouldn't he be asking his wife if it was innocent? I have a thought. Highly inappropriate, of course, but perhaps he was asking for a completely different reason because of his level of guilt he may have felt admitting the affair and Asiago without actually telling her about it, but if you're going to need to bear your soul in this weird way to your child, is it going to be putting them physically in the mindset of this? What is a physical relationship with someone other than your parent? I mean, it's a negligee he's talking about, not going away or anything else that it just struck me. As unfortunately someone that was pretty thinking of himself and not the person he's asking, this wasn't the first time that Shelly had heard about Rodell. Like you realize, Oh my gosh, all these times. My dad had introduced me to her before, so I knew who she was. I think she was ten years younger than him, working at General Electric with him. He was always trying to find reasons why he was going to go we're going to go on a hike. Well, my mom can't hike so he would take her instead. My father had talked rather inappropriately about her a number of times. He had been, you know, going out in the parking lot, getting all intimate in their car, in the parking lot, General Electric. Marvin Dennis was known to be socially awkward, set to be brilliant, set to be very well respected at work, and he was also set to be very quiet at work. So this was the kind of behavior that he would not ever expect from someone as he's been described by his coworkers and by his friends. So here I am trying to figure out what am I supposed to do and I can't go tell my mother she'll be crushed. So his daughter Shelly knew about the affair, and his coworkers may have known about the affair too. And then one day it also came to light for his wife, Rosemary. My dad had gone to a business thing in maybe Orlando, and my mom had called the hotel room one day and this woman answered the phone. So my mom confronted my dad, I guess in in her own way, which, you know, I'm sure she wasn't very forceful about it, but she also spoke to the woman and said that she would appreciate it if she would back off because my parents have been married for 25 years. My dad had asked that this woman sit at the head table with them at their 25th wedding anniversary because it was his best friend. And my mom flipped out and said absolutely not. But being an unfaithful husband doesn't mean you're a murderer. Yes, it gives investigators that opportunity and reason to now take a closer look, but that's it. It isn't getting them past there. At least not yet. But for Shelly, just imagine what life must have been like for her. The torturing of herself. I must imagined as this. Like Ping Ponged around her head nonstop. Did he? Did he couldn't. He couldn't he? This is your parents? Shelly was just a few months shy of her 23rd. Worthy and one week before Mother's Day in 1992, when she got the news her mother was gone. Her mother was her best friend and shaped her into the woman she would become. I remember sitting home the night of my birthday. So it would have been, you know, when midnight hits, my birthday is over. Mother's Day begins. And I remember sitting there next to my phone. I was just crying and my husband said to me, what are you doing? And I said, I'm waiting for my mom to call. And I said, this is the first time in my life that my mom hasn't wished me a happy birthday. I actually was saying out loud. Please call me. There's only a couple of minutes left in my day and this is my day. And. The call never came. This is just heartbreaking. You know, after my mom passed, I would call her cell phone just to get her voicemail to hear her voice so I can completely relate with what Shelly was going through here. It's a very real look at the pain and the things that bring it on. And then I began to panic, thinking what's going to happen when I forget what her voice sounds like. And I knew that someday that day is going to come, and I'm not going to remember what she sounds like. It took a while but it was so devastating to me. And I was trying to be a mom and a wife and all of these things at the same time, and I was still just a young girl myself and I didn't know what to do. Immediately following that, my marriage began to fall apart, too. And ultimately it did. So then, as time is ticking by, Jelly's dad does try to do something nice for her, and that is buying her tickets because it's going to be her birthday. It was two tickets to a show at Proctors Theater in Schenectady. That was for the next day. But then, looking closer again, under the surface it may not even have been that at all, because he very well may have bought those tickets for himself and his girlfriend, and someone just may have suggested, well, that doesn't look good right after your wife died. I realized at that point in time that my dad had something to do with this. And everything that he did from that point forward was just so guilty. I mean, one day he calls me and I answered the phone and I said, where are you? Why do I hear traffic? And he goes, they're tapping my phone. I know they're tapping my phone, and I go, where are you? And he said, I'm at the end of the street on the pay phone. And I said, why are you there? He goes because I know they're recording my line. And I said to him, if you didn't do anything. There's absolutely no reason for you to be standing outside at a darn payphone calling me, so what's your deal? And that was the first time that I ever really addressed him in that way and stopped caring about whether he was comfortable or not. I don't know where you come out on this antigo, but clearly her dad was getting paranoid. Whether it was warranted or not is still to be determined, but thinking his phones were tapped. What was he afraid of? But it's more just even the way that he sounds so paranoid about it. So based on what they have so far on a seeker, where are you when it comes to the potential of charging Marvin Dennis in this case? Nowhere even close do I think that there is reason to be investigating him. It means that I am very suspect of what happened up on that Cliff, and his behavior is leading me farther and farther down that path. But there is nothing that I could walk into a courtroom and ask any jury with a straight face up at this point at least to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt of his wife's death. So I knew that there was this investigation going on and I knew that there was a lot going on down in Delaware County. I would call the police on a regular basis. I would call the District Attorney down there who was in office at the time and would give them a call and say where we at. And at one point the District Attorney said to me, look, there's nothing I can do about this. You wouldn't believe what people are getting away with down here. I sat quietly and thought that seems to be more of a reflection on you. But I didn't want to be rude and I didn't want to alienate myself. But he refused to do anything and I said, you know. There's something wrong here and someone needs to take this seriously. Talk about what's not uncommon is the family being so frustrated with the fact that movement cannot happen within a criminal case, the fact that there's not enough evidence even though the family may believe a crime occurred. Is that the district attorney's office or the state Attorney's office is not moving forward. And certainly from the way she recounts it, it sounds like this particular prosecutor is brushing her off. And that's nothing we should ever do, even if we can't do anything. You need to handle survivors with compassion and let them know, hey, if I get the evidence, I'll be the first one to write those papers, drawing up an arrest. But we are not there yet. Let me take it one step further. Look at how the medical examiner ruled right now. It's not a homicide. Right now it's an accidental death cause. She died of drowning. So where could they go from there again you know the medical examiners they come up with their findings not just based on their physical examination, but it is based on information that they are given from the investigator. So yes, up until that point just like you said got there is nothing leading them to be able to change that determination of manner to death to homicide. Now could that come? Absolutely. Do medical examiners change those findings as they get more facts down the road? Sure it happens. It's not uncommon at all, but they're not there yet. Ultimately, they decided not to do anything. He decided he didn't have enough evidence that he was comfortable with, so I had to wait until he was out of office. So I believe that was another three years. Reminds me sort of how a cold case works, where they bring in a fresh pair of eyes and they see something that maybe the original investigators don't see, and they proceed and they get evidence. In this case, they're waiting for a fresh DA to come in, and I don't know if that always works. There's also politics involved and there are different stakes. When you now have a new elected official, they want to make their stamp on that office. And in a way, I look at it sometimes as a win win for them because they can pick up a case that hasn't crossed that. Finish line at least to get to an arrest posture before or into court and they can say, sure, I'll take a shot based on this evidence and if they win, well then they are the hero and I talk about that in the bigger sense. But if they lose, well, that's because of the work that was done before me. So it is part of, I look at it as making their mark on an office and looking at cases and taking up cases that maybe haven't gone that far before. So as the years carried on and Shelley waited for a new DA, she was faced with a difficult choice. It became a challenge for me because I had two babies. Basically, I could either remove my father from the lives of my children. And possibly ruin his life by not allowing him access to his grandchildren and then find out in 20 years that he was innocent and that I was wrong and that I should never have done that or I could continue to go on with life as usual. It just seems like an incredible inner struggle for her as I hear it. I basically hid all of my feelings. I walked around like a zombie. I acted like nothing happened. I allowed my children to still be a part of my dad's life, though he wasn't overly interested in them at that point anyway. I basically went along with, you know, just pretending that it didn't happen. I said at least if I find out in 20 years that he was guilty, at least I gave him the benefit of the doubt and provided him with the grace that I would hope that everyone should be provided with at some point. I mean, there is a certain vulnerability that goes along with making other people happy at your own peril, at your own happiness. What happened in that period of time was my dad decided that he was going to marry his girlfriend. I went to his wedding. I tried to act like everything was fine. I just tried to carry on. I think this is probably the worst kept secret. I mean, I wonder if anyone listening didn't expect to hear us say those words. Shelley's dad married the girlfriend. Oh, by the way, that was the one that he bought the negligee for. So while she's not getting anywhere with the current DA's, a new one's about to come into office. I called the new District Attorney and said, hi, you don't know me, but you will. Here's my situation. I want you to look at this. And then I also called the police. I offered to go in to my father's house because I thought he was out of town. And wear a wire and talk to his new wife. Shelly felt the police needed as much information as she could gather, even if it meant her trying to gain that information herself. Shelley devised a plan that she was going to visit her father's new wife when he was on a business trip and see if she knew anything related to the death of Shelley's mom. They were thrilled that I came to them and and said, hey, what about this? Taking it one step further, Shelley was offering to wear a wire, secretly record that conversation, and investigators were fully on board with that idea. Did her father set out to kill her mother so we can be with the other woman? And if it was true, did this woman, his new wife, know anything about it? Unfortunately, when I got to my dad's house, my dad's travel plans had changed, so he was there, which meant I really needed to just leave. I felt like I wasn't appropriate for me to speak to my dad wearing a wire. I was willing to speak to his new wife. I was not comfortable speaking to him, so I left. And again, we hadn't heard anything about if he had ever invoked his right to counsel, because if he did, then she can't even do that legally because she'd be an agent for the state because the police knew about it. But we don't need to get too in the weeds there. But it also went to me, to this struggle that she had, that she wants to know the truth, but there's only so much she's willing to do when it comes to her dad himself. And so while that wiretap attempt fell through, there was a new elected DNA, and that DNA was starting to look at a piece of evidence that had been. Overlooked for years. So there were two witnesses that saw my dad. So they had been fishing in the area and they said that my father ran by them, tripped, almost fell into them, fell on the ground, stood up, looked them in the eye, never said a word, never said he was looking for help, nothing. Then they had heard a yell or scream. They didn't know if it was an animal, what it was, but they said they kept fishing. And then about 10 minutes later they stumbled out of the woods again where my dad happened to be in the water. He was holding my mom underwater. As soon as my father realized they were there, my father flipped my mother over and asked them to call 911. Then supposedly attempted to give her CPR. So hearing the story from Shelly really almost fits the evidence. You know, the fact of the matter is that we know from the medical examiner's report that one Rosemary fell off the Cliff and landed at the bottom, she was still alive and then she actually drowned in that small pool of water. So hearing the witness testimony or what witnesses said, now it starts to really complete this puzzle, complete this picture, and it's killing. It just struck me as. You know, cruelty upon brutality and just very preplanned and methodical. So you have to then wonder, why didn't investigators go forward with the case when they first heard it and that had to do more with The Who it came from than what they heard? Unfortunately, no one gave their testimony much clout, I guess because they had both just been recently released from jail on some other charges. I clearly think this is a misstep by investigators on the scene that day when you had it there, you had somebody who made a statement, whether you believe them or not, you put that forth in evidence. And so the fact that they had criminal records, I understand that something we need to factor in, we always do. But again, why would that really mess with their credibility here? It's not like they knew Marvin, Dennis or Rosemary or any reason to lie. They were there innocently. And when you put it all together, I certainly think it's something that should have gotten. In front of a jury much sooner. Now, the new DA did take the witness testimony, in turn, eventually gave prosecutors enough evidence to charge Marvin Dennis with the murder of his wife. It was 1999, and that was seven years after her death. My dad was going to be coming back from a business trip in Georgia, and I don't think it was when he got off the plane, but I think shortly thereafter he was arrested when he got back. And So what was the charge? Second degree murder? And we didn't really speak much after that because of course, then he hires an attorney and then they find out that I wore wire into their house. And at that point in time, I became enemy number one once they got all the information that I had called and said, hey, what's up, can you take a look at this case, please? I was the ultimate enemy as far as they were all concerned. Securus, they believe Shelly would be an important witness not only because she knew the history of the marriage of her parents, but she also knew her father's behavior post the death of her mother. You know, I started to think about Shelly as a witness from a prosecutor's perspective, and she's definitely going to be challenging to me if she had been walking into my office. And here's why, because she is someone that, by her own words, is conflicted. So I would definitely be wondering, up until the minute she took the stand, would she or would she not be willing to tell that jury what she knew? I had to testify about my dad coming to talk to me, about the negligee I had to testify about the whistling and about throwing away the clothes and about having the the homeless shelter come and pick up the other clothes, and then about going to my dad's wedding and all of these things. I felt horrible for betraying him. But I've also always believed that you don't testify for a side. You go in and you tell the truth, and your truth will always lend itself more to one side than the other. Obviously, for defense counsel, you have two stories. Her first version of events that her father was the perfect parent and the version that she felt like she needed to tell investigators after his behavior at the house. But certainly anesthetic, as you know, that's a rough patch in between what the defense may raise and what prosecutors needed to prove. I would love to take that defense attorney on and start to let them say that in front of the jury. They say, wait a second. So she now suspects her father. She's just lost her mother. So here's this woman. Who loves them both and is so conflicted. So at first she wants to protect even him, so doesn't that more talk about her caring nature? But then it is on her own accord that she comes to the police when she realized she has something concrete to say. I'd be more than happy to argue her credibility to the jury, but I also think how difficult those days on the stand must have been for Shelly. The newspaper articles painted me as this horrific person, and they loved to do things like she's a single mom and she moved out when she was 16 against her father's wishes. That's not really the case. But, and I treated my father so well at his wedding, so how could I be that kind of a person if I really believed that he was guilty? And so all of these things that I thought were great character traits actually came back to bite me during his trial. It really strikes me that the case of the prosecutors walked into the courtroom with was strong. They had motive, they had the means as far as that he was up there on that bluff with her when all of a sudden she felt they had not one but two witnesses to give accounts very chilling what they saw. And then they had all his behavior afterwards, and you wrap it up with that. He married the woman he been with from the beginning, and that's a pretty strong indicator that it was time for this case to make it into court. When the jury rendered their verdict, Marvin Dennis was found guilty of second degree murder. I didn't know what to do with that information. He's still my dad, so he took away the most important person in my whole world, but he's still my dad. That did not stop Shelley from still wanting to be that protective daughter, even with the jury's verdict. The first thing I did I left work and I went home and I wrote a letter to the judge. It said while my father fell in love with a woman and became completely devoted to her. Unfortunately, it was not my mom that my father is a good man and that he will live with this for the rest of his life, and that I understood that they needed to sentence him within New York State guidelines, but that I asked that he show my father some mercy. It was a very well thought out letter and it was right from the heart and it was heartbreaking to write it. And we all make mistakes, and that's a huge one. But who am I to be his jury? And my father got sentenced to the maximum, he got sentenced to 25 to life. So there's a lot to talk about here. You know, first, even just the sentence. And for Shelly, she was very conflicted and I think was always looked at this as maybe a manslaughter. But certainly for me, as the prosecutor, I have to say that I think that the charge and the sentence was appropriate. You know, I always start at the top when it comes to murder as a sentence, and then I'll work my way down if there is any sort of mitigation. But here, this was planned. It was intentional. It was brutal and callous. You know, he pushed her head under the water until she stopped breathing. And so I think that the jury and the judge in this case made that call that there was no mitigation here. You know, I never really considered anything else except for intentional murder based on the facts you just laid out. You know, it's really interesting. And I talked with Shelly about this, but I had friends when I was growing up that unfortunately they had their father killed their mother under similar circumstances. And while I was at college at the time, I heard that during the trial, they sat on the side of the courtroom with the defense. And you wouldn't expect that. Our. I didn't expect it, but hearing Shelly talk about it, I said to her that she was really giving me food. Or thought about, you know, here it is when you've lost so much and you've lost one parent, and while you're confident that it's the other parent who has caused that death, that just emotionally they still are somehow bonded to that other parent. It's important for me to stand up for what I believe and if you're doing what you feel is right. Sometimes some of that loyalty that we have, that blind faith that we have in our family members, isn't even a thing for me. It makes me realize that I can choose to be the person that I want to be and that at the end of the day, I have to be able to live with myself. I have to be honest with my feelings and I'm not afraid to do the hard work. So there were so many things that I had to go through 20 years it took me to try to get myself together. And I think back to when Shelley was a kid, when she would draft her dream home. My house always had so many bedrooms. I don't even know who I thought was going to live in this house. And there was always an inside swimming pool, which as I became an adult, I realized that that's a silly idea. And while she never had that dream home, both physically or metaphorically, while growing up, she did ultimately come out on the other side for the better. Have been blessed enough to have lived in many different places and even few years ago to buy an old 110 year old house. The house that I'm in right now is the first time I've ever had a house with a pool and it is outside. So and boy would I love to share this with my mom. She would be so proud. There was also something else Shelly said during the interview with Aniceta that I found so fitting and has stayed with me for days. It sounds hokey, but it's it has made me, the person that I am today, good or bad, it's me. It's made me that person. And I can tell you that there's not anything out there in this world that I cannot survive. There's not anything in the world out there that I cannot survive. And that is Shelley's take away, that Shelley's strength is Shelley's resilience. So it clearly fractured her. Also served to make Shelly stronger, and she wasn't alone in that victory. And my brother is such an incredible person who's a go getter, and he's tenacious. He should have been, by all counts, a statistic. You know, that kid was basically all but an orphan by 11 or 12 years old and had to figure out how to go through life without any help from his parents. My brother stopped it where it lay. And he is crushing it. His family is amazing for it and his children will be so wonderful. They're already wonderful. They're so well adjusted, better adjusted than I am. So they're great people. I think about the way that Shelly describes her mom's hunger to be loved during the years with her father. All she wanted was to, as she said, loved to be loved. When I heard that portion of the interview, it reminded me of one of my all time favorite Peter Gabriel songs, and if you're not aware of it, it's fittingly called love to be loved. I went back to listen to it recently and it gave me a whole new perspective to the meaning of that song and perhaps the incredible struggle Rosemary was having. You know, it's not a coincidence that this episode will first air coming up on Mother's Day, and I really look at this story as a very beautiful, raw ode to Rosemary. And I think about Shelly waiting for the phone to ring, for her mom to call. That call that never came. And so with that, I asked Shelly towards the end of the interview if her mom was able to pick up the phone. What would Shelley say? I think. I would say. Thank you. For doing the best that she could do. With almost nothing to work with, I would tell her that I see her, that she was an amazing mother. I wish she had the opportunity to be an amazing grandmother, because even this many years later, it's been 30 years. And I miss my mom so much. And I just feel like. I want her to know that while she was here she did an amazing job. She gave me some really great tools to work with and. And thank you. Thank you. TuneIn next week for another new episode of Anatomy of Murder. Anatomy of Murder is an audio Chuck original produced and created by Weinberger Media and Forseti Media. Ashley Flowers and Summit David are executive producers. So what do you think, Chuck, do you approve?