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.
Wed, 24 Feb 2021 08:00
This is Part 2. You will want to listen to Part 1 first! Boat shows, a missing woman and red flags everywhere you look. Did she leave her husband and head to the Caribbean to be with another man? Or … she’s gone, and the truth is something much worse?
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've been a cop for a long time, like 33 years, and lots changed during that time. The technology to forensics, it dances. They've helped solve a lot of cases with law enforcement. But you know, it still comes down to good people doing the right thing, good teamwork, and of course in police work, always a little bit of luck. I'm Scott Weinberger, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Quasi former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's true conviction, and this is anatomy of murder. Let's start today by going back to where we ended. Last week we were talking about Cindy Vanderbeek. She was a 47 year old woman who disappeared. She and her husband traveled the boat show circuit. Her last known whereabouts were in Maine when the couple left their traveling boat roadshow and they were headed down to Maryland to attend a christening. Her long-awaited nephew had been born but now Cindy didn't show. But Steve did and it didn't take long before the family suspected foul play. And it didn't take long for detectives to think Steve. Was their main suspect. Police 101, you kind of let's retrace their steps. Detective Nichols was assigned this case because no one else would take it. They didn't know she disappeared from Maine or Maryland or Florida or somewhere in between, or if she just voluntarily left on her own. And this detective started what was years. At this point he literally was using bags of garbage to go through receipts to come up with a timeline out of all these years of receipts of tracing their steps. I'm hoping somewhere in here and I might be able to find some kind of trail for or a clue. For where Cindy might be, but now we have receipts that put him at a hotel checking in with his wife together. On March 22nd I received showing two people in Hunter Mountain, New York, and then on the 24th checking in at another hotel in West Virginia. But by himself it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that somewhere between Hunter Mountain, New York and Clarksburg, WV. In pretty good chance. That's where Cindy disappeared. And by the end of it all, Detective Nichols was sure of one thing. He felt he knew what happened. He just needed to know where it happened. He needed to find Cindy's body. He was two words, committed and determined, drawing a knack. Looking at it, it looks like they were going down I-81. So he's going South from New York. He passes through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and he ends up in West Virginia. So he has to figure out that, well, if Steve did kill her somewhere between New York and West Virginia, where could her body be? We're talking about a distance of over 500 miles. I mean, just what are the odds of finding a body? In the search area like that, I mean talk about needle in the haystack. That is really a huge swath of land in an area that's rural, mountainous and unless you have a sighting you're never going to be able to cover that much land. So what I did was I started reaching out to the state police, I started in New York, I went to Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia and I started looking for Jane does that were missing, you know, 47 year old white females. They might have been found in that area that they just don't know who it is. I want to back up a little bit from the time I found this and I'm I'm realizing Steve is not giving us a truthful with the story. You know times going by and we're talking about not weeks months we're talking about years would go by as frustrating as this is, 1995 starts to roll in the different years and time goes on and time goes on the case. Comes cold. We were kind of at our wits end. This happens in law enforcement, especially missing persons cases. And here is the detective who was responsible for not only this case, but he was carrying a tremendous caseload. Rear moved. I moved to Major Crimes. I moved to some different repeat offender sections. And as I moved, I kept the case. I I asked special permission to keep it because, you know, I I've seen cases like this. It's when it's a cold case, it'll go into a file cabinet, it'll go under the open section, and it's just going to remain there. Even if I left, a new detective probably would not be assigned to it. So I kept the case with me and, you know, every couple months throughout the years. I would sit down. I would do some computer searches and figure out what's going on again, without a body, without a jurisdiction. Even though I got him in lies, it doesn't mean that he killed her. Within that seven-year period without any leads. A break in the case. All of that patience is rewarded when he receives a call that he's been waiting for. Well, the interesting thing, when I talked to the Hunter Mountain Law enforcement agency up there, they were telling me about they had just found a few weeks prior to this, behind the resort in the woods, they found a skull of a white female. Scott, as an investigator getting that news yourself, talk to me about the hopefulness that you would have felt had that in your case. There's two aspects of that that would excite me as a break in the case would be obviously remains or portion of remains found. And the second thing is we're seven years later and we've advanced seven years in science and so we have an opportunity here to do DNA. So I went and got a DNA swab. For sydneys from her mom, we took a buccal swab where it's just basically swabbing a like a cotton Q-tip inside her mouth to get her DNA. I packaged it up. I sent it up to the New York authorities. What he did not do is tell the family why, because you don't want to give false hope to a family that there's a break when you really can't put your thumb on it. That there is. And I love that his empathy made sure that he went about it that way, and while many law enforcement. Officers would not all, but for him it was so clear that his hopes were riding high on this, but just in case, he didn't want the family to know until he knew one way or the other. I think what I told them was I want to get this swab, I can get it into the computer and maybe if somebody finds something in the future we can have the DNA in addition to a good idea to have it. Because something happens to Cindy's mom. She's the best source for a DNA comparison. So having that on file would be something we want to do. And DNA really had come a long way when Cindy disappeared. It was 1995. I mean, it was really in its infancy at best. You know, if there is a place to get DNA from in remains, it's the skull. Because the most effective way to extract DNA from bone is from teeth. If you're able to extract teeth from the skull and determine that, you know, no cavities were there, no, no other things, no other signs were there, then that bone is so dense and it's continues to be dense. That it's protected from the effects of decomposition. After he obtained that sample from Cindy's mom, Detective Nichols waited. Now, while you may not be surprised to hear, he didn't wait idly, he was doing other work on the case, and lo and behold, he found another girlfriend of Steves, but now one that he had had post Cindy's disappearance. I interviewed this friend of his. He knew all about Cindy missing only from what Steve told him. He told me about a girlfriend that Steve had up there in New York. Their relationship ended not great, and they've left. So based on that, I wanted to go talk to the girlfriend. I figured pillow talk type of situations might be getting a lot of information that would be useful to the investigation, and Detective Nichols was pretty excited about the fact. That this ex-girlfriend had a story to tell. She tells me that they met at a bar, had a relationship. They talked about the future. Steve was more into the relationship than she was. He was making all these plans, and she was like, I don't know what this guy's future is. So she was a little leery of Steve. But she tells me that relationship ended because it got violent one night. They were in a room in the house and Steve got angry with her and he said that she was thrown up against the wall. He put his hands around her throat and and like he was choking her and squeezing her throat and he said something to reference. And I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was something to the reference of I've done this before and I'll do it again. You're not leaving me? And he was really upset with her. Detective Nichols. He believed her. She wasn't just a jilted girlfriend who was telling him a story. Now post breakup, and now he's about to get the DNA results. When he gets those results, the case is going to take another unexpected turn. The skull that they have. It wasn't Cindy. I sent it up to New York and it took a little while, but we were able to show that it was not a match. And the New York authorities eliminated Cindy as being the skull that they have. So now you had Detective Nichols, High hopes, giving him another low. Not only has it been years, but this detective, he's planning to retire, and this is a case that he very much wanted to close before he planned to do that just the very next year in 2003. But then this detective. An idea. I put together a plan. I ended up getting a phone number for Steve. Steve has now moved in, is living in New Jersey. He's working as a handyman. And I spoke to Steve and said, Steve, you know, look, I came to Washington County, New York, to talk to you. I need to get some information from you. It's been years now that Cindy's been missing, and I'm going to need to close out the case. I can't solve it, so I need you to come down here & a waiver allowing me to remove. Mindy, from being a missing person and not allowing Montgomery County to continue looking for her. And he's like very low key. Calls me Bob. He's like, yeah, Bob, no problem. You know, I'm, I'm in New Jersey, so he did not want me to come New Jersey. He was not about that at all. So we negotiate. We go back and forth and he tells me that he'll, he'll take a bus and come down to Maryland & the paper. Detective Nichols believed that the reason why Steve agreed to come back to Maryland. Is that Steve's family was established in that area in Washington County and he didn't want all the attention of being pulled into a local police station. It's a small community and the world would probably get out that he's being questioned in some kind of missing persons, case said. OK, great, so I actually go to the bus stop to pick him up and he's not there. When people don't want to speak to police and they agree to, they often don't show. He fails to show up on two or three different trips. I had communicated with friends and family in New Jersey, and I was like, look, Steve, I'll come up and you're not coming down here, so I'm coming up to see you. So he's like, no, I'll take the bus. I'll come down. So he comes down, and this is probably maybe eight years after Cindy went missing, and now Detective Nichols had him exactly where he wanted in his own conference room on his terms that he could really talk to him. We sat down with Steve. I had pictures of Cindy. All up over the wall. I had, like, you know, very was trying to get to him and hit him emotionally. And then Sega, I know you know, stories where a detective may lay out pictures of a crime scene and show it to a defendant, hoping for some signals or something to give a level of emotion. But in this case, we had nobody we didn't know where Cindy was, so he was counting. Detective Nichols was on using these photographs to get some indication of where we are. So he arrives in Montgomery County at the bus stop. I go down, pick him up, bring him back to the police station. Steve looks like he's been beat up over the years. He's got a full grown, really, really long beard. He's got a really long ponytail. This is not the guy that I met in 1995. This is not the guy that Cindy Mary. I confront him with the first opportunity that I have to say. Steve, you know, you lied. You told us you went down. 95 When you actually went S on 81, the things you told us were not true. So he wasn't happy with that. He, you know, felt that he was coming in to sign a piece of paper to release us from the investigation. And here we are going through the entire case again. And he's like, Nope, that's, you know, I don't really have an answer for that. I wrote around. I can only tell you the truth. It is what it is. Those were other trips. And he he just downplays everything. So we went at it for. Hours. I threw everything I had at him. We tried every tactic there was and he just was not coming off of it. And at the end of it, Steve looks at me and says, well, Bob, I guess if you ever find Cindy, then you're going to want to have this conversation with me again. But until you find her, I'm leaving. What an incredible statement to make. But what did he have? What did Detective Nichols have, except for that conversation? Circumstantial. Not even at best. How would you handle that? On the one hand, I say, well, he didn't have a body, but on the other, as prosecutors and law enforcement, we know that we can try these cases without a body. But here, that hurdle that he just couldn't get over is that when we tried the case without the body for murder is that we know where it happened, either where they disappeared from or something. And here you didn't have that. And that was the thing that was just so incredibly frustrating. And Detective Nichols, until he found that if he was going to ever find that, he could get nowhere with this investigation. So it was a hard day. It was an emotional hard day because when he said, I guess if you find her one day, you're going to want to have this conversation, and that struck a real nerve with me. I was so determined. Cindy's family knew that Steve was coming down and we were going to get this big shot at trying to really finally get some answers and they were frustrated. We had many occasions to talk and we would have. Long discussions. And we would talk about this case and where it's going, and, you know, we might get a break here. But throughout any policeman's career, when you've done interviews, you know, you've talked to somebody who's guilty of a crime, but you can't prove it and you've got to let him go. Grudgingly, I had to put him in my car driving down the Greyhound station, and I had to put him on a bus, and he went back to New Jersey. Even though he was thinking about retirement, even if he put his papers in, this will be a case he would follow, constantly checking updates not only with the agency, but he'd be searching online to see if there's any updates or any bodies found, or Jane Doe's or anything. Because ultimately for him, with so many years invested in the disappearance of Cindy, he would not rest until she's found. At some point we're going to find her and we're going to have this conversation again. To Nichols thought he was going to retire in 2003, but ultimately he didn't. It's now pretty much about 10 years into the case. And the one thing that has changed? Nothing in the case, but the Internet is evolving at lightning speed, so now it's not just phone calls and following receipts. He's able to do searches and use the various databases and reach out to various organizations to see if they have any missing people that might miss Cindy. Then he lands with an organization called. Don't network now. That was formed in the early 2000s and it's a volunteer run website and it carries information about unidentified bodies that have been found, people that have been reported missing. Obviously, Cindy reported missing as a missing person, so I contacted them and they entered her in as a missing person in the dough network website to tech. Nichols gets a phone call from a volunteer at the DOE network and he says, you know what we had? Body and he gave them the location where the body was found. We found that there was a possible match in Pennsylvania and it was a white female in her late teens to early 30s. It was found on a mountaintop in Fulton County. Now if you drew a map between Hunter Mountain, New York and the Clarksburg, WV at those two hotels, Fulton County is right in the middle of it. But The thing is, this is a white female, late teens to early 30s. Cindy, 47. We're talking over a 20 to 30 year age difference between this Jane Doe that they have found and when the DOE network volunteer told him the actual date of the discovery of these remains everything changed. Remains had been found in Pennsylvania and the circumstances of what they found, well, there was a state trooper in Pennsylvania who was going on his morning jog, and he had his German shepherd out for a walk, and his dog just kept hitting on something and he called his dog off and they went for the run. But then when he came back after his run was finished, the dog went right back to the pile he'd been sniffing around up before. So the state trooper, he walked up and he took a look in the wood line. He could see his dogs over there messing with something. He goes over and looks. And he can see what looks like a grave. It's been on earth by animals, and he can see part of some human remains protruding from the grave site. It was a mangled corpse that had been there for a while, that animals had had their way, with no identifiers on this body except a ragged shirt. It was clear that there was some sticks and other brush put over this body, as if it had been placed into the ground like a makeshift grave. That state trooper called it in. The remains were taken up and went right to the medical examiner, and they were able to determine a couple of important factors. They believe she was strangled, but they didn't have all the bones to be able to exactly identify. That was called the death. This is somebody who died from their throat being crushed or strangled. And the body had been there for several months. But we're always looking at two things. We're looking at cause of death and manner of death, I have to prove both in the courtroom and so, but there weren't enough bones to prove that she was strangled. You know, asphyxiation was what was suspected, obviously. There was enough that they saw. That that, together with everything else they found about that body and way it was that they were able to come up with the manner of death. When somebody's buried and they're covered up with tree branches, somebody's concealing a body, that's pretty consistent with somebody being killed and somebody disposing of a body, they classified it as a homicide. Now, what the interesting thing is Pennsylvania State Police, when they found the body, they found it in 1995, two months after Cindy disappeared. Pennsylvania State Police. Found this Jane doe. The Pennsylvania State Police, they had an excellent clay reconstruction done. So they took this Jane Doe, late teens, early 30s and they tried to recreate what she would have looked like. So going through the DOE network, it just jumps right out as just says, wow, that looks like Cindy. When you read the description that Pennsylvania put in, they said she had a shirt on and the shirt was a hook and tackle. Well, hook and tackle. Sydney Vivona boat show, so. All of these things lined up perfect, that this could be Cindy, except the age. I remember picking up the phone and I wanted somebody else's opinion that knew Cindy, Cindy's sister. I said, hey, look, she was at work. I said go into your office and close the door. So I give her a website for the DOE network. She pulls up the doll network. And I said, look, I just want you to take a look at something. Tell me what your opinion of what you see. So she's pulling up the website, pulls it up. And when she sees what I see, she screams out, Oh my God, we found her. That Cindy. And I'm like, OK, maybe, but we're not quite there. But I think that is really, really good possibility that that could be Cindy. So you might be saying to yourself, wait a second. If this body is discovered in 1995 and detectives in Pennsylvania are looking for all those years to search for the identity of that person at the very same time that Detective Nichols is searching for the body of Cindy Vanderbeek, why did it take so long to make the connection? Everything lined up except for her age. So how did this happen? But really she was found two months after she was killed, but we never identified her because unfortunately the medical examiner was way off on the age of the estimate for her and this really is the fascinating albeit flaw. The remains that were found were described as a young woman in her teens or early 20s. Remember Cindy Vanderbeek was a 47 years old so no matter which way you put in. Information on your remains or Cindy Vanderbeek. That match was never coming up. You were never getting that Ding Ding Ding because the age it wasn't off by a couple of years. I think they would account for maybe plus or minus seven years or a few. This was, I mean, decades we're talking about. So while everything else lined up, the age was so off that the computer never made that connection. Investigators never put two and two together until the DOE network figured it out now 10 years later. And ten years later, Detective Nichols wanted to go back to that DNA sample that Cindy's mom gave to them. Now she had passed away, but her DNA remained, and that was going to be the key to determine, is this find 10 years later connected, and is this Cindy Vanderbeek? We made arrangements to have the DNA from Cindy's mom sent over from New York, where we tried this up at Hunter Mountain. To Pennsylvania to do a comparison and within two days, I think it was troopers Roger Smith and Bill Baker came all the way down from Pennsylvania to Montgomery County, Maryland because they wanted to go through Steve's file. Even though Detective Nichols has been working in this case every single day, the bodies found in Pennsylvania and that is an absolutely different jurisdiction. They felt confident like I did and I basically had a 10 year. Investigation of circumstantial evidence to say Cindy's deceased. Steve did it. We needed jurisdiction. Now, Pennsylvania State Police says where did jurisdiction? We got Cindy's body and we will prosecute if we can prove Steve did it. It's really critical that Detective Nichols and the Pennsylvania State Police put their heads together. The troopers want to know all about Steve, and Detective Nichols wants to know all about the DNA. And is there a match? Took a couple days but we got a DNA match and it was Cindy Vanderbeek. I'm telling you what? After 10 years, that was probably the most exciting thing that ever happened in my police career. He found Cindy Vanderbeek, so now he has to tell her family. And the call Cindy's sister, and to talk to her and explain to her what we had 100% now confirmed was like the best phone call I've ever made in my life. There was relief because now they had found Cindy. Now they had an answer. Now they could lay her body or her remains to rest, but they also had to face that difficult reality. But their hearts of hearts had told them for so long that she was gone. Having to admit that maybe she wasn't in the Caribbean, maybe she wasn't living with some guy and, you know, having a great time down in the Caribbean, so they had to face reality that she was actually now deceased. So that was very, very difficult. But now there was also an investigation that had to go on full steam ahead. And now we've got these two jurisdictions working together and that produces an arrest warrant. The next move is where Esteve he doesn't pay taxes, he doesn't do things like normal people do, so he's is under the radar. And as it turns out, he's not that easy to find. I was able to keep track of Steve. I knew the condo complexity lived at. I didn't know the exact location, but I knew generally where he was at. So while Detective Nichols knew that Steve was in Ridgewood, NJ, it didn't have a home address, but he did have information on a place that he dined often. They knew exactly where in Ridgewood that he hung out. He hung out at a specific little pizza bar. So, with an arrest warrant in hand, Detective Nichols reaches out to the. Best Marshall service to make the arrest and I could tell you from personal experience, the US Marshall Service is the best in the business. This is all these guys do is look for fugitives and the restaurants are perfect place. And here's why you get the defendant pulling up in his car. When he gets out, you can surround the car. It's a tactical takedown, which puts limited amount of the public at risk. You wouldn't walk into a restaurant and take someone down at gunpoint because too many bad things could happen. I got a call on my cell phone from one of the Marshalls and he says, hey, look, I'm sitting in the parking lot where you say that Steve frequents this pizza bar and, you know, can you give me a little bit more information why you think that this is an important place to look? So I explained that, you know, I talked to people and they said that he goes in there most evenings for like happy hour, and that's one of the places he goes. So he sets up the surveillance there. After a little while, he goes inside to talk to the owner of the restaurant. And why they're talking. Lo and behold, here comes Steve rolling in and some beat up old station wagon that he's arrested. Like within an hour of the phone call, he's in custody. Is so right on the money. At almost every turn, he was able to tell the Marshalls exactly where he expected him to be. And now this time, though, since it was now a Pennsylvania case, it was Pennsylvania State troopers that rushed to go place Steve under arrest. They put him in an interview room and sat down to talk to him. So they had the ability to watch my prior interviews that were recorded with Steve. They knew how he was. They knew how he was going to act. They knew what his story was going to be. They had all that in their arsenal when they now sat down. And every good investigator will tell you, and I'm sure, Scott, that you agree with this and have done the same yourself. The more information you have, the better, the better a chance to get something fruitful out of that conversation. And that's exactly what happened here. As good news as this is Anna Seega, it's a difficult. Respect for Detective Nichols not having an opportunity to be in that room and it's is a very good reason for it. I mean, Pennsylvania State troopers wanted an opportunity for a fresh interview with Steve and putting Detective Nichols in the room would change the dynamic. When they sat down with Steve, they basically hit him with the facts of, hey, look, we don't want to hear all the BS that you've been telling Nichols all these years. We know that none of that's true. And the most important thing you told Nichols in the last time you spoke to him was you said, I guess when we ever find where Cindy is, that we're going to want to have that conversation. So he pulls out a picture of Cindy's remains up there in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, and says we found her, we know she. Was killed and we know you did it. He put his head down and he started to cry. So they knew they had him. And when they confronted him with it, basically the only thing he would acknowledge was Steve would say, well, we got off the Interstate, we were going to go have some lunch. We got in a disagreement. She attacked me. He says in self-defense. She was hitting me. I put my hands up. I don't know what happened. I realized that my hands. Around her throat and next thing I know I blacked out. She filled in the ground and she wasn't breathing, so he goes. I panicked and I buried her and I left. I don't know how to Sega. This is not an admission of murder. This sounds more like self preservation, but I love it. As a prosecutor, I don't care what someone says, as long as I have a statement in hand, it's usually usable. And this one was no exception because it's all about accountability, right? So when someone makes a statement like that is that they're going to take the information that they believe investigators have or they know they can't get away from and try to mitigate it. Lesson it was a statement that I told juries. Over and over again was this phrase I used to use. Admit what you have to and deny what you can. He knew they found the body. He knew it was going to link to only him. But yet he knows where he killed her. He knows there was no one there. So he comes up with this ridiculous story, but I've heard it before more than 1/2, three times in my own cases about the blacking out when they commit the actual act to try to somehow mitigate their conduct. But it comes down to common sense. And the important thing was that he made the admission what they needed. That it was him. I mean, we're talking a difference. Between intentional homicide, which is a first degree homicide charge, or third degree homicide charge, making it like a self-defense thing. So clearly he was thinking in his mind that this was going to end up in a courtroom and he'd have to attempt to see the light of day at some point. I say to myself, that sounds like what happened with his girlfriend up in New York. He tried to choke her and now he choked this girl. First he admits that he put his hands around her throat. He choked her. The medical examiner shows that there was evidence that she was choked, but they can't conclusively bring that together. But like I said, the circumstances of her being recovered, clearly somebody was trying to hide her body, which shows a homicide. Well, based on the investigation, based on the story. Hey, it's good enough to show that, you know, Steve is responsible for her death. So, Anna Seeger, clearly we have a fantastic circumstantial case, receipts, evidence, interviews, and we have some sort of admission, a great case to take to court. You have a great case. You have all the circumstances. You have her body, you have him admitting it's him. I mean, that is, I would call a confession, albeit a kind of false one because there are parts of it that are clearly untrue. But I'd love to go into court and say we know that this doesn't make sense. And by the way. People don't normally black out for no reason. It's a common defense used by defendants that is rarely successful because the science just doesn't support it. So, sure, let him say that if we're to go into a courtroom, but not only do I think it, but prosecutors in Pennsylvania thought it too, because at that point they charged him with first degree murder, third degree murder and aggravated assault. Is placed in jail and tried in Fulton County, New York, by the District Attorney Dwight Harvey. He had a very difficult case. If we can say, hey, Steve was thinking, she's not going to divorce me, I'm going to show her. I'm going to take her up on a mountain, I'm going to get off the Interstate, I'm going to go up there, I'm going to kill her, I'm going to bury her and nobody will ever hear from her again. That's premeditation. That's first degree, and she was charged with that. But how do we prove that? In the end, there was a meeting. Would this actually go to trial? Would a plea come in as an option? And that became the topic of discussion between the family and the DA's office. The prosecutor met with the state police, met with myself, met with the family. We went over the trying issues of this case and we tried to figure out how do we proceed. And it's a conversation we have in so many of our cases, because there's no such thing as an such a strong case that you don't have to worry. Every case you have to worry. Will the jury see it our way, see the evidence? It just takes 1 to come back with an acquittal. There are potential appeals even if he's convicted. So all this goes into the thinking. Not to mention, you know, the things that were alluded to, Scott, you know, when you talk about his statement, what if they buy into it? What if they decide to compromise and come back not with the first degree but with third degree? What are we putting the family through to take them to trial? It's a very traumatic experience for families to sit through. These are all the things that had to be considered in this case. And they decided that the best thing for all, in light of the circumstances of this case, was to offer him a plea. Now the family understanding there was a great risk in addition to the risk, it was going to be traumatic for the family to have to sit there and hear everything that happened of a lengthy murder trial. So it was decided that in the best interest of the family that he would accept the plea offer and we wouldn't go along with it. Justice is justice for many. And justice is justice to the family, to the investigators, and most importantly to the victim. Ended up agreeing to plead guilty to a third degree homicide. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and he served every day of the 15 years. I think about this case, I really think about it as the story of two people. Obviously it's the story of Cindy Vanderbeek and what happened to her, but it's also very much the story of Detective Bob Nichols. His compassion for Cindy and her family and his desire to get justice is everything embodied in what every victim wants on their own case. It's what drove him on what would become a 10 year quest that he didn't give up on until he made it to the end of the road. I've been a cop for a long time, like 33 years and lots. Change during that time, the technology to forensic advances. They've helped solve a lot of cases with law enforcement, but you know, it still comes down to good people doing the right thing, good teamwork, and of course in police work, always a little bit of luck. So looking back to the interview case, it was a little bit of all of that in this case got closed. Going to hard work with the state police in Pennsylvania, the Marshall's office, Montgomery County and all those agencies between Portland, ME, through Washington County, New York, down all the way to Davie, FL. Of West Virginia. But most importantly, I gotta stress this case was closed because of volunteers at the Dome network. They were the ones that put the genius together and created a website, and they got volunteers all over the country that did these entries and did these searches and were able to identify a missing person. So we're very fortunate. You know, we talked about jurisdiction in the beginning and it comes back at the end. Maine didn't want it. Pennsylvania couldn't take it, New York couldn't take it, Marilyn couldn't take it. And he said someone's got to take it and it's going to be me. And in the end, he brought two things together and solved 2 investigations and ultimately they were one in the same. He gave the Jane Doe in Pennsylvania back her name and at the same time gave the missing person, Cindy Vanderbeek, one and the same back to her family. Cindy's family had relocated to Florida and I was still in Maryland. And they told me that they were going to have a viewing a family service. And based on that, they invited me to come down to Florida and be part of the family service and take part in it. And I actually spoke at the service and what this story talks to me about is the potential of other cases being solved. It's all of you being able to connect to places like the DOE network. If you've got information or if you're missing somebody or you're involved in an investigation or it's a family member, these are great resources to be connected to. And if this story says anything, it says opportunity and persistence, and I am so glad we had an opportunity to tell it to you. TuneIn next Wednesday, when we'll dissect another new case on anatomy of murder. Anatomy of Murder is an audio Chuck original, A Weinberger media and forseti media production summit. David is executive producer.