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.

The 50-Year Investigation (Maureen Brubaker-Farley)

The 50-Year Investigation (Maureen Brubaker-Farley)

Tue, 29 Mar 2022 07:00

A 17-year-old’s dead body is found posed near a ravine. It took 50 years, a relentless detective and a family member-turned-deputy to unravel who killed her.

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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 saw what it did to my family. Yeah, just tore it apart. Gosh, it just shredded us. And when I see someone on TV, you know, and they say it's been four years and we have no answer. You know, part of me is like, well, wait 50 and then come and see me. I'm Scott Weinberger's, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Kelasi former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of investigation discoveries true conviction and this is anatomy of murder. When I would speak to the many families of homicide that I dealt with over the years as a prosecutor, we'd often have the conversation about how slowly things worked in our system, or while they waited for those answers that they needed. And I would remind them of this phrase that the wheels of justice turn slowly. And with that I would say, but remember, we only get one shot at this, so we really need to make sure that we get it right. Well, today's case takes that sentiment to a whole nother level, like a different stratosphere. If you picture it from the earth to the moon, there are many challenges in a homicide investigation. And perhaps the most frustrating is if a case completely stalls, sometimes for decades, and today's case would span 5 decades. 50 years. For our story, I spoke with the Brubaker family, who are from Sioux City, IA. First we have the matriarch, Marianne. I moved to Sioux City when I was 18. Then I met my husband dancing one night and when six weeks later, we got married. So this was a completely different time. It's early in the 1950s and it was not uncommon for someone to immediately just fall in love and start a family. And then the next year Marine was born and then we had six kids after that and just Bing, Bing, Bing and raised them all in Sioux City and the same house. Her first child, her oldest, was Maureen. She was born on the 4th of July, Little Firecracker and the Wild Child she really was. Maureen was the type of child then teenager that liked to be with her friends, and she would go out with them all the time, whether she had permission or not. In fact, once her parents went to bed, which was usually around 9:00 o'clock at night, Maureen was known to remove the screen from her bedroom window and take off. She had a fake ID when she was like 12 and 13 and going out to Reynolds bar and where you could drink if he was 18 and over, but she got away with it. Since Maureen was the oldest, she often had a lot of caretaking assigned to her, and one of those things was the default babysitter of the family. She would babysit them if I and David went out dancing, and then if they were good kids, they'd each get $0.10 they'd get a dime. These are some things you can buy for a dime back then. A half a loaf of bread, a comic book, a cup of coffee, a bottle of coke, a pound of cabbage, 2 boxes of cake mix, and extra large bag of popcorn. A pack of candy cigarettes. I remember, though so well I've been a little past the days of the dime talking about that pack of candy. Cigarettes reminds me I would love those things because all this sugar would pop out and it would just look like a puff of smoke. Now I know smoking is bad for us and we even knew it back then, which is why it was always this kind of guilty pleasure when you were allowed to get a pack of those candy cigarettes. So for these kids it must have been something very similar. On Saturday mornings we would take the city bus and go downtown and spend all morning and at the dime stores we would go down and go shopping at Woolworths. For today's story, besides talking to Maureen's mom, we spoke with one of her younger sisters, Lisa. On Saturdays, we would always go to the bar with the parents, because you could go to the bars with your parents. We would dance and we would drink, you know, 7UP, and we would think that we were just big time, and then we would walk home and think nothing of it. Now, I guess if you did that with your kid. Oh my gosh. Maureen was 13 years older than Lisa, and even Elisa doesn't have a lot of memories, and Maureen, the ones that she have, were so fresh and strong. In her mind, you could tell that she just thought her sister was cool and she was fun. She was fashionable, she liked the clothing, and her older sister would kind of tote her sister around with her. She would take me with her everywhere, all the time over the Farleys just play with all them kids that always seemed to, both in her speech and then when we looked at some of the pictures we were provided. Make her younger sister Lisa smile. Yeah, I'm looking at one of those photos. Antigua and Lisa and Marina together, standing in front of a car. You know, this is back in 1971 and this would be one of the last pictures ever taken of the two. It's a memory that she has always cherished. I remember how it was cold out that morning and taking our picture. That was the one in front of her car and I had them red boots. I can picture how it was wet out and kind of cold. In the photographs, one of the things that's also clear is Maureen's stature. She's relatively small in size. She was about maybe 5 feet tall and, you know, maybe 100 pounds of what. One of the best memories you know that I had was right at Christmas time and I still remember her old blue car and and David was driving and I was sitting on Marines lap because you know again back in them days you could on her radio, then they were singing silver bells and so she was teaching me to sing silver bells. Every time that that song came on the radio around Christmas time I go right back to being in her car and sitting on her lap and her teaching me to sing silver bells. When Maureen was just 15 years old, she came to her parents with big news about the boy she had been dating in the neighborhood. His name was David Farley. They wanted to get married when they were 15 and we said no. You know, hearing it, I wasn't that shocked, even though it is extremely young. I mean, this was a young girl who wanted to experience life as quickly as she could. She was getting out of her house as fast as she could and and for her and that time that also meant to take that next step and get married. He was nice, but he was always drinking and doing drugs, just like all the kids around us that were drinking and doing drugs at the time. David and Maureen decided to elope and you know, that sounds exciting for a couple to do, but as a parent that's pretty frightening. Well, in them days we just didn't do anything about it because she had asked us and we said no, and they went here and got married anyway, and then they took off and moved out to California. He was a boxer and she got a job. Even though they did move to California, David and Maureen moved back to Sioux City. Within three or four months, but not too long after that, Maureen went to her family with some unfortunate news. Her husband, David, had gotten into trouble. So he ended up going to Animosa prison. That was nearly a 5 hour drive, and again, this is the 70s, and for someone to be able to do a trip like that alone, things would have to change. Maureen would move to Cedar Rapids, which was closer to David's prison. It was only 1/2 hour away drive for her. Then she also got a job as a waitress at a restaurant named Widas. Saw Marine moved down there so she could go and visit him every Sunday and that was the only reason she moved to Cedar Rapids. I really just kept thinking about how young she was. Here is this teenager who is really by herself at a very young age, and even though she was hours away from her family, she always sent photos back to them telling him how much she missed them and that she would see them soon. And in the 70s. Long distance calls were pretty expensive, but she did call every opportunity she had, but then the photos and the phone calls stopped. On Friday, September 17th, 1971, Maureen borrowed money for a pack of cigarettes that day. Friday was also payday, but Maureen never showed up at that restaurant. She worked at Wedas to pick up her paycheck. They said her paycheck was ready that Friday night. She never came and got her paycheck. They knew she needed money. And that's moved to Monday, September 20th. Maureen was supposed to be at work by 10:30 that day. She didn't show up. It was very unlike her not to just skip work or even call in sick. Add the fact that she didn't visit her husband the day before. The combination of all of these factors made a time for Mary Ann to reach out to police by family accounts. They didn't take it all that seriously, but at that time they didn't worry about it because they said there were so many girls and women were just running away. From their perspective, this was a 17 year old who had gone across state lines more than once already. To date, we've covered many stories here on AO that relate to the way people are reported missing and how police respond to those types of calls. And while each agency is different, we've heard from families who have felt initial officers on scene didn't take them serious enough. In some of those cases, we did not disagree, and in a moment you'll hear how Marianne feels the very same way. It was just horrible, just horrible because I called him a couple times and I just felt someone killed her and threw her in that river and they wouldn't find her and I said I know something happened to Marine. She didn't come home and she wouldn't just disappear. I know something happened to her. Let's give the issue some context. According to the FBI, in 2020, 540,000 people in the US were reported missing to local law enforcement, and only a small percentage of those ended up as the victim of violent crime. And clearly, I'm not condoning an officer who would misidentifies a true missing person under suspicious circumstances or just blows it off. That is an issue that agencies need to highlight and correct, and in my experience, families are the best resource of information about their loved one. That should be a guide for any investigator. Police did go and checked Maureen's rented room, and they found the partial pack of cigarettes that she had purchased that Friday, and her car was sit behind her department. But her purse was missing. So did she go with someone else? Was she picked up, had she just have enough and got on a bus and gotten out of town? So for Maureen's family, who feared the worst, they even took matters into their own hands with Maureen's younger brother. Baby, along with a sister-in-law. And they came home and then they hitch hike to Cedar Rapids and they were down there looking for her. You know, so often when you hear that a child or teenager or any family member goes missing that everything stops. And whether they are reaching out to the media or they are going out to search on themselves, they are consumed with their every waking moment, every step that they take to try to find that missing loved one. For Marianne, that wasn't so easy. Remember she had six other children. Well, I still have six other kids to take care of and still had to keep going, but it was so horrible. Horrible. I just knew something bad happened to her and the police didn't take us serious and I didn't know what else to do about it. A week later, on Friday, September 24th, police did get information on where Maureen was and they reached out to the family. I remember the phone ringing and I answered the phone and they asked if my mom or dad was there and I mom came to the phone and I was there and I still remember my mom when they told her than my mom says David, David, they followed marine, she's dead. She's dead. And I still remember you yelling and Dad come out and started crying and my brothers were in the in their bedroom and they started they come out and everybody just started crying. And David kept saying no, no, no, no, no. It was just horrible. Here they are talking to me over 50 years later, and each of them, their voices broke quickly, which just is more proof than what we already all knew, which is this pain just doesn't go away. And that is just an excruciating thought to me. I almost picture it like this. You know, as I'm talking about it is that different things can close the wound, but that is always just thin skin on top. You know that saying that time heals all wounds. Well, it isn't true. It helps it. Can be numbed, but even just listening to Marianne and Lisa talk about the day that they found out that Maureen was dead, you can still hear that raw pain in their voices today. It's been 50 years. Just remember that I can picture everything and I was four, but that is so burned into my memory that it's just unbelievable. There's no way for the family to move on, right or wrong, or bring Maureen back. All they can hope for is to hold whoever did this accountable, and that is the way the justice system works, and that is why it was created. So let's move to the actual crime scene and how marine was found. On Friday, September 24th, 2 Teenage boys ages 15 and 14, were going rifle hunting and on their way they crossed a river near a landfill. And remember that because it's going to come back around to be important later. So as these boys, these teenagers, are walking across a railroad trestle, they spot something in the ravine. It's a junk car. From a distance they could see what looked like a woman sleeping on the trunk of their car. She's on her back near the rear window. Her leg is up on the trunk and she has clothing on, but they can see even from a distance that she has no shoes, and because they believe she would, just sleeping, they continued on. On their way back they see that she's still there. So now they decide to go for a better look, and there they see the woman is still in the exact same position as when they'd seen her earlier in the day, but when they got closer they noted discoloration. On her body, they ran home, bringing the boy's mother back, who wanted to confirm the story. The body on the car was Maureen. They only told me that she was found. That's all they told me. I just know that somebody killed her. We didn't really know the particulars, and actually the particulars, I don't think came out for kind of a while. We didn't know who did it and that she wasn't dead the whole time that she was missing. You know, we knew that she was alive part of that time, and then she wasn't. How Maureen had died and what actually had happened to her was not something that the police immediately disclosed to Marianne and her family. So Marianne took it upon herself to write a letter to the mother of the boys who had found Maureen. I wrote to her and she said the whole week she never heard anything about Marina's missing. The mom who's right there where the bodies found is that they've never even heard that this young girl is missing. And so how hard that is now for Marianne? Well, if no one even knew my daughter was missing, then was anyone out there looking for her? And what if she had been alive and someone could have done something before they found her dead on that car? The woman went on to write that she was a mother of six herself, and she could not conceive the grief that Marianne and her family were going through. She also wrote back to Mary in that letter, and I quote. Her face did not show any signs of being beaten, and there was no blood or visible means of the cause of death. It's starting to sound like whatever caused Maureen to die didn't happen there, because everyone talks about it looking like she was placed. It looked like she was sleeping. Doesn't seem to be any sign of a struggle. There's no blood. They couldn't even tell about any wounds initially to her body. So then the next question is, if she didn't die there, how did she die and how did she get there? The car that Marines body was laying on was a 59 Chevy, and inside the car investigators were able to locate blood spots which were about the size of a dime, indicating that marine may have been thrown from a passing vehicle and just crashed through some bushes onto the car's trunk. Her sweater was up above her head. Her pants will pull down a bit off of her waist, which gave the appearance that she may have been dragged off of the roadway and placed on that trunk. Investigators also recovered small strands of hair found in her left hand. A white pillowcase found on a branch directly above the body and that pillowcase also contained blood stains. We mentioned earlier that Maureen didn't have any shoes on while the odd thing is that her feet were completely clean. You know, when I hear that, Scott, right away the bells start going off that, you know, she didn't walk or run to get there. How about you? I agree. And that pillowcase, I think, is interesting, which is on a tree branch above her head and perhaps that's how she was transported. We know that she had some bleeding from the head, pillowcase over the head, unconscious, bring her there and put her on the car. That really makes the most sense to me. I said, how'd she die? He said strangulation, but instead there was a massive blow to her right side of her head that killed her or put her in a coma. Some blunt trauma to the side of her head pointed to a surprise attack as well. They said she was in a coma somewhere for like 3 days because when they found her, she'd only been dead from 48 hours to 96 hours in that time frame. So she was somewhere in a coma or something before she died. Officials reported that there was no indication of defensive wounds. Her clothing had been somewhat in disarray, but it wasn't torn. Evidence also suggested that Maureen had been sexually assaulted. You know, when we look at the crime scene in Toto, annasaheb, what else about the scene means something to you? It says to me that this killer wants her to be seen. There was someone that cared for her because they said she would not have been found down in the ravine in the ditch, but he carried her and put later on the car. And that also just made play into who this killer ultimately is. I'd also let me mention this. Look at her husband. And yes, I know he's not a potential suspect because he's incarcerated, but what type of crime was he involved with when he was put away? Could this be a revenge killing? Could this be someone he owed money to? All of those things and Sega would be on my radar. Answers to all of these questions, and it wasn't immediate, but at some point in the investigation, the family got a lead and a name. Well, this was later when our friend who was a police officer in Sioux City, he said it was. He is the one that killed Marine. So when it comes to building a profile, you're a victim. As you guys probably know by now, we call it victimology. It's important to look at some of these crime scene details as they try to determine how your victim and the killer potentially met. Right here we have a sexual assault component and a rage component. The sexual assault portion would lead me to search offender registries and find out if anyone she may have come in contact with had that type of history. How about you and Sega? You know, I'm certainly not a profiler. By any means, but just having unfortunately seen so many different things over the years as I'm looking at this one, I don't know. I kind of picture someone who has been watching her. I see it as the sexual assault is the motivator for the violence. Remember, she dies from a blow to the head, almost like a surprise attack to then have this person able to overpower her for the sexual assault component. It seems like someone's probably either going to have known her or been in her proximity for a while because there's nothing about this that says surprise, right? And then they moved her after she was killed, it seems like. And then there's also, to me almost this ritualistic component. It looks like she's posed, her shoes are gone, and the posing of a body is not something that we see normally. I can probably think to in the, you know, well over 100 of them that I've seen myself, hundreds, probably a handful, that people were actually posed. And then there is usually a deeper. Like a logical component going in the background of the criminal. While the police were trying to find out who killed 17 year old Maureen, Marianne had to deal with the painful aftermath of burying her first child, the one who lit up the world like firecrackers. But the challenge the family face now is that Marianne had six other kids to care for and she didn't really have the means to pay for a funeral. The total cost was $700.00 and we didn't have no extra money at all. And then there's the added stress of Maureen's body being more than 250 miles away in Cedar Rapids. However, through the loss, the family gained support of so many friends, family and community. All the neighbor kids went around and collected money from all the neighbors to help pay for the funeral. The church provided the Brubaker family with a plot at no charge. This is like one of those things that, as I'm hearing it, I just feel sad, but with a smile on my face. Because it's also the reminder to me that by and large, people are good. You know, for me, anesthesia, this is a really bright story during what was a really extremely difficult time. You know, it isn't just lip service when you talk about the community coming together. This community really showed how they cared from one another. The way that they all put their dollars, Dimes and quarters into those coffee cans for Marines family, the funeral was a time to come together and celebrate her life. Boy, it was packed. There was a lot of people at the whole church. Everybody was there. Maureen's husband, David, was let out of prison for that day to give him an opportunity to pay respects at his wife's grave site. We were all crying all the way through it. I remember David Farley kept crying and crying because he come home for it and, you know, yeah, we had our arms around David trying to make him feel better, but we were all crying and David was really crying and we all were. It was it was so bad. And I remember, you know, like Mom would start crying and then dad would go to old you and then he would start crying. You know, as we're talking about Maureen, one of the things that it's very easy to lose sight of is that she was actually a child. She was only 17 years old. She's supposed to be figuring out what she wants to do with her life and whether she's going to go to college. But, you know, somebody took all of that from her. They robbed her of it. And not only her, but her husband, her family, the community. To find Maureen's killer, police were taking another look at her apartment. They were interested in finding Marines brown vinyl purse. They also thought about that pair of shoes that were missing. Remember, the working theory here is that there are two crime scenes, the place that where she was killed and the place where her body was left so those shoes could, down the road, be a direct connection to a suspect. According to one of the news articles, Maureen had seen a friend the day that she disappeared. The friend was going to later tell police that Maureen had mentioned that she might be. Going on a date or meeting a man later that night. Now, it wasn't clear if she'd ever met up with this man at all, but it's something that now is out there that they need to wonder if that's what materialized in her body on that car. When investigators talked to Maureen's landlady, she told police she did hear Maureen talking to another person inside her apartment on the Friday she was last seen alive. Heard her talking to some guy in a normal voice that Friday afternoon. They left together and then she smelled cigar smoke out in the hallway. Police interviewed a lot of people, and while they didn't share who all of those people were with Marianne, Marianne did hear from a friend about one person in particular. Our friend who is a police officer in Sioux City, very good friend. He said he talked to the police in Cedar Rapids and he said it was George Smith. He's the one that killed marine. Here's what we know about George Smith. He was 53 years old at the time Memorial's death. Probably not someone this 70 year old would ever hang out with. I'm looking at a photograph of George Smith and in it he smoking a cigar which could line up with what the landlady said. George Smith ran at a liquor store that was very close to my sister, either where she worked or where she lived. He also lived close to my sister. Now again, while I didn't know Maureen, everything that her sister and her mom talked about, I don't think it's going to surprise. Many of us to know that Maureen just may have headed off to the local liquor store from time to time. And remember, back then the drinking age was 18, not 21. Does that also maybe goes at least into the profile of someone who may have done this to her. You know, someone who knew her would have been in a position to watch her. Whether it's because she's coming in and out of that store or more likely, watching her go back and forth to her apartment, here's another kind of connection that's geographically based. George Smith ran a hauling service he would haul. Things for people when they wanted to get rid of them. And that hauling business would take Smith to a local landfill. And the reason why that's important, it would make him familiar with the area where Maureen's body was found in a ravine near a landfill. And there's one more thing about George Smith that stood out, and it's something that we haven't written any news article or haven't seen on any program that may have featured this case. It comes directly from speaking with Marianne and Lisa. My sister worked at Wendy's Restaurant, and George Smith was a customer there. And according to witnesses, he didn't just know Maureen, he wanted to be with her. But, you know, George Smith was 53, my sister was 17. He was always there, always hitting on her. She was nice and friendly because, you know, you're a waitress. My sister was friendly to everybody. He wanted to be like a sugar daddy to her. Now, there is definitely a bit of an ick factor here. It is like, ick, ick, ick, ick ick. He is 53 and she is 17. Obviously he may have known she was vulnerable. Her husband was in prison and not even read one of the reports where I talked about he was offering to hire a lawyer to help get her husband out of prison. And I can imagine that's something that Maureen really wanted to do is to be reunited with David. So the fact that George Smith may have been. Offering that he was, maybe it's a bit of the spider and the fly. I mean, that is just a it is the 10th degree, you know, from exactly the type of thing that you just said, Scott, you know, using his age and his means, his money to try to be quote UN quote helpful to her, but maybe for his own alpharius purposes. There are several things to make George Smith a very suspicious person, investigative theories, if you will, but nothing that feels like a concrete evidence. Now, there's one possible piece of evidence actually tying George Smith to the crime scene, and we're saying possible because it is pure rumor, we're not getting it from a report or a news article, or you're getting it from Marianne and Lisa. So it's a story from her family, but it does have to do with Maureen and those missing shoes. Apparently, and this is like hearsay, hearsay, hearsay from on my side, but according to what these retired detectives said that they went into George Smith's house and they got to snooping around and the story that we have heard is that her shoes were there in his closet. It's hearsay for sure. Sorry to use that legalese there, but you know, if it's true, you have to say, well, wait a second, so they saw this and they can't use it? Well, no, they wouldn't be able to use it if it's true that they didn't have a search warrant. So as to how did that happen? Well, unfortunately, things like that do happen. You know, maybe they thought that they were going to find Maureen or or someone was being overzealous and but the, you know, the fact of the matter is that when things like that happen, the recourse is to make sure that you can't use that against anyone. So if true, that certainly happened here because this never was used as part of putting together any of the pieces of this puzzle by police. But that in itself is a shame if true, because it certainly is a piece that would point to this being an actual piece of evidence. Mary Anne decided to pen a letter. It was six months after Maureen's death. She wrote that letter to the chief of police. I wrote to him when I said it is George Smith. George Smith is the guy who killed Marine, and in return she did receive some details about their investigation into George Smith. So when they wrote back, he said yes. They interrogated him many times but he refused to lie detector test. He always had an alibi. From listening by Elise Marianne's account and lisas of what police had done, they had really kind of, you know, fired all guns, if you will. They had spoken to him time and time again. They had tried to build evidence against him in different ways, but none of it was panning out. So it really seems like at that point was, wait, I totally agree. Barring any other evidence, witnesses, or potentially confession, there's really nothing the Police Department can do. And at the moment, there was no probable cause for an arrest and investigative theory. Yes. It's just that, a theory, not enough to get into a courtroom. And then it comes back to the family. And we even talked about the top of this podcast, that they're also left to just wait with no answers, no finality about who did this or if they'll ever be held accountable. And that just must be adding to their pain. My brother Davey, next to Marine, in age he was just a year apart, it just totally consumed him. It literally consumed him in his mind, you know, he was always right in the FBI and I mean, it just drove him insane. And while the loss and the not knowing clearly consumed Maureen's brother, David also took a terrible toll on her dad. The last time that I ever was with my dad, I took him out for a hot dog and then I said, well, where would you like to go? And he said marines, graves. So we went up there and he just stood there looking over Marines, grave and crying. You know, he was what, 67 when he died. 67 is so young and then he dies, just not knowing, dying of a broken heart. It's just the added level of what's the word besides awful. It's just the all these added waves of pain that affect so many people in these cases. Over the years bits and pieces of information would come in and after several more years Marianne was able to get her hands on Maureen's diary and as you can imagine, it was a very emotional find. We just got her diary from age 12 up to one. She died. But it was so weird reading her diary. We've got it right here. April 4th, 1967. So I was three days old and it says Mom came home from hospital. Lisa sure is a homely, pink, little wrinkly baby. So. I loved listening to them talk about this diary because I think my first reaction when I heard they found this teenager's diary was like, ohh. You know, I'd say ohh exactly. I would not want my mom to read my diary back then just because I certainly was, you know, mad at her and brothers and my dad at time to time. But it's, you know, it's the good and the bad and the heartache and everything else and the mundane and but the big take away is that it gave her back to them. Man, she was a teenager. They were always drunk and going to Reynolds and the loft and drinking and sniffing glue and her and all of her friends. And I mean, they were pretty wild kids. And it certainly did talk about when she was mad at mom or the different things going on her life. But one thing it never mentioned was George Smith. Had he been in her life in any way, as a friend or an acquaintance, his name likely would have made it into that diary. She likely also would have mentioned something about him, but there was nothing zip 0. Over the years there's been a lot of accusations at friends that they were responsible. You know, everybody's a suspect. And was at this person. Was it that person? Over those years, numerous suspects were questioned, interrogated, even given lie detector tests, and eventually cleared. But not George Smith. If anything, his behavior made him more suspicious to police. Even back then, at the time when Marines death, George would come around the Police Department and ask where they were at in the case and did they have any suspects? Were there any updates? In fact, one of the officers that time found it so strange and so odd that there was a problem here, that he sat down at a typewriter and actually typed up a report saying this guy really needs to be looked at again because he's coming around and asking. And those are the alarm bells going off as soon as you hear that. You know, Scott, it's like the arsonist that stays behind at the scene to see what they've done, but also to see what police are figuring out. And we definitely know these cases, that the ultimate culprit of a crime shows up at the precinct, going out of their way to find out what they know. But with this guy, it wouldn't make any sense because he's not a family member, he's not a close friend. So why is he going there doing that still? That's not against the law and nothing concrete to charge and those years. Without getting justice for Maureen actually turned into decades and the family finally gets the answers they were hoping for, but only after they turn on the pressure and Lisa herself Dons a badge and a uniform and takes matters into her own hands. 20 years after Maureen's murder, her little sister Lisa wasn't so little anymore, and there was something that made her not only want to get justice for her sister, but she also wanted to make sure that families didn't have to go through the things that her family had been through down this road. I just remember the phone call and it's like, I don't know, you just don't deliver a death message over the phone. And I don't know when I knew that, but I just always felt that was wrong or there was more that could be done. So she joined law enforcement. That's fantastic. I mean, you guys have heard me say this line before so many times, but I don't mind saying it again, turning pain into purpose. As Lisa described what led her to law enforcement, the thing that she said were the three words in their shoes. She said that she had been. In their shoes, and she wanted to help them to try to be all the more empathetic and caring with people now going through these tragedies of their own. Keeping her sister's case on the radar of law enforcement was something that she felt she needed to do. I've reached out numerous times over the years. I got the sheriff of Pennington County, South Dakota, Rapid City area. He had said, I know people all over the place. And I said I was wondering, I said I had a sister that was killed back in 1971, and do you think that you could reach out and see if we could get some attention on it or get them to reopen the case? And he did. When you think about that, how fantastic it was that she could do this, but that also a survivor of homicide needed to do that, really take the majority of their life to keep pushing an investigation forward, to help spur work to be done, to get answers, you know, where do you come out on that? We all know the saying squeaky wheel gets the grease. The more people talk about the murder, the more attention it gets and the more opportunity there is to solve the case. It doesn't mean that it'll bring an arrest anytime soon, but it has to remain at the surface for many. But you know, there's also this sadness factor to it that family members sometimes have to do that to kind of push the investigation forward. And again, I'm going to go backwards. And yes I know as a prosecutor and close to lots of law enforcement, but just by the sheer numbers and just by the amount of work to be done and. Having to really be very thinly spread and work on various cases when they can, it does sometimes take these family members to keep pushing and prodding to, you know, make sure that that is the one that gets to the top of the list. And there's certain families I think about in my life as a prosecutor that I feel like they almost really could never just take the time to grieve because they had to also be working to try to get those cases solved. But there's one thing that was in favor for both the family and law enforcement at this moment in the investigation. With the advancement of science we're now in, the 2000s is no longer the 1970s. A detectives found evidence that could be sent for DNA analysis, and they did get back a complete mail profile. And in 2006, a detective started to collect DNA swabs from potential suspects and a suspect profile was uploaded to the DNA database, but no matches were found. It was another dead end, but now, at least they had DNA. And while those were little steps in the right direction, the Brubaker family, they were still trying to get anyone to notice Maureen's case, and they tried to get media attention to. I'm often asked, why is it such a struggle to get a spotlight on a case or any kind of cold case? And, you know, I call it the shiny penny effect. When a reporter gets excited about doing a story, they talk about the case with the family, and then another story comes along. It pulls their attention away from the original story. It is a very competitive business with not a lot of space in newspapers. Or time on television to do each and every cold case. But one journalist in this case did promise and did deliver from Maureen's family. So Iowa cold case Jody Ewing ran it, and I kind of remember her getting in touch with me saying that she was going to put something together for marine in 2005. She was researching and writing about a cold case from Sioux City in 1974. And as she was writing about that case, she really started to recognize the struggles that these cases faced. And she made a commitment to track down every single unsolved case in Iowa. She wrote about it and then posted it on her website, But at the time she started, she had like 50 cases of people that were killed in Iowa and that they never solved that were murdered. And now there's guys I think there's almost like 200 names on there. Looking at her website, I really love her motto, where hope is never laid to rest and attention did come September 2010, a Des Moines local station picked up the story. I think it was like, WHO, 13 out of Cedar Rapids, they did a story on her, so we were always trying to get attention and keep working it so that people knew she wasn't forgotten. The family even went national with it. We had written so many shows over the years, unsolved mysteries. In 2015, Cedar Rapids Police decided to put the cold case in the hands of Matt Denlinger and his partner. These are not detectives in a specific cold case unit, or even a cold case team. It's a team that approaches it in a different way. The pair picked one day a week to put a pause on their active cases and spend that day working on older cases now, including maureens. Matt Denlinger had called to tell me that he had a list of like 20 names on here, and he said, I'm very confident. That the person responsible for your sister's death is on this list. And he said, and I am going to go through each and everyone of them and get DNA from them, and that's how I'm going to solve this. So for everyone out there, like, oh easy, just go through them. He's going to get these people's day and a. But remember, years have gone by decades. So he has to track them down, see if they're living or if they can be found. And will they submit to giving DNA? Because if not, is there going to be enough to get a search warrant? Probably not, at least for many of them. So it is no easy task. It was a long process. Matt started on this case in 2015 and continued 2016, 2017, 2018 and the years. Passing by with no DNA matches. So for six years at least, he would call me and give me updates, or I would call him and give him, you know, hey, what about this guy or what about this person? And he would run him down and collect their DNA or get DNA from him by 2021. We're talking last year. There was still no answers, and Lisa was hitting a turning point in her life. OK, here's my date. I'm retiring, and I'm out driving around in my patrol car one night. And I'm just, like, thinking, man, I can't believe I'm gonna retire, but I'm gonna retire. And and then it hit me that in all these years that I've been in law enforcement and stuff and all the times that I tried to get somewhere with Marines case, I failed. And it's like, did I really make a difference? Did I do any good? Did I ever do anything? And then finally, in the fall of 2021, Lisa gets a call. Told me and said I got the match, he says I got who killed her? On September 24th 1971, Marianne and her family received a phone call that Maureen was dead and it destroyed their lives. Now, 50 years later to the day September 24th, 2021, she received another call from police and this time is to say who the killer is. Probably 50 years to the day we were here. And Matt called me that day on the phone and said I got the match. He says that I got who killed her. He said it matches George Smith. I was crying and I was like, thank you, thank you, thank you. And when I told Mom, Mom, they they got it solved. The first thing out of moms mouth was I told you guys it was George Smith. I told you it was him. Like, wow. You know, I mean, we were crying, you know, Scott Weaver. Read about it. We have even maybe seen this profile before we've heard the interview. What was it like when you heard Lisa and Marianne talking about that moment? I can't easily get over the fact that we're talking about 50 years to the very day. It's an amazing fact in these stories that you kind of think is there someone else out there, is there a higher power? And I believe that's one of those moments for me. 50 years exactly to the day that they found her body. We closed the case. Divine intervention, yeah. And, you know, you've read about it, which we had both done. And hearing them talk about it themselves, well, it just makes you almost want to stand up and cheer, even though you're talking about this horrible tragedy that happened in their lives. Because at least then, 50 years later, they can put that piece away and finally move on just with their memories of their daughter and their sister and put who the killer was finally to bed. By the time this call came in in 2021, advancements in DNA research had taken leaps and bounds in the decades that this case was cold. It was the DNA that knew DNA. They got it from his relatives. A search warrant was drafted in the summer of 2021 and investigator Matt Denlinger went to collect DNA from one of Smith's adult children. They went and got a warrant. She had to give them DNA. It proved it was George Smith. That moment, as huge a relief as it was to the family to finally have that sense of closure after 50 years, there's going to be another big wrinkle. Because also the fact that it took 50 years to solve this case meant something else. George Smith had passed away in 2013. And so no, Maureen's killer was never held accountable for what he did to her. An incredible sense of disappointment for the family that yes, while we have answers, it took so long, so many members of their family had passed on not knowing the results of this investigation, how this really worked out, and how they now know who killed Maureen 50 years earlier. But at least the family has answers and can finally move on. And now I'm getting ready to retire, actually, from the road. I'm still gonna keep my feet in it, of course. I mentioned earlier in the show how I felt about the statement time heals all wounds, and from my experience with the families that I've dealt with, it doesn't always ring true. In homicides. Time may not heal all wounds, but time can be advantageous in a homicide investigation. There was this moment in the interview when I was speaking to Mary and Lisa, and they talked about all that had gone on in these 50 years. While they waited, Maureen's father and her brother both consumed with her loss that they both died. But there was this really beautiful thing that happened. We buried both on Marines grave, so all three of them are together and even the priests come out and said prayers and blessings for all three of them. That was for the funeral that day, the burial. And then when we stood up that day we saw 3 deer, 3 deer standing there looking at us and we thought, wow. And then when we went back we saw the same 3 deer again standing there looking at us. For them it meant that finally the three of them, Maureen, her dad and her brother, they were now together and they could be arm and arm, and that they had peace. Yeah, they're just together again, and you just know that they're all together again. Yeah, and they weren't scared. They just looked at us. And that's the only times we ever saw them. The only times we ever saw him out at that cemetery. So hats off to you, Detective Matt Denlinger, because you are the one who tirelessly worked through those twenty names and everything else you did through all those years to give this family peace. And while it took 50 years here on this earth, now the rest of Maureen's family has that same piece. Because your answer is detective down there gave it to them. And now we know she's up in heaven with her favorite grandpa, her dad, her brother. They're all up in heaven together, living a happy, happy life together. And we will see them again someday. Yes, we will. Not no hurry yet, but. 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 for SETI Media. Ashley Flowers and Summit David are executive producers. So what do you think, Chuck, do you approve? Umm.