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tv   Forensic Files  CNN  June 15, 2015 1:00am-1:31am PDT

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about myself, to appreciate the people that i have in my life because they could be gone tomorrow. and that has given me so much more than i had before this happened. in august of 1986, betty wolsieffer, a 32-year-old housewife and mother, was strangled and murdered by an assailant who had broken into her home. her husband, dr. glen wolsieffer, was also strangled and knocked unconscious, but survived the attack. his younger brother, neil, lived right across the street and was the first to arrive at the scene. a few months later, neil wolsieffer was dead, too. some say because of what he learned about the intruder.
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glen and betty wolsieffer had been married for nine years. it was a romance that had begun 20 years earlier. >> the family, both on betty's side and on glen's side, came from very well-established influential families within the community, very well liked by all of the community. betty and glen were childhood sweethearts. they went through high school together. >> glen wolsieffer went on to dental school, later married betty, and after graduation the couple returned to their hometown of wilkes-barre, pennsylvania to set up practice. the wolsieffers bought a home on birch street, just a few houses away from glen's younger brother, neil. the two brothers were unusually close. >> they were almost like twins. they very rarely did things apart. they were really big into sports. they just grew up together like that. they lived near each other. they were inseparable, he and
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his brother. >> when glen and betty gave birth to a daughter, danielle, their life together seemed perfect. but tragedy struck. on saturday morning, august 30th, 1986, just after dawn, glen wolsieffer called his younger brother, neil, telling him that an intruder had broken into his home. neil ran across the street to glen's home and when he saw glen had been assaulted, neil phoned police. when police arrived, glen wolsieffer was downstairs on the floor, fading in and out of consciousness. upstairs had been ransacked. furniture was overturned. desk drawers emptied. >> one of the officers then went upstairs, found his daughter was still sleeping in her bedroom, a 5-year-old. then went into the wolsieffers' bedroom and found betty laying on the floor and she was dead at that time.
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>> betty wolsieffer's body was on the floor next to the bed. there were abrasions around her neck and her face showed signs of a severe beating. >> it was obvious that it was a homicide because of the marks around her neck, and you could see it was a vicious attack upon this woman. >> my father had told me that betty was murdered. they were the specific words, how or what had happened, i didn't know, but that just took me totally by surprise, of course. so many things go through your head, you can't even sort them out. >> it appeared that the intruder climbed a ladder to the roof over the back porch and entered through a second-story window. the window screen had been removed and placed on the roof. glen wolsieffer told police he was asleep when he heard a loud noise in the back of his house around 6:00 a.m.
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he said he grabbed his gun and saw a masked intruder running down the stairs and he followed him. the intruder surprised him from behind, strangled him with a belt, and knocked him unconscious with a blow to his head. sometime later, when glen regained consciousness, he phoned his brother. >> neil, it's me. get over here. come on. >> things like that just didn't happen in wilkes-barre. a very nice woman getting killed in her own home did not make sense to a lot of people. >> glen wolsieffer told police that $1,300 in cash was missing from his desk in the study and some gold and diamond jewelry and a house key were also missing. but police noticed something suspicious. the phone in the kitchen was hanging off the hook. police wondered if the victim's brother, neil, had simply forgotten to hang up the phone
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after calling police or whether it was evidence of crime scene staging.
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the news of betty wolsieffer's murder and the assault on her husband, glen, stunned the small industrial community of wilkes-barre, pennsylvania. dr. glen wolsieffer was a successful dentist in town. his wife, an active volunteer for many local charities. neither had any known enemies. police acknowledged there had been a number of recent burglaries in the wolsieffers' neighborhood. since $1,300 in cash and some jewelry was missing from the wolsieffers' home, robbery was a possible motive. it appeared that the intruder used a ladder the wolsieffers stored on the side of their house to gain entrance through an open second-story window. a partial palm print was discovered on the inside of the windowsill which did not match anyone in the family or the police. the autopsy on betty wolsieffer
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was performed by lucerne county coroner dr. george huddock, who found no evidence of sexual assault. the cause of death was strangulation, which would take from three to five minutes. during that time, it was obvious to dr. huddock that there had been a fierce life and death struggle. >> i believe that she really fought back, with fury, and that she inflicted some injuries on whoever assailed her. >> blue fibers and a small speck of blood found under betty's fingernails confirmed that she had been in close contact with her killer. but dr. huddock noticed something unusual. despite a severe beating, there was no blood on betty wolsieffer's nightgown and very little blood on her face. >> that was the outstanding thing that imprinted itself on my brain when we saw the body. you didn't have to be a trained forensic pathologist to
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recognize that there was something suspicious there. >> it appeared after killing betty wolsieffer, the killer had washed her face and changed her nightgown. police searched for her bloody clothing in the house, the surrounding neighborhood, and the nearby susquehanna river without success. since the body was lying in front of the fan, time of death was difficult to gauge. but dr. hudock estimated that betty wolsieffer had been murdered between 2:30 and 4:30 in the morning. two to four hours before glen said he heard the intruder. and there was another inconsistency. doctors at mercy hospital noticed injuries on the back of glen wolsieffer's neck, even though he said he was strangled from behind. >> it just could not happen that way. the only way you could get that injury to the back of your neck is if somebody pulled from the front. >> friends told investigators
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that glen often wore a gold chain around his neck. >> if he was involved in a fight with his wife where the wife would have been, say, in the bed underneath him and he was on top of her in that position, he would have sustained those type injuries from that piece of jewelry. >> that type of force would have damaged the splenius capitis muscles, two long muscles that support the head, the same injury emergency room doctors diagnosed in glenn wolsieffer after his wife's murder. when investigators dug a little deeper into glen wolsieffer's dental practice, they discovered his relationship with his dental assistant was more personal than business. the two had been carrying on an affair for five years. she told investigators that she expected glen to leave his wife for her. but she realized that wouldn't happen when she discovered that glen was carrying on another affair with an aerobics instructor in town.
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from motel receipts, police learned that glen would sometimes have trysts with both women on the same day before going home to his wife. and police wanted to know why glen's younger brother neil failed to go upstairs to check on his brother's wife and child while he waited for the police to arrive. while on his way to the district attorney's office to answer that very question, neil made a decision that would change the course of the investigation.
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when homicide investigators learned that betty wolsieffer's body had been washed and her clothes changed after the murder, they looked a little closer at the statements glen and his younger brother, neil, both gave to police. on the night of the murder, glen wolsieffer said he was out with friends at a local nightclub and drove home around 2:30. he said that he went right to bed and slept until dawn, when he heard the intruder and went downstairs to investigate. but the police video taken on the morning of the murder shows that glen wolsieffer's car in the driveway was not covered
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with dew, yet his wife's car was. to help sort out the discrepancy, police called in a forensic meteorologist, dr. joseph sobel, who studied the weather patterns on the night of the murder. >> dew is moisture, it's condensation that actually forms on the object we're talking about. whether it be a blade of grass or a rooftop or a car top or any object that happens to be outside during that time. >> the temperature on the afternoon of the murder was 70 degrees, so the dew point temperature, the point when water in the air becomes cold enough to change from a gas to a liquid, producing dew, would have occurred when the temperature reached 50 degrees. >> we know the night was clear. surface weather observations showed us that. we know it was very cool, so that the temperature was able to drop considerably, and we know that there was little or no wind.
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>> the temperature hit 50 degrees at 11:00 p.m. glen wolsieffer said he drove home at 2:30 in the morning, yet there was no dew on his car when police arrived at 7:00 a.m. if he had driven home at 2:30 in the morning, glen's car would have had the same amount of dew as his wife's car. the lack of dew meant that someone had driven glen wolsieffer's car sometime after glen returned home from the nightclub at 2:30 and before police arrived at 7:00 a.m., evaporating the dew that had been present. the same dew points produced dew on the wolsieffers' roof, yet there were no foot or handprints in the dew on the roof when police arrived. when police looked more closely at the ladder, they discovered it had been placed up to the roof backwards, with the steps facing in the opposite direction.
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the partial palm print found on the windowsill could not be identified, potentially corroborating glen's story about an intruder. police were also investigating what connection, if any, glen's younger brother, neil, may have had to the murder. he was the first one to arrive at the scene and was the one that called the police. but when police arrived, the phone was off the hook, hanging from the wall unit. police were also suspicious of neil's behavior. he admitted that he did not go upstairs to check on glen's wife and 5-year-old daughter, danielle, before police arrived. neil wolsieffer denied any involvement in the crime. but when asked to take a lie detector test, he refused. >> a lot of people think that neil knew everything, that when he came in the house that glen told him what happened and said, you have to help me. we have to concoct a story.
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there's people that even think that neil may have been the one to knock glen on the head. then there's the other school that think that neil suspected, and he just kept putting two and two together, and things that glen may have said to him and just the very thought was too much for him to bear. >> neil was asked to report to the district attorney's office for an interview. >> it went past the time when he was supposed to arrive. and gary sworn left the room, he came back in and he says, neil wolsieffer's dead. >> he passed the courthouse, he drove about another five miles. and that his car swerved in front of a dump truck and he was killed instantly. >> investigators could find no skid marks. it appeared that neil wolsieffer
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intentionally turned in front of an oncoming truck. the coroner ruled the death a suicide. and what neil wolsieffer may have known about the murder went with him to his grave.
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with dr. glen wolsieffer the prime suspect in his wife's
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murder, police discovered that the all-american image he presented to the public was just that, an image. before her death, betty wolsieffer told friends that she knew all about her husband's affairs with the aerobics instructor and his dental assistant and that she had had enough. >> we found out from some of betty's girlfriends that she was very annoyed with some of these things that were happening. very annoyed with him going out at nights and not coming in till all hours of the morning. some of the girlfriends even made comments to her, well, maybe you should confront him, maybe you should ask him what's going on. >> to see if there was any evidence of a physical confrontation between glen and his wife, fbi analyst doug deedrick analyzed the debris under betty wolsieffer's fingernails. there he found a number of blue cotton denim fibers. using microspectrophotometry, deedrick analyzed the spectrum
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of the color of the dye in those colors and concluded the dye was consistent with the dye used in the denim shirt and denim jeans glen wolsieffer was seen wearing at the nightclub just hours before his wife's murder. finally, deedrick analyzed several head hairs on the bed spread next to betty wolsieffer's body. the hairs had been forcibly removed and were compared to hair samples from glen wolsieffer. >> from the laboratory standpoint, the hairs that were forcibly removed on the bedding were consistent with the husband. i looked at other hairs recovered from the bedding and the towels and there were no hairs out of place. the hairs i found were consistent with people that lived in that house. >> on november 5th, 1990, glen wolsieffer was charged with first-degree murder. he pleaded not guilty. prosecutors stated that on the afternoon before the murder,
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glen met his dental assistant for a sexual encounter. a few hours later, glen saw his other mistress at a local nightclub. he may have been hoping to have sex with her, too, but her husband was there. glen drove home around 2:30 in the morning, and betty may have confronted glen over his sexual liaisons. the argument turned violent. as she fought for her life, betty pulled glen's hair, clutched and grabbed his shirt and caused the injury to his neck by forcibly pulling on his jewelry. after the murder, glen removed his wife's bloody nightgown and washed her body in what was probably a psychological attempt to mask his guilt over what had occurred. prosecutors believe that glen used his car to dispose of the bloody clothing, which evaporated the dew.
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when he returned, he staged the crime scene by placing the ladder up to the back of his house. but he made a mistake and propped it up backwards. he also removed the window screen and ransacked some of the rooms. the telephone receiver found off the hook was either a mistake made during the staging of the crime scene, or neil wolsieffer simply forgot to hang up the telephone after calling police. the jury had to choose between glen wolsieffer's intruder story and the circumstantial case put forward by prosecutors. and amid the discrepancies in glen wolsieffer's story, one fact stood out. after an alleged life-and-death struggle with an intruder, neither glen nor his brother neil went upstairs to check on betty wolsieffer or 5-year-old danielle before the police arrived. glen wolsieffer was found guilty of third-degree murder and was
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sentenced to 8 to 20 years in prison. >> the death of my sister, it's hurt both families, very close friends and the people in the community in general. >> benjamin franklin once said, three may keep a secret if two of them are dead. that might have been true in this case had it not been for the role of science. >> when i go out to talk to people about forensic meteorology, i always talk about this case and i go through the whole scenario and the setup. and then i ask people, so where's the weather connection? you know, where does weather become involved? usually all i get is a set of blank stares. so to think about that and to tie it in and then to go get expert corroboration, i think, was really a very, very good piece of police and detective work.
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[ phone ringing ] hello. may i ask who's calling? >> in december of 1994, joanne katrinak told friends about a disturbing telephone call she received from someone she had never met. >> stop calling here! >> three days later, joanne katrinak and her 4-month-old son, alex, disappeared without a trace. telephone records could not identify the caller but investigators suspected that the incident might hold the key to their disappearance.


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