tv Forensic Files CNN February 21, 2014 12:30am-1:01am PST
found that shell casing before everything caught up with him and now he is in his orange prison jacket paying for his crime. it will catch up with you sooner or later. even though hunters wear bright orange vests and hats, accidents still happen. the problem is trying to figure out which shootings are accidents and which are not. in colorado, investigators used forensic metallurgy, a piece of string and geology to see if one man's death was an accident or murder. each year thousands of big game hunters flock to the uncompahgre national park in western colorado. >> elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, up in that area, so it is
kind of a pretty area, very remote. >> on the second day of hunting season in 1995, doug kyle was relaxing in his camp when he heard a woman screaming. she said she found her husband lying on the ground near their camp. he had been shot in the chest. >> go ahead, sir. >> a man has been shot and killed up here. >> today? >> yes. his wife is here. she's going crazy. >> i could tell that, you know, he was deceased and i looked at her and i told her, ma'am, i'm sorry, but he's gone. >> the victim was 48-year-old bruce dodson. his wife janice said she went looking for him when he didn't return to their camp. >> right after this happened, i was being told, anyway, it was a hunting accident.
>> he's a man walking upright through grass four inches tall, he's got a hunter orange cap on, he's carrying a rifle, the only thing that could have happened in this world would have been a one in a million chance of somebody, a canyon over, shooting at an animal and a stray bullet hitting him. >> bruce's body was sent to the medical examiner, dr. tom canfield, for an autopsy. >> bruce worked for me. he was a medical technologist in the delta hospital and i knew him very well, both professional and a personal level. >> the autopsy results were startling. bruce hadn't been shot once, but three times. >> well, i was able to determine, one, they were distant range gunshot wounds, they were fired from a significant distance. >> one shot was a superficial wound that went through his hunting vest and grazed his
back. >> the wound that went through his vest but did not cause significant damage to him probably was the first shot. >> i believe he then took the vest off to see what had happened. >> he turned in that direction and probably yelled, out of fear, hey, i'm not a deer, i'm not an elk. i'm over here, yeah, don't shoot. >> bruce was shot a second time while waving his vest in the air. it entered his chest and exited under his right arm. >> mr. dodson may have tried to crawl away when the last shot was fired. >> the third and fatal shot entered his back in an upward trajectory and was found in bruce's lung. it was badly deformed but by its
size identified as a .243 caliber round. >> only landmark we really had to go on was the base design. >> janice dodson had been hunting on this trip too. but this bullet did not come from her rifle or bruce's. >> so it couldn't have been bruce's rifle that killed him. couldn't have been her rifle that killed bruce dodson. >> dr. canfield was convinced the shooting was no accident. >> i was able to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt and with reasonable medical certainty, that bruce died from multiple gunshot wounds, and it was clearly a homicide. in bloo. side effects include headache, flushing, upset stomach, and abnormal vision. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. stop taking viagra and call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. this is the age of taking action. viagra. talk to your doctor.
the autopsy revealed bruce dodson had been hit with three shots. >> we didn't know if we had some maniac in the woods with a rifle, just randomly shooting someone. >> investigators found a clue in a fence post near bruce's body. it was a fresh bullet hole. so they used a string to perform a trajectory analysis. >> we began where the victim was located, at the approximate height of the wounds, and went
back to the fence post. and then continued to string that back toward the area that the shot was fired. >> in a clump of bushes, 80 yards in front of the fence post, investigators found a .308 caliber shell casing. to find the bullet that went through bruce's chest, investigators searched the area in the straight line path beyond where bruce was standing. with a metal detector, miraculously they found a .308 caliber round. >> at the end of the string was the bullet. i mean, it was stroke of luck, stroke of luck. >> this raised the possibility that there were two shooters. since a .308 caliber round passed through bruce's body, and a .243 caliber round killed him.
>> none of that forensic evidence added up. the analysis of the bullet in bruce's body didn't match any of the evidence we had picked up at the scene so far. >> neither bruce nor his wife janice owned a rifle capable of firing either caliber round. a look into the victim's background revealed that bruce dodson and janice had been married for only three months. >> bruce said that janice wanted to go on this hunting trip. he didn't really want to go but to make her happy he agreed to go. >> family members were appalled at the way janice behaved after bruce's death. >> she threw everything at my brother owned away. had his dog put to sleep, sold his horse, took his name off the mailbox, like the next day. >> even more alarming was the fact that janice's ex-husband, j.c. lee, was camping less than a mile away from bruce and janice at the time of the
murder. >> he was camped three quarters of a mile from the dodson camp where john bruce dodson was murdered. it was quite suspicious to us and we thought at that point, hey, we need look in to this guy. >> when interviewed, lee said he owned a .308 caliber rifle that was stolen from his camp the night before bruce was killed. >> so that was really suspicious to us, you know, the fact that all of a sudden, you know, this man says, i had a .308 rifle stolen from my camp, i was up there, but i didn't know it was stolen until i got back to my apartment in utah. >> lee reported that some of his nosler brand .308 ammunition was also stolen, the same brand as the shell casing found at the crime scene. >> so a lot of things started pointing towards this guy, j.c. lee. >> j.c. lee and janice had divorced because lee started dating a friend of their daughter's.
>> we thought that j.c. lee may have been jealous of janice recently marrying bruce dodson. >> maybe he wanted to get back at janice. >> we couldn't link j.c. lee to the dodson murder scene and we couldn't link janice dodson to the ex-husband's camp three-quarters of a mile away. >> also suspicious, janice had purchased three life insurance policies on bruce shortly before his death. >> she stood to gain almost $500,000, so a lot of motive. >> and after the funeral, janice's behavior was bizarre, to say the least. >> one of his last requests was to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered in leadville, colorado. janice had taken bruce's ashes and as they approached leadville, she dumped them on
the side of the road. >> and janice told investigators she was going to her cousin's home in east texas to grieve. but investigators discovered she was doing no such thing. >> we did a financial investigation on her, and we found that several times janice dodson's atm card was used in lake charles, louisiana at a casino players club. so we're thinking, how could she be in east texas grieving and her atm card is being used in louisiana at a gambling casino? >> and even more bizarre, not long after bruce was killed, janice married husband number three, bart hall. >> bart hall, nice guy. he said, i felt so strong for janice and for her welfare that after we got married, i took out a $100,000 life insurance policy on myself just to make sure if something happened to me, she was well taken care of. with that, dave says, you don't hunt, do you?
booth, his partner dave martinez and others camped in the uncompahgre national park and looked for the .308 rifle. on one of their trips, booth and martinez took along a member of necro search international, an organization of volunteers who use new technologies to find missing people. and in this case, missing weapons. they were searching for the rifle in a pond near j.c. lee's campsite. >> it was at that time that we were at the pond near the ex-husband's camp when an an individual from necro search international identified the lining of this pond, stock pond to be bentonite clay. and he said, boy, that's very unusual to have betonite clay in the middle of the uncompahgre national forest in a stock pond. >> and this jogged their memory.
they remembered that janice dodson's clothes had been covered in mud on the day of her husband's murder. janice's muddied clothing had been kept in evidence for the past three years. jacqueline battle scraped some of the mud from the clothing and ground it to a fine powder. battle sifted and weighed the samples. and then examined them under a polarizing microscope. the mud from janise's clothing contained bentonite. >> bentonite is a clay-like material comprised of minerals of aluminum silicates, magnesium and iron oxides. ranchers would add bentonite as a sealant so that the water would be retained in the watering hole versus seeping through into the ground. >> the bentonite on janice's clothing was identical to the sample from the pond behind her
ex-husband's camp. battles examined mud samples from other ponds in the national park, but none matched the mud from janice's clothing. >> we were ecstatic because we're now able to show she was lying and we were now able to show her in an area where the murder weapon was stolen. >> to investigators, this was proof that janice had stolen her ex-husband's gun, possibly in an attempt to frame him. >> we were able to put janice dodson at her ex-husband's camp. we couldn't put the ex-husband at her camp. >> perhaps janice killed two birds with one stone. j.c. lee and john bruce dodson. we have no way of knowing what she had planned for j.c. lee. personally i feel that j.c. lee was going to be the fall guy, a patsy for janice.
>> investigators still had one question to question to answer. they knew a .308 caliber round went through bruce's body, but a .243 caliber round was found in his lung. where did this .243 caliber round come from? >> this case has more twists and turns than a snake, and it was just one thing after another.
three years after bruce dodson's murder, investigators still didn't know why a .243 caliber round was found in his lung when it appeared that a .308 caliber rifle was used in the murder. while reading a gun and ammunition magazine, bill booth discovered the answer. he saw an ad for the nosler brand .308 caliber bullet. it showed a picture of the small inner core of the bullet which looks surprisingly similar to the bullet found in bruce dodson's lung. >> when i looked at the photograph of the cutaway and remembering the core that we had removed from bruce dodson's lung, it was the same. very similar. >> the projectile that entered
the body was the bullet core passing through an intervening object. it very likely would have stripped off the copper jacket and only the core would have proceeded from that area. >> he has an epiphany. i think he said, that's it. he got up and went down to a sporting goods store and bought some of those bullets, went home, took one out and cut it open in his garage and that's got to be it. >> most lead bullets are made from recycled car batteries which have numerous trace elements. a forensic metallurgist at the fbi analyzed the lead inner core of the bullet from bruce dodson's body using plasma atomic emissions spectroscopy. it was compared to the .308 caliber round found at the scene. >> so she tested for a certain number of -- i think it was six or eight trace elements. when you compare them, there was a match.
>> which meant both bullets were from the same batch. >> the odds of a bullet from the same batch being in the victim and being in the hillside of not being fired at the same sequence of shots, the odds against that were just astounding. >> prosecutors believe janice dodson planned her husband's murder almost from the day they got married. and she chose a campsite just a short distance away from where she knew her ex-husband had camped every year for the past 20 years. at some point prosecutors say janice quietly made her way over to her ex-husband's campsite, wading through the mud in the pond so she wouldn't be seen. while her ex-husband is away, she stole his remington .308 caliber rifle and ammunition,
but she never realized that the mud on her boots and coveralls could tie her to the robbery. the next day janice went hunting alone, and her husband was the prey. she hid in the bushes waiting for bruce to walk by, and then she fired. the first shot only grazed him. in a panic, bruce took off his vest and waved to the shooter. the second shot entered his chest and came out under his right arm, and he fell to the ground. the third shot struck the fence post, sheering off the outer core before it hit and killed him. janice inadvertently left one of the .308 shell casings behind. she got rid of the rifle somewhere in the colorado wilderness before calling for help.
where she disposed of it remains a mystery. >> if the suspect would have been a better shot and mr. dodson would have been killed with a single shot, it's possible that this would never have been investigated as a homicide. >> we wouldn't have been looking for bullet fragments. we wouldn't have been looking for mud analysis. >> prosecutors believe the motive was greed. >> i believe she married him with the intent to beef up his finances and kill him. that's about as cold blooded as you can get. >> she would have got revenge. she would have got rid of bruce dodson, obtained approximately $500,000 in worth, and also pinned the rap on j.c. lee to get even with him for leaving with her daughter's girlfriend. i think it was an excellent plan that didn't work. >> five years after the death of her husband, janice dodson went on trial for his murder. >> we had forensic firearms evidence, forensic metallurgist.
this case was built on forensics. the jury deliberated for three and a half days, and then found janice dodson guilty of first-degree murder. she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. >> when the verdict came in in the courtroom, my legs turned to rubber and all i can do today is i never got a chance, i wanted to thank the jury for all the work they did. >> to investigators and the forensic experts who worked on the case, janice dodson was one step away from committing the perfect crime. >> janice probably never thought that where she walked and picked up soil on her boots and her clothing might have played a key part in convicting her. >> bruce was never far from our thoughts during this whole investigation, and i think he got some justice. >> if it wasn't for forensics, i can tell you right now janice dodson would be walking the
street. she assassinated bruce dodson. he didn't even have a chance. i wouldn't call her a black widow. i would call her a greedy assassin. a murder victim's son was the first to suspect that his mother's death was the work of a serial killer. investigators hoped that cells found on a styrofoam cup, marks left on a water faucet and clues left on a videotape would reveal the secret identity of a man who had eluded police for over a decade. by 1991, 42-year-old nancy ludwig found what she was looking for in life, a husband who adored her and a career in