Forensic Files Season 8 Episode 5 Shadow of a Doubt

an unknown assailant walked into a retail store and fired three shots killing the owner police had suspects but all had alibis forensic scientists found more than a crime perpetrated in broad daylight hidden in the shadows was a killer [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] autumn is a particularly pretty time in Spring Grove Pennsylvania landscape photographers and local artists usually found their way here to the gray fox gallery the owner Jennifer Myers was a well-known picture framer just a wonderful woman a wonderful mother a wonderful wife and a good friend to a lot of people managing a retail shop isn't easy one year earlier Jennifer was robbed in the store at gunpoint since then her husband Steve stopped in every afternoon on his way home from work at the local factory most afternoon visits were uneventful but October 20th 1997 was different you're carrying high one morning my wife's been shot your wife shot a gray fox gallery in spring go hurry okay sir listen to me shot her no I don't her face she breathing when police arrived Jennifer was dead on the floor behind the counter she had been shot three times several workers nearby said they heard popping noises a few hours earlier around 1:00 p.m. no one thought they were gunfire several witnesses saw a man with long black hair running from the shopping center sometime around 1:00 p.m. this was someone that went in there with the sole intent to kill the victim there was no struggle a fight didn't precipitate this homicide a robbery didn't precipitate this no money was missing from the cash register or Jennifer's purse when something like this happens people feel as though their world has somewhat been changed and their sense of security is gone because if something like this can happen in Spring Grove Pennsylvania it could happen anywhere this brazen attack in a busy retail area at midday told police that the killer was willing to risk everything to kill Jennifer Myers it's somebody who definitely wanted her dead that had a problem with her and excluding robbery as being a motive that's what you start looking at who wanted Jennifer Myers dead a ballistic examination identified the murder weapon as either a 357 or a 38 caliber revolver in Pennsylvania there's a database as far as registered handguns so we began to look at that and we found that Stephen Myers did have a 357 that he owned Steve Myers willingly turned over the pistol for forensic analysis but he didn't resemble the man seen running near the shop earlier in the day [Music] witnesses said they heard popping sounds which police suspected were gunfire neared the gray fox picture frame shop around 1 o'clock in the afternoon approximately two hours later Steve Myers discovered his wife Jennifer shot to death on the floor of the store another witness saw a man running from the area wearing white blue jeans and a blue plaid flannel shirt we believe that the shooter came in the store used a blitz style attack on her walking right towards her firing the first shot and striking her in the shoulder area and then firing a second shot striking her in the abdomen the last shot was to the face ballistic experts examined the bullet fragments recovered from the victim and concluded the killer used a 38 or 357 caliber revolver the victim's husband Steve owned a 357 revolver when the bullets from the crime scene were compared to those test-fired from Steve Myers revolver analysts concluded they were not a match police also confirmed that Steve Myers was at work when the murder took place you need an alibi but as far as him being at work that just was one more piece that fit in that he was not involved in his killing whatsoever police had another promising lead Jennifer's murder took place just one day before she was scheduled to testify against 40 year-old Kevin Dowling the man Jennifer claimed had robbed her at gunpoint a year earlier okay well now we have perhaps a motive for someone to want to have this woman dead so that she was incapable of testifying Kevin Dowling had the opportunity to commit the murder since he was free on bail that day however when questioned by police Dowling said had an alibi he was fishing on a boat in muddy run Lake a story confirmed by his wife mrs. Dowling was very cooperative she truly believed that her husband was not involved in this homicide whatsoever and therefore is very helpful in improving her husband's innocence Dowling also had evidence to support his alibi he said he made a home video of his fishing trip that day his wife willingly turned the video over to police because I wanted to help prove him innocent that he did not do this so I was more than happy to help them and it was sort of like a slap in the face for them haha he did not do it if this is truly tape of him fishing it's an airtight alibi I want to secure it as evidence so that there's no further questions the first thing police noticed was that the videotape was recorded with the date and time of day the footage was shot the tape showed Dowling fishing in the middle of the lake from 10:46 in the morning until 4:00 p.m. on the day of Jennifer Myers murder muddy run Lake was a 45-minute Drive away from Jennifer's store Dowling also had store receipts for fish bait food and the boat rental but something about the videotape looked odd he's trying to get something on tape of him fishing but this is clearly not someone who's interested in catching any of the fish Kevin Dowling's family confirmed the tape was made on October 20th the day of the murder in fact that evening when he came home and my girls were home and after dinner we all sat around and watched the tape with him together on the tape Kevin spoke to his children about his impending robbery trial he also expressed his hope that if convicted the children would not misbehave while he was imprisoned [Applause] no are you kids he's accounting for almost everything he did that day which in itself being struck me as strike me as kind of odd that he has these receipts and the day seemed to perfect as far as he's a word alibi police wondered if Dowling had somehow doctored the videotape and if he had could forensic science prove it Kevin Dowling insisted he did not kill Jennifer Myers despite the fact that she was scheduled to testify against him in an upcoming robbery trial Dowling also had an alibi claiming he was fishing at the time of the murder and he offered this time-and-date-stamped videotape as evidence the tape contains scenes shot from 10:00 in the morning until after 4:00 p.m. Jennifer's murder took place around 1:00 p.m. and her store was only 45 minutes away from the Lake Dowling's videotape gave him an airtight alibi but police were still suspicious although Dowling shot scenes throughout the day the entire running time of the tape was only 12 minutes he talked several times the tape about catching fish yet you never saw any fish when a tape which again struck me odd that if you're catching fish didn't want to show them on your videotape something else about the tape bothered Mowrey Kevin Dowling repeatedly glanced at his wristwatch which struck me kind of odd if he's on a casual day of fishing why he was so concerned about the time of day in some parts of the tape Dowling's watch faced the camera investigators isolated and enlarged clips of the watch the timepiece was too blurry to read Maori asked scientists at the Federal Bureau of Investigation to try digital enhancement but the tape quality was too poor for the process to work determining the time when dowling shot the video was critical since police were well aware that the time and date stamp can be manipulated the Sun was out periodically throughout the tape and was casting very good shadowing by determining the shadowing positioning can we work backwards and calculate the time of day using the Sun its position in the sky detectives posed the question to NASA scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland surprisingly NASA identified a local astrophysicist to help them the guy that could probably do this was right in our own backyard and that would be dr. Robert Boyle at Dickinson College dr. Robert Boyle is an associate professor of physics and astronomy when he first saw the tape he wasn't optimistic my heart just dropped because this was clearly not going to be a cut-and-dried case of all their shadows you use them like sundials you can tell the time because here was a picture where the camera was on a moving boat as the Earth rotates the position of the Sun changes creating different shadows when using the Sun to tell time two characteristics are observed the sun's height overhead or altitude and its direction along the horizon or azimuth north point being zero degrees azimuth the east point being 90 degrees south point being 180 degrees the west point 270 degrees Boyle said he needed more than just the video tape to conduct a study he needed specific scientific information he would need some measurements of the boat he would need the measurements of Kevin Dowling he would need the measurements of the hat the Kevin Edward in a video but the most crucial piece of information dr. Boyle needed was the magnetic north compass heading of the boat when the videotape was shot to find out police took the same boat onto muddy run Lake and identified its exact location by matching the landscape shown on the tape then they identified the heading of the boat with a compass out of the eight frames that Professor given us we believed that we had matched seven of the frames and we used a degree of plus or minus five degrees as far as our degree of inaccuracy next using an artist's model a light bulb and the protractor dr. Boyle calculated the sun's azimuth or Direction based on the shadows the model represented kevin dowling the lightbulb the son dr. Boyle adjusted the light to produce the same shadows that were in the video the protractor identified the sun's position based on the angle between the model and the light essentially measured the angle between the direction of the the camera on the direction of the Sun which is being mimicked by a light bulb dr. Boyle used the Voyager 2 computer program which identified the sun's exact position in 15-minute increments on the day of the murder when he compared the exact position of the Sun to the shadows on the video dr. Boyle discovered that the times stamped on some of the scenes were bogus late afternoon time stamps could very well have been correct there was a whole bunch of times in the middle that just were inconsistent with the astronomical data for example in this scene the background analysis shows that Dowling is facing north it stamped 11:24 in the morning but you can see that the Sun is clearly positioned to Dowling's left which is West at 11:24 the Sun would be in the east dr. Boyle estimates this scene was shot closer to 3:00 p.m. Kevin Dowling now had the opportunity to commit this crime because he was not on muddy run Lake at one o'clock in the afternoon and he also had a motive but prosecutors needed more than shadows on videotape to get a murder conviction [Music] when police confronted Kevin Dowling with the scientific evidence that his time-and-date-stamped videotape was a forgery dowling confessed not to Jennifer Myers murder but to deception he now said that after a few hours of fishing he went to a nearby strip club and altered the times on the videotape so that his wife wouldn't find out I don't need to point out the strangeness of that theory first of all why did you videotape yourself at all why didn't you just say I decided I don't want a videotape myself and of course his wife would have never been the wiser and the videotape revealed something else Dowling was wearing clothes similar to the man witnesses saw running from Jennifer Myers store I did not want to believe that my husband the father my children could do something like this to another human being police found the clothes Dowling was wearing on the fishing trip in his home they sent them to AJ skipped shwo ball an internationally recognized expert in forensic gunshot residue when a pistol is fired the firing pin ignites the elements in the projectile which then turned into gas the gases solidify into tiny particles which are then deposited on the hands clothing and the immediate proximity of the discharge [Music] to test clothing for gunshot residue robell first used an adhesive to extract any microscopic particles the particles were placed in a scanning electron microscope which subjected them to extreme magnification and provided an elemental analysis an electron beam bombarded the sample causing the elements within to emit characteristic x-rays the characteristic x-rays show up on the video screen as Peaks or pulses at different energy levels each energy level is assigned an element tests revealed gunshot residue on the left side of each of Kevin Dowling's garments this was significant since Dowling was left-handed we found that every item had to some extent some gunshot residue present prosecutors say Kevin Dowling carefully planned to eliminate Jennifer Myers to prevent her from testifying against him in his robbery trial on the day of the murder Dowling went fishing on muddy run Lake and used his video camera till 11:45 weighs off we'll be back he then went ashore hit the boat in some bushes and made the 45-minute trip into town wearing a wig as a disguise Dowling entered Jennifer's store around 1:00 p.m. and fired three shots the gunpowder residue embedded deep into his shirt fibers invisible to the naked eye but perfectly clear to forensic scientists Dowling was back in his boat on the lake sometime around 2:00 p.m. when he reset the time on his video camera to 11:24 he never realized that he was a human sundial his videotape told the story of deceit not innocence I would like to kick his ass and he has no remorse at all then you wonder how sick this man really is when he has no remorse over what he's done and that is very scary despite the forensic evidence Kevin Dowling insisted he was innocent but he was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death by lethal injection his wife Joanne says she knew nothing of her husband's secret life and considers the death sentence too lenient I truly hate kevin dowling for everything he stands for the person he is what he did to people I hate him more than I can even explain well you can't ever forget the the infamous fishing tape because how ridiculous is it to think that he would get away with something like that I mean there's technology today that's going to determine that this tape has been doctored it's one thing to have a motive to kill it's another thing to actually prove that someone did it and the forensics were able to give us the proof necessary considering they never found the murder weapon it's amazing what they can do nowadays and without an a a lot of people would go free it's ironic of course we often talk about for the most hiding in the shadows don't we and in this case the shadows were actually real [Music] [Music] [Music]