VIDEO: Police twice targeted the wrong men for a brutal 1996 killing, then a cigarette changed everything

WashingtonPost:

Fact and fantasy collided for Michael Usry Jr. with a knock on his door in December 2014. Officers from the Louisiana State Police were outside, asking the then-35-year-old to come downtown for a conversation.

Usry was living in New Orleans with his wife. He was a low-budget filmmaker who had ground out a few short movies. Up until that knock, the most attention Usry had attracted had been for “Murderabilia,” a 2010 production about the violent killing of a young girl. Usry knew he had done nothing wrong, so he agreed to go with the detectives.

Usry didn’t know why he’d been targeted, but he answered the questions he was asked. Investigators eventually explained that he was a suspect in a high-profile crime.

The article goes on to state the following:

The crime was the brutal June 1996 murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Usry’s shock was soon supersized when he learned how he landed in the investigation’s crosshairs: a genealogical analysis of the suspect’s DNA from the crime scene had led investigators to Usry’s family tree. His 1996 trip to Idaho, and his bloody film work, only further spiked the investigator’s suspicions.

Police had arrested the wrong suspect, and Usry was cleared six weeks later, in early 2015, by additional DNA tests.

Usry was the second man wrongfully identified as Dodge’s killer. Christopher Tapp was freed in 2017 after spending 20 years in prison for the crime.

Now, police believe 53-year-old Brian Leigh Dripps Sr. is responsible for Dodge’s murder, according to the Idaho Statesman. Dripps was arrested after police found a cigarette he had discarded and compared it to DNA from the scene. The arrest cleared Tapp.

Get more information about this complicated case at Washington Post.

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