Sometimes a case can go cold for years until investigators get a viable lead. This was what happened in the city of Arlington, Texas when two women were murdered in the same apartment complex.
For years, police searched for the killer to no avail. But a break in the case was made when one crucial piece of evidence helped connect the dots…
Something Was Odd
Christine, 25, was a school teacher living with her fiance, Thang, at the Peartree apartments in Arlington, Texas. One Tuesday afternoon, Thang got off work early and headed home. But, he was surprised to find their apartment door locked and dead-bolted from the inside.
The Third Time The Door Was Unlocked
Assuming Christine might be in the bathroom, he went and smoked a cigarette and then came back, only to find that the door was still locked. He tried calling Christine but there was no answer, and that’s when he returned to the apartment for the third time, this time the door was unlocked…
His Worst Nightmare
When Thang went inside, he discovered a scene that was out of his worst nightmare. Christine was lying naked, face down in the bathtub and her hands and feet were bound with duct tape. A strip of tape connected them down her back, almost as if she’d been hogtied with the tape.
Detective Ed Featherstone was assigned to the case, but initially, he was very suspicious of Thang. But Featherstone soon saw that Thang was very cooperative and DNA from semen recovered from Christine’s body excluded him as the rapist and killer…
He Smoked A Cigarette While His Fiance Was Being Killed
Most likely, while Thang was sitting outside smoking a cigarette, his fiance was being killed. The autopsy report revealed Christine had been sexually assaulted, strangled, and then drowned in the bathtub. It was a cruel death that no one should ever have to go through.
A Killer On The Loose
As investigators searched for her killer, they examined the fingerprints on the apartment door but they didn’t match anyone who had a reason to be in Christine’s apartment This led police to conclude that they may have a killer loose in the community and soon this prediction was confirmed…
Tragedy At Peartree
Another woman named Wendie also lived at Peartree apartments. But her family became concerned when she didn’t show up for a Christmas Eve shopping trip that she had never missed before. She also didn’t answer her phone.
When her aunt and uncle couldn’t get a hold of her, they went over to Wendie’s apartment to check on her. When they arrived at the apartment, they learned that she was left exactly like Christine was, naked and bound by duct tape, floating in her bathtub…
Genesis Of A Serial Killer
Detective Tommy Lenoir was called to the scene but it didn’t take him more than a couple of seconds to know what he was seeing, the inner workings of a serial killer. He immediately called Detective Featherstone to tell them that they had another bathtub victim.
Not only were the two women killed in an identical way, but their apartments had identical floor plans and decor! But there was another piece of evidence that confirmed it was from the same killer, if there was any doubt…
Once again, the killer left behind a fingerprint, this time in the dust on a TV stand. He also left behind DNA that matched Christine’s rapist and killer. Police hoped that either the prints or DNA would lead to a suspect, and they assumed these couldn’t have been the first crimes that he committed.
Complete Madness At Peartree
On Christmas morning, the scene at the Peartree apartments was chaos. Word spread rapidly and all of the single women were breaking their leases and moving out. Family members of the women arrived to help and loaded up their cars with possessions. The hectic scene at Peartree made getting statements or speaking with potential witnesses difficult…
Searching For The Killer
It’s also possible that if the killer was living at Peartree, he could have slipped out without being noticed or raising any red flags. But, when police ran the prints through the American Fingerprint Identification System, they were surprised to get no matches.
For Years There Were No Leads
For months, police pursued potential suspects and they obtained DNA samples hoping that one would lead to a resolution. They wondered when the killer would strike again, and they waited and waited, but nothing happened. They figured maybe he died or moved away, but three years later he struck again, and this time, the victim survived to tell her story…
The Killer Was Back
On February 23, 1999, Chima, 22, a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington, went to sleep at her sorority house. But when she woke up, there was a man on top of her who put a gun to her head and said, “‘Do what I say, and I won’t kill you.’”
She Wouldn’t Give Up Without A Fight
He proceeded to rape her orally, but Chima was a fighter and she bit him hard enough that he would forever carry a scar. But her toughness enraged him and he beat her up so badly that she needed two facial reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage. Her body was left bloody on the floor and Chima was numb from the torment. The only silver lining this time was that Chima got a good look at the rapist’s face because he wasn’t wearing a mask…
An Overwhelming Feeling
Then, on October 26, 1999, the rapist found his fourth victim. Adrienne had seen the story of the murders in 1996 on the news and she had a weird feeling that was so strong that she moved out of Arlington to Grand Prairie. Although she couldn’t explain it, she was so sure that man on the news would come after her too and she was right.
“The Devil Is Making Me Do It”
That night, Adrienne woke up to the sound of someone running and she sat up in time to see a man in a mask rushing towards her. For the next two hours he raped her but he also spoke, saying, “The Devil is making me do it,” and “You’re not like others.” He also knew Adrienne’s name and other information, making it clear he had been stalking her. She didn’t sleep soundly until one year later when police called her to say that they had her rapist in custody…
Updated Fingerprint Identification System
The advance in the case came when the FBI received a new AFIS system where they could rotate prints and locate points of comparison where they couldn’t before. The best print came from Wendie’s TV stand and Sgt. Gary Kohn submitted the print. Two weeks later, he had a result and a name: Dale Devon Scheanette.
Scheanette had been arrested on a burglary charge and he also lived in Peartree apartments during the murders. He was immediately arrested although he denied ever having been in the victim’s apartments, but couldn’t answer why his print was at both locations. He refused a DNA sample, but police learned a scar on his penis matched the description of where Chima said she bit him. He was indicted shortly after and the surviving women and families hugged each other when Scheanette was sentenced to death by lethal injection.