How I Caught My Killer (2023) s01e04 Episode Script

Everybody was always looking at him.


NARRATOR: Secrets are
like a ticking time bomb.
Especially the juiciest ones.
Especially in a college town.
Eventually, secrets?
They will explode.
And that's exactly what
happened in Columbia, Missouri,
on June 5, 2004.
That's when, in the middle of the
day, Jesse Valencia is found dead.
NEWSCASTER: Police found
Valencia's body on East Campus,
neck wrung, throat slashed
by a serrated knife.
JOHN WOHRLE: I just remember
thinking to myself, like,
"It can't be true."
There is nothing I can do ♪
NARRATOR: The murder
sends shockwaves
through the town of Columbia
and the University
of Missouri campus.
Everyone is a suspect.
throat is slit.
That's very personal.
So it's very likely
we're looking
for a person who knows Jesse.

- Investigators were brainstorming,
"What happened here?"

NARRATOR: It's just the beginning
of a college crime conspiracy,
filled with sex,
lies, corruption
OFFICER: Police. Open up.
NARRATOR: and the secret
that forever changes
the lives of everyone involved.

WOHRLE: If Jesse had
something he needed to say
he was gonna say it.
But somebody will go to the
extreme to protect a secret.

NARRATOR: But that
secret is also the thing
that ultimately brings
Jesse's killer to justice.

MAN 1: She solved her own
murder from behind the grave.
MAN 2: The fitness
app on the phone,
it was overwhelming evidence.
Haunted by the visions ♪
That I've seen
with my own eyes ♪
And the only way to find you ♪
Is to go beneath the lies ♪

MAN 3: She did help
catch this killer.

You got something to hide ♪
NARRATOR: Summer 2004.
Columbia, Missouri.
I see trouble ♪
I see trouble ♪

Hey ♪
The University of
Missouri is rocked
when a student's body is
discovered off campus.

name's Jeff Westbrook.
I was an investigator in the
Columbia Police Department
in Columbia, Missouri.
MAN: Jeff Westbrook, take one.
[siren wails]
WESTBROOK: I was actually the
first responding investigator.
There were some residents
in one of the houses
and when they walked out, they
saw the body and called 911.
[shutter clicking]
NARRATOR: The corpse is naked
save for a pair of boxers.
It's clear the
throat's been slit.
- When the other
investigators arrived,
we were brainstorming,
"What happened here?"
[siren wailing]
NARRATOR: With no clothes
or identification,
investigators have
no way of knowing
who the victim is
or how he got there.
[police radio chatter]

WESTBROOK: We started
knocking on doors.
We had a picture
just of his face
and we said, "Do you
recognize this person?"
Is it someone that
you've ever seen before?
And in talking to
someone, we discovered
the young man's name was

Jesse Valencia.

NARRATOR: Jesse was a
23-year-old history major
going into his senior
year at Mizzou,
the University of Missouri.
He was openly gay and a vocal
advocate for social justice
who dreamed of
becoming a lawyer,
after leaving his small town
of Perryville, Kentucky.

I'm Lupe Valencia
and I'm Jesse's stepfather.
It's been 18 years and, uh
[voice breaking] I just
can't really talk about it.
Jesse did not deserve to have
what happened to him happen.
Well, no one does, but he
sure didn't deserve it.
[inhales and exhales deeply]

NARRATOR: Jesse's family and
friends were so proud of him,
knowing that he came from
such humble beginnings.
LUPE: Jesse grew up in
a barn much like this.
He loved riding horses.
Jesse, he was just full of life.
Just go, go, go.
If you'd met, Jesse
you would love him.
Very proud of Jesse.
Don't go telling
anyone you saw ♪
I've got a mind to keep
you in the dark now ♪
NARRATOR: When Jesse arrived
at the University of Missouri
in the fall of 2002,
he made tons of friends
both on and off campus.
Another day is over ♪
Another light is gone ♪
I feel the dark
side comin' on ♪

NARRATOR: Jesse was loved.
How could anyone
want to hurt him?
And now with his murder,
everyone in Columbia
wants this case solved.
Everyone wants to know,
"Is there a killer lurking outside
the university or on campus?
Who is the murderer among them?"

Turns out Jesse just lived
seven houses down the block
from where they found him
in a house that's been
converted into apartments.
Investigators could tell
there had been a struggle.
MAN: Take one.
BOEHM: My name is Randy Boehm.

And I'm the former chief of
the Columbia Police Department.
We did find a neighbor who
was in the adjoining apartment
who does remember something
going on that evening.
[light buzzing]

name is Morley Swingle.
I was the elected prosecutor of
Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.
The person that lived next door,
Christopher Kepner was his name,
and he came home drunk
about 3:00 in the morning.
And he said, "I went to bed.
Sometime during the
night, I heard arguing."
[indistinct yelling]
Christopher Kepner said, "I got
up and I pounded on the wall
and I said, "Shut
up over there."
"And then it went deathly quiet
and I never heard any more noise."
NARRATOR: It seems
a fight started
in Jesse's apartment
and branched out.

Because his body was
found down the street,
his murderer
probably chased him,
yet no one on the street
heard as much as a whimper.
Jesse's apartment
offered more clues.
[camera shutter clicks]
- One of the things that we
discovered in his apartment
was a used condom.
[camera shutter clicks]
And so that was collected
for DNA evidence.
NARRATOR: Did Jesse hook
up with the wrong person?
Or did he know his killer?
Was this a lover's quarrel
that went violently wrong?

[police radio chatter]
The sergeant on the scene puts
officer Steven Rios in charge
of guarding Jesse's apartment.
And medical examiner Valerie Rao
has Jesse's body transported
to the coroner's office.
It's clear from the autopsy that
Jesse put up a hell of a fight.

- There was heavy bruising
across his collar bone area
and there was significant
bruising in the middle of his back
between his shoulder blades.

They also took DNA from
Jesse's fingernails.
Jesse had a shaved chest,
yet they found arm hairs
that were not Jesse's
lying on his chest.
NARRATOR: The medical
examiner concludes
that the knife used to
slice Jesse's throat
had a serrated blade.
The killer was so brutal,
he severed both of
Jesse's jugular veins
and nicked his vertebrae.

BOEHM: Jesse's throat is slit.
That's very personal.
It's unusual for that to be
a stranger-related homicide.
[camera shutter clicks]
So it's very likely we're
looking for a person
who knows Jesse.
Little drops of
doubt dripping down ♪
From my brain to my heart ♪
MAN: John Wohrle, A-B
camera marker take one.
WOHRLE: My name
is John Wohrle.
I am childhood friends of Jesse.

When I heard Jesse was dead,
I immediately thought to
myself, "Who did he make mad?"
'Cause if he had
something he needed to say
or a way that he felt,
he was gonna say it.
Change my mind ♪
Show me there's a way
we'll make it out alright ♪
knows something.
Someone has a secret. But who?
Vocalizing ♪
Won't you show me something? ♪
And then
[telephone ringing]
just hours after the
autopsy [ringing continues]
investigators get a call.

It's about a party
a day earlier
OFFICER: Police. Open up.
NARRATOR: and an
arrest that unlocks
a shocking secret that shakes
this small town to its core.

NARRATOR: Within 24 hours
of Jesse Valencia's
body being found,
a college friend of his named
Krystle Loyland calls investigators.
Krystle informs them
that Jesse had attended a party
at her house the night before.
But I never thought
of time like that ♪
It's marching on but
I'm standing still ♪
SWINGLE: Krystle
Loyland had been
hanging out with friends
on that last night
of Jesse's life,
and he had come by.

She had said he seemed
happy and carefree.
You got me beggin' for love ♪

Electronic music playing ♪
- Jesse was always
the life of the party.
He loved being the
center of attention.
He loved being the one
generating good times for people.

showed up with two men
Krystle hadn't met before.
A guy named Eric Thurston
and his roommate Ed McDevitt.
Krystle says Eric left the party
around 2:30 in the morning.
And Jesse left with
Ed around 3:00 a.m.

- So we knew that around
3:00 a.m. that morning,
that he was still alive.
NARRATOR, Investigators
track down Ed and Eric,
the two people who were
last seen with Jesse
and bring them in
for questioning.

WESTBROOK: We had 'em both
in separate interview rooms.
We wanted to see what
each individually,
independently had to say about
their whereabouts that night.
SWINGLE: When they
brought Eric Thurston in,
he gave one of the more
interesting interviews
that the detectives
had ever had,
because when they sat him down
and told him that Jesse
Valencia was dead,
his response was, "Well,
I could kill a person.

But I didn't kill him."
That is such a bizarre statement
that immediately it
ratcheted him up higher
on the list of suspects.
NARRATOR: Eric also
tells investigators
that he and Ed used
to be together,
but had recently broken up.
But now, Ed and
Jesse are dating.
SWINGLE: They looked
hard at Eric Thurston
'cause they thought, well,
maybe Eric Thurston was jealous
because Ed was
seeing somebody else.
NARRATOR: That somebody
else being Jesse Valencia,
who appears to have been
killed in a crime of passion.
Eric tells investigators that
after he left Krystle's party,
he met a guy named Kevin and
they spent the night together.

They're going to need
to track down this Kevin
and confirm the alibi.
[police radio chatter]
[telephone rings]

Meanwhile, down the hall
question Ed McDevitt.
SWINGLE: When they
interview Ed McDevitt,
Ed was visibly distraught
and was just the opposite
of Eric Thurston.
upset, crying.
Ed said that he had met Jesse
approximately two days
prior at a local night club.
Huh, just ride with me ♪
Go coast to coast
if you fly with me ♪
We ain't worried about
the hate or the rivalries ♪
We can dance to the night,
go slide with me, yeah ♪

WOHRLE: Jesse, he was
a beautiful person.
Guys would notice him,
girls would notice him,
like, everybody was
always looking at him.
was no different.
One look, and they were hooking
up that night at Jesse's place.
Dance music playing ♪
Ed confirms that the condom police
recovered from Jesse's apartment
was from this first encounter.
SWINGLE: And then
on Friday night,
Ed saw him again at that party.
NARRATOR: After Jesse and Ed
left Krystal's party together,
they chatted on the
sidewalk outside her house.
SWINGLE: Jesse wanted
Ed to come home with him
but Ed said, "No, I have to go
to work at 6:00 in the morning."
He was a chef.
And so Jesse ended up
walking home by himself.
Don't let the sun go down ♪

NARRATOR: Ed tells
the investigators
that when he got home,
he went right to bed.
And that's his alibi for when
they think Jesse was murdered.
It's not a strong one.

SWINGLE: The knife that cut
his neck had a serrated blade.
So the one thing that worried
them about Ed McDevitt
was he was a chef who had
access to a lot of knives.
[camera shutter clicks]
NARRATOR: Before they
release Ed and Eric,
investigators ask for
and receive DNA samples
that might connect
them back to the crime.
That DNA could break
the case wide open.
But it'll take several agonizing
weeks to get the results.
Then, the police receive an anonymous call
that turns the investigation on its head.

- One of the tips
that we get says that
Jesse Valencia was
having a relationship
with a married
Columbia police officer
at the time of the crime.
Whoever called mentioned
that this Columbia police
officer was married
and had a young child.
SWINGLE: Making the
police department realize
we have to look into the possibility
that maybe it's one of our own.

BOEHM: We did not have any
openly gay male officers.
And so it's a police officer
who may have that relationship
on the side away
from his family.

We can't discount the fact
that it might be someone
who just has a beef with
the police department
trying to cause a problem.
But you don't know that
until you follow the lead.
[siren wailing in distance]
NARRATOR: The anonymous
tip gains more credibility
when investigators bring 21-year-old
Andy Schermerhorn in for questioning.
Andy is one of Jesse's
former boyfriends.
SWINGLE: Andy Schermerhorn gave
some blockbuster information.
He said, "I was at
Jesse's house on May 14th
and we were in bed together
having sexual activity."
Around 3:30 in the morning,
there was a knock at the door
and Jesse answered the door
and there was a police
officer in uniform.

Andy Schermerhorn said,
"I got frightened and
I stood up on the bed
and I was afraid something
terrible was gonna happen."
And Jesse said, "No,
it's okay, it's okay.
"He's cool, he's cool.
"And the police officer
took off his gun belt
and put it on the cabinet
and joined us in bed."
After it was over, the police
officer looked at Jesse and said,
"This has got to be a secret."
And he did not give his name.

NARRATOR: They ask Andy
if he might be able
to identify the officer
if he saw him again.

Schermerhorn said,
"I saw him out in the hall. It was
that guy we passed in the hall."

NARRATOR: The day after Jesse Valencia
is found with his throat slit,
one of Jesse's former lovers
has just stunned detectives.
He told them that one
of their colleagues,
a police officer who he
just passed in the hall,
had a sexual encounter
with him and Jesse.

The light of the day ♪
After midnight ♪
All the bad things happen ♪
WESTBROOK: That was a
shocking piece of information.
And so we went back, "Well,
who did we walk past?"
And we walked past an officer
by the name of Steven Rios.
NARRATOR: It's the same
officer that was standing guard
over Jesse Valencia's apartment
after his body was found.
Bad things happen ♪

- Steven Rios was a married
Columbia police officer.
Young, in his 20s with
a brand new child.
Had only been on our department
two or three years at that time.
And by all accounts,
doing a great job.

Investigators discover
that seven weeks earlier,
Steven Rios had
arrested Jesse Valencia.
- On April 18th of 2004,
three of Jesse's friends, all
females, were having a party.
And the police were called twice for
noise violations at that apartment.
Jesse Valencia got between the
girls and Officer Steve Rios
and said, "What's your probable
cause for arresting my friends?"
NARRATOR: Rios arrested Jesse
and wrote him a ticket
to appear in court.
[police radio chatter]
The charge, "obstructing
a governmental operation."

When Rios showed up for work
on the day of the murder,
he didn't hide that
he knew the victim.
SWINGLE: He said,
"Yes, that's a person
"I had arrested
six weeks earlier,
for obstructing a
governmental operation."

NARRATOR: But what
alarms investigators
is that on the day
Jesse was found dead,
Rios was assigned to stand
guard over Jesse's apartment.
[camera shutter clicks]
Is it possible Rios went
inside to tamper with evidence
that might expose
him as Jesse's lover,
or maybe even as Jesse's killer?
BOEHM: On June 8th,
now three days after the
fact, very odd thing happens.
Steven Rios comes to
the police department,
goes to the sergeant in charge
of the investigation and says,
"Hey, sergeant, I've heard
about this tip that you got.
"You might hear my name,
but I want you to
know it's not me."
SWINGLE: The detective, he'd
already talked to Andy Schermerhorn
and so he said to Steven Rios,
Andy Schermerhorn
said on May 14th
that you came by in uniform
at 3:30 in the morning
and joined them for
sexual activity.
And he said "Sex?"
Now it appears to be a point
you're trying to make clear to me ♪
eventually admits
that he had sex
with Jesse six times
since he had arrested him.

The last time being a week
before he was found dead.
- He said, "I didn't tell
anybody 'cause I'm married
and my wife said she'd leave me if
ever had an affair with anybody."
What I heard about you
I ain't hear it from you ♪
"We had sex, but no,
I didn't kill him
and I have no idea who did
or what happened to him."

NARRATOR: Rios is placed on leave
until he can be completely cleared.
He cooperates fully
with investigators,
giving them permission to
search his car and his house.
They find no evidence that
links him to the murder.
- Even though Steven Rios
admits to the relationship,
it doesn't necessarily mean that
he's involved in the homicide.

NARRATOR: Rios claims
he last saw Jesse
a week before he was killed.
So investigators return
their focus to the people
who were with Jesse on the
very night of his murder.
BOEHM: We did ask Erik
Thurston and Ed McDevitt
if we could search
their apartment.
Both of them agreed.
NARRATOR: They're looking
for bloody clothing,
or a serrated chef's knife.
Any evidence that could potentially
tie them to Jesse's murder.
- We did search and did not
find any type of evidence
that we thought was
related to the crime there.

NARRATOR: Investigators are
able to track down Kevin,
the hookup who was Eric Thurston's
alibi for the night of the murder.
Kevin tells them that Eric
was with him the entire night,
so Ed McDevitt's roommate is
removed from the suspect list.
As for Ed McDevitt,
he still has no alibi.
- Things were starting
to really narrow down.
Ed McDevitt was a suspect,
along with Steven Rios.
NARRATOR: The police
don't want news
of the salacious
affair to get out,
but someone leaks Steven
Rios' name to the media.
- Being in the
LGBTQI+ community,
I think sometimes
we're looked at differently.
We're looked at as a bad person,
an immoral person,
and I think the police
were embarrassed by that.
NARRATOR: Rios' exposed affair
humiliates him in front of family,
fellow officers,
and his community.
And marks the start of a very
messy, very public meltdown.
It begins when Rios buys
a shotgun at Walmart
and contacts his colleagues to tell
them he's going to kill himself.
SWINGLE: They put him
in a mental facility
for mental health treatment
'cause they considered him a
danger to himself or others.
WESTBROOK: The next day,
we were called by the facility,
and they said Steven
Rios has escaped.

[police radio chatter]
He's standing on a
parking garage ledge,
threatening to jump off.

[siren wailing]
NARRATOR: Is Rios feeling
shame over having the affair?
Or guilt over having
committed murder?
[waling continues]

deepest, darkest secret,
the one you'd do
anything to protect
was revealed to the world,
how would you react?
There's something I've
been trying to hide ♪
For Columbia, Missouri,
police officer Steven Rios,
it's threatening to jump from
a four-story parking garage
I am falling ♪
in full view of TV news cameras.

I don't wanna be saved ♪

threatened to commit suicide.
The reaction of a killer,
or a cheating husband who
knew his life was over?
[police radio chatter]
WOHRLE: I was like, "Come
on, you need to be a man
"and stand up and
own what you did
and not coward out and
do something like that."
[siren wailing]
- I was one of the officers assigned
to talk to Steven on that ledge.

And I said, "You
don't wanna do this.

Think about your son."
NARRATOR: For two hours,
Rios keeps officers at bay
and spectators on edge.
WESTBROOK: Finally his
field training officer
who was a close friend
of his talked to him
and Steven came
down off that ledge.

[bystanders cheer]
And was subsequently transferred to
a more secure mental health facility.
NARRATOR: Even with Rios
threatening suicide,
the police have no probable
cause to arrest him
for Jesse Valencia's murder.
And he's not the only suspect.
Ed McDevitt told police
he was asleep by himself at
the time Jesse was murdered,
so he has no alibi.

But Rios does.
- Rios said, "I got off work at
three o'clock in the morning.
"I went upstairs and I drank some beer
with other officers on the rooftop.
And then I drove home."

- We talked to his
wife and she goes,
"Yes, he came home between
5:15 and 5:30 a.m."

And she remembered that

Because she'd been up with
their baby at that time.
NARRATOR: When investigators
follow up on Rios' alibi,
police dispatcher
Leah Wooden tells them
she remembers Rios leaving the
rooftop at 4:47 in the morning.

Swingle: We actually had
the police officers drive
to see how long would it take
to go from where Steven Rios
was drinking beer after work
to Jesse's house.
And then from there
to Steven Rios' home.

NARRATOR: The entire drive
takes only seven minutes.
If Rios got home between 5:15
and 5:30, like his wife said,
that means he had
between 20 and 35 minutes
of unaccounted for time.
But is that a large enough
window to chase someone down,
kill them, then dispose
of any evidence,
including a murder weapon?
BOEHM: We were not able to
ever recover the murder weapon.
But we had several officers
say that they remember
Steven Rios carrying a knife
similar to the one that we
believe was used in the crime.
NARRATOR: Ed McDevitt, a chef,
also had access to
a lot of knives,
but Ed's motive is unclear.

Then, a week after the murder,
Jesse's best friend comes forward
with a new and shocking insight.

SWINGLE: Joan Sheridan said
when Jesse went to court
on his first appearance
on his case for obstructing
governmental personnel,
that was May 25th, the
case did not get thrown out
like he thought for
sure it would be.
[siren wailing]

NARRATOR: Jesse was certain
that if he was sleeping with the
officer who gave him the ticket,
he would of course pull some
strings to get it dropped.
- He said, "If this case
doesn't get thrown out,
"I've got a little secret the
chief of police might wanna know."

And so, that leads you to
believe that it was possible
that the next time Officer
Steven Rios rode up,
Jesse confronted him
about, "Are you married?
"I have a little secret that the
chief of police might wanna know,"
and that confrontation might have
led to his throat getting cut.

BOEHM: So we have a motive.
Jesse Valencia had said
that he was going to
come to our department
and tell me about the
relationship with Steven Rios.
- Steven Rios had given all
the power to Jesse Valencia
for Jesse Valencia to ruin
him if Jesse wanted to.

NARRATOR: The evidence
is compelling,
but it's all circumstantial.
What the police need is some
strong physical evidence
that links Jesse's murder to
one of the prime suspects:
Steven Rios or Ed McDevitt.
I know something
that they don't ♪
Now, almost a month
after Jesse was killed,
maybe they'll finally
get their answer.
The results are back on the DNA
collected at Jesse's autopsy.
Will they finally prove
who killed Jesse Valencia?
And I can't breathe ♪

NARRATOR: A secret
without facts
to back it up is just a rumor.

Now, the science of DNA
testing will reveal the facts
behind Jesse Valencia's murder.
- One of the most
difficult times for us
was the period of time
where we don't have enough
to arrest a suspect,
and so we're waiting
for the DNA information.
In this case, it turned out to
actually be very critical evidence.

NARRATOR: The condom
found in Jesse's apartment
has Jesse's and Ed McDevitt's
DNA on the inside and outside.
- Not surprisingly, it corroborated
with what Ed McDevitt had said
about the sexual activity
that they had had.
NARRATOR: But they
had also found DNA
under Jesse's fingernails.
Who did that belong to?

- Underneath the fingernails
of the dead young man
there was Steven Rios' DNA.

NARRATOR: It's common
in a physical assault
for the DNA of the attacker
to end up under the
fingernails of the victim.
- Rios denied that there was any
kind of a physical altercation.
And so the fact that there
was DNA under the nails
turned out to be very
critical information.

NARRATOR: But there's more.
The arm hairs the medical
examiner found on Jesse's chest?
Only one in 57 trillion people
would match to those hairs.
And they match to Steven Rios.

SWINGLE: So that was
completely damning evidence.
The only thing he
could not cover,
uh, was the DNA that
he'd left on the body.

BOEHM: I was so
angry about it.
The last thing I wanted to do was
get in front of a camera and say,
"We have arrested a Columbia
police officer for homicide."

But that's what we had to do.
I said, "I want y'all
to understand that
we want this person
to be in prison."
This person violated
everyone's faith.

WOHRLE: Hearing that it was
a married police officer
he was involved with was,
like, just couldn't believe it.
Anybody who's in a position to where
you serve other people, period,
would utilize that power
to start the relationship
and not being open and honest
about who he is as well,
the whole thing just
feels gross to me.

NARRATOR: Joan Sheridan
had told investigators
that the first time Rios
showed up at Jesse's apartment,
Jesse was seduced by the power
of his uniform, badge, and gun.
Something Rios was counting
on, and had done before.

had filed the charge
against Steven Rios,
three women came forward
who said that Rios had also made
advances toward them.
So it did seem like Rios
was using his badge,
not just on Jesse
Valencia for sex,
but potentially
other people as well.

Rios goes to trial
on May 17th, 2005.
At this point, there are
no secrets left to hide.
Along with presenting
the evidence,
prosecutors want
the jury to hear
Jesse's own words
from beyond the grave.

SWINGLE: I went ahead and put
Joan Sheridan on the stand
so the jury could hear that Jesse
had made those comments that,
"The next time he comes
over, I'm gonna confront him
"about the fact that my
ticket hasn't gone away
"and that I have a little secret
the chief of police might
wanna know if it doesn't."

NARRATOR: Rios takes the
stand in his own defense.
He tells the jury that while he
may be a liar and an adulterer,
he is not a murderer.
But will the jury believe him?
SWINGLE: Anytime a
defendant testifies
all you have to have is
one jury member believe him
and it would be a hung jury
or a not guilty verdict.
NARRATOR: After four
days of viewing evidence
and hearing testimony,
the jury gets the case.
They deliberate for 14 hours
before reaching a verdict.
SWINGLE: Steven Rios testified
and the jury did
not believe him.
And they came back with
first-degree murder,
which was life without parole,
and another 20 years on
the armed criminal action.

Steven Rios used
his badge for sex
and then he used his knife to shut
the mouth of his lover forever.

WOHRLE: The day that
the verdict was given,
it was just a huge
sense of relief
knowing that the
person who did that
is not gonna be able to
do that to another person.
Would you catch
me if I fell? ♪

NARRATOR: Every tip and
lead investigators received
about Steven Rios came about
because Jesse couldn't
stop telling his secret.
And that's how he brought
his killer to justice.

BOEHM: No one was
happier than we were.
Not only did this person
commit a horrible crime,
but they violated
everyone's trust
because they're the person
you're supposed to go to for help
and yet they're the person
who committed the crime.

NARRATOR: Two years later,
with Rios in the South
Dakota State Penitentiary
in Sioux Falls,
an appeals court rules that the
secrets Jesse told Joan Sheridan
were inadmissible in court
because they were hearsay.
They overturn Steven
Rios' conviction.
Prosecutors now have to
try Rios a second time
without that testimony.
SWINGLE: This time
the jury came back
with second-degree murder
and they came back with
armed criminal action again.

Steven Rios got life in prison
for the second-degree murder.
The difference is, on
a first-degree murder,
he never would have gotten out.

With second-degree murder,
he could conceivably get out,
as an old man someday.

WOHRLE: I came out right
after high school at 18
and Jesse followed suit.
Our families were so supportive.
I believe if Steven
would have had that,
I think the outcome would've
been completely different.

I hope now that
while he's in jail,
he really thinks about hiding
that secret, who he was.
And I hope that
that is something
that's constantly on his
heart moving forward.
Because you can't
change who you are.
I'm suffocating
on my own words ♪
Too afraid to let them know ♪
NARRATOR: Jesse's out,
loud, and proud spirit
is probably doing cartwheels
in heaven to know that today,
at least in the Columbia
Police Department,
there are fewer secrets.
- For the first time,
I have a gay man
who is our LGBTQ+ liaison
from the police department
who is also our
SWAT team commander.
That's not something
you would have expected
even ten years ago.

NARRATOR: It's a small step,
but one that would
not have been lost
on the big-hearted
social justice warrior
that was Jesse Valencia.
- If Jesse was still with us,
I think he would've been
a really amazing lawyer.
He would fight for you, he would do
anything he could to protect you.
That's how he was.
LUPE: That's what he
would be working on.
Fighting for the little guy.

That's what Jesse
would want us to do.

I don't know where
my head is sleeping ♪
Have I lost my mind? ♪

But I know that
I have a secret ♪
That is only mine ♪

And the only way to find me ♪
Is to go beneath the lies ♪

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