Worst Roommate Ever (2022) s02e02 Episode Script

Housemate from Hell

[unsettling music playing]
[computer keys clacking]
[Sgt. Heather Olsen] "Female executive
has an executive home,
exquisitely furnished to share,
three bedrooms, two baths,
lush backyard,
and French door private entrance
overlooking the pool."
[unsettling music continues]
[Anita Cowen on recording]
[Sgt. Olsen] I've never worked
a roommate case myself
where it ended so tragically.
[Anita on recording]
[Sgt. Olsen] The thing that sticks out
the most to me in this investigation
is that she recorded her murder.
[Anita moaning on recording]
[Anita yelling]
[unsettling music rising]
[Sgt. Olsen] Cathedral City
is one of the smaller cities
located just east of Palm Springs
in the Coachella Valley.
It has one of the lower crime rates
in the Coachella Valley
as it pertains to homicides.
We can see anywhere between one to five.
It really just depends on the year.
It's a very safe place to live.
[Det. Albert Holloway] It's a desert city.
This is a working-class city.
But there is a sect of retirees
that do live in Cathedral City.
For the most part, it's fairly quiet,
so what makes
the Anita Cowen case memorable
is the brutality
of how the events unfolded.
[dark music playing]
[Sgt. Olsen] In June of 2016,
we received a "check the welfare" call
a little after 11:00 p.m.
[line ringing]
[operator on phone]
911, what's your emergency?
The call for service came
from Anita Cowen's daughter-in-law
to have the police department
go and check on her
because they hadn't been able
to get a hold of Anita Cowen.
-[siren wailing]
-[indistinct radio chatter]
[Sgt. Olsen] The officer arrived
to the residence.
He went to the front of the house.
[knocking on door]
[Sgt. Olsen] He began knocking
on the front door. There was no answer.
[officer] 5-0-2, can you start me
another unit up here also?
[Sgt. Olsen]
A second backup officer arrived.
[suspenseful music playing]
[dog barks]
[knocking on door]
[officer 1] Wanna go check the back
real quick?
[dog barking]
[officer 2] It's padlocked.
We're gonna have to jump the wall.
[scraping noises]
[Sgt. Olsen] It was very dark.
There was no lighting.
Walking down the side yard,
leaves crunching.
He would later describe to me
that he had a horrible feeling
in the pit of his stomach.
Once they rounded the corner,
they located Anita in the pool.
[eerie music playing]
[water gurgling]
[Sgt. Olsen] She was severely beaten.
She had visible injuries
on the left side of her head and face.
There was broken glass,
um, broken picture frames.
And blood drag marks in the concrete
just outside of the door
leading to the backyard.
It's gut-wrenching.
How did this happen?
Who's involved?
And what kind of a person
would hurt an elderly woman?
[music fades out]
[intriguing music playing]
[Steven Stirt]
My mom got divorced pretty young.
And she had to get a job,
so it made her more independent.
So she was always, um
We were always renting,
and, um, she always wanted
to have a house.
It was her dream.
[intriguing music continues]
[Cindy Stirt] Buying a home
was what she wanted.
So her girlfriend Patty
brought her to Palm Springs, said,
"You're gonna love Palm Springs."
"Palm trees, blue skies."
And she fell in love with it.
[Steven] So when she found the house
in Cathedral City, she wanted it.
[Cindy] When she bought that house,
it was everything for her. She loved it.
It was a three-bedroom, two-bath.
It had a pool, had a Jacuzzi.
A beautiful backyard.
[Steven] She loved the house.
It was her independence.
It was "she's arrived" kind of thing.
[Cindy] Anita and Steve talked every day.
They were extremely close.
So I think it was really hard for Steve
because she was so far away.
Steve and I live in San Diego,
and it's about three hours
from Cathedral City.
Anita had her own business.
She recruited travel nurses,
trying to recruit them to hospitals.
And she really was good at what she did.
But when Anita was in her sixties,
she had to close the business.
When she lost her job,
she needed to do something to make money.
[Sgt. Olsen] She actually got a job
at Walgreens Pharmacy working part-time,
but she was having a difficult time
paying her bills.
So she took out a loan
for the equity of her car just to make
To pay her bills.
What a lot of people don't understand is,
living in the desert,
the cost of utilities is very high
because of the heat that we have.
A lot of retirees
don't have that regular income coming in,
so they go looking for tenants
to rent out guest bedrooms.
-[birds chirping]
-[wind chime tinkling]
[Steven] She'd put an ad on Craigslist.
You know, room for rent, nice house,
come as you go, separate entrance.
Then she would say,
"Here's the rent, here's the deposit."
And people would show up
with just that rent and just that deposit,
and she would take the money
and give them a key.
I mean, nothing like,
"Where do you work? Where are you from?"
[Cindy] We asked her to screen them
before she had them come live with her,
and she didn't do that
because it costs money
to do background checks.
Anita lived with roommates
out of necessity
and also, I believe, maybe being lonely
and not having someone there with her.
[Steven] Having the roommate
sort of worked for a while.
Darrell was one of her first roommates.
I think Darrell was the longest roommate
she ever had.
[somber music playing]
[Darrell] I was going through a divorce,
and I was living in a shack
out in the middle of nowhere
with no heater, and burning wood
on a stove to keep warm.
And my car was falling apart
because it was a long drive to go to work,
so I really needed to move
somewhere closer to work.
I was pretty desperate.
I had bad credit
because my divorce was going on,
and I was having a hard time
finding an apartment.
So that's how I ended up
going on Craigslist
to find a homeowner who was desperate
as I was to get a tenant,
and found Anita's ad for a room for rent.
So the house was pretty immaculate,
kind of like it is now,
except it was just cluttered
with all these fancy little things
that she got from all over the world.
The room was nice,
and it seemed like a perfect little fit
for me and my cats to move in with her.
And that was that.
She didn't do any kind
of background check, or
or anything like that.
She very quickly
took my money and gave me the key.
When I first moved in,
me and Anita got along pretty good.
She seemed like a nice woman,
and I have respect for people
who are a little older
and was gonna do everything I could
to be the best tenant that I could.
[Cindy] Anita said that Darrell
was a little different
than what she was used to seeing,
but he always paid the rent,
and she was okay with him living there.
I've only met Darrell a few times.
I've found some of the things he did
to be a little peculiar.
[knife clanking]
[Darrell] Most of the time
I'm just hanging out in my room
and hanging out with my cats
and just, you know,
we'd just see each other in passing.
We didn't bother each other.
Everything was fine.
Anita's house was a three-bedroom,
two-bath house,
and she was renting out both rooms
in that house as much as she could.
There were several people that lived
in the room across the hall from me.
There was a time
when she was having trouble
with one of the tenants,
and a friend of mine and myself
had to intervene.
We had to tell them
to cool it off and cool it down
'cause they were getting a little heated,
being disrespectful to an elderly woman
in her own home.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Steven] She had all different kinds
of issues.
She's had times when people would come in
and they wanted to squat in the house,
and they wouldn't pay rent,
they'd keep eating her food
Anita had difficulties
with different tenants,
so she would call the police
essentially to assist her
with removing these tenants.
So, on multiple occasions,
officers had to explain to her
that there's a legal process
on how to evict
these tenants from her home.
[foreboding music playing]
[Darrell] About two years
after I moved in with Anita,
she introduced me to a friend of hers,
and his name was Scott Pettigrew.
[Cindy] Anita met Scott through work.
They instantly had a connection.
[Darrell] My first impression of Scott
when I met him
was that he's an educated,
clean-cut gay man,
typical of Palm Springs area.
So when she came up to me and told me
that Scott was gonna be moving in,
I was kind of happy for Anita
to have a new tenant that she knew,
someone that she trusted.
So, yeah, I gave Scott a big hug
and was very happy to see him
'cause things were gonna be easier
around the house for all of us.
[Cindy] Anita liked Scott.
She liked the company,
and they socialized.
She never socialized with with Darrell,
but with Scott, she did.
[Darrell] From the time Scott moved in
with his two dogs,
he started being strange and odd.
-[eerie music playing]
-[door squeaking]
Sometimes he would just open my door
and shut it real quick while I was asleep.
[door slams shut]
Then I would come very angrily
out of my room and say,
"What are you doing? Next time, knock."
And he would say, "I just want to know
if you're home or not."
He would come in and, like,
knock something off of a dresser,
and then run out the door
before I had a chance
to really fully wake up
and realize what happened.
Just odd things that would drive you nuts.
Terrorizing my cats.
[door squeaks, slams shut]
[Darrell] Every time Scott would come in,
he'd slam the door.
They would freak out and go hide.
I had complained to Anita
on numerous occasions,
but she declined to do anything.
She said, "Not my problem.
That's between you and Scott."
[Cindy] Anita, I don't know
if she didn't care
the two didn't get along.
Scott just could talk a good talk.
He just was a charmer,
and she trusted him.
[Darrell] Scott had Anita convinced
that I was doing
all kinds of weird things
around the house that I wasn't doing.
[eerie music continues]
[Darrell] I had a flashlight
in the medicine cabinet
that I keep just in case
the lights go out.
And he had her convinced
that two little holes on this flashlight
were a camera and a microphone
filming him naked
while he's in the bathroom.
I said to her, "It's not a camera,"
and she didn't believe me.
I've known Anita for many years.
She's a very strong woman.
And I was a little surprised
that she would even believe that.
But she did.
[Steven] I didn't like him very much,
and I don't know why she was so interested
in Scott, to this day.
But whatever he said,
she wanted to go along with.
[Cindy] He was trouble.
He was very pushy.
He would try to get his own way,
and he definitely
did not want Darrell in that house.
At one point, Scott was stealing things
and blaming it on me.
-[tense music playing]
-[showerhead squeaking]
[Darrell] Scott took the showerhead away,
and he convinced Anita
that I had stolen the showerhead.
He was stealing the light bulbs
out of the porch light
and blaming it on me as well.
And then he started stealing
the cleansing tablets
out of the toilet in our bathroom.
Anita came to my door asking me
why I was stealing the little blue
cleansing tablets out of the toilet.
And I said,
"I'm not stealing those tablets."
"I have no use for those.
Why would I take them?"
But Anita was constantly believing him.
The whole time Scott's over her shoulder
snickering and laughing,
and I just remember thinking,
"This is crazy."
[Cindy] Anita was freaked out
because there was just
weird things happening.
Like, things were being stolen.
Things were disappearing.
She goes, "I don't understand
why Darrell's doing that to me."
"What's the purpose?
Why is he being like that?"
[Darrell] So the worst thing
that Scott did,
he had thrown up
and defecated in the bathtub.
And it was disgusting.
I went to take a shower,
and the bathtub was full of just filth.
The next three mornings it was like that,
and Anita came knocking on my door
and asked me why I kept doing that.
And I told her,
"That's not me. That's him."
[Darrell] She was just believing
anything and everything he told her.
[Steven] So at that point,
my mother started getting nervous.
She was just not trusting
of Darrell very much.
[Darrell] Scott was manipulating her,
and it was working.
And I started looking
for a new place to stay.
[suspenseful music playing]
[doorknob jiggling]
[Darrell] Anita and Scott
were locking me out of the house
by chaining the door shut.
I actually had to call the police
probably five times in two weeks
to have them come let me in the house
because you can't just lock the door
on someone and say,
"You don't live here anymore."
[ominous music playing]
[Darrell] They were threatening
to call the police on me
and lie to the police,
and I decided I needed to pull
my phone out and record this.
This was important.
I don't want the police to be lied to.
So I pulled out my phone
and pressed record and kept it down low.
[Scott, on recording] Do you really think
that you're going to have more credibility
than the two of us?
Do you know how many attorneys
I know in the Coachella Valley
that I went to law school with?
I'm not playing here.
I'll show you my degree,
and you can look me up on the Internet.
-[Darrell] So Okay. So you're
-[Scott] Not playing. You need to listen!
And that's when I raised
the phone up to show him
that I'm filming this,
and he immediately changes the subject.
[on recording] Film me all like, like you
filmed me naked in the bathroom.
-[Darrell] What? [laughs]
-[Scott] You did. I got the equipment
And then he tries to convince Anita
that I've that I've got some sort
of extensive criminal record
that's visible on the Internet.
And that was all just right there
in that little video.
There's a lot in that video.
[Scott, on recording] Your fingerprints
on the other device.
-[Darrell] The phone?
-[Scott] Yes.
[Darrell] Police need a federal warrant,
and there's not anything on there.
-[Scott] You have a criminal record.
-[Darrell] I do?
-[Scott] You have a probation officer.
-[Darrell] Never met a probation officer.
[Scott] Darrell,
you have a criminal record.
[Darrell] Okay.
The next day, I told her that, you know,
things didn't have to be this way.
You know, if you could just stop Scott
from harassing me,
and stop harassing me yourself,
and we can work this out.
You know, I told her,
"If you want me to move out,
you're gonna have to give me time,
and I'm gonna want my deposit back."
She didn't disagree, but she didn't agree.
She just kind of listened to me
and was like, "Okay."
[foreboding music playing]
[Darrell] I went out of town
with my friends for a couple days.
Came home Sunday night really late,
and the door was chained again.
So I called the police,
and I said to the police,
"Yeah, it's me again.
My door is chained again."
The police officer
on the end of the other line said to me,
"You wait right there,
and we'll be down there to get you."
And I remember thinking,
"Get me? That's odd."
But when the police arrived
[handcuffs clicking]
they handcuffed me
and threw me in the back of a car.
I had no idea
what I was being arrested for.
I asked him, "What am I under arrest for?"
He said, "You know what you did."
From the time Scott moved in to the time
I got arrested and sent to jail,
I want to say
it was three weeks to a month.
When I got to jail, I had no idea
what I was being charged with.
I was very angry
because I had called the police for help,
and they had arrested me.
My public defender was the first person
to tell me what I was being charged with.
They were all felonies. Felony counts.
Senior abuse.
Damage of property, I believe.
Scott and Anita said to the police
that I had been acting crazy,
and had been threatening them,
and had chased them into a room.
And supposedly,
I pushed Anita down on the lawn.
I was flabbergasted.
I was completely astonished.
Not only was I being accused
of a crime I didn't do,
but it was a particularly heinous crime.
So I had to spend time housed alongside
all kinds of really bad people.
Child molesters, rapists,
and all kinds of heinous murderers.
And I could not afford bail.
My bail was set at $150,000.
I was facing
two-and-a-half years in prison.
I was really angry with Scott and Anita,
and was having all kinds
of thoughts of revenge.
How am I gonna
get back at them when I get out?
I never, ever thought that I would ever
have lived with somebody
capable of doing these things.
[Julie] My name is Julie Russell,
and Scott Pettigrew
was my roommate in 2012.
[somber music playing]
[Julie] I found Scott through Craigslist.
He had responded to the ad
that I had put up.
Said [reading email]
He was super charming, super funny.
He had two small dogs as well.
I trust a dog person
over a non-dog person any day.
Scott moved in, and it was fun.
You know, we laughed. We had a good time.
Things seem to be going really well.
I did notice that his dogs were having
a lot of accidents in the house.
I've had pets my entire life.
I understand things happen.
Um, but it was excessive.
I had a concern
that it would upset our other roommate,
who hadn't moved in with a pet.
I started to really worry
when our other roommate
was leaving the back door unlocked.
And since we were
on the ground-floor apartment
that led out into the garden
and then a very busy street,
I started to get irate emails from him
about his safety was in jeopardy
and the safety of his dogs
because the door
kept getting left unlocked.
The tone showed me
a complete other side to his personality.
When he stopped paying rent
and stopped paying his portion
of the bills in the apartment,
things started to turn bad.
[tense music playing]
[Julie] We had maybe only been
living together for about a month
at this point.
He started eating our food,
eating my roommate's birthday cake,
threatening legal action against me
for having three roommates
in a two-bedroom apartment.
I think that was probably
one of the biggest shocks,
when I went to open my liquor cabinet,
it was empty.
He'd emptied everything in it.
There were several times
that I went to my boss in tears and said,
"I have to leave right now.
I'm going home."
"I think my dog is in danger."
"Don't know what I'm gonna find
when I get there."
I just feared that he was going to try
to hurt her in some capacity to get at me.
He went through a period
of sending horrible voice messages
and text messages to us
to complete silence.
We couldn't get in touch
with him for anything.
I couldn't afford to cover
another person's rent and bills.
So it was time to start bringing
the landlord into the equation,
and ask if we could
get a new lock put on the door.
It took a couple of weeks
before we got that approval.
But when we finally got the locks changed,
I felt like that was the point
that I could actually breathe again.
I was able to get
into the bedroom at that point.
I wasn't prepared for the mess
that I saw when I got in there.
His bedroom was just filthy.
Stuff everywhere.
Dog food everywhere.
Used condoms.
It was just disgusting.
[unsettling music playing]
[Julie] I did not realize he had been
removing his belongings
when we weren't there.
He was leaving his bedroom window unlocked
so that he could get in and out
without us knowing.
There were many moments
when he lived with us
that I felt that he was capable
of snapping,
and I'm just glad that that didn't happen
when we lived together.
[unsettling music continues]
[Steven] At some point
after Darrell was arrested,
Scott and my mom, their relationship
started to have some problems going on.
The friction started with Scott.
He lost his job at Walgreens.
He didn't have any income,
no money, and he stopped paying rent.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Steven] They were fighting
because Scott would eat her food.
She would call me and say, "He's a pig,
he's sloppy, and doesn't pay any rent."
Scott was stealing her stuff.
He would steal Anita's vanilla extract
because it has some alcohol base to it,
and he was drinking that.
[Steven] I think that
he now had nobody to
"Nobody watching me," in a sense,
because he became more aggressive to her.
His dogs went all over the place.
He took more of her stuff,
just kept locking it up
without any kind of respect for her.
His room was totally gross, trashed up.
I mean, I'm like, "What the hell?"
You know, she just
It was ridiculous to me.
[Cindy] Steve was getting uncomfortable,
and we were trying to get Anita
to come live with us,
but she would not leave her house.
She loved that house.
She worked very hard for her house.
She wasn't about
to let Scott take that from her.
[Steven] This was our worst nightmare,
not knowing what's really happening
while she's sleeping.
Usually if something goes bad,
you've done something in the past bad.
So what did he do in his past life?
[somber music playing]
[Rob Salcedo] I believe that things
are not just black and white.
There's always more to a story
than just him being a monster.
My name is Rob Salcedo,
and I was Scott's partner
for about 12 years.
When I met him, I really did, uh,
fall in love with him very quickly.
He was very funny.
He was very loyal and protective.
I felt safe.
Part of the attraction
was that we kind of both
came from not having such an easy life.
Not too long after we met,
Scott told me that his father
had abused him.
His mom was so abusive
that she would get him pets,
and then she would
take them to the pet shelter
and have them euthanized,
and would tell him
that she never wanted him.
Things like that.
We both came from
not the most ideal situation growing up,
and we both wanted to study
and become somebody.
I was going to get my degree,
and he was gonna get his degree,
and he was gonna go to law school.
"White picket fence" sort of thing.
When he came back from law school,
he was a totally different person.
Um, he came back emaciated,
like, very ill.
I started finding, like, vodka bottles,
like, hidden in the closet,
and he was taking
all these prescription pills.
I paid for Scott's bar exam
at least two times,
and he told me he took the bar exam,
but I never saw evidence
that he actually took the bar exam.
When he drank,
he would either completely pass out
or he would get, you know, violent.
At one point,
he drank a whole bottle of tequila,
and he got a kitchen knife
and was chasing me around the house.
I ran down the street.
It was trash day,
so I was throwing trash cans,
trying to knock them down,
but he was jumping over them
like they were hurdles.
I hate to think if I didn't outrun him,
what would have happened.
Scott and I broke up in 2002.
I just didn't see a future.
But we were always, you know, in contact,
and I would help him whenever I could.
When Scott first met Anita,
they were friends.
And then, you know, the relationship
just started to deteriorate.
One time, I was on the phone with him
when he alleged
that she had opened the back gate
and let the dogs out,
and he was on the phone with me
yelling down the street like,
"You let the dogs out. I'll kill you."
[ominous music playing]
[Steven] My mom didn't know
what to do with him anymore.
So I think that's probably
I think she felt stuck.
[Cindy] Scott would go out drinking,
and he'd come back,
and he'd be violent.
He was even getting meaner and meaner,
and drinking more.
He was yelling at her,
and it got really bad.
So Anita started
putting all her stuff in her bedroom,
and she put a dead bolt on her door.
She hoarded everything in her room.
Things from the kitchen,
silverware, all that,
so he didn't have access to any of it.
She couldn't even lock him out
because he took out all the dead bolts
of the back French doors.
Scott was the one blaming Darrell
for all the stuff that was missing
but there's no way
Darrell could have done any of that stuff
because Darrell was in jail.
So Anita realized quickly
that that she made a mistake.
[tense music playing]
[Cindy] Anita told Steve that,
"Scott and I put Darrell in in jail."
Scott had this scheme that if we both say
he pushed you and I'd be your witness,
then they would just arrest him.
That would lock him up.
And then he'd be kicked out.
They called the cops and said he did this,
and it was a freaking lie.
It was ridiculous to me.
She was just flat-out in the wrong
for what she did to him and, you know,
caused him to lose his job, his income,
lose his place where he was living
Steven and I told her
if she does not go to court
and tell the courts
that she perjured herself,
then we're not gonna talk to her again.
[Sgt. Olsen] Anita ended up talking
to the district attorney and said,
"Actually, this didn't occur. I lied."
[Cindy] I believe that Anita did feel bad.
If Anita didn't feel bad,
she wouldn't have gone back to the courts
and tell them she perjured herself.
[Sgt. Olsen] After she told
the district attorney's office
that she falsified this police report,
Darrell was released.
[ethereal music playing]
[Darrell] You take all kinds of freedom
for granted.
But when you do a hundred days in jail,
you really appreciate your freedoms.
And being free, being out, was amazing.
My first night out,
I took a long, long walk.
My feet hurt the next day.
It was wonderful.
I went over to the house with a policeman
to retrieve some of my clothes
and some toiletries,
and Scott and Anita were home.
[uneasy music playing]
[Darrell] I noticed that Scott and Anita
were not happy with each other.
Anita actually came over to me
in the garage
and was helping me look
for some of my things,
shoulder to shoulder,
and I felt that she was really sorry
for what she had done.
Scott told me that Anita
had my cats euthanized.
[melancholy music playing]
[Darrell] My cats were my everything to me
at that time of my life.
I was going through a divorce.
I didn't have any children
with my ex-wife, but we had the cats.
And they were like
the only thing I had left.
[Cindy] Well, Anita wouldn't do that
because Anita was an animal lover.
She had two dogs of her own,
and she's had cats,
so she wouldn't have done that.
I believe that Scott did kill his cats.
He was that mean.
[Darrell] When I was done getting
my belongings out of the garage,
the police officer who was there
accompanying me
congratulated me on keeping my calm
and not freaking out, not blowing up.
He advised me not to come back
to the house ever, for any reason,
without a police escort.
And I said to him,
"You don't have to tell me twice."
"I ain't coming back here
without you guys for sure."
[door slams]
[uneasy music playing]
[Sgt. Olsen] After Darrell was released,
Anita went back to court
and she filed the paperwork
for a restraining order
and a kick-out order of Scott.
[ominous music playing]
[Cindy] She did write a letter
to the judge
about things
that were missing and disappearing,
and that Scott was letting
the dogs urinate,
and pooping all over the house.
And he was violent.
She said he was yelling and screaming
and throwing stuff around.
[Sgt. Olsen]
She had to have been really scared.
She knew that this was her only way
to get him out of the home.
A judge granted the order
that Scott's dogs
were to be removed from the residence.
He also ordered Scott to stay
five yards away from Anita at all times.
Why a judge would order dogs
to be removed from the residence,
but not the person
that was threatening you?
I'd never heard of something
so ridiculous in all of my career.
How can you be in a certain distance
of someone in your house?
I mean, it's not that big of a house.
Like 1,400 square feet.
But the judge said that he had not been
violent with her, so he let Scott stay.
[Steven] I don't think
she knew what to do next.
So I was trying to help her out.
Would he do something do something
that will get him evicted?
So I told her to get a tape recorder
to document if he's yelling at you
or threatening anything,
or breaking anything either.
Whatever you can do that'd show the court
that how your living conditions
are changing to get him thrown out.
[unsettling music playing]
Anita knew that Scott was gonna
be served with the order that day.
So she was working,
and she planned to stay away
from the home and not return
for as long as she possibly could
because she knew when she returned home,
he was going to be
extremely upset with her,
and she was afraid to come home.
[foreboding music playing]
When she came home, she called me.
And she said, "I can't get in."
He put a lock on the garage door
and padlocked the side doors.
[lock clicks]
I said, "You need to call the police."
[siren wailing]
One of our officers responded to her home
just after 6:00 p.m. to assist her.
Once he got inside the garage,
he realized that the garage door motor
had been disconnected.
So he reconnected the plug
for the garage door motor,
and was able to open
the garage door for her.
She asked the officer to go inside
and talk to Scott Pettigrew.
She essentially wanted the officer
to scold him for doing this to her.
And he explained to her
that this was a civil issue,
that no crime had occurred.
And he left.
[tense music playing]
Anita called me,
and I asked her what was happening.
And then she kinda told me
that when she was gone at work,
the sheriffs came and served him papers.
So when she came home, he's yelling
and screaming and throwing stuff around.
-[glass shatters]
-[tense music continues]
[Cindy] She said he lost it.
He also put superglue on her bedroom door
so she couldn't
get in her bedroom to hide.
Steve had just gotten off of work.
He called me,
and I said, "I think there's trouble."
"We've got to get out
to your mom's house."
So he goes,
"Okay, let me call her right now."
[phone ringing faintly]
[Steven] So I said, "We'll go out there,
and we'll get you a hotel room."
"We'll try to work
on some way to get him out."
"Pay him off, whatever it takes."
We thought she was fine.
I hear the glass breaking
and him yelling in the background.
[faint shouting]
[Steven] So when I was talking to her,
I told her to take the tape recorder out,
turned it on, and she goes,
"Okay. I'll call 911."
And then, all of a sudden,
the phone goes dead.
[disconnect signal heard on phone]
[Cindy] We called and called and called,
and we got in our car and drove out there.
That drive was probably
the longest drive that I've ever done.
[Steven] We called the police
several times to do a welfare check on her
because she never
answered the phone again.
[Sgt. Olsen] It was just a little
after midnight, so I'm sound asleep,
and I received the call.
I was told that an elderly female
was murdered and thrown in her pool.
[ominous music playing]
The two officers in the backyard
had pulled Anita out of the pool,
and then the officers go inside
to do a safety sweep.
[officer, on recording] Come to the rear.
I need your help clearing the house.
And to find out
if there's potentially someone else
that's injured within the home.
[officer, on recording] We'll go through
and clear. A guy in the back bedroom.
And he's a renter here.
Okay, so we're gonna go through
and clear this.
They quickly do their safety sweep
throughout the home.
They end up right at Scott's door,
which is closed.
They call out to Scott,
open his door,
and they see him laying naked on his bed.
[officer, on recording] Cathedral City
Police Department! Let me see your hands!
Get your hands up! Both hands up!
Stand up and come over here.
Keep coming.
Come over here.
Okay, turn around, turn around.
Put your hands behind your back.
[Sgt. Olsen] They basically call him out
into the hallway.
[officer, on recording] Come over here.
-What's your name?
[officer] Scott what?
Oh, careful. There's broken glass.
-Give me some light. Some light.
-[Scott] Scott Pettigrew.
[officer] Okay. Sit down here, Scott.
Sit down right there.
There you go.
Here, Scott. Cover yourself up.
Sarge, he's detained.
[police sirens blaring]
I was called by a patrol sergeant
who informed me of a homicide,
and that I needed to assist
Detective Heather Olsen,
who was already on scene.
Upon entering the house,
I saw police officers
standing with Scott Pettigrew
in the living room area.
I noticed he had raised
red scratches on his back
that were going from the top
of his back running down,
but he started to make statements
about asking where Anita Cowen was.
Scott made a reference to another person
named Darrell Hatfield.
I asked, "Who's Darrell?"
Scott stated to me,
"Darrell's our other roommate."
"Darrell said he was gonna kill us.
I'm afraid of Darrell."
"I feel like he did something to Anita."
And it's not that I believed him
or I didn't believe him.
It's part of the puzzle
we're trying to solve.
And the only way to solve that
is by finding Darrell
and finding out what his role
in this homicide investigation was.
[intriguing music playing]
[Cindy] Steven and I pulled up in our car,
and the whole cul-de-sac
was full of police officers.
And an officer came up to us
and asked us if we need any help.
And Steven said,
"Well, my mother lives in this house."
[Steven] And that's when they tell us
that my mother's dead. Yeah.
[breathing shakily]
[somber music playing]
[Steven] I just didn't see it coming.
It makes me sort of feel like,
in a sense, that I failed.
[breathes deeply]
[cries softly]
[voice breaking]
Probably one of the worst days of my life.
[dark music playing]
[Darrell] I got released from jail
on Saturday,
and it was the following Tuesday night
that Anita was murdered.
When I found out what happened to her,
I was just flabbergasted
and stunned and shocked,
and I kind of lost my mind.
And it just clicked.
I thought to myself, "Oh my gosh.
I have to be a suspect myself."
Instantly, I realized that I needed
to turn myself in for questioning.
[Det. Holloway] One of our patrol officers
called me and said,
"I have Darrell Hatfield."
And I met him at the Cathedral City
Police Department.
Darrell said Scott was the reason
that he was arrested and had to move out.
So Darrell, he didn't have a place to go.
And not only that, he was in jail
for something he didn't do.
And so, uh, that would make me pretty mad.
I was scared that they might have thought
that I was involved or guilty in some way.
But the night of Anita's murder,
I was not feeling good.
And I ended up in the hospital.
So when I went to speak to the police,
I found a receipt from the hospital.
And this receipt was for my belongings.
It was for my shoes
and my bag and my coat.
And I handed that to the police,
and they said, "This is very good."
[Det. Holloway] We were able to confirm
that he had been in the hospital
at the time the murder occurred.
So there was no way
that he could be at the home
or even be implicated in this homicide
as a potential suspect.
And now all of our, um,
focus is now on Scott Pettigrew
as the primary suspect in the homicide.
[Sgt. Olsen] When I had walked through
the crime scene initially,
I had immediately noticed
in the bottom of the pool
there were multiple packages
of chicken wings thrown into the pool.
And there was actually a whole chicken.
It was really odd.
When I had looked at the items
that were strewn about in the kitchen,
I was immediately drawn
to the pepper grinder.
The pepper grinder matched the circle
of bruises that were on Anita's back.
There was a breakfast nook
and a kitchen table
on the other side of the kitchen.
So I had pulled back the open French door.
And as I looked behind the French door,
I saw a digital recorder.
And I actually picked up the recorder
and saw the digital file was recorded
on the night of the murder
because it was date- and time-stamped.
[unclear dialog heard on recording]
[Anita, on recording] I don't think that.
Oh, maybe it's good. Okay.
Stay away from me.
Stay the fuck away from me.
-[Scott] Cunt.
-[Anita] You bastard!
You bastard. You bastard.
Now you're gonna start
beating up an old lady, huh?
[Scott] You're an old cunt, aren't ya?
[Anita yelling] Get out of here!
Get out of here! Get off me!
When I hear that recording,
it it makes me sick to my stomach.
Like, it just sends chills down my spine.
After I listened to the digital recording,
I knew I had my suspect.
So I went back to the station
to interview Scott.
My focus was honing him in
on events that occurred that day.
And when we got closer to the time
of when the physical altercation
occurred between the two of them,
he asked for his attorney.
At that point,
I knew my questioning was done.
So I gathered my things on the desk,
and I said,
"Oh, that's a shame, because she
she recorded this murder."
[intense music playing]
And as I'm walking out the door,
he says, "What? Wait a minute."
And he wanted to talk to me.
"What was on that recording?"
And I explained to him,
"Listen, you asked for your attorney."
"I can't speak to you."
And he kept asking me,
"What's on that recording?"
"What did she record?"
So I re-Mirandized him,
and then we started again.
And we got about ten minutes into trying
to get him to tell me what happened,
and he asked for his attorney again.
I explained, "Listen, we're we're done."
"There will be no further interviews
or questioning."
And it was at that point
that he asked for the death penalty.
Innocent people
don't ask for the death penalty.
[Det. Holloway] I believe
the motive behind the homicide
was the eviction of the dogs.
It is really what provoked
that extreme emotional response
with Scott Pettigrew
that led him down a path
of where he attacked
and he beat Anita Cowen.
[plaintive music playing]
[Darrell] You know, I never thought
that I would be sharing a house
with a murderer or a murder victim.
It's surreal.
I was pretty angry with her, and still am,
for what happened and what she did to me.
But Anita did not deserve
what happened to her.
[Cindy] Anita, she opened her heart
to people that she trusted,
and I think
when you trust in the wrong people,
you never know what's gonna happen.
But it's, um, it's just really sad.
[Steven, emotionally] I think she tried.
[breathing shakily]
I mean, my mom has her shortcomings,
but I don't think anybody deserves that.
[Sgt. Olsen] I think
the most important takeaway
with this investigation
is how people can be very dangerous.
And that's why people
need to do background checks.
That's why people need to know
who they're going
to invite into their home.
You know, you're most vulnerable
in your own home.
[intriguing music playing]
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