On June 13, 1996, 18-year-old Angie Dodge (above) was brutally raped and murdered at her apartment in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Christopher Tapp was convicted of the murder, but was released earlier this year after serving 20 years in prison after evidence emerged that DNA found at the crime scene was not a match to his.
Angie’s brutal murder, Tapp’s controversial conviction, and the victim’s mother, Carol Dodge’s, 20-year search for justice are the subject of Who Killed Angie Dodge? Keith Morrison Investigates on Investigation Discovery.Angie Dodge had a group of friends over the night she was killed, but what happened after about 12:30 A.M. is unclear. When she failed to show up for work the next day, two of Angie’s coworkers went to her apartment and discovered her body — and the bloody scene — and called police. The murder shocked the small town, where murders were rare.
Angie had been stabbed repeatedly. Her throat was slit, and she had been raped. The killer left her sweatpants pulled down and left semen on her body. Investigators took DNA samples of the semen, but found no matches among Angie’s boyfriend at the time or any of the friends who had been visiting.
Detectives revealed that from the beginning, they believed that the killer was someone Angie knew. “The day before the murder Angie said to me, ‘You know mom, I’ve done something really stupid,” Carol told Keith Morrison.
Carol feared that her daughter had gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd, and it haunted her that she had not quizzed her daughter further. That’s when Carol started her own investigation.
Months passed, and detectives questioned dozens of people before settling on one suspect: Christopher Tapp. Then detectives learned that one of Angie’s close friends, Ben Hobbes, had committed a brutal rape in Nevada. Police took a DNA sample from Hobbes, but it did not match the semen found on Angie’s body.
Detective Jared Fuhriman questioned Tapp, a troubled teen who he had known since he was a police officer assigned to Tapp’s junior high school. Fuhriman revealed that Tapp initially denied any involvement in Angie’s murder.Three days later, though, he changed his story, saying that Ben Hobbes had told him he killed Angie — but that he had thought it was a joke.
With no attorney present, Tapp followed this with a seven-page confession alleging Hobbes’ involvement. A few days later, detectives questioned Hobbes, who was in custody in Nevada. He denied any involvement.
Tapp’s DNA was also tested, but detectives continued to interrogate him because he did not have a solid alibi. He was interrogated for more than 40 hours, and reportedly took several polygraphs.
At this point, police developed a theory that Tapp and Hobbes committed the murder — but a third man committed the rape. Based solely on his own confession, Christopher Tapp was charged with Angie’s murder.
At that moment, Carol Dodge thought that she was finally getting justice for her murdered daughter. But later, Carol began to have doubts about Tapp’s guilt.
On May 28, 1998, the jury found Tapp guilty of rape and murder with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to life in prison.Several years later, still doubting the conviction, Carol Dodge contacted Dr. Greg Hampikian of the Idaho Innocence Project. Together they worked to have pubic hairs that were mentioned in a lab report tested for DNA. The results, according to Hampikian, supported the theory that Tapp was not present at the time of Angie’s murder — and that the rape and murder were committed by an unknown assailant.
For Carol, the results were shocking. She asked for copies of the interrogation and polygraph tapes in their entirety — and said she realized that the police strategy had been “to get each one of these guys to roll on the other,” and that the other two friends were simply “smarter,” than Tapp, who trusted the police detective.
Tapp says that the detectives were able to coerce him into confessing because they fed him information and offered him an immunity deal, so he believed that if he cooperated, even if the information was untrue, he would be released.
Detectives vehemently deny that they coerced Tapp in any way, and insist that he knew incriminating details of the crime. They said that were are certain they had the right man. But Carol became convinced that Tapp was innocent and had been coerced by detectives into making a false conviction. She began publicly calling for him to be released.Over the years, more and more people, including Judges for Justice, began to join the Idaho Innocence Project in campaigning for Tapp’s freedom. But still, not everyone was convinced that Tapp was not involved in some way. Some experts who believed that the confession was unfairly coerced still believed that he must have at least been at the murder scene.
During this time, Tapp faced further tragedy: Lori Hollandsworth — a Tennessee woman who advocated for his release and married him in a short 2013 prison ceremony — was killed in a car accident in 2016.
In March 2017, a judge vacated Tapp’s rape conviction and released him after resentencing him to time served. Since his release, Tapp has done multiple media interviews. He has also visited his father’s grave, and traveled to Tennessee to meet with Hollandsworth’s family.
He has revealed that he secured a job in construction, and hopes that one day Angie Dodge’s real killer will be found. The investigation into Angie’s murder continues. Recently, police used technology that takes DNA to create an image of what the killer may look like, and released two “snapshots” to the public.
To learn more about the case, watch Investigation Discovery’s Who Killed Angie Dodge? Keith Morrison Investigates on ID GO.
Main photo: Angie Dodge [Investigation Discovery]