Was there a botched investigation of the death of Kristopher Russell's wife two months before the murder of Samantha Lezark? And, would Lezark still be alive had he been charged and jailed for Tara Greene Russell's death? Darrell Franklin joins us with more.
We tried to contact the Dawes County Nebraska prosecutor about the status of that case but, so far, we have not received a call back and the staff person who took our call was not familiar with the case.
There are surprising similarities in the two women who were found dead exactly two months apart.
Tara Russell of Chadron Nebraska was 29, Samantha Lezark was 28.
Both were born on May 13th one year apart. Both had brown hair, both had numerous tattoos, and both met Russell on the internet. Lezark's death was quickly ruled a homicide but Tara's death was ruled the result of pneumonia.
However, after Russell's arrest in Wichita Falls authorities in Dawes County requested a separate opinion from that of the original forensic pathologist.
There was no body for a new autopsy, because Russell had his wife's body cremated.
But, the new pathologist did have photos of the autopsy and from the scene and microscopic slides from the autopsy. This pathologist found abrasions and bruises from burst blood capillaries on the face not previously mentioned and said they must have occurred after Tara arrived home the night she died.
Prosecutors say the only other person in the trailer was Russell.
The second pathologist said he could find no signs of natural disease processes to explain her death nor any evidence of pneumonia and concluded the cause of her death was unknown
In Russell's trial in Wichita Falls the prosecutor filed intent to show evidence of bad acts by the defendant.... despite that he was never charged.
He said Russell never assisted Nebraska investigators.... and in fact.... was deceptive to one investigator when she talked to him about Tara's death.
According to investigators, Russell began chatting online with Lezark just a couple of weeks after Tara's death.... and he told her his wife had died, and that he wanted to leave Nebraska and return to Wichita Falls.