Killer sticks to story as execution looms
In ‘s mind, he’s a family man who respects women, has never been in trouble, and believes strongly in Christianity.
But a lengthy criminal record and two capital murder cases he was convicted in the 1994 rape and murder of a San Antonio woman and charged in the 1991 rape and murder of a homeless woman in Grand Rapids, Mich. paint another picture.
Hernandez is set to be executed Thursday for the 1994 capital murder of , 38, pending the outcome of a clemency petition before the and a writ before the of Criminal Appeals.
still doesn’t feel real. I did not commit this murder; I’ll take that to the grave, Hernandez said in a recent death row interview. grandma raised me to respect women. says otherwise.
Almost by chance, Hernandez was linked to Verstegen’s death in 2002, eight years after her half naked body was found stuffed in a 55 gallon drum at a church.
As a condition of his parole for an assault in Grand Rapids, Hernandez had to submit a DNA sample for a local, state and national database called CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System. When a match was found, , then a cold case detective who had reopened the probe in 2000, visited Hernandez in a Michigan jail.
After about 20 minutes, Saidler recalled, Hernandez asked a Michigan officer to leave the room, then confessed to killing Verstegen, a single mother interested in photography who worked for Frito Lay.
Saidler said he offered to write the statement for Hernandez, who was crying and shaking.
gave me the facts of the case that only the killer had known, said Saidler, now an investigator with the Bexar County district attorney’s office. gave (the confession) up pretty easily to me. He had some tears, but I couldn’t say if he was shedding tears for himself or Air Jordan 3 Retro 136064-010 Männer Schwarz Weiß Billig Kaufen for the victim. found body
Susan Verstegen’s supervisor became worried after she didn’t make it to her second delivery stop before dawn on Feb. 18, 1994. She didn’t answer his pages or calls. When he checked, it appeared she had made a delivery to the Frito Lay shed behind the H E B at 9255 Grissom Road, but he called police when her work computer was found nearby.
With no sign of Verstegen or her 1991 Pontiac Firebird, a massive search began: volunteers from the scoured fields near the H E B, backed by SAPD’s Eagle helicopter.
By early the next afternoon, when a baseball player at Prince of chased a runaway ball to a 55 gallon drum, some of Verstegen’s belongings had been found scattered within a Billig Air Jordan 3 136064-105 Männer Schwarz Weiß Grau Kaufen Wien mile radius a pair of her shoes, the Firebird and removable roof panels from the car called baseball player looked inside the drum and found a woman’s body inside.
Susan Verstagen’s mother, , and her husband had just returned home from New York when they were told their daughter’s case had gone from that of a missing person to a possible homicide.
most bloodcurdling sound came out of me, because I could not believe that would be possible, said Anna Verstegen, 78. had been making positive affirmations, and I felt betrayed by God. Verstegen’s brother in law and her boyfriend, , found the Firebird. A handprint was on the driver’s side door and finger marks were on the inside of the back window, made by fingers, according to police records. A wet spot was on the back seat.
Police cut the wet fabric and filed it as evidence, Billig Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 5 Ep Männer Grau Lila Kaufen Wien along with soil samples from beneath the car, cigarette wrappers, latent fingerprints, vacuum samples, the drum, nail clippings and swabs from Verstegen’s body.
Her son was then 15, a sophomore living with his father and stepmother a few blocks from his mother. He was called to help the first night of the search and was at the command post the next day when she was found.
After a week, he went back to school and did his best to resume life as a teenage boy, he said.
Four years later, when the national DNA system was established, the evidence was submitted. Monney would continue to get letters from SAPD detectives informing him they’d reopened the case. Four investigators took it up at different times.
knew they had worked really, really hard on it, and I just thought it was one of those things that they’d never solve, he said. I just had to try to come to grips with that. unexpected arrest
Saidler questioned suspects for two years, spoke to relatives and rehashed the work of detectives before him.
The next day, Saidler and a Michigan detective visited Hernandez in jail, where he’d been placed for a parole violation, and showed him a picture of Susan Verstegen. He said he didn’t know her.
told (Hernandez) I knew he was lying to me, Saidler wrote in a guide he prepared for the trial. told him there was DNA evidence that connected him to this murder. recalled how he felt at that moment: was real surprised. I thought this whole thing was a mistake. Hernandez now says he and Susan Verstegen had a months long casual sexual relationship after they met at an H E B where he worked, he told Saidler he saw her for the first time shortly before killing her, as she left an H E B where he had stopped to buy shirts.
Hernandez drove around the back of the store to avoid a stoplight, he claimed, and saw Verstegen outside the stocking shed, the confession states.
had been smoking weed, drinking beer and mixed drinks and did not realize what I was doing, the confession states. suddenly grabbed her and pulled her into the car. She was struggling and I put both my hands around her neck to hold her down. pulled off Verstegen’s pants and raped her, his hands still around her neck, according to the confession. He realized she wasn’t breathing after he was finished, he said.
panicked and drove her off in her car, stopped at what he thought was a park, and her in a trash can, before driving away, the confession states. It was warm, so Hernandez removed the car’s T tops before ditching it.
Fired from H E B for missing too much work, Hernandez moved back to Michigan and was soon arrested on a parole violation from a 1992 offense. But it wasn’t until he was paroled on another conviction that he had to provide the DNA sample.
Today, Hernandez, the father of three daughters, claims he had sex with Susan Verstegen that night but didn’t kill her.
sad that the detective did this to me. I did not commit this murder, someone else did, and I don’t know how they can live with their life, he said.
A fitness enthusiast and lover of the outdoors, Susan Verstegen worked out daily, Hernandez said. How could he, a skinny 20 year old, overpower a fit woman 18 years older, he asked.