Previously in “How I Caught My Killer,” Brandy was killed by an ex-lover. The fourth episode tells the story of Jesse Valencia, who was pursuing History majors from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Jesse was openly gay who wanted to help other people of his community which was why he was keen on becoming a lawyer. However, all his dreams were shattered as he was brutally murdered in the open area near his house in Columbia. Someone had slit Jesse’s throat with a sharp blade and left him there to die. The area was shocked to hear the news of the young student’s death and wanted answers. The police started asking around the blocks whether they had seen or heard something strange on June 5th, 2004, the night Jesse was murdered. To the police’s dismay, people around had heard nothing strange. One person, however, reported to the police that he had heard some argument outside his house around 3 a.m. However, the officers needed something more substantial than that.
The police started asking the public to help them in the investigation. Meanwhile, the police found some arm hair on Jesse’s dead body. The sample was sent to the lab, but the results would take weeks. Till then, the police had to collect clues themselves and try to solve the case. One day, a friend of Jesse’s called the investigators and informed them that Jesse had attended a party at her place. She also told the police that Jesse had come to the party with two men: a guy named Eric and his roommate Ed. Police started to look into these two men as potential suspects. They called Ed and Eric for an interview. The police had planned to conduct separate interviews to see what they had to say about Jesse. Krystle had informed the police that Eric left the party around 2:30 a.m., and Jesse and Ed left the party together afterward. During the interview, Eric said something strange. He said he could kill somebody, but that he did not kill Jesse. This was an alarming comment to the police department. Eric also informed the police that he had been dating Ed previously, but then Ed started dating Jesse. Now the question that crossed the investigators’ minds was: did Eric kill Jesse out of jealousy? There was a motive. However, he had an alibi. Eric informed the police that he had gone home with a date, Kevin. Now the police had to confirm his alibi. Meanwhile, Eric looked sad over Jesse’s death. He was devastated and said he met Jesse at a bar two nights before his death. On the night of Jesse’s death, Ed went home because he had work at 6 a.m. the next day. His alibi was not strong enough, so the police kept him as a potential suspect in their minds.
Soon, the police department got an anonymous tip. The anonymous tip revealed that Jesse was involved sexually with someone from the police department. The tip also suggested that a person named Andy would know more about it. Andy was brought in for questioning and informed the police that one night when he was with Jesse, a police officer had come home. The police officer was married, so he did not reveal his name. The police department asked Andy if he could identify the police officer if he looked at him again, and he said he had seen the officer walk past him. The officer he mentioned walking past was Steven Rios. He was indeed married and also had a child.
Steven Rios went to the chief of police and admitted to having an affair with Jesse but said he had not seen him the night Jesse died. Steven Rios had also informed the police that he had arrested Jesse weeks before his death for obstructing a governmental operation. Jesse’s friend was having a party, and the neighbors had called the cops twice. Since Jesse had intervened in the questioning, Steven Rios gave him a ticket and asked him to present himself in court. However, Steven used his uniform to lure Jesse afterward. Jesse believed that Steven Rios would have the case withdrawn. Jesse told a friend about the affair he was having with Steven Rios. Joan Sheridan said that Jesse was going to go to the chief of police and inform him that one of his officers was having an affair. Jesse knew Steven was not being himself and had a huge secret. Soon, the news of Steven being involved with Jesse leaked into the media. Everyone in the town got to know about his secret, and Steven had a public breakdown. He was sent to a mental facility after he told his colleagues that he was going to kill himself. Steven then escaped the mental facility and went to a four-story parking lot. There, he stood on the ledge and threatened to jump off. However, he was saved by one of his friends. He was then sent to a different mental facility.
After a few weeks, the results from the lab came out. The police now had evidence against Steven. How? Well, the arm-hair the police found on the dead body of Jesse was Steven’s. The DNA sample taken from Jesse’s fingernails also matched Steven’s. So, the police started building a case against Steven Rios. He was put on trial on May 17th, 2005, for the murder of Jesse. He had made up a story in which he said he was having an affair, but he did not kill Jesse. However, looking at the evidence and DNA samples, the jury did not buy his story. Steven Rios was sentenced to life in prison and charged with first-degree murder. After some time, Steven Rios’ defense claimed that whatever Jesse’s friend said about Steven was inadmissible in court because the rumors were hearsay. The court had another hearing, and he was charged with second-degree murder. The difference being that he could now possibly come out of jail towards the end of his life. Before, there was no possibility of parole.
According to Jesse’s friend, Jesse was blessed with accepting parents. He was around people who supported him and were proud of him, but Steven did not experience a similar environment. Steven had to hide the fact that he was gay. He was ashamed of himself because he thought he would be seen differently. It is somewhat true; there were no openly gay officers during the time Jesse’s case came to light. However, after the case got some attention, a few officers came out and openly shared their feelings. These officers are now the voice of the LGBTQ community in Columbia. We see that it was tough for people to come out as gay when Jesse got murdered, but he was proud of his identity. He was very vocal about his feelings and stood up for his friends. He would have been a great lawyer had he been alive today.