Buried in the Backyard (2018–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Struggle in the night - full transcript

After the body of a missing young mother is discovered in a shallow grave behind her own home, cops must investigate the complicated relationships of her past and present in order to identify a motive and track down her killer.

In a small town in Michigan,
a mother of two went missing

after a home invasion.

He went down to
his mother's room
and he could hear her screaming.

I think we have something here
that's considerably worse

than what we were called for.

It shook your sense
of security.

I was scared, I was hopeful
she would be found.

The tight-knit community
was shocked,

but they came together
in the search

for 33-year-old Lisa Fein.

Just behind Lisa's house
we started digging with
our hands and feet.

I really started
to get a bad feeling.

To solve this crime,

investigators would have to dig
up secrets buried in the past.

She paged him the night before
she turned up missing.

I started hearing stories
of his dark side.

He used to park and watch
her house.

She purposely didn't go near him
and he scared her.

At eight o'clock
in the morning,

on June 30, 2000,

police arrived at the home
of Ron and Lisa Fein.

Just a few minutes after
Ron's panicked phone call.

Ron told the officers,
that to his relief,

he'd found 10-year-old Shane
and 12-year-old Jacob

safe at his grandmother's home
next door,

but there was still no sign
of Lisa.

Ron was very concerned

with the fact
that his wife was missing,

and he seemed
completely confused

as to what could've happened.

Ron and Lisa had met
five years earlier

at their jobs
at a nearby nuclear plant.

Ron and Lisa worked in the same
department at the power plant.

They were around each other
quite a bit,

and just through time, you know,
they grew close.

I think he really loved Lisa
and Lisa really loved him.

They worked out well together.

Ron and Lisa were both
single parents

when they started dating.

Lisa had a son, Jacob,
and Ron had a son, Shane.

And they all got along well.

Jake and Shane were
only a year apart.

And they made
a nice blended family.

After Ron and Lisa's wedding
in 1995,

the entire family,
Ron, Lisa, and the boys,

lived together in the house
on Olive Branch Road.

To their friends and family,

Ron and Lisa's marriage seemed
happy and secure.

They were good parents, who
always put their kids first.

Ron, he works hard to take care
of his family,

He was willing
to put in the long hours.

He was upstanding, upright guy.

Lisa was a very doting mom.

She thought being a mom
was just the greatest thing.

That was like her sole focus,
being a good mom.

But now, according to Ron,

Lisa had vanished.

Ron told police
that he'd last seen Lisa

at 10:00 PM the night before

when he left for his regular
overnight shift

at the power plant.

He said he got off work
at 6:00 AM.

Ron told me that he arrived
home in the morning

and he found some things were
out of order.

In fact, the entire downstairs
appeared to be trashed.

Ron said the house wasn't like
that when he left.

His basement door was unlocked,

and when he walked outside
he found a little duct tape.

We went in the house and Ron
walked with me to his bedroom.

In the bedroom I saw

that the sheets on the bed had
been pulled from the mattress,

and that some hats had been
knocked off a hat rack.

I also noticed that Ron's wife,

Lisa's ID and money were still
on the dresser.

I also realized her glasses
were still on the dresser

and her contacts were still
in the bathroom.

I also wear contacts
and glasses,

and so I know that I wouldn't
leave the house

without contacts or glasses.

So, for Lisa to leave the house
without being able to see,

I knew something very bad had
possibly happened in that house.

After getting
the initial information

Deputy Flick advised me
to go out

and make perimeter check
around the residence

and the property to see if there
was anything that we could find

that was of suspicious nature
or out of place.

The Fein's home was set
on a large plot of land

surrounded by dense woods
and acres of bean fields.

A thorough search of the
property could take hours

or even days.

But just minutes after the
deputy set out on his mission,

he spotted something unusual.

When I got to the east side
of the property line

I found a spot that went
through the grass

where it appeared
as if somebody had been dragged.

I followed the tracks
back to the basement.

I went over to my partner
immediately and advised her

that I think we have
something here

that's considerably worse
than what we were called for.

When Deputy Mazurek
showed me the marks

that were leading
out of the house,

I recognized
that they appeared to be

from the heels of a person

that was being dragged away
from the house.

When looking at the marks,

the drag marks were
two steady lines.

So I knew that there was no way
the person

that was dragged from the house

could've been conscious
at the time.

It immediately sent chills
up my spine.

There would be no reason
to be removing

anybody from a house
in that manner.

With the disturbing discovery,

the deputies knew it was time
to call in detectives.

At the time of this missing
person complaint,

I'd been a detective for
approximately eight years.

I was in charge
of the investigation.

Detective LaBaumbard examined
the drag marks in the backyard.

You could tell
there was almost a path,

which led out the side yard,
into a vegetation area.

We followed that path back out
to the road on Olive Branch,

where it stopped, and you could
tell on the side of the road

there was tire impressions.

For LaBaumbard, a chilling
picture was coming into focus.

I believe Lisa was probably
dragged from the residence

to the roadway,
placed in a vehicle,

and taken someplace
which we did not know.

It was imperative to do
whatever we could do

to try to locate her
in a timely fashion.

Because for any time
that's idle,

you're losing time about
finding the victim alive.

As each minute passed
without a word from Lisa,

Ron grew more
and more distressed.

He was desperate to find her.

Deputy Julia Flick took
on the difficult task

of interviewing Lisa and Ron's
sons, Jacob and Shane,

to find out when they'd
last seen their mom.

But she was unprepared for
the conversation that followed.

12-year-old Jacob revealed
chilling details

that quickly shifted the course
of the investigation.

Jacob was very upset

and concerned about
where his mother went.

And he told me that some time
around 3:30

some loud noises woke him up.

He went down
to his mother's room

and he could hear
her screaming.

The door was open so he was
able to look into the room,

and he saw his mother
and another man wrestling.

Jacob told me that person that
was fighting with his mother

was wearing a black,
snowmobile helmet

with a tinted visor
that was pulled down.

He became very scared

and that he went and woke up
his brother Shane.

They went to the living room
and decided

that they needed to call 911.

But when they picked up
the phone to call 911,

all they could hear was a
beeping tone on the other end.

When they were trying
to call 911,

they kept hearing
a thumping noise

coming from the bedroom
and stair area.

They knew that they had to get
out of the house

and get help for their mother.

At 3:30 in the morning,

Jacob and Shane ripped out
their bedroom window screen

and ran out
onto the dark street.

Determined to escape
from the horror

happening inside their home.

Poor Jacob.

It's terrifying
to think he went through that.

He described it to me
about how he took a pencil

and tore the screen
so they could get out.

And I asked him
how he knew to do that,

and he said his mom taught him.

While they were out
they saw the same person

that had been in the bedroom
with a black snowmobile helmet

was actually running
down the roadway.

They had then decided to run to
the grandmother's house.

But then Jacob mentioned
one other detail.

He said the dark figure and
the leather jacket and helmet,

who attacked his mother was
someone he knew really well.

He told me that the person
that was fighting
with his mother

was Ron.

They had a time where they
weren't getting along well.

We talked to numerous friends
that made mention

that they did have trouble
in their marriage.

She was sort of a party girl.

He didn't like that.

He did a lot of mean,
vindictive things.

In the little township
of Galien, Michigan,

police learned that Lisa Fein
was snatched from her bedroom

in the middle of the night
by a masked intruder.

Lisa's 12-year-old son Jacob,
who saw the invader,

said it was his stepfather,
Ron Fein.

Jacob had made
the statement that,

"I thought you and mom
were fighting."

And Ron's first statement
out of his mouth was,

"I was at work all night.
It wasn't me"

Could Ron have slipped away

from his job
at the nuclear plant

in the middle of the night,
attacked Lisa,

then returned to work
without anyone knowing?

Due to the fact
that Jacob had made a statement

that he thought it was his mom
and Ron fighting,

we had to follow up and verify
the whereabouts of Ron.

The cops also couldn't
understand why,

after seeing his mom
and stepfather arguing
so violently,

Jacob didn't notify the police
that night.

Jacob told me that he
and Shane ran back

to their grandmother's house
and started beating on the door

until their grandmother

Jacob told his grandmother
that mom and Ron were fighting

and that she needed help.

His grandmother welcomed them
into the house

and told them to stay there
for the rest of the night

and not to go back home.

She told them just to go to bed

and that she would take care
of everything.

The boys' grandmother said
she didn't call police

because she hadn't realized
the extent of the brawl.

She also didn't want
to insert herself

into a disagreement
between Lisa and Ron.

The grandmother, Janet,
was devastated

to find out in the morning
that Lisa was missing

and she was blaming herself
for not calling 911

in the middle of the night
when the boys came over.

Police had lost valuable time

in trying to catch
Lisa's abductor.

But now they had a suspect
in their sights,

her husband, Ron Fein.

During the course
of the investigation,

we talked to numerous friends

that made mention that they did
have trouble in their marriage.

It appeared like every
other marriage,

had to do with money.

I do believe
that she loved Ron,

but I believe they had
their share of problems.

She was sort of a party girl.
He didn't like that.

They apparently had a time
where they weren't getting
along well.

Detectives speculate
if their marital problems

had finally boiled over and
caused Ron to lash out at Lisa.

But they also wondered,
how was that possible

if Ron, as he claimed,
was at work all night.

We sent a detective directly
to his place of employment

to interview everybody that
Ron had worked with that night

to verify at what times
they saw him.

The place we work is a very
secure place.

You have to have a badge
to go into the place,

out of place, to move
around the buildings,

and go into different rooms.

Logs are kept
of where you're at.

We were able to obtain
a copy of the printout

of Ron's ID badge.

The print out showed

that Ron had been
to 40 different locations,

in and out of doors.

It showed him leaving the plant

with that ID card
at approximately

6:00 AM, and the only person
that could use that ID card

would be Ron Fein.

I was confident that Ron was
at work that whole night.

Ron was in the clear,

but now nearly eight hours

after Lisa was attacked
and kidnapped,

detectives still had no idea
who had done it

or where Lisa was.

I made contact with our reserve
unit, the sheriff's department.

I was able to get probably
12 to 15 reserves

to search the immediate area
of the property.

Contacted the Michigan State
Police for a helicopter

to do a flyover of that area

to see if they could find
anything unusual in the area.

By now, word of the abduction

had reached Lisa's family
and friends.

I can remember like
it just happened yesterday.

I was concerned.

I was scared.

I was hopeful
she would be found,

but I felt very helpless.

I felt like I was the one

that had to try and keep hope
alive for my parents.

Kept saying, "We'll find her.
We'll find her."

When I first heard
about Lisa missing,

I was in utter shock.

I didn't know how to react.

I had just spoken with her
a few days previous.

I prayed that she'd
be found alive.

Nothing like this
had ever happened

in this sleepy town before.

Locals began to fear
for their own safety.

People couldn't believe it.

Everyone that you talked to,
it was like, "Not in my town.

That would never happen
in this town."

It shook your sense
of security.

It shook you right to the core.

People started locking
their doors,

and we never did that.

Over the next 24 hours,

Ron Fein anxiously
waited at home,

desperately hoping his wife
would be found,

trying not to let himself think

about what might've
happened to her

or whether she was even
still alive.

Lisa's friend Greg joined
the a volunteer search party

to try and find her.

Lisa was a longtime friend.

When I saw the signs

at work that she was missing

and they were gonna form
a search party,

I had to go.

We all gathered at a hall
in Galien,

and we were handed out
preprinted maps

of the area surrounding
their home.

So our group was assigned

to area east of Ron
and Lisa's house.

It's a very rural area,
open fields around their home.

It was all, you know,
one big open area.

At that point, we weren't really
expecting to find anything.

We were just verifying
that there wasn't anything.

We were hoping for the best and
looking for the worst, I guess.

Just after dusk
on July 2, 2000,

Greg Weiser and a small group
of volunteers

set out on their search.

Their target area was the patch
of woods and open fields

in the back
of the Fein property.

We went down a two-track that's
just behind the bean field

that's immediately
behind Ron and Lisa's house.

And there's a

woody area that kind of follows
that field

and right at the base
of that woody area,

there was an area
that looked a little odd.

There was some placement
of some pieces of wood,

that didn't look natural.

And you could see like a sandy
soil around the edges

as if it had been turned over,

and the stuff placed
on top of it.

Nobody had tools.

So we start digging

with our hands and feet.

That's when I saw a patch
of blue material.

When I saw that patch
of blue material,

my heart sunk.

Two days after Lisa
Fein's disappearance,

a volunteer search party

a suspicious piece
of blue fabric

buried in a field
behind her home.

Detective Rolland LaBaumbard
immediately began inspecting
the new evidence.

I felt what I thought was

some type of soft flesh.

And at that time I stopped
doing what I was doing,

contacted the Michigan
State Police crime lab

to come down and excavate
the burial site.

Due to the fact
that we were ready

for a huge thunderstorm
that night,

I was told by the person
in charge

that they wouldn't be able
to come down until the morning.

Any physical evidence
of value

I was worried about

if Lisa was buried there.

I did not want to lose
any type of evidence.

So I knew I had to keep
the area as dry as possible.

I had a raincoat in my car.

I waited over the burial site,

and we tented the area
the best we could.

At 8:00 AM the next morning,
July 3rd,

technicians from the Michigan
State crime lab

arrived to carefully remove
the dirt

surrounding the blue fabric.

They quickly confirmed
detective LaBaumbard's
worst fears.

It appeared to be a human
figure in a fetal position.

You can tell

that the head had some kind
of material around it.

There was a white towel,

and then on top
of that material,

the whole face was wrapped
in duct tape.

All the way around.

After comparing fingerprints,

provided by one of Lisa's
previous employers,

the detectives were able to
positively identify the victim.

33-year-old Lisa Fein was dead.

There's nothing worse
than telling a family member

about a situation where
a loved one had been killed.

It was a very emotional time
with the family.

Felt extremely bad for 'em.

I remember that they found her

in a shallow grave
covered up with dirt.

A pillowcase over her head.

You know, it's one of those
memories that never leaves you.

I'm really glad I didn't go

with the group
that found Lisa's body.

I feel like Lisa was pushing me
to go the other direction.

And I'm thankful
I didn't find her body,

but I'm also very, very thankful
for our heroes that found her.

When Jacob found out
he cried, of course.

I remember just trying
to get him through it.

People couldn't believe
that there would be someone

that would have the audacity to
bury her behind her own home.

To end up like that,
people that knew her,

thought it was just

a horrible tragedy that
she met her demise that way.

Within just a few hours

of being found in a shallow
grave on her own property,

Lisa's lifeless body was taken

to the medical
examiner's office.

Investigators were anxious
to learn

exactly how she'd been killed.

The autopsy revealed that Lisa
died of asphyxiation,

which is suffocation.

The autopsy also showed
blunt force trauma

to the left side of her head.

She had a large contusion
on the temple area.

I believe she was knocked
semi-unconscious at least.

There were numerous things
that were collected

from Lisa Fein's body
at the time.

Of course, the head wrapping
which included

the duct tape,
the pillowcase, the towel,

along with fingernail

During the course
of the examination
those items were taken

into the Michigan State Police
crime lab.

The duct tape was processed
for prints,

any types of DNA
that might be located on 'em,

as well as the pillowcase,

which could've been used by
the perpetrator in the past,

along with the towel.

All those items
were tested for DNA.

But the results would take
a few days to come back.

Distraught and full
of unanswered questions

Lisa's grieving family
planned her funeral.

On July 10, 2000, she was
permanently laid to rest

in front of hundreds of friends
and well-wishers

still reeling from the shock
of her murder.

Everyone there was asking
the same questions.

Who would want to murder Lisa

and bury her body in a field
behind her own home?

Could it even be someone
standing next to them?

Who was the masked man
that Jacob claimed he saw?

The results of the forensic
tests gave the cops
their first real clue.

Although the pillowcase, towel
and duct tape, were all clean,

investigators were able
to find DNA in another place.

DNA was located underneath
of Lisa's fingernails.

On the right hand,
there was two fingernails

that had unknown DNA
located on 'em.

Any foreign DNA, which is blood
or scar tissue or anything,

would mean that Lisa was
actually fighting

or attempting
to fight off someone

while she was being assaulted.

Which would leave scratches
on people's bodies,

on people's faces.

For investigators,
the most urgent task was to try

and locate the anonymous

But then detectives discovered

that Lisa had some secrets
of her own.

Lisa was having an affair
with a local man.

A father of boys that her boy
played ball with.

Lisa had an affair
with a subject by the name
of Jeffrey Rohl.

I don't think it was anything
she was proud of.

I didn't hold it against her.

She was still my friend.

I think it was the thrill.

And I think Lisa
briefly thought

the grass is greener
on the other side.

Jeff was actually coaching

Jacob's baseball team
in the summer,

and that's how they got
to meet each other.

Lisa and Jeff Rohl's affair
took off

when Lisa was going
through a rough patch

in her marriage with Ron.

Lisa never told me
about her affair.

I was shocked to hear about it.

Detective Danneffel told Ron
about the affair.

I know Ron was crying.

He was-- I know
he didn't know about it.

He was very upset.

I was concerned about it 'cause
I had no idea at the time

if it was still going on
or if it had ended.

Were they on good terms,
bad terms?

When's the last time he saw her?

When's the last time
he had talked with her?

Police turned up the heat

on their investigation of Lisa
and Jeff's relationship.

We did subpoena the phone
records from the Fein residence

and it was discovered

that on the night of the 29th,

which is a day before Lisa
turned up missing,

Lisa paged Jeff during the day
and asked him

to call her back later
that night.

Investigators needed to know
why Lisa paged Jeff

on the day before
she went missing.

Did he return her call?

And if so, did something happen
in that conversation

that lead to the violent attack
on Lisa?

Where was Jeff during this
time period?

A lot of unanswered questions.

So we had to interview Mr. Rohl
to find out what was going on.

I made contact with Jeff,

he agreed to meet me
at a location

away from residence
so that he and I could talk

by ourselves.

When I confronted Jeff about
having an affair with Lisa,

he admitted on numerous
occasions that he had met her,

and had a relationship
with her.

Jeff stated the affair had been
over for about six months.

And Jeff said the reason
why the affair ended

is he was married,
Lisa was married,

and they both decided to work
things out with their spouse

and discontinue their affair.

She told a friend of ours

that the grass wasn't greener
on the other side, and that

she and Jeff both decided

that it was best to go
their separate ways.

I asked Jeff,

"When's the last time
you had contact with Lisa?"

And then Jeff told me
that on the night

of the 29th, which is the day
before Lisa turned up missing,

he actually stopped
at a payphone,

about 10:30, called Lisa.

Jeff said

they just wanted to know
how each other was doing.

Lisa was telling him
about some baseball game

that they're supposed to go to
with the kids.

That they were gonna do
a family camping trip.

Jeff said they still touched
base like once a week by phone.

Even though the affair had been
over for six months,

they stayed friends.

The phone call lasted
for about 15 minutes

and then he left the payphone
and went home for the night.

LaBaumbard realized

Jeff knew it was safe
to call Lisa late at night,

since Ron would be at work,

but the veteran detective
also noticed something odd

about where Jeff stopped
to make the call.

The payphone was approximately
two miles

from the Fein residence.

After he made the phone call,
where did he go?

Did he stop at Lisa's house?

It was too big a coincidence
to ignore.

Detective LaBaumbard
was determined

to find out the truth.

Phone records revealed that
murder victim, Lisa Fein,

paged her former boyfriend,
Jeff Rohl,

the day before
she went missing.

Investigators needed
to find out

where Jeff went after their
phone call on June 29, 2000.

We followed up to verify
his whereabouts

the date Lisa turned up

Detective went to the residence,
interviewed family members.

Jeff Rohl did have an alibi,

which was his wife.

They actually had slept together
in the same bed that night,

along with a sick child.

And both of them stated
during separate interviews,

that they hardly-- either one
of them hardly slept that night,

because the child was tossing
and turning in the bed.

And the wife of Jeff Rohl was
absolutely positive

that he had not left that bed
during that time period.

Anxious to further prove
his innocence,

Jeff volunteered to give police
a DNA sample.

When the DNA
for Jeff Rohl was examined

by the Michigan State Police
crime lab,

it was found not to be a match

to the DNA underneath
Lisa Fein's fingernails.

Jeff was scratched off
the suspect list,

but Detective LaBaumbard
still hoped Lisa's ex-lover
could help the investigation.

Did Jeff have any
insider information

about who might've wanted
to harm Lisa?

I asked Jeff what he thought
could've happened

and all Jeff could say was,

that if something happened to
her that Frank was involved.

Frank Spagnola was an
ex-boyfriend of Lisa,

and they had a child

together, who was Jacob.

Lisa and Frank met at work,
at the Cook Plant,

and started dating.

Like any relationship,

it was exciting and new.

Several years
before Lisa married Ron,

she and Frank Spagnola
were dating,

but the young couple grew apart

after the birth
of their son Jacob in 1989.

Lisa got pregnant,
Jacob was born, but then

their relationship soured.

While Lisa hoped
they could maintain

an amicable custody

Frank had other plans.

After Jake was born
it was downhill.

She'd called me and, um,

asked me if my husband
had ever hit me,

and I said, "Never.
Tell me what happened."

And she told me he hit her,

and I told her
I was gonna call Dad

and she talked me out of it,

which I still regret.

He wouldn't bring Jake
home on time.

He would tell Jake terrible
things about her,

but she wouldn't let anybody say
anything bad about Frank.

She wanted Jake to have a good
relationship with his dad,

which was the opposite
of what Frank wanted.

Frank did mean,
vindictive things

to try to cause problems
for Lisa.

Lisa would tell me things

that had occurred
between her and Frank,

and I was initially stunned
it was not congruent

with my image and what
my thoughts were of Frank.

I mean it just-- To me, he was
always a smiley, happy person,

but then I started hearing
stories of his dark side.

Frank just got stranger
and stranger.

He used to park
and watch her house.

I guess back then we didn't
think as much about stalking,

but I guess that's
what he was doing.

Frank was scary.

He did a lot
of intimidation tactics,

like trying to stare her down.

She purposely didn't go
near him.

And he scared her.

She lived in fear of Frank.

After investigators learned
about the abusive,

and violent relationship
between Lisa and Frank,

and the custody battles
over their son Jacob,

Frank became the prime suspect
in Lisa's murder.

I proceeded to Mr. Spagnola's
residence to interview him.

Frank appeared to be tired.

He was unshaven, and I noticed
he had what appeared to be

a red mark on his chin that was
approximately an inch long.

I go, "Frank, what happened
to your chin?"

And Frank supplied me

that he had cut himself
shaving that morning.

It appeared to me that
Frank had not shaved in a day,

'cause he had a little stubble.

Detective LaBaumbard wasn't
remotely convinced

by Frank's story
about a shaving accident.

He had another theory
about how Frank ended up

with an inch-long scratch
on his chin.

The first thing I thought about
was the DNA

under the fingernails
of Lisa.

And I think Lisa was
actually attempting

to fight off someone

while she was being assaulted,

which would leave scratches
on people's faces.

Over the years,
Lisa Fein had a series

of complicated relationships
with men,

which led police to speculate

did any of them have a motive
to kill her?

But when detectives learned
about Frank Spagnola,

the father of Lisa's
11-year-old son Jacob,

the picture came into focus.

When I asked Frank where he was
on the night of June 29th,

Frank told me that

approximately 9, 9:30 he went
to the Watervliet Hospital,

picked up a check for his mom,
brought it back home,

and then remembered he had

some videos that were due
at a video store,

and then drove
to St. Joe Township,

ended up renting
a couple videos.

I ask him what time
he was there,

he said, "I thought it was
about closing."

He left the video store
in St. Joe,

and drove directly back
to the house in Watervliet,

where he spent the night.

He had slept a little bit
on the couch,

slept a little bit in his bed,
stayed up for a while.

There was two people
at home that night,

Frank's mom and dad.

Both of those people were

Mr. Spagnola made mention
he heard Frank taking a shower,

approximately 12:30
in the morning,

but did not see him,

and then never saw him
the rest of the night.

And Mrs. Spagnola stated she
went to bed earlier that night,

about 9:30 or 10,
and did not see Frank

until approximately six o'clock
that next morning.

No one could vouch for Frank's
whereabouts that night.

He had no alibi.

We went to the prosecutor
and obtained a search warrant

for DNA or a blood draw
from Frank Spagnola.

We obtained the DNA sample
and the blood draw,

and then that was sent
to the crime lab to compare.

Detectives needed to know

if Frank's DNA matched the DNA

that had been found
on Lisa's body.

For Lisa's family, waiting
for the results was painful.

It took a couple months
for that to be processed

through the crime lab.

At that point,

Frank Spagnola had been
identified as being the donor

to the DNA underneath Lisa
Fein's right fingernails.

With the DNA match,

police knew they had
Lisa Fein's killer,

but since Frank could argue
that he and Lisa had gotten

into a scuffle
earlier that day,

they needed evidence to put him
directly at the crime scene.

We did obtain a search warrant

for the residence
of Frank Spagnola.

So during the course
of this search,

we did locate
a matching pillowcase,

that had the same
manufacture brand

to the one that was located
on the victim, Lisa Fein,

when she was discovered.

The significance
of the same manufacturer,

was that upon contacting them,

they had not manufactured
anything under that name

in the previous nine
to ten years.

Also recovered
during the search warrant,

we did find a matching towel,
that matched

the manufacturer of the towel
that was located on Lisa Fein

at the time of her death.

Investigators also seized
a black helmet

from Frank's house
that matched the description

given by Jacob on the night
his mother was attacked.

They also found duct tape in
Frank's car.

They Michigan State Police
crime lab was able

to identify the manufacturer
of that duct tape.

The duct tape was
off the same roll

as the duct tape that was found

on the victim, Lisa Fein.

Another piece of the puzzle
fell into place

when detectives discovered
Frank Spagnola had
a strong motive

for killing the mother
of his own son...money.

The information
we were getting was

that Lisa and Frank were having
a custody battle over Jacob,

and that things were not going
well with the custody battle.

Frank had not been paying
child support,

Lisa had hired an attorney,

in attempt to facilitate that,

and Frank was still fighting it.

But the court eventually sided
with Lisa,

and ordered Frank to pay
his overdue child support.

The judgment was finalized
on the date of June 30, 2000.

This is the same day
Lisa turned up missing.

I believe Frank's motivation
was twofold.

He was obsessed with obtaining
custody of Jacob,

and also the child support.

Frank, in reviewing
his financial records,

had the means to pay
the child support.

He just did not wanna give
the money to Lisa Fein,

in no way, shape or form.

And it was being forced upon
him, finally, by the courts.

We did conduct surveillance

at Lisa Fein's parents' house,

where we knew that Jacob
would be dropped off

by Frank Spagnola that day,

which was a typical
visitation day for them.

We waited for Frank to pull away
from the residence,

and made sure that Jake was not
in any danger at that time.

Once we were comfortable
with the distance
that Frank had traveled,

we did conduct a traffic stop

at which time
Frank was arrested.

He was handcuffed,
placed in a patrol car,

and transported back
to the sheriff's department.

Myself and another detective
attempted to interview Frank.

His Miranda Rights
were given to him,

at which time he indicated

that he would like to speak
to an attorney first.

No further interviews were
conducted with Frank.

He was booked
at the county jail.

With Frank Spagnola now
in custody,

investigators began piecing
together the events

that took place in the early
morning hours of June 30, 2000.

After a months-long

Berrien County detectives
had finally arrested
Frank Spagnola

for the murder of his
ex-girlfriend, Lisa Fein.

By this time,
the cops had a good idea

about how Lisa's killing
had gone down.

It's my belief that
on the night of June 30th,

Frank Spagnola went
to the Fein home,

parked down the street,

walked to the Fein house.

There was a spare key
that was left

outside of the Fein home.

I had asked Jacob
if he had ever told

his father about the spare key,

he indicted to me that he had.

And once inside,
he went immediately

to the bedroom of Lisa Fein.

I think Frank probably
surprised Lisa.

Frank Spagnola knocked her

or unconscious.

Frank brought the towel,
the pillowcase,

and the duct tape
to the residence,

which leads me to believe

this whole thing was
pre-planned out.

Frank duct taped her
in that bedroom.

Once she was quiet and still,

he was able to drag her
out of the bedroom,

down the basement steps
and out through a wooded area.

He then went back
and retrieved his vehicle,

loaded that body up
and took it out,

and buried Lisa Fein
behind her home.

In June of 2003,

Frank was taken to trial on this
case for first-degree murder.

The prosecutor wraps it up
pretty well

during the course
of the court proceedings.

What are the chances
of having DNA

underneath the victim's

having matching duct tape,

having similar pillowcases
and towels,

what are the odds of that?

In spite of the overwhelming
evidence against him,

Frank shocked everyone
by pleading not guilty.

After a four week trial,

Frank was convicted
of first-degree murder,

and sentenced to life in prison
with no parole.

When the jury said guilty,

I cried.

Um, I hugged my dad.

And-- Spent so much time
getting ready for the trial,

and so much time sitting
in that courtroom,

that it finally dawned on me,
she was still dead.

He was going to prison
for the rest of his life,

but she was still dead.

I felt relieved
that it was over with.

I felt relieved that they had

caught the murderer.

That people didn't have to worry

about that murderer maybe
sitting beside 'em in church

or at a school function.

I remember thinking,

"I knew you did it.
I knew you did."

And then-- and I also remember
in my mind saying,

"They got him, Lisa.
They got him."

Frank has never admitted
to anything,

and I don't believe
he ever will.

I think he's convinced himself
he didn't do it.

A lot of people say
you have to forgive

to get past something
like this, but, um,

how do you forgive somebody

that won't even admit
what he had done?

I won't forgive him.

If I could have one more
conversation with Lisa,

I would say something
to make her laugh.

So that I could see her
laugh again.

I would just--

Just let her know
we all still think about her,

we still talk about her,
we haven't forgotten her.

We miss her, and...

I wish she were still here.

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"Buried in the Backyard"