Angie Dodge was an 18-year old girl born December 21, 1977 in Vancouver, Washington. Angie was a very smart and happy girl, she even forfeited some of her after-school time to being a tutor and helping younger students. Graduating with honors from IF High school, her family was very proud of her. Angie loved anything to do with the outdoors and loved her friends and family. She had an amazing relationship with her mother,Carolina Dodge, who would call Angie her “baby.” Angie Dodge lived alone in an apartment in Idaho Falls, Idaho. On June 13, 1996 Angie did not show up to work that morning at the beauty supply store, so her coworkers began to worry and they went to her house to check on her. They probably thought she was sick and had just forgotten to call in, but they went to check just in case. As they approached, they were startled to see her front door open and finding Angie Dodge sexually assaulted and murdered.
Angie Dodge was pronounced dead at the scene, and it was believed that she was killed between 12:45am and 11:15am. Her cause of death was believed to be the stab wounds on her body. Angie’s brother ID’d her in the morgue and he remembered saying, “She’s gone mom… she’s gone.” “That has haunted us for a long time,” says Angie’s brother. Investigators found two kinds of DNA samples at the crime scene: semen and hair. After about seven and a half months of no new leads or suspects, they began investigating a man named Brandon Hobbs because of a sexual assault charge he was convicted of previously. When they tested the DNA samples from the scene against his DNA, it wasn’t a match. However, police believed they needed to look deeper into Hobbs and found Christopher Tapp, one of his friends.
Christopher Tapp was 20 years old and ran with the same group of friends as Angie. They were seen together the night before her murder. Tapp was questioned by police twice before his family decided to hire a lawyer. On June 13, 1997, the date of his third questioning, Tapp denied both his and Hobbs’´ involvement in Angie’s murder. During interrogation, he later confessed that Hobbs killed Angie and had threatened Tapp if he were to say anything. However, Tapp had changed his story over 4 times. There were stories about how Hobbs was mad at Angie for trying to break up his marriage, and that Hobbs and another man named Jeremy Sargis raped and killed Angie, and many more. Tapp was given immunity if he told the truth about the murder, because police believed at that point that Tapp was being manipulated into confessing. As police checked into Sargis, the test results came back for the semen of Hobbs and Tapp; neither of whom were a match. Sargis’ alibi also had checked out, which led police back to interrogating Tapp. On January 29, Tapp’s fifth story change convinced police that Tapp wasn’t telling the truth so his immunity was revoked.
The fifth story change held more detail and was more thought out than the others. Tapp confessed to joining in on the killing, saying he held her down while Hobbs carried out the murder and placed another man at the scene, a friend of Hobbs’ named Mike. This Mike figure fell through and was cleared as a suspect. On February 3, Tapp was charged with first-degree murder, rape, and the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony. Although Tapp was charged with three crimes, Hobbs never faced one day in prison for his suspected involvement with the case. The court date for Tapp was May 12, 1998, two years after the murder. There was speculation that Tapp’s confession was coerced by police, but Judge Ted V. Wood never looked into the possibility.
In the courtroom, there was testimony given by a woman named Destiny Osbourne, who was a part of the same group of friends as Tapp and Angie. She testified that she heard Tapp and Hobbs talking about the murder at a party and that she remembered hearing Hobbs say he committed the murder because Angie owed him money for drugs. Destiny admitted that she was high on drugs at this party, making her a less credible source. On May 28, 1998, Tapp was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 30 years. Many believed they had got the right man, but shockingly enough Angie’s own mother, Carolina Dodge, somehow knew he wasn’t the one who did this. In 2013, Carolina sent Tapp’s confession to Steven Drizin, an expert in false confessions, who confirmed that his confession was coerced. With this new evidence, his attorneys filed a motion for post-conviction relief. The police kept the videos of them coercing him out of the evidence of the trial. Tapp’s rape sentence was redacted and Destiny Osbourne was told that if she did not testify, she would be arrested for drug abuse.
Police began looking for a new suspect since technology had advanced considerably since 1996, and there were newer ways of finding DNA. Parabon Nano-labs is a huge DNA database company that helps people find their ancestors. They ran tests with the DNA found at the crime scene and came across 7 subjects, 6 of which did not fit the case. The seventh subject that did match was named Brian Dripps, who lived right across the street from Angie. The police wanted to make sure they arrested the right man this time. They waited until he dropped a cigarette butt onto the ground and ran it against the DNA sample. It was a match. Dripps was brought in for questioning and on May 15, 2019, he confessed and was arrested for the murder of Angie Dodge.
Tapp was fully released from police custody as Carolina Dodge held his hand while he exited the prison. “I’m so thankful that I’ve been given this second chance at life…,” says Christopher Tapp. This was the first time in history that genetic genealogy was used to exonerate someone. Angie’s killer is now in prison for life, RIP Angie.