Murder of Angela Samota
|Born||19 September 1964|
|Died||13 October 1984 (aged 20)|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Cause of death||Multiple knife wounds to the heart|
|Resting place||Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas|
|Known for||Victim of rape & murder|
The murder of Angela Samota occurred in October 1984, when she was attacked while in her apartment, raped, and killed. The case remained unsolved until DNA evidence surfaced in the 2000s and charges were brought against a formerly convicted rapist, who was subsequently tried and received the death penalty.
On the night of 12 October 1984, Samota and two friends, one male and one female, went on the town to the State Fair of Texas. Samota's boyfriend did not join them, because, according to the police report, he was working in construction and had to get up early the next morning. Participating in the night's festivities were also fans of the University of Texas football team that was to face the University of Oklahoma for the annual Red River Showdown. The three friends went to the Rio Room dance club and stayed there until about 1 am. She drove her friends to their homes, went by her boyfriend's apartment to say goodnight, and then went to her place.
Not long after she got home, her boyfriend called the police to report he had received a phone call from Samota that was disconnected. The apartment manager let in the police and they discovered the woman's dead and naked body on the bedroom bed. The autopsy showed that the victim had been raped and then repeatedly stabbed, dying from wounds to her heart.
Investigation and arrest
For a long period of time, the police reportedly suspected an architect who was 23 years old at the time and living in a Lower Greenville apartment. He was the man who had gone out with Samota and another girl the night of the murder. The victim’s at-the-time boyfriend was also reportedly a suspect.
The case remained unsolved until 2008.
In 2006, then-Dallas police detective Linda Crum, tasked with the case, used the DNA evidence from blood, semen, and fingernail samples to try and find a match among persons with a criminal record. In 2008, the results pointed to Donald Bess who, at the time of Samota's murder, was on parole while serving a 25-year sentence.
Claims by friend
Sheila Wysocki, who went to SMU and was a roommate of Samota, subsequently claimed that the case was re-opened because she kept "badgering" the police until "they were so sick and tired of" her that they assigned detective Crum to re-examine it. She credits the fact that she became a licensed private investigator to her desire to assist in solving Samota's murder. Wysocki has further claimed that the police initially had stated the rape kit collected at the crime scene had been lost "in the [Dallas] floods."
The defendant in the 2010 trial for the sexual assault and murder of Angela Samota was already in prison, serving a life sentence. Donald Andrew Bess Jr., born in 1948 in Arkansas, had been previously convicted in 1978 for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping]]. He had been sentenced to 25 years in prison, and was out on parole by 1984, whereupon he raped and murdered Samota. In 1985, in a case unrelated to Samota's murder, Bess was sentenced in Harris County, Texas to life imprisonment for one count of aggravated rape, one count of aggravated kidnapping and one count of sexual assault.
During the 2010 trial's punishment phase, women witnesses testified that they too had been raped by Bess. The defendant's ex-wife testified that he abused her and their child during their marriage. They had wed in 1969 and divorced three years later.
On the basis of the DNA match, Bess was found guilty by the jury and, on 8 June 2010, received the death sentence. On 6 March 2013, the appeal filed by Bess was rejected and the judgement of the trial court was affirmed. On 13 August 2013, a certiorari petition was filed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and denied on 13 January 2014.
Samota's body is buried in the Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas. Donald Bess remains on death row in Polunsky prison with no execution date set. Wysocki lives in Tennessee and is still a practicing private investigator.
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