Steven Fisher / The Des Moines Register
DES MOINES, Iowa -- An Iowa sheriff who led the investigation into a 31-year-old double homicide says he's "apprehensive" about a crime-solving reality television show that will feature the case in an episode Friday.
But Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said he's also expecting to hear from the show's viewers, who could have useful tips to aid the investigation into the 1983 slayings of Steven Fisher, 20, and Melisa Gregory, 17.
"A case is never over. â?¦ You're always looking for more information, you always have unanswered questions," Halferty said. "I'm hopeful that (the show) will create some additional leads."
Solving homicide cases that are several years or decades old is rarely easy, crime experts say, and making an arrest and getting a conviction can be even more difficult. In Iowa, for instance, a website that tracks cold cases lists more than 500 victims. Since 2012, Iowa authorities have gotten convictions or closed at least four cold cases, according to Jody Ewing, founder of Iowa Cold Cases.
The difficulty in solving an old homicide case is why Halferty welcomed help from investigators with TNT's true-crime show "Cold Justice."
The show's cast members spent eight days in Jasper County in February, reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses while filming their work.
Theresa Supino, 53, was arrested March 3 and charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Fisher and Gregory. Supino was married to Fisher, and investigators believe her anger over Fisher and Gregory's relationship led to the killings, which occurred at the Copper Dollar Ranch northwest of Newton, Iowa.
The "Cold Justice" episode includes segments of an interview with Supino that investigators conducted in a vehicle in a parking lot outside Supino's Altoona apartment, said Kelly Siegler, the Texas prosecutor who stars in the show.
Supino's family doesn't think the show will feature any revelatory evidence that will convince viewers of her guilt. Supino's daughter, Casey Supino, said she thought the show would provide only a glimpse of circumstantial and hearsay evidence that points to her mother's involvement.
"They didn't solve it," she said. "I think that they had to charge somebody for it, and they don't have anything."
Steven Addington, Supino's attorney with the state public defender's office, declined to comment.
The Supino case is one of at least nine now making their way through Iowa's courts in which arrests were made in years-old homicides, said Ewing, of Iowa Cold Cases.
Legal experts say several factors can make a cold case difficult for prosecutors and defense attorneys to take to trial. Sometimes in such cases, witnesses can't be located or have died, and memories of those who do testify can prove shaky, said Denise Timmins, an assistant Iowa attorney general who prosecuted Pilcher.
When Supino goes to trial, the case may face similar issues. Witnesses whom investigators would want, such as the ranch foreman who discovered the bloodied bodies of Fisher and Gregory and the medical examiner who examined the bodies, are dead, Halferty said.
Halferty said he's seen a rough cut of the episode that will air Friday, but he's been tight-lipped about how "Cold Justice" investigators aided in the investigation. The show features prosecutor Siegler; veteran crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary; and Johnny Bonds, a retired Houston homicide detective.
Theresa Supino has long maintained that the deaths were tied to drug trafficking at the ranch, an element of the case that will be explored in Friday night's episode, according to the "Cold Justice" website.
However, cold cases are often solved using circumstantial evidence, Siegler said. Court papers filed in the case indicate that prosecutors have witnesses who will testify about Supino's anger about her husband's new relationship, and at least one witness could testify that Supino told her "me and my brother killed someone."
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