Woman's DNA on shoe led to arrest of suspected killer - KCTV5 News

Woman's DNA on shoe led to arrest of suspected killer

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LIBERTY, MO (KCTV) -

Court documents released Tuesday show the investigative tools that detectives used to arrest a man suspected of killing two women.

Two witnesses provided clues that helped lead to the arrest of Derek Richardson, 27. After the arrest, police spent Tuesday searching the home of Richardson's in-laws at North Skiles Avenue and 108th Street in the Northland.

Richardson, who is married and has two young children, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon. A judge entered a not guilty plea for him, which is standard during a first court appearance.

Police say Richardson targeted 23-year-old Nicoleone Reed last year, and 40-year-old Tamara Sparks back in 2011, because they were prostitutes. Prosecutors say that he confessed to strangling both women, dumping their bodies, and covering them with bleach in an effort to destroy evidence.

Sparks' sister, Dawn Branstietter, said she knows this is a tough time for Richardson's wife and family.

"My heart goes out to his family," she said. "They have to be suffering just as much as we are."

When police announced that they were seeking a potential serial killer, detectives said the killer had left a distinctive canvas-style Croc shoe by Sparks' body.

A week after the news conference, a man contacted police, saying that Richardson confessed to killing a prostitute late last year, according to court records. Richardson allegedly admitted to choking Sparks to death during a sex act inside his home, according to court records.

"The witness stated Richardson was infatuated with serial killers (and) told him several times that he was a killer," according to court documents.

A woman told police that Richardson had talked to her about serial killers and that he had sexually assaulted and killed women, according to court documents. The woman said Richardson "was smiling as he was telling her about being a serial killer."

The woman said Richardson wore a size 11 shoe and owned a similar moccasin-style shoe like the one found.

Witness No. 2 stated Richardson had told her that he had lost the Croc shoes after a float trip approximately two years ago," according to court records. "Witness No. 2 voluntarily gave a sample of her DNA, which was compared to the unknown female DNA recovered from the interior of the Croc shoe."

Police on Friday learned that the woman's DNA matched the DNA found on the interior of the shoe. Richardson was arrested about 10:30 a.m. Saturday during a traffic stop.

That woman was "quite familiar with Richardson," according to prosecutors. Authorities have not said whether the witness was a family member or not.

Court documents revealed DNA from the same male assailant was recovered from both crime scenes, but police have not said whether it was Richardson's DNA. He allegedly confessed to the crimes "in great detail," according to court records.

Branstietter said the family is relieved an arrest has been made, but they still miss Sparks very much.

"No matter what her lifestyle was, she's still human. And she still had family that loved her and her children who needed her," he said.

Clay County Prosecutor Dan White filed first-degree murder charges, which carries a maximum penalty of life without parole. White has not filed capital murder charges, which are eligible for the death penalty.

He remains jailed on a $2 million bond.

Copyright2013 KCTV (MeredithCorp.)  All rights reserved.

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