Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Pressed for Crime: The Heather Stigliano Murder Mystery

False Leads

Doctor Downs estimated that Heather had been dead for approximately one week prior to the discovery of her body.

"There were several stab wounds that were inflicted to her body after she died," Downs said. "There were some injuries that probably happened during the final few moments. I had not seen anybody murdered in the way she was murdered. It was obvious that there were three different methods of murder there."

Heather's autopsy revealed no evidence of a sexual assault; however, Downs was able to match a shoe impression found on her shoe to the impressions found at the murder scene. The location of the impressions on her body suggested that the killer had used his foot to hold her down when he was attacking her.

Police issued a national alert for Heather's car and began their investigation by interviewing her family members, friends and co-workers.

"She was very friendly. She loved to be with her friends; she wanted to be part of anything that had energy, and I think that what Myrtle Beach gave her was the energy she wanted," said Victor Stigliano, Heather's father.

Police soon learned that Heather had recently broken up with her boyfriend, a military pilot stationed at Pope Air Force Base. The lead seemed promising at first, but investigators soon learned that he was deployed in Saudi Arabia during the week that Heather was murdered.

Next, investigators focused their attention on an Air Force pilot with whom Heather had a problem in the days leading up to her murder. According to her mother, the man had sexually assaulted her at a party.

"She had drunk a little bit more than she should have," Susan said. "She did tell me she thought that she had been raped by one of the husbands of one of the guests while she was passed out."

Susan said that Heather had been considering notifying police about the incident.

Police considered the man a prime suspect in the cases, surmising that he had murdered Heather to protect his military career and to prevent his wife from finding out about his infidelity.

Nonetheless, as with their previous suspect, the man could not be connected to the scene, and he willingly provided investigators with his fingerprints, which ruled him out as a possible suspect.

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