Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Halloween Murder in the Napa Valley

Troubled Relationship

A block away from the Dorset Street house was the home of the young man, Christian, who had been dating Adriane for several months. Shortly after the murder, five detectives went to his home in the early hours and roused him from sleep. They asked if he had a weapon, and he said he did. He showed them where it was, and they collected a knife, his bed sheets, his clothes from that day, and samples of his blood. He was asked to come into the police station for questioning.

Christian, seemingly shocked by the news, readily admitted he had seen Adriane the evening before. She had come by to say hello after handing out Halloween candy with her housemates. However, he said, she had left his place around 10:00 p.m. to return home. He also admitted that they had been arguing a lot lately and that things had not been going well in their relationship. She wanted a stronger commitment from him, but he was reluctant to make it. She'd just told him she had met another man, which bothered him, but it was apparently her way of saying that if he could not get more fully involved, she could find someone else.

Although he had been angry at time with Adriane, Christian swore he had never hurt a woman and would certainly not harm Adriane. His reluctance to be more deeply involved romantically was certainly no motive for killing her. Still, Christian remained a top suspect until a DNA test cleared him. His blood did not match the blood found in the residence, and nothing else tied him to the crime.

Adriane's mother was in Australia at the time of the murder, visiting her other daughter. She could hardly believe it, and returned immediately. She told 48 Hours how Adriane had survived a near-fatal car crash a decade before, and that she had considered the girl charmed. In fact, her impressive perseverance during her recovery had earned her a scholarship to California Polytechnic, where she had received her degree.

Among Adriane's close friends was a woman named Lily Prudhomme. They often went places together and had even planned a vacation to Australia. Since Lily was engaged to the man with whom she had been for eight years, Adriane would talk with her about her romantic troubles. After the murder, Lily expressed frustration that the killer was not quickly caught. "Someone must know something," she said. She believed his behavior had to have been obvious to anyone who knew him. She hoped that in the struggle Adriane had at least hurt him.

As police processed the crime scene and reconstructed what had happened, the evidence seemed to indicate that Leslie had been stabbed first. That supported the idea that she had been the target, with Adriane just in the wrong place at the wrong time. From the blood spatter pattern analysis, investigators were able to see how the participants had moved around. Leslie, it seemed had not made it far from her bed.

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