Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Man In Shadows

Mounting Evidence

The two detectives also tracked down more witnesses who had heard Leighton talk about the murders. In conversations with friends, he referred to Jamie and April as "rats" and "snitches."

Repeatedly, he was heard to say, "Snitches belong in ditches."

Leighton said that now that Jamie and April were dead there was no one to testify against him in the burglary case or in the witness intimidation case.

During a telephone conversation with someone who later cooperated with the police, Leighton joked about the timing of April's death, which had happened on Christmas Eve.

"Guess what I gave Jamie for Christmas," he said. When the person on the phone didn't know the answer, Leighton quipped, "I gave him April."

He repeated the joke to several people.

When Szabo and Galeria looked again at Leighton's August burglary arrest, they discovered something interesting, something that would later turn out to be absolutely essential to their murder investigation.

When the West Valley burglary detectives executed a search warrant at Leighton's home on August 26, 1998, they seized a box of 9mm cartridges. They were the same brand of 9mm bullets that had been used to kill Jamie and April. The burglary detectives had also found a magazine for a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol.

Doreen Hudson, SID Firearms Expert
Doreen Hudson, SID Firearms Expert

More importantly, LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division, or SID, had tested the spent 9mm bullets recovered at the murder scene and found distinctive markings consistent with those made by a Sig Sauer pistol, the same brand and caliber of pistol that Leighton happened to have a magazine for.

"Normally people don't have gun magazines to weapons that they don't own or don't have," Galeria says.

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