At the age of 5 on Nov. 15, 1984, Jerrod Hessling witnessed the murder of his family's live-in babysitter, Linda Faye Rodgers. Jerrod watched the killer strike Rodgers with a metal chain, drag her to the master bedroom inside his ranch-style residence on the 1700 block of West Wilshire Avenue in Santa Ana, and then retrieve a knife from the kitchen and a hammer from another room before demanding the location of drugs and cash. In the aftermath, the bound, semi-stripped, 25-year-old woman, who had been beaten, raped and repeatedly stabbed, lay dead on the bed. Blood spatter on the ceiling and walls signaled the attack's ferociousness. A used white vibrator found near her thighs added to the grisly display.
Joe Rocco/OC Weekly
When police arrived at the crime scene, Jerrod described the killer as a "white man" wearing "a white shirt, black belt and white pants." As a cop later testified, officers transported the boy to the police station to "see if he could differentiate races." They displayed photographs of two Asian males, two Caucasian males, a Latino and two African-Americans and asked him to identify the men by race. He easily performed the task. After they repeatedly tested the boy's memory of the murder, the detectives noted that his description of the killer didn't change.More »