Law enforcement in 2003 grills John’s step-uncle for more details about what he saw and did on the day John was killed. Delia explores the tactics interrogators used during the tense interview and investigates the ins and outs of Skip’s statements in real time.
Delia D’Ambra: By mid-day on July 9th—Desoto County investigators and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents couldn’t make sense of a lot of information in the John Welles case.
But there were a few things they knew for certain:
One—John was alive for several hours after he woke up on the morning of Tuesday July 8th, but dead from a gunshot wound by 4:30pm the same day.
Two—his grandma, best friend and step-uncle had found a revolver at the scene of his death and hidden it from police.
Three—crime scene techs had collected other pieces of evidence at the scene nearly 24 hours after John was found that indicated foul play.
Four— there were traces of drugs in John’s system that didn’t appear to have anything to do with his death, but were investigated nonetheless.
And five— the investigation had a long way to go.
Authorities’ hope was that the remaining primary witness to the events of John’s life on July 8th would enlighten them more.
Melvin Eugene Strader Junior—who was known as ‘Skip’, was the person investigators wanted to speak with next.
Skip was John’s step uncle—his father, Mel Senior, was the second husband of Pat Strader…John’s biological grandmother.
John and Skip were not blood-related.
Investigators brought Skip in to the Desoto County sheriff’s office for an interview at 2:15pm on July 9th, 2003…roughly 24 hours after John was killed.
A Desoto County detective named Curt Mays and an FDLE special agent named John Smith conducted the questioning.
Due to its age, the quality of the tape recording of this interview isn’t very good.
The parts you’ll hear have been cleaned up and the sections that are inaudible I’ll narrate with direct quotes from transcripts or police reports.
One of the first things agent Smith told Skip was that investigators had been talking with Patrick and Pat and they would continue to do so, to make sure Skip’s story lined up with theirs.
Detective: “Obviously we’re going to be talking to Patrick and Pat they’ve got their stories that they’re going to want to tell us. Same as you are.”
Skip Strader: “Yeah.”
Detective: “We’re hoping that this story is pretty much the same.”
Skip Strader: “I’m telling exactly what I saw transpire.”
Detective: “Okay well, I’m only asking you to step up to the plate if it’s not the truth, tell us the truth.”
Delia D’Ambra: While listening to this interview—which only lasted 50 minutes by the way— I definitely got a sense that authorities were much more aggressive with Skip.
Everything from the words they used to the tone in which they asked him questions felt way more intense than detective Kim Lewis’s approach with Patrick and Pat.
Skip was face to face with two seasoned interrogators—one of whom was a special agent with FDLE.
Pat and Patrick on the other hand only sat down with Kim, a fairly inexperienced interviewer from Desoto County sheriff’s office, who had a much calmer demeanor.
According to case reports, the detectives interviewing Skip specifically asked him what he remembered from July 8th.
Skip told detectives that he woke up at Pat’s early that morning because he was expecting a semi-truck to arrive at the saw mill across the street from the house at seven o’clock.
After his dad Mel Senior died in June, Skip had been driving to and from Arcadia from his house in north Fort Myers to keep the saw mill business running.
During the work week he lived at Pat’s house with her and John.
According to Skip, the semi-truck showed up around 7:15 am and from then until nine am Skip unloaded 480 wood pallets from the truck and reloaded it with cut lumber.
Around nine o’clock he asked Pat to wake John up so John could help him finish the job.
According to Skip, the forklift he was using to put lumber on the tractor trailer had overheated and he needed another set of hands to get the rest of the lumber onto the semi.
After that he said he also asked John to unload some more pallets from a trailer he’d driven up from north Fort Myers.
By 9:30 am all of the heavy lifting was done.
There was just one more small chore left to do…take the trash out.
According to Skip, there were a few minutes between 9:30 and ten o’clock when he and John went inside the house to cool off. During that time Pat asked John to run a thank you card over to a neighbor’s house who’d attended Mel Senior’s funeral a few weeks earlier.
After John returned from that errand, Skip said he asked the teen to gather up all of the trash from the house and saw mill and put it in a trailer and drive it over to the dump in the woods near Joshua Creek.
John went outside to do that but came back a few minutes later with bad news.
The wooden trailer used for hauling trash had a flat tire.
Skip said John offered to drive up to Walmart and buy a can of Fix-a-Flat tire repair to see if that would solve the problem…and after getting some cash from Pat, John took off in Pat’s blue-green Ford Explorer SUV—which was also the vehicle he was allowed to drive after getting his license.
For those of you listening who don’t know what Fix-a-Flat is… It’s a can of adhesive and aerosol that seals and inflates a tire.
Skip said John returned from Walmart about a half hour later which would have been around 11:30 am- and he attempted to use the Fix-a-Flat on the bum tire but it didn’t do the trick.
Eventually John and Skip worked together in Pat’s back yard and just ended up replacing the bad tire with a spare one from another trailer.
That process took about an hour, according to Skip, and the last time he saw John it was roughly 12:15–12:30pm.
When authorities asked Skip if he’d seen John arm himself with his .22 revolver, Skip said he didn’t see John go inside and get the gun…but he remembered seeing a glimpse of it as the teen was riding off.
Skip said it was in a holster sitting below the handlebars on the four-wheeler.
Right here is where I want to stop for a minute—and go through this part of Skip’s statement a little more.
Skip says for sure that John went to the Walmart in Arcadia to buy the can of Fix-a-Flat and was home by 11:30-ish…so I started there.
According to GPS the store on highway 70 in Arcadia is approximately a 7-minute drive from Pat’s house —one-way.
So, that means if John was going the speed limit, he would have had a total drive time of roughly 14 minutes to go to the store and get home.
According to Desoto County’s case file, a deputy went to the Walmart to verify if John made the trip and the officer found proof confirming what Skip said.
Walmart’s surveillance cameras captured video of John entering the store at 11:15am on July 8th, 2003…and leaving six minutes later at 11:21am.
According to the receipt log from the cash register that John checked out at—his transaction took place at 11:23am.
A small discrepancy if John is seen on video leaving at 11:21—so, how does his purchase ring up 2 minutes after that?
Well—I honestly think this is a result of likely one of two things. One— the store’s register was off by two minutes or, two—the time stamp on the security cameras was lagging behind real time.
It’s hard to know which for sure…that’s why I wanted to track down and interview the deputy who went and retrieved all of this information.
His name is Craig Aument and he’s now retired from Desoto County sheriff’s office. We spoke on the phone for awhile but unfortunately, Craig doesn’t remember enough about the case.
At the time Craig said he was just a road patrol deputy who was sent to the Walmart to pick up the tapes and check the store’s transaction logs–but then after that he had nothing more to do with the case.
But you guys know me—I didn’t stop there.
I submitted a public records request for a copy of the footage from the VHS tapes that were seized from Walmart.
At first, staff in the records division at Desoto County sheriff’s office told me they would only be able to provide me with still images or freeze frames of John walking into and out of the Walmart.
That was fine with me because what I was really after was getting a clear look at the time stamps on the videos just to confirm with my own eyes what time John went in and out of the store.
A few days after submitting my request, Desoto County told me they would actually have to blur or redact John’s body from the images due to him being a minor…
Then, a few days after that the office called me and said they did not have the ability to even look at the tapes— because…they didn’t have a VHS player.
Six months after that I got a call out of the blue from the department’s one and only records clerk.
She told me DCSO had purchased a VHS player and was reviewing a total of eight tapes seized from Walmart. She said the tapes showed every camera angle from the store and because of that there were roughly two million individual frames of video to go through. She also said some of the time stamps on the tapes were off as well as their dates…which I found odd because there’s nothing written in the 2003 police reports about wrong timestamps or wrong dates.
Eight months after my initial request…I’m still waiting on DCSO to process the Walmart tapes and fulfill my records request.
While I wanted to be thorough—at the end of the day whether John let at 11:21am of 11:23am still lines up with what Skip told investigators.
The next thing I wanted to do to verify some of the other details in Skip’s statement was to contact the driver of the semi-truck that picked up lumber from the saw mill the morning John died.
Here’s Skip recounting that for detectives.
Skip Strader: “The truck showed up I would say between 7 and 7:15.”
Detective: “That’s in the morning.”
Skip Strader: “In the morning…it was the truck driver. It was J&M truck lines”
Detective: “Can you describe the truck driver for me?”
Skip Strader: “Heavy-set guy…I can get a name.”
Delia D’Ambra: That driver’s name was Doug Barber.
For months I’ve been calling, texting and leaving Doug messages but he’s never contacted me.
So—here’s my plug, if you’re Doug Barber or know him, or anyone who worked for J&M trucking lines out of Fort Myers, Florida in 2003—send me an email—counterclock at audiochuck dot com.
I might not be able to talk with Doug now—but— Desoto County sheriff’s office interviewed him briefly in 2003.
According to his statement in police reports, Doug told investigators that he arrived at the saw mill around 7:15am on Tuesday July 8th—just like Skip had said—and he left at approximately 9:15am.
When detectives asked him if he noticed Skip and John or Pat and John arguing while he was there, he told them no. He didn’t see anything out of the ordinary—zero hostility at the homestead.
He said he spoke with John briefly and asked the teen if he liked living in the country to which John replied that he loved it.
That was it—authorities took that brief statement from Doug and sent him on his way.
During Skip’s interview on July 9th–FDLE special agent Smith started to focus in on what Skip remembered after he last saw John.
And it’s during this part where things got much more formal…
Detective: “Mr. Strader I’m going to remind you that you are under oath.”
Skip Strader: “Yes sir”
Detective: “You understand what perjury is and that you have sworn to tell the truth or affirm the truth. Do you still do so sir?”
Skip Strader: “Yes sir.”
Delia D’Ambra: Skip went on to tell detectives that after watching John ride off he went inside Pat’s house, sat in a recliner, watched a soap opera and dozed off.
When he stirred awake, he noticed that it was 1:30 and John was still not back from taking the trash.
Skip said he was concerned about John, so he got into his Ford diesel pickup truck, rode through the pasture and over to the trash pile to look for him.
When he arrived, he said he saw John’s four-wheeler was backed up to the trash pile with the trailer still attached to the rear of it—but John was nowhere in sight.
That’s when Skip said he started yelling John’s name.
Skip Strader: “I blowed the horn, rolled the window down, shut the truck off and hollered. Didn’t hear nothing, so cranked back up. Went back down the creek for along the pasture. Got another 200 yards…did the same thing. Blowed the horn, shut the truck off where you could hear, and hollered.”
Detective: “At no time, you never parked the car and got out?”
Skip Strader: “No sir. I stopped the truck…but I never got out of the truck.”
Delia D’Ambra: After getting no reply from John and not seeing him at all— he went back to the house and told Pat he couldn’t find John.
Pat said when she got a chance, she’d go look for him…but at that point there was no sense of urgency.
Pat made her and Skip a sandwich, they ate lunch and afterwards Pat mentioned she was going to the pasture to find John.
He said she left around 2:15pm—45 minutes after Skip made the first trip to search for John.
About a half hour later she returned, called Patrick Skinner and left to get gas and pick him up.
By 3:45 pm Skip said everyone started to get really worried. Once Patrick arrived in his car the group split up to search again.
Skip said he told the others that he would walk the pasture by foot —starting at the sawmill—and go all the way to the trash pile, while they drove down in Pat’s explorer.
After about a half hour of walking he said he arrived to the trash pile and saw Patrick holding John’s revolver, belt and holster.
Everyone was hollering for John and within a few minutes of arriving, Patrick pointed out John’s body in the ditch water.
That’s when they all three left to call 911 and took the gun and the other items they’d found with them.
Skip’s first interview on July 9th covered the basic highlights of his version of events. Like I said—it lasted less than an hour— and he didn’t get into nitty gritty details.
But the next morning, Thursday July 10th—the sheriff’s office called Skip and Patrick back in for second interviews…
And authorities held nothing back.
Detective: “I want to know, what opinion you had because I think you’re hiding something from me…”
Skip Strader: “I ain’t hiding nothing from you.”
Detective: “I think you’re hiding a whole lot from me there mister.”
Delia D’Ambra: Detectives wanted to know specific details from Patrick and Skip about the who found what at the initial scene and what exactly the group did with those items after they discovered John.
Desoto County detective Curt Mays and FDLE special agent John Smith interviewed Patrick.
Detective: “What were you saying about the holster?”
Patrick Skinner: “I know that’s the holster we found.”
Delia D’Ambra: Immediately afterwards, Kim Lewis and special agent Smith interviewed Skip.
Skip Strader: “There was like a cowboy belt and there was like a green, I guess what you’d call a leg strap or something…”
Detective: “Okay but there was also a third belt, the big belt that he normally wore every day?”
Kim Lewis: “Is that what you’re talking about when you said cowboy belt?”
Skip Strader: “Right.”
Delia D’Ambra: Investigators needed to get clarification on one thing right off the bat…and that was how many belts had been found at the scene.
According to Pat’s previous statement, she said there were two belts, a holster and a strap at the scene…one belt had wildlife scenery depicted on it and the other had a bunch of Dixie flags embroidered on it.
Both were size 28—John’s size.
When Pat handed over the gun, holster, thigh strap and two belts to the sheriff on July 9th she said all of that stuff was from the original scene.
What puzzled investigators on July 10th was the fact that both Patrick and Skip said they only saw one belt at the scene.
So, was Pat mistaken and had just given police two belts from her house that she knew were Johns, but only one really was at the crime scene?
My question is, why would John have had two belts on him riding a four-wheeler in the woods at all?
I know from his autopsy report that he didn’t have a belt in his pants when he was fished out of the water…so if Pat’s correct, that would mean he was out there with two belts sitting loosely around his waist for no reason, which just seems strange to me.
What I think probably would have helped clear up this issue would have been to bring Pat in for a second interview on July 10th as well, but for some reason investigators didn’t ask her to come back that day.
They only wanted to interrogate Patrick and Skip.
Patrick’s story during his second sit down was exactly the same as what he’d said on July 9th… But this time he went into a little more detail.
He’d had roughly 48 hours to process everything he’d been through, and he didn’t shy away from expressing that it felt odd to find John’s gun…holster…belt and thigh strap in almost a perfect line that led him to John’s body.
Patrick Skinner: “When I saw the gun, it, looked like it had been dropped. So, I thought something was wrong. I didn’t know what. I didn’t. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I felt like something was wrong.”
Delia D’Ambra: Patrick said after a few days of stewing on it… The neatness of all the items strewn in a line by the time he got there was causing him to suspect that maybe he couldn’t trust John’s family as much as he thought he could…
Patrick Skinner: “When I saw all the stuff scattered out, I thought he left somewhere in a hurry you know, like dropped stuff on the way but when I seen everything else… The marks I seen. The…it just formed that picture in my mind that somebody killed him.”
Delia D’Ambra: Here’s Patrick today going over his thoughts from that time.
Patrick Skinner: “Probably the first red flag, true red flag that I felt that day was when I started following where those breadcrumbs were…and there was almost like a suspense building.
Whether what I actually saw on the ground was someone pulling him off of the four-wheeler and things happening or whether things were, I don’t want to say purposefully laid out…but it was almost too perfect to leave kind of breadcrumbs to that.
The fact that I was back there for I don’t know, ten minutes? Not even ten minutes, I’m not sure of the timeline. I just know it wasn’t long and that they claim they’d been looking for him around there all day…I’m like… ‘So, you’re looking for him and you’ve already been out here, you don’t see the gun? You don’t see the belt? You don’t see any of this? You don’t follow it to the ditch…and I do it in a matter of minutes? All of that kind of started running through my head and I started creating these things…it almost feels like I was trying to be set up.”
Delia D’Ambra: The longer detectives in 2003 spoke with Patrick, the more they started to think that too.
So far, police were not leaning towards Patrick having a hand in John’s death…
For one, he had an alibi of being home with his mom and instant messaging his girlfriend during the time John was killed.
Two–no one saw him with John during the timeframe of the murder.
And three—he was extremely shaken up by the entire incident, to the point where he was being fully cooperative with police.
But as long as authorities had him willing to talk, they were going to extract as much information from him as possible…and not ease up too much.
Which is why they asked him on July 10th to be very specific about anything else he saw that he felt pointed to a murder and possible cover up…
DCSO: “Was there anything that caught you attention?”
Patrick Skinner: “Marks in the ground”
DCSO: “Marks in the ground. What kind of marks?”
Patrick Skinner: “Like drag marks in the ground.”
Detective: “Patrick. Let me interject. For the record, describe what type of drag marks you think you saw. What I’m describing is, could it have been made by a refrigerator, by a small object?…”
Patrick Skinner: “Like, when I first saw it, they looked like feet. Like…”
Detective: “Heel of shoe?”
Patrick Skinner: “Yeah, something like that.”
Patrick Skinner: “It looked like somebody’s feet and somebody’s feet drug across the ground.”
Patrick Skinner: “I thought saw, when I was actually there, I thought I saw some like right here.”
DCSO: “Did anybody else see them?”
Patrick Skinner: “Skip asked me after we got back to the house if I saw them”
Delia D’Ambra: On top of that, Patrick went into more detail about the position of that rusty barrel he had seen on John’s back when he found him. He said he felt that the barrel’s placement looked purposeful.
Something he’s still convinced of to this day.
Patrick Skinner: “It appeared to me like it was right over his back. Like just behind his shoulders. That’s the image that’s burned into my head.
The fact that I’m seeing this drum on top of him…to know that maybe he was held down there or hit with something or just battered in that way…uh…I just sometimes wonder what would have been going through his head. Who he would have been thinking about, what would he have been thinking about.”
Delia D’Ambra: When detectives switched gears and sat down with Skip, they used all of the information they’d learned from Patrick to grill the 49-year-old.
Detective: “Where were the drag marks?”
Skip Strader: “The drag marks?…”
Detective: “Yeah…show us where you saw the drag marks.”
Skip Strader: “I didn’t see no drag marks.”
Detective: “You saw some drag marks.”
Kim Lewis: “It’s important that you tell us everything Skip.”
Detective: “Where, where did you see the drag marks? Point out where you saw the drag marks.”
Skip Strader: “I don’t know if they were drag marks.”
Detective: “Sure you do. You brought it up in your discussion with Patrick….Where did you see the drag marks?”
Skip Strader: “If there was any drag marks, there was a mark somewhere in this vicinity here…”
Detective: “Well, why didn’t you tell us that?”
Skip Strader: “Well, I…”
Detective: “What do you mean, ‘If there was’?…you saw the drag marks. Now you’re going to lie to me and say you didn’t?”
Skip Strader: “No Sir I’m not going to lie…”
Detective: “Did you see drag marks?”
Skip Strader: “If that’s what you call them.”
Detective: “Why didn’t you tell…Drag marks of what?”
Skip Strader: “I have no idea sir.”
Detective: “You have an idea. Yesterday I asked you something…”
Skip Strader: “Yes sir.”
Detective: “I had asked you did you form an opinion of what had happened out there and you said ‘I have no opinion’…Now I don’t know a man on this earth that didn’t have an opinion on what kind of situation (inaudible)…Now I want to know, what opinion you had because I think you’re hiding something from me…”
Skip Strader: “I ain’t hiding nothing from you.”
Detective: “I think you’re hiding a whole lot from me there mister.”
Skip Strader: “Of what?”
Detective: “You tell me.”
Detective: “You told us yesterday there was no prints, there’s no indentation in that earth at all, you never saw anything. Now we have a boy saying, ‘well he asked me if I saw them’ he said and the boy saw it.”
Skip Strader: “Well…”
Detective: “You lied to me.
Skip Strader: “I’m sorry sir.”
Detective: “You lied to me over a couple of things which causes me to really think you’re in it up to your eyeballs in this stuff.”
Kim Lewis: “Well, I believe that 100 percent.”
Detective: “You’ve got an explanation to give me and I’m hoping you’re going to give me that explanation because I don’t want to walk out of this room until I know the truth.”
Detective: “Yesterday you sat there and I asked you specifically, did you see any drag marks? No sir, I did not see any drag marks. Knowing full well you were lying your ass off to me.”
Skip Strader: “I don’t recall you asking me that.”
Detective: “Yes you do. I asked you specifically.”
Kim Lewis: “You even denied it just now sitting there for a little bit.”
Detective: “Why would you deny something that you did see? When its not pointing anything towards you?”
Delia D’Ambra: At one point in the interview Kim Lewis and John Smith aggressively questioned why Skip—as a responsible adult—didn’t go in the water and try to do CPR on John.
Kim Lewis: “There’s a kid laying in the water face down…and ain’t nobody gets in there to check him?”
Skip Strader: “Well, I’m sorry…but I’m not involved in that.”
Delia D’Ambra: Skip’s nonchalant response only got the interviewers more fired up.
The last thing they confronted him with had to do with information they’d discovered about his cell phone.
They asked him directly why he hadn’t used it when the group first found John.
Why had he waited until he, Patrick and Pat drove back to Pat’s house to make sure someone called 911?
Skip admitted that he had the phone on him the entire time…but as far as why he didn’t use it in the moment, he couldn’t come up with an answer.
According to case documents I’ve been through, Skip made four calls from his cell phone between 4 o’clock and 5:15pm on July 8th—none of which went to emergency responders.
At 4:29 pm Skip made a call to an unlisted number.
It must not have lasted long, because in the exact same minute he called another anonymous number.
Then—he called another number those authorities redacted from their reports.
And finally, at 5:02pm he called his uncle, a Florida highway patrol trooper named Ralph Strader.
Now just stop for a minute here and thing about the timeframe that these calls were made in.
4:29—when Skip placed his first call to an unlisted number— is before any emergency responders even knew John was dead. Pat Strader didn’t place the 911 call until 4:35pm.
And 5:02pm— when Skip’s talking to Ralph—things are erupting at the southeast Hansel property. Police are swarming the area and John’s body is still laying dead in the water.
So—what did Skip and Ralph talk about during their 5 o’clock phone call?
According to what police reports—Skip told him that John had been shot.
Detective: “Well how come you told Ralph that the boy had got killed by somebody shooting him? Way before we even knew about it.”
Skip Strader: “That’s not true.”
Detective: “I’m going to tell you something…that’s exactly the truth because that’s exactly what Ralph told us. That you got on your Nextel and you told him that he’s dead and that somebody shot him.”
Detective: “Explain to us how you made a phone call to Ralph and told him that.”
Skip Strader: “I didn’t tell Ralph that he’d been shot.”
Detective: “How did Ralph know he’d been shot?…He said you told him.”
Delia D’Ambra: I can’t ask Ralph about his conversation with Skip for myself, because he’s since died.
But back in 2003 him telling authorities that Skip knew John had been shot before anyone else knew that information made him the prime suspect in the murder investigation.
Skip’s lack of ability to explain his actions only ratcheted up the pressure on him.
Toward the end of his July 10th interview, agent Smith was relentless in trying to get Skip to crack.
Detective: “That boy is dead…that boy is shot and he got killed by somebody that was there, that afternoon.”
Skip Strader: “It wasn’t me sir. I swear to God on that…”
Detective: “Do you know something? I firmly believe it was you.”
Skip Strader: “No sir.”
Detective: “and I think you’d feel a hell of a lot better if you get it off your chest and you tell me what happened. I think that boy pissed you off…”
Skip Strader: “No sir.”
Detective: “I think that boy got right in your face, and you got right back in his face”
Skip Strader: “No sir. Sure didn’t.”
Detective: “Explain something to me. Why’d you take his belt off?”
Skip Strader: “I didn’t take his belt off.”
Detective: “How’d his belt get off of him?”
Skip Strader: “I have no idea.”
Detective: “I think what had happened, when you first went back there with that load, you followed him back in there. You had a confrontation with…he never even got off that ATV.”
Skip Strader: “No sir.”
Detective: “You had to pick his ass up and drag him over to that water throw him into it.”
Skip Strader: “I did not harm that boy.
Detective: “The boy is dead. What do you mean you didn’t harm him? Did he die immediately? He was still breathing when you put him in the water. He was breathing in the water. His lungs filled with water. Did you know that?”
Skip Strader: “I didn’t do it.”
Detective: “How close did you get to him when you shot him?”
Skip Strader: “I did not do it sir! That is honest to God truth…”
Detective: “That’s not the truth.”
Skip Strader: “Yes, it is.”
Delia D’Ambra: This went on and on for over an hour…and every time Skip was accused, he denied any involvement in the crime.
And for the most part, investigators really had no hard evidence suggesting otherwise. All they had was circumstantial hunches.
They had John’s gun, but they were stuck waiting on initial lab results and fingerprinting to come back for that.
Meanwhile, before they let Patrick and Skip go on July 10th, they tested both of them for gunshot residue and accompanied them back to their houses to collect the clothing and shoes they said they’d been wearing on the day John died.
Detectives did not collect Pat’s clothing though; they only took a pair of white tennis shoes she said she’d worn over to the trash pile.
Within a few hours, the GPS results for Skip and Patrick came back as clean.
That proved that neither of them had shot a firearm recently—or at least there was no residue left on their arms and hands by the time they were swabbed on July 10th.
FDLE impounded Skip’s pickup truck—which actually technically belonged to Pat Strader—and hauled it off to the crime lab in Fort Myers.
While state agents sorted through the physical evidence they needed to process and send off for blood, DNA and fingerprint analysis—five days passed and… On Tuesday July 15th—one week after John’s death— Desoto County sheriff’s office decided to change up how they were going to keep questioning their prime suspects.
Kim Lewis: “you ready?”
Male Deputy: “We’re ready…”
Delia D’Ambra: On sweltering summer afternoon, armed with a video recorder…they took Patrick, Pat and Skip out to the southeast Hansel Avenue crime scene at separate times and had them once again go through their stories.
Skip Strader: “I saw the holster there.”
Kim Lewis: “Alright. Then what happened.”
Delia D’Ambra: That’s on the next episode of counterclock—”Suspicions”—listen, right now.