On June 22nd, 2012, Mary Kristene Chapa and Molle Judith Olgin were in Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas, just outside of Corpus Christi. The two had been dating for five months and, shortly after midnight, they were both shot by an unknown assailant. Olgin was killed, while Chapa suffered severe injuries.
Police at the time indicated no motive for the shooting—though people were quick to question whether the young women’s sexual orientation was a factor—and two years passed before a suspect was identified. That suspect, David Malcolm Strickland, was arrested earlier this week in Helotes, along with his wife, Laura Kimberley Strickland, who was charged with tampering with evidence.
According to the police affidavit, the case broke two years later because of a note that was received by the Chapa family on June 12th, which accused another man of the crime. As KIII-TV in South Texas reports:
That letter provided details of the case that had not yet been released to the public, and investigators determined that the man accused in the letter could not have been involved in the 2012 shootings. Investigators also noted that the letter was wrapped in a zip-lock bag with the following words etched into it: “I was told to deliver this or die. I can’t find her. Plz help.”
The affidavit states that Chapa’s family members had spotted a black sedan driving away from their home the day the letter was delivered. Police said that David Strickland and his wife, Laura, owned a black sedan. They then traced David Strickland’s cell phone through GPS and found that it had been in that area at the time that the letter was delivered.
Police say that the man identified in the letter had been a former friend of Strickland’s whom they determined had not been in the area at the time of the shooting. Strickland had been arrested in Layton, Utah earlier in 2014 for burglarizing the home of the man identified in the letter; Layton Police had subsequently seized evidence from Strickland’s vehicle that they’d shared with the investigators in Portland, after determining it relevant to their case.
Included in that evidence was: a Glock .45 firearm and magazines; a Kimber .45 firearm and magazines; an after-market barrel and suppressor; Underarmor gloves; Federal .45 auto ammunition; and a backpack containing a condom, personal lubricant, flex handcuffs, an expandable baton, bolt cutters, pepper spray, a head lamp, an Underarmor glove, a knife, handcuffs, firearms holsters, a lock pick kit, chemical lights, a tourniquet and a magnesium fire starter.
There’s still no indication of a motive in the incident—and it’s unlikely the public will be made aware of one until the case progresses toward trial. Still, after two years without an update, the arrest of a suspect in a case like this is a big deal.