THIRTY-SIX YEARS LATER, DO POLICE HAVE THE RIGHT MAN IN A UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDENT'S MURDER? --
"48 HOURS MYSTERY," SATURDAY, NOV. 26
Jane Mixer had it all. One of a handful of female students at the University of Michigan Law School in 1969, she was also in love. She had just agreed to get married and had arranged a ride home to tell her parents the happy news. But she never made it home. Her body was found in a small, rural cemetery just miles from her dorm. Mixer had been shot twice in the head and strangled. Thirty-six years later, the police believe they have finally solved the case. But do they have the right man? Correspondent Maureen Maher reports for 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Deadly Ride," to be broadcast Saturday, Nov. 26 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Mixer's murder fit a disturbing pattern. She was the third of seven young women to be found dead in the area within two years. Just days after finding the seventh victim, police arrested John Collins, an Eastern Michigan University student. Collins was convicted of only one of the murders, but it was widely assumed he was responsible for all seven, including Mixer's. Barbara Nelson, Mixer's sister, says she accepted that, but she also admits there has always been a pall of silence in her family about her sister's murder. It was too painful for the family to talk about openly.
Nelson's daughter, Maggie, grew up feeling haunted by her aunt and was determined to unravel the family mystery. Maggie's research into her aunt's life and death would eventually become a book about Mixer and the impact she had on the family. Maggie did not realize that she wasn't the only one investigating her aunt's story. Some detectives had long believed the case deserved another look. Detective Eric Schroeder sent some old evidence to the state crime lab to see if any incriminating DNA could be detected. Just as Maggie was finishing her book, Schroeder called Mixer's family to announce that they had a new suspect -- someone they had never considered.
The police say DNA found on Mixer's pantyhose matches Gary Leiterman, a 62-year-old retired nurse. Leiterman, married for nearly 28 years with two grown children, vehemently denies having anything to do with Mixer's murder. Leiterman has never been accused of any other violent crime.
The case against Leiterman hinges on DNA evidence, but as it turns out, his DNA wasn't the only DNA found on mixer's body. That poses a difficult challenge for the prosecution in convincing the jury that Leiterman is the murderer. Will the Mixer family finally have justice?
48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Deadly Ride" is produced by Gail Zimmerman and Chris Young. Judy Tygard is the senior producer and Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.