Diane Holik was brutally murdered in her Austin, Texas, home more than 15 years ago by Patrick Anthony 'Tony' Russo, a church leader with an erotic horror fantasy. This weekend, Holik's story will be highlighted on an episode of Dateline NBC. The episode covering the Texas killing is "After the Storm." Currently, her killer, Tony Russo, is incarcerated. All of his appeals have been denied.A Storm Reveals A MurderIt was November 15, 2001, when a massive storm of heavy floods and rain deluged Austin, Texas. So when no one could get in touch with Diane Holik, everyone believed that the lines were down. But, when the skies cleared and Diane Holik missed an important meeting, friends and family became concerned.
The local police arrived at the home at 6300 Pathfinder Drive, where they found the body of a white female who was identified as 42-year-old Diane Holik.
The victim, an IBM at home supervisor, was found in an upstairs bedroom lying face down. She had been tied up and strangled, an autopsy report confirmed. According to CNET, ligature marks were present on the body, though the ligature used was not found at that time.
"Police found a fully clothed body. Holik's wrists had been bound, and there were marks around her neck indicating strangulation by ligature, meaning a garrote such as a cord or rope. There was no sign of a sexual assault."A jewelry box, a key string, and a necklace that had been attached to a charm were missing. The death of Diane Holik sparked fear in local real estate agents, who believed that they could be the next victim.
Church Leader Had Subscription To Death Porn Site
During the murder investigation, authorities learned that a strange man with a van had stopped by Diane Holik's place to inquire about the sale of her home. A canvas of the neighborhood also revealed that the same man had knocked on the doors of other neighbors who had "For Sale" signs in the yard. What stood out about the stranger, according to neighbors, was the eerie and creepy vibe that he gave them while talking about the house.Composite Sketch Helps Nab Killer
The break in the case came after police received a tip from a woman who stated that a man had stopped by to take a tour of her home. She jotted down the license plate numbers when she recognized him from the police composite sketch.
The car plates were traced back to 38-year-old Tony Russo, aka Patrick Anthony Russo, a church worker and music director with a rap sheet dating back to the 1990s.
Investigators say Tony Russo targeted expensive homes and pretended to be a home buyer to rob the victims. Russo was once arrested for burglary and the kidnapping of a woman. They also learned that the church leader had a fascination with strangling women and often visited porn sites that featured the strangulation deaths of women, according to court records found at FindLaw.
On June 18, 2003, a search warrant was issued authorizing the search of appellant's home and the seizure of his personal computer "and its content.
The computer was seized pursuant to the warrant. More than 136 such documents in the temporary Internet files folder were located.
Several of the Internet pages related to the realtors who testified at trial.
The computer's Internet history made reference to a Web site named "necrobabes.com," which was later determined to be an asphyxiation-type pornographic Web site.
On November 18, 2003, a second search warrant was issued, that authorized the search of the hard drive of appellant's computer for "[i]nformation pertaining to death by asphyxiation" as well as other information and photos and text from the Web site named "necrobabes.com."
The Diane Holik cases also inspired the Investigation Discovery's show Motives And Murders: Cracking The Case. Dateline's "After the Storm" will include interviews with friends and family members of Diane Holik and Travis County investigators. Tune in this Friday, September 23, at 9/8 p.m. Central on NBC. Dateline aired the case of Christopher Northam last weekend.[Featured Image by Dateline/Facebook]