Nancy DePriest was a 20-year-old woman who was found dead in a local Pizza Hut in Texas almost 30 years ago. And the affects of her murder and the false confession still penetrate the emotions of everyone involved even today. On Investigation Discovery's Shadow Of Doubt, viewers will see a re-enactment of Nancy DePriest's brutal murder. The arrest of Richard Danziger and the false confession of Chris Ochoa will also be discussed. The Shadow Of Doubt episode detailing DePriest's murder is titled "Right Place, Wrong Time."
Pizza Hut Dough Maker Shot In Restaurant
In October 1988, police were dispatched to the Pizza Hut in Austin, Texas, where a manager had found one of his waitresses unresponsive and in a pool of blood in the bathroom. The victim, who was identified as Nancy DePriest, had been shot in the back of the head.
The Pizza Hut manager told detectives that he arrived at the location around 9:00 a.m., to check on things since he didn't get an answer when he called several times. A quick look at the crime scene indicated to detectives that this was a robbery. Money was also missing from the drawer.
Nancy DePriest was transported to the hospital, where she hung on for a few hours but later died while on life support. DePriest left behind a husband and a baby girl, according to the Los Angeles Times.
An autopsy report conducted on Nancy DePriest showed that she had also been sexually assaulted. The crime shocked patrons, who remembered Nancy as a happy person who seemed to like people.
A False Confession Led To Imprisonment Of Two Innocent People
The case dragged on for up to two weeks since police didn't have any leads on the murder. They got a lucky break when it came to light that two other employees had come into the restaurant to make a beer toast to Nancy. The two employees were Chris Ochoa and his friend Richard Danziger.
Immediately, the two suspects were questioned. However, according to Chris Ochoa, he was threatened and shown pictures of the death chamber. He was told by one zealous detective that if he didn't confess to the murder he would face the death penalty. Ochoa also indicated that he was told what the other inmates would do to him sexually if he was convicted.
This, according to Chris Ochoa, prompted him to confess to a crime that he didn't commit. Spending time in prison would be horrible, but it was better than being put to death. For years, he continuously confessed that he and his friend Richard Danziger had done it.
While Ochoa was sitting in prison for a crime that he knew that he didn't commit, another man named Achim Marino had sent two letters confessing to the crime. After examining the forensic evidence, the case was solved after the it confirmed that Marino had savagely entered the restaurant and killed Nancy DePriest.
Chris Ochoa has the Innocence Project to thank for helping him with his release from prison in 2001. But his false confession didn't just affect his life, it also ruined the life of Richard Danziger, who was viciously beaten and stomped in the head by some other inmates. The beating was so severe that it left him with permanent brain damage that will require him to receive care for the rest of his life. Richard Danziger was also released from prison.
The story of Nancy DePriest, Chris Ochoa, and Richard Danziger continues to outrage people who have learned about the story. Here are a few comments by some YouTube posters who were discussing the murder.
"Those police should be in prison now!!"Shadow Of Doubt's episode "Right Place, Wrong Time" airs tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID). Joseph Sonnier's case also made a recent episode of Shadow Of Doubt.[Featured Image by George Sheldon/Shutterstock]
"Terrible injustice and glad Marino confessed. I used to not understand how people confess to something they didn't do."
"No matter how terrified he was for himself he did not have to take his friend Richard Danziger down with him. His brain damage is Ochoa's fault. Feeble minded waste of space."
"Ocheo received a 5.3 million dollar settlement for his wrongful conviction, which he doesn't deserve at all. He should actually be charged with perjury for lying like they on the stand. Danzinger received 9 million, which he deserves every cent of. This case makes me so mad. Ocheo is proof that choose your friends very wisely."