Idaho Police Arrest Suspect In The 1996 Rape & Murder Of Angie Dodge
Authorities say they have charged Brian Dripps, 53, with crimes that sent another man to prison for 20 years until DNA led to his release.
CALDWELL, ID — Authorities say they have arrested a suspect in the 1996 slaying of Idaho Falls teenager Angie Dodge.
Brian Dripps, 53, faces rape and murder charges, according to the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office. He stands accused of sexually assaulting 18-year-old Angie Dodge in her apartment, then slitting her throat and stabbing her to death on June 13, 1996.
At a press conference following the arrest, Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson announced, “His DNA matches the DNA sample left at the scene of the crime. And he has also confessed to the crime in an interview.”
Chief Johnson further explained that investigators used new DNA technology to take hundreds of samples from existing evidence, which genetic genealogist Cece Moore of Parabon Nanolabs compared to family tree information online.
That process, Johnson said, narrowed it down to several potential persons of interest, including Brian Dripps. Police then reportedly tailed Dripps and obtained a fresh DNA sample from a cigarette butt they say he tossed from a car window. When tested, Johnson said, the DNA on the cigarette matched semen allegedly found at the crime scene.
Legal records indicate that Dripps has no major criminal history in Idaho, but that Dripps did live across the street from Dodge in 1996, and that investigators even interviewed him after the murder as part of routine neighborhood canvassing.
Brian Dripps, however, is not the first suspect to be arrested for the attack on Angie Dodge.
Christopher Tapp knew Angie Dodge personally. Even though Tapp’s DNA didn’t match any samples and police allegedly found no other physical evidence to place him at the crime scene, detectives reportedly interviewed him for 23 hours.
Eventually, police recorded Tapp saying he held Angie down while another a man stabbed her. Almost immediately, though, Tapp claimed his confession had been coerced and, in court, he pleaded not guilty.
In 1998, a jury convicted Tapp, and he received a sentence of 30-years-to-life. Still, the murder case remained open, because police could not match the crime scene DNA to him or anyone else.
For the next 20 years, advocates that included the Iowa Innocence Project, Judges for Justice, and even Carol Dodge, the victim’s mother, campaigned to get Tapp out of prison.
Finally, in 2017, a judge vacated Tapp’s rape conviction and adjusted his sentence to 20 years, releasing him for time served. Tapp walked out of prison a free man, although the conditions of the plea that released him do not technically exonerate him.
Now police say Brian Dripps will go before the court and face justice, 23 years after Angie Dodge died. If Dripps is convicted, he reportedly could face life in prison or the death penalty.
Watch Investigation Discovery's Keith Morrison Investigates: Who Killed Angie Dodge? on ID GO now!