‘How I Caught My Killer’ documents the investigations of those murder cases that were solved due to the clues left behind by the victims, the clues that made all the difference. The docuseries is now streaming on Hulu.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Social media? Yeah, it was her thing. (Episode 1):
A 17-year-old transwoman, Nikki Kuhnhausen, is extremely popular on social media, with around 10,000 followers. She is always on her phone and active on social media, until the day she goes missing in June 2019.
Her mother files a missing person report, but the police get no leads. Her family and friends ask people on social media to send them tips. Ultimately, the police ask Snapchat to give them access to the information regarding Nikki’s account.
Snapchat gives them the access that they need, and they come across David Bogdanov, the last person who was in contact with Nikki. David had plans to meet up with her on the night she went missing.
The police try to question him about the same, but they cannot reach him. They finally get in touch with him through Snapchat. He claims that he met her that night, but when he found out that she was trans, he immediately asked her to leave.
The police fail to get any other leads until Nikki’s body is found six months after her death; Nikki was strangled with a charging cable. At this point, her family reveals that a year before her death, she was shot six times by someone she refused to name.
The police start looking at David again. They get their hands on his phone records, which tell them that he was at the place where Nikki’s body was found on the day she died. This links him to her murder, and he gets arrested.
He pleads in court that he killed her in self-defense, but the fact that he destroyed evidence by getting rid of the car he was driving that night proves his guilt. More than two years after Nikki’s death, David is found guilty of second-degree murder.
Nikki’s death caused LGBTQ+ activists and her family to demand and get the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act, which eliminated the gay and trans panic defense, an unfair defense used by homophobes and transphobes to walk free after murdering an LGBTQ+ person, in Washington.
I found Candice’s Diary… (Episode 2):
Candice Parchment, a 15-year-old girl, goes missing in April 2010. Her mother suddenly gets a suspicious text from her phone, saying that she is going to Tennessee.
On the basis of the text message, the overburdened police department does not look further into the case. However, seven months later, her decomposed body is found in her neighborhood.
She died due to a stab wound to the chest. The police start looking at the murder case now, but they have no leads; no one knows anything at her home or her school.
They look at two criminals, Artemio Hernandez and Tery Jenkins, who had been charged with crimes against young girls, but that also leads nowhere.
Then, in October 2011, Candice’s mother finds her diary and hands it over to the police. Her meticulously maintained diary has an account of a terrifying night; two boys, Marshae and Jermane, tried to sexually assault her in an abandoned house.
Marshae, who is already in prison for burglary, is questioned by the police. However, he lies and says that he saw another man following Candice the night she died.
The police bring in Jermane, who confesses that Marshae killed Candice because he thought that she might tell someone about the assault. The police manage to get a confession out of Marshae as well.
He is found guilty. He is then sentenced to life in prison without parole and an additional 20 years, while Jermane, who was a cooperating witness, pleads guilty and is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
It’s just unfathomable… (Episode 3):
In May 2012, Brandy Rosine, who was staying at her grandparents’ house, goes missing. She does not reply to the calls and messages of her friends or her mother, which concerns them.
They inform the police, but the police do not take it seriously as Brandy is an adult and could be anywhere. When she does not return in a few days, Brandy’s friend, Reannon, shares secret messages that Brandy had sent her with Brandy’s other friend, Krysti.
The messages included the address where Brandy was going as well as a message that said that she is coming back because the address was bad and that she had a funny feeling.
Krysti takes matters into her own hands and goes to the address that Brandy had provided. However, she could not find the house. Meanwhile, the police find her cell phone location.
Her family and friends go to Meadville, looking for her. When they do not find her there, her mother decides to drive up to the address in Brandy’s messages.
This time, Krysti and Brandy’s mother find the house. They find Brandy’s ex-girlfriend, Jade, at the house with her girlfriend, Ashley. The couple denies meeting Brandy, much to her mother’s disappointment.
However, Ashley’s mother calls the police after finding Brandy’s car in her garage, which leads to Brandy’s mother calling the FBI to get the police properly involved in the case.
The police start looking for Jade and Ashley, who have run away. The two are found and questioned by the police. At the same time, a body is found near Ashley’s house; it is Brandy’s body. Brandy was brutally beaten and buried alive by the two.
The two enter a plea deal and get sentenced to life in prison without parole. Their motive is still not known, but the two expressed in their journals that they were proud of killing her.
Everybody was always looking at him. (Episode 4):
Jesse, a college student, is found dead off-campus in 2004. He was barely clothed, and his throat was slit.
The police question Ed, his boyfriend, and Eric, another boy who had attended a party with Jesse the night he died. Soon, another suspect is added to the list.
An anonymous caller reports that Jesse was having a sexual relationship with a police officer who is married and has a child. When the police bring in Andy, Jesse’s ex-boyfriend, he confirms this and identifies the police officer.
The officer in question is Steven Rios, who arrested Jesse a week ago for a minor offense and was later given the task of guarding Jesse’s house after his death.
Somehow, the news gets leaked to the press, which leads to Steven’s suicide attempt. However, the police manage to stop him.
Jesse’s friend, Joan, tells the police that Jesse was sleeping with Steven again in hopes that his ticket would be waived. When that did not happen, he was planning to threaten Steven that he would reveal his secret to the Chief of Police.
Furthermore, Steven’s DNA is found on Jesse’s body, which confirms that he is indeed the killer. Steven denies the charges, but he is found guilty by the court.
Two years later, an appeals court overturns this conviction, but he is found guilty once again; this time he is found guilty of second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder and gets life in prison.
She’s only fourteen and she’s not home. (Episode 5):
A 14-year-old Shaniesha goes missing in January 2013, a few days after she gets a new cell phone. Three days later, her body is found on Gerritsen Beach.
Through her social media account, it is discovered that she had plans to go out on a date with a mystery boy. Despite the efforts of her family, there are no other significant leads until the police get access to her phone records.
She had gone somewhere in the opposite direction of her school, where she was supposed to be, on the day she was killed. The police find and question the boy she was going on a date with, and he tells them that she canceled the date that morning.
The police then reach Christian Ferdinand, the man Shaniesha had been constantly calling and texting. He was staying with his cousin during the time of Shaniesha’s death, and his cousin’s house was near the beach where her body was found.
Additionally, the police find out that his phone was in the same area as Shaniesha’s phone at the time of her death. When they question him with these facts, he comes clean.
He confesses he was sleeping with her. She thought she was pregnant, and he asked her to get an abortion. When she refused, he suffocated her to death.
He then called his friend, Luis, to help him get rid of the body. He wrapped it in trash bags, put it in a suitcase, burned it, and threw it in the sea. They did not expect the body to wash up on the beach later.
Ferdinand is found guilty and gets sentenced to 29 years to life in prison, whereas Luis enters a plea deal and gets sentenced to three months in prison.
You can see the panic. (Episode 6):
In July 2014, the body of 14-year-old April Millsap is found along the Macomb Orchard trail in the peaceful and small Armada. She had gone out on a walk with her dog.
A couple comes across her dog and discovers the body. She was stomped to death. The unconventional crime leads the local police to take the help of the Michigan State Police to solve the case.
They find out that she sent a text message to her boyfriend, Austin, minutes before her death, stating she almost got kidnapped. They launch a massive effort to find her missing phone, which is found in some brush on a dirt road.
The fitness app that kept a track of her body’s movements indicates that she was running from someone, and the person took her phone to dispose of it after killing her.
The police also get a tip that before she died, April was seen talking to a man who was on his bike. The description of the bike lead them to James VanCallis Jr. and his father, who was a convicted sex offender.
The police ask VanCallis Jr. to show them the shoes he was wearing on the day of April’s death, and he shows them a pair that does not match the marks on her body.
After the two men get arrested for growing marijuana in their backyard, VanCallis Jr.’s girlfriend comes forward to report that she saw him cleaning his other pair of shoes on the day of April’s murder — the pair that he was actually wearing.
These shoes match the marks on April’s body. Furthermore, his phone records and his internet searches are taken as evidence against him. He is found guilty in 2015 and is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
He was speaking to us from the grave. (Episode 7):
John Ray, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is found dead in his house, with some of his electronics and car missing. He was stabbed with force and then tied up. His house was cleaned by his killer, who left behind his jersey in the washing machine.
It is revealed that he was seeing a man who was asking him for money, but John kept refusing. His car was involved in a police chase that night and crashed a few miles from his house, but the driver escaped.
The police could not solve his case. Seven years later, Atlanta PD establishes a cold case unit that reopens his case. They take a close look at the untouched evidence found in his car.
They find out that John was checking the criminal history of a person named Torico Jackson, who had been involved in burglaries. Jackson is also wearing the jersey that was found at John’s house in his ID photograph.
Furthermore, Jackson’s DNA was found in John’s car, as he was the one who stole it. John’s phone records suggested that he had spoken to him before his death.
Nine years after John’s death, Jackson is tried in court. He says that he acted in self-defense, but he is found guilty. He is given two life sentences and an additional 25 years in prison.
There might be a target on your back. (Episode 8):
Ben Renick, a successful reptile breeder, is found dead by his wife. He was shot eight times.
Initially, his brother, Sam, is suspected by the police because of their strained relationship, but that leads them nowhere. As their father had scammed people in the past, the police suspect one of his victims might have killed Ben for revenge.
Ben’s wife, Lynlee, soon sells his business and his farm. She starts dating another man, Brandon, and she moves on.
However, more than two years after his death, Brandon, who has been arrested for stalking and violating a restraining order, tells the police that Lynlee was the one who killed Ben.
Two of Lynlee’s employees also give their statements regarding her role in the murder. On the day of the murder, Lynlee took one of her ex-boyfriends, Michael Humphrey, to the farm and killed her husband. She inherited $3 million after Ben’s death.
She gets arrested by the police, who then find text messages that Ben had exchanged with his best friend, Chase. The two were discussing how Lynlee might have tried to poison Ben and that she would be very rich if he died.
It is discovered that Ben and Lynlee were fighting over her expenses. They were not a happy couple; she had multiple affairs throughout their marriage.
She claims that she went to ask Ben for a divorce, but Michael shot him. Michael claims otherwise. They blame each other for the murder.
Four years after Ben’s death, Michael is found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole, whereas Lynlee is found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison with an additional three years.
There was a monster inside of him. (Episode 9):
Sarah Butler, a college student who desperately needs money, agrees to sleep with a man for it, but she never returns home.
Her sister and friends access her Facebook account to trap the man who was meeting her that night. The police question the man, but nothing comes out of it.
Seven days before she went missing, Tiffany Taylor, a pregnant woman who was doing all sorts of jobs in order to earn some money, was driving a man somewhere for cash. The man raped her and tried to choke her.
She lied to the man about leaving her phone in the motel, which would lead the police to him, and managed to escape his clutches. She reported the crime, but the police did not believe her. In fact, they accused her of prostitution.
Joanne Brown was another woman who was picked up by the same man some time ago and then went missing. Her friend had the man’s phone number because Joanne called her using his phone. She gave the number to the police, but they did not take any action.
Months ago, Robin West was also picked up by this man. Her best friend took a picture of his license plate before she left with him. Her friend shared this information with the police when Robin went missing, but, once again, no action was taken.
Robin was strangled to death, and her body was found in an abandoned house that was set on fire.
Sarah’s phone records lead the police to her body. She was also strangled. The police once again bring in Khalil Wheeler Weaver, the man she met on the day she died. His DNA matches the samples collected from Sarah’s body, which leads to his arrest.
Joanne’s body is found in an abandoned house where Sarah met Khalil the day she died. Furthermore, Tiffany recounts her story once again and becomes the link that joins these cases; she establishes a pattern.
All the evidence collected by these women is used against him. In 2019, Khalil is found guilty on all 11 counts and sentenced to 160 years in prison. It is revealed that there was another victim who was just 15 when he killed her.