The lead investigator of the Melissa Bost murder case testified on Thursday morning, before the Court heard from the Forensic Pathologist. The Forensic Pathologist performed the victim’s autopsy and the Forensic Biologist who conducted DNA testing on 39 samples sent to Oklahoma State Bureau of Infestation.
Lead detective Bill Perkins of the Altus Police Department attested to various aspects to the case beginning with preserving evidence at the crime scene where the victim was found, to conducting interviews with suspects, searching the defendant’s residence, and sending evidence to OSBI for DNA and blood testing.
Perkins told the jury that the defendant, Manuel Daniel, Jr, had changed his story through several interviews. Perkins said that when he was first brought to APD for questioning on Feb. 29, 2012, two days after Bost was found dead, Daniel said he wanted to get high because he thought he was going to jail after his court case in Tilman for possession charges. Daniel said in the interview he was unable to reach Bost to buy crack cocaine, so he just cleaned his house and watched some videos until about 4 a.m. and went to bed. In a second interview, Daniel said that he did end up purchasing drugs, but from someone else. When detectives asked from who, Daniel could not say.
During the first interview, APD also took photos of Daniel having scratches and gouge marks on the back of his right hand and scratches, abrasions, and bruises on his chest and knees. Daniel told detectives at the time he received those injuries while working a roofing job in Blair. Perkins stated these injuries were not consistent with that type of work.
After interviewing numerous suspects and relatives to the defendant, Daniel became the prime suspect, and one month later APD and OSBI were setting up crime tape at Daniel’s residence on the 900 Block of Baucum. While Perkins sat in his office writing up the search warrant, he received a call on the Crime Stoppers hot line from a neighbor in the vicinity of Daniel’s residence who told Perkins about Daniel’s strange behavior on the night of Bost’s murder. The neighbor, who is expected to testify, told Perkins that Daniel was carrying a box to the dumpster a block and a half away down the alley behind their house, instead of throwing the box away in the dumpster right behind his own house. When a truck drove by, Daniel was said to have placed the box down on the ground and stood still until the truck continued down the alley. Perkins followed up that tip and went to the City landfill, unable to recover any evidence.
During the search of the home which Perkins described as “filthy,” investigators discovered that a large portion of carpet was missing from the bedroom and kitchen. There were visible stains on the carpet and the wooden floor where carpeting was removed. Perkins described the reactive glow of luminol, used to detect the presence of blood, in a pattern that looked like someone ran a vacuum on the remaining carpet. Perkins said that drew their attention to the bottom of the vacuum which also reacted to to luminol. Perkins also described a straight diagonal line of glowing luminol from the second room of the house in a straight line to the front door. The contents of the vacuum were carefully sifted through at APD, where Perkins found three fingernails and some hair that was sent to OSBI. Other items including portions of the floor and swabs taken were also sent to OSBI for DNA and blood testing.
Perkins said a third interview with Daniel was conducted after the search. Daniel is said to have changed his story again, this time saying told he had only left his house to get a pack of cigarettes on Feb. 27, 2012, and didn’t in fact pick up drugs to get high. Perkins asked why investigators found blood found in the house, which Daniel replied, “It shouldn’t have been.” Perkins asked about the carpet being removed and Daniel said it was from the cat and dog urinating on the carpet, and stated that was why he put his dog to sleep.
Perkins also received a lead that a woman may have also been present in the house where the murder allegedly took place. Perkins told the jury that he believed there was one killer involved, but two people moved the victim’s body.
Both the Plaintiff and Defendant attorneys agreed to see two witnesses out of order on Thursday, and to allow the cross-examination of Perkins at a later time.
A Forensic Pathologist from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner testified to each wound analyzed on Melissa Bost, for over nine total wounds to the neck and face from sharp force trauma, as well as various blunt force traumas to the victim’s head, arms, elbow, thigh, knee and top of foot. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was due to sharp force trauma from a stab that severed the right carotid artery in the victim’s neck, and a stab wound that cut the left carotid artery and entered the C-3 vertebrae of the spinal column. The medical examiner ruled out all possible manners of death except homicide. The medical examiner was unable to determine exactly how much blood would have been lost due to the wound received, but said it could have been a “considerable amount.”
The last witness for the day was a Forensic Biologist from OSBI who performed all the DNA and blood testing for a total of 39 items sent from the APD and OSBI. The forensic biologist concluded that one of the fingernails found in Daniel’s vacuum, and two of four strands of hair found in the victim’s hand at the crime scene, matched Bost’s DNA profile. Fingernail clippings removed from the victim by OSBI for testing showed blood under the fingernails belonged to Bost, and that no DNA was obtained that matched Daniel’s DNA profile. A swab sample from the ceiling area in Daniel’s residence as well as all samples of evidence taken from Daniel’s residence sent for blood testing showed “no DNA profile was obtained.”
Swabs taken from the steering wheel of the victim’s car resulted in a partial profile identifying the DNA presence of two people. The list of all subject profiles were ruled out of the DNA mixture obtained, except Bost who cannot be excluded from the test. There was male DNA present, but the forensic biologist stated she cannot make any conclusions to include or exclude anybody based on the partial profile obtained.
The cross-examination of APD Detective Bill Perkins is to continue today before more witnesses take the stand.
Daniel has been accused in the 2012 murder of Melissa Bost. Bost was found in an abandoned vehicle in an alley in the 1000 block of E. Sutherland, but it was later determined that Bost was murdered at another location in south Altus.