When eighteen-year-old Angie Dodge finally got permission to move out of her mother’s house and into her own apartment, she looked forward to a wonderful independent life. However, just days after Angie moved out, residents of Idaho Falls, Idaho, witnessed a terrifying homicide when the eighteen-year-old was found raped and stabbed to death in her apartment. ABC’s ’20/20 Stranger Than Fiction: The Murder of Angie Dodge’ chronicles the brutal murder and follows the police investigation that tried its best to get to the bottom of the murder. Let’s take a closer look at the case details and find out more, shall we?
How Did Angie Dodge Die?
Angie Dodge was a lively and down-to-earth eighteen-year-old who graduated high school in the summer of 1996. Described as an amicable, generous, and kind-hearted individual, Angie was always ready to help others and was quite popular in her friends’ group. In fact, she could not wait to start her life after school and had grand ambitions for the future. Interestingly, ever since her high school graduation, Angie had been looking to get a taste of independence and so kept asking her mother for permission to move out. Although her mother was initially unwilling to let her go, she finally relented and let Angie get her own apartment in May 1996. People who knew the eighteen-year-old later mentioned that Angie was delighted at getting to move into her own home and had no idea about the tragedy that awaited her.
On June 13, 1996, the usually peaceful city of Idaho Falls, Idaho, witnessed a brutal homicide when authorities were informed of a violent rape and murder in a city apartment. Upon rushing to the scene, first responders identified the victim and Angie and learned she had not been receiving calls since the previous night. However, when the ever-diligent teenager failed to turn up for work, her friends decided to check in on her and were welcomed by the shocking scene.
During an initial investigation, the police gathered the homicide to be a crime of hate due to the brutality of it all. The victim was found lying beside the bed in a pool of her own blood, still dressed in nightwear. Besides, a torn shirt and a partially worn sweatpants indicated that she might have been sexually abused. Moreover, the police noticed numerous stab wounds all over Angie’s body and realized that the killer had cut her throat. Later, an autopsy determined that the victim was brutally raped before being stabbed to death.
Who Killed Angie Dodge?
The initial investigation into Angie’s murder was relatively slow as there were no eyewitnesses or leads that could lead directly to the perpetrator. Although the authorities were able to recover a foreign male DNA sample from the crime scene, it did not match the ones present in the system, leaving detectives back on square one. On the other hand, authorities also sat down with the victim’s acquaintances and conducted several interviews, but to no avail.
Eventually, as the days passed, officers discovered that Angie had an acquaintance called Christopher Tapp and began looking into his life. Although Christopher was a normal teenager with no criminal record, detectives seemed to consider him a suspect for unclear reasons and subjected him to tough interrogation as well as polygraph tests. Subsequently, Christopher was charged with Angie’s rape and murder, and although his DNA did not match the one from the crime scene, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life plus ten years in prison in 1997.
Interestingly, ever since Christopher’s arrest, he kept insisting on his innocence and never gave up on his fight for justice. On the other hand, with time, once Angie’s mother watched Christopher’s interrogation tapes, she was convinced of his innocence and was determined to find the person who brutalized her daughter. Once authorities realized that Christopher’s DNA did not match the one from the crime scene, a judge acquitted him of rape and released him from prison on account of time served.
However, the murder conviction was still attached to his name, and Christopher was determined to prove his innocence. Thus, he, along with Angie’s mother, convinced authorities to reopen the case and even urged them to use a new DNA collection technology called the M-Vac system. Eventually, after studying several DNA databases, investigators narrowed down on a man named Brian Leigh Dripps Sr., whose DNA matched the one from the crime scene. Once questioned, Brian mentioned that he only meant to rape Angie and never meant to kill her. Thus, armed with a confession, authorities were able to get Brian convicted of the rape and murder while Christopher was exonerated of all charges.
Read More: Where is Carol Dodge Now?