We cannot even begin to comprehend the pain losing a child can bring to a parent. Heartbreakingly, Jayann and Dave Sepich faced such a tragic experience when their daughter, Katie Sepich, was murdered in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Dateline’s ‘The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream’ thus takes the viewer through her gruesome homicide and even showcases how her sudden and shocking death affected her parents. Well, let’s delve into the details surrounding the same and find out where Jayann and Dave are at present, shall we?
Who Are Jayann and Dave Sepich?
At the time of Katie’s demise, her loving parents, Jayann and Dave, resided in New Mexico with their youngest daughter, Caraline. Their only son and middle child, AJ, was away at university, whereas Katie was living in a separate Las Cruces, New Mexico, apartment with a roommate. People close to the couple have described them as devoted individuals who were always there for their children and made sure they were all well cared for as well as provided for. Besides, they were running a commercial cleaning company in Texas and New Mexico, along with a janitorial supply business, which ensured they could build a comfortable living. However, despite all this and them being close to Katie, they could do nothing when the tragedy struck on August 31, 2003.
According to reports, Katie was last seen in the early morning hours of that fateful date, when she stormed out of a party following an altercation with her then-boyfriend. Yet, she failed to return home even as the day came around, driving her roommate to immediately approach the police in concern and formally report her missing. Eventually, on September 1, the latter came across a deceased female body inside a landfill in Las Cruces, which was soon positively identified as that of Katie. While her remains were partially burned, an autopsy soon confirmed that she had been sexually assaulted before being strangled to death.
Naturally, Jayann and Dave were devastated to learn of their daughter’s demise and readily cooperated with the police in their investigation. Even AJ took leave from his studies to return home and help his parents deal with the tragedy, while Caraline, who was just nine years old at that time, missed her elder sister terribly. Incidentally, during the initial phase of the investigation, it was suspected that Katie’s then-boyfriend, Joe Bischoff, was involved in her homicide as they’d had an argument, and he was the last person to see her alive. However, further inquiries ultimately cleared Joe’s name, so the focus went to other possible suspects.
Eventually, law enforcement officers managed to get a DNA sample from a convict who was behind bars on unrelated counts of intent to commit aggravated assault as well as aggravated burglary and realized that it matched the sample recovered from Katie’s body. The convict, identified as Gabriel Avila, was then charged with Katie’s murder, and after accepting a plea deal for first-degree murder, second-degree criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence, he was sentenced to 69 years to life in 2007.
Where Are Jayann and Dave Sepich Now?
Although Jayann and Dave Sepich remained active throughout the investigation into Katie’s murder and cooperated with the police at all times, they were horrified to learn that the murderer, Gabriel Avila, was arrested on unrelated counts just a few months after their daughter’s death. Yet, the law in New Mexico at the time stated that officials could not obtain DNA samples from convicts unless and until they were sent to a state prison, and since Gabriel was initially detained in a private facility, the case sat unsolved for around three years.
Determined to change this rule, Jayann and Dave began championing a change in the legislature, demanding that the law make it mandatory for all felony suspects to submit DNA samples during their arrest and booking process. The law, nicknamed Katie’s Law, saw the light of day in New Mexico in 2006, and to date, 25 states have inculcated a similar rule in their justice systems. Plus, we should mention Jayann’s contribution towards this was specially recognized as she received several accolades in 2007, including the title of Outstanding New Mexico Woman.
At present, from what we can tell, Dave and Jayann are co-owners of their own Cleaning Equipment And Supplies company, Sepco Inc., and reside in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Although they prefer to keep their personal lives largely under wraps at the moment, it seems like the two have surrounded themselves with their loved ones, all the while trying to fight the demons of their past together.