Investigation Discovery’s ‘A Time To Kill: Fast Food Cold Justice’ chronicles the gruesome murder of 25-year-old Terri Brooks inside a local restaurant in Falls Township, Pennsylvania, in February 1984. The investigators had to wait nearly two decades before they caught the murderer using forensic technology. If you’re interested in finding out more about the case, including the perpetrator’s identity and current whereabouts, we’ve got you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Terri Brooks Die?
Terri Lynn Brooks was born to Frances Nathalie Wakefield and George Elmer Brooks in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on September 13, 1958. She worked as the Night Manager of a Roy Rogers restaurant in Falls Township, Pennsylvania, in February 1984. However, Terri’s father and stepmother, Betty Brooks, were worried when her fiancé knocked on their door to report their daughter missing on the morning of February 4, 1984.
Terri’s sister, Vicki Bartolino, recalled how the fiancé alleged Terri’s car was not in the driveway, and he was concerned about her safety. George checked his daughter’s room to find she had not returned home after concluding her shift. The worried parent called the Restaurant Manager, who informed him he had located the 25-year-old’s body near the kitchen inside the locked restaurant when he went to open up at 6:00 AM. Hence, he called the authorities immediately to report the homicide.
According to police reports, Terri’s body was positioned near the kitchen with a butcher knife sticking out of her neck. A trash can liner was wrapped around her face with moisture inside from her breath, indicating she was still alive when it was used to suffocate her. The autopsy report bore the brutality the Night Manager faced at the hand of the perpetrator — she had been strangled, her head was repeatedly banged on the concrete floor, giving her a brain hemorrhage, and the blade severed a bone in the back of her neck.
The medical examiner further observed black and blue marks and bruises all over the body, with the hand marks around Terri’s neck indicating the strangulation. According to the coroner, the stab wound probably paralyzed her but did not render her unconscious. The 25-year-old was still alive when she was suffocated with the trash bag, and her official cause of death was deemed to be asphyxiation. Furthermore, she was wearing her winter coat with the use lying open near her body, and its content spilled out.
Who Killed Terri Brooks?
The investigators found Terri’s shoes a bit away from her body against another wall. The officers spoke with Terri’s manager to learn around $2,500 was found to be missing from the restaurant’s safe, and the drive-thru window was partially open when he arrived. The brutality and overkill of the murder seemed to indicate Terri knew the perpetrator since a random robber was unlikely to resort to such extreme violence. The officers interviewed the victim’s colleagues to learn she had lately got a former Marine named Steve Daley fired from the restaurant because of the latter’s temper tantrums.
Steve worked as a Cook at the fast food chain and had become a daily patron there to annoy her. When the police questioned him, he could not provide them with a solid alibi. Nevertheless, the investigators let Steve go when he passed a polygraph test. The other co-workers, who worked with Terri on the night of the murder, were ruled out as suspects after each provided concrete alibis. The coroner found skin tissue under Terri’s fingernails and near a defensive wound on the bottom of her right ring finger.
Since it was the 1980s, forensic technology was yet to develop for law enforcement officials to conduct DNA analysis of forensic evidence discovered at crime scenes. The police chased some other leads, including a promising one when two female employees of different restaurants were attacked in separate unrelated incidents the following weeks, yet none panned out. Terri’s murder investigation eventually went cold until Arnold Conoline, the erstwhile police chief, reopened the case in 1998.
The investigators interviewed one of Terri’s friends, Cindy Bradney, to learn a startling fact. She had not been questioned during the initial investigation and provided a breakthrough for the probe. The officers were unaware of the strenuous relationship between Terri and her fiancé, Alfred Scott Keefe, then 36. According to news reports, they surveilled his house to learn he lived there with his brother, Charles.
The police executed a search warrant and retrieved Newport cigarette butts, the brand Scott smoked, from the garbage. In addition, they got Charles’ cigarette butts from a restaurant’s ashtray, but his DNA came as a negative match. However, Scott’s DNA matched the forensic evidence found under Terri’s fingernails, and he was called to the station for questioning in February 1999.
Where is Alfred Scott Keefe Now?
The episode showed Scott had gotten married, had a kid, and divorced his wife to move back to his parents’ Falls Township since Terri’s murder. They could track him down only because he had been recently arrested for driving under the influence in another jurisdiction. After failing a polygraph test, Scott made several incriminating statements under severe interrogation. Eventually, he admitted to the murder, claiming he snapped when Terri tried to call off the wedding and break up with him. Scott also confessed he staged the scene to make it seem that she was a victim of a random robbery.
Besides, Scott claimed that the reason he went to the Brooks family home the morning of the murder was to make himself look innocent, resulting in him not getting caught for the next fifteen years. He was arrested for Terri Brooks’ murder in February 1999. He was charged with first-degree murder and robbery and pleaded guilty to the same in his 2000 trial. Alfred Scott Keefe was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. According to official court records, the 62-year-old is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Albion, Western Pennsylvania.
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