Catching a serial killer | The FOX True Crime Podcast

Catching a serial killer | The FOX True Crime Podcast

In the middle of the night in February 2010, a young woman was raped, strangled, and left to die in a snowy Virginia forest. After flagging down a couple driving by, the woman recounted the horrific story of the night before. Later that day, law enforcement would arrest Jorge Avila-Torrez for the attack. Little did they know that upon collecting his DNA, a string of previous assaults and murders connected to Avila-Torrez would be revealed. Former Federal and State Prosecutor Jonathan Fahey led the case. He shares the full story behind Jorge Avila-Torrez’s crimes, how a confession was obtained, and details from the trial in the case against him. #FoxNews #TrueCrime

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Jonathan Fahey thank you so much for Joining me today former federal and State prosecutor you prosecuted the Initial federal case against George Avila Torres Jonathan joining me today Welcome tell us about when you first got This case assigned to you as a federal Prosecutor well I was an assistant United States Attorney in Alexandria Virginia and around in July of 2009 I Got a call from the United States Marshals wanting uh assistance helping Them track a phone because they had a a Dead enlisted sale or that was found in Her wall Locker on a local base in Arlington County Virginia so they they Reached out to reach out to me to to get A court order to tr hope hope to track The phone of the person that was Deceased because they knew her phone had Gone missing so they they saw this court Order to to track the phone and Hopefully find out more information About What led her to die what what killed her Things like that who might be Responsible So why would if a military base Experienced a potential homicide why Would they be reaching out to a federal Office rather than handling it within The military for that well we we had Both we had jurisdiction over it as well As the military was and you know we have

Certain investigative tools you can use As a federal prosecutor and among them Things like uh getting warrants to track Phones and we had more experience doing That type of thing so that's that's why They they reached out the military base Reach out to the marshals the marshals Reached out to me and that that's what Started started our our case and we Opened opened up an investigation at the U.S attorney's Office uh at that time And then what did you learn as you began Investigating George Avila Taurus well Initially That we there wasn't any evidence as to Who killed the victim that was a man of Snell if she was killed and how she died Or there wasn't much evidence she was Found I mean Amanda Snell was found in Her wall Locker which is like a Basically like a closet within her Barracks room and she was found at the Bottom of her wall Locker curled up in a Ball with a pillowcase over her head Um the the way the reason she was found Was because she didn't show up for work She had a job at the Pentagon which was Nearby and she was supposed to show up Early in the morning on on Monday Morning after not showing up for work Her supervisors got concerned because She was a very reliable employee and They eventually got to her room searched Her room opened up a wall lock open up

Her wall locker and found her dead in The bottom uh interestingly before that Amanda Snell the last time she had been Seen alive was at previous Friday Evening which was July 11th of 2009 she Didn't on the Saturday morning she Didn't show up to meet some friends for Brunch and the following day she was Supposed to go to church and had a date After church and didn't show up for for That either but it wasn't until the Morning of July 13th which was a Monday That that people realized something was Wrong when she didn't show up for work And they came they found her in her room And they found other evidence suggestive Of crime but there were other things That were there were unknown and Unanswerable at the time Describe what those things were the Things that they found what they found Her obviously if somebody's crawled a Young person curled up in a ball with a Pillowcase overhead obviously that's you Know evidence of Foul Play or certainly Highly indicative of that there were Also items missing from her room such as Her laptop her cell phone and an iPod Which probably no one has any more but a Music device made by Apple and um But there are things that were that Didn't make much sense because her bed Was was neatly made her room wasn't in Disarray so there wasn't signs of like

Of a struggle or things like of a Robbery or things like that uh there was Also an initial autopsy done and the Medical examiner was unable to find Either the cause or manner of death and You know when you we talk about cause or Manner of death you think cause of death Could be something like a heart attack Or a gunshot wound and the manner of Death might be something like homicide Accident things like that so the the Medical examiner didn't see any obvious Signs of injury on her body they also Didn't have see signs of a sexual Assault which is something you would Certainly look look for if it's a young Female victim so so it was one of these Things that there were certainly a lot Of indicators of Foul Play but certainly A lot of things that that just just Didn't make sense initially as to to What happened how it happened who did it Or or if anyone did it So The U.S Marshals send your way the Request to investigate and court order The cell phone and so what do you start Uncovering as you are investigating this Well unfortunately the cell phone which You would think you know it You know you find the phone you find a Person but unfortunately the cell phone Was turned off so there really wasn't Any evidence with that cell phone

Linking it to anyone else it was just uh There was no way to locate it uh so the Evidence that was initially or the Evidence was initially collected the Investigation that ensued you know there There was you know obviously Documentation of the room uh there was a Series of footprints uh Impressions Around her wall Locker that molds of Those were made uh they were again there Was an autopsy done in which there Weren't unable to find a cause a manner Of death NCIS uh investigated at the Base and they did a series of interviews Interviewing you know canvassing Interviews of people on the base to see If anyone knew anything they asked them A series of questions they also uh you Know got DNA samples from people in the Event DNA evidence or anything else was Found But but it really didn't lead to Anything Significant or concrete or didn't really Advance after you know the first you Know I would say six weeks or a couple Months everything they could think of to Do uh was done and it didn't lead them To any more clarity as to how how Miss Snell died or who if anyone was Responsible Tell us about the Scene of the evidence Because it it's my understanding in that

At the time they did collect a lot of a Lot of evidence but it wasn't processed Until years later in part due to the Questions surrounding whether in fact it Was a homicide or not can you explain a Little bit about that yeah initially the You know evidence was collected of Virtually everything from her room was Collected everything was photographed Everything they could think of to do Dusting for fingerprints things of that Nature so those were that was all done Very quickly there wasn't any analysis Of certain items that were collected for DNA or or things like that at the Initial point because there was there Wasn't evidence that there was that Someone else's DNA would be there and Certainly you can't test every single Thing for DNA or they weren't able to at The time so initially there was a lot of Processing and evidence a lot of Documentation but without other leads Certain certain things were not Processed and analyzed immediately and It wasn't like you said until a couple Years later when things were done Looking back it's difficult to sort of Stomach the fact that as we know now What was a brutal homicide could be seen As anything but so looking back do you Feel there was a level of of questions That's to competency of the scene Processing of the autopsy the

Pathologist in seeing her body or was There truly competing Realms of evidence That might deem that her Death was just an accident she was found With a pillowcase on her head curled up In a quote unnatural position in the Wall Locker so can you explain how that Could be construed as anything but Homicide yeah exactly that that's a good Point you know the the objectively the First instinct is this is a homicide but Then when a few layers were taken back Things didn't didn't support it as far As you know there weren't obvious signs Of trauma to her body and things of that Nature and I think in hindsight looking Back it's easy to say oh what was missed Or what wasn't done but certainly you Know you have somebody a young person You know young young people are not Going to typically go crawl into a Closet put a pillowcase over their head And die obviously that's that's Something that is quite unusual it was Just the other things you typically find To support it we're not coming in Usually there's a cause and manner of Death and it's pretty rare in a homicide Case to have neither from the Pathologist so that certainly made Things more difficult when you have a Pathology just that's not able to give An opinion that this is even a homicide It certainly makes things more difficult

But the initial so there were certainly Competing thoughts as to maybe there was A maybe this was some sort of accidental Death where there was something unusual But certainly objectively this does Certainly looked and does look like a Homicide but you know in terms of moving Forward with the case it it didn't Really Change a whole lot because there wasn't Much to be done there's still a third You know a fairly thorough investigation That just wasn't leading anywhere you Know people there wasn't signs of you Know a romantic relationship going wrong Or things like that that you would Typically see in a homicide is quite Rare in homicide cases as you know for For a victim to be chosen totally at Random so you're looking at you know the Typical things you're looking at family Members you're looking at you know maybe You know a former boyfriend girlfriend That type of thing and that just wasn't Present there so the the investigation Really you know hit a wall for a lack of A a better term uh initially after Probably the first few months of it And it's my understanding as well that In part confusing and challenging in the Investigations as again as we know now It was a homicide but at the time Um is that she was subject to and Suffered from migraines during which she

Would seek a dark place that she would Put uh cloths over her her head and so Her upon learning this this entity as They were investigating it thought well Perhaps it was just a tragic accident She was suffered from migraines and she Went into the closet put a pillowcase Over her head that seems perhaps odd Under other circumstances but all right Maybe that was her method of coping with These regular migraines that she was Reported to to suffer regularly Um and the little bruises that were Under her skin that are oftentimes Associated with Suffocation you know Again construed by the board in a Favorable light well perhaps that was Again the result of this tragic accident So Jonathan moving forward tell us what Happened next so this is in all all of This uh Miss Snell was was found dead And it was July 13 2009 the next part of The case or sequentially the next part Of the case that they were jumping ahead To February of 2010 in Arlington Virginia which is the same county which Miss Snell was found which is a you know A suburb of Washington DC a fairly Affluent Community or County uh there Was a A series or there were two attacks on Women one on one woman at the beginning Of February and one on two women at the End of February and the one at the

Beginning of February which occurred Around February 2nd or 3rd of 2010 Occurred after this uh lar the snowstorm Of Washington DC which we refer to here As snowmageddon because you know every Big snowstorm they have a name for them And the the thing that made this Interesting with respect to that is the First victim was a a nurse who worked in A hospital And she because she was in the emergency Room she was working the overnight shift In the emergency room oddly because of All the snow everything was shut down so The emergency room was actually quite Slow that night so she was given I guess Let go early or allowed to leave early But early for her meant like you know in The middle of the night 12 1 o'clock in The morning she lived in Washington DC But she wasn't able to get to her her House because the snow was so deep so She ended up taking the metro Um to Arlington Virginia and she was going to Go to her boyfriend's house As she was going uh she gets off the Metro and there were people out sort of Goofing around playing in the snow right Around the Metro but at some point she As she's walking towards this house Which is in a you know I guess more Suburban area than the Metro but not too Far away she she had she start she

Realizes she's all alone and then as She's walking again towards her her Boyfriend's house a person approaches Her and she's walking on like a narrow Path that people had just made through Walking in the snow not like a sidewalk Because the snow had been so deep so it Didn't have room for two people so she's Walking towards this uh male or young Man who Um you know the snow is coming down Really really still very heavily and he Didn't have any snow she knows he didn't Have any snow on him which seemed a Little bit odd and as he walks towards Her he doesn't yield to her she Basically had to get out of his way Um which made her quite uncomfortable But as she kept walking towards the Boyfriend's house she noticed she felt Something was wrong and next thing you Know the person that had just walked by Or was behind her and it pulled a gun Out and also subsequently pulled a knife Out and ordered her to get into his car And he which was a Dodge Durango SUV and She's at this point she's afraid that He's going to you know rape her that He's going to kill her so she's doing Everything she can to not get in that Car including trying to negotiate with Him and things like that and she Eventually she was probably about she's Sort of walking and negotiating at the

Same time and she's probably you know if Memory serves me right probably about a Hundred yards from her boyfriend's home So she's thinking if this guy is just Trying to rob her or something uh maybe Her move is to just throw get give him Her purse and try to get away and what She did was throw her purse down and Sprint it to her boyfriend's house And her boyfriend and his roommates were Still awake tells them what happened And they they come running out of the House and the person is gone the car is Gone and the purse is still there So that was in February second or third I think second going into the morning of The third of 2010. So that happens Um and you know there's not a whole Not a whole lot happens to help catch That perpetrator of the time but around That same time there were two Arlington County police officers on separate Occasions that noticed an individual Driving in Arlington County in the snow Again this is like two feet of snow and In the D.C area This truly shuts down Everything and they were what they but This car was out in the snow and the Person in it just seemed to be acting Unusual they his one of them described Uh the person's head was on a swivel When he just seemed to be looking for People or looking for something and it

Was so unusual and he wasn't doing Anything illegal there was nothing wrong With driving in the snow nothing wrong With looking around or anything like That but but it was suspicious enough That they ran his tags and and when you Run somebody's tags it comes back to who The cars register to and maybe that Person has warrants or other things that That might give them further reason to To further investigate or maybe even Stop him but they write the tags were Run and nothing came back but this Becomes significant later because if you Jump ahead to February 27th Or so of 2010 There were two young women that lived in The Arlington area and they're in their Their early 20s and they had gone out to Some bars in a part of Washington DC And they came back from the bars I want to say two three o'clock in the Morning and they initially went to IHOP To get something to eat and then after They left IHOP they walked home which Was probably you know I would say about A half a mile from the IHOP And What you know the and this this area Where they're in this this particular Part of Arlington it's extremely safe It's an area where you can feel Comfortable and particularly at that Time feel comfortable

Um you know walking anywhere any time of Night and you're not you it's not the Place you feel like you'd be victimized Of a crime they get about I don't know Maybe five or six houses down from their House they shared it a a a single family Home with each other and they also had a Third roommate who was home as they're Walking as they're walking back or Walking towards their house at some Point Uh somebody's behind them and this Person behind them pulls a gun on them And orders them into their home Um they they comply with them because it Because he has a gun he then ties them Up with things like a a vacuum cord an Iron cord and starts to sort and and Then puts them in one of the bedrooms That both of them are scared for their Life they understandably and had no idea What was going to happen they also knew They had a roommate that was in the House who was sleeping and they were They didn't want her Something bad to happen to her too If something even if something horrible Is going to happen to happen to them so They didn't want this person knowing Their roommate was there they also Didn't want to make any noise to alert The roommate because they didn't want to Endanger her he the the perpetrator at This point was an unknown person he ties

Them up he begins sort of ransacked you Know rummaging through the house left Them in one of the bedrooms at one point One of the young women was able to get Her hands free enough to call 9-1-1 on Her cell phone when the perpetrator was Outside of the room At this point at some point he came in When they were doing this he took the Cell phone threw it against the wall Smashed it against the wall and then Takes one of the two young women at Gunpoint hands tied behind her back Takes her out to his car which was a Dodge Durango And he proceeds to over the course of The uh I guess the early morning proceeds to Rape her and sodomize her and eventually Took her Down to Another County that's essentially two Counties away Prince William County Took her out into the the wooded area Off off the road strangled her with her Own scarf and left her for what we Believe thinking she was dead in in the Woods She managed to Come to after he leaves and actually Crawled her way To the side of the road And a passerby sees her and is concerned That he thinks it's like a wounded

Animal or something on the side of the Road but he stops finds it says this Young woman who's been brutally attacked And then takes her uh takes her to the Hospital where she's able able to get Help What's so horrifying and remarkable About that story in part um is How brave And strong she is To survive that Um and how much a plum those girls Demonstrated during the attack to Survive and to protect their roommate so A few questions about that number one Did the purp arrive with the vacuum and Iron cords or were those things that he Obtained from their house those were Items from their house And it was my understanding that he used Painters tape at one point to Tape their mouths shut is that accurate Yes that's right he he yeah and those Items become really important later on In the case that's right And Um while the one young woman was taken By him and taken for away for those Hours during that time the Survivor and The roommate they had had authorities Been called to their house then you know Ultimately they they were then was there A ground search and a search being Underway for this kidnapped then the Other roommate yeah and that that's that

Sort of brings us back to the what for To earlier there's you know the the Roommates were able to call 9-1-1 the Police put out the an APB to to find This person knowing we have a kidnapping Taking place they knew the car you know That they had a description of the car Dodge Durango and What Makes Us notable Which is really some fantastic police Work that was done in Arlington County Was when they heard this APB these Officers that had previously seen the Suspicious activity or what they believe Is suspicious earlier again at the very Beginning of February you know that They're thinking this sounds like the Person that we saw earlier this month so What they were able to do was Uh go back to the calls they called in To run license plates and and and go Back to the ones they they called in at The beginning of February and find out That the where the where that Josh Durango was registered and who the Registered owner of that was which which Really broke the case open because uh They were able to identify that the Owner of the car was George Torres and He lived at Fort Myer it's called Henderson Hall Fort Myer but the base Where Amanda Snell uh had been found Dead and they were able to go to go go To the base find the car and looking Into the car windows they saw evidence

Of the crime of of the of the victim They saw cords they saw her Identification other things and the Cores in particular they will see just Looking into the window of the car uh They subsequently searched you know Found Mr uh George Torres arrested him searched his Room and found found other evidence of Of this crime and other sort of Criminal Intent and final question about that Actual uh horrific event for those girls They were five homes away five doors Away from their home when George Stopped Them and then had them take him into Their home so did he know where they Lived and therefore had he been stalking Them Prior or Did he presume they lived nearby within Walking distance as he encountered them Walking and therefore gamble that they Were just five homes down yeah that That's a that's a great question and I I Don't know that there was any evidence That he knew Where they live beforehand but there Really isn't isn't clear when he started Following them or anything else so it Might it may have been simply just Knowing they're close to home because Where they're where they're walking but But that's a very good question I I Don't think they ever uncovered the

Answer to that yeah something else that You know what struck me about the Women's later testimony is the one that Survived uh that brutal evenings attack How you know she she sort of came to While he was strangling her and she said What do you think you're doing and he Said what do you think I'm doing um Another thing that struck me you know The callousness with which obviously This perp could do anything like this But during the attempted murder when This young woman was being strangled and She said what are you doing and he said What do you think I'm doing and then Proceeded to strangle her until she Became unconscious or appeared lifeless Which is when he fled and thank God she Survived so clearly there's a very Um an absolute lack of emotion on behalf Of this perp as he's Going through all of these heinous Violent acts so now we're back to the Police officers where By virtue of their diligence their Observation their follow through and Their memory the one officer that Remembers Um you know again as you're as you're Tracing the events this it's really Remarkable Um and it really just shows what Heroes These officers are in uniform and out Every day they notice the slightest

Suspicious Behavior they run a plate That preserves the record of such and Then they're able to recall that when Reports of this silver Dodge Durango as This woman was kidnapped and another and They were held hostage and kidnapped and Attacked and then they were able to Trace it back to the base just three Miles away from where those two young Girls live and see in plain sight so Warrant not needed to see in plain sight Evidence of the tools he used in the Crime in his back seat including the Wallet of the young woman Right it really is a tribute to the you Know the great work of law enforcement And your point is they're Heroes every Day and and what was what's really Striking about is like you know very Good Law Enforcement Officers they see Things that are suspicious that you and I might not notice as suspicious or Other people might not notice and it Really you know with in this day when Law enforcement is constantly attacked You know if it wasn't for these officers Not only being alert at the beginning But also recalling and and being Conscientious enough you know who knows How how much more uh this perpetrator Would have gotten away with if if it Weren't for them No Doubt So

Due to this they then search his Barracks they have the identity of the Durango owner which is this George Avila Torres they search his Barracks what do They find and then what happens yeah so They searched they searched his Barracks Room and they they found a handgun but They also found they searched his Computer and found some uh quite Disturbing things that he had been uh Searching on the internet uh relating to Strangulation re related to sex crimes He even looked up the a recipe for how To make chloroform which is you know is Known as something that could Incapacitate somebody so you know they They had all of this evidence you know From the car to his room and then they You know also had DNA evidence and they Found her DNA on him and his DNA on her Ultimately after after it went back from The came back from the laboratory They also found in his searches Um and his uh Enjoyment of pornography uh special Emphasis on sexual assaults and on Subjugation of women and the like so They're sort of revealed a particular Form of sadism and what he found Gratifying sexually was indeed extremely Violent and involved brutal and violent Assaults okay so the DNA was collected Like you said Um and so tell us then what happens so

He's then charged in Arlington County Virginia with multiple offenses relating To the attacks of both the woman at the Beginning of February and the two women At the end of February including you Know abduction sexual crimes firearm Crimes and at this point they had what You know I don't want to say a slam dunk Case because nothing ever is but they Certainly had overwhelming evidence of His guilt when you have her DNA on his His on hers all the other evidence of The crime it's it's it's really you know As strong as you can get so he was being Held in jail in Arlington County pending Trial well I have to say too I have to Interject what is especially remarkable About this case is the fact that in Virginia that his DNA was collected Before conviction which is at the time Was a specially novel and in this Country is novel for many states right And so here generally speaking DNA is Collected upon conviction it's not Collected upon arrest with obviously Certain exceptional situations so they Collect his DNA upon arrest upon being Charged I should say yes and that led to Breaking wide open Other cases yeah so that so they they Take his DNA and with with with the Arrest on the felony and like you like You said this was not something that's Commonly done or wasn't that commonly

Done it's certainly after a conviction It was but this was upon a rest and Initially so then they would put it in The um his DNA is put in what what's is Called the CODIS database which is Basically a database which has the DNA Of both offenders and also victims and Often cases can match you know victims To offenders initially so his DNA Support in the CODIS database Um So this led to eventually led to Something that occurred several years Earlier in a city called Zion Illinois And I could talk about that now or how To tell me so yeah yeah I can I can oh Yeah and I'll let me I'll tell you up Um and so this DNA entering this DNA Into CODIS it got a hit into a horrible Double homicide that had occurred in Illinois years prior yeah yeah if I Could talk a little bit about that Homicide there was a there's a town Called Zion Illinois it's in Northern Illinois just south of the Wisconsin Border along the lake and has about 30 000 people In May of 2005 Mother's Day incidentally Of 2005. there were two little girls That lived in that town one was named Laura Hobbs she was eight years old the Other was a crystal Tobias who is nine They were best friends and they lived About a few doors down from each other

And played together virtually every day One of the places they liked to play was A park that was you know short right Near their house called Beulah Park and It was a park that had playgrounds it Had Creek it had woods and trails and it Was it was a park where people were Comfortable letting their kids play Without supervision and sort of a very Sort of a wholesome place to grow up and And place to play Um in again on Mother's Day of 2005 in That part of Illinois it really doesn't Get warm until you know may some years And this was no sort of known as like I don't know the first day but really One of the first nice days of that Year Everybody was outside that day people Were playing the park people are all Outside because it you know after a long Winter you know the first day everyone's Out there they they were uh riding a Bike in the park and when I say they Were riding the bike it was one of these It was a bike but it had like pegs on The back wheel so one of them was Pedaling the bike the other one was was Standing on the peg so they're riding You know collectively riding a bike you Know riding a bike together and I say That because it was um people noticed it Thinking it was cute that these little Girls were riding a bike and people it Was something that was memorable for

People that that saw them that day they Were supposed to be home that evening For dinner around seven o'clock and Initially when you know Laura Hobbs Doesn't come home Her parents get you know concerned but You know you know kids can be late but Eventually you know soon the concern Became like something's wrong they Called Crystal's Family and Crystal Didn't come home either so soon it goes From you know a little concern to Absolute Panic 9-1-1 is called the whole Community is out searching for these Girls they're helicopters from adjoining Jurisdictions everyone is searching for These girls searching the parks Searching everywhere calling everyone Calling the schools and no one No one could find them they were just They were missing they were gone The next morning Laura hobbs's father named Jerry Hobbs And her grandfather went out looking for Them again in the early morning hours uh They're walking through the park again It's a very wooded the park isn't small So you know it's not easy to to to cover The whole park they were out there going Through walking through the trails Looking for them and they go off the Beaten path and at some point one of Them sees the bike in the foreground and Then

A little bit further they found They found both girls Um they were both dead and they had been Stabbed to death Laura hops had been Stabbed about 30 times including precise Stab wounds in both eyes uh Crystal had Been stabbed about a dozen or so times And they were both dead lying in a field Just under The father and the grandfather of a Little girl to be the ones that find Them not only dead but so brutally Murdered that Community was absolutely Devastated Um and so was that family by that So After that yeah so it's hard to believe But it it gets even worse after that Because one of Jerry Hobbs Laura hobbs's Father who who found the bodies Um he had a criminal record including Some some things involving crimes of Violence police immediately focused on Him as a potential suspect and as as you Know in in you know murder cases and Things that that The perpetrator is often either related Knows the victim things like that so They immediately focused in on him as a Suspect because he's a family member and He found the body both things that led Uh to them being suspicious Before we go any further I know I'm part Of the questions that I had that many

People have about this though is Um number one there was semen found Um on the bodies and also uh that being That it was Mother's Day the family Members were with each other so given That there was an alibi where family was Together and also the sexual nature of This which leads to such an aberrant Um just shocking the conscious uh you Know concept Wouldn't in this case the scope brought In wouldn't in this case the scope Brought into not the father given that He was with the family because it was Mother's Day and also again the sexual Nature and they were biologically Related uh can you speak to us about That and why the authority still Maintained that he was at least a Subject well initially when the when the The bodies were found they weren't able You know the DNA testing and things like That Wasn't done immediately because it's you Know they're you know the things are That are done autopsies are done then The thing parts of the body are swab for DNA then it's sent off to a laboratory And then it takes some time to come back So there's this period of time where Where things that were known later you Know weren't you know so people they Didn't know that that was the case when They focused on Jerry Hobbs they didn't

Know what other evidence had already Been found they didn't know what what it Meant yet so they focused on Jerry Hobbs Mainly because of those factors and he Was interrogated for I want to say about You know Length of you know over 20 hours and at The end of the interrogation uh he Confessed to killing both Laura Hobbs And Crystal Tobias it begs the question How a father could describe in such Alarming detail inconsistent with the Injuries and autopsy they did not have Beatings they were stabbed horribly Multiple times did it they did not Sustain the kind of facial injuries as The repeated punching would have left on Them that he describes and also the the Level of emotion that he's clearly has It's It it's unbelievable It's unbelievable how could someone have Confessed like this how could a father Have confessed in this way to two Homicides and it wasn't true You know I don't really know like how You hear things about false confessions And you know it you know some people I Think don't believe that they happen but This was after you know he he would say This was this was coerced and other Stuff and and the prior part of the Interview was not videotaped so there's No there's no video of what led up

During those 20 hours to the ultimate Confession and I think your point is Great that there the evidence didn't Line up I mean some of the evidence they Didn't just In fairness didn't know at The time because the autopsy hadn't been Done when they're interviewing him and He's making the confession so so the Discrepancies were not immediately Apparent but but sort of what you know And you you've done this in doing Criminal cases a lot of times and this Would be the the justification a lot of Times criminal offenders will make Admissions to what they did make Confessions but they still still put Themselves in the best possible Light Within the circumstance so you know that That could be an explanation for the Discrepancies but if you really look at That story it doesn't make any sense It's absolutely Preposterous he's going To get his eight-year-old daughter to Bring her back from the park because he Had some disciplinary problem and then He's attacked by the nine-year-old and Fights them off and ends up you know Killing them both in the park it makes It makes absolutely no sense in Hindsight or even really at the time It's like this you know you're not he's A grown man getting attacked by a Nine-year-old who happened to have a Knife and she's the aggressor and then

Like you said when you look at the the Wounds or or the injuries after the fact You know Laura Hobbs in particular had Two precise stab wounds in each eye That's that's not what he described in That confession at all you know what He's describing as fighting with them And they both die you wouldn't have two Precise stab wounds you wouldn't have Any of the other stuff and the whole Thing frankly is preposterous but the The explanation would be he's confessing And doesn't want to give the full Account of why and what he was doing so So so arguably minimized within those That context So on the basis and part of his Uh some of the charges were violent Criminal history and his convictions This confession Um then he spent the better part of five Years then in jail and for the record Which I believe you said this but Autopsies did determine the girls died Of stab wounds they died of multiple Stab wounds each Um so he's in jail And then These cases converge yeah he's in jail And just as you're you're getting to Um after you know when the the analysis Was done from the from the Illinois lab As well as a private lab they had Unknown DNA a partial profile on Laura

Which is important on Laura hobbs's Right hand they also found they were There was a private lab hired by the Defense in the case that was able to Develop a why profile meaning isolating Just for male DNA on certain areas of Clothing the Laura Hobbs like on her Skort and other things so they had this Partial regular DNA profile also a a Separate y profile developed by the Defense so they have Jerry Hobbs sitting In jail for for five years pending trial There's a series of motions with these Uh pieces of evidence out there and and Why this is important because he uh Going back to Arlington County George Torres again is charged at the end of uh February 20 uh 2010. The partial profiles were not kept in The CODIS database they had to be Manually submitted or I don't know if Manually is the right word but Individually submitted to have them Analyzed so in June of 2010 the DNA Examiner uh from Illinois had always Bothered her that there's this unknown DNA on the right hand of Laura Hobbs and That's and they knew at that point it Was not Jerry haas's DNA they had Already they had already excluded him so So she on I don't want to say on a lark But just this was continuing to bother Her decided to submit the partial Profile to CODIS in June of 2010

And at that point or shortly thereafter They had a match Uh from the DNA on Laura hobbs's hand to George Torres who had been charged with These attacks in Arlington Virginia And for listeners The connection of George to this small Town is that that is where he had grown Up and he was friends with the older Brother Of the girls of Laura He was friends with her older brother And what's interesting is that very Shortly after those two young girls were Horribly murdered he enlisted into the Marine Corps So he skipped town essentially he Withdrew himself from that community And As the events unfold Um is then In the Barracks next to four doors down from Amanda Snell and then later on Encounters those two young women Survivors who are three miles away so The thirty thousand foot view shows that The common denominator for all of these Tragic attacks and deaths is George Avila Right exactly that that that all of These things came together in June of 2010 it's he had been in Zion Illinois Joined the Marine Corps eventually ended

Up in Arlington Virginia where he was Where he lived down the hall from Amanda Snell during the time of her murder and Um so all of these come together In roughly the summer of 2010 another Thing that's critically important that Happened in the case in in that same Time period were yeah Torres was pending Trial without bail so you know not out There on the streets trial set for you Know December of 2010 But law enforcement got word that he was Trying Through another inmate to have the Witnesses meaning the victims in Arlington County killed so they couldn't Testify against him at his upcoming Trial And they learned that through a person That was in jail but had also been an Informant with law enforcement and told Them all about it and Taurus had even Gone so far as to draw a map of where These young women lived and the map was Was you know quite accurate showing you Know a nearby auto dealership had the Street name right the only thing he had Wrong he had he drew out the houses and Had the house Um one house off of where they actually Lived but it was a pretty good map but Also importantly it shows that this is More than somebody just talking in jail This is somebody that they knew had

Committed this horrific act or Horrificed acts and was trying to harm These victims again so this raised uh Not only alarm Bells but this made law Enforcement extremely scared for these Victims as well as anyone else And that's important you know the Actionable step is important as you're Prosecuting inco at crimes which Includes conspiracy so essentially Incoate mean incomplete Um for listeners their needs to there Needs to be a a step essentially a Material or meaningful step taken so It's not enough to just talk about it Because essentially when we factor in Humanity we're like yeah there's a lot Of conversations about how I want this Person dead or well in that world not Normal people don't but I want this Person dead or I wish those girls could Be killed but then to your point the Painstaking way with which he drew a map To ensure that they were accurately Identified Um accompanied by the other steps I mean It was clear that he had intention and Desire and wanted everything possible to Occur so that these poor survivors were Killed so the informant that you're Discussing that's Osama El Atari that Was a there were that was there was two Informants and sorry there was an Initial informant that provided all this

Information This informant was in jail and at some Point Um while he was in jail he this is Remember we're back in a different era Back then he was deported by ice so Obviously that wouldn't have happened Today but he was deported by ice and he Uh so law enforcement were really in a Panic mode because they knew Taurus was Trying to kill these victims They knew the person he was talking to Got deported basically under their noses And they didn't know who else Torres was Talking to what other steps he was Taking or anything else so they they Lost their in to talk with him so they Then begin talking about you know trying To find out who else is talking to Torres and that led them to as you said Uh Osama El Atari who was at the time in Jail a defendant I had prosecuted for Bank fraud in jail for stealing 53 Million dollars from uh several Banks Um in the DC area as well as other Places and he was pending sentencing uh Sitting in jail and he was somebody that That not only knew Torres and talked to Torres but he also knew everyone and he Also had an agreement within his plea Agreement to cooperate with the Government which means to tell Tell about other crimes he knows about As well as the crime he's been involved

In so law enforcement approached Osama Al-atari about cooperating and also and In the course of doing so they asked him To wear you know what's you know known As a liar is not really wire but it was A recording device about the size of a Cigarette lighter and to record Conversations with Torres because their Initial concern was trying to get more Evidence that Torres is trying to harm These uh the victims but more Importantly they wanted to know is has Taurus talked to somebody else because Maybe there's already a plan in place to Harm these these victims or to re-harm These victims so they needed to find out Exactly what's going on what the Dangerous of these victims and to to Eliminate that danger so they approached Osama al-atari he agreed to cooperate And or he was part of his plea agreement But he but he agreed to wear a wire and Talk to Torres about that was their Primary concern but also other other Things he had been involved in so when This recording came to light Jonathan How did this affect Everything Yeah yeah well these this recording was One of a series basically Um ellatari recorded every single thing He did in jail for about seven to nine Days with a recording device that Couldn't be altered or anything else and

He recorded a series of conversations With Torres because they were placed you Know they were in cells adjoining cells To each other and they were able to talk To each other through like an upper Event in the in the cells but yeah what A couple things are just before I get to This really shows a lot about what Torres is in terms of the horrificness Of the quines but also this pride in the Fact that he thinks he can was too smart And could get away with things talking About it being a perfect crime and Another thing that's interesting which He changes later after elatori kind of Continues to talk to him and peel back Layers of his story because at this time He was referring to the Illinois girls These are eight nine year old girl Remember he's referring to them as like Two dudes and how he's like fighting Them off and kill them and stuff like That but alatori eventually on on Subsequent recordings Um gets him to admit not only their Names their ages everything else about It but this is when Torres was boasting About his crimes mocking Jerry Hobbs who Who was again you said in jail had been To jail for a long period of time at That point for five years and they're Just yucking it up about it and elatori Was doing this to play along because This was a way to get Torres talking to

To to to you know stroke his ego and Stuff like that but he also would assure You if he it was he or would assured he Was appalled by it too but how does this Change things well this This as well as other recordings Broke open the case In Illinois or certainly changed the Focus to where it should have been from You know Jerry Hobbs to George Torres The other other recordings on this Subsequently open up the Amanda Snell Case because he also made admissions to Killing Amanda Snell at the Fort Myer Barracks And at that point was that Classification still undetermined and at That point is when the Pathologists Could or the medical examiner could Change it to homicide and then they Could Um expedite the processing of the Footprint found on the vinyl the Linoleum in her Barracks floor as well As the additional Um DNA at that scene or the additional Evidence that then LED them to prosecute For that is that accurate it's fairly Accurate the medical examiner never Changed his opinion believe it or not he Still had an underterm and undetermined All the way through but it did open up The case to re-examining or examining Evidence that had been collected because

Of the detailed confessions he gave About the way he killed Amanda Snell he He talked about where he did it which Was on her bed and what he used to kill Or what else was there so they Re-examined evidence that they had Collected before analyze uh the bedding Found areas of DNA on the bedding that Matched was a complete match to George Torres And so for listeners as well you know Because you described the scene remember Um the bed was made it was a tidy room Barracks and the reality was that Um Avila Torres had cleaned her room After he made her bed he vacuumed he Left the vacuum out so he actually Enjoyed many hours there in the room Where he was able to manufacture what Successfully temporarily looked like An accident or a sort of odd scene Rather than an obvious homicide which is What it looked like after he murdered Her Exactly he took he took a lot of and on These tapes he taught he took a lot of Pride in the way he got away with his Crimes and particularly in that case how He cleaned the room how he made the bed So it didn't look like anything was Suspicious and really if you go back to The Arlington County police officers Without Them being alert and seeing what they

Saw and making note of it this you know He probably you know may have still Gotten away with that crime but but he Made a lot of effort took a lot of pride In and certainly bragged about how you Know he called you know his crime you Know the the perfect crime and things Like that because he thought he had Outsmarted everyone with that crime Right with L Atari asking you know do You have any remorse for this he says Does a lion feel remorse when it kills a Hyena so he really had an absolute lack Of humanity and absolute lack of empathy With all of these victims and coupled With as well you know he sort of had a There has a baby face so this is not Someone that is an imposing figure or or Sort of makes someone as jarring Physically he's actually quite Unassuming and perhaps that You know who knows but perhaps that's Why it people didn't raise eyebrows more Perhaps that's why he got away with Things in the in the community and he Was friends with the brother and they Did question him as they identified Everyone but then he left no problem Again that original officer it was the Swiveling being out in the snow no one Else was out and the swiveling while Driving that's what caught his attention Otherwise he was a relatively unassuming Figure albeit a monster in human skin

So now we are at the triangulation of All of these cases Jonathan so walk us Through the state and federal Dispositions and how those played out So Torres went to trial in Arlington Virginia for the state crimes for those February 2010 attacks He was convicted of multiple accounts I Want to say over 10 counts related to That he was sentenced to something like Five life terms plus 168 years and for For those crimes just alone so he was Sentenced to those he was then charged Federally in the case I worked on in the Alexandria Virginia in the eastern District of Virginia for the murder of Amanda Snell that that occurred in the Spring the charges occurred to the Spring of 2011 and this was a case that Was eligible federally for the death Penalty and without getting too much Into it there there's a pretty Significant process at go at the Department of Justice as to whether or Not to seek the death penalty it has to Be approved by the Attorney General of The United States who at the time was Eric Holder they look at the aggravating Factors the mitigating factors and the Decision was made by the Attorney General to seek the death penalty for Torres because really the Heinousness of the crimes the lack of

Remorse the violence the multiple crimes There are so many factors that were just Simply so aggravating and not you know As horrific as anything could be so the Decision was to seek the death penalty For him and that's how we proceeded in Our case after that decision was made And It ultimately went to trial in April Of 2014 and Torres and the way the trial Proceeded is there was a guilt phase the Jury had to determine whether or not he Killed Amanda Snell and then ultimately They had to decide based on the Aggravating factors the Arlington Attacks the Zion murders and other Factors whether or not a death sentence Or life imprisonment was the appropriate Uh disposition for the case And ultimately the jury after hearing The evidence came back with a sentence Of death for the murder of Mana Snell as Well as the other aggravating factors Well deserved what's interesting about This case and no shortage of George Being an odd figure is that he he wanted He said he wanted the death penalty in Fact for a time he tried to represent Himself and eventually succumbed to the Judge saying are you sure Um I think by the way that that was an Excellent move because all it would have Done is erode the sort of caliber of the Case and render it open to appeal Um which would have happened knee-jerk

Um procedurally and so it's my Understanding that George didn't offer Any mitigating factors although the jury Still found one a few agreed that the Mitigating factor of him being 16 when He murdered the nine and eight-year-olds In Illinois that that was considered a Mitigating Factor Um And for listeners that's simply that's a You know that's a proffered mitigating Factor so age can be A mitigating circumstance when presented Yep exactly right you know the jury is Supposed to weigh the aggravating Factors versus the mitigating factors And that was the only one that they Found and none none more presented to Them as mitigating factors from the Defense and you know he was 16 at the Time but just you know he was almost his Birthday was August so he was closer to 17 years old but that was the only Mitigating factor and that was found by The jurors themselves that had that Option but even once they ultimately Balanced all the aggravating factors Versus the one mitigating factor that They they could come up with they Weren't they didn't take very long to Come back with a sentence of death for For Torres right and I think that that Reminds me the verdict of guilt in the First in the Virginia non-eligible death

Penalty case that was a four-hour Deliberation if I remember correctly so There was essentially zero doubt in Anyone's Minds that this monster had Assaulted and kidnapped those two young Girls that he had murdered Amanda Snell And then ultimately Um as well the murders of the two young Girls in Zion Exactly that when these when these cases Went to trial both the one in Arlington And the federal case the evidence was Simply overwhelming and the jury you Know you I know from your experience you Know how sometimes juries can be Unpredictable sometimes you're not sure How long they will take to reach Verdicts but in this case what what is Interesting is both at the guilt phase And the penalty phase where they uh Found to impose the death penalty they Weren't out very long but I think it's Really a function of how strong the Evidence was and you know even though The trials were were lengthy and there Was a lot of evidence the evidence was Just so overwhelming and you know when When anyone looks at this case even that Are non-jurors I don't I don't think There are too many people that would Disagree with what this jury did as both The guilt phase or or the penalty phase And from what I've seen you know Generally speaking even if the guilt is

In controvertible then the sentencing And especially juries Um hesitation to impose the death Penalty usually comes in because of Mental state there's usually some Question as to whether the defendant had Full faculties or was somehow Um Impacted by something like a postpartum Depression or a bipolar disorder or Something like that right I've seen them Oftentimes they tend to err on the side Of generosity just to be sure right You're condemning another human to death But here what I what I understand what I've gleaned is again that callousness That lack of remorse the brutality of The crimes he never expressed one iota Of empathy or humanity and so that in Part in this second phase and levying The the sentencing that the jury was Like yeah this this is a monster this is A tried and true monster and therefore He deserves capital punishment In Illinois was there a State Trial ever No he ultimately uh pleaded guilty to The offense and offenses in Illinois Subsequent to the federal trial and was Sentenced to I believe over a hundred Years in prison so to to be served on Top of all of these other sentences and You know clearly you can't serve that Many years but it's certainly a you know A safeguard if something were to to

Happen on appeal or anything else with The other cases so he ultimately pleaded Guilty to that offense and now he is um On death row okay and this wasn't the End though of osama's participation he Played a large role as well in the trial Yeah Osama was a critical witness at the Trial because not only to to talk about The tapes that uh you know to Authenticate the tapes and give context Of these uh recordings with Torres but He also talked about an incident that he And Torres had before Osama cooperated And this was important because part of The government's case our our case was Torres was preoccupied with learning to Do sleeper holes we had Witnesses talk About how he'd like to put chokeholds on People and was fascinated by ways to Incapacitate people and he was somewhat Of an expert on that so when osamos Testifying he testified about a fight he Had with Torres In the jail before he became a Cooperator in which Torres tried to Choke him and Osama ultimately got the Best of them in the in the jailhouse Fight and what's interesting about this Was during the trial You know torres's defense attorney was Going after our theory of how you know Well if he really knew how to do choke Holes why wasn't able to choke Osama Elatori therefore this guy doesn't know

How to choke people doesn't know how to Incapacitate him so during the during The question what or during the question When the defense attorney was asking him Well he he did he wasn't able to choke You and osama's uh retort was well he Didn't know how to choke a man and that Was sort of a a I don't know that it was A game-changing moment but certainly a Moment that really highlighted the Horrificness of torres's crime because His crimes were attacking children and Sleeping woman and when he had when he Had to confront a man he didn't he Didn't fare so well It struck me about this case as well You're right that there was sort of a a Contrast in his Effectiveness that when He prayed on little girls and a sleeping Woman then he got the better of them but When he encountered the two young women Who you know fought back Um who who he gave up quickly after she Appeared lifeless Etc Um they they testified how he you know Fumbling around using the painters tape Essentially Um you know what Like a juvenile approach to these Horrific crimes albeit with lifetime Consequences for them is their their Victim Impact statements represented That they were scarred for years and um You know terrified for Life his his even

Though he was Um Preying on people that were a lot less Than him and then he you know paled in Comparison to the when he had when he Came against a man or whatever it's Still Um like they still had severe Consequences Yeah absolutely the the the the the Effects of these crimes to these victims That you know thankfully they're alive But the the effects will last For a lifetime and this case really you Know highlighted you know so many things You see the worst the absolute worst in Humanity with George Torres but you also See saw the courage of these victims the Victim to to survive but also the victim To testify in court and also knowing at The time he was seeking to harm her Again and you just see you really see That you know so much about Humanity Within this case because you see the Worst of the worst and you really see The best in people for the victims the Law enforcement but you're right these These they will suffer you know for the Rest of their lives and hopefully it Gets better over time and hopefully Knowing that Justice was done brings Them some you know some Solace but but Certainly this is something that not Only will never be forgotten but never

Really can be gotten over the final Tragedy to me about this Jonathan the first time that I Encountered this case and learned about The exoneration of James Hobbs I was you know happy and I thought well This is what a what a good ending you Know he was exonerated but the Additional tragedy is what happened to Him after he was exonerated and he um Was arrested multiple times for Violent offenses as well as drug use and The like and it seems like a lot of Lives were ruined Um because of George Torres Yeah exactly that that there's so many Lies when you look at a crime victim you Know it's so much more than just the Victim I and I hate saying the word you Know saying just the victim but everyone Around the victim their their harm the Community is harmed and everyone else And Jerry Hobbs was you know harm Probably irreparably by by what happened To his daughter what subsequently Happened to him and it's just it's a Tragedy and in so many ways it's a Tragedy that that continues for so many And that's what the really really sad Thing about this crime in all crime it Doesn't just stop when the criminals Convicted it doesn't just it isn't just Limited to the victim all of us suffer When crimes occur in our communities

Jonathan thank you for your service in Prosecuting these crimes and pursuing Justice relentlessly and especially for The large role that you played in this Case in getting a monster off the Streets and on death row thank you for Joining us today thank you

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