Posted on: January 11, 2024, 01:34h.
Last updated on: January 11, 2024, 01:38h.
An Idaho man who spent 21 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit died in November 2023 after he was found injured outside Resorts World Las Vegas. Police said Wednesday they are now treating the case as a homicide investigation.
In 2019, Christopher Tapp, 47, of Idaho, was exonerated for the 1996 rape and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge, the same year that the true perpetrator was apprehended.
On Oct. 19, 2023, Tapp was found suffering from serious head injuries in the vicinity of Resorts World. Medical personnel took him to a hospital where he died several days later.
It was first thought that Tapp’s injuries were sustained during an accidental fall, but the Clark County Coroner’s Office concluded that he died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
Investigators said in a statement they believe he was involved in an altercation with another individual at an unnamed resort before emergency responders found him. They are urging potential witnesses to come forward.
Tapp was convicted by an Idaho jury of the first-degree murder and rape of Dodge, 18, who was found stabbed to death in her apartment in Idaho Falls on June 13, 1996.
Although it was obvious that the young woman was attacked and killed by a single assailant and the DNA excluded Mr. Tapp from the start showing his innocence, the police concocted new and different theories to make Mr. Tapp an accomplice to the unidentified man who left his DNA all over the crime scene,” said the Innocence Project, which campaigned for Tapp’s release.
Tapp confessed to the crime despite no physical evidence tying him to the scene. It was later determined that investigators had interrogated Tapp “abusively” for 60 hours over two weeks, “manipulating him, using fake polygraphs, and threatening him with the death penalty,” according to the Innocence Project.
Real Killer Found
The real murderer, Brian Leigh Dripps Sr., only emerged after Tapp’s mother begged investigators to have another look at the case in light of new advances in DNA technology analysis and the use of genetic genealogy.
Using an ancestry database, investigators identified third cousins of the perpetrator and constructed a family tree that eventually led them to Dripps, who later confessed. He had lived across the street from Dodge at the time of the murder.
Tapp sued the City of Idaho Falls for wrongful conviction in 2020, receiving a settlement of $11.4 million.