An Innocent Man Spent Over 20 Years in Prison Until DNA Evidence Brought Down Real Killer Brian Dripps

"You have shattered our family," said the victim's family to Brian Dripps. "There is no way to pick up the pieces ever again."

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Feb. 22 2024, Published 3:34 p.m. ET

Like most parents and their children, mom Carol Dodge and daughter Angie Rae Dodge would occasionally fight. According to ABC 7, Angie was unhappy with a few house rules established by her mother. This resulted in Angie moving out of Carol's house and into her own place. Three weeks after Angie was settled into her new spot, she popped by her mother's house to have a chat. The two smoothed things over and decided to put their latest fight behind them.

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While Carol sat rocking her then-18 year-old daughter, as if she was a baby again, she said to Angie, "I'm so glad you're not mad at me anymore." Angie looked up at Carol with love and forgiveness. "Not even in a blue moon," she said. That was the last conversation they would have as the next day Angie was found dead in her home. The wrong man ended up going to prison for her murder. It took 25 years and the help of science to find the guy who did it. Where is Brian Dripps now? Here's what we know.

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Brian Dripps is now in prison for the 1996 murder of Angie Dodge. A man named Christopher Tapp was wrongfully convicted for this crime.

Dripps is currently housed at Idaho State Correctional Center in Kuna, Idaho, where he is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and rape. He will be eligible for parole May 16, 2039. In June 2021, District Judge Joel Tingey handed down this sentence for Dripps, who used a walker while entering the courtroom. He was only 55 years old.

When it came time for Carol to deliver her victim impact statement, she deferred to what her sons said during theirs. "The pictures that are in our mind are Angie's crime scene pictures," she said. "The way you left her." Sobbing, Carol referenced the last time she saw her daughter and said Dripps took all of that away from her. "You have shattered our family," she said to Dripps. "There is no way to pick up the pieces ever again."

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Police collected DNA evidence from the scene of the crime but were unable to make any arrests for months after Angie was killed. Dripps lived across the street from Angie but authorities chose to focus on a friend of his, a 20-year-old by the name of Christopher Tapp. Despite the fact that Tapp's DNA did not much the DNA from the crime scene, he was convicted of Angie's murder in May 1998, per the New York Times.

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Carol never believed Tapp was the man responsible for her daughter's murder, and enlisted the help of the Idaho Innocence Project sometime in the mid-2000s. They in turn used a genealogist to make a new DNA profile for the murderer via evidence from the crime scene. This led police to Dripps in 2019.

What happened to Christopher Tapp?

The East Idaho News reported that Tapp was released in 2017 and exonerated two years later. In June 2022, Tapp and the city of Idaho Falls agreed to settle a lawsuit for $11.7 million.

The following year, in November 2023, Tapp died at age 47 in Las Vegas. At the time, medical personnel had responded to a call about a man (later identified as Tapp) who had suffered a head injury from a supposed accident. But police later said in January 2024 that Tapp's death was being investigated as a homicide.

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“Through the course of the suspicious death investigation, LVMPD Homicide Detectives have learned Tapp was in an altercation inside a room at a resort before being located and transported to the hospital,” Las Vegas police said. "The Clark County Coroner’s Office has since ruled Tapp’s death a homicide as a result of blunt force trauma to the head."

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What happened to Angie Ray Dodge?

When Angie didn't show up for work on the morning of June 13, 1996, co-workers were sent to her home to make sure everything was alright. At around 11 that morning, they found her lifeless body and immediately called 911, per CBS News. When Detective Mark McBride arrived, he noticed there was "no sign of forced entry, but there were signs of a struggle," as he told the outlet. He believes she fought for her life.

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Bill Squires, a police officer for the Idaho Police Department, was only on patrol for a couple of months when he was asked to process the crime scene. He told ABC News that it was his first homicide. When he arrived, Squires saw that her "sweatpants were pulled down, just below knee-level." There was a cut above her right breast and a large amount of blood, some of which had been splashed along the walls of Angie's bedroom. Her neck was cut so severely, she was nearly decapitated.

The crime scene was covered in DNA which is why Tapp's conviction was particularly enraging for Carol. The love of her daughter drove Carol to find the real killer, but she was also devastated over the fact that the wrong man was in prison. The day Dripps was sent away was both satisfying and heartbreaking. Carol said she would never forgive him, but at least part of the nightmare was over.

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