David Malcom Strickland, 27, and his wife, Laura Strickland, 23, were arrested Friday at their apartment in Helotes. David is charged with capital murder, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated assault, and Laura is charged with tampering with evidence. The charges are connected to the shootings of Mollie Olgin and Mary Kristene Chapa, which occurred June 22, 2012 at Portland’s Violet Andrews Park. Both women were sexually assaulted, and shot in the back of their heads. Olgin died at the scene, but Chapa survived after being found by park visitors.
Aaron Veuleman, who is heading the investigation for the Portland Police Department, said a big break in the case came when a letter police believe to have been written by Laura was found at a Sinton address. The letter, which was delivered June 11, was addressed to “Mr. Chapa,” and detailed the account of the murder from the perspective of a hit man hired to kill Chapa.
“She delivered a letter detailing events that only the victim or shooter would have known,” Veuleman said. “The intent was to divert our investigation on to an innocent party.”
The letter contained a photo of Christopher Melchor, who was David’s roommate in Layton, Utah, in 2013. Melchor is in the military, and was in California when the murder occurred. When he was interviewed by Veuleman June 16, Melchor said he remembered the photo being taken by Laura.
While collaborating with Utah police, Portland Police officers were notified that David had been charged with stealing Melchor’s firearms in January. According to arrest affidavits, David was arrested in Moab, Utah, where a search of his vehicle turned up evidence that was pertinent to the Portland Police Department’s investigation into the shootings of Chapa and Olgin. Utah police found firearms, a bag containing a condom, lubricant, handcuffs, a knife, bolt cutters, and an Under Armour glove. During a statement given to Portland police, Chapa said she remembered the white Under Armour logo on gloves her assailant had used during the crime.
Veuleman said the weapon which he believes was used during the shootings – a Glock .45 – was recovered by Utah police. Two bullet casings from a .45 caliber were recovered at the crime scene.
Arrest affidavits state that David voluntarily provided Portland Police officers with information about his whereabouts five days after the shootings. He said he saw a white car driving down Bayview Boulevard near the crime scene at about midnight.
“He said he was at his parents’ house, near the park, around the time the murders happened,” Veuleman said.
Veuleman said he could not comment on whether or not David has confessed to the shootings.
“But we do have a very strong case to put forth in this matter,” Veuleman said.
The Stricklands are being held at San Patricio County Jail. Sheriff Leroy Moody said they have not been questioned since they were brought to the jail Saturday.
“Any questioning was done beforehand,” Moody said.
David has been separated from the jail’s general population, Moody said.
“We might get him in the general population later,” Moody said. “He’s been quiet and cooperative.”
Veuleman said the investigation is ongoing, and it is possible that additional suspects could be considered.
“In an investigation like this, we keep our minds open,” he said. “We’ll exhaust every lead and tip we receive. We feel like we’ve got our man, but we’re not stopping the investigation because of that.”