Murder of Samantha Lezark by Kristopher Russell examined on ID

Police tape

Investigation Discovery is examing the dangers of internet dating as they investigate the murder of Samantha Lezark in Witchita County, Texas, in 2003.

Lezark had decided to give internet dating a go after her marriage failed, but unfortunately, it led her to 21-year-old student Kristopher Russell and ultimately her death.

The pair had met on an internet chatroom in late November 2002 and had entered a sexual relationship by mid-December.

However, on January 6, 2003, the 28-year-old Samantha failed to turn up to work, which caused a colleague to check on her at home. The coworker discovered Samatha had been beaten and strangled to death.

A coaxial cable had been wrapped three times around her neck and tied with a square knot, and she had been beaten in the head with a fire extinguisher, which was lying near the body.

There was no sign of forced entry, which led the cops to believe that she had known her killer.

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The primary suspect in the case was always Russell, as he had been spotted by neighbors at Samantha’s home on the evening of January 5, and when questioned, he admitted to being with her that night.

But the police did have a number of other suspects in the case. One of which was Samantha’s estranged ex-husband, John Lezark. He had threatened her with violence on previous occasions.

The cops also learned that she had been having an affair with a man called John Perez, who was the husband of a colleague.

The investigators also learned of a fourth possibility when it emerged that Samantha had organized a date with a man called Christian Posh. He had attended her home just four days before she was murdered.

DNA evidence pointed to Kristopher Russell

However, a close examination of the fingerprint and DNA evidence exonerated all the suspects, with the exception of Russell.

Russell’s palmprint was found on the coaxial cable, and his fingerprint and DNA were located on the fire extinguisher. A partial thumbprint was also found on a laser pointer on Samantha’s bed.

This, coupled with the neighbor’s testimony, led to the cops arresting Russell and charging him with murder. In June 2006, he was sentenced to 99 years behind bars.

Before murdering Lezark, Russell had moved from Nebraska to Texas after the death of his wife, Tara Greene Russell.

Tara was found dead just two months before Samantha was killed; her cause of death was put down as pneumonia, but there are suspicions she may have been murdered by Russell.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on ID.

Single mother Sandra Francis was raped and murdered in her Boston apartment in 1990. It took two decades for the DNA evidence to land Lee Perkins behind bars.

Orlando Smith shot his wife, Demetra Smith, execution-style at their Atlanta, GA, home in 2010. He then drove to his daughter’s home, where he asked her to help him cover-up the crime.

Murder in the Chatroom airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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