Crime Scene Confidential is investigating a controversial case involving the horrific murder of Nancy DePriest at a fast-food chain in Austin, Texas, in 1988.
The case is notable not just for the brutality of the murder but also for the miscarriage of justice that followed. Christopher Ochoa and Richard Danziger were both convicted of Nancy’s murder and spent 12 years in prison before the real killer, Achim Josef Marino, was identified.
On October 24, 1988, 20-year-old Nancy started her shift early at a Pizza Hut restaurant. She had gone in early to prepare the dough for the day.
However, when the manager turned up at the restaurant a couple of hours later, they found Nancy, the mother of a 15-month-old daughter, lying slumped and naked on the bathroom floor. She had been tied up with a bra and shot in the back of the head.
Nancy was still alive, but she passed away a short time later at the hospital.
The cops discovered that money had been stolen from the safe, but there was no sign of forced entry. They wondered if Nancy had known her killer.
A couple of weeks later, Christopher Ochoa and Richard Danziger, two employees from another branch of Pizza Hut, came into Nancy’s restaurant. They ordered beer and raised a toast to Nancy. The restaurant staff thought their behavior was odd, so they called the cops.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
Christopher Ochoa and Richard Danziger accused of Nancy DePriest murder
The police thoroughly questioned Ochoa and Danziger until Ochoa confessed to the murder. He also implicated his friend, Danziger.
The cops seemed to have solid evidence; semen found at the crime scene was a DNA match for Ochoa, and a hair also found at the scene appeared to match Danziger.
Despite Danziger’s protests that he was innocent, both men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
There was just one massive problem. Both men were innocent.
Achim Marino claimed he killed Nancy DePriest
Achim Marino was serving time for a string of robberies and sexual assaults when he had a spiritual awakening. The born-again Christian decided it was time to confess to killing Nancy.
In 1998, Marino wrote a letter to then-Governor George W. Bush confessing to the crime and stating that he had acted alone. He wrote, “I’m the sole perpetrator. I’m the one who robbed her. I’m the one that raped her. I’m the one who murdered her.”
The wheels of justice turned slowly, but Marino was eventually able to convince the police that he was the culprit. He had knowledge of the crime scene that only the real killer could know.
Marino explained that he was dressed in worker’s clothing when he knocked on the door of the Pizza Hut. He pointed a gun at Nancy and demanded the money from the safe.
After taking the money, he sexually assaulted Nancy and shot her in the back of the head.
In 2000, the police retested Ochoa’s DNA and found that it didn’t match the semen from the crime scene. Both Ochoa and Danziger were released.
During his incarceration, Danziger was attacked by a fellow inmate, and he suffered brain damage from a blow to the head. He was released into the care of his family but passed away from cancer in 2001.
Ochoa later claimed that his confession was coerced out of him and that he was threatened and denied access to an attorney.
Crime Scene Confidential airs Thursdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.