True Crime Arizona Podcast: A Phoenix Family Massacre
What happened to the Hudgens family?
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- On November 16th 2022, the Hudgens family of five was found dead inside their Phoenix home. Wife Marla Hudgens, her 3-year-old son Christopher, and her 6-month-old twin girls Faye and Gwen were all found with trauma on their bodies, and her husband Jasen Hudgens was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police believe Jasen killed his family before taking his own life. Time may have been ticking down to the house exploding, because first responders found a disconnected gas line in the home with propane tanks on the property. The Hudgens family seemingly had everything going for them: Beautiful kids, successful careers, and a lot of community involvement. The question is: What went wrong?
LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER TRIAL: The Interrogation: For the first time ever, we hear the Zombie Hunter’s voice. After a break in the trial, prosecutors come back with some crucial days of testimony and evidence, including Bryan Patrick Miller’s interrogation video after he was arrested for the Canal Murders in 2015. His former roommate also took the stand, who described the moment he realized an item found at the Melanie Bernas’ murder scene was something he had seen in their apartment before.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER TRIAL: The Undercover Operation: In week two of the trial, we learn how police coordinated an undercover operation at a restaurant to get Bryan Patrick Miller’s DNA to see if it was a match to the DNA left at the Canal Murders scenes. Testimony this week ended with the first victim Miller stabbed as a teenager, detailing her experience when she was attacked. The prosecution says this establishes a pattern of violence before Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas were killed.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER TRIAL: The Gruesome Murders: In the first week of the death penalty trial for Bryan Patrick Miller, the prosecution set up their case that DNA at the crime scenes matched Miller’s, he had fantasies about killing people, and nobody but him cut these girls’ lives short. Meanwhile, the defense is arguing for a “not guilty by reason of insanity” verdict, claiming Miller’s autism and dissociative disorders made him insane at the time of the murders. For the first time in nearly 30 years, new details were revealed about the horrific injuries to Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas when they were killed, and what the killer did with their bodies post-mortem.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER TRIAL: It Finally Begins: Thirty years after the infamous Phoenix “Canal Murders,” the man and comic-book character accused of the killings stands trial. But Bryan Patrick Miller’s trial is unlike most - was he insane at the time, and could that let him walk free? Deciding his fate won’t be up to a jury. Hosts Briana Whitney and Morgan Loew break down why this trial is so non-traditional and what the “Zombie Hunter” is facing in a courtroom in the coming months.
6-year manhunt for a former Marine ends in arrest for girlfriend’s murder: In 2016, Krystal Mitchell and her boyfriend, Raymond “R.J.” McLeod headed from Phoenix to San Diego for vacation with friends. Everything takes a shocking turn when Krystal is found dead in an apartment, with Raymond nowhere to be found. Evidence pointed authorities to identity him as the prime suspect, but McLeod led the U.S. Marshalls on a 6-year international manhunt. Finally in 2022, a tip leads authorities to El Salvador, where they find Raymond McLeod, who is finally behind bars and charged with Krystal’s murder. But the person who played the biggest role in the investigation and his capture? Krystal’s mother.
Finding Robert Fisher Episode 6 - Exactly What He Wanted: Briana and Serjio receive a new, unexpected tip from a former homicide detective that has them investigating more than they anticipated. Everyone interviewed this season reveals where they believe Robert Fisher is, and if he’s dead or alive, based on the new information our team uncovered during their investigation.
Finding Robert Fisher Episode 5 - A Dive Bar off the Highway: Herb Greenbeck presents a new theory of where Robert Fisher went and what he did after the murders, based on strange questions he was asking during their camping trip together just weeks prior. Investigators share what they struggle with most trying to solve this case, which leads us back to the Fisher family home and their Scottsdale neighborhood.
Finding Robert Fisher Episode 4 - The Underground Caves: Less than a mile from where Robert Fisher’s car was found in the woods are miles and miles of underground caves. It’s thought he may have been hiding in them at one point, and written evidence found in one of them suggests that may have been the case. We investigate written messages, and dive into the caves ourselves to find out if living in them for some time is realistic. At the same time, a tip from 2004 in Canada still perplexes people with some of the most unusual investigative techniques ever used. We get to the bottom of it.
Finding Robert Fisher Episode 3 - ‘Holy Sh*t, I Was Here’: The investigation takes our crew into the woods where Robert Fisher’s car was found as they prepare to head underground for a search. Briana and Serjio assemble a full team made up of a retired detective on the case, the lead cave searcher at the time Fisher disappeared, and experienced spelunkers, who make realizations about what happened in the woods back in 2001. Meanwhile, a bombshell tip from Mexico shakes up the case – with pictures that shock detectives.
Finding Robert Fisher Episode 2 - The Evidence File: Who was Robert Fisher? Details unravel about odd conversations and personality traits he displayed leading up to the murders and house explosion. Meanwhile, for the first time, we get exclusive access to the full evidence file and crime scene photos that reveal new details and tips about the investigation.
Finding Robert Fisher Episode 1 - The Murders: On the morning of April 10th, 2001, residents in Scottsdale, AZ woke up to a home exploding into flames. The house belonged to the Fisher family, and investigators quickly learned there were three bodies inside, and one family member missing- Robert Fisher. After more than 20 years, the person who spent a weekend camping with Robert two weeks before the explosion reveals what Robert said and did during that trip, and why he believes there was an ulterior motive for a trip to that specific area.
Murder, lies, and a storage bin: In November 2021, Claudia Moreno went missing from her Tempe, Arizona apartment. Her husband and family launched an all-out search for her, along with law enforcement. But months later, her sisters would learn somebody deceived them, and the real story revolved around a storage bin, a closet, and the desolate desert.
The Art of Interrogation: How do you get a suspect to crack? Is “good cop/bad cop” a real thing? We get those answers and many more in a fascinating in-depth conversation with retired homicide detective Roger Geisler.
The Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths Episode 6 - The Guru is Back: After serving time in prison, James Ray re-emerged in the self-help world again, selling his practices and teachings. He describes in his own words what happened in Sedona and how he feels he’s learned from the tragedy. This doesn’t sit well with the families of the victims.
The Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths Episode 5: Angel Valley: After our first episode release this season, the owner of Angel Valley invited us to the grounds to show us where the sweat lodge tragedy happened. For the first time in a decade, she sat down to answer questions about how James Arthur Ray’s defense team tried to blame her and her husband for the deaths during the trial.
The Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths Episode 4: The Trial: James Arthur Ray was on trial for manslaughter for the deaths of 3 participants. The testimony in the courtroom was fierce, powerful, and tense. It was the first time participants shared harrowing details while taking the stand to describe what happened to them. The 50-day trial led to an outcome nobody expected.
“Little Miss Nobody” identified after 62 years: It’s been a heartbreaking mystery for more than 60 years, but thanks to a scientific DNA breakthrough, the identity of a murdered four-year-old girl known as “Little Miss Nobody” is finally known. Briana Whitney examines how authorities made the discovery and what questions remain unanswered, including who killed her.
The Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths Episode 3: “Call 911!”: The sweat lodge activity turned into a full emergency, as participants were passing out, vomiting, and foaming from the mouth. This was supposed to be the final event to find enlightenment, but instead it led to death. Participants were looking for comfort from James Ray as the tragedy unfolded in the dark of night, but he was seemingly nowhere to be found.
The Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths Episode 2: The Spiritual Warrior: It was the pinnacle of all James Ray events: the 5-day “Spiritual Warrior” retreat. Participants would pay thousands of dollars to head to Sedona, Arizona and participate in eccentric activities to help with personal growth. But concerns about all of it emerged years before the tragedy, especially about the final event of the retreat: the sweat lodge.
The Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths Episode 1: The Guru: In the 2000s, James Arthur Ray rose to fame as a key figure in a self-help movement that mixed elements of spirituality, “harmonic wealth,” and eccentric activities. Powered by appearances in “The Secret” and on TV with Oprah Winfrey and Larry King, he amassed a fortune and built an empire off of his thousands of followers. Ray was on top of the world until some of his followers felt things weren’t quite what they seemed...
The Arrest of Mr. Rape Torture Kill: A convicted sex offender who calls himself “Mr. RTK” (short for Rape Torture Kill)—who also claims to have killed three boys and molested over 200 others—was arrested in Arizona after being free for over a year. An attempt to reach out to the mother of one of his victim’s on social media triggered the arrest. We hear from the victim’s mother and Mr. RTK as we go in-depth on this disturbing case.
Safari, Sex, Money, and Murder?: An African hunting safari. A decades-long affair. Mail fraud. A mysterious death. Years after a woman’s death during a hunting trip in Africa was ruled accidental, new sordid details led the FBI to charge her husband, a prominent dentist, with her murder.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 10 - Insane? Or Destined for Death Row?: Bryan Patrick Miller is suspected in more attacks than he’s been charged with. Will we ever really know if he is responsible for those? Briana and Morgan look into how the prosecutor’s decision to pursue the death penalty could leave victims and their families with questions that are never answered. We also examine how an insanity defense could eventually set him free.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 9 - Inside His Home: Much of the Zombie Hunter’s court documents are sealed and the official police investigation was never released. But Briana Whitney and Morgan Loew glean new details and new insight about the case from those who covered Bryan Patrick Miller’s arrest and those who knew him.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 8: To catch the Canal Murders killer, Phoenix Police detective Troy Hillman assembled a team and tried unheard of—and widely doubted—tactics. His team’s innovation was the only way an arrest was made. For years, Hillman was not allowed to speak about the case. But just days after retiring, he sat down with us to discuss it for the very first time.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER: A Breaking Update: As Bryan Patrick Miller remains in jail facing charges in the deaths of 22-year-old Angela Brosso and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas, a judge just made a significant ruling that will shape how this case will play out.
The strange & grisly death of Benjamin Anderson: On December 31, 2021, friends and family of Benjamin Anderson were unable to get ahold of him. A wild series of events, including a dangerous car chase on Phoenix streets, ended with the discovery of a burned car, Benjamin’s body, and a host of unanswered questions.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 7 - New State, New Victims: In the early 2000s, Bryan Patrick Miller moved to the Pacific Northwest. Three brutal and bloody assaults against three women coincided with Miller’s time in the city of Everett, Washington. Investigative reporter Morgan Loew traveled to Everett to retrace Miller’s steps in an effort to answer the question: Are there more victims?
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 6 - Up Close and Personal: As this season continues, more people are coming forward to share their first-hand experiences with Bryan Patrick Miller. From his neighborhood, to a church, to the time of Miller’s arrest, hear the details of these chilling face-to-face encounters.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 5: An Alarming Encounter: After listening to our initial episodes, a woman contacted us and shared a terrifying encounter she claims she had on the canal trail the night Angela Brosso went missing. She details a man on a bike stalking several people, including herself, and says she passed Brosso biking that night. The next morning, Brosso was found decapitated.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 4 - Where is Brandy Myers?: In May of 1992, 13-year-old Brandy Myers vanished in her Phoenix neighborhood while collecting money for a school project. Her case went cold for years, until Bryan Patrick Miller was arrested for the Canal Murders. That’s when police received new information that Miller may have confessed that he killed Brandy.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 3 - The Arrest: Decades after the Canal Murders investigation went cold, a forensic genealogist cracks the case using DNA. In doing so, the case made history.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 2 - The Man Behind the Mask: In 2014, people knew Bryan Patrick Miller as “The Zombie Hunter,” a character who frequented local fantasy and sci-fi festivals. While the “Zombie Hunter” was portrayed as a fictional crime fighter, we discovered that under the mask lurked a very real dark and violent past.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER Episode 1 - The Canal Murders: Five young women go missing in Phoenix in the early 1990s along and near the Arizona Canal. Two of them were found brutally murdered—along with a DNA link—but the killer was nowhere to be found.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER, Trailer: His violent, fantasy world: Bryan Patrick Miller had established his “Zombie Hunter” character as a fixture in the local fantasy & sci-fi scene, appearing at conventions and events in Arizona. But a bombshell arrest would expose a violent and deadly string of attacks.
THE ZOMBIE HUNTER, Trailer: Five girls & a deadly link: In the early 1990s, five girls went missing near the Arizona Canal in Phoenix. Four of them were found dead and one remains missing. It left residents living in fear until a breakthrough decades later. But what police found was more bizarre—and possibly more deadly—than they had ever realized.
MISSING: 14-year-old Jesse Florez: Three days after the 9/11 terror attacks, 14-year-old Jesse Florez left his Phoenix home to walk to a friend’s birthday party and seemingly vanished. Detectives don’t know if he ever made it to the party, but they do believe witnesses know what happened to him that evening and suspect foul play is involved. Phoenix Police need people to come forward with new information.
MISSING: 30-year-old Monica Chavez: On January 3, 2019 Monica Chavez was last seen leaving a Phoenix motel on foot. According to her family, a man from Tucson was coming up to meet her, but she stopped responding to his calls and texts suddenly. They never met up. Monica’s family and five young children haven’t seen or heard from her since. Phoenix police suspect foul play is involved in her disappearance.
MISSING - The search for Daniel Robinson: 24-year-old geologist Daniel Robinson has been missing from Buckeye, Arizona since June 23, 2021. Host Briana Whitney takes us through the brand new details released in the latest police report, and sits down one-on-one with Daniel’s dad, David Robinson, to talk about the bizarre details in his son’s disappearance.
UNSOLVED - 5 high-profile missing persons cases in Arizona: In the wake of how Gabby Petito’s disappearance shined a light on missing persons cases, we examine five notable disappearances in Arizona: Daniel Robinson, Alicia Navarro, Christine Mustafa, Jesse Conger, and Cookie Jacobson.
How a company is solving DNA cases with just 15 human cells: As DNA becomes a focus of solving decades-old cases with new technology, host Briana Whitney interviews the case director at Othram, a company making human identification possible with trace amounts of DNA, when other ways have failed. What they’ve developed is unique and groundbreaking in forensics.
Case Q&A: The Murders on Bumble Bee Road: In this bonus episode, host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are interviewed by Kris Pickel about their major takeaways from the investigation into the grisly murders of a young couple on Bumble Bee Road.
Case Q&A - The bomb that killed businessman Gary Triano: In this bonus episode, host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are interviewed by Kris Pickel about their major takeaways from the investigation into the Gary Triano case.
The agency always searching for missing children: A one-on-one interview with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about the three high-profile cases we investigated: Mikelle Biggs, Jhessye Shockley, and Baby Gabriel. The agency tells us the challenges of working on these cases and others, and what has changed the game in terms of solving cases today.
The woman who once tried to adopt Baby Gabriel: A key player in the missing Baby Gabriel Johnson case is Tammi Smith, who at one point tried to adopt the baby from his maternal mother, Elizabeth Johnson. Throughout the investigation, Tammi and her husband Jack Smith maintained they didn’t know the couple Elizabeth claimed to have given the baby away to, but Elizabeth said the black market adoption was all coordinated through Tammi. Host Briana Whitney has a one-on-one phone conversation about the case with Tammi, the suspicions about her involvement in Gabriel’s disappearance, and what she has to say about her one-time friend Elizabeth Johnson now.
VANISHED: Baby Gabriel Johnson: On Christmas of 2009, father Logan McQueary thought he’d be spending the holiday with his baby boy Gabriel. Instead, his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Johnson disappeared to San Antonio with their son, and soon he was nowhere to be found. First she told authorities she killed the baby, then said she gave him away in a black market adoption, and the web of lies and deceit began. For the first time you’ll hear jailhouse recordings, phone calls, and new information, as we investigate new leads in this case.
VANISHED: 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley: In October 2011, Jhessye Shockley’s mom reported her 5-year-old daughter had gone missing from their Glendale, Arizona home and claimed she was abducted. But as police followed a trail of odd behavior, past arrests, and horrific claims of abuse from Jhessye’s siblings, it became clear her mom was a major problem in the investigation. Now, both her family and investigators reveal they agree on what they think happened and where they believe little Jhessye is right now.
VANISHED: 11-year-old Mikelle Biggs: Eleven-year-old Mikelle Biggs disappeared while riding her sister’s bike on their Mesa, Arizona street and waiting for the ice cream truck. Her sister Kimber went inside for less than two minutes, and when she came back out, Mikelle was gone. Authorities believe Mikelle was abducted, but no arrests have ever been made. We investigate the timeline of events, and the story is told through her sister, who at 9 years old was the last person to see Mikelle alive. Now in her 30s, she hasn’t given up, and both she and detectives believe Mikelle may be nearby.
The Scottsdale Murder Spree: In 2018, a Scottsdale man went on a serial murder spree killing people one-by-one, and he always remained a step ahead of police. His motive wouldn’t be found and he wouldn’t be stopped until an attorney pieced together clues by who he was killing and what set him off.
Case Q&A - The Bizarre Death of Phoenix Police Officer Sean Drenth: In this bonus episode, host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are interviewed by Kris Pickel about their major takeaways from the unsolved Sean Drenth case, what they found most troubling about the investigation, and whether they believe he died by homicide or suicide.
The bomb that killed Tucson businessman Gary Triano: In 1996, well-known businessman Gary Triano was assassinated by a bomb in a country club parking lot. The search for the masterminds behind the plot would take years to find, but solving the case ultimately came down to love gone wrong.
Case Q&A: Robert Fisher: Dead or Alive?: In this bonus episode, our host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are interviewed by Kris Pickel about how extensive their investigation was into the infamous Robert Fisher murder and disappearance case. They discuss brand new tips and information, and answer the question they always get...if they believe Robert Fisher is dead or alive.
Case Q&A: The Cold Storage Killer: In this bonus episode, host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are joined by Kris Pickel to discuss the behind-the-scenes work of their investigation into the disturbing Cold Storage Killer case.
The Bizarre Death of Phoenix Police Officer Sean Drenth: In 2010, Phoenix PD officer Sean Drenth was found shot dead while on duty. The scene was strange, and soon the conversation turned from homicide to suicide, though nobody truly knows what happened. Journalist Briana Whitney explores the theories and learns a bombshell accusation from his family.
Case Q&A: The Murder of Christy Ann Fornoff: In this bonus episode, host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are joined by Kris Pickel to discuss the behind-the-scenes work of their investigation into the murder of teenage paper girl Christy Ann Fornoff, and why this case was particularly emotional for them compared to most.
Case Q&A: Identifying “Valentine Sally”: In this bonus episode, host Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are joined by Kris Pickel to discuss the behind the scenes process of putting the “Valentine Sally” investigation together, including the recent break in the case.
Identifying ‘Valentine Sally’ & the 40-year search for answers: In February 1982, a girl’s body was found off a rural highway in Northern Arizona. For nearly 40 years, nobody knew who “Valentine Sally” was. The last person to see her alive speaks out about what she saw, and two weeks after journalist Briana Whitney’s first story aired about the case, officials identified the girl through DNA.
Case Q&A: The Sleepwalker Murderer: Briana Whitney and Serjio Hernandez discuss the behind the scenes work of their investigation into The Sleepwalker Murderer. They’ll share how they found all the old footage tapes from his trial, how the judge really felt about what he saw in the courtroom, and their theories as to if Scott Falater was asleep or awake when he killed his wife.
Case Q&A: The Trunk Murderess: Briana Whitney and producer Serjio Hernandez are interviewed about the behind the scenes process of putting the 1931 “Trunk Murderess” investigation together, what they found shocking and bizarre, and what they believe happened to the trunk murdered and her victims.
The 1931 ‘Trunk Murderess’: In 1931, Winnie Ruth Judd was accused of killing her two best friends in Phoenix, chopping up one of the bodies, then taking the dead bodies in trunks on a train to LA. But did Winnie Ruth commit the murders on her own?
The Cold Storage Killer: In 1994, a body is discovered in a man’s large freezer near Prescott, Arizona three years after a Southern California woman disappears after a concert. Authorities believe she isn’t the only victim.
The Sleepwalker Murderer: In 1997, Scott Falater stabbed his wife 44 times at their Phoenix home, before dragging her into their pool then stashing the bloody knife and clothes in his car. But he claimed he remembered none of it because he was sleepwalking.
The Murders on Bumble Bee Road: In 2003, a young couple goes camping overnight on Bumble Bee Road, Arizona to celebrate their one year anniversary. Both were found shot dead in their truck the next day.
Robert Fisher - Dead or Alive?: In 2001, police believe Robert Fisher brutally killed his wife and kids in Scottsdale, Arizona, then cut a gas line so the house exploded into flames. He has never been found.
Sabotage of the Sunset Limited train: In 1995, the Sunset Limited Amtrak train derailed overnight in the middle of the Arizona desert. One person died, another 75 were injured. Mysterious notes were left at the scene by the perpetrators.
The Murder of Christy Ann Fornoff: In 1984, 13-year-old Christy Ann Fornoff disappeared while on her paper route in Tempe, Arizona.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.