Worst Roommate Ever – S02E04 – The Lethal Landlord | Transcript

A group of youths discover a suitcase, containing human body parts, before The Police arrive, a TikTok video is circulated. The Police visit the home of Michael Dudley, the landlord of the murdered, young couple.
Worst Roommate Ever - S02E04 - The Lethal Landlord

Worst Roommate Ever
Season 2 – Episode 4
Episode title: The Lethal Landlord
Original release date: June 26, 2024

Plot: A group of youths discover a suitcase, containing human body parts, before The Police arrive, a TikTok video is circulated. The Police visit the home of Michael Dudley, the landlord of the murdered, young couple.

* * *

[suspenseful music playing]

[female teen 1] So we just found this suitcase, and we’re gonna get it.

Okay, so they’re, like, opening it up with the sticks because we don’t wanna…

[male teen laughing] Open it.

[female teen 1] It stinks, y’all.

[female teen 2] Yes, there’s a bag. There’s a bag, like…

Oh, it is a bag!

[male teen] Oh!

[female teen 2] Oh my God!

[male teen] She’s calling the police so we can see if it’s a dead body.

[female teen 1] We called the police twice.

It’s been two hours in the water. It’s like rising.

[reporter 1] Detectives are investigating the remains found in several bags on Friday at Duwamish Head.

[sirens wailing]


[reporter 2] The detectives have remained tight-lipped about the gruesome murders.

[ominous music playing]

[waves lapping]

[uneasy music playing]

[Cooper] This case began on June 19th, 2020, uh, with a 911 call from a young lady that was out of Alki.

And she was telling 911 they had found a suitcase that they had opened up and had a very bad odor, and they believed they should report it.

[intriguing music playing]

[Cooper] When the officer arrived, the tide was going out.

It washed the contents of the suitcase out.

The officer came over to the edge.

He fished out the contents of the suitcase first, saw the duffle bag, and the duffle bag was actually in the water, floating away.

They fished those items out.

Within ten minutes, the patrol sergeant had contacted our unit.

I responded to his location.

That’s when the patrol officer showed me the duffel bag and the plastic bag that had fallen out of that.

And the plastic bag contained a human foot.

[unsettling music playing]

[Cooper] The suitcase was partially open.

I could see that there were body parts, or bags in there.

[sirens wailing]

I was 99% sure this was not our crime scene.

That this was a dump site.

Those items did not just drift up here.

They would have never managed to go that far in the water before sinking.

I had contacted my partner.

We went to track down the 911 caller.

The 911 caller and the witness, they… Totally cooperative.

They gave us great statements.

But it wasn’t until the next day that I have fellow detectives calling me

that have kids that are showing them a TikTok video

of our witnesses finding the suitcase.

It was kids being kids.

But it went viral.

[people exclaiming]

[dramatic music sting]

…murdered and left in a suitcase in bags on Alki Beach,

when teenagers posted on TikTok about finding the remains.

[Cooper] I’ve worked high-profile cases before.

And the downside to the media coverage,

especially national media coverage, you’re behind the 8-ball.

[reporter 3] Detectives are investigating several bags containing human remains.

[Cooper] Once the body parts are being recovered,

the medical examiner’s office started going through the… the bags.

She discovered not one head, but two heads.

[foreboding music playing]

So now we know we have two victims. One was a male, one is a female.

As an investigator, one of the most important things we want to know is,

who are they?

They were able to obtain fingerprints from the two victims,

and within a half hour,

we finally learned of who our people were.

The male was identified as Austin Wenner,

and the young lady was identified as Jessica Lewis.

[somber music playing]

I remember seeing the news about Alki.

And I told my boyfriend at the time,

“Turn that off. I don’t like to watch the news.”

“This is why I don’t like to watch the news.”

“It’s nothing but bad news.”

And little did I know that it was regarding my own son.

Shortly after that, there was a knock on my door.

It was Detective Cooper.

And they asked if they could speak to me.

They told me that they were there regarding Austin.

I said, “What about Austin?”

And they told me that he was found dead.

Um, my son and his… sister.

Me and the kids.

Always together.

[emotional music playing]

[Charleen] Austin is my firstborn.

And he was very boyish.

Driving his truck, four-wheeling.

That was Austin.

You’d always find him tinkering on different cars, or underneath it.

Sometimes gettin’ mad. [laughs]

He was so social and always very big-hearted and loving.

It was hard not to love him.

Maybe Jessica fell in love with him for his blue eyes and his belly laugh

and his sense of humor.

Austin and Jessica met when he was about 20,

and she was a little bit older, in her late twenties.

[gentle music playing]

From that day on, they were inseparable.

[Gina] Jessica Lewis is my niece.

We always called her Jessie.

She was so kind.

She never said a bad word about anybody.

She was just a ray of sunshine, honestly.

My mom ran an adult family home.

Jessica would always help paint their nails,

or helping them make lunches, and assisting my mom.

It just takes somebody with a big heart to be able to have that kind of patience.

She was a good girl.

[Kris] Jessica’s a sweetheart.

She was definitely in love with him, and he was in love with her.

Austin was her man,

and so she made a point of making sure that he knew that.

[Gina] They were each other’s escape from the hard parts of life.

[intriguing music playing]

[Charleen] Austin was very emotional.

Things affected him.

And as he got older,

I think that it became harder for him to cope with all that.

That’s when he turned to using drugs and got in that lifestyle.

[reporter 4] There is more meth out there than ever before.

It’s stronger, cheaper, easier to find, and harder to quit.

[Kris] Austin liked to smoke methamphetamine.

It was just one of those things you got hooked on,

and he kinda knew where to get it, and he could get it for me,

and, you know, we would be at my house and… and we’d… we’d get high, basically.

[Charleen] Watching my son struggle with drugs

was probably one of the hardest things in my life.

[voice breaking] And having to turn him away…

um, when he was 16, was very hard.

But I had other children in the house.

I just didn’t know what came with the drugs.

What type of people came with it.

[Gina] Austin and Jessica struggled with addiction.

A few of our family members did.

It’s just something some families deal with,

and ours is one of them.

[Charleen] Throughout Austin’s life, he’s been in treatment a couple of times.

It would work for a little while.

[thunder crashing]

[Charleen] And then it wouldn’t work.

[dark music playing]

I think that it was hard for them to stay clean together.

When Austin and Jessica met, he moved in with her.

They did become homeless after that

because they continued using drugs.

[Gina] Austin had a reputation of stealing things.

And so I really didn’t want that around too much.

[uneasy music playing]

[Kris] They lived wherever they could lay their hat, basically.

Sometimes they lived at my house,

sometimes they lived, you know, in… in other places.

It was Austin’s aunt who helped get them a place to live.

[melancholy music playing]

[Charleen] My sister was living with Michael Dudley.

She lived there for quite some time.

A few years.

He sometimes would let people live at his house.

He had an Airbnb.

My sister is a drug addict.

She was living in a trailer on his property.

She would make some of the meals for people,

make sure the rooms were clean and ready for any guests that were coming over.

And I would sometimes go over there and see her.

Michael Dudley seemed very pleasant.

He was very nice to me, respectful to me.

He would sometimes take care of other people’s pets

when they were gone.

He gave this persona of being very nice.

He would call me if something was wrong with my sister.

He had both my ex-husband Dean’s phone number,

my phone number.

My sister was getting ready to move down to California.

But before she left,

she had introduced Austin to Michael Dudley.

So Austin and Jessica had moved in around October of 2019.

[Kris] It was a unique situation

because they had a place of their own finally.

A place where they could go at night and chill out and sleep

and, you know, relax.

And they could have their cat there.

You know, it was a good thing for a little while.

[dark music playing]

[melodic guitar music playing]

[Shelly] When I first met Mike Dudley,

I was moving from Switzerland to Seattle.

I was needing a place to stay.

I had a couple of pets.

And so I Googled on Airbnb, “Who would take pets?”

And there was someone quite close to the airport.

I was gonna be interviewing

for multiple jobs I had applied to,

so I thought it was a good central location.

And the guy who was the host of the Airbnb,

his name was Mike Dudley.

He was responsive and pleasant.

He said he actually had a dog of his own.

I said, “Great, my dogs love dogs.”

[tranquil music playing]

[Shelly] I arrived with my two dogs to Mike’s house.

[dogs barking]

[Shelly] It was just as cute, or cuter, than the picture.

I notice, off to the side of the garage, he had like this chicken coop.

[chickens clucking]

There were two different rooms.

There was the blue room, and there was a yellow room.

So, I thought, “It’s not gonna be too crowded, and yay.”

Michael Dudley presents kind of geeky.

Computer programmer kind of guy.

Duke, his Chihuahua, was always right beside him,

just following him, never on a leash.

His kitchen was really well-stocked,

and he said, “Make yourself at home.”

He knew that I was interviewing for these different jobs.

Some of them are a couple of hours away,

and I was trying to figure out transportation,

and he was like, “I can take you, don’t worry about it.”

“Wow, okay. Thank you. That’s nice.”

[intriguing music playing]

[Shelly] On those drives,

we would just start randomly talking more about stuff,

and I noticed he was intelligent.

He understood when I used obtuse phrases.

He, you know, would laugh about something, and he had a very dry sense of humor.

He spent a lot of time in his basement.

On one side, he had a big computer,

and then on the other side, he had two of those huge computers.

I just thought,

“Well, maybe he’s kind of got a compulsion for computers or something.”

[crickets chirping]

One day, he told me he was just gonna go for his normal nighttime walk with Duke.

And I said, “Oh great, let’s go.”

We were walking around the neighborhood, chatting,

and I remember Duke was off-leash.

And I’m like, “Where… where is Duke anyway?”

And then we walked a little more, and we were like, “Yeah, where is he?”

[snaps fingers]

[cellphone ringing]

[Shelly] He gets this phone call.

And a man told him, he said, “I’m holding your dog.”

“He’d just been hit.”

“I’m very sorry, the car that hit him didn’t even stop, and he just died.”

[unsettling music playing]

[Shelly] So we walk there really quickly.

Picked up his dog.

We get back.

He went right back to his bedroom.

He wanted to go lay down, and he took the dog with him.

Mike slept with Duke, the dead dog, that night.

[unsettling music continues]

As he continued to sleep with Duke for the next two or three nights,

I was thinking, “This is odd.”

I’m also a psychologist, and I was thinking,

this is a complicated grief reaction.

This guy is in, um… You know, he’s in a state of denial

to the point where…

[laughing]…to the point where it’s semi-delusional.

‘Cause the dog was…

dead-dead. I mean, dead.

“It’s probably time to, you know, put him to rest.”

And he said, “I just… I don’t think I’m ready yet.”

[unsettling music continues]

[Shelly] He had a freezer. You know, he said,

“I’m gonna put him in there until, you know, I’m just ready.”

And then he put him in his freezer.

And the whole time I stayed there, which was over a month,

the dog was still in the freezer.

[chilling music playing]

[Jessica gasps]

As a favor for Austin’s aunt,

Jessie would help houseclean in return for being able to stay there.

[Charleen] Michael Dudley used to get a lot of cars from the auction,

and there were a lot of cars coming and going.

So Austin would often be working on those cars for him.

Austin didn’t share a whole lot of what was going on at the house with me.

[chilling music playing]

[Charleen] But he did mention there were a lot of rules living at the house,

that he had cameras everywhere.

Michael Dudley knew everything that went on at that house.

Everybody needed permission to go in there.

I went over one time

shortly after Austin and Jessica had moved in.

Austin had to call him to ask and see if we could come inside the house.

And Michael Dudley would probably be keeping track

of how long we were staying.

So we only stayed about a half an hour.

Why that is, I don’t know.

That’s the big question.

What was he hiding?

[ominous music playing]

You got to understand that Mike Dudley and all the people up at that house

were up to no good, really.

And often,

Mike Dudley would have Austin or Jessie or both of them go do little jobs for him,

whether it’s stealing somebody’s car, getting car parts for him…

I heard it from a couple different people

that he ran this whole little ring of fenced goods, things like that.

Austin is somebody who doesn’t have a lot of choices of where to live.

It was a clean environment, it kept him out of the weather,

and so I think that they just learned to live with kind of his…


[dark music playing]

[somber music playing]

It was 2019, and my dad had a series of health problems,

and I had to quickly get to Kansas.

Anyone that was gonna take care of my dogs,

it was gonna be a favor, ’cause it was super last minute.

And Mike said he would.

And I… “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I mean, they’ve been there before.

I knew he was good with dogs because he was a dog lover,

so I didn’t give it a second thought.

My dogs are my life.

One of my dogs is named Ringo. He’s a Jack Russell.

And the other’s name was Pepper.

And they’d been raised together so they’re, like, fixtures together.

That was my joy.

They were with me all the time. That’s how close we were.

So they landed back up at Mike’s house.

[hen clucking]

Mike shared with me that he had some new people staying at his house.

He mentioned his new renters were Austin and Jessica.

I did notice Mike was taking in more street or edgy people.

[intriguing music playing]

[Shelly] While I was in Kansas,

I would check in with Mike almost every day

to touch in with my dogs and also chat about what was going on with my dad.

He was being supportive, in general.

And my dogs were great.

And then one day he told me

they were gone.

[chilling music playing]

[Shelly] They had run away.


My heart dropped out of my body.

I’m beside myself.

Mike’s reassuring me he’s out looking,

he’s doing everything in the world he can do to look for my dogs.

[suspenseful music playing]

[Shelly] It was a long time,

at least two weeks, that both of them were gone.

I’m becoming physically ill. I’m sick.

They were chipped, but they didn’t have their collars

with identification on,

and so I was always calling the microchip company.

And one of them got a hit, but it was just Ringo.

And Mike said, “I’m going over to get your dog.”

[Michael] Hey, Ringo!

[woman laughing]

[Shelly] Mike sends me this video, of going to these people’s house.

All is good. Happy, happy, happy.

[Michael] Thank you so much. Thank you. Shelly says thank you.

Well, where’s Pepper?

[uneasy music playing]

[Shelly] So I was sending him pictures and, “Please look for Pepper.”

“I have to have Pepper too.”

I was out of town over a month, almost two months,

and Pepper was never found during that whole time.

When I got back, Mike actually was the one who picked me up.

And I just remember it was raining a lot.

And I’m still crying and numb about Pepper,

but knowing Ringo’s gonna be there, and I go,

and Ringo jumps up, and he’s happy to see me as normal.

And I’m just, “Thank God, my dog.”

[chilling music playing]

[Shelly] We were there for a few minutes, and I just sat down at the kitchen table,

got something to drink.

And Mike disappeared. I didn’t know what he was doing.

And then, all of a sudden, I look up…

[hen clucking]

…and he has this fucking hen.

[foreboding music playing]

[Shelly] He’s holding one of his hens.

[hen continues clucking]

[Shelly] He looked at me just dead straight.

“I killed Pepper.”

[foreboding music building]

[Shelly] I said, “You killed Pepper?”

“Yes, I killed Pepper.”

I said, “Why did you kill Pepper?”

And then he says, “He killed her baby.”

[hen clucking]

“It’s an eye for an eye.”

I said, “How?” And he said,

“I hit him.”

[terrifying music playing]

In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “It takes a lot of hitting to kill a dog.”

As a psychologist, my clinician is kicking in,

’cause I know there’s something deeply disturbed going on.

This is someone who is volatile.

He wasn’t mad at me,

but he was wanting me to know this distress this dog of mine had caused.

And I just had to say, “Keep it together, Shelly.”

“This person can flip and kill me.”

I just, like… This is too much.

I… He fucking killed my dog.

[thunder crashing]

[Shelly] So I just kept myself straight as I could.

I asked him, “So, Mike,

where did you bury Pepper?”

And he said, “Austin and I cremated him.”

[thunder crashes]

So then I went back to the yellow room, and I locked the door.

And I called an Uber, and I left.

[thunder rumbling]

[windshield wipers swishing]

[unsettling music playing]

[Charleen] Austin had told me one day

that Michael Dudley had killed a little puppy.

[dog yelps, whines]

[Charleen] And he left it there for others to see.

And I’m thinking, “Why are you living there?”

“This is not a good environment.”

And, “Is he and Jessica gonna be safe here?”

[ominous music playing]

[Charleen] Austin told me that he saw through his window

a bunch of guns being unloaded.

And he didn’t know for sure,

but he thought maybe Michael Dudley knew that he saw them

and that he… they weren’t supposed to see that.

And he was nervous about it.

Austin and Jessica said,

“We need to get out of here, and we’re moving, Mom.”

I just said, “Well, are you safe to stay there now?”

And they told me, “Yeah, we’re… we’re fine.”

This was right about when COVID had started.

And that was probably one of the biggest mistakes of their life.

[Kris] Austin and Jessica came over to my house,

and they were concerned that he was gonna do something, you know?

And as they left my house, literally, they said,

“If you don’t see us again, you know who did it.”

[ominous music continues]

[Charleen] I called him, you know, every couple of weeks or so,

and I hadn’t heard from him.

So I was ringing his phone, and his phone wasn’t working.

Well, that was kind of typical of Austin

because he either always sold his phone,

or he didn’t have his phone, or it was dead.

But the first time that I realized something was wrong

was when I couldn’t get a hold of Jessica.

She always had her phone.

So I called Dean, Austin’s dad,

and we weren’t able to get a hold of anybody at the house,

which was strange.

So we started leaving Michael Dudley messages.

[cell phone ringing]

[Charleen] And I said, “I have not been able to get a hold of you.”

“We’re looking for Austin and Jessica.”

“I need you to call me back, or I am going to stop by the house.”

[line ringing]

[Charleen] He called me right back, and he said,

“Well, they moved out. They moved out in a hurry.”

“And they left me this big, giant mess to clean up.”

And I said, “Well, I’ll come over and clean it up.”

You know, and he said, “Oh, that’s okay.”

“You don’t need to come over.”

So then we started getting nervous, and we started looking for them.

[suspenseful music playing]

Detectives are investigating the remains found in several bags on Friday

at Duwamish Head.

[reporter] The medical examiner’s office has not released information

about the person who died.

Seattle Police are actively investigating.

When we responded

to the dump site at Alki,

it was a suitcase and a duffel bag.

Three days later, we were contacted by the King County Major Crimes Unit,

and they informed us that they had another dump site off of the Duwamish,

which is approximately 7.5 miles away from our dump site.

And they believed it was related to our case.

[Ray] A person was walking, discovered another suitcase.

They were walking their dog.

The suitcase drew the dog’s attention.

[dark music playing]

[Ray] They saw the body parts.

That individual also saw the news and called the police.

[Cooper] This was our second dump site, right in the bushy area

down here along the edge.

[intriguing music playing]

The water was all the way in. It was about five feet of standing water.

The body parts were packaged in the same bags,

and the suitcase was consistent with the ones we already had.

[Ray] After the detectives located the body,

we still don’t know where they were killed and how they were killed.

And we were still missing a significant number of body parts.

[Cooper] So when we finally went to the autopsy,

the medical examiner’s office concluded that Jessica was shot at least four times.

And one round severed, I believe, an artery to her heart.

Austin, we’ve never recovered his torso or lower half of his body.

But the medical examiner’s office ruled, because they were together,

that more than likely, they both died of the same cause.

And we know this crime has occurred weeks ago.

So the chances of finding evidence at a location, uh, is nil.

We need to find out who these people were associating with,

who they had issues with, who had issues with them.

At that point,

we want to start talking to their friends, their family.

Uh, people that were close to them,

to get an idea of where they were living at,

if they were living anywhere.

So the first family members we contacted was, uh, Austin’s family.

[somber music playing]

[Charleen] We were constantly looking for Austin.

By the time we decided that we were going to do a missing persons…

[knocking on door]

…there was a knock on my door, and it was Detective Cooper.

I asked where he was found and how he died,

and they told me that he was found outside.

Later that night,

we looked up the date in Seattle because we were trying to get information,

because they didn’t tell us much of anything.

And the only thing that came up was the suitcases.

With having my son and Jessica being found

in such a populated area,

a popular area,

this being on the news,

and then it also going on social media,

just compounded our grief, our fears.

Those weren’t suitcases that washed up.

Those were human beings.

That was my son, and that was Jessica.

They were real people.

[Gina] I talked to my brother,

and I’ll just never forget his voice, and…

he was just like,

“They didn’t have to cut them up, you know?”

And I just couldn’t believe it.

And seeing that in my brother,

that’s what drove me to want to know what… what really happened, you know?

[dark music playing]

[Cooper] We were able to ascertain

that probably the last time they were seen alive by Charleen

was the 29th of May.

They were living at a place in Burien, south of West Seattle.

And that precinct is always busy

with narcotics and narcotics trafficking issues.

Charleen actually did not know the address,

but she was able to take us to that location in our car.

And the landlord was a person by the name of, uh, Mike or Michael.

When we did a records check on that location,

that’s when we first discovered the name Michael Dudley.

[ominous music playing]

[Cooper] As investigators, we started doing our background on Michael Dudley.

Through records checks, through law enforcement databases,

we learned that he had a conviction for drugs.

He had some other arrests, minor arrests.

There were numerous witnesses that came forward and said,

“Michael Dudley used crack, and he used methamphetamine.”

On our drive-by, we noticed there were cameras at that location.

A lot of people that are involved in meth and at their homes,

from my past narcotics experience, they always had surveillance systems.

The one thing that piqued our interest

is something Austin’s dad, Dean, told us during our interview with him.

He began looking for Austin and Jessica.

When they didn’t respond to any of his messages,

he stated he actually went to Michael’s house.

[Dean] So I went over to his house

and said, “Hey, have you heard from Austin?”

Dudley told me that him and Jessica had moved out of the house in a hurry.

[disturbing music playing]

[Dean] And he said they left a big mess in the bedroom

and that he was cleaning it out.

And, uh, I noticed as, you know…

there was some of my kid’s clothes at the base of his garbage can.

[Cooper] How do you know it was Austin and Jessica’s clothing?

[Dean] Because I knew my son’s clothing

because the bulk of his clothing I had bought for him.

[Charleen] We just thought that that was strange

because that’s all they have.

They have their suitcases, they have their clothes, they have food.

They wouldn’t leave those things behind.

[Cooper] Was Michael Dudley, at this point, a person of interest?

Yes, he was.

[uneasy music playing]

[Cooper] As we continue to investigate this case,

we talked to one witness that lived on the north side of Michael Dudley,

that asked us, “Are you guys here for the ‘shots fired’ incident

that occurred on the 9th?”

[ominous music playing]

[man on recording]

[Ray] There was a 911 call from the neighbors.

And there was a police response.

Police knocked on the door. No one was present.

[knocking on door]

And because they didn’t have anything else to go on,

at that point, they didn’t have probable cause for a crime or anything

to further investigate.

That was, for us, a very good starting point for our forensics.

Within days, we wrote the search warrant for Jessica’s phone,

believing that that’s the phone they were primarily using.

We would get Jessica’s phone records back on June 9th,

on the night of the 911 calls.

The last cell site that that phone pinged on

was less than a mile from Mr. Dudley’s residence.

So that piqued our interest even more.

[Ray] Jessica’s phone was turned off and never turned back on again.

Ten days later, June 19th,

is when the first set of body parts

was located on Alki Beach by the teenagers.

[Cooper] As we are working this case and building our case up,

we were contacted about a witness that had been taken into custody

on unrelated matters by the King County Burien Precinct.

We would eventually have a conversation with this witness.

This witness gave us information that she had arrived

at Michael Dudley’s residence

in the late evening hours of the 9th of June of 2020,

and ended up staying there.

[Cooper] So, this is regarding a case I’m investigating,

and it’s a homicide case.

And who’s your current landlord?

[witness] His name is Michael Dudley.

[Cooper] Do you remember when you got there…

was anybody else there?

[witness] No, it was super quiet.

Mike’s glasses had been broken…

looked like he had been in a scuffle…

what I would call defense wounds.

[Cooper] Right.

[witness] Scratches and everything.

[Cooper] Did you know my two victims, Austin and Jessica?

[witness] No, I did not know them personally.

I had never seen them personally.

I just know that they were residents

in the bedroom that I now am a resident at.

[Cooper] Okay.

[witness] The day that I officially really stayed overnight…

[ominous music playing]

…I open the door,

and right here on the ground is heaps of clothing.

[door creaks open]

[witness] I can see the figure of a body…

and then, the hand sticking up.

I remember a bloody hand.

I was in the living room.

A couple hours later, he tells me is there somewhere he can drop me

’cause he needs to clean up the mess.

[Cooper] Okay.

[Ray] This particular witness

provided some fairly key details for the detective.

First of all,

she provided information that was not publicly released,

um, which makes it easier for us to believe the rest of her story.

[Cooper] Anything else in that room?

[witness] I noticed something yesterday. You’re gonna freak out.

It looks like a bullet hole.

I said, “What happened?”

He told me the boy’s gun misfired, and his didn’t.

[dark music sting]

[witness] I got kind of spooked out.

And I couldn’t report to anybody because I… I was scared for my life.

[Cooper] Right.

[witness] Know what I’m saying?

[witness inhales shakily]

[Cooper] Take a breath.

The witness is a person with a very heavy criminal background in theft,

things of that nature, drugs.

Uh, she was… She had a history of prostitution.

And, for all her flaws,

this witness came across

as being very truthful about what she saw, uh, on that night,

that late hours of the 9th.

And to me, it was… it was clear that she feared for her life and her safety.

She was scared to death.

Knowing the information we just gleaned from the interview,

we believe that Michael Dudley was the person responsible

for the death of Austin and Jessica.

[Ray] On August 19th

is when the police was able to search his home and arrest him

pursuant to a warrant.

[suspenseful music playing]

[Cooper] I think Michael Dudley had two personas.

He has his day side,

where he wanted to make himself look like an everyday John Doe citizen,

and then he had the night side,

where he partook in drug use on a regular basis.

And then liked to have a persona. He wasn’t someone to be messed with.

So he could play both sides.

Hey, Mike. How you doing, partner?

Detective Cooper, Seattle Police. You have no idea what this is about?

[Michael] Uh, am I under arrest? You said that I’m under arrest?

[Cooper] Technically. That’s why you’re here.

[Michael] What am I under arrest for?

[Cooper] Investigation of homicide.

I have forensic people out there

going through your property and things like that, okay?

Austin and Jessica lived with you.

Apparently that’s… that’s the last place they were seen alive.

[Michael] Wait, are you out of your mind? You’re saying I killed them?

I didn’t do it.

[Cooper] Okay.

They’re my friends.

Okay then.

I can’t… I need a drink of water.

[Cooper] Yeah, go ahead, go for it.

I go out there, people were, like, pointing the finger at you.

They actually told people, they said, “If anything bad ever happened to us,

look at Mike.”

Why would they even say that?

I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking you.

Okay, did you see anything about them in the news? About, uh…

Yeah, I…

[Cooper] Why didn’t you call the police?

Because a lot of people that were good friends

that hadn’t even talked to either of them for two or three years reached out to us.

[detective] Do you see why we’re kind of perplexed?

Well, I was perplexed too. I mean, you know…

[Cooper] Michael Dudley, never, in our interview,

could explain why he didn’t come forward

after seeing in the news that Austin and Jessica

had been killed violently.

Did you have any problems with Austin at all? I mean…

[Michael] Uh, the only problem I had with him was stealing.

[Cooper] Mm-hmm.

[Michael] He was a freaking prolific thief and a meth user,

and his habit was to, uh, steal, and after, get a bag of meth.

He was playing with some very dangerous, uh, gangs.

What do you mean?

[Michael] Like, you know, gangster stuff.

And I got this right, and it’s gonna… They…

He robbed the Samoans who robbed the Mexicans

who owed money to some cartel.


[Michael] I know, I…

Take it or leave it, I don’t… You know.

Did he say what he robbed from the Samoans?

He said it was, um, like duffel bags full of dope.

He would give us several red herrings to try to distract us.

You ever shoot your gun in your house?


I have occasionally, uh…

What are your forensic people finding? I mean…

Well, I have people calling me, saying,

“Well, Cooper, you got bullet strikes in this blue room.”

[Michael] What does that mean?

Well, I’m asking you.

Because I’m asking you, do you recall…

[Michael] No.

[Cooper]…your gun being discharged in that room at any time?

[Michael] Oh, no, no.

[Cooper] The room, called the blue room,

the room that Austin and Jessica was living in,

had just been repainted, just been cleansed.

You could still smell the cleansers in the air.

There were bullet strikes in that room.

[tense music playing]

[Cooper] We would eventually dig bullets out of the walls.

I got a bed frame here,

and there’s bullet strikes on the bed frame.

I don’t know, uh…

While we never recovered a gun, ballistics is able to tell

these three bullets were fired from the same gun.

Has anybody ever been injured in that room?

Because I’m being told there’s blood in the room too.

Um… Well, yeah, I mean, Jessica cut her, uh, thigh.


How long ago was that?

Oh God, I don’t know, um…

On the opposite end of the headboard from where the bullet strike was,

the CSI and the blood spatter specialist would find what’s knows as a blood swipe

that tested positive, eventually, for Austin’s blood.

[Cooper] Okay, turn around.


[Cooper] Once we arrested him,

I asked for three months of Mr. Dudley’s cell phone records.

There was only one time his phone ever left Burien in that three months,

and that was on the late hours of June 18th,

to the early morning hours of the 19th,

where the phone came into West Seattle,

circled out of West Seattle,

went down by the Duwamish,

and then back home.

It just so happens that our dump sites

are right along those locations where his phone was pinging at.

I believe, based on the violent history between these three individuals,

something occurred the evening of the 9th at his house where, eventually,

he shot these individuals

and, in the end, would dismember them

and package their body parts in suitcases,

and then realized, “I need to dispose of them.”

[reporter] Learning new details in a gruesome case

of two bodies found in a suitcase on Alki Beach in Seattle.

King County prosecutors charged landlord Michael Dudley

now with two counts of second-degree murder.

When Mike Dudley first showed up in court,

he acted like he didn’t know what was going on.

He was like, “What’s going on?”

“I’m just a frail old man.”

You know, “I don’t know what’s going on here.”

Who does he think he’s fooling, you know?

He… he’s not as smart as he thinks he is.

[Ray] We don’t know for a fact what motivated Michael Dudley

to kill Jessica and Austin.

Was it an argument over drugs?

Was it an argument over some other transactions?

We don’t know.

Nor do we need to know for the purposes of proving the murder charge.

What I can prove is the fact he used a firearm to commit these crimes.

Dismembering their bodies, hiding them in suitcases,

disposing them in multiple bodies of water.

[juror] We, the jury, find the defendant, Michael Lee Dudley,

guilty of the crime of murder in the second degree

as charged in count one.

[reporter 1] Today, a jury found Austin and Jessica

were murdered by their landlord, 62-year-old Michael Dudley.

[reporter 2] Dudley expected to be sentenced,

and faces life in prison without parole.

[Charleen] The day that he walked in for sentencing,

in his red jailhouse suit,

it wasn’t until the judge told him

that he would be basically spending the rest of his life in jail,

I broke down and cried.

That was the best outcome that I could get from this entire thing,

was to see him sitting there with handcuffs on

and getting his fingerprints taken,

knowing that

he didn’t get away with it.

He’d gotten away with a lot of stuff in his life,

but he messed with the wrong family this time.

He messed with the wrong detectives.

[solemn music playing]

[Cooper] To this day, we’ve never recovered the rest of Austin Wenner.

When we came out here that morning,

we scoured the edges for black bags.

But we never found anything, unfortunately.

So… And that bothers me to the end.

[exhales emotionally]


[chuckles sadly] It’s just hard.

[sniffles, exhales]

‘Cause I know their family. They’re good people.

And… you always want to do the best you can,

and give them some peace.


I’ll remember that all my life.

That I couldn’t find the rest of Austin.

That will bother me.



[Charleen] I really thank the Seattle Police Department and the prosecutors for everything they’ve done.

As horrific and gruesome and awful and terrible as this whole thing has been, not knowing where my son was would have been the death of me.

That, I couldn’t have handled.

[emotional music playing]

[Charleen] And I really, truly believe that God brought him home in a place where I feel peace, which is the water.

The beach is my favorite… favorite place to be.

And I really feel like God brought him home to me there because he knew that that’s somewhere that I always find peace.

And, I really just kind of feel like, you know, his body was washed clean, and he was brought home to his mom.

[chilling music playing]


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