Sword and Scale

The Sword and Scale true-crime podcast is an immersive audio experience covering the dark side of humanity and human nature. Our stories delve into the worst of the worst and include murder, rape, dismemberment and cannibalism. The worst monsters are real.

Episode 227

October 30, 2022

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Description

Bad things can happen in good places. On January 31st, 2011, Johnny Clarke and his girlfriend, Lisa Straub, were house-sitting for Lisa’s parents in the affluent suburbs of Holland, Ohio. That night, authorities were called to the residence when Johnny’s concerned mother could not reach him, and after entering the home, the police found a bizarre and horrifying murder scene that was nothing like anything they had ever seen before.

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Transcript

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Sword and Scale contains adult themes and violence and is not intended for all audiences.

Listener discretion is advised.

Oh my god. You need to get the police out to Long Baker Lane. My son is in the basement, tied up with his house. I just saw him through the window. Him and his girlfriend are tied up in the basement.

Happy Halloween. Hope you're having a good one.

This is season nine episode 227 of Sword and Scale, a show that reveals that the worst monsters are real.

I can't believe we made it. That was two months of weekly episodes. I am frankly quite exhausted, tired of this murder crap already. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it. If you did, consider signing up for plus. Head on over to swordandscale.com slash plus for details.

And go get it. It's worth it. It's a really good episode.

If you're a fan of this show, you've probably heard me tell you to stay safe several times.

Since you're still listening, I'm assuming that you've managed to keep yourself out of danger.

But how safe are you? Really. Many of us go out of our way in an attempt to ensure some level of safety in our lives. We might move to a town or city where the crime rate is low.

We might lock our doors at night and try to avoid situations that could put us in danger.

But not everyone makes those kind of choices. Some people choose a more high risk lifestyle.

It happened to be the case in 2011 for a young man named Samuel Todd Williams.

I was living the street life. Yes, I was. I was engaging in criminal activity.

I called myself a petty drug dealer. I wasn't this big time drug dealer where I made a lot of money, but I made a little bit of money, enough money to survive, enough money to take care of my family and my kids, paid the bills. 24 year old Sam Williams lived in Toledo, a port city on the northern edge of Ohio. As a petty heroin dealer and pimp, Sam was known to police, and on September 22, 2011, his lifestyle had seemingly caught up with him.

September 22nd, I woke up really late and I went outside. I was going to get in the car, and as soon as I crossed the street on spring grow, the unmarked cars, the U.S. Marshals, and the detectives in the Toledo Police Department pulled out their guns and laid me down to arrest me.

After Sam was arrested, he was taken to the Lucas County Sheriff's Department for questioning.

Do you want to talk to me? The only thing I want to know is what is it about? All right.

And I said, other than that, I'm going to wait for my lawyer. They would have called me or sent me something to me. I could have come down here like a human being. I didn't have to be humiliated like that. All right, Sam, nobody meant to humiliate you. You know how that shit runs. Do you have much time to hang with people? What do you mean? You got a lot of friends? I know a lot of people.

Okay. Although Sam had told police that he didn't want to talk, the detectives went ahead with their questions and began showing him photographs of a house. That house look familiar to you at all?

No. Have you ever been to that house? No. We don't problem at that house last winter. Did you hear anything about it? No. A couple of kids were found dead in there. Pardon, my name you brought up in this. Science. Before long, it was revealed to Sam that he wasn't being questioned in regards to his drug dealings or as his role as a pimp. Instead, Sam was being questioned about a double homicide.

The events that led police to question Sam about this very serious crime are fairly complex, and there was a large cast of characters involved. So to get the best possible understanding of this case, we decided to reach out to someone that has studied and covered it extensively.

Hey, my name is Brian Dugger. I'm the lead investigator for WTUL channel 11. I think I really began looking into this case back in the winter of 2020. So we're coming up on the 10-year anniversary of this case. So this is just one of those cases. I just kind of sticks in your head.

Like if you're in a community for any length of time, which I have been, I've been in Toledo since 1998, there's always a couple cases that stick with you. And this is certainly one of those cases.

As a lead investigator for WTUL channel 11, Brian Dugger has spent countless hours digging through court documents, police reports, and phone records associated with Sam's case.

He's also interviewed investigators, lawyers, witnesses, and many major players involved, including Sam Williams himself. In 2021, Brian also produced an Emmy-winning short-form documentary series about the case. Now, even though Sam Williams lived in the city of Toledo, the specific crime that he was questioned about didn't actually take place there.

Instead, the crime had occurred in Holland, Ohio, which is one of Toledo's affluent suburbs.

The neighborhood where this took place, it was just one of those neighborhoods where people feel safe walking their dogs late at night. They feel safe letting their children go down the street to play at a friend's house and come home after dark. There really was no reason to be afraid. It's just one of those really nice neighborhoods where anybody would be happy to raise their family.

On January 31, 2011, about eight months before Sam Williams was arrested, 21-year-old Johnny Clark and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Lisa Straub, were at Lisa's parents' upper-class home in Holland, Ohio. Two days earlier, Lisa's parents had left for a cruise to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and Johnny and Lisa were staying at home by themselves.

And Johnny had been staying with Lisa for the past few weeks. The kids were back and forth between my house and Lisa's house. They would stay at my house a week or two. They would go to Lisa's house a week or two. They were always back and forth. And since the parents had the cruise planned to go out of town, the kids were going to be out there house-sitting.

Johnny Clark and Lisa Straub had been dating on and off for a few years. And like many young couples, their relationship had seen more than a few rough patches.

Their relationship over the years had kind of been, I guess you'd call it tumultuous. I mean, there were times they got along really well, and there were times that they would have very serious fights. And in fact, a friend of Lisa told me that Lisa was in the process of leaving Johnny.

Johnny and Lisa both come from good families with successful caring and loving parents. They were young, smart, attractive, and for the most part, extremely well-liked by a lot of people.

Lisa was, you know, in high school kind of a, I think she played volleyball. She was athletic. She was a sweetheart. I mean, people liked to talk to her. She was pretty and a very popular girl.

Lisa was an extremely loyal friend to me. She was the most genuine person I feel like I've ever met in my life. She was funny, loving, very down-to-earth. She just, you know, was very likable, very friendly, just so easy to get along with.

Johnny was, he was a big guy. He was in a weightlifting. His goal was to go to barber school. His friend said that nobody could cut their hair like Johnny could. He was also a very popular guy.

He was one of the most, you know, big-hearted people you would ever meet. I said, you're hanging around Johnny. There was guaranteed to be a smile on your face.

Johnny and Lisa had a lot of friends, mainly because they were just overall good, decent people. But they did have a few demons. At some point, both of them had developed a drug habit.

There's no doubt that they were involved in drugs. You know, I mean, their friends that we talked to said that it was not uncommon for them to get together and do pills. You know, I mean, Johnny was 21. Lisa was 20. And I mean, these were young, popular kids who, in many ways, were still trying to find their life and direction.

On the night that Johnny and Lisa were house-sitting, their plan was to leave the home, pick up two friends, return home, and take some pills.

Basically, with Lisa's parents out of town, they were planning to have a small party.

One of the people Johnny and Lisa planned a party with that night was their 26-year-old friend Tiffany. At about 10.30 p.m. that night, Tiffany called Johnny to confirm their plans, and Johnny answered. But he never said hello.

Instead, Tiffany only heard a brief altercation before Johnny abruptly hung up on her.

As soon as he picked it up, he didn't say hello to me, but he was like, bro, what are you doing? Then the guy...

Alright, let me give me his voice. What are you doing? Bro, what are you doing?

Yeah, just like that.

Did he sound pissed?

Yeah.

Did he sound scared?

No.

Alright, then what did he say?

Then the next thing he said was, who the hell are you? And then that's when I heard the other person in the background, but I couldn't hear what he was saying.

You're sure it was a guy?

Positive. It was a guy.

How did he end the conversation with you?

See if I'm going to call you back and hang up.

Okay, he just hangs up and says he'll call you back, which means he probably knows who's in the house.

After Johnny hung up, Tiffany waited for him to call back, but he never did.

She eventually tried calling both him and Lisa, but neither one of them would answer.

Then Tiffany began calling some of their other friends to see if anyone could get a hold of them.

But again, she didn't have any luck.

Finally, Tiffany decided to just drive over to their house.

By the time she arrived, about two hours had gone by since her brief phone call with Johnny.

Tiffany stood at the front door and knocked several times.

She saw that many of their interior lights were on, but nobody ever came to the door.

Eventually, news of what happened reached Johnny's mother, Maite Clark, who promptly called police.

Toledo 911.

Ma'am, my heart is beating out of my chest.

I just got a call from one of my son's friends.

This girl said she was on the phone with my son and his girlfriend, and he was supposed to go pick her up.

He was telling her he was going out the door, and all she heard was the phone drop and heard my son saying, background, who are you? What are you doing here?

And she said she just drove by the house and the house looks ram-sacked.

All the lights are on. My son's not answering, and neither is the girlfriend.

Is she still there?

No, she just came by here to pick up my husband.

I don't know how to call myself down. My heart's beating out of my chest.

Oh my God, please. I'm praying that my son is okay.

Johnny Clark was Maite's first-born child, and it showed.

Almost to a fault, she was always looking out for Johnny, and always needed to know what her son was doing, and that he was safe.

When you think about Maite, she was somebody who was very, very, very involved in her son's life.

She would call him constantly, and she would keep up on who his friends were.

I mean, she had missed that she was just kind of this overbearing mom, because he would just get so tired of his mom calling him all the time.

He would never, he would never dare not to answer a phone call from his mom.

Maite knew that something was wrong, because she frantically tried to call his phone several times, and he didn't answer.

After Maite called 911, police deputies arrived on the scene and essentially saw the same thing that Johnny's friend Tiffany had seen.

You know, deputies came out to the house, looked around, didn't really see anything, knocked, nobody answered, or they didn't do anything else beyond that.

The deputies didn't find anything that they considered to be probable cause to enter the home, so they left.

Naturally, Johnny's extremely concerned mother wasn't at all satisfied with that.

Listen ma'am, four car cars were already out at this residence. They're not there, and her car is in the driveway.

I want to know where my son's at. I want to know where my son and his girlfriend are at.

I want to know if they got abducted by whoever tried to assault them and rob them, and it's pretty funny that this girl named Tiffany, which is there right now by the residence, waits two hours to call somebody and report this.

Well, like I said, we were out there. There was nothing going on there.

Okay, where is my son and his girlfriend and her car's in the driveway?

How would I know that ma'am?

I need to report my son missing.

Eventually, Maite made her way out to the house and for whatever reason, she became extremely suspicious of Tiffany, who was also still there.

I have a feeling you set up my son. My son is missing. He's nowhere to be found.

Do you want to tell the police what you just got done selling me in the phone?

I will, hello.

Okay, what's going on?

Now his mom's arguing with me, saying I set him up. They're my friends and I'm worried about them.

I'm worried about my friends because they were supposed to come pick me up and they never showed up.

Once again, deputies arrived on the scene and once again, they found nothing and decided to leave.

But not before giving Johnny's parents some advice.

As the deputies were leaving, one of them pulled them aside and said, you know, look, I'm a father.

I can't tell you that you should go into the house, but I can tell you that as a father that I would probably be getting inside the house.

So we're going to leave now and you come back and you do what you need to do.

After the deputies left for the second time, Johnny's parents and Tiffany continued searching outside the home.

Eventually, they were able to look inside a side window that nobody had yet looked through.

And what they saw was terrifying.

You need to get the police out the long acre lane.

My son is in the basement, tied up with his house. I just saw him through the window.

The police are here earlier and did absolutely nothing.

Both cell phones are on the ground and we can see the people.

Him and his girlfriend are tied up in the basement.

Okay. All right, we'll get them out there.

Get the f*** up. So here he goes.

We need to calm down. We'll get them out there.

This is my son. They're unconscious, ma'am.

Okay. You said they're unconscious?

Yes.

Okay. All right.

Cell phones on their bodies.

With cell phones on their bodies.

He's unclosed.

He only has pants on.

And the hands are tied.

Okay. All right. We'll get them out there, ma'am.

Oh my God.

Shortly after Maite placed this third call to police, Johnny and Lisa's friend Tiffany also called 911.

Oh my God. We just called the police here.

I'm a long acre.

Yes, but we need a rescue squad.

He's got a pair of horns.

We're going to see through the window, please.

We've got them on their way already. Okay?

Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry.

I'm very sad. I'm going to try and find somebody else.

Okay? Okay.

Meanwhile, as Maite and Tiffany pleaded for help, Johnny's father raced to the front of the house.

John, who's a huge man.

I mean, he's a bodybuilder, just a bowl of a man.

He sprinted around to the front of the house.

He just kicked in the front door.

After several 911 calls and two visits from police, someone finally took matters into their own hands and broke into the house.

But sadly, it was too late.

And what Johnny's father found inside the home was nothing short of a parent's worst nightmare.

On January 31, 2011, 21-year-old Johnny Clark and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Lisa Straub, were house-sitting for Lisa's parents.

That night, they had made plans to party with their friend Tiffany.

But when Tiffany went to their house, nobody answered the door.

Eventually, Johnny's parents and the police made their way to the home.

But they didn't find anything.

At least, not right away.

After the police left, Tiffany was able to peer through a window that had been previously overlooked.

And she saw Johnny and Lisa, seemingly unconscious, lying on the floor in the home.

Then Johnny's dad kicked open the front door to gain entry.

And when he kicked in the front door, he went in.

And what he saw, he saw Lisa first.

She had a bag over her head, started ripping the bag.

He saw that there was blood coming from the side of her mouth.

Her hair was matted with blood.

There seemed to be some sort of damage to her face, but her body was cold.

I found them.

And I ripped off the bag off my son's head.

He found them tied up, but with bags around their head.

You know, he told me I just went to the front door, ran outside, and I lost my mind.

And he encountered my day as she was running toward the house.

I mean, he may have told her that, you know, Johnny's gone or something, and my day collapsed.

She never saw the inside of the house.

She just collapsed and passed out.

Johnny's dad found his son and Lisa Straub dead on the floor of the kitchen, which Maite had previously confused for the basement when she called police.

Johnny and Lisa had plastic bags over their heads, which were held firmly in place with tape that had been wrapped tightly around their necks.

Their hands were duct taped behind their backs.

Johnny's feet were duct taped.

You know, they had bags over their head.

I mean, there was blood.

It was obvious that they'd been tortured to some degree.

Nobody deserves to die this way.

You're going to tie somebody up and put bags over their head and tape it around?

They're going to shoot them and leave them alone.

They made them suffer.

According to the coroner, Johnny and Lisa died by either asphyxiation from not being able to breathe through the bags, or by strangulation from the tape being wrapped around their necks.

They were killed brutally.

I mean, there's no doubt about that.

It was such an unusual mode of murder and just something you just don't see.

I can only imagine what it would be like to have a bag placed over your face and just struggling to breathe.

When the police arrived on the scene for the third time, one of the first things they noticed was that Johnny and Lisa's body had seemingly been dragged into the kitchen.

When they were found, those were really riding up on them in some ways, and the pants were kind of pulled down a little bit.

Imagine if you had a buddy laying on the ground and you were just kind of pulling them across the ground.

So what would happen?

Their shirt might ride up, and maybe you pulled down their sweatpants a little bit.

So the way they were situated, it seemed like they possibly were dragged to that location and kind of staged in some way.

When the police processed the rest of the home, they found that the garage door entrance had been damaged, which suggested that this was how the culprit, or culprits, got into the house.

They also found that certain bedrooms in the home had been ransacked.

All the clothing, everything in the dressers were dumped out.

In the one bedroom, there was kind of a crawl space, obvious that someone had been digging into the wall.

So it looked like someone was looking for something very specific.

It also looked like they were getting very frustrated because everything in those bedrooms was overturned.

Given the state of the house, it was obvious that the killer, or killers, had tried to find something.

Whether or not they had found whatever that something was, the police didn't know until they finally made contact with Lisa's parents, who at the time were away on vacation celebrating their 25th anniversary.

Imagine being on vacation and getting a phone call like that from the police.

I would say that probably the suspects knew that they were going to be gone based on information they got from friends of the victims.

And they came there specifically because, A, they thought that no one was there and maybe they were surprised that the young man and the young lady were there at the time.

But I would be very surprised if the suspects weren't known in some way to the victim.

After Lisa's parents were made aware of what had happened, they returned home, met with police, and walked through the house to see what, if anything, had been stolen.

They walked through the home with the sheriff's deputies and the FBI, and basically what was missing was $220 bills out of a changed jar.

So this whole ordeal, whoever did this, got $40 out of this.

Whatever the killer or killers were searching for, they didn't find it and only walked away with $40.

During their investigation, one of the people that police questioned was Johnny's friend Tiffany, who was on the scene when the bodies were found.

Much like Johnny's mom, the police wondered if Tiffany and her boyfriend had set Johnny up.

Yeah, at the time of the murder, Tiffany Williams was a friend of Johnny and Lisa.

She was dating Zach Burkett.

You know, at this point, Tiffany and Zach, they hadn't really known Johnny and Lisa that long.

But their bond was over pills and the pursuit of pills.

Tiffany and her boyfriend were fairly new friends to Johnny and Lisa, and the foursome wasn't particularly close.

But they did share a common interest in using drugs.

Also, a few days before the murders, Johnny had given Tiffany and her boyfriend a tour of the Straub family home.

You know, some people have said that during that tour of the house, that Johnny bragged about there being money inside the house, that Mr. Straub had a safe filled with, you know, about $100,000.

For some, the belief was that Johnny told Tiffany about a safe full of money in the house and that Tiffany decided to hire some guys to help her steal it.

But according to Tiffany, she didn't know anything about a safe.

Did you ever hear Johnny talking about a safe in that house?

Never. Once, heard Johnny talking about a safe in the house.

Never. The only thing that Johnny ever bragged about was, Lisa's family had money.

While still keeping an eye on Tiffany and her boyfriend as potential suspects, the police also began looking at another friend of Johnny's, 21-year-old Alexandra Cusino.

First of all, how long have you known Johnny?

Well, I have known of him since probably 09.

How did you meet?

mutual friends.

So you guys started hanging, was this a physical relationship?

Were you guys ever dating or sleeping with one another?

We slept with each other once.

You did?

Is this while he was seeing Lisa?

No, no, no, no, they hadn't broke up for a while.

Okay, so after Johnny and Lisa broke up, you guys sleep together, did you still see Johnny every so often?

We just like bumping each other out and about.

Alex Cusino had been a friend of Johnny for some time.

So again, another person that, you know, drugs seem to always kind of follow her around and trouble always seemed to follow her around.

Well, I tell you what, I've read some reports about you, Alex.

I bet you have.

Man, oh man, what are you doing with an AK-47 assault rifle?

It wasn't my gun.

Are you a terrorist?

Yeah.

You're not even big enough or strong enough to hold one of those.

It wasn't mine, that's right.

And then the thing about Alex, she was this very pretty girl.

I mean, she had this very interesting ethnic blend, which just, she was very beautiful and she knew that.

And, you know, people I talked to said that she would use it to her advantage.

She would use sex to her advantage.

As an especially attractive young woman, Alex Cusino was reportedly a real life femme fatale.

Ready to snare any man if it meant she could get her way.

And she was also no stranger to police.

Alex's criminal record included charges for DUI, assault, and armed robbery.

But that wasn't the reason why the police questioned her about Johnny and Lisa.

Instead, it was because Alex and Johnny had gotten into a heated argument a few weeks before the murders.

Johnny came over the one night.

We go to go to IHOP, somehow we just get to talk.

He was like, if you want to buy this car, you can.

And I was like, oh, really?

Basically, I felt like he was pumping a corner because he kept begging me to buy the car.

I was like, you really need the money.

Well, I had the $1500, but I didn't want to give him all my money, so I told him I'll give you half.

Where'd you get that kind of money?

Where'd you get $1500?

Just from like, you know, holidays and stuff.

No.

But, um, no.

I don't know, just from around.

So, by the time we got back to Zach's house, we reached an agreement that I'd give him half money, $750.

So you give Johnny the $750 right then?

Yeah, at night.

Do you take the car right then?

Yeah.

How'd Johnny get home?

I dropped him off.

At home?

Yep, at his mother's house.

And then you immediately got a phone call from mom?

Yes.

After Johnny impulsively sold his car to Alex, Johnny's mom was livid.

But other than calling Alex to yell at her, there was little else she could do.

After all, Johnny was an adult.

It was his car.

And he could do whatever he wanted with it.

So you never got it transferred into your home?

No, never got it switched over.

Because I was in a wait time and I finished paying him.

Alright, so you didn't pay him?

Because?

The car, the tire fell off.

Did you hit something?

No.

Did you?

No.

Did you hit a car rail?

No, I didn't hit anything.

How long after you bought the car did the wheel fall off?

Like a week and a half.

Me and Johnny actually got into an argument over the car around this period of time.

Because he wanted the rest of the money for the car.

And I told him, well, it's broke.

If this was a pre-existing problem, I said it's kind of bull crap.

When Alex refused to pay the rest of the money, Johnny's dad towed the car back to Johnny's house.

Johnny's family now had the car with a broken wheel and Alex Cusano was out $750.

Then a couple weeks before the murder, there was a phone call which Alex admitted in court in which Alex said, you know, she wanted her $750 back.

And it was a very violent phone call as far as there was a lot of yelling and screaming.

And Johnny's mom told me that after Johnny got off that phone call, he came into the room where she was and that he was like ghostly white and said, Mom, Alex just told me if I don't give her the money back, that she's going to send guys over to kill me.

Alex admitted that she and Johnny had an intense argument over the phone about the car.

But she denied that she ever threatened his life.

You never threatened Johnny? I want my fucking $750 back?

No, I told him I want my money back because he said he didn't give it to me.

And then after they had got the car back and his mom, because I heard it the whole time saying about she broke the car, she has to pay for it.

As far as motives go, Alex certainly seemed to have one.

Granted, killing two people over $750 is pretty extreme.

But it was still a possible motive.

And Alex also gave the police another very good reason to suspect her.

After the killing, Alex was involved in a relationship and a guy she was involved with was also involved with another woman.

And Alex found out about it and she sent her a text message and the text message was very threatening.

You do not know shit about me. I do this shit.

Watch the news, bitch. Motherfuckers get duct-taped and tied up and left for dead.

And she insinuated that she was involved. And of course, at trial, she said, you know, she was just trying to act tough and she didn't really mean that.

Despite Alex's possible motive and the threatening text message where she outright admitted responsibility for the murders, Alex was not arrested.

Instead, the detectives turned to DNA evidence, which had been found on the duct tape used to tie up Johnny and Lisa, as well as on Johnny's sweatpants.

What was interesting about this DNA is that there were a lot of players involved in this case.

And I think there were probably two to three dozen people who actually provided DNA samples.

Because, again, Johnny and Lisa knew a lot of people and there were a lot of people whose DNA was taken.

And when they put that DNA from the duct tape and the sweatpants, it came back as it didn't hit on anybody.

While the DNA found on Johnny and Lisa turned up no results, there was one piece of evidence at the crime scene that seemingly broke the case wide open.

You know, as police continue to scour the house, at some point what they found, they found a cigarette that was kind of in a corner of the kitchen kind of leading into the garage area.

The cigarette hadn't been, you know, stomped on, it wasn't pinched, there wasn't any ash lying around it.

It was just a, it had been smoked. I mean, you could tell it had been smoked, but it was a cigarette, though, which was kind of placed perfectly in that corner near the garage.

You know, they took it back to the lab, they tested it, and it turned up a hit.

And interestingly, it turned up a hit for two different men who were in CODIS.

It is a national DNA database created and maintained by the FBI.

And when the two DNA profiles taken from the cigarette were entered into the database, it identified two men, one of them being 24 year old Sam Williams.

Yeah, Sam Williams at the time of the murder was kind of like a, you know, a street punk. He would sell drugs. He was a violent guy, you know, just weeks before the murder he had busted into, you know, a previous girlfriend's house and kind of threatened her.

So, I mean, he was a guy that wasn't afraid to, you know, beat somebody up. He was a known pimp, you know, his girlfriend at the time. He pimped her out.

He just ran the street, gone drugs, had a prostitution business, and he was known to be violent.

The other DNA profile found on the cigarette belonged to one of Sam's closest friends, 21 year old, Camio Petaway.

Yeah, Camio Petaway was, he would call Sam Williams his brother, you know, many people thought that they were brothers because they were always together.

And, you know, just like Sam, I mean, Camio was known to police. You know, at some point in his life, he had been accused of shooting somebody.

He was also known as a violent guy.

After the DNA identified Sam and Camio, they were both arrested, after which, Camio was quick to shut down any police interrogation.

But Sam did have a brief conversation with detectives.

Items in that scene came back with your DNA. How can we explain that?

I don't know anyone.

You've never been to that house?

Never been to that house.

You don't know those kids?

I don't know them people.

And your DNA's in that house? You have no idea?

No.

Do you understand where that puts you? Do you understand where this is going?

Where it was going and where it ultimately ended up was that Sam Williams and Camio Petaway were both charged with the murders of Johnny Clark and Lisa Straub.

Samio Williams was arrested this evening. He has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, and one count of domestic violence.

Tonight, Clark's family is facing a wave of emotion. John's mother describes her phone conversation with detectives.

And I said, oh God, please tell me you made an arrestee. He's like, I got him. Justice, it's been a long haul, but I got him.

This is about Johnny and Lisa. He didn't fail them. He told me he wasn't going to stop till he caught them.

Sam and Camio were arrested. The police were satisfied that they found the killers, and Johnny's family felt a sigh of relief.

But that satisfaction and relief didn't last long. Even though the police had the two men in jail that were known to be violent, known to engage in criminal activity, and their DNA was found at the scene of the murders, the evidence against them wasn't nearly as clear cut as it appeared to be.

In January of 2011, the lives of 21-year-old Johnny Clark and 20-year-old Lisa Straub were cut short when someone, or more than likely several people, broke into Lisa's parents' home and murdered Johnny and Lisa by taping plastic bags over their heads.

When police investigated the crime scene, they recovered a cigarette that had two male DNA profiles on it, which belonged to known criminals, Samuel Williams and his good friend, Camio Petaway.

Both Sam and Camio were arrested and charged with the murders, to which they both pleaded not guilty and took their respective cases to trial.

The two trials were held simultaneously in the same courthouse, and witnesses going back and forth between courtrooms. Camio's trial was the first to reach a conclusion, and this conclusion wasn't at all what Johnny and Lisa's family were hoping for.

They only had Camio's DNA on the cigarette. They really had nothing else tying him to the murder, and at some point after the judge had heard a lot of the evidence, he said, look, anybody could have planted that cigarette there.

You know, prosecutors, you're not showing me anything to prove that Camio Petaway was in that house. He could have been just smoking a cigarette with Sam Williams earlier in the day, and Sam took the cigarette and dropped it at the scene.

I've had to make two really tough decisions in this case, which I never had to make before. Two young lives were taken for no apparent reason, but the question still remains, at least in this case, as who took those two people's lives.

Camio's jury never got a chance to render a verdict. Instead, the judge threw the case out because the prosecution simply didn't have enough evidence, other than the cigarette, which could have made its way into the strob home in a number of ways.

Sam Williams' trial, however, played out much differently.

Yeah, Sam Williams' trial was a little different than Camio Petaway, so yeah, the prosecutors had their DNA on the same cigarette at the crime scene, but again, Sam Williams, he also had what seemed like really incriminating jailhouse phone calls.

When Sam was in jail awaiting trial, he called Camio's older brother and said the following.

That was supposed to be me and you, but your little bro had to step up and take your spot, man. He didn't do it right, but he did it good enough to make something happen.

And prosecutors, of course, seized on that and said, well, this is Sam saying that, you know, Stephen was supposed to be with him for the murder, but instead he had to take Camio and Camio screwed up by leaving the cigarette at the scene, but, you know, he did a good enough job.

In addition to this jailhouse phone call, the prosecution also presented testimony from a man named Eric Yingling, who had been incarcerated with Sam before the trial and claimed that Sam had confessed.

What Yingling said that Sam told him is that, yeah, he was the one who had killed these people, that he'd gone there looking for money. You know, he told me that he couldn't get Sam to shut up.

After being presented with the DNA evidence, the jailhouse phone call and the testimony of Eric Yingling, Sam's jury rendered a verdict.

We find the defendant, Samuel Todd Williams, guilty beyond a reasonable death of aggravated murder.

The jury found Williams guilty of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary.

After the jury returned their verdict, the judge threw the book at Sam. He was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.

And if you talk to the investigators that put Sam in prison, they will tell you that justice was served.

The case that was made, the evidence that was collected, I think speaks for itself.

The investigators had to put forward a confident position. I mean, what else are they going to do? But the truth is, it's not that simple.

First of all, the jailhouse phone call that was played for Sam's jury at trial was taken out of context.

And while it's possible that he was referring to the murders of Johnny and Lisa, it's also possible, and perhaps more than likely, that Sam was referring to an entirely different crime.

When I say that he didn't do it right but did it good enough is by the laws of promoting prostitution, in my eyes, he wasn't doing it the way that Stephen has done it in the past.

He really wasn't making a lot of money and when he did make money, he was spending it on the wrong things in my eyes.

Then, there was the testimony of Eric Yingling, who told the jury that Sam admitted to the murders while he was in jail.

I think when he initially went to the prosecutors, they were kind of like, yeah, whatever, Eric, I mean, you're always telling us a story, you know, we really don't believe you.

And then he just kind of all-pandally mentioned that, yeah, and Sam said the only money that they found was this, said, damn, who's saying money that we can do anything with.

And he said that all of a sudden, the air in the room just completely changed and the police and prosecutors started looking at each other.

And, you know, they kind of ushered him out of the room and later the attorney came to him and they said, yeah, that Iraqi dinars that were found in the house, police said nobody knew that information.

So the fact that you said Sam told you about that was information that nobody could have known except for you.

Eric Yingling was a known jailhouse snitch that had made several attempts to reduce his prison sentence by providing information to prosecutors.

Initially, prosecutors didn't believe Eric when he came forward with information about Sam Williams.

That is, until he mentioned that some Iraqi currency was left behind at the crime scene.

According to police, nobody but the killers could have known that the Straub family had Iraqi currency in their home because that information was never released to the public.

And this made Eric's story seem credible.

The only problem with that is that anyone could have known about the foreign money because it was reported on CNN shortly after the murders happened.

With the release of the search warrant after David's what else was collected at the home.

They seized a number of items. Some other things included security documents, some foreign currency.

Like David said, currency, Iraqi currency as well as currency from other countries.

So when the police said that nobody could have known this information, and in fact the lead detective in the case said on the stand, he was asked, did anybody know this information? And he said, no, they did not.

But again, that wasn't true because the information was on CNN.

You know, Eric, you know, admitted during trial that look, he was looking for a deal that he had his wife on the internet constantly following, you know, elements of the case and that she was doing research on the case and feeding him information.

We don't know if police simply didn't know that this information had been broadcast on CNN, or if they lied about it.

But it has to be one of the two.

They were either being deceptive or ignorant, which either way isn't a good look for authorities that were supposed to be seeking justice for two 20 year old kids that were brutally murdered.

Naturally, if you ask Sam Williams, he denies that he ever confessed anything to Eric Yingling.

He did try to engage in conversation with me. So for me to say that he didn't would be me lying. However, I did not have not one single conversation with him about anything.

Now, before we go any further, it's important to clarify that we're not saying at all that Sam Williams is innocent.

And neither is our guest, Brian Duggar.

Still, there is no denying that aside from the DNA, the evidence against Sam Williams was pretty flimsy.

There is certainly room for reasonable doubt in this case.

And as far as the Night of the Murders, Sam actually has a pretty solid alibi.

I know that I was at the bottom line bar with a few other people, which one was Destiny Madrid.

21 year old Destiny Madrid was Sam's friend. And for lack of a better word is fuck buddy.

And according to her, she and Sam Williams met up at a bar in Toledo on the Night of the Murders.

He was with me that night.

Alright, what if I cleared up for you? What if I tell you that you're not on the video with the bottom line on that night?

What do you mean?

The bottom line has video.

You or Sam are not on that video that night inside the bottom line.

We were sitting right by the front door.

That table by the front door was like right there. There were four seats.

When Destiny came to the police and told them that she was with Sam that night, they attempted to get her to admit otherwise by telling her that they had surveillance footage from the bar.

But that was an outright lie. Police didn't have any footage from the bar.

In a move that was even more reprehensible, the police later arrested Destiny for lying to them about the case.

She sat in jail for six months but was never indicted. And her charges were eventually just dropped.

She's still waiting for an apology.

Also, Destiny isn't the only person who claimed to have been with Sam on the Night of the Murders.

His cousin Eddie Flores also claims that he was at the bar with Sam that night.

Yeah, at the time of the murder, Sam Williams claimed that he was with Destiny Madrid.

Eddie Flores, who I believe was his cousin, and Eddie actually did agree to be interviewed by me.

And he said, yeah, absolutely no doubt Sam was with me.

And this is a dude who has a good background. He's a hardworking guy, a family guy.

He's got a good job. He's got no sort of record.

And he was very honest with me on the phone. He said, look, you know, Sam did this, you know, he could burn in hell.

I'm not going to defend him, but I can tell you that Sam was there.

He was there with me that night.

Do I believe that Eddie Flores would go along with Sam to create an alibi?

No, I do not believe that.

Not only does Sam have multiple credible people vouching for his whereabouts on the Night of the Murders, but his cell phone records also indicate that Sam wasn't anywhere near the Straub home that night.

There was a phone call from Sam's phone at 1027 to Destiny Madrid, and it pinged off the east side of Toledo.

And Sam told me the phone call was to say, hey, Destiny, where are you?

We're all at the bar. We're waiting on you.

And Destiny was walking from her grandmother's house to the bar, she told me.

So where that phone pinged, it was roughly about 30 minutes.

It would take you at least 30 minutes if you had no sort of traffic or got stopped by a bunch of lights to get from where that phone ping to where the murder actually happened.

Like I said, this was at 1027. We know that people busted in on Johnny at 1041.

While we don't know for certain where Sam was on the Night of the Murders, we do know that his cell phone pinged at least 30 minutes away from the crime scene about 10 minutes before someone broke into the home where Johnny and Lisa were staying.

Unfortunately, a lot of this information wasn't pieced together until after Sam's trial, and Sam remains in prison to this day.

But given that we now have this information, you might be asking, why hasn't Sam been released?

Or at least given a new trial.

It's really interesting with the evidence that Sam has presented to me.

And I have all his phone records, so I can verify a lot of what he said.

After I brought this forward, there's certainly a lot of people who reached out to me and said, why is Sam Williams still in prison?

Well, I think if you ask the detectives, their belief is that Sam Williams gave his phone to somebody else to establish an alibi.

Interesting how that works, huh?

If your cell phone pings at a crime scene, the police can use it against you.

But if it pings somewhere else, they can just call it a false alibi.

When I was arrested, Detective Kozak told me, and I quote, he said this, I will make you look like a monster.

His goal wasn't to seek truth, it was to get a conviction.

There was so big of a spotlight on this case that it didn't matter how it had to be done.

From that point on, the goal wasn't to seek justice for Johnny and Lisa.

It was just to convict Sam Williams.

I did not do this.

I had no involvement in this case at all.

I pray that the truth is told one day that Lisa and Johnny's killers will be put behind bars where they deserve to be.

Since his arrest and conviction, Sam Williams has maintained his innocence.

But one hurdle that he and his defense team still can't overcome is explaining why his DNA was found on a cigarette at the crime scene inside a house where two kids were killed, and that he claims he's never been to.

Sam admits that it wasn't uncommon for him and cameo Petaway to share a cigarette, but he has no idea how one of them ended up in the Straub home.

I have no explanation.

I know I did not place that there from the picture that I have seen and from the information that I heard in my trial.

That cigarette butt did not leave any marks on the floor.

That cigarette butt was placed by that door so investigators can find it.

I know that to be true.

There's other evidence that was in that house that wasn't tested.

There's a no male DNA on the victim's bodies.

When investigators processed the crime scene, they recovered several items with DNA on them.

But Sam's DNA was only found on the cigarette.

No other evidence collected at the scene matches Williams' DNA or fingerprints.

In fact, the defense highlighted a DNA profile which became known as Unknown Female Number One by several of the BCI forensic scientists, which was found on Johnny Clark's sweatpants and sweatshirt.

Analysts said DNA from the same Unknown Female Number One was also found on the duct tape on the ankles of Johnny Clark.

Along with the unidentified DNA, there is yet another mysterious wrinkle in this case.

When the police were investigating, they interviewed many of Johnny's friends and one of those friends was 22-year-old Anthony Watson.

Do you have a feeling about who might have done this?

The person I thought had done it, I already passed the detective test.

People talk, you know.

I know people talk, but I think you're lying to me right now, Anthony.

I think you have a feeling of who might have done this, and the reason you have that feeling is because do you know something?

I know nothing. Everything, I told everybody I'm not no snitch, but if I know who did it, I'm telling, period.

During his initial police interview, Anthony denied having any information about the case.

But a few months later, he came forward with a completely different story.

Yeah, Anthony Watson was another one of these guys.

Later on, he was the one person who told police that a woman who had come forward and told him exactly what happened.

And the woman that he told police who had told that story to him was Alexandra Cusino.

Alexandra Cusino, the young woman that allegedly threatened Johnny's life and admitted responsibility for the murders in a threatening text message, was the only link between Sam Williams and Johnny Clark.

As far as anyone can tell, she is the only person that knew both of them.

According to Anthony Watson, Alex confessed to him that she, Sam Williams, and two other people went to Lisa's house to confront Johnny about the money Johnny owed her.

And when they did, it all went bad.

Anthony Watson told police that Alex told him that, you know, I set that up.

Alex started to piss off that Johnny, because he sold her car, right?

She said, oh man, I f***ed that dude right, that dude, just don't run and run, you know what I mean?

And as she went over there with another woman, her guy, Sam, and some dude named Dro, and they pushed their way into the house.

From what it was, she told me that it matched up.

Who was messed up?

Max.

Oh, Max, yeah.

They pushed it back inside, they brought him back inside, and that's when it all went bad.

And, you know, Johnny started mouthing off, and I mean, she said at some point Lisa had run upstairs and locked herself in the bedroom, but Sam kind of ran up the stairs and pushed his way in.

Now, the intention wasn't to kill them, but that's what ultimately ended up happening.

I don't know what it was they used to back them up, but it sounded to me like she said it was tape.

What she said, we basically took care of them.

But the other interesting thing is that despite what he said, Alexandra Cusano was never named as a suspect, she was never arrested.

Naturally, both Sam Williams and Alex Cusano have denied the story that Anthony Watson told police, and Alex claimed that she had long since cut her losses over the money that Johnny supposedly owed her.

Was the car issue over then?

Yeah.

Were you still pissed at Johnny? Did you still want your 750 bag?

Well, yeah, I probably wasn't really back, but I mean, I wasn't gonna act on it, I didn't say anything to him in his house.

Do you know who went over to Johnny and used his house and killed him?

No, I don't.

Are you lying to me?

No.

You're not lying to anybody?

No, I'm not lying.

If you do know something...

I would tell you so because I don't want this in my life, but I don't need it.

To her credit, Alex voluntarily provided a DNA sample to police, and it didn't match any of the DNA found at the crime scene.

Unfortunately, we can't follow up with Anthony Watson about the story he told the police because he was also murdered.

In 2018, he was outside his condo in an unknown gunman, I believe he was hooded, walked up to him and shot him.

He actually crawled back into the house and he called his mom and said, you know, mom, I've been shot. I'm dying.

And I think he actually died on the phone with his mom, but he did not identify the shooter to this date.

I mean, there's it's still an open homicide and we don't know what happened. But like I said, he told police that Alex Kusano set it all up.

Could it be that this young woman, Alexandra Kusano, not only arranged the murders of Johnny Clark and Lisa Straub, but that she also had Anthony Watson killed when he started talking?

According to Brian Duggar, it's not very likely.

I think when you look at somebody who had a lot of motive in this case, Alexandra Kusano is definitely one of those people who would have had motive.

And you know, the fact that she had sent that text message to another woman threatening essentially the same thing that happened to Johnny and Lisa.

You know, I think at one point that I certainly believe that she may have had something involved, but I just I think that's too easy of a solution.

And I know she she talks big trouble usually follows her around.

But honestly, at this point, I have a hard time believing I actually don't believe that she was involved.

To this day, a lot of questions remain unanswered about this case.

There are a few things we can say with almost complete certainty.

It's pretty clear that more than one person was involved in this crime and Johnny probably knew the killers or at least knew of them.

Johnny had a lot of friends and he was known among those friends as someone that liked to brag about things.

Sometimes even mundane things that weren't true.

I heard Johnny like to talk. Is that true? He like exaggerated a lot of things.

Like what? What did he ever say to you? Like what kind of?

He was exaggerating about money.

At trial, there were several people who mentioned that Johnny would often brag about a safe that was inside the house with a bunch of money.

And multiple people said that. And again, there's no evidence that there was.

I believe there was a party a couple days before the murder.

And I do believe at that party that Johnny bragged about there being a safe with $100,000 inside that house.

So I think there is somebody at that party that is either involved in this or told somebody who was involved in this.

I think when you look at the scene, a couple things jump out.

I think somebody knew Johnny and Lisa and they knew that Mr. and Mrs. Straub were not going to be in the house.

And the people were very, they're looking for something very specific.

And when you think about a safe inside the wall, there's no doubt that they were tearing up rooms looking for that.

As of June 2022, Sam Williams is the only person convicted for the murders of Johnny and Lisa.

And according to investigators, the case remains open and active.

Now, the interesting thing about the case is that there were still several unknown sets of DNA that were found at the crime scene.

So at this point, the Sheriff's Department is looking into the possibility of possibly doing advanced DNA testing.

And by advanced, I mean genealogical testing.

Genealogical DNA testing can be used to identify a suspect through immediate or distant relatives.

And this method of testing has been useful to authorities for several years now.

In 2018, it identified the Golden State Killer as Joseph James D'Angelo, a serial killer that murdered at least 13 people in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2020, genealogical DNA testing also solved a cold case out of Tarrant County, Texas, as it led police to finally close the case of 17-year-old Carla Walker, who had been beaten, raped, and strangled to death in 1974.

We actually covered that case here on Sword and Scale, Episode 208.

Check it out.

It's one of my favorite episodes, and I'm deeply in love with the producer who wrote it.

Wait, wait a minute.

Anyway, as for Johnny Clark and Lisa Straub, they were murdered in January of 2011, which is over 10 years ago.

The Lucas County Sheriff's Department has had the chance to perform this advanced DNA testing for a while, and they have claimed that they are open to the idea.

If it's going to help us close the case, absolutely.

Especially, like I said, when it has to do with the loss of life or another serious crime, you want to do everything that you possibly can.

Given that the technology is available and police seem interested in pursuing it, a logical question would be, what's the holdup?

It's a really good question, what the holdup has been.

When I began looking at this case, I shouldn't say no DNA had been submitted, no evidence had been submitted for additional testing in almost 10 years.

That was kind of confusing to me, and that was one of the main points I brought up with the Sheriff's Department.

Why aren't you doing additional testing?

You say this is still an open case, but nothing has really been done with it in the past 10 years.

The result of our investigation, really, I believe it's completely the result of our investigation.

We kind of forced them to take another look into the case.

At this point, the Sheriff's Department really has shut down communication with me, so I don't know exactly what's going on, but the last correspondence I did have with the Sheriff, he said that they were taking another look at some of that unknown DNA and they were somewhat optimistic that it could be tested, but what's happened since then, I just don't know.

Meanwhile, as we wait for answers from police, so too does Johnny's and Lisa's parents.

Lisa's mom and dad obviously want to find answers.

Johnny's mom and dad are very aggressive in wanting to find answers.

I mean, I have never seen a level of grief that to this day, more than 10 years later, that I still see from his mom.

I mean, I mean, Johnny was her firstborn. I mean, he really was the true love of her life.

For now, the only thing that Johnny and Lisa's family and friends can do is honor their memory and continue to celebrate the very short lives that both of them lived.

Happy birthday to you.

Last month, Johnny Clark's family and friend marked his 32nd birthday at his grave site.

I miss what could have been. I miss what he would be today, yesterday, tomorrow. I miss the children he would have.

We love you, Johnny.

Johnny Clark and Lisa Straub were good people and they came from good families who lived in good neighborhoods.

Because of this, nobody could have ever expected that their lives would have been taken in such a cruel and horrific way.

You know, bad things don't always happen in bad places. Bad things can happen in good places.

This was a good neighborhood, you know, a good household. These were people that did have good friends.

So it's not always necessarily the people out looking for trouble. You know, sometimes trouble can just find you.

Many of us go out of our way in an attempt to ensure some level of safety in our lives.

But unfortunately, that safety can never be guaranteed.

All it takes is just one monster. Or in this case, multiple monsters to break down a door and do something unthinkable.

What's truly scary is that at least one of the monsters involved in this particular crime is probably still out there.

And who knows what they've done since or who they might come after next.

So what does this all mean? And what can we learn from the story of Johnny Clark and Lisa Straub?

How do we handle the fact that despite our best efforts and despite putting ourselves and our families in supposedly safe environments, nothing can ever guarantee the safety we hope to achieve.

Should we buy extra locks for our doors, get a guard dog, and sleep with a gun under our pillow at night?

Or should we just accept that there are things we can't change and live each day like it might be our last?

These are questions that only you can answer for yourself.

But more than likely, the best approach is to find some middle ground that you and your family can live with.

You've probably often heard me say at the end of each show, stay safe.

But this time, I'll close with this.

Consider the risks of things you do before you do them.

But also, remember that life isn't just about safety.

Cherish your loved ones. Try to appreciate each day as best you can.

And just do your best. After all, that's all that any of us can really do.

Well guys, that's gonna do it. Hope you had a good time here with us today.

I think the moral of the story is, you know, don't murder people.

That's kind of like the moral of the story of every story we tell.

The number is 954-889-6854. Call in and give us some beautiful holiday wishes until next time.

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