Cassie Jo Stoddart

All right, what you just heard is the audio from a video that two Idaho teenagers recorded in 2006. Let’s talk about it.

All right, so you’re probably wondering why I started today’s case with that, and we’ll get there, but we’re going to put a pin in it for now. It’ll all come together in the end, I promise.

Before we jump in, I just want to give a heads up that I will be telling this story chronologically in the sense of when things were learned. So there are some things that won’t 100% make sense or fit together at first, but I’ll fill in the gaps at the end to bring it all together.

Cassie Jo Stoddart was born in Pocatello, Idaho in December of 1989. She was a junior in high school and was mostly raised by her grandparents. She was known as a responsible, straight A student who loved to draw and listen to music. One of her friends was quoted saying, “She was pretty much one of the sweetest girls here. If you didn’t know her and you talked to her, she’d talk to you like she’d known you her whole life.”

On September 22, 2006, 16 year old, Cassie was house sitting for her aunt and uncle while they were on vacation. She had her boyfriend, Matt Beckham, over with her and they decided to invite their friend Torey over to hang out with them. Torey accepted their invitation and also brought another friend named Brian with him. The four knew each other from school as they were all juniors and had classes together. They hung out for a couple hours before Torey and Brian decided to leave because they decided they would rather watch a movie at the theater.

Cassie Jo Stoddart and her killers

Cassie Jo Stoddart (center), Torey Adamcik (left), Brian Draper (right) — image from talkmurder.com

About 15 minutes after the two boys left, the power at the house went out. Cassie and Matt thought they heard noises coming from the basement and felt like the dog was acting odd, staring down the stairs to the basement at nothing, barking and growling, and just creeping the two teens out in general. The power did return, but with all of this going on, Matt called his mom and asked if he could spend the night. She said no and came to pick him up shortly after this.

While Matt’s mom said he couldn’t spend the night where Cassie was house sitting, she did offer to have her spend the night at their house if she didn’t want to be alone. However, Cassie felt like it was her duty to stay and complete her house sitting duties, particularly taking care of the pets. So around 10:30 Matt went home and Cassie was left by herself.

Or so she thought.

Not long after Matt left, the power went out again. It was at this point that two individuals attacked Cassie with knives. She was stabbed 30 times and her body wasn’t found until two days later when her aunt and uncle returned from their vacation. Who could have done this and why?

Naturally, the first thing police did was talk to the three boys that had been at the house with Cassie that evening. First up was the boyfriend, Matt. He told police about what had happened with the power and that he had spoken with Torey shortly after leaving and that when they spoke he was whispering and said he was at the movie theater.

Police then moved on to interviewing Torey. He said that after he and Brian left, they went to the theater and then back to Brian’s house at about 11:30pm where they spent the rest of the night without leaving. Police of course wanted to verify his alibi and asked for details about the movie they had seen. However, when pressed, Torey struggled to describe the movie they had allegedly seen. Naturally this looked suspicious and police weren’t convinced the story he was telling them was true.

Next, they interviewed Brian. And this is where the story starts to change. Brian caved pretty quickly.

He admitted that while they were at the house with Cassie and Matt, they had gone down to the basement and unlocked the door so they could get back in later to scare them. He said that they wore red and white masks, black clothes, gloves, and brought knives with them. He claimed that the plan was just to scare Cassie, but that Torey started stabbing her and he took part in it because he was scared that Torey would turn on him. At first he said that he didn’t stab her and that it was all Torey. However, it was clear that there were two different knives used and he eventually said that he did in fact stab her, but only under the command of Torey. Brian also ended up leading police to where they had hidden the evidence of what they had done. There were over a dozen items, including:

  1. Two dagger-style knives with sheaths.
  2. A silver-and-black-handled knife with a smooth and non-serrated blade.
  3. A folding knife with a silver blade and black handle, which is similar to a survival knife. The portion of the blade nearest to the hilt is serrated.
  4. A homemade Sony videotape (BRC tape).
  5. A box of stick matches.
  6. A melted brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
  7. Partially burned notebook paper.
  8. A partially melted multi-colored mask.
  9. A red and white mask.
  10. A pair of black boots.
  11. A single black glove.
  12. A pair of black “Puma” gloves.
  13. A pair of blue latex gloves.
  14. A pair of fingerless black “Athletic Works” gloves.
  15. A black “Calvin Klein” dress shirt.
  16. A black “Hagger” shirt.

I’m assuming he did this in an attempt to make it seem like he was cooperating with police or to try and get a deal or something, but it really did the opposite and made everything he had said about not wanting to participate or planning to kill her lose all standing. This is because, if you caught it, I said one of the items he had led them to was a videotape. On this videotape there were videos where it was clear both boys wanted to kill someone and they had planned it together. It also included the clip we played the audio from at the beginning of the episode where they were both talking about it. In fact, Brian was the one that said “I stabbed her in the throat, and I saw her lifeless body. It just disappeared. Dude, I just killed Cassie!”

So obviously Brian is just trying to do everything he can to push the blame on Torey since he knows they’ve been caught and he’s trying to find a way out of taking responsibility, but it isn’t working. The nail in the coffin against the boys is that the video where they talk about killing her was timestamped at 11:31 which takes their already questionable alibi and completely invalidates it.

There were also recordings on the videotape that had Brian saying things like “I feel like I want to kill somebody. Uh, I know that’s not normal, but what the hell.” The boys also compared themselves to other famous serial killers like Ted Bundy and the Zodiac Killer and said that they were just amateurs compared to what they were going to be.

So at this point, we know that Torey and Brian are responsible for what happened to Cassie, but it’s not really clear why and there are still some holes in the story. Now that we know all this, let’s clear a couple of things up that didn’t quite make sense before. Torey and Brian were arrested and charged with Cassie’s murder and the prosecution went to work. The official timeline of what happened is that while the 4 teenagers were hanging out, Torey and Brian snuck downstairs and unlocked the basement door so that they could get back in later. They then “left” and changed into dark clothes, gloves, and red and white masks before sneaking back in through the basement door they had unlocked.

Once they were inside, they made loud noises, trying to scare Cassie and Matt into going to the basement to check it out. This wasn’t working, so they turned all the lights out. It still wasn’t working, so they turned some of the lights back on and thought about what to do next. It was at this point that Matt called his mom and then left shortly after.

Once he was gone, they turned the lights out again thinking Cassie would for sure come down to check it out now. She wasn’t doing what they expected though and remained upstairs. They were getting impatient and realized that what they were doing obviously wasn’t working, so they snuck upstairs with their knives and slammed a cabinet door to scare Cassie. They then ambushed her, stabbing her almost 30 times. The audio we played at the beginning of the episode where they say that they just killed Cassie was recorded literally as they were leaving the house having just killed her moments before.

We know what they did now, but why did they do it? I mentioned earlier that they did things like compare themselves to serial killers. There was also another clip prosecutors for the case referenced during the trial where they said they were going to be “just like Scream, except real-life terms.” Because of this, Cassie’s case is commonly referred to as “the Scream murder.” I haven’t actually seen Scream, but it discussed that they were inspired by the movie and people have drawn some parallels between how the teens went about the murder and the movie.

The prosecution also argued that they wanted to murder someone in “an attempt to achieve fame.” Since they were talking about being better than other famous killers, I am inclined to believe this, but I definitely don’t think they were expecting to be caught so quickly. And this is where I get mind boggled, because if they wanted to be serial killers and had spent all this time planning, you would think that they would have had better alibis and that they would have held up against interrogation longer. It was also super dumb of them to make the recordings that they did. The one we played is only one of many and they’re all so incriminating, so it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Obviously, they had something going on since they wanted to do these things, but they were both examined psychologically and it was determined that they were both of sound mind when they committed the murder.

The one good thing to come out of all this was that both Brian and Torey were found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. They were also convicted for conspiracy to commit murder as they were obviously planning to continue killing if they hadn’t been caught. They have both appealed their sentences, but so far they have been upheld. Brian’s conspiracy to commit murder charge was overturned due to an issue with jury instructions. There was an appeal that was filed saying that it was unconstitutional to sentence them without the chance of parole as they were still minors and they said that there was a lack of information concerning the way a minor’s brain develops. In 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for a minor to receive a sentence of life without parole no matter what crime they committed. However, in 2017, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled to uphold Adamcik’s fixed 30-year conviction and both teens’ sentences.

In our episode on Herb Baumeister a couple of weeks ago, we talked about some of the changes that happen during the teenage years and how pivotal this time of life is. So what happens when that time is shaped by things like horror movies, scary folk tales like Slenderman, and serial killers? I know that growing up I watched a lot of crime shows and was interested in learning about the things we talk about here, like the psychology of what’s happening when an individual decides to kill someone. But what if it sparks an interest in the darker side of this? What if it makes someone realize that they aren’t just curious what was going through the killer’s mind, but that they want to know what that would feel like? Could this have been a primary factor in Brian and Torey’s desire to kill?

 

Sources:

Accessed January, 2022, Homevideo of the boys in the car played at the start of the episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXRYxhN_Rg0&ab_channel=ParkamanMagazine

Accessed January, 2022, Video of the Interrogations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u432T_cDgQs

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.ranker.com/list/cassie-jo-stoddart-facts/jacob-shelton

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.ladbible.com/news/chilling-confession-by-teen-killers-20211215

Accessed January, 2022, https://allthatsinteresting.com/cassie-jo-stoddart

Accessed January, 2022, https://thecinemaholic.com/cassie-jo-stoddart-murder-where-are-brian-draper-and-torey-adamcik-now/

Accessed January, 2022, https://medium.com/@eliseamity/betrayal-the-murder-of-cassie-jo-stoddart-7d0031b0f73e

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.ksl.com/article/554128/pocatello-residents-distraught-over-teens-murder

Accessed January, 2022, https://filmdaily.co/obsessions/true-crime/cassie-jo-stoddart/

Accessed January, 2022, https://screenrant.com/scream-movie-horror-rules-broken-explained

Accessed January, 2022, https://mycrimelibrary.com/torey-adamcik-and-brian-draper-teen-killers/

Accessed January, 2022, https://caselaw.findlaw.com/id-supreme-court/1884300.html

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.talkmurderwithme.com/blog/2021/6/30/cassie-stoddart-scream-murder

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.parkaman.com/transcripts-tapes-stoddart-murder/

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.thecriminaljournal.com/murder-of-cassie-jo-stoddart-16-year-old-brutally-killed-by-her-classmates-brian-draper-and-torey-michael-adamcik/

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.learning-mind.com/personality-color-favorite-color

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.racked.com/2017/3/17/14914840/green-dye-history-death

Accessed January, 2022, https://www.learning-mind.com/color-psychology/