“Double Life, Double Murder”: ABC 2020 episode looks at a possible wrongful conviction associated with homophobia

Cedar Springs area, Dallas 2022-5

On Friday, May 20, 2022, ABC 2020 presented a two hour mystery “Double Life Double Murder”. The viewing link (may require cable subscription) is this, and ABC main article is this. ABC affiliate WFAA has a detailed article. I actually watched it in a motel in Amarillo TX ( 8 PM Central) on a road trip.

Helium atom, Amarillo TX, NW of downtown off US 66, business 40

This is the case of a middle-aged couple, Dennis and Norma Woodruff, shot and stabbed late on a Sunday evening Oct. 16, 2005.  The couple had been downsizing by moving from a home in Heath, near Lake Ray Hubbard in the eastern suburbs of Dallas (which tend to be more conservative than the rest of the area – I lived in Dallas 1979-1988) to Royse City, farther into Collin and Hunt counties along I-30. 

Their 18 year old son Brandon apparently had dinner in their new place with them early Sunday evening and then says he was in a gay bar before returning to college at Abilene Christina University.  Other friends tried to call them and they did not answer. Their bodies were found on Tuesday.

There seems to be very little physical evidence.  Some time later a knife would be found with Dennis’s blood on it, maybe from a previous cut.

Nevertheless Brandon would become the main person of interest and then suspect, mainly from circumstantial evidence, although there seems to be serious questions whether the proposed timeline could have happened.

There is a paperback book by Phillip Crawford, “Railroaded: The Homophobic Prosecution of Brandon Woodruff for His Parents’ Murders”, Amazon Create Space, 2018, 161 pages, Site stripe link.

The Dallas Voice, article by David Taffett, reviews the episode with details of the case here. The Innocence Project is looking into this. Brandon’s grandmother supports his claims of innocence and has funded appeal attempts. The 2020 episode features a detailed interview of a near middle aged Brandon by ABC journalist John Quionenes where Brandon insists he did nothing. The episode included interviews with a female juror who insisted there was no homophobia in the deliberations although several jurors tended to see homosexuality per se as a (religious) sin.

I was just on a brief trip to Dallas and then several surrounding places (actually three other states). The Cedar Springs area close to downtown has rainbow paint on the main intersection (at Throckmorton St) and has some of the largest gay bars in the nation (Station4 disco [previously the Village Station] and Roundup, the latter a country-western place that is busy even on weeknights). Reasonably secure lot parking is available for $5 weekend nights. I did not have time to visit Royse City but it appears from Google Maps to be an upscale bedroom community like many in north Texas. Here is a Wikipedia picture of main street. Here is a picture of the Jacob’s Dream statue at Abilene Christian University.

The Crossroads plaque at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton 2022-5

I also did not have time to revisit Ranger, TX on I-20 (where the highway “climbs” on top of the Palo Pinto “Mountains”) which had serious fire damage last March (local Fox video). I did see grass fire damage on NM 406 (near the Oklahoma Panhandle Black Mesa) but there was no place to stop and film it. More details about the trip will be forthcoming.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 8 PM EDT)

Author: Jboushka

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