“12/26/75” is more than a story about a murder. It is a case of wrongful conviction, prosecutorial misconduct, corruption, and a serial killer. For Tony Reid, this case began with a claim of innocence in the 1975 murder of Donna Jo Richmond. The original investigation and flawed trial resulted in a guilty verdict, but a reevaluation revealed that the defendant had been wrongly accused and railroaded. The question then shifted to who framed him. With a new team of investigators, including two original detectives, a startling possibility emerged: Could the real culprit be a serial offender?
Mr. Reid launched the "12/26/75" podcast, seeking information from the public. Based on primary evidence and new interviews related to Donna Jo's murder in Exeter, California, the team delved into every angle. What they found was more than a miscarriage of justice. They uncovered connections to the unsolved murders of Jennifer Armour and Claude Snelling, as well as links to The Visalia Ransacker/East Area Rapist. They exposed corruption by the lead investigator who destroyed trial evidence, and they investigated the mysterious death of the original defense attorney. This led them back to Exeter, where a new suspect emerged: Joseph DeAngelo, a sergeant with the local police department at the time, in charge of violent crimes and burglary investigations.
"12/26/75" goes beyond being a mere adaptation of the podcast. It offers fresh insights from the investigation, providing a firsthand view of the crimes and revealing the flawed evidence that led to the wrongful conviction. Most importantly, it highlights the grave consequences of letting a serial killer go free, compounded by mistakes, internal conflicts, and blame-shifting among different jurisdictions. The book makes it clear that reforms are urgently needed to prevent such tragedies from happening again, now that the truth of how it all unfolded is exposed.