In July 2004, Bart Whitaker fled the country and headed to Cerralvo, Mexico, a town about 50 miles south of the border. Using the name "Rudy Rios," he befriended people and began showing up at church and turning on the charm for a guitarist he met there named SindyLu Salinas.
The two began a relationship, and Salinas said the Rudy Rios she knew was very romantic. She brought her new boyfriend home to meet her parents, and he was an immediate hit. Her father, Homero Salinas, even hired "Rudy" to work at the family's furniture store.
Back in Sugar Land, the investigation seemed like it had gone cold, until another break in the case -- this time, a big one: In August 2005, a man named Steven Champagne, who lived a few doors down from Bart Whitaker, said he wanted to come clean and tell police what he knew about the case. He confessed to assisting in the crime and provided the entire story of what happened on that December 2003 night.
Champagne told investigators that Bart had set up the crime and lured his family to dinner to celebrate his fake graduation from college. As the Whitakers celebrated, Champagne said he watched from a car in the parking lot. Meanwhile, Bart's roommate, Chris Brashear, hid in Bart's SUV outside the Whitaker home. Champagne detailed how Brashear entered the house with the key and disabled the alarm with the code Bart had given him. Champagne said he followed the family home and parked on a nearby street and waited.
"[Brashear] said Bart's brother had walked in first," Champagne recalled in his confession. "And, when Chris shot him, he said before he shot him he thought he smiled. And then Chris shot his mom and then shot Bart's dad in the shoulder. And then, he acted like he wrestled around with Bart and shot Bart in the shoulder."
A minute later, he told cops that Brashear joined him in the car and they fled the scene.
"Bart said his family was worth a lot of money," Champagne said, explaining his motivation. "He said he would give us some money -- I mean millions of dollars."
Having the confession was one thing, but Slot still had no physical evidence to link Bart to the murders. But then Champagne dropped a bombshell. He explained that he and Brashear had thrown a bag full of evidence off of a bridge into a nearby lake.
A police dive team was able to dredge up a soggy duffel bag full of decomposing evidence. Though the bag had spent two years at the bottom of the lake, detectives were able to obtain a DNA profile of Brashear on the mouth of a water bottle.
Among the other items in the bag was a badly damaged cell phone. A high-tech data reconstruction process at a lab in the U.K. identified Bart Whitaker as the owner.
"This is the Eureka moment," Slot said. "This is definitely when we said, 'We've got it.'"
Slot had the physical evidence he needed to link Bart to the murders, and he obtained an arrest warrant. But he didn't know that his chief suspect was hiding in Mexico until he got a phone call from a man named Rudy Rios, a bus boy at the country club near the Whitakers' Sugar Land home. Rios told Slot that he had sold his identity to Bart Whitaker and helped him escape.
Whitaker was arrested in Mexico without incident on Sept. 22, 2005.