Woman Left for Dead: What Happened in Miami Airport Hotel Mystery?


Besides the circumstantial evidence on the surveillance video, the case started getting thin. The DNA match only proved that sex took place -- not necessarily rape. Under interrogation, Jones never confessed to Brennan or Foote. The suitcase never was recovered. And unfortunately, just like Michael Jones's rental car, his hotel room had been cleaned countless times in the year before he was ever identified, probably destroying any evidence.

"We believe that they couldn't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," said Jones' defense attorney, C. Michael Cornely.

Instead, Jones ended up pleading to a reduced charge and the case never went before a jury. His prison sentence was just two years.

"I was angry," Budnytska said. "I couldn't do anything. I'm not familiar with the justice system. But I was upset inside."

In fact, everyone involved in the case was upset -- everyone except Brennan, who suspected this was not Jones' first crime.

While reviewing the security camera footage, Brennan was taken aback by Jones' air of nonchalance -- what he read as the demeanor of a practiced serial rapist.

"There couldn't have been anybody more cool, more calm, more nonchalant, than this guy here," he said.

Brennan knew Jones' work took him to cities all over the country, giving him plenty of opportunity to meet new women and then disappear.

Brennan convinced the Miami-Dade police to enter Jones' DNA into CODIS, the FBI's national database.

More than a year later, in Colorado Springs, Colo., a detective received a call notifying her there was a match in CODIS to a cold case.

The crime occurred in December 2005, about nine months after the attack on Inna Budnystka in Miami and about three months after Michael Jones left New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He was working concessions at the Colorado Springs World Arena before taking the job at the ballpark in Maryland.

The Colorado victim -- Jennifer Roessler, 41 -- was seen leaving a local convenience store just minutes before she was attacked.

"She was by herself," said Colorado Springs Detective Terry Thrumston. "She was a woman, alone, walking at 2:30, 3 o'clock in the morning.

"She accepted a ride from a stranger, who took her back to her apartment," Thrumston added. "He asked for a drink of water; then she asked him to leave. He then sexually assaults her."

In an interview with Thrumston, Roessler described her attacker as "calm ... and I knew this happened before. I've just, I had a feeling this has happened before, because he was too calm."

Thrumston said Roessler "wanted to confront him. She wanted justice for what happened."

But Roessler's decision to let Jones into her apartment raised the possibility the sex was consensual. The case hit another stumbling block when, just before the start of Jones's trial in January 2009, Thrumston got tragic news.

"I kept trying to get a hold of her and couldn't," she said. "I didn't find out 'til the beginning of December that she had passed away."

Roessler had died from natural causes unrelated to her rape.

Without the star witness, the best chance to put Michael Jones away for a long sentence was fading fast. But Thrumston wasn't going to let it go.

Both Foote and Budnytska testified at the Colorado trial.

"I wanted so much just to look into his eyes, and just ... I had a question: 'Why me? What did I do?' I mean, 'Why me?'" she asked.

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