A Murder Disguised as a Hunting Accident

ByABC News
January 27, 2004, 7:49 PM

Jan. 29 -- Deep in the Colorado wilderness, on the second day of hunting season in 1995, veteran police officer Doug Kyle came across what appeared to be a terrible tragedy. It would actually turn out to be much more complicated and bone-chilling.

Lying on the ground bleeding was Bruce Dodson, 48, with an orange hunting vest at his side. His wife of three months, Janice, was screaming for help. "I picked up the orange vest and was just screaming at him: 'Why didn't you have your vest on?' " Janice said.

"She's crying and carrying on," said Kyle. "I said, 'Is this your husband?' And she said, 'Yes, that's Bruce. Help you've got to help him.' "

Bruce was beyond help. He seemed destined to be yet another victim of a hunting accident, mistaken for game a mistake that would repeat itself more than 100 times that year.

But the day after, an autopsy revealed Bruce hadn't taken just a single bullet, but three. Bill Booth, an investigator for the district attorney's office, said he started to believe this was homicide.

An Icy, Calculating Murderer

Janice Dodson says when she heard this, she couldn't believe it. "There was no reason to kill someone like Bruce," she said. "And then my next thought was that no one deserves to die like that."

Bruce and Janice worked at the same hospital. She was a nurse; he was a lab tech. Janice had been through a rough divorce after 25 years of marriage. Bruce was a loner until he met Janice.

Friends said they made a great couple. He was frugal, helping her to put her affairs back in order after her divorce. Lively and outgoing, she introduced him to new things.

Booth and his partner, Dave Martinez, began analyzing every detail about the last few days of Bruce's life. Reconstructing the incident, they concluded they were up against an icy, calculating murderer.

Booth theorizes that Bruce was walking along a fence line when he was first fired upon. Miraculously, the bullet pierced his clothing, but only grazed his skin.