How investigators unraveled the mystery behind the shocking murder of Jamie Faith
A new "20/20" explores the fatal shooting and how detectives learned the truth.
The shooting death of American Airlines director Jamie Faith in October 2020 brought neighbors running onto their quiet street in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. The ensuing chaos was captured on several doorbell cameras, including one at the home of Emery Wilson.
“I walked to the end of my walkway, and I saw what looked like feet and a body laying in a street,” Wilson said. “But as I started running that way, the killer appeared in the walkway. He was in a mask and a hoodie. I didn’t get a chance to see his face, ‘cause I see him with a gun in his hand and ran back in the house.”
Wilson says he then ran back inside to retrieve his gun before heading back outside.
Jamie Faith and his wife Jennifer had just left for their morning walk with their dog. Moments after they left their front door, a gunman appeared and shot Jamie seven times before duct-taping Jennifer’s hands, attempting to steal her rings and then fleeing in a black pickup truck.
The brutal manner of the killing led investigators to believe it wasn't just a random killing or robbery. But for those who knew Jamie, that raised a question: Who would have the motive to kill the man beloved by so many?
A new “20/20," airing Friday, Sept. 29 at 9:00 p.m. ET, explores how investigators unraveled the mystery behind the case, featuring interviews with authorities, journalists and friends of the Faiths.
“I have not been involved in a case that had more twists and turns than this particular case,” federal prosecutor Rick Calvert told ABC News.
As detectives began investigating Jamie Faith’s murder, the couple’s community of friends mobilized around Jennifer and her daughter Amber. A GoFundMe was set up for Jennifer and it raised more than $60,000. For months, neighbors took turns making meals for Jennifer and Amber.
Two months after Jamie's murder, Jennifer Faith went on local news, ABC affiliate WFAA, and pleaded with viewers to be on the lookout for a pickup truck with a “T” sticker on the window, as seen in a grainy photo of the fleeing vehicle.
But while Jennifer was playing the grieving widow and saying she had no idea who killed her husband – she knew exactly who did it, according to text messages obtained by investigators.
In January 2021, police arrested a man named Darrin Lopez in Tennessee. To the shock of Jennifer's friends, Lopez was her high school sweetheart and date to the prom. Friends chillingly recall learning that Lopez had been participating in a group chat where Jennifer would update them on the status of the investigation.
Lopez was a retired Green Beret who suffered a traumatic brain injury after multiple tours in Iraq and had recently split from his wife. He was living in Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee, and was father to three daughters and two stepdaughters.
Investigators discovered that Jennifer Faith and Lopez had reconnected online at the beginning of the pandemic. Within days of Lopez’s first email to Jennifer, the two began professing their love and communicating constantly – investigators estimated they exchanged an average of up to 500 texts and emails per day. They snuck in occasional calls and even started talking about a future together.
Jennifer kept this a secret from most of her friends, except for a text to a longtime friend, saying she was having a hot emotional affair. For weeks, things seemed to be blissful between the two – until Jennifer started claiming that Jamie was abusive toward her.
Lopez then began receiving what he believed at the time were threatening emails from Jamie, saying he knew about the affair and that he would sexually and physically abuse his wife if Lopez didn’t go away. Some of these emails included photos of what Jennifer said were injuries from the alleged abuse.
Lopez told Jennifer she should go to the police, but she said she didn’t want their daughter to see her father get arrested. At Jennifer’s suggestion, Lopez started emailing who he believed was her friend Rob, who she said was aware of the abuse, to see if there was anything they could do to help her.
For a period, the alleged abuse seemed to stop.
But then Lopez got an email from Rob, saying Jamie’s abuse was starting again and getting worse. In a phone call to Lopez, Jennifer said the only way she would be safe is if Jamie were killed, according to court documents. The two then allegedly hatched their plan.
On Oct. 8, 2020, Lopez drove from Tennessee to Texas to carry out Jamie’s killing. After the shooting, Lopez got in his car and drove back home.
On the day of the murder, Jennifer consented to having her phone searched. While she had deleted all her correspondence with Lopez, authorities found the text to her friend telling her about Lopez. Investigators found Lopez’s full name and address in Jennifer's phone, a detail that Jennifer was not aware of at the time.
Authorities did a cursory search of Lopez’s property and found a black Nissan Titan pickup truck with the “T” sticker. Investigators obtained Lopez’s bank and phone records and were able to piece together his actions leading up to the murder. Using cell phone and financial data, authorities mapped Lopez’s trip to Texas and placed him at the scene of the crime.
After going on the news to bring attention to the case, Jennifer sent text messages to Lopez asking him to take the “T” sticker off his truck. Days later, he texted Jennifer, “Sticker done.” Meanwhile, federal agents obtained surveillance images of the truck with the “T” sticker removed.
Lopez was arrested on Jan. 11, 2021, during a traffic stop and charged with Jamie's murder.
Police called Jennifer in for an interview that same day. Before the interview, she told Lopez she was going to wipe her phone and instructed Lopez to do the same, but he never did.
Investigators found the murder weapon during a search of Lopez’s home. They also obtained a search warrant for his phone, which had months of correspondence between Jennifer and him that exposed their murder plot.
A little over a month later, Jennifer was arrested. Her initial charges were for obstruction of justice. Jennifer's friends were in shock as the charges detailed her lies and manipulation. A few months later, Jennifer’s charges were upgraded and she was indicted on federal charges of murder for hire.
In a shocking twist, evidence of Jennifer’s involvement as the mastermind behind the murder plot became clear when investigators learned she had created fake email accounts to impersonate her husband and friend Rob in emails to Lopez.
Investigators said that every single claim of abuse against Jamie was a lie concocted by Jennifer – right down to the photos she sent to Lopez. They were not from abuse, but some were from a car accident she was in years prior, according to investigators. One of the injury photos Jennifer said was evidence of Jamie's abuse was an online stock image.
Jennifer Faith took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison.
Darrin Lopez pleaded not guilty to murder. His case went to trial in July 2023. On the stand, Lopez recounted the pain and anguish he felt when he realized he had killed an innocent man and said he truly believed he was protecting Jennifer. After a weeklong trial, jurors found Lopez guilty and he was sentenced to 62 years in prison. Lopez is appealing his conviction.
Friends of Jamie and Jennifer Faith are still coming to terms with what happened as they continue mourning Jamie’s death.
“Not having Jamie in our group of friends, it definitely left a hole. It left a hole. I just miss my friend,” Jamie’s friend Chad Van Ness told ABC News.