New crime documentary series reopens 2003 cold case

"A Murder on Orchard Street" from "Nightline" examines the unsolved murder of Burke O'Brien in New York's Chinatown neighborhood.
17:54 | 10/10/17

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Transcript for New crime documentary series reopens 2003 cold case
Hey everyone I'm mountain about life in New York who want to tell you about an incredible. New theory that's out today he should absolutely check it out it's across. All of ABC news platforms and it's called a murder on orchard street and packs a cold case from 2003. That was never solved. Here with me in New York the producer and reporter up that story. Christina highly Hankton kind of Harry yeah thanks for being here also joining us is your partner in storytelling on it. Ken Sylvia he's joining us from Phoenix Arizona former NYPD detective on this case Ken thanks for being with. Ari let's jump right into that because this is a fascinating story I've now watched the first episode and I'm hunt. But Tony little bit about how you came into contact with this murder in the first play. Well I was working here at ABC I was on a series called and why people who 24/7. And there were about eight field producers who were. Could be embedded with the NYPD in different departments of the NYPD. And down I was with the crime scene unit. The special victims unit and then eventually the homicide unit and this was actually my first. Homicide case you were just wish them all the time with your cameras documenting everything at that happening we were alone each one of us was alone with small camera. From the time of the small you know announcing Utica so large. And just us and we it was a sink or swim at of the situation that. Can I might get from your perspective what was it like it is not a usual kinds of situations. Have a reporter in the mix like that we've you all the time. Yet this is it was very usual it's a little while used to honestly. Because you know every farmer turned around there was a camera. And right over my shoulder and the by all we want all of us on notice letter might happen what governments wasn't more on the Mia is Mike. Solar resist Paula really being watched it was quote unquote person. But Christie's great you know you you off camera stuff that you report that you don't each other. Ruined yeah are rolling and trusting and and it maybe. The weaker so I'd. In what's whose audits he. Well and the accents she was granted a catches some incredible detail I want to jump into this story because it is just fascinating. It's a murder of a 25 year old young man right here inch in New York downtown Manhattan. And as he think you're along for the ride you capture every moment this is a clip. From the murder on orchard street this is the moment when they first come upon the case check it out. Ours is our suspect. Hussein in Iraq we did you know black and Hispanic. Robbed at gunpoint or shot in the chest we got an independent witness no black that is happening walking on a block. Seized the shooting the actual shoe. He sees people's. Have a conversation some footage telephone arguing. No one of the street ghost of fan Steve Kirk. Reach down grab a jacket and under the that point what's on the block blood look accidental and full fleet financial and he's he's standing kind of watch what's going on. He he is. Unveil white talking to the police telling about how on the a black and help us. Robbed them at gun point shot is from in the chest as listen. Tax cut off. If that was tax. Question. No one else around two groups and other cops and solicit icons link I think he shots but. To a pretty so we got the guy but he's you know he's not budging on this story. And all the other friends or in the apartment at the time just a tool of students. Two girls are three guys they went to a club brilliant night. That can let me get your take on this now as you guys killed girls keep prices set up. The whole situation there what is happening in that moment in the investigation and what did you first think when you first come into contact with this case. Initially you know I was told that. All witness credible witness that's exactly what he says happened. He disputes were are ordered Hussein. Police dog I would like this to grumbles something that I just and that sipadan Eric best medical and that's what so much other evidence including. Ballistics and and witness and it was just a matter of time after speaking with him that was gonna. You get your few commissioner that really. Would want with icing on the cake. And that's that was the initial. Impression I got woken first speaking but then as Fineman on these thoughts you have more disparity. It did it indicate what Obama did. That scenic and is coming at this from an investigators pointed to you you're looking at it storytellers. What are your first impression well where do you think it's going Harry process well I have unusual experience on this not that anything was actually. I really usual but. I didn't come in on every case we came in right away and we would be with the team that we were with you know in this case a homicide team. And and come in at the moment drive in with the homicides. Team and be on scene at the moment but in this case there was actually another journalist who started in case and he Tripp who is another ABC. Journalists a time McCain who was the one who's assigned to homicide time I was still. Working with crime scene and then this. Cases sort of blew up and at the same time another homicide happened if he and stay later and soon Jason Witten did the other case and I was brought in because this one they felt like really needed to be. Follow through so when I arrived it was really interesting because I was getting it. Sort of eighteen hours in. Which is in an unusual thing and immediately what I was what I witnessed tonight you know had to to quickly get get up to speed and and figure out you know who was the main character that was being in the story because we you know you have all these detectives and as a story tell your trying to figure out who's the person is gonna tell this story the vast right and so we were assigned to homicide unit so I had. Sergeant Dietz as initially listed who. The other reporter was covering us that that's the detective with the mustache and then. He realizing that's when we met can that he was the seventh precinct detective who was assigned so that's coming we met realize this is the person. Who is actually gonna tell the story the best for us and so I started following Ken and at that moment a I felt like he was cleared just like what he said it that. That. Good friend force but he was guilty and that it all made perfect sense the witness was very clear on what he saw and that was that. Pathetic and I mean this is fascinating set to watch it all unfold like that his new colleagues are popping around ideas for how the puzzle kind of comes together. You've been doing that for many many years this is not your first time seeing something like this did it seem pretty cut and dry it and a half well. President broke up Lugar and hung it it didn't seem pretty cut drivers are today at clear case you thought from the moment that you use that's been through it. Absolutely. I got I got all the early in the morning does this happen right what some came out on the court and allowed I don't laugh and when I got. Elk. Their crime scene we victim. That he really credible witness was right there as he and the fact still reasons the won't speak to us. The wants your desire disorder misses several hours upon by generally witnesses. I'm not. At that hour of the morning I'm not willing to stick around and you cooperate this guys need all that long. And it just added it is credibility so. I thought to myself it's just used it. Plants and sentenced get a story from our management and budget and then you can arrest and this is almost by the independent center. So Christine all signs point towards the friends the 25 year old young man is dead he's been shot in the chest. To the story and there doesn't. The story most definitely does not end there because. Many different things. We're not as they scenes and but what it required. Was having a detective and not to toot his horn too much but to have a detective. Kenny who was really able to step back and keep asking essential questions. Even when the case seemed so obvious say the case does not get sucked. It goes. Here is in your scope lie right you go on with your life. Can eventually you after twenty years on the force you retire as well. Was there anything about this case in particular casino let me start with you that stayed with the it was there's something about it that stood out to you even after all that that time. I so I was on saint scene inferred nearly thirty homicides over the course of this series that I worked on for ABC. And this one most definitely was in that top five of never leaving you. Because. It would. Because the family. Was this incredible. Family these these incredibly gracious people who were so. Understanding. How everything understanding of the way that the police work understanding of me being there. When they would have had every right to tell needed to get out of their face. And to be understanding of the friend who was a complicated figure in this and even though he was not. What they thought and so. That day it forever stuck in my mind and then that fact that that it remain unsolved seemed impossible. And so it. Hung in there. And can and 2014. But that's boarded it after they wanted entity after Christina had been there with her camera capturing office. You've reached back out there why did you do that what was it about this case the Fed to you we have to go back to. What we can use the you know what you said Atlanta it sergeant that was working with us at the time not a homicide. The lives while not. And then he eventually it. And then he sort of was. But on the shelves and occasionally looked up you know this news was there originally. What it is to get the attention and of course as time goes by people move Odyssey moon. I'm across the country and and I got contacted by the just inherited the case and. Coincidentally an idol or you'll want cops. You know ten years price of that and so equal opportunity this case. Will be back on it. He helped out with you some background news and you know some parts and knowledge about this rather be. Boys so I was totally. You know excited and as things get expert Brett read into it and wanted things I knew right from the beginning and obvious that once he's this. Is that the evidence that we have. Really need somebody that is connected to shoot. I want it to himself got it with them what needs somebody that was meant to the sooner or withdrawal aren't the only member. And in order to do that each publication eat something that the real and what are things I thought of immediately was this city's needs to get poured out from the public again. On March a court order expect a much larger audience you out there there's. But the daily get a call more than a decade later what is you think are you anxious to jump back into I was absolutely. It I felt like. Oh my god this this actually could happen it it seemed like because there are actually a couple of unsolved homicides that I worked on and if I can do that with. All of them it would would've been it was incredible opportunity. What would get it jumped back into its are we live all those moments all that video we just saw. You were there you were on the scene living in those moments with like to jump back into it. It is very different I had spans. An enormous amount of my life. In with the NYPD IE the series was called and YPD 24/7 and that's because. Then reporters who were doing this we're there 24/7 we were I often was working night and didn't go home for days at a time. And and so it was a complete devotion so much that was like in my head it was became so part of me he didn't have. If it was it was something that actually really had to extract myself from a after I did it for as long as they dead. Thumb and then. My life changed enormously in that time. And then I thought like okay I'm I can remember that how can I even get into that head space you know. Where can I had to give up my you know I didn't see my friends now I'm a family you know and how can I can't disappear like fat but it all came back. Everything came back this dissent suddenly it was just like this kind of social. You know back into this time. Of my life and remembering every single detective in every single conversation. Every single moment that was intense what about for you can I was at the same experience did you just get right back into it. Think you'd think that on batteries some memories and an import some things but meanness in this case in particular. It was as precedent that's it and that you for a I was that anxious when she suspected that that. Came out you missed or not Arizona received when he's three days. When everybody thought well. All the statements. I was fighting him out here in all of but behind the scenes you know you don't read a report and see what's on that it would it does not want distort you mine expert on the and it's priced need really. See just how much I remembered and help Crist what in my mind who's motivated to get back into it like that's one back in and got my much Jill back would have been I would in the net. So knock on doors and and track people down but. I was very excited and I want to part of what watery back is really. And Christina touched on its. Them because you know they held off heat of the fire all the time dead era. That cohesiveness this past time. Was incredible testament of the love and relationships. And he keeps your frequently. He's the could have easily use all could easily just email us all the fun was all but fought and this is does one become well. Even those that these fun with us. And and really all look up the ball it. This as he's known so. You develop a relationship with them and and that's that's another audit is that I develops a relationship this family that. Keeps close life it's something that. Deserves. He looks look and it used much. Christina Hager that Burke O'Brien are fresh he'd go back you revisit every inch of tape all your notes your re living it again. And they re examination you to uncover some previously. Uncovered information. What is that all those years later to think there could be a path forward on this case. That was not what I thought was going to happen and that was incredible because when we're originally making the series this. Story was only going to take over one that hour long episode of an eight part series and then we got into this idea. Of making a series of this one case and set only I was looking at everything from it from a different. From a different. Point of view and trying to really hasn't had to Tiegs so much deeper into the material and I have ever had before. And down. And I wasn't that I was the field producer at the time I wasn't the producer who made that series in the end I was just the person in the field in the night gave up my I I did some work in the post but not a lot. And so. So that experience was thought was really going back into the field and away from me and then I kept seeing things that I didn't even realize that I had gotten on tape. All those years later with fresh eyes with fresh eyes. It's incredible story tallying the Christina Kylie ink and pen Sylvia out there in Phoenix to congratulations to you it's a remarkable Ceres. And there are many many different ways everyone can take it it's an incredible undertaking now you can watch on video Back slash orchard street. I could also watch and ITT platforms on roku apple TVX box one you can listen to the pod cast on apple podcast Spotify pitcher Google play music. Or on the tune in Napa reports. You can absolutely watch on AB CTV tune in tonight to Nightline at 12:35. AM for a special broadcast of this the series. If a murder on orchard street Christine at highly and and Sylvia thanks so much for being here thank you so much having. Thanks to all of you for watching as well to tune into a murder and orchard street. Download the podcast watch the video thanks for joining us for now. I'm on the Nevada won't be back here soon.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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