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Saturday, September 14, 2002

TV show spotlights 1984 murder

Cold Case Files covers how DNA led to arrest

By Helena Rodriguez
Reporter-News Staff Writer

A television film crew for the Cold Case Files is in Abilene shooting footage for a segment on a 1984 murder case solved just two years ago.

The three-man crew from Kurtis Productions Ltd. in Chicago has been in town since Tuesday reporting on the murder of Tracy Rene Benge Sewell, a clerk bludgeoned to death at the Texaco Star Stop on South 23rd and Barrow streets.

In July 2000, a jury convicted Clifford Scott Wright of the murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

The Cold Case Files airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on the A&E Network. The show’s crew will be in Abilene through Sunday, interviewing police and witnesses for the segment to run next summer.

Cold Case Files producer Mike West said an e-mail from a viewer sparked his interest in the case. After researching the case through the Abilene Reporter-News Web site, he decided to include it on the show.

“We look for cases with a lot of twists and turns, and this case had that,” West said, noting that it was eventually solved by using new forensics and DNA technology to identify the victim’s blood on Wright’s boot.

“What was interesting about this case is how many people Wright told about the murder, and none of the people had motives for making it up,” West said. “The people were telling the same story.”

West said that good police work also helped.

District Attorney James Eidson, who was interviewed by Cold Case Files, said the Arrest & Trial television show has also aired a segment on the case.

“This is an interesting case because of the fact that it was dormant for about 15 years and advancements in forensics testing allowed us to get evidence that was technologically impossible before,” he said. “A case can now be revived after that long and successfully prosecuted.”

Wright was charged with the murder in 1984 but a mistrial was declared. In 1998, his wife and other witnesses told police that Wright had told them about the murder.

“Sometimes killers can’t keep their mouths shut, and when their relationships with other people change, that’s when people come forward,” West said.

Contact leisure writer Helena Rodriguez at 676-6761 or rodriguezh@reporternews.com

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