Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Brianna Denison


Upon awakening and realizing that Denison was missing from the residence under suspicious circumstances, Hunter and one of her roommates told the detectives, they had observed that one of the two blankets provided to Dension remained on the couch, but that the second blanket was lying on the floor of the kitchen roughly six feet from the sofa and along the path to the rear door of the house. Detective Jenkins observed that the blanket had a small blood stain on it. Strangely, the teddy bear was missing.

Brianna Denison
Brianna Denison
As Jenkins walked through the house, he observed that the windows and doors had few coverings, and several provided an unobstructed view inside the house from MacKay Court as well as from adjacent College Drive. Anyone, he opined, choosing to look inside the windows early that morning likely could have seen Denison lying on the sofa as she slept.

Jenkins also noted the pillow on the couch that was smeared with blood and mascara. There were three "distinct blood stains/transfers on the same side of the pillow and oriented below the mascara stains," according to the detective's report. Each of the stains were irregular in shape, approximately 1-to 3-inches in diameter, and it was determined that one of the stains contained saliva mixed with mucus or phlegm. Later, all of the blood stains were identified by DNA analysis as belonging to Brianna Denison.

Following additional analysis, forensic pathologists concluded that Denison appeared to have suffered "an actively bleeding injury in or near her mouth, throat, or nose, at a time when her face was being pressed hard against the pillow," Jenkins said.

Investigators also obtained a substance from the doorknob of the rear door that later yielded an unidentified male DNA profile. Had the rear door been the suspect's entrance to the house, or his exit with Denison? Or both?

Denison had left her identification, wallet, cellular phone, and shoes behind, and was likely barefoot when she left the house. According to Hunter, she was last wearing a white tank top with pink angel wings and rhinestones, with the word "Bindi" imprinted on the back. She also may have been wearing sweatpants, either pink or light blue.

Jenkins noted that Denison had sent and received multiple text messages in the time leading up to her disappearance, the last one at 4:23 a.m. It was later determined that she had been communicating with a former boyfriend who was living in Oregon. Police emphasized that the former boyfriend was not a suspect; he had been in Oregon at the time of her disappearance.

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