:: QCTimes.com | Detective says accused’s shirt found near victim’s feet ::

Detective says accused’s shirt found near victim’s feet

By CARSON WALKER | Wednesday, April 04, 2007

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A police investigator testified Wednesday that a shirt belonging to a deaf woman accused of killing an acquaintance was found near the victim’s feet.

Sioux Falls Detective Steve Schaefer said the gray double-extra-large long-sleeve shirt was about 5 feet from the feet and lower legs of Darlene VanderGiesen in the Sioux Falls landfill.

Daphne Wright, 43, is accused of kidnapping, killing and dismembering VanderGiesen, 42, with a chainsaw in Wright’s basement.

Wright’s former girlfriend, Sallie Collins, earlier testified that she gave Wright the shirt and it was unique because of the sign language logo on it.

Schaefer said when he searched Wright’s basement he spotted what turned out to be fragments of tissue and bone matching VanderGiesen’s DNA on the wall of a room, similar to flecks he had seen during autopsies.

“What I have seen on the saw blade after they have conducted the autopsy was very similar, I felt, to what I saw on the wall of this small room,” Schaefer said.

He also testified that as investigators peeled away fresh blue paint from the room’s floor, he smelled petroleum.

“The more paint they would peel off, the stronger the order would get,” Schaefer said.

Prosecutors said part of VanderGiesen’s body was burned.

Detective Andrea Kelly testified that Wright had blue paint on jeans she wore when she was interviewed by police.

Also Tuesday morning, Lt. William Fluit testified that orange carpet found near VanderGiesen’s remains matched some carpet in Wright’s basement.

Wright’s former house mate, Jacki Chesmore, earlier testified that she saw Wright take that carpet to a Dumpster.

An autopsy determined that VanderGiesen, who disappeared Feb. 1, 2006, was killed by either suffocation or a blow to the head. Wright was arrested Feb. 10 after a search of her basement yielded bone fragments, muscle and fat that matched DNA taken from VanderGiesen’s toothbrush.

Parts of VanderGiesen’s body were later found in the Sioux Falls landfill and in a ditch near Hills, Minn. Her parents have since buried her body at her hometown of Rock Valley, Iowa.

If Wright is convicted of kidnapping or murder, jurors will be asked to sentence her to death.

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