Dripps says he didn’t mean to kill Angie Dodge and acted alone, according to court documents

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Brian L. Dripps | Canyon County Jail via Idaho Statesman

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic details. Reader discretion is advised.

IDAHO FALLS — The man charged with the murder of Angie Dodge told police he intended to only rape the 18-year-old and did not mean to kill her when he entered Dodge’s I Street apartment in June 1996.

That’s according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

READ: New Angie Dodge murder court documents

Brian L. Dripps, 53, is charged with first degree murder and rape. As of Friday afternoon, he was still incarcerated in the Canyon County Jail but was expected to be transferred to the Bonneville County Jail soon.

Dripps was arrested in Caldwell on Wednesday and agreed to speak with Idaho Falls Police Detective Sage Albright and Sgt. John Marley. Court documents show Dripps initially denied being in Dodge’s apartment or having anything to do with her until police confronted him with test results that showed his DNA was found at the crime scene.

“He then admitted to killing Angie Dodge,” according to the probable cause. “He said that he intended only to rape her and did not mean to kill her. He confirmed that he entered Dodge’s apartment by himself with a knife with the intent to rape her, that he did in fact rape her, that he had held a knife to her throat during the commission of the rape and had cut her throat.”

RELATED | Carol Dodge almost gave up looking for her daughter’s killer. Then she felt Angie say, ‘You’re almost there, Mom.’

Dripps told detectives he then washed his gloves in the bathroom because they were covered in blood. He said he believed Dodge was still alive when he left and returned to his apartment across the street.

Police say Dodge was killed June 13, 1996, between 12:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Her cause of death was determined to be the result of a laceration to her throat, which severed her right carotid artery and jugular vein.

Photos of Angie Dodge are displayed during a news conference Thursday. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Semen from the same person was found on Dodge’s legs and sweatpants, according to the probable cause statement. Semen mixed with blood was also found on a pink blanket in the apartment. That semen matched the other samples, but the blood was Dodge’s.

“In December 1996 and January 1997, Christopher Conley Tapp confessed to being involved in the rape and murder of Angie Dodge. Tapp’s DNA did not match the DNA found at the scene,” court documents state. “Although Tapp gave law enforcement names of the person who deposited the DNA at the scene, none of them were Brian Dripps and none of the information Tapp gave led to any viable suspect.”

A DNA profile for the perpetrator was created using the evidence and, in 2001, it was entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigations Combined DNA Index System. Sixteen years later, in February 2017, Parabon NanoLabs developed a composite profile of likely physical characteristics of the suspect based on the DNA.

In January 2019, Parabon created a “genetic genealogy report” by using the DNA profile found at the crime scene and comparing it with samples found in multiple DNA databases. Parabon then determined the DNA was likely one of six known descendants of Clarence W. Ussery and Cleo A. Landrum.

For three months, Parabon narrowed down the possibilities and, on May 6, the company produced a report identifying Dripps as the likely DNA match. Dripps is a descendant of Ussery and Landrum.

Albright noted Dripps had lived at 459 I Street from April 3, 1996, to Aug. 2, 1996 — directly across the street from Angie’s apartment at 444 I Street. Days after her death, Dripps spoke with an Idaho Falls Police officer.

Brian Leigh Dripps | Canyon County Jail

“Brian L. Dripps Sr. told Officer (Buc) Rogers that he went out drinking on June 12, 1996, and came home at approximately 11:30 p.m., went back out, and came home at approximately 3 a.m. on June 13,” court documents state. “Dripps told Officer Rogers that he was extremely drunk and couldn’t remember any vehicles or people in the area.”

Two months later, Dripps disconnected his utilities and left a forwarding address in El Dorado, California.

On May 10, police collected a cigarette butt Dripps threw out his car window. The Idaho State Police Forensic Laboratory compared it to samples collected from the crime scene, and they matched. Dripps was arrested five days later.

Dripps is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Bonneville County on May 29.

Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson will be featured on East Idaho Newsmakers Sunday. He will describe behind-the-scenes tactics used to arrest Dripps and what happens next with the case.

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