BOISE -- An Idaho true-crime story that aired on Dateline NBC on July 11, has some people around the country rallying behind Sarah Pearce, the woman convicted of a brutal attack on Linda LeBrane along Interstate 84 in Canyon County more than a decade ago.
Along with other viewers around the country, Scott and Jodie von Kameke from Georgia watched Dateline last Friday night. Avid true crime program watchers, the story of LeBrane and Pearce captured their attention.
"It just was kind of a crazy story, to be quite honest with you. That it could get as far as it did. It was very compelling from the very beginning. We didn't know where it was heading," Jodie von Kameke said.
The Dateline episode focuses on what lead to Pearce's conviction and introduces an alternate suspect, recanting witnesses, and possible questions in how the case was prosecuted.
Pearce served more than a decade in prison, asking for a new trial, when a deal with the state got her out early a few months ago. Pearce's mom played a big role in personally investigating her daughter's case.
"When (the show) was over, Jodie and I looked at each other, and actually we both had tears in our eyes because it was such a gut-wrenching stories. There were many victims, but we tended to focus on Sarah and her mother," Scott von Kameke said.
The von Kamekes wanted to donate to Pearce but couldn't find a page, so they started their own to collect donations.
"The tenaciousness with her mother, coupled with we believe in the innocence of Sarah, we just decided we had to do something," Scott von Kameke said.
Now, there are a couple fundraising sites, and people are donating to Pearce. Ginny Hatch, who worked on the case for the Idaho Innocence Project told KTVB via email: "Sarah and Anita want everyone to know that they are so humbled and gracious for the support of so many after the Dateline show aired."
To view the von Kameke's site, click here. (Pearce and her mother, Anita Brown, have both been in touch with the von Kamekes via email about the site.)
To view a fundraising page by Pearce's mother and Hatch, click here.
Dr. Greg Hampikian, the scientist leader of the Idaho Innocence Project, which worked Pearce's case for seven years, says the national attention is good for the case, and he's hopeful more tips will come.
"I'm sure she'd appreciate any tips that would come forward. The battle is still on to finally legally finish this case, and I'm glad her story got out so at least narratively the story is out there. People can look at the show and see what was developed. I think they'll come to the same conclusion we did many years ago," Hampikian said.
The Idaho Innocence Project recently lost funding, and Hampikian is the only one now working on the project. He only takes DNA cases currently, but he hopes to have funding restored by late fall 2014. While the Pearce case has gotten attention, he doesn't think it will be enough to regain funding.
"I always think that if we just can tell people how remarkable these stories are and if they can see... I mean, we worked on Sarah's case for seven years; we had full time staff working on that case. And I always think, well somebody out there is going to write a check and support us. But really it doesn't happen that way," Hampikian said.
KTVB reached out to Linda LeBrane for this story but did not hear back. In all previous conversations and interviews, she has been adamant that Sarah Pearce is guilty of leading the brutal attack.
To watch the complete Dateline NBC show "One Summer Night" about this case, click here.