BOISE -- Dateline's Friday episode featured an Idaho Falls murder case from 1996. That year, Angie Dodge was found dead in her apartment. Chris Tapp confessed to the murder and has been in prison for a decade and a half, but now, the victim's mother believes he is innocent.
"I've always been fascinated by people who would confess to murder when they didn't commit murder. And this was a particularly colorful case of that," Dateline's Keith Morrison told KTVB.
Morrison has covered a lot of murder stories over the years, but he says this particular story is very different. Angie Dodge's mother, Carol Dodge, once wanted Tapp to get the death penalty. Now, she wants him out of prison and believes he is innocent.
"I'll tell you what, I have never in all the years I've been doing stories like this, encountered a person, especially a mother, who is actively working to free from prison the person who confessed to killing her daughter 16 years ago," Morrison said. "This man sits in prison and his champion is the mother of the victim of the crime. Which of course begs for the question, how is that possible? And it's possible because, well, it's kind of a strange case."
Today, Tapp is in prison south of Boise convicted of the rape and murder after the confession he made to police more than a decade and a half ago. Dr. Greg Hampikian, a BSU professor and the director of the Idaho Innocence Project says Tapp was scared when he confessed and is not Angie Dodge's killer.
"That confession was the only evidence. I dare anyone to find other evidence. There is no other evidence. In fact, there's a perfect DNA profile of someone who did this who is not Chris Tapp," Hampikian said.
To find that 'someone', Hampikian is asking to take another look at the DNA from the crime scene.
"I'm interested in applying new DNA technology to the sample, the male DNA that was found on the victim in this case, on several samples, it is the same guy. It is not Chris Tapp, but there's no hit to the database, the criminal database," Hampikian said. "There are new techniques that can be used to identify that person, and we're in court now, trying to have that applied."
Morrison says occasionally airing stories like this can trigger new tips. Just months ago he says a Montana man was freed after almost 30 years in prison.
"When the story aired, it prompted enough people who saw it to say, hey wait a minute, I know something about that, or I know someone who does know something about that, and that man is now out of prison because those people came forward, so this can happen. It makes it all the more interesting to do," Morrison said.
Hampikian says Carol Dodge is the first member of a victim's family to come forward to work with the Innocence Project. They are currently working on about two dozen cases.
On the other side of the case, the original detective told Dateline he absolutely believes Tapp is part of the murder. He says Tapp knows details only someone who was present for the crime could know about.