Shrugging off “predictably” critical comments about a “publicity stunt” from some area residents, Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty says he is grateful for the exposure and expertise that TNT’s Cold Justice brought in to help resolve the Copper Dollar Ranch murder case.
As you now know, Theresa Lynn Supino was arrested Monday, March 3, 2014, exactly 31 years to the day after the brutal double slayings at the ranch, located just outside Newton, Iowa. Supino’s estranged husband, then-20 year old Steven Fisher, and his girlfriend, 17 year old Melisa Gregory, were killed in the 1983 attack.
Halferty says he and others in the police community earlier pondered the wisdom of getting the high-profile true-crime Cold Justice TV team involved. But he says the show brought a mix of valuable law enforcement, technical and equipment expertise to the table, some of it not normally available to a small county law enforcement center.
With the show’s help, he and others were finally able to bring some closure with the arrest of Theresa Supino. The arrest is meaningful to not only the victims’ families and friends, he says, but for townspeople who have long lived under the cloud of suspicion generated by this infamous case.
For the Sheriff, it was also a matter of personal and hometown pride. He and victim Melisa Gregory were junior high school classmates.
As for the “publicity stunt” comments about the timing of the arrest, Sheriff Halferty says, though he and others wanted to make the announcement of the arrest on the March 3 anniversary date, he wasn’t sure if the necessary legal paperwork would be finished in time. But he’s grateful that the “stars aligned” so it could happen on that day.
Halferty is hesitant to take any personal credit, instead praising the “solid police work, team effort, and the long hours” spent by personnel at law enforcement agencies in both Jasper County (where the crime occurred) and Altoona, Iowa (where Supino lived).
Contrary to what some may believe, Halferty insists no “smoking gun” evidence resulted from Cold Justice’s involvement. Instead, he says Jasper County officials were able to set into place “solid and consistent” circumstantial pieces to build a strong case for the arrest of Supino, listing three credible reasons:
- The defendant’s consistent admission that she was at the scene of the crime the night before
- The many contradictory and inconsistent statements the defendant has made to police and others over the ensuing years
- The many notebooks and files kept by the defendant. The Sheriff wrote, “Based upon my training and experience, it is common for persons that are suspects to keep … diaries, journals … and items related to the case.” The items in question were seized under the terms of Jasper County’s Search Warrant.
The resulting legal complaint, which is now part of the public file at the Jasper County courthouse, was certainly solid enough to convince a judge to sign off on an arrest warrant for Supino. It is not clear if any further arrests will be forthcoming in connection with the case.
Meanwhile, Cold Justice is scheduled to air the Copper Dollar show on the TNT network on Friday, March 28th.
The show will air at 8:00 p.m. and 11:01 p.m. Friday, March 28th and again at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 29th.