College freshman AJ Hadsell returns home for spring break, March 2015. Five weeks later her body is discovered face-down in a ditch, covered by a sheet of plywood. Investigators immediately identify that foul play is involved. Deep bruises are visible on Hadsell's torso and face. Hadsell has been murdered. Detectives turn their attention towards AJ’s stepfather, Wesley Hadsell, as their primary suspect, but why?
AJ Hadsell dies of a heroin overdose, but the family is adamant that AJ did not use drugs. Here is the first connection to the stepfather. Wesley Hadsell has been kicked out of the family home by AJ’s mother due to his drug use, heroin specifically. Then, authorities find suspicious items in his car, including some of AJ’s belongings, as well as duct tape and a shovel.
In this episode of Body Bags, forensics expert Joseph Scott Morgan and Jackie Howard explore and explain the details of AJ’s murder, the difficulties of investigating a body that has been outside and exposed to the elements for weeks, and why AJ’s stepfather, Wesley Hadsell, was the first suspect in this case.
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01:00 - Introducing the case; 18 year old AJ Hadsell, found face-down in a drainage ditch.
05:00 - The murder investigation begins immediately upon finding AJ Hadsell’s body.
06:40 - Why it was obvious that this was a death caused by another person, from the autopsy table.
11:00 - Once a body has excessive decomposition, it can be very difficult to ascertain cause, method, and/or modes of death.
15:30 - The unique and morbid skillset that Medical Death Investigators need to have in order to be successful in their jobs.
16:00 - The mode of death in the case of AJ Hadsell.
21:00 - With three times the lethal amount of Heroin found in her body, AJ Hadsell’s life had a horrific ending.
24:00 - Heroin as a mode of murder and the search for AJ’s killer.
25:30 - Drug testing via hair follicle and how this helped authorities rule out self-administered accidental Heroin overdose.
30:00 - Who had access to AJ Hadsell and could remove her from her home without signs of distress?
31:00 - Wesley Hadsell’s history of violence against women and other evidence used by investigators to charge Wesley with the murder of AJ Hadsell
32:30 - The tragedy in this case continues to intensify as details about the positioning of AJ’s clothing on her body when she was found.
37:30 - Determining assault can be extremely difficult after weeks of decomposition.
38:00 - Wesley Hadsell was found guilty of First-degree Murder and Concealment of a Dead Body in February, 2022. He maintains his innocence. He has been sentenced to Life + 15 years in prison.
Rest in peace, Anjelica “AJ” Hadsell. 1996 - 2015.
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