Season 2 | Episode 7 | “Second Thoughts” | Aired Aug 8, 2014
Alma Noffsinger, 29-year-old mother of three, was found beaten to death on December 17, 1981. Due to lack of evidence at the time, the case went cold.
Newly elected Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers has reopened Alma’s case 32 years later at the insistence of Alma’s family, and asked Kelly and Yolanda to help. Sheriff Landers was a high school senior at the time of the murder. Due to the nature of the crime and the low murder rate in Paulding, he wants to bring a sense of closure to both the family and the community.
In a lighthearted twist, it seems they’ll be using the Paulding County jail as their base of operations. Yolanda and Kelly are in jail, y’all. They meet with Deputy Robert Garcia, Lt. Brion Hanenkrat from the Paulding PD; Special Investigator Alan Brown is back this week as well.
Here are the basics on the case: There was no sign of forced entry, there was no sign of sexual assault, nothing was stolen and the door was left open. The last time Alma was seen alive was two days before her body was found. As the medical examiner was unable to determine the time of death, the murder could have occurred anytime after she was last seen.
It’s time to start talking suspects.
The first suspect is her first husband, David Delgado, the father of her two older children, Debbie and David Jr. She had recently given him custody of both kids, and the reason behind that will need to be investigated. However, they had a fairly good relationship, much to the chagrin of David’s new girlfriend and now-wife, Maria.
Which makes Maria our second suspect. Apparently, Alma was sending signals that she might want to get back together with David, and Maria was very angry. Additionally, she took those notes to Alma’s second husband, Steve, to show him what was happening. While it’s not admissible in court, Maria also failed a polygraph.
The final suspect is Steve Noffsinger. Alma and Steve divorced when their child Ryan was 2 years old. While part of what caused the divorce were the notes Alma had sent to her first husband, Steve had recently been trying to reconcile. According to reports, he was still in love with her and very jealous. Additionally, they were in a custody battle over the child they had together.
From here, Yolanda and Kelly go to see Alma’s brother and sister. It’s very clear just how much they miss her and just how glad they are that someone is looking into the case.
While they no longer have access to Alma’s home, they’ve set up a mock crime scene. Based on the evidence, it looks like whoever attacked Alma was able to get into her bedroom without Alma waking up; nothing was disturbed. While Alma’s body was found facedown on the bed, she had multiple injuries to her head, defensive wounds on her arms and even a broken hand. The injuries suggest a high level of rage.
If they can figure out who had that level of rage, the odds are good that that’s their killer.
Alan and Rob head to Houston to talk with David Delgado and Maria. Both David and Maria seem fairly even-keeled. No matter how jealous or angry Alma may have been, she seems pretty open, and even says that she thinks showing Steve the cards was childish. David goes on to say that Alma was trying to get back together with him because she really didn’t want to marry Steve, but when David didn’t want to reconcile, she felt she had to marry Steve.
Both of them mention things that portray Steve as a much more angry and controlling guy than people might have first thought. Part of the reason Alma asked David to take back David Jr. and Debbie was because Steve was being mean to them. David says he knew something had to be wrong because Alma wouldn’t have given up her kids unless it was bad.
Due to the information gathered, David and Maria are both removed from the suspect board.
Now it’s time to lean more about Steve Noffsinger. To that end, they call David Delgado Jr., who tells them that Steve was abusive to his mother and even threatened to break her arms when David tried to intervene. Debbie doesn’t have many memories, but she does remember that Steve was very mean and favored his own son, their half-brother, Ryan. Debbie also tells them that since she and David went back to live with their father after Alma died, Ryan wasn’t told that he had a brother and sister, and didn’t find out about it until Debbie met him in high school.
Kelly and Yolanda talk to an ex of Steve, who tells them that Steve told her his wife was an undercover police officer and died in the line of duty. He talked about how much he missed her and how she’d always be in his heart. When the ex went to the library and researched it, she found out the truth and was scared to stay with him. When she told him she was going to her mother’s, he said the same thing to her: “You’ll always be in my heart.”
They speak with Steve’s family and find out that he carried a stick that he used at work that could have been the murder weapon. Perhaps not coincidentally, he got rid of it after the murder. Other troubling insights are that many of Steve’s family members are afraid of him and that before Alma, he had a wife who had a stillborn baby and he’s “never been the same since.” He’s put all of his attention on Ryan, and anything that would take Ryan away would be a threat.
Kelly and Yolanda also find a very telling detail in the divorce and custody paperwork. Steve stated in his request for custody that “the child’s natural mother died on the 16th day of December.” Kelly notes that that’s a pretty specific date, considering the medical examiner had not confirmed the time of death.
In an effort to get more information, they go to see Alma’s former neighbor, who was the last person to see her alive and found the body. The Monday night before she was killed, Alma told Steve that because of the way he treated her, she wasn’t going to let him see Ryan on anything other than scheduled custody visits.
Talk about a trigger.
One of the things that shows just how dangerous the team thinks Steve may be is the amount of planning that goes into meeting with him to question him. Undercover officers and unmarked vehicles are just part of the plan as they prepare to meet their prime suspect. If the multiple signs on Steve’s doors warning that trespassers will be shot are any indication, they have reason to be concerned.
He’s definitely playing hard to get. He doesn’t answer the door, and even tells the team he’s not at home when they call him … but they’re pretty sure he is home. Either way, they set up a place and time to meet him. He then calls and tells them that he’d rather meet them at his home.
Not that it helps. Steve has developed a case of amnesia, and his answer to pretty much every question ism “I don’t remember.”
However, Kelly is not deterred. While talking to Steve might have been helpful if they could have tripped him up, the main thing in solving this case will be the evidence they gathered this week.
The history of abuse, the level of rage at the crime scene, the lies, the numerous accounts of his temper, the divorce, the possibility that he’d lose his son: All of those factors have helped them build a strong circumstantial case.
The District Attorney agrees, and he’ll be taking it to the grand jury.
When Yolanda and Kelly go to talk to the family, what strikes me most is Debbie’s comment. She says that while she’s glad to have closure, she knows how hard this will be for Ryan. He lost his mother, and now he has to deal with hearing that his father is a killer. From everything we’ve learned about Alma, her kids were the most important thing in her life. I think she’d be very proud of her daughter.
Cold Justice airs Fridays at 9/8C on TNT.