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Donald Bess raped and murdered student Angela Samota and got away with it until DNA testing caught up with him

Mugshot of Donald Andrew Bess
Donald Bess was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of Angela Samota. Pic credit: Dallas County Sheriff’s Office

Angela Samota was a 20-year-old student at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, when she was raped and murdered in 1984.

Her killer Donald Andrew Bess managed to evade justice for nearly 3-decades until DNA forensic testing finally caught up with this serial rapist.

Angela Samota’s corpse was found naked and covered in blood at her off-campus condominium near SMU on October 13, 1984. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed eighteen times.

Police suspected her friend Russell Buchanan was the killer; he had been with Samota on a pals evening out the night she was murdered and had last seen her just a couple of hours before she was killed.

Other suspects included an ex-boyfriend from her hometown of Abilene, who had once cut up her clothes in a rage and threatened her with a knife, and also her current boyfriend, Ben McCall.

In 1984 DNA testing was in its infancy, but detectives managed to collect blood and semen samples from Samota’s body. Through these samples, they were able to rule out McCall and the ex-boyfriend, but Buchanan appeared to be a match.

The police believed Buchanan to be the murderer but didn’t have enough to hold him, and the case went quiet for almost 25-years.

New DNA testing flagged up Donald Bess

Finally, the case was reopened in 2008, and fresh DNA tests were run. These tests exonerated Buchanan and led police for the first time to Donald Andrew Bess. A man that was already in the prison system.

It transpired that Bess had tricked Samota into letting him into her home under the pretext that he needed the bathroom. He then raped and murdered her.

Bess was already serving a life sentence for an unrelated rape in the Houston area. Two other women have also accused him of rape, and his ex-wife testified that he physically and psychologically abused her.

Further to that, Bess had been paroled for a rape conviction in 1984 just prior to his attack on Samota.

When arguing for the death penalty at Bess’s sentencing for Samota’s murder in 2010, Dallas County prosecutor Josh Healy argued: “If Donald Bess isn’t deserving of a death sentence… then who is? Who’s done this much harm? Who’s tormented this many people?”

The jury agreed with him and sentenced Bess to die for his crime.

More from Oxygn

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Oxygn.

Last week on Dateline: Secrets Uncovered the case of Byron David Smith, who shot dead two teenagers who broke into his home. He argued it was self-defense, but police said he used unreasonable force by setting a trap for his victims before executing them.

Also on Oxygn this week, the case of Kayla Nelson, who decided to murder her high school sweetheart and father of her children Dominic Whitaker in Arkansas in 2010. She then attempted to burn his remains on a neighbors land.

Dateline: Secrets Uncovered airs Friday at 8/7c on Oxygn.


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