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Crime News Dateline

Days After Getting Married, Man Dies in Wife's Arms While Defending Her from Serial Killer Intruder

Newlyweds Scott Pierce and Katherine Bailey's new home put them on a collision course with a dangerous serial killer hired to target someone else. 



By Jill Sederstrom

Scott Pierce and Katherine Bailey wanted a lifetime together — but they’d get only six days.

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Less than a week after tying the knot, Katherine told Albuquerque Police in New Mexico that a gunman broke into the couple’s new home in the middle of the night, according to the "Out of the Shadows" episode of Dateline: Secrets Uncovered. As Pierce tried to defend his bride, he was fatally shot in the neck and died in her arms. 

Although police would initially suspect Katherine of the crime, the investigation took a surprising turn when detectives learned that the couple had come face-to-face with a dangerous serial killer. 

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Who was Scott Pierce? 

At 6’8” tall and more than 350 pounds, Pierce was a gentle giant who loved to combine his passions for nature and photography. 

“He saw the beauty in anything. I mean, he would stop to take a picture of anything,” Katherine recalled. “We would make special trips out into the desert when the cactuses were blooming. We took a lot of photographs.” 

The 41-year-old, who Katherine described as a natural nurturer, was also pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner and was eager to start his life with his new wife.

In May 2008, just one month before they said "I do," the couple closed on their first home together. Instead of rushing off on a honeymoon, the newlyweds decided to spend their first days as husband and wife enjoying their new home. 

Katherine Bailey featured on Dateline Secrets Uncovered Episode 1304

Intruder asks, "Where's Manny?"

But in the early morning hours of June 28, 2008, that idyllic life would come to a violent end. Katherine told Dateline correspondent Josh Mankiewicz that she heard her dogs barking around 3 a.m., so she got out of bed and walked down the hall.

Katherine noticed the back door was open, and then saw a “dark shadow” pointing something “long” and “pointy” at her in the dark. 

“I said, ‘Oh Scott, stop messing around,'” she recalled. “It didn’t make sense that it would be a stranger in my home pointing a shotgun at me, so it had to be Scott playing a trick.”

But she quickly realized this was no trick. The intruder told her to get down on the ground and then demanded something odd. 

“Your mind works very fast,"  Katherine explained. "He said, 'Get down on the ground,' so I did. And he said, ‘Where’s Manny?,’ and I said, ‘What? What did you say?’ And he said, ‘Where’s Manny?’”

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What happened to Scott Pierce?

Just as the intruder pointing the gun at Katherine asked her where "Manny" was, her husband Pierce entered the kitchen and charged the man.

“At that point, it was kind of a blur,” Katherine said. “All I remember was him turning very fast, but I saw the bright flash of the gun and I think that kind of temporarily blinded me.”

The intruder quickly fled, but Pierce lay bleeding on the floor, with a gaping wound in his neck. 

“I told him I loved him,” Katherine said while wiping away a tear. “I put my hands on his face and I told him I loved him. He had his hand up on his stomach and I noticed it fell, and I’m fairly certain he died right there.”

Emergency responders rushed Pierce to the hospital, where a doctor told Katherine that her 41-year-old husband was dead, just six days after their wedding.

Initially, investigators took a hard look at Katherine herself, especially after learning she was the beneficiary on a life insurance policy for her husband totaling somewhere in the mid-six figures.

But the clue to what happened to Pierce would lie in the brief exchange Katherine had with the killer. The man had asked for Manny, the same person they had purchased the home from just one month earlier.

A police handout of Jason Skaggs

Who killed Scott Pierce? 

Detectives quickly tracked Manny down and learned that Jason Skaggs, his coworker at a roofing company, may have had it out for Manny after he allegedly slept with Skaggs’ wife. 

Skaggs, an ex-Marine with a minor criminal record, insisted he had spent the weekend at a campground with his wife.

“I have never broke into anyone’s house,” he insisted to detectives. “I have never shot anyone in my life.” 

But as his interrogation with detectives continued, Skaggs eventually admitted that he did hire another man he worked with at the roofing company to “hurt” Manny, not realizing the target of his anger had recently moved. 

He identified that man as Clifton Bloomfield, a career criminal who was on probation at the time for a home invasion robbery.

When Bloomfield was brought in for questioning, he surprisingly confessed he had gone to the home that night to “kill” Manny and was thrown off guard when he found two other people inside the home.

"All I can remember thinking is, this isn’t Manny,” Bloomfield told detectives. “He was too big. And he didn’t stop coming at me.” 

Bloomfield and Skaggs were arrested for Pierce’s murder less than 48 hours after the new husband was killed — but it wasn’t the end of the story.

A police handout of Clifton Bloomfield

What other crimes did Clifton Bloomfield commit? 

After Pierce’s murder, an Albuquerque crime lab got a DNA hit linking Bloomfield to another violent homicide that took place around six months before Pierce’s death. Couple Tak and Pung Yi were brutally killed in their home on December 4, 2007. Tak, who had been beaten to death, managed to scratch his killer before he died, leaving the assailant’s DNA underneath his fingernails. 

However, that DNA was never run through the system until after Pierce’s death. When Katherine learned of the connection to another crime, she was furious.

“DNA evidence could have prevented him from killing Scott and it infuriated me,” she said, arguing that had the evidence been processed sooner, Bloomfield would have been behind bars.

Kari Brandenburg, who at the time was the Bernalillo County District Attorney, told Dateline that the evidence had been processed just as it had in any other case. 

“We have limited resources, we had cases that were going to trial that we need DNA on and so there’s a priority,” Brandenburg said of why the DNA in the Yi case wasn’t run sooner. “I can’t say anything wrong happened, the process worked the way it always works.”

Katherine would eventually sue the city and settle for close to half a million dollars — although the city never admitted any liability in the settlement.

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In an effort to avoid the death penalty for the Yi murders, Bloomfield agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence and admitted killing two more victims before the Yis and Piece: a talented designer found strangled in his home in 2005; and an 81-year-old retired school teacher found three day later who had been beaten and suffocated.  

Skaggs pleaded guilty for his role in Pierce’s murder and is currently serving a 30-year sentence for charges including second-degree murder and aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon.

After learning of Bloomfield’s chilling past, Katherine was grateful she made it out of her encounter with the cold-blooded serial killer alive. 

Although she once thought she’d never find love again, she did eventually remarry and is now making the best out of life.

“I could be dead right now. I know that,” Katherine said. “It’s like being given a second chance, so I’m running with it.”