Who Were The Liar And The Dealer Who Derailed A 15-Year-Old's Murder Investigation?

One woman’s lie and a man with a long rap sheet ended up derailing the police investigation, wasting valuable time, before the real murderer was caught.

By Erik Hawkins
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Injustice With Nancy Grace Bonus: The Kasprzak Case Began With Blood And A Red Tennis Shoe

The 2012 beating murder of 15-year-old Annie Kasprzak in Riverton, Utah, broke former prosecutor and top television legal analyst Nancy Grace’s heart. But what made the sheer injustice of the case worse was the precious time investigators wasted chasing red herrings before they zeroed in on the actual murderer.

“One unforgivable lie after another made the search for justice nearly impossible,” Grace said on the latest episode of “Injustice With Nancy Grace,” which aired Saturday night on Oxygen.

Annie’s death was preceded by a white lie — she told her boyfriend and her friends that she was pregnant with his child, and that she wanted to run away with him — and the investigation was waylaid by a second one.

Roughly a week after the murder, Joanna Franklin, an admitted heavy drug addict at the time, walked into a neighboring police station and said that she had witnessed Annie being killed, according to local NBC affiliate KSL. Investigators said on “Injustice With Nancy Grace” that Franklin was a suspect in a credit card fraud crime, and she fingered one of her associates: Daniel Robert Ferry.

Local police were familiar with Ferry, who had an extensive rap sheet and violent history, investigators said on the show. Franklin’s story, violent as it was, did not sound far-fetched.

“He fit the bill of someone capable, and possibly willing to, commit a crime like this,” Peter Leavitt, a prosecutor with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office said on the show.

Ferry, Franklin told police at the time, propositioned Annie for sex and, when she refused, “freaked” and grabbed her by the back of the head, slammed her face into a wall and kicked her when she fell to the ground.

Franklin told police that Ferry and some friends put Annie into an SUV while she was still breathing, saying that they were going “up to the canyon.” When Ferry and his friends returned, Franklin told police, they said that Annie had “gone swimming, or something like that.”

The Ferry story fell apart upon further investigation. Detectives indeed found suspicious evidence, including DNA, at Ferry’s house, but nothing linked Annie to the scene. Eventually, police found, Ferry had a solid alibi for Annie’s murder: He was committing another crime at the same time she was killed.

Ferry said that Franklin used to buy heroin from him and became angry when he “cut her off,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune, which interviewed him in jail during the investigation.

“Really, I think she’s just a hateful person,” Ferry said, according to the Tribune. “She made up the whole thing. Somebody who is just mad at you can just wreck your life so badly. I truly know what it’s like to be a victim [now].”

Later in 2012, Ferry was sent to prison nevertheless, on other charges — he reached a plea deal related to crimes committed around the time of Annie’s murder, including kidnapping, attempted drug possession with intent and drug distribution, according to Utah’s Deseret News.

When his sentence of up to 15 years was handed down, Ferry smiled at his wife, who was in the courtroom, and said, “See ya later,” the outlet reported.

Franklin testified during a 2015 hearing for the boy who would eventually be convicted of Annie’s murder, that had told police the story in hopes it would help her wiggle out of charges she was facing, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“I tweaked [the story] to be what he wanted to hear,” Franklin testified, according to the Tribune. “Like, I lied to him … I don’t even know all the stories I told. [But] they weren’t true.”

Aside from delaying the investigation into Annie’s murder, Franklin’s self-serving story also inflicted further pain on Annie’s parents.

“When I heard about [Ferry], I felt overwhelmed and confused,” Annie’s mother, Veronica Kasprzak said on the show. “There had been this horrible person in my daughter’s life, and if I’d known, I would have been able to protect her.”

For the whole tragic story of Annie Kasprzak’s murder and the winding road to justice, told as only Nancy Grace can, watch Episode 3 of “Injustice” on Oxygen.com. And for more shocking stories of justice delayed or still being sought, catch “Injustice With Nancy Grace,” Saturdays at 6 p.m. ET/PT.

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