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Sasha Samsudean’s job in Orlando, Florida was all about making connections: She linked people looking for apartments with potential homes.
It was a perfect fit for the energetic and outgoing 27-year-old. But on October 17, 2015, her life came to a shocking end following a night out with friends.
After Samsudean failed to respond to calls, texts, and social media messages, a friend asked police to make a welfare check at her third-floor home at Uptown Apartments.
Police officers found Samsudean dead in her bed partially under the covers. The victim’s body was left untouched until the medical examiner arrived.
“There were obvious signs of injury to her neck,” William Jay, prosecutor for the State’s Attorney’s Office, 9th Circuit, Florida, told “Murdered By Morning,” airing Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.
Homicide detectives became involved in the investigation. They went through the scene with a fine-tooth comb, looking for DNA, fingerprints and anything out of place.
Fingerprints were found underneath the toilet seat lid and partial shoe prints were found on the floor. Investigators also noted Samsudean’s keys and phone were missing, and they observed that the toilet seat was up.
“That was something I would never expect in any apartment or home where only a woman lives,” Jay said.
The smell of bleach or a cleaning fluid lingered, suggesting that someone might have tried to wipe away evidence.
When an investigator from the medical examiner’s office arrived and pulled back the covers to inspect Samsudean’s body, police saw that her top was torn and her pants and underwear were gone.
The marks and bruising around Samsudean’s neck “indicated that she had been strangled,” said Joseph Gribble, a retired master police officer with the Orlando Police Department.
Samsudean’s body was taken to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy. It confirmed that she had been strangled as well as brutally battered on her upper body. A swab of her neck and chest revealed foreign DNA.
The lack of forced entry into the victim’s condo suggested she either knew her killer or had had direct contact with that person that night.
Police began by talking with Samsudean’s friend, Anthony Roper, who’d requested the welfare check, according to clickorlando.com.
Roper told investigators that he’d been with Samsudean at Attic Bar on October 17 at around 12:30 a.m. That’s when she left to go home. He said he grew concerned by her failure to respond to him afterward.
Detectives confirmed Roper’s account. They proceeded to dig deeper into how Samsudean got home — and what her condition was when she arrived there.
A modern luxury complex, Uptown Apartments had video surveillance cameras, digital key codes for each unit, and a 24/7 security guard.
Access to CCTV footage was not immediately available. In the meantime, police spoke with Stephen Duxbury, the guard on duty overnight at the building.
Duxbury told investigators he encountered Samsudean and two other women at the entrance of the building. He said Samsudean didn’t have an ID or a key fob that would have given her access. Around the same time an individual buzzed himself in and the victim followed.
He said that he finished speaking with the other women and went inside to check on Samsudean. He claimed he last saw her outside her apartment fumbling with the key code.
Duxbury allowed police to come into his home and take a pair of shoes. They were not a match for prints at the crime scene, according to “Murdered By Morning.”
Investigators needed to speak to the two women with Samsudean. They reached out to them through the media and the effort paid off. The witnesses, Julia Goff and her roommate, told investigators they were in an Uber and saw Samsudean appeared intoxicated to them as she was walking.
They had her get in their car and brought her home, where they encountered the security guard. Once Samsudean was inside, the women left.
Using the building’s digital key logs, police determined the identity of the resident who entered the building right before Samsudean. He told officials he saw the victim briefly and observed that she was “pretty drunk” before going into his apartment. He agreed to be swabbed for DNA and was cleared.
Although Samsudean’s cell phone was missing, detectives realized it was synched to her iPad, discovering through it that her last text, at 5:12 a.m., was to her high school friend Ben, whom she had dated on and off. He was interviewed, swabbed for DNA, and cleared by police.
A break in the case finally came when Samsudean’s upstairs neighbor, Cleiton Bezerra, spoke with police. He told them that he had been doing laundry and had seen Samsudean in the hallway — where she was being followed by Duxbury.
Police focused more closely on the security guard and noticed that after he clocked out at 6 a.m. he was carrying two large plastic garbage bags out of the building at 6:39 a.m.
A review of previous CCTV footage revealed that this was not normal procedure for Duxbury. And the bags — white plastic with red handles — matched ones in the victim’s apartment.
Police re-interviewed Duxbury. He agreed to a polygraph test. It revealed his answers to questions about Samsudean’s murder were duplicitous.
More red flags were raised. The soles of boots Duxbury wore appeared to be a match for prints at the scene, according to “Murdered By Morning.” Data on his phone had just been erased using a factory reset.
On October 23, police obtained a search warrant for Duxbury’s home and phone, which revealed he had searched on October 17 around 5 a.m. how to override a digital deadbolt lock like the one on Samsudean’s front door.
“Duxbury crosses a threshold and goes from protector to predator,’ Ray Caputo, WDBO reporter, told producers.
Using fingerprints Duxbury had given when he’d gotten a job in security, police found his prints to be a match for the one found on the rim of Samsudean’s toilet. Duxbury’s DNA was also a match for the evidence found on Samsudean’s body
On October 30, Duxbury was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery, and burglary, reported wftv.com.
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