Police say the story told by psychologist Dr. Brent Dennis about the night his wife died is simply not credible, which is why he now faces a murder charge.
Homicide investigators say they believe they have definitive evidence to prove that Dennis was not home and asleep, on the night his wife, Susan Winters supposedly committed suicide.
Cell phone and computer records indicate he had a busy night.
The I-Team’s George Knapp lays out the evidence collected during two separate investigations.
“He watched her die for 24 hours and never lifted a hand to help her,” said Dan Winters, Susan’s father:
From the moment, they first heard about the supposed suicide of their daughter Susan, Dan and Avis Winters had a gnawing suspicion she’d been murdered by her husband, Dr. Brent Dennis.
Last year, in their first television interview, the Winters told the I-Team why the suicide story didn’t cut it.
“She had two daughters,” Dan Winters said. “She loved them more than anything. If she was going to commit suicide, she wouldn’t have done it in front of those girls and she wouldn’t have done it where it took 24 hours to accomplish.”
On the morning of Jan. 3 2015, emergency responders arrived at Susan’s home and found her near-lifeless body. Husband Brent Dennis said he’d been home all night, that Susan had gone to bed around 9 p.m. the previous evening, that he awoke next to his wife and found her unresponsive.
Dr. Dennis said his wife had been depressed and may have ingested a lethal mix of pain pills and anti-freeze, a curious statement that would eventually change several times. There was little physical evidence to support that version of Susan’s death.
“No anti-freeze in the room. No glass with any remnants of anti-freeze liquid in the room, no prescription bottle for oxycodone, no suicide note. This whole notion that she was somehow able to ambulate to the garage, only to ingest sufficient anti-freeze to kill herself, put the anti-freeze down, neatly put the cap back on it, then go back to bed, it’s preposterous,” said lawyer Tony Sgro.
He and his partner David Roger oversaw a private investigation into the death and uncovered major problems with Brent Dennis’ story. Their investigation eventually prompted Henderson police to reopen the case, and the evidence contained in this arrest report led the principal detective to declare that the death “wasn’t a suicide” and that Brent Dennis was the “perpetrator” of what became a murder charge.
A sworn deposition of Dr. Dennis helped seal the deal for police. In it, the doctor admitted a pattern of illicit drug use and marital woes but stuck by his story about the night Susan died. Phone and computer records obtained by police paint a much different picture and seem to confirm the family’s suspicions that Dr. Dennis was awake and active as Susan Winters lay dying.
Soon after she went to bed, records show, Dennis was online trying to access information about Susan’s bank account which contained close to $200,000. At approximately 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 3, hours after Susan had supposedly poisoned herself, Dennis began an exchange of close to 20 text messages with Jeff Crosby, a cocaine dealer operating out of the Orleans Hotel.
Cell tower records show Dennis left the home and met with Crosby, then was back in the house by 3:30 a.m. His phone showed a final call to Crosby at 5:32 in the morning. At around that same time, someone used the family computer to search for information about the lethal effects of anti-freeze. An hour or so later just before 7 a.m., Dennis called 9-1-1 to report something was wrong with Susan.
“I mean, you got to really compare, I was home that night. I fell asleep and then I woke up, that’s the story, to the actual facts that developed. He’s on the cell phone all night, speaking to people all night. He left the residence. He was on the Internet doing searches. From what the cell phone records, his departure in the middle of the night, the Internet searches bear out, he didn’t sleep at all that night. Quite the opposite of what he told the police,” Sgro said.
In his deposition, Dennis told the story that it was his wife who first searched for information about anti-freeze. The police report found that search was actually conducted remotely, most likely from his medical office. And the report notes, Dennis later hired a computer expert to wipe clean any traces that such a search had been conducted.
Questions remain about the source of the anti-freeze that was found in Susan Winters’ system. Where it came from and how it got into her body? The I-Team will have more on that in the days ahead.