Witness says deaf woman bought chain saw

By Carson Walker

Witnesses testified Wednesday that a deaf woman accused of killing
and dismembering another woman bought a chain saw two days after the
victim disappeared.

Daphne Wright, 43, is charged with kidnapping and killing Darlene
VanderGiesen, 42, on Feb. 1, 2006. Her remains were found in a
Minnesota ditch and the Sioux Falls landfill.

Denee Daniels, a cashier at Ace Hardware in Sioux Falls, said Wright
paid cash for a $52.99 electric chain saw the morning of Feb. 3,
2006, and came back that afternoon to buy oil for the blade.

Daniels said she couldn’t talk with Wright because Wright is deaf.
She later picked Wright out of a police photo lineup.

Detective Timothy Bakke testified that receipts found in Wright’s
possession matched Daniels’ recollection of the purchases.

Barb Kluthe, a US Bank employee, said Wright didn’t have enough money
in her checking account to cover a $50 purchase until Feb. 3.

About 9 a.m. that day, Wright got $200 out of an ATM, she said. That
was within an hour of when Daniels said Wright bought the saw.

According to a receipt found in Wright’s house, and testimony of
pharmacist Linda Nelson, Wright bought black garbage bags at 10:20
a.m. on Feb. 3.

Prosecutors said the Hefty bags are similar to those that some of
VanderGiesen’s remains were found in.

Detective Keith Gries also took the stand Wednesday, saying he saw
striations, or lines, on the concrete floor of Wright’s basement.

Prosecutors have said those lines are similar to the type of damage a
chain saw would leave.

Detective Steve Schaefer said when he searched Wright’s basement, he
spotted what turned out to be fragments of bone and tissue matching
VanderGiesen’s DNA on the wall of a room, similar to flecks he had
seen during autopsies.

“What I have seen on the saw blade after they have conducted the
autopsy was very similar, I felt, to what I saw on the wall of this
small room,” Schaefer said.

He also testified that as investigators peeled away fresh blue paint
from the room’s floor, he smelled petroleum.

“The more paint they would peel off, the stronger the order would
get,” Schaefer said.

Part of VanderGiesen’s body was burned, prosecutors said.

Detective Andrea Kelly testified that Wright had blue paint on the
black jeans she wore when she was interviewed by police.

Kelly said she also found chain saw oil in Wright’s garbage.

Lt. William Fluit testified that orange carpet found near
VanderGiesen’s remains in the landfill matched some carpet in
Wright’s basement.

Wright’s former house mate, Jacki Chesmore, earlier testified that
she saw Wright take that carpet to a Dumpster.

Schaefer also said a shirt belonging to Wright was found near
VanderGiesen’s remains.

The gray double-extra-large long-sleeve shirt was about 5 feet from
VanderGiesen’s feet and lower legs, he said.

Wright’s former girlfriend, Sallie Collins, testified earlier that
she gave Wright the shirt and that it was unique because of a sign
language logo on it.

Detective Bakke also told jurors about a handwritten note Wright left
behind in a motel in which she suggested a man had broken into her
house the previous fall and sexually assaulted her.

In broken English, she wrote that the man threatened to hurt her
family if she ever said anything and that maybe he was responsible
for VanderGiesen’s disappearance.

“Maybe man frame me?” Bakke said the note read.

Wright also referred to blood on her basement floor and the odor of
gas in the basement – elements of the crime that had not yet been
made public, Bakke said.

An autopsy determined VanderGiesen was killed either by suffocation
or a blow to the head. Wright was arrested Feb. 10 after a search of
her basement yielded bone fragments, muscle and fat that matched DNA
taken from VanderGiesen’s toothbrush.

VanderGiesen’s parents have buried her body at her hometown of Rock
Valley, Iowa.

If Wright is convicted of kidnapping or murder, jurors will be asked
to sentence her to death. She would be the first woman on record
executed in South Dakota.

(( Source:  AP Newswire ))