Embarking on an exploration of a haunting true crime saga, this article delves into the life and tragic death of Susan Woods, whose chilling murder in 1987 sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community of Stephenville, Texas.
Titled “There Is A Monster In Me,” the upcoming episode of ABC News‘ 20/20 unravels the harrowing details of Susan’s demise, initially leading authorities to suspect her estranged husband, Michael Woods.
However, a groundbreaking revelation two decades later brought a new suspect to light—Joseph Scott Hatley. As we navigate through the twists and turns of Susan Woods’ story, the series not only unveils the dark secrets surrounding her murder but also explores the aftermath and the unsettling writings Hatley left behind.
Join us on this gripping journey to unravel the mysteries of a small-town tragedy that remained shrouded in darkness for far too long.
Who Was Susan Woods?
Born on April 6, 1957, in Gillespie County, Texas, Susan Woods’ life took a devastating turn on July 28, 1987, in Stephenville, Texas, where she became the victim of a brutal rape and murder at the age of 30.
The small community was shaken to its core by the heinous crime, and suspicions initially fell on Susan’s estranged husband, Michael Woods, whose tumultuous relationship with Susan had recently culminated in a bitter divorce.
For two decades, Michael lived under the shadow of suspicion, despite his persistent claims of innocence and the absence of matching fingerprints at the crime scene.
However, in 2006, a breakthrough came when Detective Don Miller, utilizing the FBI’s electronic fingerprint database, identified a new suspect: Joseph Scott Hatley, an acquaintance of Susan’s who had even attended her funeral.
Hatley eventually confessed to the murder, revealing a chilling double life. According to Texas Monthly Susan Woods’ father discovered her lifeless body in the bathtub, prompting an investigation that initially pointed fingers at Michael.
Cindy Hayes, Susan’s best friend from high school, had suspicions about Michael, fueled by a cassette tape filled with offensive remarks about Susan and her family.
However, Lt. Don Miller’s reopened investigation led to the shocking revelation of Hatley’s guilt, a revelation that left the community in disbelief.
Susan’s tragic end, marked by an attempted assault before her death, sheds light on the complexities of a case that remained unsolved for two decades.
The renewed investigation uncovered the horrifying details surrounding Susan’s demise, emphasizing the impact of a crime that left a tight-knit community grappling with shock and grief.
Susan Woods There Is A Monster In Me
The upcoming episode of ABC News’ 20/20, titled “There Is A Monster In Me,” delves into the chilling real-life events of 1987 in Stephenville, Texas, where the lifeless body of Susan Woods was discovered, sparking immediate suspicions about her estranged husband, Michael Woods.
However, when fingerprints at the crime scene failed to match Michael’s, the case languished in uncertainty for two decades. A renewed investigation, twenty years later, led by a determined detective, unravelled the truth.
The fingerprints were traced back to Scott Hatley, a local man with a violent history, reopening the case and revealing the horrifying details of the murder.
As per reports, The motive behind Scott’s actions remained shrouded in mystery until 2022 when his writings, found in a trailer next to his deceased body, shed new light on the dark and perplexing case that had haunted the community for years.
Who Killed Susan Woods?
Susan Woods’ tragic death was at the hands of Joseph Scott Hatley, an unexpected perpetrator who turned out to be Cindy Hayes’ first cousin.
Despite initial suspicions surrounding Susan’s ex-husband, Michael Woods, and a prolonged investigation that yielded no conclusive evidence, it wasn’t until Lieutenant Miller decided to revisit the case after two decades that the truth began to unfold.
Utilizing advanced DNA profiling techniques, Miller analyzed fingerprints collected at the crime scene.
Astonishingly, the evidence pointed to Hatley, a previously unnoticed suspect. Michael Woods, who had been the primary focus of the initial investigation, found himself cleared of the suspicions that had haunted him for two decades.
Hatley was apprehended in Round Rock on June 6, 2006, and in 2007, he admitted to the heinous crime, leading to a plea agreement.
However, the family faced further anguish when Hatley was released from prison after serving just 11 years, contrary to the agreed-upon 30-year sentence.
The case of Susan Woods highlights the complexities and challenges of seeking justice, bringing closure to a community grappling with the shocking details of her untimely demise.
Who is Susan Woods’s Husband and Parents?
Michael, Susan Woods’ husband, was born in Indianapolis and experienced a tumultuous childhood marked by frequent relocations.
Moving to El Paso in second grade with his mother and six siblings, Michael’s early years were characterized by instability in the household.
At the age of 15, he relocated to Virginia, discovering a passion for music that led him to perform on street corners and in small clubs. His journey eventually brought him to Stephenville, Texas, where he crossed paths with Susan Woods.
Their relationship embodied the classic tale of opposites attracting, with Susan being the stereotypical good girl and Michael, the bad boy her parents warned her about.
Despite proposing to Susan and marrying in 1980, their marriage faced financial challenges due to Michael’s career in music and a nomadic lifestyle.
After attempts to reconcile during winter visits, Michael made a final departure in February 1987, leaving behind a cassette recording filled with grievances and handwritten notes that contributed to Susan’s sense of unease.
The troubled marriage ultimately led Susan to file for divorce, setting the stage for the tragic events that unfolded in the summer of 1987.
Susan Woods, born to her father Joe Atkins and mother Joe Atkins, experienced a tragic turn of events in July 1987. When Susan missed work for two consecutive days, her concerned supervisor reached out to her father, Joe Atkins.
Responding to the distressing news, Joe Atkins visited Susan’s home to check on her well-being, only to discover the heartbreaking reality that she had been brutally murdered.
The loss of Susan left her parents grappling with the unimaginable pain of losing their beloved daughter in such a devastating manner.