Darlene Saddler Murder – On September 18, 2008, an unspeakably violent act occurred in Santa Ana, California: the brutal murder of Darlene Saddler, a loving mother of four. Darlene Saddler met an unexpected end when someone took her life inside her own home. Her five-year-old daughter, Abby, witnessed the murder firsthand. As law enforcement delved deeper into the case, they quickly identified several suspects with motives to harm the 49-year-old victim. Investigation Discovery’s series, ‘Unusual Suspects season 8 episode 8, “Murder Down Memory Lane,” explores this unnerving tale of murder in an episode that delves into a violent incident from the past. This riveting documentary carefully details the steps of an exhaustive police investigation that led to the apprehension and eventual justice of Darlene’s attacker. This documentary offers everything for those interested in criminal investigations or those who simply wish to learn more.
Story of Darlene Saddler’s Murder
Tragically, 49-year-old Darlene Saddler of Santa Ana, California, was taken from us much too early. Reputable acquaintances praised her as a dedicated mother of four children, appreciating her devotion and commitment to prioritizing family above all else. Darlene, who had been through multiple marriages, had recently found herself in yet another matrimonial arrangement. This time, the consequences were much greater as she now found herself raising her five-year-old daughter, Abby. Unforeseen circumstances led Darlene and Abby to remain in Santa Ana while Darlene’s former companion, April, no longer wanted her as a companion. Darlene’s adult children occasionally visited, adding an air of familial intrigue. Despite a troubled past, Darlene managed to earn the respect of her community. Little did her unknowing neighbors know that a devastating tragedy lay just around the corner, ready to shatter what had once been a close-knit family.
On September 18, 2008, Darlene’s son, Jonathan, confronted an unexpected reality as soon as he entered their Santa Ana residence. What should have been a routine return home turned into something out of a thriller movie. As Jonathan entered the kitchen, his heart dropped at seeing his motionless mother lying on the cold floor. His first impression was terrifying, with an exposed kitchen knife protruding from her neck as a shocking reminder of the bloodshed that had taken place. Alarmed by the scene, he immediately searched the premises, and his senses heightened in reaction to the disturbing situation. Jonathan soon discovered a horrifying truth: his five-year-old sister, Abby, had witnessed the brutal murder from an adjoining bedroom. Outraged, Jonathan mustered the courage to call 911 for assistance. First responders swiftly arrived at the scene and met with grim sights.
Tragically, Darlene had been taken from us too soon, leaving an irreplaceable void. An initial medical examination revealed a heartbreaking truth: the lifeless body showed clear evidence of multiple stab wounds, indicating the brutal nature of the crime. An autopsy confirmed this shocking fact. The investigation revealed that the victim had been shot numerous times before succumbing to the fatal stabbing that caused her demise. Law enforcement officials made an astounding discovery at the crime scene: shell casings indicating discharged firearms were recovered. Additional evidence, including multiple blood smears, intensified the gravity of the murder. Surprisingly, despite no sign of forced entry or theft, authorities remained baffled. They believed this deliberate act of murder had been meticulously planned and executed.
Investigation and Arrest
Law enforcement officials initially inquired and interrogated Abby, the only eyewitness present at the crime scene. To their disbelief, the 5-year-old eyewitness provided a shocking account of what occurred. Although she could only offer vague descriptions, the child reported that a male wearing dark clothing and an intimidating black mask was her attacker. As part of their ongoing investigation, law enforcement officials thoroughly examined every inch of the crime scene, leaving no stone unturned. Determined, they searched Darlene’s neighborhood, hoping to uncover relevant leads.
However, their tireless efforts yielded no fruitful results, leaving them with more questions than answers. Unbelievably, it recently appeared that Abby, her siblings, and Darlene’s former spouse had all been cleared in the ongoing investigation. Initial suspects with credible alibis were excluded from any involvement in the case. Law enforcement officials continued their search for justice, striving to identify and track down those responsible. Unfortunately, their investigation hit an unexpected roadblock, leaving them without leads or suspects to pursue and bringing the once-promising inquiry to an abrupt halt, leaving investigators powerless in their pursuit of truth and justice.
Law enforcement worked tirelessly for months, pursuing multiple leads that eventually led to justice for Darlene. One significant lead involved her former tenant, who had been illegally evicted from their apartment complex. Police investigated an extraordinary series of events in which an acquaintance of the victim had been overheard making threats of harm against another individual. Unfortunately, after an exhaustive investigation, both individuals were cleared of any suspicion, leaving investigators struggling for answers and making no progress in the case.
The investigation remained dormant for days, with those involved desperately searching for clues. At a crucial juncture, April made a phone call to revitalize the investigation. Three months after her brother Jonathan’s act of murder, April made an unexpected and startling disclosure: she suggested that her former flame, Brian Landry, might bear some responsibility for the crime. Jonathan immediately recognized April’s voice, drawing his attention. Without hesitation, he relayed vital details to the authorities. As they investigated further, they discovered an alarming truth: Brian had been in contact with April in the hours leading up to Darlene’s murder.
Law enforcement devised a plan to gather Brian’s DNA without his knowledge discreetly. When his sample arrived at a forensic laboratory for analysis, they quickly saw the outcome: Brian was innocent! Brian’s DNA matched that found at the crime scene, convincing the police of his guilt. They swiftly arrested him for conducting extensive questioning aimed at unraveling his complex web of relationships, particularly with Darlene herself. Brian, the prime suspect in the murder case, initially denied involvement. However, he had no choice but to confess when confronted with undeniable evidence.
According to Brian, April had orchestrated the crime and requested him to carry out the murder of her own mother. He claimed to have donned a sinister all-black ensemble during the act. Investigators of this perplexing case continued their investigation as authorities worked diligently to uncover the truth behind these troubling accusations. A comprehensive search of Brian’s residence yielded shocking findings that further shocked and alarmed everyone involved. Authorities seized a handgun hidden within his residence, which, upon closer examination, proved to be an exact match to the murder weapon used in the crime. Law enforcement swiftly apprehended Brian Landry and April Saddler for their involvement in this violent act.
Prosecution of Brian Paul Landry and April Saddler
Brian, the defendant, emphatically pleaded not guilty to all the allegations leveled against him in an impressive courtroom scene. However, the jury returned a clear guilty verdict on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, leaving no room for doubt. April, too, admitted to all charges brought against her with shocking honesty, without hesitation or delay. In an unexpected move by the prosecution, April was charged as a juvenile and subjected to additional juvenile prosecution measures.
Following this surprising development, Judge DeLauro ordered April’s detention until she reached 25. Although April Saddler may seem to be disappearing from California history, reports and information obtained from public sources indicate that she remains in California. Despite being released from prison in 2017, she remains close to the scene of her alleged misdeeds, which raises curiosity about her whereabouts and the reasons behind her presence in California.
On the other hand, Brian is imprisoned at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo County, California. He spends his days behind bars, awaiting redemption, with sources indicating that he could become eligible for parole as early as 2026.