A day after we released “An Arrogant Way of Killing,” the first episode of “The Mastermind,” court documents revealed striking new information about the murderer of Catherine Lee. On Friday, prosecutors filed a bombshell letter in the case, claiming that one of the Americans accused in that murder, David Stillwell, retained cell phone photos dated the day of Lee’s murder—photos that “appear to depict, among other things, a white van similar to the one in which (according to witness accounts) Lee was murdered and a wounded human head.” Catherine Lee’s body was found on February 12, 2012, shot twice underneath each eye.
As I reported, Lee was the victim of a dispute with Paul Le Roux, her alleged execution ordered by Joseph “Rambo” Hunter. Since July, when Stillwell and his alleged accomplice Adam Samia were arrested in North Carolina, the scope of the evidence against them has been unclear. I’d reported on some of it based on exclusive police reports and information from Rizaldy Rivera, an agent at the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation. Recent filings concerning Samia’s request for bail show that some of that evidence—such as how many witnesses identified the two from photo lineups—may not be as strong as Rivera believed. But prosecutors have also disclosed new evidence, including surveillance photos of Lee’s workplace from Samia’s camera, itineraries from the Philippine trip, and excerpts from Facebook chats in which Samia talks about the arrest of Hunter and wonders if he might be next.
The new filings also included one snippet of Stillwell’s alleged confession, which I reported on in Episode 1, fingering Samia as the gunman. Without context, it is impossible to know under what circumstances Stillwell made those statements, and whether they have any hope of holding up in court. Prosecutors also included a photograph from Stillwell’s Facebook page in which he poses with a new motorcycle he calls “Blood Money.”
The filings did clear up one key mystery for me: how Samia and Stillwell were allegedly recruited for the crime. Samia, the filing asserts, began working for Hunter and Dave Smith, Le Roux’s head of security, in 2008, transporting gold to and from places ranging from Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. More on that in an upcoming episode.
Read the full text of the prosecution’s letter.