An Eye for an Eye
"She told them that the only person she could think of, the only person that disliked her husband, was a man by the name of Dr. Bradley Schwartz," Murphy recalls.
Murphy initially discounted the comments. After all, Schwartz and Stidham hadn't worked together in almost two years. "I thought there was no way. There's no way a doctor's gonna hold a grudge for two years. Then just seemingly out of the blue attack," she says.
Besides, Murphy had already developed a theory of the crime: Stidham had been ambushed in a violent carjacking. "I think it was very, very fast. It didn't give him a moment to react. He wasn't able to fight back," she says.
The crime scene yielded few clues. There was no murder weapon or bloody fingerprints were found at the scene.
But in less than 24 hours, there was a break in the case when investigators found Stidham's Lexus just six miles from the crime scene. "There was blood on the outside of the vehicle. There was blood on the inside of the vehicle," Murphy explains.
News of the murder generated a slew of tips to police. One of them came from one of Schwartz's ex-girlfriends. "She told us that Dr. Schwartz had confided in her that he hated Dr. Stidham. And that he wanted to see Dr. Stidham six feet under," Murphy says.
But why would Schwartz want Stidham dead? Murphy's team began an intensive investigation that soon discovered that Schwartz was having problems long before Stidham arrived. "He was having marital issues. He was having affairs," Murphy says.
According to office manager Laurie Espinoza, Schwartz, who was married with three children, had developed a wandering eye. "If patients came in he would tell our techs, 'Here comes a GLM' - good looking mother. And if there was a good looking mother, the techs knew to give them extra time," she recalls.
Espinoza believes Schwartz had affairs with at least 50 different women and sometimes even had sex in his office. "I would put my ear to the door. And I'd say, 'Oh my Gosh. Here he goes again,'" she remembers.
As her investigation continued, Murphy got a call from yet another woman, Lourdes Lopez, an assistant district attorney and a single mother who met Schwartz when her daughter became his patient in December 2000.
"And there was this guy who looks like Doogie Howser. Who's about ready to, you know, do major surgery on my daughter. And I thought, I asked him. How old are you? Do you know how to do this? And he laughed. And from then on I thought he was very charming," Lourdes remembers.
She admits she fell in love with the Schwartz.
But while she was falling for the doctor, he was falling apart. "When I would go in the morning he'd be sound asleep in front of the office. Sound asleep. Late for surgery," Laurie remembers.
By 2001, Schwartz claimed to be suffering from chronic back pain and had become secretly addicted to Vicodin; his chronic pain problems soon became Laurie Espinoza's. She says Schwartz had her fill the prescriptions.
Asked how many pills, Laurie tells Van Sant, "I would say at least 200 pills or more."
Lourdes knew about Schwartz's use of painkillers but says she never knew he was addicted; she even let him fill two prescriptions under her name.
Asked if he was getting high off these painkillers, Lourdes says, "Not as far as I could tell. As far as I could tell it was helping him with his chronic root canals. And his spinal surgery."
In November 2001, Schwartz was juggling both his worsening addiction and his booming medical practice. That's when he hired Stidham.
But just four weeks after Stidham's arrival, armed agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency raided Schwartz's office.
"I was afraid for what was going to happen to Brad. So I didn't tell the DEA agents what I knew," Lourdes admits.
Asked why she lied, Lourdes tells Van Sant, "To protect him. He's going to lose his license. Oh my God. And I know better. I'm a prosecutor. I'm a smart girl. They'll find out."
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