Deadly Encounter

A Brutal Murder, Still Unsolved

In a Monday Night Mystery, CBS News 48 Hours, takes a look at two strange crimes.
48 Hours: Deadly Encounter, Monday, September 14, 10PM ET, Check local listings

In December, 1991, four normal, suburban teenage girls were executed in a yogurt shop in Austin, Texas. The four girls -- 17-year-old Jennifer Suraci, her 15-year-old sister Sarah, 13-year-old Amy Ayers, who was Sarah's best friend, and 17-year-old Eliza Thomas, who was also working that night - were totally innocent victims, and the small, relatively crime-free city of Austin was shocked by the murders.

The Austin police went into overdrive, working long, hard days to find the killers. They compiled a huge list of possible suspects, and tracked down every lead.

But six years later, the case remains unsolved. But frustrating possibilities remain open. Two Mexican nationals confessed to the crime while being held in a Mexican prison. The two men subsequently recanted their confessions, claiming they were beaten. Mexican authorities have never allowed Austin police to talk to the men, however, and the pair has never been charged in the Yogurt Shop case.

Meanwhile, the toll on the families has been high. The emotional scars haven't healed, and may not ever, one mother says. Some of the parents have moved out of town, one all the way to Oregon; another couple divorced.

The families also sued the yogurt shop, and the mall in which it was located, saying that inadequate security was partly to blame for the girls' deaths. The case was settled out of court for $12 million.

And in another Monday Night Mystery: what would you do for your best friend? If he begged you to shoot him so that his family could collect a life insurance policy, would you do it?

Bill Mahan did. His best friend Rick Whitehead, a supposedly wealthy Indiana businessman, got himself deeply in debt. He became despondent, and decided that the only way he could help his family was to ensure that they got the money from his life insurance policy. So Whitehead persuaded Mahan to kill him, in the coal mine.

At first police thought the crime was a straightforward robbery. But when they noticed that Whitehead's $10,000 Rolex hadn't been taken off his wrist, they became suspicious. Two other men tied Mahan to the crime. At first, Mahan claimed innocence, and the most people in the small town of Sullivan rallied around him.

But as the trial got underway, Mahan came clean, and admitted to shooting his friend. He had done it out of loyalty, he said. Whitehead had begged him to do it, and he had agreed. The prosecutor lowered the charges, from murder to abetting a suicide. Mahan is now serving three years in prison.

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produced by David Kohn