A probable cause affidavit from Brian Dripps’ murder case records states he told Idaho Falls Police Detective Sage Albright that he killed Angie Dodge by himself.
“He confirmed that he entered Dodge’s apartment by himself with a knife with the intent to rape her, that he did in fact rape her, that he held a knife to her throat during the commission of the rape, and had cut her throat,” Albright wrote in his affidavit.
The five-page affidavit gives a brief summary of the investigation, noting that Christopher Tapp gave several names when questioned by police in 1997. None of the names led to an arrest, and none of them were Brian Leigh Dripps.
Tapp was convicted in 1998 after he told police he held Dodge down while another man raped and murdered her. Tapp spent 20 years in prison until Public Defender John Thomas successfully presented evidence his confession was coerced.
A 2014 investigation by Judges for Justice, a national nonprofit that investigates suspected false convictions, found that Tapp’s confession was demonstrably false — obtained by threats of life imprisonment or death, and with promises of immunity — and that the physical evidence in the case did not match detectives’ conclusions.
“I want to thank all those who fought with me for the truth, especially the Dodge family,” Tapp said in a statement. “In respect for their mourning, I have no further statement at this time. I hope the DNA match and confession brings them some closure, and that Angie Dodge may finally rest in peace.”
“I am more happy for them than you’ll ever know,” Tapp said.
In a 2017 plea agreement, Tapp’s sentence was reduced to time served and his rape conviction was vacated. He was released from prison 10 years before he would have even been eligible for a parole hearing, and he wasn’t ordered to serve probation. But the murder conviction remains on his record.
Additionally, Tapp’s deal means he cannot seek any further challenges to his conviction or compensation for his imprisonment.
Bonneville County Prosecutor Daniel Clark said his office is vetting Dripp’s statement and reviewing Tapp’s case.
“My office is committed to determining the veracity of Mr. Dripps’ statement, and we have been looking forward to this case for some time,” Clark said. “I think we’re getting to the conclusion of a lot of questions that have been going on for 23 years.”
The American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct cover how a prosecutor should respond if evidence indicates a convicted defendant is innocent. Rule 3.8h states “when a prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence establishing that a defendant in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit, the prosecutor shall seek to remedy the conviction.”
Following Thursday’s press conference in which the IFPD announced Dripps’ arrest and confession, Tapp told the Post Register he’d never heard of Dripps before.
Dripps, who lived across the street from Dodge when she was killed, was interviewed by police five days after the murder. He told police he came home from drinking at 11:30 p.m. Dripps said he left again at an unspecified time and returned at 3 a.m., but said was too drunk to remember if he had seen vehicles in the area.
Dripps initially denied killing Dodge until he was confronted with evidence his DNA matched that at the crime scene. Dripps said he only intended to rape Dodge, and that he believes she was still alive when he left her apartment.
Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson said the department will address the Tapp conviction in the coming weeks. Johnson did not provide additional details on Tapp’s case during Thursday’s news conference announcing Dripps’ charges, saying he wanted to focus on Angie Dodge.
Police Spokeswoman Jessica Clements said the department needed to investigate further before commenting on Tapp’s case.
“That is one piece of a very long interview and our ethical and professional responsibility at this point is to go back and corroborate each of these details,” Clements said. “We are committed to finding out the truth, whatever that may be, and whatever that may be, we will share it with the public. We are committed to that.”
Dripps has been charged with first-degree murder, punishable with a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to a life sentence, or the death penalty. He was also charged with rape, punishable with up to life in prison.