14 News Investigates: Killer Confession

Published: Nov. 3, 2005 at 12:02 PM CST|Updated: Apr. 10, 2009 at 3:34 PM CDT
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Reporter: Stefanie Silvey
New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

A bombshell tape with an alleged confession is now in the hands of Owensboro investigators, working a series of disappearances dating back to 1986. Angie Dickens, Shannon Green, and Dewayne Bell all disappeared within weeks of each other. Dickens body was later found in a cornfield, but Green and Bell have never been found.

Police at that time focused much of their investigation on one man, John Reneer, a man they said, had a long criminal history and knew all three victims.

In the last couple of days, we've brought you Reneer's account of what happened and we've learned of a tape that he says proves it. Now, Stefanie Silvey continues her investigation into what happened so many years ago, and why now, after nearly two decades are we just learning of this tape. John Reneer says he didn't kill Shannon Green and Angie Dickens, but he says he knows who did.

He says Dewayne Bell confessed to him that he killed both girls shortly before Dewayne himself disappeared. When I first began talking to John Reneer back in 2003, I was slow to believe his story, and so were new police investigators assigned to the case. That is, until a tape suddenly surfaced, appearing to back up his claims.

July 6th, 1986 Shannon Green told her mother she was headed to John Reneer's house to baby sit.

John Reneer tells the story, "I told her we were having a barbecue down at my mother's and wouldn't be there, and she said maybe she would come by or call back later that night. She thought she would get out and move around a little bit and thought she would go over to Dewayne's."

Shannon was never seen again. John Reneer became a main suspect.

Reneer says he told police then, that they should focus their attention on Dewayne Bell. "No one set out to find what happened to Shannon. They set out to find what I did to Shannon. There's a big difference."

So he says, when Dewayne Bell called saying he needed to talk, he seized the opportunity. "To be honest with you, I thought the police had probably sent him, and he was probably wired or something. I didn't know, you know, so I wired-up."He says he recorded his conversation with Dewayne two days after Shannon Green's disappearance.

John Reneer: "What's going on?"
Dewayne Bell: "Aw, nothing. Got any money I can borrow?"
John Reneer: "How much? I might have a few dollars?"
Dewayne Bell: "About a couple hundred anyway."
John Reneer: "S**t. I ain't got no two hundred dollars. I wish I did have."
Dewayne Bell: "I need it pretty bad, I need to get out of town."
John Reneer: "Why's that?"
Dewayne Bell: "I done something the other day. I need to get out of town for a while."

Reneer says Dewayne claimed he'd hurt Shannon.

Dewayne Bell: "Me and her been into it for a while, and I just got p****d off."
John Reneer: "Did you beat her up?"
Dewayne Bell: "Yeah."
John Reneer: "H**l, the other day, apparently she ain't going to tell on you or you'd done be in trouble."
Dewayne Bell: "It's worse than that. I mean, I hurt her real bad. Hurt some others too. I need to get out of town pretty bad."
John Reneer: "Who all did you hurt?"
Dewayne Bell: "It's a girl and a kid."
John Reneer: "A kid?"
Dewayne Bell: "Yeah."
John Reneer: "Hadn't nobody called the police on you yet?"
Dewayne Bell: "Naw, there's another girl, I hurt her pretty bad too. "
John Reneer: "Well how come ain't nobody been to the police on you? What in the h**l are you trying to do? Just get a hold of a little money? Trying to talk me out of it?"
Dewayne Bell: "No. No. I'm telling you the truth."

Reneer says the more Dewayne talked, the worse it got.

Dewayne Bell: "Well, well...I'm going to tell you the truth. They can't go to the police."
John Reneer: "Why can't they?"
Dewayne Bell: "Because I killed one of - I killed them."

Sergeant Mark Saffron is now the lead investigator assigned to the case. He says he was able to confirm the identities of the voices on the tape. "It helped me confirm what Mr. Reneer had told me and everything he told me was on that tape."

John Reneer: " Where did you kill them at? How come there ain't no bodies showed up or nothing?"
Dewayne Bell: "Well, I hid them pretty good."
John Reneer: "You hid them good?"
Dewayne Bell: "Yeah."
John Reneer: "Hid them where? You ain't going to tell me where you hid them? I don't blame you. I wouldn't tell neither."
Dewayne Bell: "I put them in a corn field."
John Reneer: "D**n man, you are scary. If you are telling the truth, I don't know what to tell you. If you are lying, I don't know about no G*****n lie like that either. I don't want to be involved in it. How come you come to me with this s**t anyway? "
Dewayne Bell: "I don't know. I needed some money."

Sgt. Saffron says, of all the evidence he's seen, everything points away from John Reneer.

 "I got a guy that is supposed to have done this and he's open and done everything I've asked of him. He's done a polygraph. He's done everything I've asked him to do."

And Saffron says the polygraph indicates Reneer didn't hurt Angie Dickens, Shannon Green or Dewayne Bell. And that his account of what unfolded next was truthful.

John Reneer: "Well the next day, we're all at work again and I'm really mad. So I told Dewayne, right before quitting time, 'Here's how we are going to do this. I'm catching a lot of heat over this. When we leave work today, you are going with me and you are going to take me and show me.' And he said, 'I don't want to do that.' And I said, 'You misunderstood. I didn't ask you nothing.' I said 'this is the way it is going to be, you are going to show me' and I said 'if you are lying to me now, you need to tell me, because if we go down there and you are lying, I'm coming back alone.'"

Reneer says Dewayne Bell showed him the bodies, described in detail how he killed them and even implicated his father David in part of Shannon's death and the disposing of the bodies.

"When Dewayne told me that, Dewayne figured I was getting ready to kill him that day in the field. You could see it in his eyes. He didn't think he was ever coming out of there alive and he was not lying to me. He really wasn't lying to me when he told me about David. He knew I was really mad about Shannon and he didn't lie. If he was going to lie about David, why not say that David made me kill Angie? David made me kill them other two - the other woman and kid? Why not?"

Reneer says, the next day, he confronted Dewayne's father and played him the tape.

"He was looking out over the steering wheel when the tape ended, and he cut his eyes over at me and he said, 'Is that all he had to say?' And I said, 'What are you talking about? Don't you think that's enough? He says he killed four people.' He said, 'You are right, that's enough. I need to go find Dewayne and talk to him.'"

Reneer says he never saw Dewayne again. A few days later, Dewayne's father moved to Arizona.

Sgt. Saffron considers this, "I just thought it was a little different, to take off to Arizona. I know if it was my child, I would be wanting to find him. I would want to find out what was going on."

David Bell has since moved back to Owensboro. This is his account of when he last saw his son, taken from a 2002 interview with police.

David Bell: "Me and Dewayne had worked together that day, the last day that I saw him, and he was quiet, anxious. And once we got off from work, I asked him if he had a problem that I could help him with, and he said 'no.'"

Bell says the last time he saw Dewayne, he was riding away from his sister's house, on his bike down a nearby alley.

 "But later that night, someone called and said they found his bike laying outside the fence, at his sister's house."

Police say, since their talks with Reneer, David Bell has hired an attorney, refused a polygraph and refused to cooperate. He's also refused our repeated requests for an interview.

Stefanie Silvey: "Do the police believe that Dewayne Bell is missing? Or do they believe that he is dead?"
Sgt Saffron: "What do you mean? Back then?"
Stefanie Silvey: "Back then and now."
Sgt. Saffron: "Back then, I think they probably thought he was missing. Right now, from my investigation, I feel like he may not be alive now."

Reneer says he's relieved detectives are finally listening to him, but he's also furious that it's taken 20 years because, he says, police have been in possession of this confession since 1986.

 "They have ridiculed me and my family and they knew all along. They knew. They had the frickin' tape.

Investigators have a bombshell tape on their hands. A tape of an alleged confession. But why did it take 20 years for the tape to surface?

Stefanie Silvey: "Do you understand though, why it looks strange that there is this tape that's been here for virtually 20 years that has a guy confessing to killing four people, and the police say they don't remember that tape? It seems like that is a tape that would stick in your mind."

It's a tape law enforcement swore didn't exist, but 20 years later, it resurfaced.

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