When it comes to crime, usually one of the first things cops do is follow the money trail. That's exactly what Crime Watch Daily did, all the way to a lonely desert city in California to uncover the murder mystery of a local banker.
Friends say William "Bud" Roberts was a funny, well-liked, generous man, the kind of guy who would give you his last penny if you needed it. So his family wonders if maybe money was the reason this California father and bank manager was shot and killed.
On Friday the 13th, July 2007, Bud Roberts and his wife Sue head to their bedroom in Brawley, Calif. and go to sleep. Tragically Bud will never wake up. Bud was shot at intermediate range in the head. He was air-lifted to the UCSD Medical Center Trauma Unit in nearby San Diego.
Bud Roberts, 56, was the manager of a local bank, an avid hunter and former bull rider beloved by his neighbors and friends.
But after his first marriage ended, Bud's family claims trouble came knocking. It was Sue Velarde, an old flame looking to rekindle a romance. They soon marry. The close-knit Roberts clan isn't sure what to make of Bud's standoffish bride.
Bud's whole family gathers in his hospital room to say their final goodbyes. Bud's son says Sue decides to take a shower first and is still hours away in Brawley.
When Sue finally arrives at the hospital, Bud is still barely alive. And when his family asks her what happened, they claim Sue first tells them it was a suicide. The family claims Sue changed her story, telling them Bud was cleaning his guns in bed when the .22 pistol accidentally discharged.
Then the family says Sue tells them yet another version. This time, they claim, she blames the shooting on an intruder.
The San Diego medical examiner rules Bud Roberts' cause of death homicide. The Brawley Police report finds no signs of a break in or intruder. While Brawley Police have not named Sue a suspect, Roberts family attorney John Ohman tells Crime Watch Daily he has spoken to police and they've told him Sue is a person of interest and he believes she should be.
So who pulled the trigger? Crime Watch Daily traveled to Brawley, California with a private investigator to try to talk to the last person believed to have seen William Roberts alive: His wife Sue.
UPDATE Dec. 21, 2016:
When we first started following this case, the cops in Brawley, California weren't talking, claiming the death of William "Bud" Roberts was an ongoing investigation. That much hasn't changed. But so much else has.
"Look at direct evidence or circumstantial evidence from the information provided to me through the Brawley Police Department, all roads lead to Susan," said the Roberts family attorney, John Ohman, making one very strong assertion about Sue Roberts after reviewing police reports. But since then, Sue has been making strong assertions of her own.
The first time around, Crime Watch Daily went looking for Sue to get her side of the story. Along for that ride was retired homicide and cold case investigator Tim Miley from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. We found Sue's house with ease. But there was no answer, at least not from Sue. In minutes, we were surrounded by who we believed to be Sue's relatives. They said Sue was currently in Ecuador.
"My expectation, that generally speaking justice is served and that ultimately there is a prosecution and conviction," said John Ohman.
Now there's been yet another voice added to that chorus. At a recent Brawley City Council meeting, Bud's son's girlfriend took to the podium to speak.
"Good evening, my name is Katherine Spieler, and I'm here to speak on behalf of the Roberts family, and most importantly of William David 'Bud' Roberts," said Spieler. "Recently, a program called 'Crime Watch Daily' picked up our story on Bud's murder. I am here tonight to try and bring more awareness to this story."
She goes on to ask the city council for help encouraging Brawley Police and the district attorney to proceed with arrest charges. Then, Katherine Spieler makes it clear exactly who she thinks should face those charges, and also hints at more legal action to come.
"Other family members of Sue's have come forward stating that she has done the same to them as recent as April of this year," said Spieler.
She could be talking about reports we've obtained since our last investigation, emails between attorneys and police alleging more instances of identity theft and credit card fraud, and even a restraining order filed against Sue by a relative who wishes to remain anonymous.
Sue still continues to deny any involvement in Bud's death, but she is pointing the finger at someone else: the boyfriend of the woman speaking at that council meeting -- Bud's own son, Bryan Roberts.
In a text Crime Watch Daily has acquired, sent by Sue to an undisclosed source, she writes: "Did they ever check out his alibi... He and his father were together that night at about 9:00... let the authorities know he could have been the one."
To that and similar claims reportedly made by sue, Bryan's attorney John Ohman sent her a letter, even copying the commander of the Brawley Police Department. It reads in part: "Demand is hereby made that you immediately cease and desist from ... imputing criminal conduct to Mr. Bryan Roberts -- who adamantly denies same."
The letter continues:
"This matter is of such importance that you should contact your attorney immediately."
Crime Watch Daily will of course keep you updated as this story develops. But for now the homicide case of Bud Roberts remains open and unsolved and Sue Roberts remains a free woman.
We tracked down another one of Sue's ex-husbands, Arne Eaton, and in a Crime Watch Daily exclusive phone interview, he told me what had become an all-too-familiar story.
"I sat down with sue and said 'We're not going to do this, I'm not going to spend the rest of my life paying of credit card bills,'" said Eaton.
He claims that just months into their marriage, he discovered she was using his credit cards to buy thousands of dollars of knickknacks.
"And then she told me, 'Oh sorry, didn't realize, and blah blah blah,' and she would curb that and everything would be OK, but that came up two or three times, and so that's when I asked her for a divorce," said Eaton.
So what does Eaton think happened to Bud Roberts?
"Only God and Sue Roberts knows that," said Eaton.