NCIS: Slayings of newlywed couple involved “torture, greed”

It was a story that rocked the community of Riverside, California, in 2008 and baffled detectives and real-life NCIS agents: the brutal murders of Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, a young, decorated Marine and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak. The couple married just 67 days before they were gunned down in their home.

On Oct. 15, 2008, the newlyweds failed to report to their jobs. Sgt. Pietrzak, a helicopter mechanic who had served a tour in Iraq, was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.  His new bride, Quiana, was an aspiring doctor.

When Riverside sheriff’s deputies arrived at their home to conduct a welfare check, they found the couple’s lifeless bodies — they had been shot execution-style and their home ransacked.

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Sergeant Pietrzak was known as a tough disciplinarian. It was also known around the base that he had gotten a $30,000 bonus months earlier, and had told some people he had kept the money at their home, which was near Camp Pendleton. Whoever attacked the couple also tried to burn their home down.

“This case involved torture. It involved greed,” says NCIS Special Agent Matthew Timmons. “It involved anger. It involved double lives.”

Why would anyone kill the Pietrzaks, a beloved couple? Could the attacks and murder have been racially motivated? Was it just about money?

NCIS agents, who worked with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department on the investigation, reveal the shrewd detective work that went into the case. Early clues, including different footprints at the crime scene, led investigators to believe they were looking for more than one suspect.

WHO WANTED JAN AND QUIANA DEAD?

From the outset, the murders of Marine Sergeant Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana, were a real whodunit. Why, NCIS agents wondered, would anyone enter their home and execute this beloved couple?

The newlyweds had just started their love story.

Henryka Varga | Jan’s mother: Sixty-seven days … before they lost their lives … was the happiest day of their lives.

Faye Jenkins | Quiana’s mother: I knew that he loved her as much as I loved her.

For Henryka Varga and Faye Jenkins, their children’s wedding is among their most cherished memories.

Faye Jenkins: Quiana set the wedding date for August 8, 2008.

Henryka Varga: … was 8-8-8.

Faye Jenkins: …because she wanted Janek to always remember their anniversary date.

Faye Jenkins: It was a picture-perfect day.

Henryka Varga: Janek was very nervous … almost shaking.

Roy Jenkins | Quiana’s father: When we rode in that convertible … She was shaking like a leaf. [Faye laughs at the memory]

Matt Ferrara | Jan’s friend: Jan … asked me to be the best man … The most vivid memory I have … is the way that Quiana entered.

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Jan and Quiana Pietrzak on their wedding day. “They were true loves,” said Jan’s friend Heidi Henson, “they were excited about building their future.” Fernando Gamboa

Heidi Henson | Jan’s friend: Jan was … just so proud. … he cried when she started walking down the aisle. I think he was just blown away with, you know, how beautiful she was.

Roy Jenkins [emotional]: I reflect back on that day and um … it kind of just breaks my heart … We have never actually viewed the wedding tape.

Faye Jenkins [emotional]: She was happy and smiling and that’s hard to look at her and know she’s not here with us … It’s been 10 years.

Faye Jenkins: Quiana worked at Riverside County Health … she worked with mothers … to-be in black infant health. She would do classes … counseling and training.

Matt Ferrara: Jan … had just re-enlisted in the Marine Corps. … he was an airframe mechanic … at HMM 164 at Camp Pendleton … which is an aircraft training squadron.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel | Jan’s friend and co-worker: He and I were both sergeants … maintaining … the helicopters assigned to that unit.

Matt Ferrara: … he had achieved a high rank for his age and for his time in service.

Faye Jenkins: Janek treated Quiana like a queen. … he said “whatever Quiana wants.”

Faye Jenkins: He purchased a puppy for Quiana … and … named the dog Rambo. That means “tough.”

Faye Jenkins: They bought a big house … because they had planned —

Roy Jenkins: Anticipated on having children.

Faye Jenkins: — having lots of children.

Faye Jenkins: Henryka and I … we were already planning …what they’re gonna look like … we talk all the time.

Henryka Varga: We have … very strong bond. I think through our children.  [In tears] it’s through them we’re still bonding.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher | NCIS: You always think about the victims and the victims’ families … that’s why we’re doing this. …When we go to sleep, we’re thinking about these cases.

To this day, the brutal murders of Jan and Quiana haunt NCIS Special Agents Heidi Schumacher and Matthew Timmons.

Special Agent Matt Timmons | NCIS: Jan was 24 years old. Quiana was 26. … they were both shot twice in the head … tied with duct tape with their hands behind their back. … Jan was hog-tied … a sock was in his mouth, and it was duct taped around.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher:  This was somebody taking the time to pretty much torture people and then execute them.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: It appeared that Quiana had been sexually assaulted.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Jan, you know, he was stomped. And he was stomped so hard … that on the torso and on the back … you could actually see footprints.

Riverside County Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon was called to the murder scene that morning and saw the magnitude of the killers’ callousness.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: They poured alcohol. They poured gasoline … all over the house in anticipation of trying to burn the house down … to try to cover up their crime.

footprints.jpg
Three distinct footprints in entryway of the couple’s home suggested more than one killer Superior Court of California, County of Riverside

Special Agent Matt Timmons: In the entryway where they had actually dumped some of the hard liquor … there were three distinct footprints.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: That told us that there was at least three killers.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: There was forensic evidence to start with, but there were also things that were missing.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Jan and Quiana … were shot multiple times … But there was no shell casings left behind. So that meant that either they had been shot with a revolver, which wouldn’t leave any shell casings.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: … or the killers took the time to actually pick up their shell casings. …there was no murder weapon that was located.

Faye Jenkins: I told the detectives that I knew a lot of her jewelry was missing. 

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Quiana’s wedding ring and engagement ring … jewelry box …  Jan also had a necklace that was taken … an expensive watch. …Quiana’s ATM card was also missing.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Riverside Sheriff’s Department was the lead investigating agency … It happened in their jurisdiction.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Anytime a Marine or sailor is involved in a crime, especially if they’re a victim, you know, NCIS has a vested interest to ensure that justice is done.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: We … reached out to Riverside … to offer our assistance.

Evidence photo: Pietrzak bedroom
The couple’s ransacked master bedroom. A duffle bag inside the bedroom closet would yield a major clue for investigators. Superior Court of California, County of Riverside

Special Agent Matt Timmons: They said, OK … “take a look at the crime scene photos and tell us what you think” … as we went through the photographs … there was something that kind of stuck out to me. …  in the master bedroom in one of the closets there was a duffel bag. But in the Marine Corps they call it a sea bag … where you store all your military gear.

For Timmons, this small detail would yield a huge clue.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: That told me that the only person that wouldn’t steal military gear is somebody that already has that military gear.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: One of the things that my partner and I thought immediately was “this had to be Marines.”

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Marines … committed these murders … and as soon as we told detectives … all of a sudden their eyes light up and they’re like “we do too!” … And it was at that point that they told us … Quiana’s ATM card … was used hours after the murders.

… less than half a mile from the back gate of Camp Pendleton. … And … there was video at the ATM machine. And in that video, you know, it showed somebody.

KILLERS AMONGST THE RANKS? 

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Riverside … detectives … early on had a great break in the case.

On the morning of the murders, at around 3:20 a.m., Quiana’s ATM card was used at bank … in Fallbrook, California.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: This is exactly where one of the individuals came up … went to one of these two ATMs … they actually had the PIN code.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The video footage … showed … the perpetrator … used blue bandanas.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Disguising themselves by tying blue bandanas around their face.

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ATM surveillance video shows a person wearing a blue bandana and shielding their face with a gloved hand as they withdrew money using Quiana Pietrzak’s ATM card and PIN code. Superior Court of California, County of Riverside

Special Agent Matt Timmons: …to cover his face completely. And then he also had gloves on. And these gloves were unique. They had “Mechanix” written on the back … and so as the person came up to the ATM … they then covered the camera with the gloved hand.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: They ended up withdrawing several hundred dollars.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: You couldn’t tell a lot from the ATM footage …  We figured from the stature that it was probably a male.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: But in this instance, what was … triggering us … was the fact that … hours after … the murders … her ATM card was used right outside the back gate of Camp Pendleton.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: At this point all the arrows they pointed back to Camp Pendleton … that we could potentially have killers … amongst our ranks.

And those footprints from the crime scene provided more clues.

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Footprints from the crime scene provided more clues. “The tread pattern indicated that it belonged to two distinct kinds of tennis shoes. … I mean it’s as almost as good as a fingerprint,” said Special Agent Matt Timmons. Superior Court of California, County of Riverside

Prosecutor Dennis DeLimon: Investigators … identified these different shoe impressions as belonging to different types of tennis shoes.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The tread pattern indicated that it belonged to two distinct kinds of tennis shoes.  One was a Nike Air Force One and the other was a Nike Cortez shoe … I mean it’s as almost as good as a fingerprint.

Nine days into the investigation, Jan and Quiana’s loved ones gathered to say goodbye. 

Faye Jenkins: October 24th was the day that we buried our children … hundreds of people were there, hundreds of people. … I still couldn’t believe my baby is gone … My baby is in a box.

Jan’s mother, Henryka Varga, who had flown in from New York…paid tribute to her son

Henryka Varga [at funeral]: He was a beautiful child and beautiful man.

Henryka Varga: Always, it’s hard to bury a child. This is not natural. You expect you’ll go first.

Faye Jenkins: How do you go from celebrating the most beautiful time in her life … and 67 days later –

Matt Ferrara: Matt: It was just so hard to comprehend.

Heidi Henson [emotional]: Jan was like a brother to me … [crying] it’s very rare in life that you meet people that are not your family that would do anything for you.

Roy Jenkins: Faye and Henryka … made a decision that the two were going to be buried together.

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Jan and Quiana Pietrzak were laid to rest together. It was a decision made by their mothers. Jenkins family

Faye Jenkins: They were gonna be together on Earth, so we wanted them to be together in heaven.

Matt Ferrara: It was a full military ceremony … full 21-gun salute.

Cases like these can take their toll on everyone involved.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: With NCIS, you know, you’re working with some really horrific crimes … you really invest everything you have into it to seek justice.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: You work tirelessly to do that and so … you want to find ways to decompress … Myself, I like to ride a motorcycle.  There’s just a sense of peace on the open road. 

But investigators would have no real peace until the couple’s killers were behind bars. 

Faye Jenkins: Who didn’t like Quiana and Janek?

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The only thing we knew is that all the arrows pointed back to Camp Pendleton.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: NCIS assisted detectives by pulling a list of the Marines that had worked with Jan.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: We wanted to know who exactly was, you know, in his daily life. … was there any motive that was there potentially for somebody to want to kill him?

Early on, Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators spoke to two of Jan’s best friends, Heidi Henson and Matt Ferrara.  They knew him from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Matt Ferrara: “Do you have any idea about how this could have happened … any issues that he had with anybody?”

Heidi Henson: Because of how violent the murder was … they were trying to … figure out … if there was something there other than just a random break-in.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: We started to hear a lot of different things.

Faye Jenkins: Jan told everybody anything … he couldn’t keep secrets. He would brag about their home and Quiana … he was proud.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Jan had talked about he had just received a reenlistment bonus of $30,000. 

Special Agent Matt Timmons: He was kind of bragging about this to his fellow Marines … told some of his colleagues that he had a lot of cash at his house … that could be a potential motive for somebody to go in there and do something.

And there was another potential motive.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: He was a strict sergeant.

Heidi Henson: In the Marine Corps, there are certain Marines … we call them … hard chargers. And that was Janek. …when it came to his job … he wanted to make sure that it got done right.

Heidi Henson: If you slacked off … he would call you out … Hey, you know, “you’re messing up.”

Matt Ferrara: He definitely had a certain style and personality about him that maybe rubbed people the wrong way … he had shared with me … some of the issues that he saw in the junior Marines. … insubordination.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel | Jan’s friend and co-worker: They were questioning me about … Marines within the squadron … if anybody disliked Jan.

Jan’s friend Sergeant Nathaniel Wisel also spoke to investigators and told them about one junior Marine they both supervised at Camp Pendleton: Lance Corporal Tyrone Miller.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel: I heard that Tyrone Miller hated Jan … that Tyrone Miller said it was a shame about Quiana being murdered, but he didn’t care about Jan.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Other Marines had mentioned that Miller may have been affiliated with a gang.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Tyrone Miller’s name kept coming up.

But it was what Sgt. Wisel passed along next that detectives found especially alarming.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel: I had heard … Miller was shot outside of a movie theater … the night prior to the funeral.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: He was shot within close proximity to the murders.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: All of it was red flags … that added up to we need to talk to this Marine, we need to talk to Tyrone Miller. …when we interviewed Tyrone Miller … that blew the case wide open.

ZEROING IN

For Jan Pietrzak, also known as Sergeant P, the Marine Corps represented brotherhood.  He was very proud of the American flag and saw it as symbol of freedom. Jan’s mother finds comfort in the flag presented to her at Jan’s funeral, just nine days after the murders — when investigators were closing in on a potential suspect: Tyrone Miller, a fellow Marine.

Special Agent Matt Timmons | NCIS: In addition to the fact that Tyrone Miller … had some kind of animus against Sergeant P … we got information that Miller had been shot … days after the murders.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel | Jan’s friend and co-worker: It was a supposed drive-by shooting … It didn’t seem plausible or real to me.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The fact that … he’d been shot … tells us … that he’s probably involved in some kind of criminal misconduct … that was a driving force for us to go after Tyrone Miller.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: On October 28th we brought Lance Corporal Miller to our offices at NCIS … Miller’s interrogation … was audio recorded.

DETECTIVE: Just to let you know, this is a voluntary interview … We’re investigating Sergeant Pietrzak’s case. What do you know about it?

TYRONE MILLER: Pretty much what we, uh, just got from our CO and what we can read on the Internet…we Googled it.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: Investigators … asked him about whether or not there was any reason he didn’t like Sergeant P.

Tyrone Miller
Marine Lance Corporal Tyrone Miller was supervised by Sgt. Pietrzak at Camp Pendleton Superior Court of California – County of Riverside

Miller, who was up for a promotion within days, disclosed he and his sergeant sometimes argued:

TYRONE MILLER: …over dumb s— like, he’d tell me do something …

DETECTIVE: Related to your work?

TYRONE MILLER: Yeah …

TYRONE MILLER: … Sergeant P was actually a pretty cool guy… Helped me out a lot… as far as like, getting better at my job…

But he denied any animosity toward his mentor of nine months:

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Detectives questioned him in regard to the gunshot wound that he sustained … it had nothing to do with the murders in question. 

And when they queried Miller on his whereabouts at the time of the murders on October 15:

TYRONE MILLER: I was at home.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher | NCIS: He … denied going to Jan and Quiana’s residence.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: He claimed that he was home with his family.

TYRONE MILLER: Definitely at home.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Miller was married. He had two young children. And he lived aboard … Camp Pendleton

He said he had only been to Jan’s home once, with his wife, months prior. But detectives drilled down:

SECOND DETECTIVE: Were you at Sergeant P’s house the night this happened?

TYRONE MILLER: No.

DETECTIVE: At all — ever that night?

TYRONE MILLER: No. Not at his house.

DETECTIVE: Did you go out anywhere that night …?

TYRONE MILLER: I don’t think so. Not that I know.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The detective tried to bluff Lance Corp. Miller

SECOND DETECTIVE: … You understand how cell phone records work?

TYRONE MILLER: Yeah.

SECOND DETECTIVE … Is there any reason why, if we had your cell phone records, it would show you in the area …?

Special Agent Matt Timmons: You know — this is gonna look really bad.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: Tyrone Miller started hedging on his answers.

DETECTIVE: …we’re gonna find out…

TYRONE MILLER [laughs]: … Now you got me double-guessing myself.

Now, slowly, Tyrone Miller’s story started unravelling:

TYRONE MILLER: Only reason I ever go…. is if I’m riding through with my friend …

The 20-year-old Marine stated he sometimes drove through Jan and Quiana’s neighborhood on his way to drink with friends:

DETECTIVE: OK, and when was the last time you drove up …?

TYRONE MILLER: … S— it was a couple of weeks ago … two weeks. it feels like it’s been two weeks …

That time frame coincided with the slayings.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The detective continued to press Lance Corp. Miller.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: He was also asked about what type of clothes he wore when he went out.

TYRONE MILLER: … we’ll wear like, you know, hoodies, baggy shirts …

Prosecutor Daniel Delimon: He, on his own, spontaneously mentioned two things … things particularly tied to this case.

TYRONE MILLER: … we wear blue bandanas …

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Blue bandanas  The person in the ATM video had blue bandanas on over his face.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: And … when they asked about what kind of shoes … he listed a whole bunch of shoes. 

TYRONE MILLER:  Probably, Jordan’s … I have Chucks. Chuck Taylors …

Special Agent Matt Timmons: In there were Nike Air Force One shoes.

TYRONE MILLER: Air Force Ones.

DETECTIVE: You have those, too?

TYRONE MILLER: Yeah.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Now this is the same brand that left a tread pattern inside the residence where Quiana and Jan were murdered.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: At this point, all the flags went up … you know — the hair on the back of your neck stands up and all the alarm bells go off that, you know, this could potentially be … one of the murderers … he really became our suspect number one.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: The fact that he was now admitting that he was in the area … wore … the same type of shoes … and the blue bandanas.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: This was a big deal. This was a game changer … this gave us enough probable cause to get into his residence.

Investigators released Miller but got a search warrant for his home.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: We geared up with our bulletproof vests. … all of our agents had their guns drawn. … somebody had looked out the window right as we started to do our knock and announce [bangs on table] “police with a search warrant. Let us in” … and did not open the door.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: So, we had a ram. And so, they use the ram. They hit the door. … And we … flood into the residence … “Police … police, get down!”

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The first thing we saw was Miller’s wife. … And then as the agents kind of turned the corner they came across Lance Corporal Miller. Now … Miller grabbed his toddler, raised up the toddler and basically used … his daughter as a shield as he tried to walk back to the back bedroom. … we’re screaming … “Get down! Get down! Put your child down! Get down!

DAMNING EVIDENCE

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The fact that he held this child up as a shield to us really got all of our hearts racing.  I mean, it’s a terrifying situation.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: As we screamed at him and told him put the child down … Tyrone Miller … eventually complied … In my entire career I’ve never seen a Marine or a civilian pick up their own child and use it as a shield.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: After we secured Lance Corp. Miller and his wife … we went to sit them on the couch.

They proceeded to search for evidence connecting Tyrone Miller to the murders.  It didn’t take long.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: We looked down and we saw on the table … there was an ATM card … And we were shocked. … a shiver went up my spine … this was Quiana Pietrzak’s ATM card right on the … table.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: You’d think because … Miller was talked to hours before the service of the warrant, that he would get rid of anything that associated him with the murders.

But investigators unearthed a mountain of other bone chilling, damning evidence.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Some of the jewelry that was missing.

And hanging in Miller’s closet like a trophy —

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Jan Pietrzak’s dress blue uniform … the uniform that Marines are most proud of.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: They also found four shell casings in a plastic baggie.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: … completely matched … the number of rounds that were used to execute … Quiana and Jan.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: We found a handgun … shotguns … numerous pistols and other long guns … One of those weapons later turned out to be the murder weapon.

And right there in a black backpack:

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Two things that were really integral to this investigation.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: A host of blue bandanas … the Mechanix brand gloves that we had seen on the ATM surveillance video.

Evidence: Mechanix gloves
Inside the backpack, investigators found blue bandanas and Mechanix gloves — the same kind seen on the ATM surveillance video. -Superior Court of California – County of Riverside

Investigators later recovered a pair of sneakers which would match one of the footprints at the crime scene.  And, surprisingly, they discovered a stash of odd items in Miller’s home unrelated to the murder investigation.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Numerous identification cards … jewelry and other items — lots of it — that would indicate that potentially these people were involved in more than just Jan and Quiana’s murders.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Tyrone Miller is placed in custody … was brought back to NCIS.

DETECTIVE: Do you know why the police went to your house?

TYRONE MILLER: I do now … Apparently, I’m a suspect.

Miller is interrogated, barefoot and in handcuffs.

DETECTIVE: Tell me what really happened …

TYRONE MILLER: … I just told you…

He doesn’t request an attorney and keeps talking. And despite the mounds of incriminating evidence.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Miller still continued to deny the fact that he was involved in the murders.

TYRONE MILLER: …I did not go to P’s house.

DETECTIVE: You know you’re lying … Is there anything at your house that belongs to Sergeant P or his family?

TYRONE MILLER: No.

After nearly an hour of grilling, Miller breaks:

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: “Have you seen Quiana’s ATM card?” … that was really the break of Tyrone Miller’s interrogation.

TYRONE MILLER: … here’s what happened …

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: He started making admissions about actually being involved.

But Miller minimized his role.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: [He] described going to Sergeant Pietrzak’s home … really to commit a robbery.

TYRONE MILLER: … I took the ATM card … I took the jewelry … I beat the s— out of him …

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: tried to plant evidence to make it appear that it was racially motivated.

TYRONE MILLER: I wrote that s— on the walls, but I did not shoot them at all.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: … he implicated two other Marines … Emrys John and also Kevin Cox.

Lance Corporal Emrys John, 18, like Miller, worked under Jan. Private Kevin Cox, 20, was an electrical technician in the same squadron.

TYRONE MILLER … s– got out of control, he got scared and I got scared…

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: Miller claimed … that Emrys John … actually shot both Jan and Quiana.

TYRONE MILLER: … did it without hesitation… I never forget it — without hesitation.

Kevin Cox, Miller claimed, was equally involved.

TYRONE MILLER: … He was there the entire time… He had a shotgun …

Investigators would soon learn of another accomplice: a fourth Marine.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: This person went by the moniker of Psycho … we learned that Psycho was Kesaun Sykes.

Emrys John, Kevin Cox and Private Kesaun Sykes, 21, who was a clerk in an artillery squadron and lived in Fallbrook, were all brought in for questioning. 

Special Agent Matt Timmons: In turn, each one of the suspects … deny it.

EMRYS JOHN: …to murder a Sr Marine that…just got married…that’s pretty sick.


DETECTIVE: Is there a reason your DNA would be in Sergeant P’s house?

KEVIN COX: No.

Cox and Sykes eventually cracked, but, they too denied shooting the newlyweds:

KESAUN SYKES: … I’m outside… and pow, pow, pow …

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: They tried to minimize their own responsibility and point to Emrys John as the shooter.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Though the suspects … told a little bit different of a story, we were able to piece together pretty much what occurred.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: The four Marines went up to Jan and Quiana’s residence in the early morning hours of October 15th. … everyone except for Cox … disguised with bandanas and they were wearing gloves.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: They loaded the weapons that they had with them. And they first tried to sneak in covertly … once they were unable to do that … They all hid.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: They actually sent Cox … to knock on the door, believing that Jan would open the door to a fellow Marine.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: When Jan answered, they rushed him at gunpoint … And they hog-tied him. They put a gag in his mouth.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: They were upset that they did not find the types of money or items that they believed they could rob from Jan and Quiana.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The money that Sergeant P had claimed that he had.

So, they tortured the couple until they got Quiana’s ATM PIN number.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: The investigation really showed … that Miller really was the mastermind behind this … it was Miller who devised the plan. It was Miller who handed the weapon over to John.

Special Agent Heidi Schumacher: They used the sofa cushions as silencers.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: And it’s Miller who said, “end them.”

Investigators searched the barracks, homes, and some cars of Miller’s alleged co-conspirators.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Each one of these suspects had physical evidence.

Prosecutor Daniel Delimon: All very, very powerful evidence linking each of them to the murder.

Including the same types of sneakers detectives had identified as making some of the other footprints at the crime scene.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: All the assailants were charged with first-degree murder.

Emrys John was charged as the shooter. 

Special Agent Matt Timmons: All the suspects … pled not guilty.

Roy and Faye Jenkins
Quiana’s parents Roy and Faye Jenkins. “Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought it was a Marine that did this,” said Faye. “Not one Marine, but four of them.” CBS News

Roy Jenkins | Quiana’s father: [sighs] Man. … monsters … It was just unbelievable.

Faye Jenkins | Quiana’s mother: Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought it was a Marine that did this. … Not one Marine, but four of them. Four of them. … These were four black Marines, and they killed Quiana.

Henryka Varga | Jan’s mother: They lost their lives from the hands of the brothers? … that destroyed me completely … I just fell on the floor. I just couldn’t believe it. … Are you sure? … I won’t accept it! … I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to vomit.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel: Made me sick to my stomach … Marines I had worked with.

Sgt. Nathaniel Wisel: … the days following the murders … Emrys John … Tyrone Miller … I still remember them cracking jokes … Emrys John … bear-hugging me from behind. I took it hard on myself for not seeing signs.

Heidi Henson | Jan’s friend: I don’t think we could really wrap our heads around the details that we were finding out.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: This wasn’t one spontaneous bad decision that got out of hand inside the Pietrzak home.

Matt Ferrara | Jan’s Friend: This wasn’t the only violent crimes they were doing.

Prosecutor Daniel Delimon: We slowly started learning … about the double lives … they were leading.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Marines during the day and criminals at night.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: They were committing … home invasions and burglaries.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: They had a manner in which they did these crimes … very carefully planned

Investigators now suspected Tyrone Miller got the gunshot wound that initially caught their attention when he was out with some of these Marines looking to commit a robbery. 

Special Agent Matt Timmons: They were riding around with guns … one of them dropped their gun … which then accidentally fired, striking Miller in the rear.

As the defendants went on trial with some pointing the finger at each other, Jan and Quiana’s mothers were nervous — especially when jurors returned from deliberating.

Faye Jenkins: We got word that the verdicts were in. We were sitting there just … trying to keep ourselves together. … I wasn’t 100% sure.

Henryka Varga: I was sitting next to Faye … practically I black out.

THE LONG WAIT FOR JUSTICE

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Investigations for NCIS … are never like the TV show where everything’s over in 45 minutes … prosecution can take years as well.

Roy Jenkins: The wait was … aggravating.

Faye Jenkins:  … but by then we were on the determined mode to see this through … we wanted them punished.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: Part of the reason it took so long is because there were so many moving parts … hundreds of pieces of evidence 

In March 2013, nearly five years after Quiana and Jan were executed, three of their killers — now dishonorably discharged Marines — went on trial on multiple charges including robbery, sexual assault and first-degree murder.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: We decided to break the case up into two … the first trial was Tyrone Miller, Emrys John and Kevin Cox.

Kesaun Sykes would be tried a year later because of limited courtroom space.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: All three were facing the death penalty.

The stakes were high for everyone.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: It was one of the most complex and complicated death penalty cases I think we tried in this county.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: It was also my first death penalty case. … and, so, I think the best way to describe it is apprehension.

Faye Jenkins: I did not miss a day. … people say Quiana looked like me, and I wanted them to see my face … I wanted them to remember what they did.

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Nearly five years after Quiana and Jan were executed, three of their killers — now dishonorably discharged Marines — went on trial on multiple charges including robbery, sexual assault and first-degree murder. From left, Kevin Cox, Emrys John and Tyrone Miller. Superior Court of California, County of Riverside

The prosecution set out to prove these former Marines used their military skills to plan and carry out the murders.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon:: I think that was important to remind the jury was that … these are United States Marines … each of these men have been trained on how to operate on small teams … to operate firearms … to act covertly. …they use all of that training to help them … commit murder.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Everything about this crime … was premeditated. …You can’t expect to rob somebody you know and then not be turned in.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon introduced powerful forensic evidence.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: Inside Miller’s residence … the Mechanix brand gloves that we had seen on the ATM … had a substantial amount of Quiana’s DNA … with Emrys John we found a pair of shoes that had Sgt. Pietrzak’s blood.

And the shoes investigators had seized from all three defendants matched the footprints at the crime scene.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: The shoe impressions …were consistent with Emrys John’s shoes …  Tyrone Miller’s shoes … Kevin Cox’s shoes.

To bolster their case, the prosecution presented testimony from a fellow Marine.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: He had extremely specific information … that was never disclosed to the public in any way.

He told investigators Miller and John, shortly after the murders, confessed their involvement.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: Tyrone Miller and Emrys John … admitted responsibility for what happened to Sergeant Pietrzak. Emrys John admitted … he was the shooter.

As for the motive:

Special Agent Matt Timmons: They went there to do two things — get money and get revenge.

Tyrone Miller was the only defendant to take the stand. He changed his story and told the jury murder was not on his mind that night.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: He … essentially told the jury that there was no plan to commit robbery that … they were just there to confront Sgt. Pietrzak and it all sort of spiraled out of control … he had building hatred … because Sgt. Pietrzak had allegedly tried to kill his promotion. The evidence didn’t bear that out.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon: All of the defense attorneys argued in court that their clients didn’t play major roles … and ultimately that they should be spared from the death penalty.

After a four-month trial and less than three days of deliberations, jurors came back with their verdicts.

Faye Jenkins: I grabbed on Henryka and held tight.

Henryka Varga: We was holding hands, heads down. … I didn’t hear anything. And Faye is telling me that they got guilty, guilty, guilty.

The three former Marines were convicted on two counts each of first-degree murder and other charges. Emrys John was convicted as the actual shooter. Tyrone Miller, alone, was convicted of sexual assault.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Tyrone Miller and Emrys John … were given the death penalty. And Kevin Cox … received life without possibility of parole.

Faye Jenkins: But it still didn’t bring my children back.

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Kesaun Sykes was  convicted on multiple charges including sexual assault, as well as robbery and two counts of first-degree murder. He received the death penalty. Superior Court of California, County of Riverside

A year-and-a-half later, on Aug. 5, 2014, Private Kesaun Sykes was also convicted on multiple charges including sexual assault, as well as robbery and two counts of first-degree murder. He, too, received the death penalty.

Special Agent Matt Timmons: Every investigation sticks with you. But this one, in particular is one that you’ll never forget. They were truly innocent people.

It’s been more than 10 years since the passing of Jan and Quiana. The pain and heartache for their families is unmeasurable, but a recent delivery to Henryka from the prosecutor brought her some comfort.

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“This is my son, this is what’s left,” Henryka Varga said holding her son’s uniform. CBS News

Henryka Varga: This is originally Jan’s uniform, the one … when he married Quiana. We didn’t know that was stolen from the home until the trial. So, a piece of him is finally home. [Sighs] This is my son, this is what’s left.

In California, Quiana’s family finds peace by visiting her every week. When Henryka is in town, both mothers visit their children’s gravesite together, but when that’s not possible …

Faye Jenkins:  I always call Henryka when I’m here. And I put her on speaker phone … That was our little thing … to be together with our children … that’s how we stay connected.

A connection, that is truly unbreakable.

Faye Jenkins: As mothers, we’ve always held onto each other by hand, by phone, whatever it takes.

Henryka Varga: We give each other strength.

Faye Jenkins: We’re bonded for life.

Faye Jenkins [emotional at gravesite] Sleep in heavenly peace Quiana and Janek. Sleep in heavenly peace. I love you both.

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