Ohio single mom Heather Bogle was found dead inside the trunk of her own car with her hair hacked off.
That disturbing detail led one investigator to believe that the crime had been personal. But his singular focus to prove his theories about the case would draw innocent people into the fray, delay justice for Bogle and ultimately cost the detective his job.
“Anything he didn’t think fit into what he thought was going on, he just kind of dismissed,” Heather’s sister Jen Bogle told “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” about former Sandusky Sheriff’s Office Det. Sean O’Connell.
Heather had been a devoted single mom, structuring her whole life around her young daughter, McKenzie. The 28-year-old had even taken a job working nights at Whirlpool to spend more hours during the day with her daughter.
“Her main focus was always her daughter,” Jen said. “She wasn’t too concerned about getting into a relationship. It was being responsible and taking care of her kid, making sure she was working enough hours to support them both.”
But while Heather was at work, she did find a new love interest, Carmella Badillo. Badillo was drawn to Heather’s spirit and soon fell in love with the young single mom.
“When I saw that she made an impact on people, she touched their soul, not their heart,” Badillo said.
For a time, it seemed, Heather’s life was going well, until it came to an abrupt halt on April 9, 2015. The 28-year-old was spotted on surveillance footage leaving her shift at Whirlpool at 6:17 a.m.
It was the last known sighting of Heather before she was discovered the next day in the trunk of her own car, wearing an oversized Mickey Mouse T-shirt that didn’t belong to her. Her hair had been hacked off nearly to the scalp, she was badly beaten, and she had been shot twice.
“I thought it was odd,” O’Connell told Dateline’s Josh Mankiewicz of the fact about the hair. “It made me believe whoever did this probably did it out of anger.”
The car had been abandoned in the parking lot of an apartment complex that seemingly had no connection to Heather or her family.
The grim discovery left Heather’s family devastated.
“My gut just fell to the floor,” Jen said. “I think I was in shock. I can’t even comprehend that this is even real life.”
With few leads to go on, O’Connell began his investigation at the Somerton Apartment complex where Heather’s body had been found. The detective discovered a witness who reported seeing someone parking the vehicle sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. on April 10, 2015, before the unidentified driver—who had been wearing a hoodie—got out of the car and took off on foot.
Believing that Heather may have been killed somewhere nearby, O’Connell brought in a cadaver dog, who O’Connell said quickly signaled to the nearby apartment of Keynona Bor, a 25-year-old single mother.
O’Connell already knew Bor through her long-time boyfriend, someone he described to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” as a drug dealer. After an autopsy determined Heather had marijuana in her system at the time she died, O’Connell theorized that she may have gone to the apartment to buy drugs.
O’Connell also honed in on Omar Satchel, one of Bor’s friends with a criminal past, after seeing surveillance footage that appeared to show a white SUV driving into the apartment complex not long after Heather’s suspected vehicle traveled the same way. Although the footage made it impossible to tell the make or model of the SUV, O’Connell found a photo on social media of Satchel sitting in a white SUV, which he believed strengthened his case.
O’Connell was so confident about his feeling that Bor, Satchel and as many as two others killed Heather that he publicly named his suspects in the newspaper.
Yet, there were significant problems with his theory. Bor told “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” there had been bad blood between her and O’Connell before the murder and said she believed the detective had “fabricated” the notion that the cadaver dog signaled at her apartment.
“He pretty much had like a personal vendetta against my child’s father,” she said. “I think I was a familiar face in the right place for him, at the right time for him.”
Satchel also believed he was the “perfect scapegoat” as a Black male with a criminal record, but insisted to Mankiewicz that he had never met Heather and volunteered his DNA to prove it. Neither Bor or Satchel’s DNA matched the sample under Heather’s fingernails and Satchel had an alibi for the day she was killed. Satchel said he also didn’t drive a white SVU at the time of the murder. That photo on social media had been two years old.
Even Heather’s family didn’t believe O’Connell was on the right trail.
“My gut instinct was that Sean just wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing,” Jen said. “Everything he was doing was wrong.”
A Link Closer to Home?
They believed Heather’s killer could be someone closer to home, suspecting Heather’s older brother, Josh Feasel, who had verbally berated his sister in a text message just hours before she disappeared.
He had been upset that she had failed to pass a nursing exam, writing that she was “too stupid” to pass and was “typical trash.”
“He knew what to say that would get under her skin,” Jen said.
Feasel would later tell “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered” the messages were a misguided attempt at tough love and said he had loved his sister.
“I felt in my mind if I shamed Heather, I’ll shame her into doing the right thing, but it was the wrong approach clearly and it was abusive,” he said.
Heather’s family also pointed to another possible suspect—Badillo. Heather and Badillo often had jealousy-fueled spats and had broken up shortly before she disappeared.
A suspicious note from Badillo had also been found on the seat in Heather’s car.
“I remember telling her ‘You’re dead to me,’ in the note,” Badillo would later recall. “Hard words that carried weights like knives and I didn’t know the weight of them. I took her for granted.”
Jen said although she never questioned Badillo’s love for Heather, she wondered whether Badillo had been too invested in the relationship and killed her after they broke up in a fit of jealousy.
Investigating the Investigator
Heather’s family grew increasingly frustrated with O’Connell, who seemed to dismiss their suspicions about other possible suspects and continued to try to build his theory of a drug deal gone wrong.
They wondered whether Heather’s case would ever be solved, but a change in leadership at the sheriff’s office would offer the break the family needed.
O’Connell himself soon came under investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office for how he was handling Bogle’s case after allegations surfaced that he had tampered with evidence and coerced witnesses to fit his theory of the case—an allegation which he denied.
“What I was doing … was following the leads to where they were taking me,” he told “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.”
Under increasing scrutiny, O’Connell resigned from the sheriff’s office and began managing a McDonald’s.
A new investigator, Major Nick Kotsopoulos, stepped in to take a new look at the case, which he called “a mess.” Kotsopoulos quickly ruled out O’Connell’s top three suspects after finding no evidence to link them to the crime.
“We followed the evidence and it took us a different way,” he said.
DNA would also rule out Heather’s older brother and Badillo, who Kotsopoulos said was “extremely heartbroken” by the death.
After clearing all the past suspects in the case, Kotsopoulos started the investigation over from the beginning and took a closer look at the last ping from Heather’s cell phone around 9:20 a.m. the day she disappeared.
It helped investigators narrow her whereabouts to a five-mile radius, but satellite data from Google was able to pinpoint her location with greater specificity, placing Bogle near a trailer in Emerald State trailer park.
The trailer belonged to one of her coworkers at Whirlpool, a man in his late 40’s named Daniel Myers. Investigators secured a search warrant for his DNA and were able to match it to the sample discovered under Heather’s nails.
“Heather Bogle was the real hero in this case because she fought back and that evidence was in her finger nails,” Kotsopoulos said, who believed that Myers may have killed Heather have she spurned his advances.
Myers later agreed to plead guilty to the murder in exchange for prosecutors removing the death penalty. He was sentenced to life behind bars without the chance of parole.
O’Connell would also be sent to prison for two years after he accepted a plea deal admitting to evidence tampering in July of 2018.
“I feel relieved,” Jen said. “We finally know what happened.”