SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- As they investigated the disappearance of 18-year-old Syracuse University student April Gregory in 1996, Syracuse Police detective Nick Vassenelli and the other investigators on the case learned something her family did not know; she was dating her neighbor, 30-year-old Terrance Evans.
"They were seeing each other and he would walk her back and forth to Syracuse University," said Vassenelli.
Vassenelli says Evans was defensive in interviews - looking away and avoiding eye contact. He was the last person who had seen Gregory, and he became the focus of the investigation.
"We used to watch his house because we felt wherever she was, he was going to visit her. In retrospect, that's why he never left the house. She was right there with him," said Vassenelli.
After five interviews Evans finally broke down, admitting to detectives he killed Gregory - even giving a detailed description in a videotaped confession.
Evans told them that he hit Gregory and she hit her head on a speaker in his room. Evans saw her unconcious and bleeding, but did nothing to help her
"Instead of calling for help or getting treatment, he went to the store and purchased a couple of beers," said Vassenelli.
Evans said that when he came back, Gregory was dead. The details that came next were shocking, even to veteran homicide investigators.
"His parents came home so he placed her in his bed and he wound up staying with her for four nights because the parents never left," said Vassenelli.
Evans told investigators that he buried Gregory in his backyard, but dug her up because detectives kept wanting to talk to him.
"He was nervous we were going to show up all the time so he had to exhume her body and bring it to a place we would never find it," Vassenelli said.
Evans cut up Gregory's body, giving police gruesome details on camera.
"He pulled out all of her teeth because he knew forensically you could do dental records," Vassenelli said.
Parts of her body were stored in his family's attic and under the basement floor. In his confession, Evans describes separating April Gregory's head from her body.
"He put it in a plastic bag and I said, 'what did you do with it?' He said, 'I put it in my room. My closet.' I said, 'why did you do that?' He said, 'I needed something of hers to be close to me,'" Vassenelli said.
The confession was so horrifying, Vassenelli and the other detectives couldn't even be sure it was true. Forensic teams searched the house Evans lived in with his parents, and located April Gregory's remains.
"They went and pulled the traps in the basement and found several of her teeth," Vassenelli said.
Vassenelli shared the details of the investigation and Evans confession with a forensic sciences class at Syracuse University. Police regularly have to process disturbing crime scenes, but this was unlike any other case Vassenelli worked.
"The magnitude of the lengths he went to to conceal his crime, I don't think there's anybody out there who believes the story when I tell it," Vassenelli said.
In his confession, Evans goes into details with little prompting from police. Vassenelli believes Evans felt some remorse in his own way.
"I think in some ways it felt good for him to get it off his chest," Vassenelli said.
Vassenelli says the state of shock felt by the community was also felt by police. Many people were even more cautious in their daily lives after hearing the nightmarish details of the case.