Dateline | August 23, 2013
>>> the range of emotion katherine pierce experienced after the mistaken identity murder of her husband scott had gone from devastation to relief when his killers were caught and then to anger when she realized that if a double murder investigation six months earlier had been handled differently, clifton bloomfield might have been in jail instead of in her kitchen.
>> dna evidence could have prevented him from killing scott . it infuriated me. i couldn't believe that such a minor, insignificant detail from a previous murder could have saved scott .
>> that detail she's talking about, the dna that linked bloomfield to the murders, the dna taken from under mr. ye's fingernail. it sat in the albuquerque police crime lab with no tests being performed to identify it for months. the match didn't come until after scott pierce was dead. katherine pierce thought the process had failed her. so she filed a lawsuit against the city of albuquerque , its police department and various detectives, including the man who had helped to quickly solve scott 's murder, detective mike fox . it's kind of ironic, you find her husband's killer in less than 48 hours and you still get sued for not having found him earlier?
>> i guess one of the pitfalls of being a police officer . no one is ever really happy with the police. they always like the firemen better.
>> by 2012 , katherine 's lawsuit was headed for trial. katherine was dreading having to revisit the time of scott 's murder. she had already done it once in this video. assembled by her attorneys as they prepared her case. you had moved on a little bit.
>> moved on. i don't want to relive it.
>> did you feel at all bad suing the police department that brought in your husband's killer in a couple of days?
>> no, i don't feel bad. for me, it was more about bringing awareness to what the police are doing or not doing in this case. all i want is for them to do their job all the way through.
>> you talked to police and they say, one, we did do our job, we brought those guys in the minute we knew they were suspects. dna is not like it is on television. we don't have an answer in 15 seconds.
>> and i do understand that.
>> and we got a lot of murders, we do the best we can. we wish we could solve every one, we wish we could close every one right away. but that's not real life .
>> and i know the police department or the detectives did not come in and kill scott . i get that. it's not about smearing the albuquerque police department or detectives. it's about giving them more incentive to do their job better.
>> just before trial, the city settled with katherine pierce for close to half a million dollars. her attorneys.
>> the city admitted no liability in that settlement?
>> what's that mean to you? that the city settled just before it went to trial?
>> you don't pay a lot of money if you didn't do anything wrong, do you?
>> although it settled the suit, the city defended the work of its police department throughout what it called a complex investigation. to katherine pierce , it felt like an ending to a sad string of what ifs. what if she had moved into this house a week later? what if scott hadn't woken up? what if the dna from the previous homicides was tested sooner? she had had what felt like a very long run of very bad luck and the connective tissue in all of it was clifton bloomfield .
>> i'm not the monster they make me out to be. i'm not perfect either.
>> this is clifton bloomfield . in an interview in 2009 given to the albuquerque journal newspaper.
>> i've done my share of wrongs. i've done plenty of dirt.
>> bloomfield was willing, even eager, to talk about the pierce case to explain what went wrong.
>> tell me about what happened.
>> i feel bad about what happened there. the pierce case was a tragedy. imagine, in the dark to see -- you tell a person to stop and you have a shotgun in your hand. and they continue trying to grab it from you.
>> it's hard to imagine being blase about murder but then clifton bloomfield has committed a lot of them. maybe that's why he tells the story as if he's an observer and not a participant.
>> get down on the ground.
>> bloomfield 's version doesn't quite match with that of katherine pierce . the only other survivor of that night.
>> i saw that interview when he exaggerated a lot. he said scott was reaching for the gun. that never happened. i think scott just lunged. he turned and pulled the trigger. i think it was as simple as that.
>> tragedy. weak. another tragedy. he was a nurse. tragedy.
>> and the list of tragedies clifton bloomfield brought about just kept going. faced with the death penalty in the ye murders, bloomfield cut a deal. he pleaded guilty to murder charges and in exchange for a life sentence , he admitted committing two more killings before the ye's, before scott pierce . the first was a talented designer found strangled in his home in 2005 . three days later, the body of an 81-year-old retired school teacher was found beaten and suffocated.
>> but he wasn't even a suspect in any of those?
>> no. he was good. he wore gloves, he made it so no traces of him would be left behind except when he got scratched.
>> suddenly, he's not just the guy you brought in on the scott pierce homicide. suddenly he's what, a serial killer ?
>> he's his own kind of serial killer . he's not hunting prostitutes or somebody that looks like his mom.
>> he just kills and keeps on killing.
>> he's just killing for the art of killing.
>> how many murders do you think clifton bloomfield has committed for which he's never been charged?
>> i honestly couldn't tell you. ten wouldn't surprise me.
>> bloomfield declined "dateline's" request for an interview. he filed an appeal of his five murder convictions. jason skaggs pleaded guilty to murder in the pierce case and is serving a 30-year prison sentence . meantime, the da's office in albuquerque freed those two men, the original suspects in the ye murders. one of them settled a lawsuit with the city for nearly a million dollars. the city, again, admitted no liability. and katherine pierce has at last been able to move on. the woman who once thought she would never find love again has recently remarried. fulfilling one of the wishes scott had for her in their brief time together.
>> when i was trying to talk about forever in our pillow talk , he said i might not live to be an old person. he said if that happens, i want you to move on and find somebody. wow. what a gift.
>> and you did.
>> and i did. i could be dead right now. i know that. it's like being given a second chance. so i'm running with it.