Two California sisters struggle with as they relentlessly fight to keep their mother’s killer in state prison as he comes up for parole—20 years later—time after time.
“We’re still being victimized and he’s behind bars,” says Jeanette Marine, daughter of murder victim Phonthip Ott, whose body was pulled from the Sacramento River—in a weighted duffel bag—by a local fisherman. “Our family gets to relive everything over and over again, every time there’s one of these hearings. It’s frustrating that he [the man convicted in the murder] still gets so much power.”
“Why can’t he just sit there and rot?” Dhaliwal says of Dennis Ott, her stepfather and the man convicted of her mother’s murder. “Where are the rights of our mom? She doesn’t have any rights.”
One of the benefits of being a “48 Hours” producer assigned to investigate this case—and cases like it—is that I am, most times, able to talk with all sides: police, prosecutor, victim’s family, defense attorney, and the convicted murderer themselves.
In this particular case, with all of the unfinished business and healing yet to happen, all these years later, I discovered that the victim’s daughters, Tippy and Jeanette, had never met the fisherman who had pulled their mother from a muddy river more than two decades ago.
He, alone, is the man who changed the course of the police investigation, and his discovery helped police secure an arrest in the murder.
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