Heidi Bernadzikowski was described as a bubbly woman in her early twenties who was a “pool ace.” She was working as a temp and looking for a break. In 2000, things started to fall into place – she got a steady 9-to-5 job as a receptionist at an insurance company, and moved into a townhouse with her boyfriend Stephen Cooke. But then things turned. Someone had tried to break into their home. Then a stranger came knocking on their door pretending to be with a neighborhood watch group. The very next day, Stephen found Heidi brutally murdered in their home. She was strangled and her throat had been slit. There was no sign of forced entry. Heidi was 24.
The murderer tried to throw detectives off by writing a Charles Manson like message on the wall. With red lipstick, the murderer wrote “#1,” suggesting that he was a serial killer. But the detectives didn’t give up. Fourteen years after the death of Heidi, two men from Colorado were convicted in her death. In June 2015, prosecutors arrested Stephen Cooke. He has been charged with first-degree murder and solicitation of murder. Prosecutors say it was Cooke who hired the men to kill Heidi. A few months prior to her death, Cooke took out a $700,000 life insurance policy on Heidi. Cooke maintains his innocence. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August. Dateline NBC will investigate the cold case and current trial of Cooke on July 31 at 10pm.