Investigation Discovery’s “Shattered: Driftwood Killer” follows the horrendous rape of Sandra Lee Long, who was murdered in New Castle County (Delaware) in September 1994. After being anonymously called by a local newspaper, the killer confessed to his crime. This episode focuses on the shocking story of the self-proclaimed “Driftwood Killer,” his many gory crimes, and his trial. We have your back if you are interested in the case or want to learn more about the perpetrator. Let’s get started, shall we?
How Did Sandra Lee Long Die?
Sandra Lee Williams Long was conceived in Prices Corner, New Castle County, Delaware, on October 18, 1964. After her apartment caught fire, neighbors alerted her to its danger, and she was found dead in her apartment. The 29-year-old was unable to be saved despite heroic efforts by neighbors and pedestrians. Witnesses on the scene said Sandra tried to escape through the bedroom windows but was unsuccessful.
After extinguishing the flaming flames, investigators discovered that Sandra had strangulation marks on her neck and bite marks. The most shocking evidence was the penetration marks left by a flathead screwdriver in her private parts. Experts in arson found that the fire was intentionally set and intended to cover the rape as well as other crimes. Sandra died from smoke inhalation, according to her autopsy report. She also suffered burns to 60% of her body.
Who Killed Sandra Lee Long?
Investigators didn’t have to spend too long looking for the killer because a local newspaper, The News Journal, received an anonymous call from an individual identifying himself as the “Driftwood Murder” and naming his next victim, Susan Gell. The paper immediately reported the anonymous call, which placed Susan under police protection. Susan told police she received threatening calls from perverse and lurid people over the past month.
Investigators switched their attention to tracing phone calls and traced them back to Brian Steckel. Brian’s anonymous phone call to the newspaper was confirmed and he identified himself as a potential killer. The police had so much circumstantial evidence against Brian that they concluded he was a suspect. They arrested him on a harassment warrant on September 3, 1994. During several interviews, Brian renounced his Miranda rights and admitted to disturbing details about the crime against Sandra.
Brian admitted to setting fire to the apartment, using the screwdriver and two other unrelated murders. Brian claimed that he had been with Sandra for around a week. He knocked on her doors under the pretense of making a phone call. After entering Sandra’s apartment, Brian disconnected her phone and began to rape her after she refused to have sex. He attempted to strangle her using nylon stockings and the tube sock that he had brought. Sandra eventually lost consciousness and bit him on the finger, causing bleeding.
Brian raped Sandra and set fire to her apartment using his lighter to hide the crime. After the incident, Sandra may have regained consciousness and attempted to escape the flames, but the ensuing heat consumed her. Brian was arrested for the murder and rape of Sandra after a forensic dentist confirmed that the bite mark on his finger corresponded to Sandra’s dental pair.
How Did Brian Steckel Die?
A New Castle County jury convicted Brian Steckel of 3 counts of first-degree murder (2 counts of felony murder and one count of intentional murder), two counts of second-degree burglary, and one count each of aggravated harassment or first-degree arson. On January 8, 1997, he was sentenced to the death penalty. He was sentenced to death by the Delaware Supreme Court. Various courts denied his appeals and writ de habeas corpus in 1998 and 1999.
Brian was unrepentant for his crimes. He even sent Sandra a copy of the autopsy report along with a note saying, “Read it, weep.” She is gone forever. “Don’t weep over burned flesh.” He was executed by the Delaware Correctional Center near Smyrna in Delaware with a lethal injection at 12:21 AM on November 4, 2005.