On September 28th, 2014, 59-year-old Jill Halliburton Su was found dead in her bathtub by her son Justin Su. DNA from the crime scene lead investigators to 20-year-old Dayonte Resiles who was known for previous burglaries. In March of 2022, he was found guilty of first-degree murder, but many people believe he is not the real killer.
Rogue and Wicked
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Nan-Yao Su and Jill Halliburton met in Japan. She was an exchange student, and he was teaching. He left to do a PHT in the states and she left to travel in Southeast Asia. About two years later, Nan-Yao received a postcard in the mail from Jill and she was volunteering in Cambodia. The two of them kept in touch and ended up getting married. They adopted their daughter Mandy, and they had Justin 3 years later. Jill was a dedicated mother, and she was passionate about doing volunteer work. When she first came back to the states, she worked with refugees from Southeast Asia. Years later she volunteered to make audiotapes for the blind by reading books and magazines. The family had always been close, but in 2014, there was some tension. Justin had dropped out of college and his father was pretty upset about this.
On September 7th 2014, Jill Halliburton Su and her husband Nan Yao Su arrived home from a trip to Malaysia. They lived in a $1.2 million home in a gated community in Davie, 11 miles southwest of Fort Lauderdale. The next morning, Nan-Yao headed to work at the University of Florida. He is an Entomologist which means he studies insects, their environments, and their behaviors. Jill slept in that morning, but she was up at 9:30 AM when her son Justin left the house. He saw her sitting in the living room in her pink robe, reading a book. Justin said goodbye and told her he was heading to work. He had a part-time job at the same University as his father and was a professor’s assistant. Shortly after noon, he got a call from his father and he said, are you home right now? Justin said no, I’m at work, why?
Nan Yao said that he was in his office, and he saw something weird on the home cameras. He initially thought it was Justin, pulling a prank on him. He asked Justin if he could run home and check because the cameras just went out. The cameras had been flickering, that’s why he was paying attention and he caught something that went by fast. On the live feed, he saw a figure in the kitchen of their home wearing a mask. He saw someone walk from the kitchen to the breakfast area, then disappeared from view, then the image was lost. Nan Yao called his wife, but Jill didn’t answer, so Justin sped home and it took him 15 minutes to arrive. He entered the house through the garage and when he got inside, he saw that something was very wrong with the cameras. The first one he looked at had been ripped out of the wall and the wires were dangling. He looked at the living room and the same thing happened to that camera.
Justin’s first thought was, why is my mom going crazy and ripping the cameras down? What happened? He went upstairs to his room and noticed that someone had been rifling through all of his drawers. He was an avid hunter and diver who collected knives and blades that were missing. He could hear water running in his parent’s bathroom and when he got there, he saw that the tub was full to the rim, the water was red with blood and his mother’s body was floating in the hot water and she was face down.
Justin called his dad and said he thought his mom had killed herself, then he called 911. He told the operator the same thing, his mom killed herself. He quickly pulled her out of the tub, he got drenched in blood, and he started CPR. Once Jill’s body out of the tub, he reassessed the situation and realized this wasn’t a suicide. He told the dispatcher that this was a murder because her hands and legs were tied.
Jill’s hands had been bound with a cloth belt and her feet were bound with an electrical cord and she had been stabbed more than 20 times. The detectives were immediately suspicious of Justin’s story. His mom had been bound and stabbed, how could that look like a suicide? They came to a theory right away when they learned that Jill’s maiden name was Halliburton. She was the descendant of a rich and prominent family in the American oil business. Maybe she was murdered for her money? Her great uncle Earl Halliburton had once been among the wealthiest people in America. His wealth came from developing and improving the process of extracting oil from the ground. When Earl died, oil rights were distributed to all family members, so Jill didn’t actually get very much of it. In fact, Justin said he got a royalty check for $13 because he was so far down the line in the family.
Nan Yao had developed termite traps that are widely used, so that’s how the family got their money and they lived comfortably. The night before the murder, Nan Yao and Jill had returned from that trip to Malaysia where he was giving a lecture. Jill was exhausted, so that’s why she decided to sleep in the next morning.
Homicide detective Paul Williams said he will never forget the crime scene and it was one of the most horrific he had ever seen in his 28 years. When he arrived to the house, he saw Justin sitting outside on the ground under a tree. There was mulch on the ground, and he started punching it repeatedly. EMT’s were attempting to calm him down. When his dad pulled up, his first instinct was to get to his son and hug him, but the police told him he couldn’t be near him and the two of them needed to stay separate.
Detectives were looking at Justin as the main suspect right away. Near the front door, a knife was lying on the ground. It belonged to Justin, and it had traces of blood on it. Once the tub was drained, a large hunting knife was found at the bottom. It had been a knife that Jill gave to Justin. The alarm panel box was also at the bottom of the tub.
Justin was brought in for questioning and he cooperated and never asked for a lawyer. He told them the same story that we’ve already been through, but there was one difference. When his dad called him about the problem with the security camera, Justin said he was at work, but when he explained the story to the detectives, he said he got the call when he was at the library of the community college where he was taking classes. Turned out, both of these accounts were lies. Once he was called out on this, Justin changed his story and said he was actually sleeping in his car.
When Justin dropped out of college, it caused huge problems with the family and he said he didn’t want to disappoint his father, that’s why he said he was at work. His dad told him he needed to go to school and work part time, so that’s why he used both places in his lies. But when he fessed up, he said he was really sleeping in his car in the school parking garage when his dad called him. Ever since he moved back into the house, they had all been fighting a lot and that’s why he initially thought his mom took her own life. Things had just been difficult in their relationship.
Even though the home was in disarray, it looked like it was staged. It didn’t feel like a burglary gone wrong. There was one glaring problem with the crime scene when detectives started to look at things. The only room that had really been rifled through, was Justins. I mean, sure, the cameras had been pulled down around the house, but the drawers in his room had been opened, items had been moved, and two of his knives had been used in the murder. Then, there was a third knife that popped up. Justin said he had a knife with him, and he grabbed it from his car when he went in to check the house, but the knife was found in his car. After finding his mother dead, why would he go put the knife back in his vehicle? Justin admitted that he lied again, and he said he was trying to make it look like he was being safe.
Detectives were starting to wonder if maybe Justin and his mother fought that morning and he tried to stage it and make it look like a robbery gone wrong. Justin said he had nothing to do with it, it was a break-in. He even knew where the intruder came in. There was an opening on the back door, but it was too small for a grown man to fit through.
Detectives left Justin alone several times during the interview and he would start talking to himself, pacing, crying, and yelling profanities. His father, Nan Yao was left in the room next door, and he had to listen to his son crying and screaming.
Nan Yao was interviewed, and he said he saw the person for about 2-3 seconds on the camera. The person was a white male, and he was tall and skinny. Detectives were like, well, your son is tall and skinny. Nan Yao was shocked and tried to tell them that it wasn’t his son that he saw, it was an intruder. Detectives went back to Justin and said look, your dad just described seeing you on the camera. They told him that his father suspected him of being the killer. Justin said that someone was trying to frame him, and detectives used this to their advantage and switched tactics. They said the only one who could frame him was his father. They interrogated Justin for 11 hours and at one point, Justin says, “When you guys find out you’re wrong, I hope you come and say sorry to me, man, or something...” The detective responded, “If I found out I was wrong, I’d seriously consider a career change. But I know I’m not wrong.”
Detectives were hoping to get their hands on the footage that Nan Yao saw with the supposed intruder, but no dice. The camera system they had was a drop camera service which means you can pay for a service to keep the live recordings. The family had done a trial period for the recordings that lasted two weeks. It was not renewed, and it expired two days before the murder. There was no footage to review.
Alright, investigators would have to start checking people’s timelines and they were starting with Justin. He said that he ran some errands that morning and left the house for the second time around 9:15 AM. The security camera at the front gate does show his car leaving and three hours later, around 12:30, his car reentered the gated community. This does match his story that he was away, received a call from his father and went back to the house to check. Detectives had determined that the murder took place slightly after noon and Justin wasn’t home. Once they realized he couldn’t have murdered his mother, he was released.
During the 11-hour investigation, Justin did provide investigators with a new clue to pursue. He had thrown a party at his house 2 days before his parents returned from their Malaysia trip. Could one of his friends be involved in the murder? There were about 20 to 25 kids at this party, and they were smoking and drinking. This added another issue for investigators. A party meant that there could be lots of extra fingerprints in that house. Every kid was brought in for questioning and an oral swab. They all knew about the security cameras in the home. When they arrived at the party, Justin told each of them that they needed to be cool around the cameras. He showed them which areas to avoid in case his parents checked the cameras.
Most of the kids at the party were Justin’s close friends, but there were a few he didn’t know very well. Justin said that during the party, one of the guys went to the off-limits part of the house. Justin said he yelled at him because the guy walked into his parent’s room and went into their bathroom and was on the phone. This partygoer was interviewed, and he said yes, he got an important call and wandered away from everyone. Justin saw him entering his parents’ room and asked him to go to the garage to finish the call and he complied.
The kids at the party seemed to mention one person that had a pretty bad reputation. Detectives brought him in for questioning and he said, “I had a feeling I would end up here just knowing the situation and shit.” He said he was on probation for drugs, and he had an alibi for the time of the murder, he was at work. None of the kids at the party seemed to be a good lead.
Nine days after the murder, all the DNA samples from the home had been analyzed and they got a hit for 20-year-old Dayonte Resiles. He had an extensive history of burglaries and his M.O. matched up with this crime scene. He always targeted huge homes in gated communities, they were all backed up against the water, and most of the entries were through a back, glass doorway.
The police got an arrest warrant for Dayonte and right off the bat, he said he wasn’t talking. Detectives said, ok, well, you’re being charged with first-degree-murder. He was asking what they were talking about, and they said, we can’t talk to you, and they walked out. He was assigned a court appointed defense attorney. Gentry Chambers went to talk to him, and he saw a scared kid, it didn’t make sense. He talks to hardened criminals for a living and would have expected someone who was a brutal murderer to act tougher.
Dayonte grew up close to the Su family. His single mother worked minimum wage jobs and he was nicknamed Moochie as a kid. He was charming, driven, and posted videos online that were essentially motivational. He was telling people to be ambitious and work hard. He did have a history of burglaries, but if he was ever caught during them, he would take off running.
On July 15th, 2016, Dayonte was in court for a hearing and during this, the courthouse was shut down and surrounded by the police. It was pure chaos. Justin received a call from the victim advocates, and they said, you might want to pull over. Dayonte escaped from the courtroom. He entered the courtroom that morning at 9:06. He was the first in a line of inmates that were lead in and they headed towards the jury box where they went off camera. They wait there until their case is called. At 9:36, a new group of inmates was lead in and seconds later, Dayonte bolted. He hit the door and someone was on the other side, so he bounced back. He pushed through again and got through this time. He tossed the jumpsuit on the floor, got out of the cuffs and shackles, busted out a back door and hopped into a waiting car.
A manhunt was launched, there was a 50k reward being offered and the rumor mill went wild. Social media started blowing up and #FreeMoochie and #runMoochierun was trending. The community felt that the police were just trying to pin this on him because he was black. He had been in trouble before, but it was for burglaries, he wasn’t violent. Things just weren’t adding up. Six days after his escape, a new lead came in. A tipster said that Dayonte was hiding out in a Days inn about an hour away and he was going to put up a fight, so they showed up with a SWAT team. He was taken into custody without any incident.
How did Dayonte escape? He got help from friends and family members and this was discovered on his recorded phone calls from jail. This plan had been in motion for a few months and it was mainly a group of young kids that were in on this. On the morning of the escape, Dayonte was in jail and he got a key that would unlock the cuffs and shackles. A few months prior to this moment, a deputy at the jail reported that they lost a handcuff key. It was later discovered that a jail guard had given him a key. Days before the escape, Dayonte was on the phone with a friend who was in the courthouse and they were describing the exact route that he should take to get out of the building. His friend walked from the courtroom, down the staircase that leads to the third floor which leads to another stairwell that leads outside. They explained every detail of the layout to him so he would know where to go.
On the morning of the escape, Dayonte was patted down and this can be seen on the surveillance cameras. He had already ripped apart the legs of his jumpsuit to make it easier to get off. Under the jumpsuit, he was wearing street clothes. The inmates were brought to the courtroom, fully shackled. One prisoner blocks Dayonte’s torso from view and unlatches his waist chain so his hands had room to move. When they went into the courtroom, he went into the jury box and it’s believed that he unlocked his cuffs and shackles at this point.
There were two twins in the court that were the eyes and ears, and they were communicating with the people in the car. One twin signals the other and then that twin signals Dayonte so he knows that everything is in place, and he can take off. Here’s how it worked. One of the twins coughed into a cellphone and that was a message to the person in the car to let them know that Dayonte was on his way to the vehicle. Almost every detail was so planned out, but the getaway car didn’t even have enough gas. Maybe they didn’t think they would get away with it? They had to stop at the gas station. All 8 of the people that helped him escape, were later charged and convicted.
Once he was back in custody, he wrote a letter to the judge. He apologized for escaping and said he hoped the judge didn’t take it personally and he hoped he could be judged fairly. He said he greatly respected the judge, but felt like his voice was going unheard and he wanted to prove his innocence. He knew his actions were wrong, but he was trying to gather evidence to help himself. He said there was a phone that could prove what he was saying if it could ever be found.
While he was in the motel room, he was actually hanging out with friends and looking at porn sites. He started an online campaign to keep himself alive and he recorded a message where he said, “If you have been placed in a jail for a crime you know nothing about or never committed, would you sit in jail? Let me answer it for you logically: No.”
No one knows who paid for this, but in 2019, a billboard was put up right in front of the sheriff’s office that had a picture of Jill and Dayonte. It said two victims, one truth. Who murdered Jill Hallibruton? Who framed Dayonte Resiles? Join us: #Justice4Moochie
The trial finally took place in late 2021 and Dayonte pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Dayonte’s DNA was found in 3 separate places at the crime scene: on a belt, outside the house on one of Justin’s knives, and at the back door point of entry. This sounds like a pretty open and shut case, but the lab that processed the DNA had a history of controversy. According to the Prosecutor, In 2015, the BSO Lab was accused by a local expert of mishandling how they calculated the statistics of how often in a population it is likely that you would find similar DNA.
Dayonte’s defense attorneys latched onto this and used it to their advantage during the trial. They argued that the real killer was actually Justin Su, just like investigators originally thought. They pointed out that he lied several times and had erratic behavior. The jury deliberated and on day 5, they came back with a verdict, Dayonte was guilty of manslaughter, not first-degree murder, so his sentence would be considerably less. The judge pulled each juror to ask them if this was their verdict. He started with the Foreperson who is the spokesperson for the jury. Is this your verdict? No.
This juror said that minutes earlier, she had been disturbed by the reaction at the defense table when they announced the manslaughter verdict. She said, “I just got a knot in the pit of my stomach. I looked at the defense table. They were just cheering and patting him on the back, like he had graduated high school or made the winning touchdown at a football game. I thought, what have I done? Is this the world I am creating for my children, a world where someone can get away with murder because of the color of their skin?” She felt that Dayonte should have received a harsher punishment and she instantly felt better for speaking up. She explained that unfortunately, the jurors were very divided, and the dividing issue was race. This was all happening after the murder of George Floyd, so the country was in a debate over racial justice, and this deeply affected the way the jury felt. One of the jurors started crying and said he couldn’t send another young, black man to jail. They had been sequestered for 5 days, arguing over the verdict and some of them finally caved and went with the lesser charge because they felt pressured.
The judge pulled the jurors back into the jury room and things got heated. The Foreperson that changed her answer to no said that she felt threatened by another juror. He told her that if he saw her in the streets, he would smack her in the face. The judge had no choice, but to declare a mistrial.
Three months later, a new trial started. The state presented their theory about what they think happened and it goes like this: Dayonte broke into the Su home and unexpectedly came across Jill, and they started fighting. At some point, Jill tried to run outside and around noon, a neighbor said they heard an unsettling cry coming from the house. She said it was a high pitched, shrieking sound, then she saw a light-colored object at the front door, then it went back inside. The neighbor believed it was their dog, but the state believes it was Jill screaming as Dayonte dragged her back inside.
If this neighbor is correct in seeing something at the front door of the home at noon, Justin and his father Nan Yao were not home at that time and that’s been verified. If that front door opened and closed at noon, Jill was still alive around that time. Assuming that it was in fact Jill at the door, the state believes Dayonte may have hit her in the back of the head to knock her out. The knife that was used to stab Jill had a sharp edge at the end of the handle and the medical examiner said an injury on Jill’s head matched that shape. Once she was unconscious, she was dragged to the bathroom and murdered. There is very little blood around the bathroom, which shows that she was stabbed in the bathtub.
When it comes to the DNA found on the broken glass door which would be the point of entry into the home, the analyst said, “The DNA results are at least 2.33 quadrillion times more likely if they originated from Dayonte Resiles.” In this second trial, the state really focused on the fact that he had escaped from the courtroom because they felt that it showed his guilt. After his capture, he tried to illicit friends to help him with an alibi for the day of the murder. He bribed a corrections officer to get him a phone smuggled into the jail. He used this to start contacting his friends, but he didn’t know that the phone was tapped.
He asked one friend to lie for him and say that he was in Georgia, not Florida on the day of the murder which was on September 8th. You can hear him telling the friend to say that he headed to Georgia on the 3rd and came back on the 9th, but his own phone records prove that he was in Florida the whole time and he was in Florida when Jill was murdered. He also asked one friend to lie about his DNA at the crime scene. They were trying to spin a story where some guy got in a fight with Dayonte, cut him, took his blood, and planted it at the crime scene to frame him, but there’s a big problem with this story. The DNA found on the belt, knife, and door, was not from blood.
The defense believes that Dayonte was not the one who murdered Jill because his DNA was not in the bedroom or the bathroom where she was murdered. They say that DNA survived in the bathtub, but Dayonte’s wasn’t found there or on any of the handles where the water was turned on. Also, the murder weapon that was found in the bottom of the tub did not have his DNA either. The prosecutor disputes this and says it’s absolutely possible for the DNA to dissipate in water. The defense presented other possible suspects and that included the kids that attended Justin’s party and Justin himself.
When Nan Yao described the person he saw on his home security system, he believed the person was white. He only saw them for 2-3 seconds and the person was wearing a mask, but either way, Dayonte is black. Nan Yao pointed at Dayonte and said, “The real evil looks like that. That is the face of evil sitting there and evil like you should not be allowed to roam among us.” He said, “At that moment, the loving mother of 2, devoted wife of me, and the very giving, forgiving person is nothing but a piece of meat on a chopping block in front of you. You killed her with cold blood.” His son Justin addressed Dayonte on the stand and said, “The only person on the entire planet that knows the last words of my mother is that psychopath right there. We’ll never know what it was, she was probably screaming in pain.” The jury deliberated for 3 days, and they found Dayonte guilty of first-degree murder.
Nan Yao and Justin were consulted about the sentence because first-degree murder could either result in life in prison or the death penalty. Nan Yao says his wife Jill would never want another life taken. At sentencing, the state took the death penalty off the table, so Dayonte would receive life-in prison without parole. Nan Yao said “After this today, Dayonte Resiles, I’m going to erase you from my memory. In my mind you are persona non grata. You do not exist. And we’re going to make sure we live happily for the rest of our lives while you rot in jail.” Justin told Dayonte that all of his friends and family will slowly fade away and forget about him. Dayonte was able to respond, and he spoke for 25 minutes and he said, “I don’t possess the hate or rage inside of my heart to commit such a heinous crime.” He said he was just another wrongfully convicted black man. He addressed the Su family, saying he was raised with principles and morals. “I would never take a wife from her husband, I would never take a mother from her child.”
There is SO much controversy with this case and many people believe that Dayonte did not have anything to do with the murder and he’s being set up. In the Dateline episode, we were lead to believe that the BSO lab that tested the DNA in this case was only making some errors in numbers or statistics, but I don’t think that’s the whole truth.
A complaint was filed against the lab by a whistleblower, Boynton Beach forensics analyst Tiffany Roy who was hired to retest a DNA sample swabbed from a knife handle in 2015. She felt that BSO was saying certain samples were complete enough to use in trials, but they weren’t. The lab was using incorrect or incomplete DNA to charge defendants with crimes.
Once this happened, the lab was forced to reopen as many as 2,000 closed cases, and they changed their software. They are using a software called STRmix that deciphers DNA evidence that was previously considered too incomplete to accurately interpret. The problem is that this isn’t widely used, so hardly anyone knows how this works, but that seems to work to the labs advantage. They can keep everything under wraps and attorneys aren’t able to get independent experts to verify the results.
The Su family got a bench in a park dedicated to Jill and it’s embossed with her artwork. I want to end by reading her obituary to give a good sense of who she was.
“March 16th, 1955 to September 8th, 2014 Jill Halliburton Su of Davie, Florida was born in Whitteir, California, and moved with her family to Michigan in 1966. Jill was a graduate of Michigan State University and was a long-time resident of Broward County. She was a loving wife, mother, daughters, sister, and friend to all. She was full of life and touched many people through her artwork and special way of creating or finding that perfect thrift shop discovery for just the right person. Jill enjoyed combing thrift stores for that unique piece of wood that would become her next art creation.
Jill exhibited her art for over a decade at the Ann Arbor, Michigan art fair each summer. She had a dedicated following. She was also a long-time respected volunteer and member at Insight for the Blind and the 1919 Club, a study club. Jill was a devoted wife to Dr. Nan-Yao Su whom she met while studying abroad at Michigan State University in Japan. She was the consummate hostess and made everybody welcome in her home.
Jill traveled all over the world with her husband and family. Her most recent trip with Nan-Yao was to Malaysia. Jill was the loving mother of two children, Mandy and Justin. She was always a volunteer for their classrooms and mentor to other children. The teachers could always count on her. She could make us all laugh with her wry sense of humor or knowledge of trivia and movies. Jill had a genuine curiosity about many things and could amaze you with what she knew about most anything. Jill was an amazing organizer even if you didn’t want to be organized, she would still organize your cabinets for you. Her loving spirit and light were blessing to all who knew her, and she will be greatly missed.”