Some names have been changed in this story.

Samantha Lezark, beloved grocery store cashier from Texas, was going through a devastating divorce when she was found dead with a coaxial cable tightly wrapped around her neck and a large gash on the back of her head.

But investigators would soon learn that Lezark’s ex-husband John was not the only man in her life. The 28-year-old also had a secret relationship with her colleague’s husband and dipped her toe into the world of online dating, giving investigators a daunting list of possible suspects, according to ‘An Unexpected Killer’, which aired Fridays at 8/7c on Oxygen.

The quiet community of Wichita Falls was rocked when Lezark was found dead on the morning of January 6, 2003. Co-worker Laurie had come home with her husband, Donnie, to check on Lezark after she failed to show up that morning -the. for his regular shift at a local grocery store. The couple realized the door was unlocked and went inside to find Lezark sprawled on his bedroom floor in a pool of blood.

The 28-year-old was lying on her stomach, with a large head wound and a coaxial cable wrapped three or four times around her neck before being tied with a distinctive square knot, leading authorities to believe that their suspect was either in the military or had a good knowledge of knots.

“A death by strangulation has a close and personal aspect,” said a detective on the case in the series. “Based on what we saw, we thought there was a good chance the killer actually knew the victim.”

There were also no signs of forced entry suggesting an intruder had forced their way into the house and no signs of sexual assault.

Near the body, investigators found a fire extinguisher, covered in blood, hair and what appeared to be part of a bloody handprint. Authorities believe the fire extinguisher was used to deliver Lezark’s blow to the head.

Detectives also discovered a laser pointer in the middle of the bed surrounded by blood spatter, leading investigators to conclude that the pointer was on the bed at the time of the attack.

With few other clues to go on, detectives turned to the people who had been closest to the feisty cashier. They learned that Lezark had recently separated from her husband. The couple had once been high school sweethearts, but the relationship fell apart after John fell in love with Lezark’s best friend and had an affair.

“She kept trying to make him happy and she was so devastated when he left,” her mother recalled of the painful breakup.

For months John would come and go from his life until his mother said she decided to kick him out for good.

Lezark’s friends, who said she loved cats, music and her growing collection of tattoos, noted that they saw new meaning in her after that.

“Samantha’s confidence has definitely changed,” her friend Lisa recalls. “I think Samantha was just trying to have fun, get back into the world, try new things.”

One of these novelties was online dating. In 2003, online dating was in its infancy, and Lezark typically found his new love interests in chat rooms, using the username meowmix28 in reference to his love of cats.

Not everyone in his life was happy with the new development. John told detectives he warned his ex-wife that she could ‘meet dangerous people’ online and that his mother also gave him a pointed warning.

“When she started meeting these guys online, I was like, ‘You don’t know these people, you don’t let them come to the house, do you? and I could tell she didn’t want me to know because it was going to really upset me,” she said.

It wasn’t the only complication in his life. At the time of his death, Lezark’s friend Laurie said Lezark got into a fight with her ex after he threatened to cut off his health insurance. John had suffered a terrible injury at the age of 18: a car had fallen on him, injuring his back. Without insurance, he could face significant medical bills.

But John told detectives that Lezark had agreed not to cut the insurance, and he said he was home with his girlfriend the night he died. He also submitted his DNA and fingerprints, which did not match evidence found at the crime scene.

In a surprising twist, investigators also learned that Donnie, the same man who discovered the body, had had a short intimate relationship with Lezark shortly before his death. He initially told detectives that he only knew Lezark because she was his wife’s friend, but detectives learned that their relationship had deepened.

“Once we realized he had been Samantha’s lover, we had to take a closer look,” the detective said.

When confronted, Donnie admitted to the relationship, but he insisted he didn’t kill Lezark. He agreed to provide his DNA and fingerprints, which cleared him as a suspect.

With two possible suspects eliminated, authorities decided to focus on Lezark’s online romance activities. The night she was killed, she had told her friend Lisa that she was with a man named Kris at her house and said that the couple were planning to watch a new “Friends” DVD.

Digging through her computer data, investigators found a man with the username “KS” who she was communicating with days before her death in messages “of a somewhat sexual nature”.

“He wanted to come see her, told her to be blindfolded, topless, and ironically she said, ‘What if you’re a serial killer?'” another interviewer in the series recalled. “But, in the end, she accepted.”

One of Lezark’s neighbors had seen a car at home with California plates a few days before he died and noted down the license plate. Detectives were able to link the car to a man named “Kristoff”.

Kristoff was stationed at a local Air Force base. When they brought him in for questioning, Kristoff admitted to the sexual relationship, but said the couple didn’t have much else in common. The night of the murder, he said he was with friends in a batting cage.

His DNA and fingerprints did not match, leaving investigators at square one.

It wasn’t until investigators remembered the tip given to them by a young neighborhood boy that they got the break they needed. The boy told police he saw a black and red motorbike parked at Lezark’s home shortly before his body was discovered.

Detectives asked the computer forensics team to search Lezark’s correspondence for the word “motorcycle” and discovered another suitor who went by the username i-am-elliot and spoke of owning one a.

Despite the misleading username, investigators were able to link the profile to a man who worked at an area camera store named Kris Russell.

Russell was a student taking criminal justice courses at Midwestern State University.

“He looked like he came from a good home and he was a decent, clean, all-American kid,” the detective said of the startling new suspect.

Authorities had searched the couple’s online correspondence earlier in the investigation, but nothing came of their conversation, which initially threw detectives off his trail.

The pair bonded after Russell told Lezark his wife had just died and she told him her husband had left her for her best friend.

“I-am-elliot struck her as very sympathetic in their messages and she seemed to respond to that,” another interviewer said, describing their online chats as “pretty innocent.”

Yet the investigation revealed other troubling signs. Russell had been in the Marines, but only a few days before he was discharged by the Army. Authorities also found a collection of laser pointers at his home, similar to the one mysteriously found on Lezark’s bed, as well as a book on knots.

After obtaining a search warrant to secure Russell’s DNA and fingerprints in Lezark’s case, they found it matched evidence left at the crime scene. Detectives have been unable to establish a clear motive in the case, but believe Russell likely lost his temper at some point that night and attacked Lezark from behind with the front fire extinguisher to strangle him to death.

He was later found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 99 years in prison.

For more on this case and others like it, watch “An Unexpected Killer”, aired Fridays at 8/7c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.