Former Alvin Detective Sue Dietrich (r) talks to a student following her lecture.
A former Alvin detective who investigated the murder case of a two-year-old girl killed by her father urged criminal justice students to continue to ask questions and use common sense, even when it conflicts with expert opinions.
Sue Dietrich was one of three women, which included the child’s grandmother Sharon Couch and Prosecutor Jeri Yenne, who dogged pursued justice in the case of Renee Goode, who died in 1994 during a slumber party of her father’s house. The case was immortalized in To the Last Breath by Carlton Stowers and featured in a recent Child Abuse and Neglect Class at the College of Criminal Justice.
“I couldn’t understand how a healthy, happy child could drink Kool-Aid, eat pizza and go to bed and not wake up,” said Dietrich. “He is a monster and a baby killer.”
The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the child’s cause of death as undetermined. Couch, a part-time private investigator, hounded officials and pursued experts out of state to reopen the case. After performing a second autopsy, a pediatric forensic pathologist from Florida declared the death a homicide.
Dietrich, who had herself lost a child at 17 months old, investigated the case and discovered a $50,000 life insurance policy that the father had taken out on the child. Dietrich learned of the insurance policy after questioning the father, Shane Goode. She also found out there was another insurance policy out on Shane Goode’s second daughter Tiffany, and he planned to take the child skydiving.
Dietrich attended the second autopsy, where the Florida pathologist, Dr. William Anderson, discovered blood in the child’s back muscle, an indication of suffocation. Dietrich also said the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Officer missed the reticular hemorrhaging in the child’s eyes, also a indication of suffocation. The theory was that Renee was killed when her father squeezed her in a bear hug into his chest.
After a grand jury signed a capital murder indictment, Dietrich and her fellow officers went to arrest Shane Goode. “I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face. It was almost relief,” Dietrich said.
After Goode’s conviction, Dietrich handed him a change-of-address form. She also made sure prison officials prominently displayed a copy of To the Last Breath when it was published, “to let his cellmates know who it is.” It was reposted in the prison library when the paperback edition was printed, which included Shane Goode’s confession letter.
Dietrich spent 30 years in law enforcement, serving as a K-9 officer, arson investigator and forensic hypnosis investigator. She ended her career as police chief in Tiki Island, near Galveston. Dietrich said the best part of her career was in investigations.
“The best time of my life was the time I spent in investigations,” Dietrich said.