Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case with Paula Zahn: No GoodByes is about the murder of seventeen-year-old Brittani Marcell, a student at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the year 2008.
The program explains how investigators utilized cutting-edge technology to find the perpetrator after almost 10 years since the attack. If you’re intrigued and want to learn more about the investigation, in addition to the name and the current location of the killer, we’re here to help. Let’s get into it now. Let’s get started, shall we?
How was Brittani Marcell Assaulted?
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Brittani Marcell was an active, bubbly high school student. She was a fun and social person. She had one brother and five sisters who worked at an eyeglass shop at Cottonwood Mall. On September 11, 2008, Brittani returned to her school and was waiting for their mother, Diane Marcell, to return home. The mother and daughter duo was set to dine together for lunch. However, when Diane was at Marcell’s home, She was shocked to discover her daughter’s blood in the hallway.
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The person was holding a shovel on the unconscious body of her daughter. However, he dropped it after seeing Diane. He walked through their dining and living rooms and finally into the kitchen, intimidating the mother with the butcher knife. Believing that she was in danger, Diane ran out of her home, screaming for attention. When she returned, she was aided in finding the attacker who had escaped through the window. She took her bleeding and unconscious daughter to the hospital nearby. Doctors had no hope of saving her.
Brittani had suffered multiple cuts on her face and head, multiple skull fractures, and a broken wrist arm. Her admission to the hospital was in critical condition with no brain activity, permanently fixed pupils, a damaged earstem canal, and a badly injured optic nerve. It took several weeks to recover from her medically induced condition, only to lose nearly all memories regarding her college days and the brutal attack on her. The family was scared of the perpetrator and could get Brittani admitted into the hospital with an untrue name. In the course of five years, Brittani was discharged from the hospital.
The Marcell family moved to Texas and had Brittani admitted to a very rigorous rehabilitation program. Brittani lost her left eyesight as well as was declared deaf permanently in her ear. Initially scared and confused because of her memory loss, Brittani was able to recover her capabilities after undergoing treatment for cognitive behavior. She credits her mother’s help as the main reason for her recovery. She added, “She’s been there with me on every medical appointment, every surgery. It’s like she’s somebody who I look up to very much so she’s like my best friend now.”
Who Assaulted Brittani Marcell?
The police had swarmed through the peaceful neighborhood around the Marcell home and began searching for evidence. They soon discovered an acrid shovel, the roll of tape and blade left over by the escape attacker. The most important finding was a tiny droplet of the killer’s blood. He had cut himself on a piece of glass that was part of the window in the broken dining room through which he fled. Detectives were certain that this would be the key to solving the mystery. But unfortunately, they could not locate a match after going through the nationwide CODIS database.
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Investigators scrutinized Brittani’s personal life and analyzed her current and past relationships and even those with whom she may have interacted in her work. They also examined the lives of her siblings, looking for possible suspects. But the case went to a dead end when authorities could not find any potential suspects or clues. Her case was brought back to the table in 2013, and the investigators advised Brittani to go under hypnosis in 2014 to help her regain her suppressed memory.
The hypnosis was partially helpful in Brittani recalling a sketchy reference to her murderer, who was tall, with thick hair and fair skin. Although she could not recall his name, she did recall the person she met in the workplace. In 2016, Brittani came up with an initial name, Justin, and her sisters recognized the name. Justin Hansen was a handsome and well-known guy who worked in the mall and was known to be a friend to Brittani there.
Investigators also decided to seek assistance with a technology called DNA business, which had developed an innovative invention that uses DNA to discover the individual’s genetic features such as their eye color or hair color. After receiving the results, they discovered that it was nearly identical to Justin’s that the Marcell family was discussing. The investigation team paid Justin, whom they found to be an engaged dad of 4 children; however, he denied having known Brittani.
However, the police did have an eyewitness who recalled Justin speaking to Brittani over the course of hours on several occasions in the mall. Detectives deemed him suspected and demanded an autopsy, but Justin did not respond. The police received approval from the local district attorney, and undercover detectives accompanied Justin and took their DNA samples from the cup that he consumed at McDonald’s. It was matched to the DNA of the crime scene. Justin was detained on July 5 on July 5 in, 2017.
Where is Justin Hansen Today?
While Justin Hansen insisted that he was not the one who attacked Brittani, he signed a plea deal to enter a plea of no contest for the attempted murder of the 1st degree and aggravated burglary. On July 25, 2018, Justin Hansen was sentenced to 18 years as part of his plea agreement. He stated, “It just seems that everything has got stacked against me right from the start. As everything transpired, I decided that it was only a way for me to limit the time I’m away from my children.”
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In March 2021, Justin sought an extension of his sentence. The appeals court was in his favor and granted him credit for the time he spent under house arrest371 days of pre-trial service and 14 days in jail. The state attempted to challenge the appeal by taking this to New Mexico Supreme Court but was refused. Justin sought the second reduction in sentence, citing his desire to spend time with his family; however, the request was denied in March 2022.
Brittani believes Justin assaulted him due to jealousy after she refused his requests. She underwent more than 22 surgeries following her assault. In the year 2018, she announced she would like to pursue her passion for journalism or even become a lawyer and assist other victims. According to official court reports, Justin Hansen is presently in NMCD custody.