"We know you did it."
That's what investigators told Terry Oleson, convinced he was the person who killed four prostitutes and left them face-down in a drainage ditch just outside Atlantic City.
Three years and three DNA samples later, Oleson hasn't been charged. Neither has anyone else in the case, which illuminated the seedy side of the nation's second-largest gambling market.
Friday is the third anniversary of the discovery of the bodies. As families of the victims grieve, Oleson also struggles. He hears whispers, gets strange looks and recently learned of the suspicion from the parents whose children play at his sister's house.
"It's ruined my life," the 37-year-old Salem County handyman told The Associated Press this week. "It's definitely there. I get people looking at me all the time: `Oh, that's the guy from TV!'
"They didn't charge anybody, but they sure the hell made it look like I was the one," he said.
Oleson denies having anything to do with the killings of Barbara Breidor, Molly Jean Dilts, Kim Raffo and Tracy Ann Roberts, and said he hopes the killer will be caught.
Prosecutors never publicly labeled Oleson as a suspect in the case, but investigators did question him extensively shortly after the bodies were found on Nov. 20, 2006, based on a number of troubling leads.
He had been staying in the Golden Key Motel in Egg Harbor Township just before the bodies were discovered behind it. Authorities later discovered a network of hidden cameras in his Alloway Township home, and he eventually admitted using them to secretly record his then-girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter in various states of undress.
After seven hours of questioning that began innocuously enough, Oleson said the tone abruptly changed. He says one of them told him, "We know you did it."
"I thought, `Man, you guys are really friggin' stupid,'" Oleson said.
He was arrested four days later on an invasion-of-privacy charge, and came home to find that authorities had ransacked his house looking for evidence.
It didn't help that an acknowledged prostitute told police _ and any reporter who would listen _ that Oleson confessed to her that he had killed several women. She later recanted at a news conference and apologized to him.
A judge in the videotaping case commented that bail should be high, noting that "a suspect or person of interest in four homicides" is a flight risk. The same judge months later said in court that those circumstances no longer existed.
Oleson served six months in jail for the videotaping and apologized to the victim.
Before he was sentenced, Oleson gave authorities three DNA samples, hoping it would prove his innocence in the prostitute deaths case.
"The very first time I met this guy at the jail, he offered to take a lie-detector test, and give a DNA sample," said his lawyer, James Leonard Jr. "I thought, `Either this guy is the dumbest serial killer in history, or he's totally innocent.' I have no doubt it's the latter."
Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel told The Associated Press last year that DNA evidence can degrade to the point of being unusable after being in the water for a prolonged period. The victims had all been in the water for several days or more before being discovered.
Housel said in a statement Wednesday that his office is still actively pursuing the case, and has recently assigned more investigators to look into the killings.
He would not answer specific questions about Oleson or any other aspect of the case.
Hugh Auslander, Raffo's husband, said he has not heard anything about the case from authorities in the past year.
"I don't think they have anything at all," he said. "This has caused nothing but misery for me, so I'm trying to just move on with my life at this point."
Auslander said he's not sure what to make of Oleson and doesn't know whether to suspect him any longer.
"After Terry Oleson, everything just fell apart," he said.
Relatives of the other three victims did not respond to interview requests.
Years-old documentaries on the case are still shown on cable TV, and Oleson says they still cause him problems.
His next-door neighbor works with his sister, and their children play together in each other's houses.
"Three weeks ago, that thing was back on TV, and the next day the kid comes over and says, `Mom says the door has to be open while I'm over here playing,' " Oleson said. "The kid still has to check in every half-hour now."