Sam Mandez

Truer Crime
Truer Crime
Sam Mandez

Sam Mandez was just 14 years old when his elderly neighbor, Frida Winter, was found murdered in her home, the same home Sam had painted with his grandfather just a few summers prior. It would be years before they set their eyes on Sam as their main suspect. And while he was just a kid when the crime took place, Sam was tried as an adult and eventually sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder. Despite maintaining his innocence, he now faced a future behind bars. But what would that future *actually* look like? Today, we’re starting where a lot of other true crime stories end – in prison. 

Please be aware that today’s episode discusses incarceration, solitary confinement, severe mental illness, suicide, and self-harm. Please take care while listening.

A full transcript of this episode is available here.

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Action Items Related to Today’s Episode:

If you’re in the United States and you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website at

To learn more about solitary confinement and the movement to end its practice, I highly recommend checking out Solitary Watch.

Audio Used:

Vimeo: Out of Sight, Out of Mind – The Story of Sam Mandez, by ACLU of Colorado.

Sources Used: 

Solitary Watch: Solitary Confinement in the United States: The Facts by Valerie Kiebala, Sal Rodriguez, and Mirilla Zhu.

National Institute of Corrections: Children of Incarcerated Parents.

The Denver Post: Flawed investigation, cloudy truths, by Miles Moffeit.

The Denver Post: Sam Mandez spent 17 years of a life sentence for a Greeley murder in solitary confinement. Now he’s getting a second chance. by Saja Hindi.

Vimeo: Out of Sight, Out of Mind – The Story of Sam Mandez, by ACLU of Colorado.

Mark W. Diamond, D.O, report in Mandez case.

The Atlantic: Half a Life in Solitary: How Colorado Made a Young Man Insane, by Andrew Cohen.

The Colorado Sun: Colorado poised to revisit murder law that can send people to prison for life — even when they didn’t kill anyone, by Jesse Paul. 


Lateral Magazine: The Confined Mind, by Andrew Urevig.

Solitary Watch: The ‘Vicious Cycles’ Created by Solitary Confinement, by Al Rodriguez.

Lincoln Journal Star: Nikko Jenkins sues state, alleges faulty treatment, by Riley Johnson.

ACLU Colorado: About.

ACLU letter to Rick Raemisch Raemisch re: Mandez.

The Colorado Independent: Ask The Indy: Why didn’t the judge release Sam Mandez? by Alex Burness.

The Colorado Independent: After hearing Sam Mandez’s story, the judge could only cry, by Alex Burness.

Brennan Center for Justice: How One Man’s Journey Tells the Story of American Criminal Justice, Andrew Cohen.

9News: Sam Mandez, convicted of murder as a juvenile, resentenced to 30 years, by Dacia Johnson and Katie Eastman.

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