tv 2020 ABC January 20, 2023 9:01pm-11:00pm PST
♪ we don't tell people we love them often enough, and if you learn anything from this, you don't know how much time you have. ever. ever. >> 911. >> help me, help me, my wife is dead. >> tell me about that night. september 28th, 2015. you were on duty. >> yep, i was on duty. en route up there, i got a feeling something was wrong. >> so you weren't really prepared for what you were about to find. >> no. no. okay, where's she at? >> over there. >> who? ooh, okay.
>> one day you wake up and the music stops and the rug also pulled out. >> these poor kids went to bed and woke up and lost everything. >> i got a female, mid 30s, early 40s. her face is completely beaten in. >> she definitely fought for her life and her children's life. >> she fought to her last breath to save their life. >> family and friends with mourning the loss of the mother of two. >> my daughter said there was a robber in the house and she saw them. >> she said she saw the man kill mommy. >> he came in, went many my mom's room, started hitting her. >> she had seen her mother killed. >> beaten to death. everyone says the same thing -- this couldn't happen in my town, couldn't happen to me. well, yes, yes it can. ♪
we're in the southern tier of new york. we border on pennsylvania. it's kind of a rural area. >> we have the finger lakes here. when you look at them on a map, their hand on the -- on the - topography of this area and pressed them in, and that's what was left was the lakes. >> the summertime is -- it's a very big tourist area. we get a lot of people that come through and stay at the lake, also hit our wineries. >> when the weather gets cold and the days get shorter, there's a little less to do outdoors. and i think when the jackals arrived in 2000, it really gave the community, the town something to really rally around on those winter nights. ♪ >> the jackals play in the united hockey league, about two steps below the nhl.
>> they were superstars. everybody was in awe over these guys. >> the agitator award goes to, tom clayton. >> clayton coming back at him. >> you could say thomas clayton was a local celebrity. >> tom was chippy, aggressive, his job was to go out there and instigate trouble. he would, you know, slash other players. he would just try to get them agitated to the point where they would draw a penalty. >> you get one of their top guys off the ice for two minutes, five minutes, it's a job done. you want to fight someone. just like when you're a little kid and you just get so mad you want to fight, you know? >> clayton is most certainly one of the jackals biggest antagonizers on and off the ice. you might remember a certain shaving cream incident. >> ugh. was that clayton? >> yes. >> tom's personality off the rink was the exact same. he was aggressive. he was sure of himself. >> he and some other jackals were at a bar, and he got up on
the bar and he stripped down to nothing and danced in front of the bar. >> there was kind of a scuffle that ensued over some of those clothes that went missing. some punches were thrown. i think definitely it was an embarrassing moment for the team. >> and they would say, oh, that's just thomas. >> when he would walk into a bar, what was that like? >> he would have a harem of girls following him. >> wow. >> i mean he didn't have to buy a drink anywhere he went. he wouldn't have to pay for dinner. >> and one of the women who caught tom clayton's eye was kelley stage. ♪ sunday's coming on it's close to midnight ♪ >> she was my little sunshine. ♪ 18 miles to go we're running red lights ♪ >> we actually lived in west elmira. and my father was the fire chief there for many years. >> kelley was definitely outgoing, spontaneous, sassy. definitely sassy. didn't put up with anything. ♪ down near where the highway
meets the rubber ♪ >> she loved music. we would drive around in the car, we would ride and listen to music and sing. >> as a young woman, kelley loved hanging out with her friends and she loved country music, so they would often head to nashville to party at the country music awards festival. >> she loved luke bryan. ♪ baby won't you stand now ♪ ♪ better have your boots on ♪ ♪ kick the dust up ♪ >> it was unlike anything we had experienced. we just lived it up for maybe a week. >> what were her hopes and dreams as a young woman? >> well, she had initially gone to school to become a teacher. and she came home and then she is like, i am moving to vegas, i don't want to be a teacher. >> we were all -- we were all like, really? >> and they, like, packed their car, drove across country. she moved to vegas.
she cocktail waitressed. she also did a little bit of modeling out there. i have a picture of her, i love this, where she has a 30-pound feather headdress on her head. >> and she absolutely was the girl who didn't want to have regrets, and i don't think she did. >> so she did that. and then she wound up back here. >> she came back here to visit for christmas. and we went to a elmira jackals hockey game. and that night is when she first saw thomas clayton. >> he got checked into the boards, and his helmet flies off. and my sister is like, holy cow. he was good looking. and she went out that night to a bar after the game with her best friend andy. >> he was sitting at the bar and i asked him, do you have a girlfriend? and he said, "uh, who are you asking for?"
i said, "not me." he said, "the blonde? she's unbelievable." >> what was it about him that attracted such attention? >> he was smooth. he'd try to make you feel like you were the most beautiful girl in the room. >> he was a good time but sometimes took things too far. >> i loved him as a brother. he just was -- i hate to say it. he was obnoxious. and he loved to make people uncomfortable. >> he would say things that were inappropriate maybe in front of me. and i would often say to him, thomas, i'm her mother. don't talk to me like that. and he'd think it was funny and then everybody would just say, oh, that's thomas. >> she loved him and defended him and told everybody that that's just tom. >> one year after tom and kelley married, tom was injured, and his hockey career came to an end. >> we're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time, you know. you can only play hockey for so long and then you have to go to
the real world and get a job and work 9:00 to 5:00. >> after he retired from hockey, he started a remediation company. after a flood or something they could come in and fix your home up. >> crews tell me the work has just begun. >> clayton even made the local news with his new business after there was a disaster and his company was hired to do the cleaning up. >> the houses are going to be demoed and backfilled and they're going to be pretty much be vacant lots and the homeowners are going to decide whether they're going to rebuild or not. >> he was in charge of running a servpro franchise. >> the fire and water cleanup team at 1-800-servepro. like it never even happened. >> thomas was actually a fairly successful businessman. >> another big change in their life, children. first came a little girl they called charlie, followed three years later by a boy named cullen. >> she loved being a mom. she did everything for those kids. >> i thought they were an ideal family.
they did everything together. >> were they happy? >> she was very happy. and as far as i knew, he was happy, too. my sister truly, truly loved him. >> were they doing well financially as a family? >> they had purchased a home that kelly absolutely loved. and life appeared to be wonderful for kelly, tom, charlie and cullen. >> but then one night, tom clayton comes home late from a poker game and makes a horrifying discovery. >> help me, help me. my wife is dead. >> the 911 call was pretty eerie. he had just found his wife. >> is she breathing at all? >> no. nothing, nothing. >> okay. is she beyond cpr? >> yes. yes! just trust me. come on, i'm here with my kids. you'll see. you'll see when they get here. >> and what police did see when they arrived shocked even veteran investigators. >> oh, my god. >> yeah.
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you were on duty. >> yeah, i was on duty, on patrol. it was, i believe a little after midnight when we got the call. >> copy 2-2, showing you route to ginnan road. >> what do you understand the call is about? >> a call came in as a woman down, medical situation. >> how long has she been down? >> i don't know. i don't know. i just got home. >> deputy sheriff dean swan drove me along the route to the crime scene. it was his new body camera that documented every minute that >> what's the location? >> 2-2, i'm on whiskey creek, almost to ginnan now. >> what were you thinking? >> something was wrong. i just had a gut feeling something was wrong. let's turn our red lights off since we're close enough. >> and when you pulled up to the scene, what was the first thing you noticed? >> when i pulled up to the scene i saw a gentleman at the front
door. >> this is the neighbor? >> this was the neighbor, yep. >> how are you doing? >> okay. >> what's going on? >> tom just came -- i'm the neighbor -- tom just came over and got me out of bed. >> i could see he was visibly shaken. i could see there was something wrong. >> okay, what happened though? >> his wife is in there. >> okay. >> so i entered the home. anybody else in the house, tom? just you? >> i got the kids out. they're at the neighbor's house. >> okay, where's she at? >> over there. >> he's directed into the kitchen, and when he saw the scene, it must have taken him aback. >> whoa. whoa, okay. >> the victim laid dead on the kitchen floor, her head bashed in. she was hit with some kind of heavy object. >> come on out here. i want you to have a seat. you don't need to see that anymore, okay? it was gruesome. there was blood spatter pretty much everywhere. tom, where were you when this all went down? >> playing poker with my
buddies. >> okay. she was home alone? >> i came home and my daughter said there was a robber in the house and she saw them. >> okay. come on out here, man. >> so the officers brought him outside the house. the trauma level of interviewing him in a house where his wife has been killed would just be too much. >> can i get that water? >> yeah, we'll get you a water. take it easy, bud. take it easy. >> we were just trying to get him to sit down, try to take some deep breaths and try to calm down. >> you're not in trouble, okay? just come and have a seat so we can talk to you. all right? >> he had checked his clothes and his hands. >> let me see your hands real quick. you ain't hurt or anything? okay, good. >> -- for any sign of struggle, or blood or any other evidence that would indicate he was part of this and found none. >> come talk to me over here for a second. >> the only one i actually talked to after that was the neighbor. >> mr. almy was just off to the side with a look of complete shock. >> he say anything to you about anything?
>> i was sound asleep. he knocked on the door. he asked my wife if we would take the kids. quick. said, derek, come with m- i got in the truck and he flew back over. >> okay. are there any problems here? have you seen any problems here? >> i haven't. >> officer swan knew he had a crime scene. so, the first thing he had to do was make sure there were no more suspects in the house and no one who could possibly be in danger or in distress. >> we got to clear this house. i'm gonna go this way. just cover me. i'm gonna go upstairs. i gotta go up and clear it. got blood on the wall. blood on the steps. it looks like she was attacked in bed. >> whenever you search a building, you just go from room to room. you don't ever pass a door. >> i got a clear over here. the kids' rooms are over here. this one's clear. let me check this last room. clear. there's blood all over. she's been dragged. blood on the wall. blood with a hole in the wall.
looks like a face plant into the wall. all right, i'm going to get the paramedic to come in and verify. nobody -- i mean nobody -- comes in unless you see me first or i get a supervisor here. >> deputy swan brings in a paramedic, but sadly, it's really just a formality at this point. >> follow me. just stay -- i'll show you where stuff is. try to stay to the right here a little bit. her face is completely -- >> oh, my god. >> yeah. >> her face was basically destroyed. it was one of the more brutal scenes i've ever seen in my career. to know that there's a person out there capable of that that's not in custody at that moment in time was all hands on deck, everyone involved. >> we're gonna need all investigators. homicide. >> soon after dialing 911, tom clayton had called kelley's sister, kim.
>> kim, kim, kelley's dead. i said, "what?" "i don't know. she's dead. somebody broke in. she's dead." >> yeah, here they come. you're gonna have to stop them. >> kelley's sister showed up very soon after we established a perimeter, with kelley's mom. >> it was all crime scene tape, all over her whole property. this was lit up like a christmas tree. >> sarge, family coming. >> i remember running to the ambulance expecting to find them working on my sister. >> she was very upset when she couldn't see her sister, and i said, no, that she doesn't look like she did in life. you don't want to see her. >> i just remember hearing kim screaming. >> oh, god, where's my sister? oh, god! [ sobbing ]
>> i didn't know how she died, i didn't know what happened to her, i didn't know where she was. i just wanted to go to her. and i wanted to hold her. but i couldn't. >> when the coroner's van left with the body, they asked if they could pray over the body as it was being loaded. >> we finally got to say a prayer for her when they took her away. >> as the night wears on, investigators are combing through everything for evidence. no murder weapon turns up, but they do find suspicious tire tracks. >> they were really just investigating a robbery at that point. it was a robbery gone bad. >> i just want to make sure there is no forced entry >> is this a random killing at a house in the middle of the woods? and they start digging and they
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i got a female, mid-30s i got a female, mid-30s early-40s, beaten to death. the assault initially took place on the second floor up in the master bedroom. blood all over. looks like she was attacked in bed. >> kelly clayton was struck there. she jumped up, she ran down the hall first to her children's room. >> there's blood in the kid's room. >> you could tell that she had went to charlie's room and actually, we're pretty sure,
shut the door and tried to keep this intruder outside the children's room. she definitely fought for her life and her children's life. >> blood on the wall. blood with a hole in the wall. >> the proof suggests that she was shoved down those stairs, 'cause her hips and buttocks area slammed into the slide of the landing, leaving a hole. >> there's blood all over. she's been dragged. >> then down the stairs through the kitchen, it looks like maybe she ran around the island in the kitchen. i mean, it was a long battle. >> and on the kitchen floor where he clubbed her to death, striking her in the face, the last moments of her life are absolutely horrific. >> one theory is that the reason she went downstairs was to take the intruder away from the children. >> she fought to her last breath to save their life. >> now police have got to figure
out who that intruder is. they've already got one big lead based on something tom clayton had already mentioned to them. >> i came home and the kids were up and they said there was a robber in the house. >> when the police arrived, there it didn't look like there was any forced entry. >> the side door is open. that door is open. no forced entry on either one. >> we checked the safe. we checked her jewelry. there was no sign of theft at all. >> you don't beat people do death if it's a robbery. could you strike somebody? ould you shoot them? >> i think that was kind of the perspective, we have no evidence of a robbery, so what do we have? >> as investigators dig deeper into that puzzle, tom clayton is outside the house pacing back and forth nervously. >> just take some deep breathes and stuff, just try to stay calm. >> i'm gonna [ bleep ] pass out. >> well sit down then. come over here and sit down. >> i can't, i can't. i'm shaking.
>> as the family members arrived, thomas was up by one of the police cars. >> was tom distraught when you saw him? how did he appear? >> all i remember is that his head was down in his hands. i couldn't hear him. i also couldn't get near him. >> i saw him sitting inside the crime scene. he did not acknowledge me. >> here, their sister, their daughter, their friend, his wife is dead, and it didn't sit well. it didn't look right. >> i'm wondering if he had a domestic with her. you can see how her face is beat in. >> when you see that kind of damage, especially to someone's face, it tends to lead you to a crime of passion. it tends to make you believe that it was someone that was known to the aggressor. >> the only thing i can think is he was domestic and she hit her. boom, gone. he's trying to cover it up now. >> this had the earmarks of a domestic dispute.
thomas clayton had an alibi. he said that he was at a poker game. he couldn't possibly have committed this crime. >> husband is claiming he was out playing poker, came home, kids say, "daddy, there was a robbery." >> and when deputy swan questions neighbor derek almy for a second time, he doesn't have anything suspicious to report. >> did you know these guys real well at all? >> yeah, we've been neighbors for a while. > okay. you don't know of any troubles between anybody here, him and her or somebody else and them or anything? >> not really, no. >> he was really upset? >> oh, my god. >> okay. did he have any blood on him that you saw when he first come over? did he change his clothes ever when you were here with him? >> here? >> yeah. >> no. >> no, okay. >> and remember, tom clayton brought his two young children over to derek almy's house right after he made that 911 call. >> and charlie and cullen stayed
at the almys' while derek went back to clayton's house with thomas clayton. >> cullen was 3. charlie, 7. and these poor kids went to bed, and woke up and they had lost everything. life as they knew it was gone. >> in the midst of this heinous crime, the world goes on. that morning before the community understood what had happened, the school bus shows up. >> i remember the school bus driving by finally in the morning, and they were gonna stop at the end of the driveway to get charlie. and i remember all the little kids like looking. looking at the window, you know, looking for charlie. >> but little charlie is down the street and about to play a big role in this investigation. that's because it turns out she's the only eyewitness to her mother's murder. >> my [ bleep ] daughter saw it. >> okay. >> my [ bleep ] daughter saw my wife. >> we'll talk to them more in a minute. okay.ness the entire brutal murder of her mother.
>> she had seen her mother killed. >> yes. >> beaten. >> beaten to death. she described kelly's last breaths. >> a 7-year-old. >> yes. >> and now charlie is sitting down with investigators about to tell them everything she saw. >> can you tell me what he looked like? >> he was wearing jeans, a black long-sleeved shirt and a mask. >> and what charlie tells them next immediately changes everything. >> i couldn't believe it. we're managing type 2 diabetes and heart risk. we're on it with jardiance. join the growing number of people who are on it with the once-daily pill, jardiance. jardiance not only lowers a1c, it goes beyond to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death for adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease. and jardiance may help you lose some weight.
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>> investigators are trying to piece together those last minutes of kelley clayton's life. >> that's when the investigators took mr. clayton back to the state police barracks to be deposed and started interviewing him. >> he was visibly upset. he wasn't crying. he was just kind of excited. >> he said he had left work, went to a place for gymnastics, that he eventually went home, was home briefly. and then he went off to play poker. and that he discovered kelley upon his return. >> yeah, we asked him several times if he had killed his wife kelley, and he absolutely denied any involvement at all in it. >> while they're talking to clayton at the crime scene, investigators are beginning to hear rumblings about a possible eye witness, and at the same time, sheriff allard is talking to clayton's 7-year-old daughter charlie at a neighbor's house.
>> i walked into the residence and just kind of sat down and started talking to charlie. and we just started a little chat, and i said, what did you see? and she told me that a man was hurting mommy, and mommy was yelling, run, charlie, run. >> in her room, she hears her mother yelling, run, charlie, run. her mother actually got to her bedroom doorway and may have actually taken a step inside. charlie follows the fight. >> charlie ad told that she had seen somebody hitting her mother with what she described as a white stick. she kept saying he did this and he did that. and so finally i said, how do you know it's a he? and she said, his eyes look just like daddy's. >> those three little words,
eyes like daddy, opened a pandora's box. >> and that had to have turned this investigation for sure onto thomas clayton. >> that was a chilling moment for me and i knew that at that moment in time, before we went any further, i needed some help in this interview. >> definitely. lots more toys. >> you get to teach me to tell time. >> police do the best they can to make the space comfortable for the 7-year-old child. there are blocks in the room. >> whoa! jenga! >> well, charlie, do you know why we brought you here today? we're gonna have to talk a little bit about last night, okay? >> if i ask a question that you're not certain about or that yo don't understand, can you let me know? okay, all right. >> she's lost her mother. she's not with her father. she's with some strangers at
this point being interviewed. and you kind of got to treat this kind of witness obviously with kid gloves. >> so, one of the key factors in interviewing children is that you have a professional child interviewer with you because it's a real art. >> do you know what the truth and a lie is? what's a truth? >> it means it really happened, and a lie is that it didn't happen. >> right, right. very good. so -- >> you're so smart. >> "20/20" obtained this video from authorities of charlie's interview with investigators. she tells them that her dad put her to bed and then left to go play cards with some of his friends. >> and then in the middle of the night, uh, this guy came and started hitting my mom with like this pipe thingy. >> okay. can you tell me more about that? >> um, there was blood everywhere.
>> aw. >> on my door, on the floor. not on the carpet though. and i thought she was dead when she was lying on the ground. and daddy was out playing cards. we were basically alone for like 20 minutes. then he came home, and then he was like, "oh, my god!" 'cause he saw my mom on the floor with blood all over. >> she appears not to really know what's happened to her mother. she appears detached. she's not emotionally distraught. she's not crying. >> so here's a 7-year-old girl that saw one of the most traumatic things you're ever going to see in your life, and she's a smart girl, super smart girl. and i think her mind was trying to work through it and figure out, "what did i just see?" >> do you remember what the thing looked like that he was hitting mommy with? >> a metal pipe.
>> how did the robber leave? >> the garage. >> and what did you see after that? >> she was sort of suffering. i tapped her with a hockey stick. then i hugged her leg. >> okay. all right. and where was mom when you hugged her? >> laying down in the kitchen with blood all over. >> okay. >> my first thought, charlie has the most beautiful blue eyes, the most beautiful eyes. and all i could think of was what those eyes saw. >> it could have been my dad, but he looked real -- like, he looked like my dad. >> how did he look like your dad? >> the mask and his jeans. >> have you seen your -- anybody wear that mask before? >> my dad. >> did the robber say anything? >> the robber didn't say anything, because what if it was
my dad? you could -- you could recognize his voice. >> everything was just like daddy. and then she looks at me. she goes, but it couldn't have been daddy, because then who would take care of us? >> after answering questions for sheriff allard, charlie now has a heartbreaking one of her own. >> it's about my mom. like, where is she at? >> she hasn't comprehended that her mother's dead. she wants to know where her mother is. like, how is mommy? >> you know, we need to find out for you. we will find out for you. >> i said, i don't know, sweetie. i knew at that time, obviously, but she needed to be with family when she learned that, not with police officers. >> no doubt charlie's statement
is damning, but there's one little problem. >> when police talk to thomas clayton, he said he was at a poker game in a nearby town. and when they looked into it -- >> tom sat here the last night that he played. >> his alibi was true. hey, i get it, commitment can be scary. but not when you're saving up to 15% with subscribe and save at amazon. you get free repeat delivery on your favorite items and if things don't work out, you can always cancel. seriously, no one will judge you if you call it off. ok! learn all the ways to save with amazon. what's with the double mcnuggets? oh this one's my backup, in case something happens to the first one. [crunch] mmm. see. get one favorite like 10 piece chicken mcnuggets and get another for just a buck,
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there was an eerie atmosphere because of this horrible, brutal, mysterious murder at the house in the middle of the woods. >> family and friends are mourning the loss of the mother of two, while police continue their investigation at the home. >> a lot of people were struggling to come to grips with this beautiful mother of two who was brutally murdered. >> back in 2018, i spoke with one of the state police investigators who interviewed thomas clayton in the early morning hours after the murder. was his thinking this was a burglar? this was somehow a robbery? >> correct. and the robber's the one that committed the murder. >> did that seem consistent with what you have seen over the years with how a lot of robberies turn out? >> no. that was a brutal murder. that was not a robbery. >> we were basically telling him that your daughter is pointing the finger at you, that you were the robber.
>> thomas said things during the course of the next hour or two that raised some red flags. >> you're looking at the blood splatter. she was hit numerous times. >> you don't beat people do death if it's a robbery. perhaps maybe killing kelley was the real goal. >> he just wasn't acting as a normal person would if they just discovered their wife brutally murdered. >> a little more composed. >> he was definitely calmer than i would say a normal person would be. he wasn't agitated. >> was he confused and wondering who could do this? why somebody would do this? >> he couldn't mention not one suspect who might want to harm his wife or his family. >> and there was something else that raised big suspicions, his initial call to 911. >> at first, he sounds so frantic, it almost seems like he's hyperventilating when he's talking to the 911 operator. >> i'm going to take my kids -- i'm going to take my kids to the neighbors. >> how long has she been down? >> i don't know.
i don't know. i just got home. >> but that 911 call remained open. >> and then, all of a sudden, when he believes that no one is listening, his whole tone changes. it's not frantic. he's very calm and very quiet spoken. >> did you see mommy? did you? did you see a robber? you saw them? >> was it a robber? it appeared that he was suggesting to the children to perhaps talk about a robbery if asked about it. >> you have to look at the circumstantial stuff. like, what does his daughter say? what does the crime scene look like? how was the person killed? all of those things in this case would suggest that this is a domestic homicide. >> after being questioned at the new york state police barracks, thomas clayton was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. >> this description from charlie of this assailant looking like her daddy -- eyes, mask, clothes
-- he gets charged largely based upon charlie's words. >> a mother of two is dead, and now her husband is charged with the murder. thomas clayton was arraigned in caton town court tuesday on a second-degree murder charge for the death of kelley clayton. >> so, your sister has been brutally murdered, and now your brother-in-law is being charged -- >> with her murder. >> how did you even begin to fathom this? >> you can't. this is a part of your family. and now he's charged with killing one of my most favorite people in the entire world. it's awful. >> this is someone i loved as a brother. and one day you wake up and everything that was safe and normal in life is -- it's just -- the music stops and the rug's pulled out. >> while authorities suspected early on this could be a domestic dispute, thomas clayton had an alibi.
♪ >> thomas clayton's alibi was that he was playing a monday night poker game at the home of greg and linda miller, a place he would go most mondays. >> this is where we play poker on monday evenings. every monday at 7:00. >> where did tom sit? >> tom sat here the last night that he played, and i would be the bank over here. >> what did you think of him? >> tom was very likable, very flirtatious. >> but overall you got along with him? >> we got along great. >> so, take me back to september 28th, 2015. >> his mind was not into poker. you could tell. usually he maybe jokes around a lot more. there was none of that. he was doing a lot of texting on his phone. >> he was there until the game
broke up. and greg miller recalled that thomas left his home at about 12:15 for the 10 to 15-minute ride home. >> at what point did you hear pt the clayton home? >> the next morning in the 6:00 range, there's someone knocking at the door. he says, you had a poker game last night. i says, yes. he says, a guy that you know as hockey puck was here? tom clayton? i go, yes, he was. then he says, tom went home last night and found his wife murdered. >> and what were you thinking? you hear that kelley was killed? >> i was numb. i was like -- i think he talked to us and i didn't even know what they said. >> i said, there's no way could tom could do anything like this. i said, there's no possible way. you're looking at the wrong guy. >> thomas clayton wanted the police to get off of him, stop looking at him and look
elsewhere. check the gps in my truck. i got a solid alibi. >> and the gps records from his work truck confirm clayton's alibi. he didn't get back home until around 12:35 a.m. >> 911. >> he called 911 at about 12:38. >> he was not present at the time kelly clayton was murdered. >> clearly police knew they still had a lot of work to do. they've now charged thomas clayton with the murder rock-solid alibi.though he had - >> is it possible police have arrested the wrong man? >> and police discover that there was another person in the house. >> open the door, walks in, and get the shock of my life.
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this was a case of rage. a brutal murder in a home set in the woods. to find this mother of two, who's in her mid-30s, but she fought. >> charlie had witnessed the entire brutal murder of her mother. >> she had seen her mother killed. a 7-year-old. >> it could have been my dad, but he looked real -- he looked like my dad. >> how did he look like your dad? >> the mask and his jeans. >> up until that moment, we thought tom and kelley had this
loving, almost perfect relationship. >> he had an alibi. >> thomas, did you do it? >> is it possible police have arrested the wrong man? >> you came to us. why? >> walks in and gets the shock of my life. i see her laying on the floor. >> they need to get to the bottom of it. who went into that house? who bludgeoned kelley clayton to death and why? a man accused of killing his wife in their caton home back in september appeared in court today. >> clayton remai out of jail after posting bail in october. >> clayton pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. >> after thomas gets bailed out, he ends up cleaning the house himself from the murder of kelley. and he stays living in that house. >> we know that within a month or two of this horrendous crime,
he was having a sexual fling with a woman. >> we found that thomas had been dating women even before the murder of kelley, but certainly after the murder of kelley as well. >> he goes and gambles at the borgota in atlantic city. he's living life. definitely not the life of a mourning husband. >> he didn't seem to be profoundly upset that his wife was deceased. after the crime, he continued to profess his innocence. >> he called me, and he had just said, you know, that it wasn't him. he loved her. he never would do anything like that to hurt her. >> lucky miller says she remembers having an uncomfortable run-in with thomas clayton at a local casino. >> i came down the escalator, and i hear, lucky. lucky! and he's like, "hi, lucky." and he goes "i didn't do it."
>> so he pleaded his innocence with you too? >> mm-hmm. i didn't do it. i was going to take her away on a second honeymoon. i'm like, tom, i don't know what to believe. >> as police begin interviewing all kinds of people close to thomas clayton, a name comes up, michael beard. >> thomas clayton and michael beard knew each fivyea. >> i learned that he was a jack-of-all-trades for thomas clayton and had been to the clayton family home to do jobs there occasionally. >> mr. beard, i'm byron pitts. >> my colleague byron pitts sat down with clayton's former employee, michael beard. >> any time something come up, he'd call me. >> were you like his go-to guy if he needs something done, his handyman? how would he describe? >> he'd describe me as being a reliable worker. i'm the first one he called. if he needed someone to stay longer, he knew i would stay
longer. first there, last to leave. >> michael beard worked for thomas clayton. initially, he was hired to work for clayton's cleaning service. they would go in and clean homes that were flooded or after a fire. he became thomas clayton's go-to guy, his handyman. >> if you have water damage at your home as a result of a hurricane or flood, insurance company might hire servpro, send them to your home. >> i would come in and cut the drywalls, pull up the rugs. anything that got infected by the water that was there, we would just basically remove. >> one of the extraordinary things about michael beard is how incredibly ordinary he is. he had children in suth carolina. he also had a child in upstate new york. he was the primary breadwinner. he was living paycheck to paycheck. and so when he met thomas clayton, this local sports hero who had a business, he thought his life was changing for the better. >> i would work hard for him.
he would give me little rewards. like he brought me a bicycle because one job where we was working at i ended up catching a cab. so i told him like i couldn't afford the cab every day to get to this job. so the deal was to him was, if he brought me a bike, to pay that back, i would just have to work hard for him. i said, well, you know, i'm doing that already. and one day he came back with a bicycle. >> so how would you describe your relationship with tom clayton? >> our relationship was more of a work relationship. i never hung out with him after work or nothing like that. >> tell me about his wife, kelley. what was she like? >> she was a pretty cool person. it's been a few times where she went to go pay bills or something and the kids didn't want to go. so, she asked if i mind watching them for her until she came back. i'm thinking, "hey, that gives me time to quit working, plus i'm getting paid." so, we was pretty cool. >> and how would you describe the kids, charlie and cullen? >> beautiful. respectful, smart, intelligent.
>> so you knew them and they knew you? >> very well. i basically seen them grow up. >> thomas clayton also owned the building where beard lived with his family. >> so thomas clayton, not only was he your boss, he was your landlord. >> correct. >> he had to pay thomas clayton $1,000 a month rent. >> thomas clayton was kind of like his lifeline. he depended on h onlim work, but also for where he lived. when there was no work to be done, there was talk that what thomas would do is make sure that beard was employed. >> my sister had made lunch for him when he did work on their home. my sister gave hand-me-down clothes to his children. >> financially, beard depended on him. >> i was his -- basically like his a-man. >> but just a couple of weeks before kelley's murder, clayton fires his a-man. there were accusations that beard had been drinking on the job. >> i remember my daughter coming
to me saying, mom, tom just told us he fired michael beard. and i remember us going to the investigator and giving them that name. >> when they said you were fired, did you push back? did you say, i'm not drinking on the job, it's not true. >> i spoke in my defense. there was no proof of me drinking on the job. i mean, i do drink, but i don't drink on the job. >> what state did it leave you in when you lost your job? >> i was basically in -- broke. >> but this was a guy who was living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck when he had a job. now without a primary job, a man who was struggling is now really beginning to struggle. >> and to make matters worse he's now behind on the $1,000-a-month rent that he owes thomas clayton. >> according to beard, thomas had started eviction proceedings against him, and he had to move out. >> police go and talk to michael beard, and they ask him where he was that night. and he said it was a tragedy
that kelley had died but that he was home that night. >> initially, we pick him up. we take him to the barracks. he denies any involvement with the murder. he says that he had been at home the night of the murder drinking the entire night and never left the house. >> after talking to police, lucky miller begins replaying the night of that poker game back in her mind. and after rethinking every second, she remembers something. >> he walked up and asked me if he could borrow my phone. i'm like, yeah, sure. >> when he handed you the phone back, did he seem bothered? >> no, he just put it on the table. he goes, "thanks, lucky," and he went back downstairs. >> so, you thought nothing of it. >> nothing. >> after she has that memory that he borrowed her phone, she immediately checks to see who he called. like, there's nothing.
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with two-times a year ocrevus. lucky miller who hosts poker nights with lucky miller who hosts poker nights with her husband greg has just had a major revelation that thomas clayton asked to use her cell phone, when his seemed to be working fine. this was about night of the murder. >> i look at the phone, i'm like there's nothing. >> no evidence of a phone call? >> nothing. >> and she's yelling at me, "get
your glasses, you got to look at my phone." and she's shaking like this. and i look and i go, "no, he didn't use any phone call." she goes, "no, he used my phone." i go, "then he deleted them." and she goes, "you can delete phone numbers?" i go, "yeah, you can delete phone numbers." she goes, i didn't know you could delete phone numbers. >> we determined through her records that tom had used her phone, he had actually had a conversation with that person. then deleted it from mrs. miller's phone. at the time you could plug in a phone number to facebook and it would spit up the account. >> police find out that the suspicious call that was made was michael beard. >> beard had just been fired from clayton's company and was also renting from him, so the two men were connected. >> michael beard was, from my knowledge, what i would call a gentle giant. he was a man with a very physical presence, soft spoken, kind, and often desperate financially. >> if you have a justified reason to call michael, why are you deleting the calls and why didn't you just use your own cell phone?
>> matt lambert, who is a state police investigator, was familiar with mr. beard from work in the city of elmira. after the phone records came forward, matt went back out and talked to mr. beard again. >> so, we picked him up at his house on grand central ave in elmira and drove him to the state police barracks in painted post. i discuss the findings that we had with him. he denies any involvement with the murder. he says that he had been at home the night of the murder drinking with his wife the entire night and never left the house. >> my name is james vaughn. i was an investigator for the new york state police. i was a polygraph examiner. >> back in 2018, investigator vaughn showed me the area where he performed that lie detector test on beard. polygraph chair? >> polygraph chair. that's the same chair he was sitting in. so we decide that a polygraph is the best course of action,
determine what exactly, where we stand with this guy, if he's telling the truth, if he's lying, because we don't really have a lot to go on at that point. >> how did he handle the polygraph? >> he denies all involvement. he was deceitful. at that point, we began a more intense, more pointed interrogation. >> holly barrett was michael beard's partner. they lived together in this apartment owned by thomas clayton. they had to interview her once they were looking at michael beard. >> they separated them and they were talking to them. >> holly was frustrated with michael beard because they were in financial troubles. him not having a job and apparently her job not being quite enough to keep the family afloat. >> they had been fighting, and he left around 11:30, and then he came back an hour and a half later. that fits in with getting a call from thomas at 10:53. >> holly also says something that actually really cracks the case. thomas clayton had approached
michael beard about burning his house down for $10,000. >> so, in the other room they're interviewing michael. obviously, he doesn't know that she's actually telling that he was gone for a period of time. >> my boss came into the interrogation with that information. said, michael, we know about the $10,000 dollars. >> he throughout the entire interview became more and more emotional, started exhibiting signs of nervousness, like his stomach was growling, signs that in my experience are very typical of somebody that's guilty of something and just kind of waiting and stressing about the truth actually coming out. and he kind of put his head down, and i was close to him, sitting in front of him. i was like, mike, is $10,000 the reason that you killed kelley? and he kind of paused for a second, then responded, yeah, that's why i did it. >> it is a surprising twist for investigators. beard making a full confession to murdering kelley clayton as another job for his boss.
>> he didn't even get any money up front. i mean, he was going to go do this on the promise from tom clayton that he'd be paid $10,000. >> in a signed written confession, beard lays out all the grisly details of the plan. he wanted me to go to the house, kill kelley, then light the house on fire. he said the kids would be at her sister's house. there was also gas in the garage. he wanted the cars to burn also so that he could collect insurance money. and why did he do it? beard's explanation is pretty simple. i needed the money. he was supposed to set the house on fire. why didn't he do that? >> i think that the homicide itself was more brutal than he had anticipated and in his words, he just got scared. >> then, another man comes forward. >> and along the way he says, i'm going to have to kill a -- >> does this story point to a more sinister plot? >> it was shocking to see
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after the murder of kelley and even now, the community just really got behind the stage family in support of kelley. purple ribbons were tied around utility poles and fence posts. >> every time you saw a purple ribbon, you knew what it was for. they were all over the area. >> michael beard is behind bars. clayton has made bail, but both of them are still under investigation. clayton's children are staying with kelley's sister, kim. >> frankly, the wellbeing of those children was first and foremost. >> aunt kimmy.
>> have a good day, okay? >> they will see purple ribbons, and they'll say "oh, purple for mama, purple for mama." that's all they know. >> the jackals don't exist anymore, but on the last hockey game that they had, they held a benefit. >> we are honoring the family of kelley stage. here comes kelley's children. >> all of the money raised was going to go towards the kids. >> it's been a while since kelley clayton's murder, and investigators are trying desperately to offer answers to a shaken community. beard has just signed a confession admitting to being offered $10,000 to set the clayton house on fire, which never happened. but he has admitted to killing kelley clayton, and the police investigation goes on.
>> at some point later in the evening, it became obvious that he was becoming distressed. >> that's when we basically went out back of the barracks, and i gave him a cigarette. he became very emotional and started crying. and said, i can take you to the murder weapon. >> there was a piece in the house that matched the maul handle that was found off the side of the road here. >> so you knew that was your murder weapon once that was found? >> correct. >> the maul is like a sledgehammer, but there's no actual sledgehammer head on it, so it's just the handle. >> and he used that? >> he used that to kill her. >> it was positive for dna of kelley clayton and blood still on the murder weapon. >> there were shards of that same handle at the scene. >> in addition michael beard is now offering to take investigators to two more pieces of evidence that tie him to the crime.
>> he did provide the keys to the house that tom clayton gave him and the clothes that he wore the night of the homicide. >> so they had been thrown over in this area? >> yeah. >> bloody clothes? >> yeah, they had blood on them. >> mark blandford is a friend of michael beard's, and michael beard actually called him that night to see if he'd come along and be a lookout. blandford agreed, but he says he really didn't know much about what was going on. he just sat in the truck. >> he asked me about doing a job. i'm thinking maybe it might be some type of drug deal or something. as we start riding out, mike's talking about the job. he's saying he's getting -- he said it's 3 grand he's getting. he's like, i'm going the pay you $500. i'm like, okay. and along the way he says, "i'm and along the way he says, i'm going to have to kill a bitch. i do remember him saying that. it's pitch black. there's no street light, nothing, pitch black.
and he went walking down the street. i'd say 15, 20 minutes pass. he comes back. he said, nobody else was supposed to be there. the kids were supposed to be at the grandmothers. that's all he mentioned. he didn't tell me that he killed her. he didn't tell me who was in the house. >> beard was then arrested for murder. >> beard confesses to the murder, tells them where the murder weapon is, tells them where the bloody clothes are buried, but adds the critical detail -- the reason he did it was because tom clayton offered him $10,000 to kill his wife. >> but if beard is the perpetrator, what about charlie saying that the intruder looked
like her dad? >> after further interviews of charlie and further analysis, the person that was in there, he had a mask on. we're pretty sure that when she says, well, it looks like daddy, it was more of, well, the clothing he had on looked like daddy. >> i observe no deceit in the statements she gave. i believe it was true in her mind when she told it and as she related it. >> the focus shifted from thomas clayton doing the crime himself now it became a murder for hire. clayton was all about money. >> there was a substantial life insurance policy that tom had on kelly, and we determined throughout the investigation that it had actually been recently upped. >> a year before kelley's death, thomas clayton doubled the family's life insurance policy. his life insurance policy was increased to $2 million. kelley's was increased to $1 million. >> he couldn't get divorced because it would cost him too much money, which he had mentioned. it would cost him too much
because kelley would take everything. >> when i found out the true scope of what we were dealing with, it was shocking to see somebody would be driven this far to make plans like that. >> investigators came to the conclusion that clayton not only wanted to kill his wife but wanted to kill his kids, too. he was going to set the house on fire with kelley and the children in the house? >> that's correct. >> this was a cold-blooded attempt to remove your own wife and children from this earth. >> thomas clayton denies this allegation. >> i don't think thomas clayton cared that the children were in the house when his wife was to be murdered. that was callous on his part. but ultimately, i chose not to indict for the attempted murder of the children. >> so, your sister has been brutally murdered, and now your
brother-in-law is being charged -- >> with her murder. >> with her murder. how did you even begin to fathom this? >> i stood there as her matron of honor and smiled and watched her marry him. now you find out he is a monster, a sociopath. >> with beard's confession, prosecutors are thinking, we've got an airtight case here. then he recants, and now they've got a mess. >> he recants before the trial is supposed to start. actually, it wasn't me. >> what evidence can you point to that shows that you're innocent? if you have a date, a day off, or a double shift. make your move and get out in front of eczema with steroid-free cibinqo. not an injection, cibinqo is a once-daily pill for adults who didn't respond to previous treatments.
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with michael beard's confession, prosecutors feel pretty confident they've got an airtight case. >> he leads police to his own evidence in this crime -- the bloody clothes that he wore that night and the murder weapon he used. >> but then, just before the trial, beard recants, and now prosecutors have got a mess on their hands. >> he says, i didn't kill kelley. he says was there that night. he says he was there to set the house on fire but that he got p.
>> and he looks up and this mysterious figure who was already at the house handed him the murder weapon. >> so which is it? >> this doesn't happen often in broadcast journalism, but michael beard called us. he wanted to tell his side of the story exclusively to "20/20." you called us. why? >> because the actual story need to be heard versus what you heard and what they wanted you to know. >> my initial impressions of michael beard -- pleasant enough, well spoken, bright, and he had conviction about what he thought was true. financially, what state did it leave you in when you lost your job? >> i was basically in -- broke. >> at some point, did tom clayton come to you with a proposal? >> no, not a proposal of anything like the way they portraying it to be. >> okay, well, tell me what happened?
>> it was just a proposal to ask me if i wanted to take this side job. >> there is something that beard maintains is true -- that he went to clayton's home on the night of the murder. he says that a job came up last minute and that clayton asked him to help. >> and why is all this happening so late at night? >> doing a 24/7 restoration company, calls can come in at any time. >> you'd gone to his house this late at night before? >> yeah, i've been to his house like 3:00 in the morning. so i goes down there, get the key, open the door, walks in and get the shock of my life. i see her laying on the floor. and i get scared from that point, which i'm not using for an excuse, but i never called 911 that night. >> why not? >> i wanted to get out of that situation. i had walked into something that had nothing to do with me. >> did you know she was dead? >> i never checked, i didn't -- i didn't expect to walk into what i had walked into.
>> you're a grown ass man. when you walk in and you see a woman dead on the ground or at best unconscious on the ground, blood everywhere -- and you don't think offer her assistance? this is someone who you know, right, that you're cool with. cool with her and her children. and you don't think to assist her. >> but put yourself in my shoes. i'm a black man in the middle of a white neighborhood in the middle of the night, where a white woman was laying dead on her kitchen floor. i didn't want nothing to do with that, and i'm sorry. >> okay. now, this is, in layman's terms, is a signed confession. >> yes. >> where they ask you about the crime. >> yes. >> when i got to the kitchen, she was following me about five or six steps behind me. i turned around and struck her again, and that's when she went down. >> those aren't my words. prior to that statement, they came and they laid down the
whole scenario to me on what i supposedly had done. so the more resistance that i gave them, my family starts to come into play with this. so i'm telling them, if you keep my family out of this, i said, you can say whatever you wanna say and i'll deal with it. >> that in my opinion, would not be helpful to an interview, to threaten them. people need to give confessions voluntarily in order for them to be believable, in my experience. >> so you signed this confession. >> yes. >> admitting to killing this kelley. >> through them, yes. >> i wouldn't want to coerce a confession from somebody that didn't do it. just morally, it's wrong. i wouldn't be able to sleep at night if i did. >> so you sign this, you go to trial. >> yes. >> we interrupt this program to bring you breaking news -- michael beard has been found guilty on all charges in the death of kelley stage clayton last year. >> michael beard was found
guilty of one count of first degree murder. he was sentenced to life without parole. >> what evidence can you point to that shows that you're innocent? >> in the victim's hands is the dna of an unknown source, doesn't match my profile. on the victim's clothing, again, dna that does not match my profile. so how is it that kelley clayton fought for her life with michael beard when you got someone's else's dna on her? >> whose dna is it, do you know? >> i don't know. >> in fact, authorities say the dna on kelley's clothing was likely from her husband or son, not beard, but the dna sample found underneath kelley's fingernails was insufficient to either identify or exclude anyone, including beard. >> the fact that there may or may not have been other dna on kelley clayton really, to me, has no -- no bearing on this case whatsoever.
>> when kelley clayton ran down the hall, we found her palm prints on the door, and mixed in with that blood, we found michael beard's profile. his dna was in that blood swab that was recovered from that bedroom door. >> police say you lead them to the murder weapon. >> they said i lead them to the murder weapon. they also said i gave them a confession. >> the maul handle was examined. we believe that beard was wearing gloves at the time of the crime. that would eliminate his dna on it, but it was kelley clayton's. >> as the interview continued, beard told me something new and unexpected. >> but what i did see was someone else down there. who it was, i couldn't tell you at that point in time, 'cause i never seen the face. >> i'm sorry, so you're saying you did see someone there? >> yes.
well, i seen somebody coming out of the house. once i went in the house someone else was coming in. >> how close was he to you? >> basically about this distance right here. >> so you guys were close enough to be able to touch each other. >> i knocked him down getting past him. >> how could you leave out that kind of detail that seems so significant? that's when, at least from my perspective, his version of what happened seemed to begin to fall off the rails a little bit. >> he said this is the area. the murder weapon discarded up here. >> yes. >> those details he gave to police. >> he threw the keys into the small creek. >> combined with all of the physical evidence from the scene, there was no way, i think, for a jury to say that there was any reasonable doubt that it couldn't have been him. >> you were hired, you were the hit man, you killed her, and that's that. >> three sides of every story. your side, my side, and the truth.
i'm not sure the story that michael beard told me seemed to live on the side of the truth. michael beard in some ways tells us a story in which he is both the hero and the victim. >> the evidence was really overwhelming that michael beard had actually killed kelley clayton. the question was, what evidence was there that tom clayton actually hired michael beard? >> this case really became all circumstantial. circumstantial. we don't have a smoking gun. fre world. for years, i thought my t.e.d was beyond help... ...but then i asked my doctor about tepezza. (vo) tepezza is the only medicine that treats t.e.d. at the source not just the symptoms. in a clinical study, more than 8 out of 10 patients taking tepezza had less eye bulging. tepezza is an infusion. patients taking tepezza may have infusion reactions.
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12 jurors will decide the fate of thomas clayton. >> clayton is accused of hiring michael beard to kill his wife kelley clayton. 12 jurors will decide the fate of thomas clayton. >> clayton is accused of hiring michael beard to kill his wife kelley clayton. >> opening statements are set to begin tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. >> tom clayton's trial was a very big trial for our county. >> the courtroom was packed every day. >> not just with kelley's family and tom clayton's family, but people who knew them. >> he was a local celebrity of types. not only that, but kelley was well-known throughout the community too. i think that's where a lot of this media attention came from. >> it was a long and in-depth trial. there was more than 75 witnesses. >> tom showed up to court, almost no emotion, i'd say. >> tom was cool, calm and collected every day when he walked into court. you would never realize that he was on trial for his wife's murder. >> that could be because thomas clayton knows that the case against him isn't exactly a slam dunk.
>> with michael beard's recantation, the prosecution realize they cannot use him as a witness. >> this case really became all circumstantial. we don't have a smoking gun. we have to build our case piece-by-piece. >> that's when the real investigative work comes in and proving that everything he originally said was true. >> the prosecution had to show that there was this ongoing relationship before and after the murder, the night of the murder, and close in time. >> but at that time, we had enough documentation and the recoveries and the statements made by other people. >> so, blandford testified. we eventually allowed him to plead to a lesser crime in exchange for his cooperation. >> the evidence was really overwhelming that michael beard had actually killed kelley clayton. the question was, what evidence was there that tom clayton actually hired michael beard?
and there really wasn't any evidence. >> the cell phon records turned out to be very pivotal in the investigation. >> sy of zetx corporation, that's what broke the case, the geolocation data. >> zetx specializes in taking large amounts of big data and visually mapping it. >> once we got sy ray involved he was able to track where the phones were by using the cell towers. >> so in this particular case, we took all 67,000 points, and we combined them together on a map synced by date and time. >> the phones really provided a timeline of interaction, of planning. it showed the number of times that michael beard and thomas clayton interacted leading up to the murder. >> it corroborated everything our 14, 15 months of investigation had uncovered. >> and most telling, a pair of phone calls made on the exact day that kelley clayton was killed. the first one from a used car
lot that had no connection to thomas clayton. >> there's an incoming call to michael beard from m&m auto. michael beard doesn't own a vehicle, so there's kind of a question there why m&m auto would call him. >> again, he's equipped with his own phone, but he's claiming, i got terrible cell phone coverage, so he asks to use their phone. so, who does he call using their phone? he calls michael beard. >> in looking at tom clayton's phone, we can actually put his device in the parking lot of m&m auto when this call was made. >> to me, it's circumstantial evidence of guilt. he's trying to hide his tracks. he probably didn't realize police methods, the investigative methods, to the extent that they can recover evidence from phones. >> and then hours later, clayton makes a second call to beard from somebody else's phone. that's right, lucky miller's, at that poker game.
>> and this is basically the "go" call. >> beard shortly after that phone call drove out to clayton's home and committed the murder. >> there was no evidence as to the content of those calls, and sy ray's testimony was skewed in trying to make much more of those calls. >> i think it's important to look at the corroborative data. we know michael beard received a phone call from m&m auto. the verizon phone records puts tom clayton at m&m auto. and when we look at all this known information, the phone records align with it. >> it was very well planned out. as a matter of fact, according to michael beard, two weeks prior, there was a dry run. >> they had set up that tom would either be out of town, or at least away from the house when it occurred, so tom would have an alibi. >> he took steps that he thought would cover him. used a servpro truck with a gps, so it would show where he was that night. >> clayton even arranged for beard to use a borrowed truck that nobody from the neighborhood would recognize.
>> we do see on the video tom leaves with one vehicle, with the servpro vehicle, and michael beard leaves with the red truck, which is ultimately used in the murder. >> after he returned the truck to servpro, he rode home on his bike. it's a pattern that clearly shows that michael beard and thomas clayton did this together. >> there's no direct proof that tom clayton engaged in a plot with beard to kill kelley. there was no record of any payment. >> even if there is evidence linking clayton to beard and potentially to the crime, what was the motive? why would clayton want to have his wife killed? >> the motive was to get rid of kelley. he didn't want to go through a divorce. he wanted money, substantial insurance monies, and part of our proof at trial was to show that he indeed engaged in extramarital affairs. >> testimony from one of the
women who claims to having had an affair with thomas clayton. >> even the insurance agent, he ended up having an affair with her. >> the women, the multiple affairs that he was having right under kelley's nose, my nose. i never heard of an affair, ever. >> some of the women that we called at trial talked about thomas clayton and his relationship with kelley did say that thomas would say bad things about kelley. >> he was telling them about her, she's lazy, she wants to go to every concert there is, she spends all my money, and she only works one day a week. and it's like, she's the mother of your kids for crying outloud. yet, he didn't want a divorce. >> he had mentioned to me that divorce was never going to be a possibility because she would take him to the cleaners, were his words. >> it's a distraction. the question isn't whether it was right that tom clayton had affairs. the question is, did he do this crime? >> but would the jury see it that way?
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tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms, had a vaccine or plan to. ♪nothing is everything♪ talk to your dermatologist about skyrizi. learn how abbvie could help you save. all eyes have been on the thomas clayton murder tria all eyes have been on the thomas clayton murder trial for several weeks. now the former hockey player's fate is in the hands of the jury. >> nobody knew what to expect. but after just about six hours of deliberating, they came back with that verdict. >> breaking news out of steuben county court. >> thomas clayton, guilty on both first-degree and second-degree murder charges. >> i think that there was an
absolute sense of relief. the people that were responsible for taking kelley's life were held accountable. >> we did it. we did it. >> the family of kelley walked out of the courtroom. they were sobbing, but almost tears of joy because the fact that justice was delivered. >> i told my sister from the night she was murdered that we would not stop fighting for her. >> at his sentencing, clayton is given life in prison without parole, and he doesn't go quietly. >> he delivered a profanity-laced, just, rant about how the jury got it wrong. >> screaming at the top of his lungs that he didn't kill his wife. everyone in the courtroom was shocked. >> first and foremost, i am extremely proud and honored to call thomas my son. >> in a statement to abc news, clayton's family says their support for him is unwavering, and they pray that the justice system will right this
incredible wrong. >> one of the most memorable moments of the sentencing was when a statement was read by kelley's sister. the statement was from kelley's daughter. >> charlie actually wrote a letter on her own that she loved her mom, she loved her dad, but that her dad was a coward because he made michael beard kill mommy. >> what a heartbreaking statement. these children have now lost both of their parents. >> was michael beard a victim of thomas clayton? >> i believe that thomas clayton was a white, privileged man. he used michael beard. michael beard would do just about anything for money for his family. >> do you think thomas clayton set you up? >> hands down, i would say so, yes.
>> in this small community, so many lives have been changed forever. do you still play poker here? >> no, we haven't played poker here since that evening. lucky says nobody comes in the house anymore. nobody. >> so, this table is basically closed? >> done. >> it's hard for me, in this small town, to go places. people say things to you that can trigger you. i can't imagine for these kids to grow up, and this is the only way people know them. >> the children are in the custody and care of kelley's sister, and it's my understanding that both kids are thriving. >> kelley spent a lot of time here. and kelley would also bring her children here. >> when you come here, what are you -- >> i feel comfort when i come here. i don't feel sad.
>> cullen calls it my mommy's bench. >> yeah, mommy's bench. >> you took her life, not her light. and her light will shine forever through charlie, through cullen, through me, forever, and we'll be okay. both thomas clayton and michael beard have exhausted their appeals and are serving life sentences. clayton declined our request for an interview. that's our program for tonight. thanks so much for watching. i'm deborah roberts. for all of us here at "20/20" and abc news, good night.