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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  December 9, 2017 1:00am-2:01am PST

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they don't know what truck is about to hit them. when they get their teeth into it, they will get down to the bottom of this and muller is is not going to be detoured. >> thank you both. that is "all in" for this evening. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. i am freaking out. i walk in and my sister's not there. her door is open, her lights are on, her bed's undone. everything was horrible. and i felt it. >> she had been fearless on the front lines in iraq. >> pretty amazing. i saw her as like a really strong soldier. >> but something had her terrified at home. >> i'm scared. i don't feel safe. >> a desperate call to police.
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and then she vanished. something made her pretty scared. >> yes. >> no way to say what that was. >> right. >> what had happened to this beautiful army sergeant? the question would launch a spellbinding mystery. >> there were a number of potential suspects, absolutely. >> was a killer out there? >> she was in danger. >> could police catch him? they hatched a plan of virtual genius. >> one of the detectives said, you're not going to believe this. >> welcome to dateline. maribel ramos was a fighter. doing two tours overseas before returning to civilian life. but even her military experience would not be enough to prepare her for the evil she'd battle back home. here's josh mankiewicz with "mystery in orange county."
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>> orange county, california. on tv, it's a place of sun, fun and privilege. it's where the real housewives first aired their dirty laundry and where the kids from o.c. showed us all what temperature cool really was. around here you get a sense everyone is rich and white and lives in a mansion with a view of the pacific. but step back from the coast and you'll see the orange county that isn't on tv, not as wealthy, not as white, full of those who came here from somewhere else, chasing a better life and finding it in places like santa ana, a mostly working-class immigrant community in the shadow of disneyland. it's the part of the o.c. where people know that to survive, they'll have to work hard. maribel ramos arrived here as a baby, leaving mexico behind. she would not only survive here, but thrive.
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to tell you the truth, this should be the story of a woman who worked hard to change her life, and in doing so, carved a path for others to follow. >> hello? >> but this story is going to end differently. >> why are you crying? >> because i'm afraid. >> there are some parts of life that hard work just can't fix. >> i'm just scared. i'm just like calling to let you guys know that if something happens, i did it because i was trying to defend myself. >> some things that are beyond our control. >> all i'm trying to say is, i'm warning -- honestly, i will fight for my life. i swear, i will kill him. >> all of this should have never reached this point of no return. so maybe it's a story of simple bad luck, of two lives that should never have come together.
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tell me about growing up with maribel. >> hmm. >> what was she like? >> troublemaker. mom wanted her to stay at home and she wanted to go play baseball. >> tomboy? >> yes. yes. >> her sister, lucy, said tomboy maribel ramos also had a spark. when she'd come in, she would what, immediately introduce herself to everybody? >> make friends and people were drawn to her. easy to talk to. >> you saw boys interested in her? >> oh, definitely, yeah. >> from an early age? >> from an early age. >> that never ended, did it? >> no, no. >> little sister lucy remembers how maribel was also in charge of watching out for her while their single mother often worked two jobs to make ends meet. you were how much younger? >> seven years younger. >> a lot of girls wouldn't want their little sister tagging along. >> no. she didn't want to, but she didn't have a choice.
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>> even as a child, maribel found out a different world existed, and she wanted to live there. >> oh, she knew at a young age that there was a lot more to life than what we had around us. there's things you can do and go to school and have opportunities and live in a nicer house. >> she saw all of that? >> yeah, yeah, definitely. >> maribel ramos knew she'd have to work hard to get what and where she wanted. after high school she worked in security at kmart and hatched a long-term plan to become a cop, but she'd need a college degree, and that meant money. so maribel ramos became private first class ramos. she joined the army hoping to use the g.i. bill. her first day was august 8th, 2001. and just 34 days later, the whole world changed. we all sort of recoiled in horror, but you probably also thought, that's going to affect my sister. >> yeah. i turn on the tv and the towers are crumbling.
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the first thing i thought was, oh my gosh, my sister's going to war. >> lucy worried. their mother worried. but maribel was like a rock. what did maribel say about going overseas? >> she didn't express her feelings about it. she just said, well, i'm -- this is what's happening, sister. you need to talk to mom. >> maribel went to war in iraq. what was it like to see her in uniform? >> it was -- it was pretty amazing. >> gisele is lucy's daughter, maribel's niece. >> i saw her as a really brave strong soldier. sometimes i wouldn't see her as my aunt. it was just like, whoa, you're going out there to save everybody. >> you were proud of her? >> yeah. >> maribel learned to jump out of airplanes and she manned the guns for armed convoys. she saw more than her share of combat. she also made sergeant. and when her tour in iraq ended, she re-enlisted for another. she seemed fearless.
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she could very easily have become a casualty? >> yes. and other people did die, other friends of hers. >> in 2009 after two tours in iraq, maribel left the army and set part two of her plan into action, enrolling in college. but adjusting back to civilian life wasn't as easy as maribel had expected. like a lot of war veterans, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or ptsd. she'd seen some terrible things. did she ever talk about that? >> not with me. >> instead, she focused on school, work and family, especially her niece gisele. she kind of adopted you as this project? >> yeah. >> now, why did she do that? >> i think it was because she wanted me to have the best. >> as gisele grew older the self-improvement message
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sometimes came complete with push-ups. after all, maribel was all army. >> when i would get in trouble, she would make me do exercises in order to, like, work off the punishment. >> and all this time, maribel was hammering away at gisele, you're going to finish school, you're going to study hard? >> mm-hmm. >> you're going to have a career. >> yes. this is what you're going to do, mija. this is what you're going to do. she would tell her. yes, tia. >> maribel got a dog and rented a two bedroom apartment in the city of orange which she shared with a roommate, a quiet chemist named k.c. joy, who also had a dog. >> i thought it was the perfect match. he has a dog, she has a dog. he seems quiet. he's not going to have all these people coming over. >> by may 2013 everything seemed great. maribel was leading by example, finishing up her degree in criminal justice at cal state fullerton. gisele was following in her strong footsteps. >> and she was dropping off
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money at my house, because i had gotten good grades. and she had just got her hair done, dyed, and styled, 'cause -- for her graduation. >> she looked great. >> yeah. >> and she was happy. >> yes, she was. >> and that's why it made no sense when just days later, maribel ramos, soldier, student, loving aunt, simply disappeared. coming up, what happened to maribel ramos? >> nobody had heard from her? >> nobody. >> when "dateline" continues. the reception for this product
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>> may 3rd, 2013, was a friday, a day that should have been an easy day for maribel ramos. school was nearly over. graduation was so close, but that morning, things weren't right. >> i got a text from k.c. at 10:00 a.m. and he said, your sister didn't come home. >> they'd been roommates for more than a year now. k.c. felt protective of maribel. he told lucy he had already called police to report her missing. >> this is not an emergency. i have a roommate. she's 36 years old, and she didn't come home last night. >> so what i did, i texted her at 11:00.
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i said, happy friday. because we usually text each other anyways. that was my way of connecting. and she didn't text me back. >> unusual? >> yes. >> lucy still wasn't worried. she knew her combat-hardened sister could take care of herself. but then evening came and for maribel, friday night was softball night. she loved to play and never missed a game. but this friday night she didn't show. now, lucy's phone was ringing, maribel's teammates on the line. they told me, go to the house, police are there. do not take gisele. i'm freaking out, and i walk in, and my sister is not there. her door is open, her lights are on, her bed's undone. my head started spinning. everything was horrible and i felt it. >> detective joey ramirez with the orange police department got the call that evening.
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and he also had a bad feeling about everything. >> it sounds like you were taking this pretty seriously from the get-go. >> absolutely. >> why couldn't she be off by herself, or with some other friends, or maybe she lost her phone or forgot to call? >> that was our hope, that she was just missing, that she would come walking through the door. but her family and friends expressed that she was very responsible. >> and nobody's heard from her? >> nobody. >> so ramirez and his team went into action. they quickly figured out that if she left on her own accord, it didn't look like maribel had planned to be out long. she left her car at home? >> her car was there. her keys were gone. her phone was gone. >> but her toothbrush was there, so was her big purse she used when she had a lot to carry. k.c. returned home hours after
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police first got there. he again told the cops what he told them that morning, that maribel was missing. lucy and the softball team went to the police station hoping for answers, but morning came and there weren't any. so channeling her big sister, lucy decided to stop waiting and make her own luck. >> i woke up on saturday, and i thought, wow, this is seriously happening. i posted a picture of her on facebook. it was immediate. people went into action. >> friends from the university got together, family members, her roommate. lots of people who maribel had touched wanted to help. they hung fliers in english and spanish. they reached out to reporters. >> it's very not like her after eight years of service in the army to just disappear. >> unusual thing was next day, friday morning, she was not here. >> i helped my mom pass out flyers around school, pretty much anything i could do. >> did you think they'd find her? >> yes, i did. >> gisele was 14 at the time. but detective ramirez, who's
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been a cop for more years than gisele has been alive, was not as hopeful. she's not using her cell phone, she's not taking any money out. no one's heard from her. when you've picked up no trace of her after a couple of days, you still think you're looking for a living person? >> the percentages are starting to drop, not in our favor. >> because by then you've called all the hospitals. >> all hospitals, jails. >> there's an alert out that any police officer, what, in southern california sees her. >> correct. and the media was also helping. >> and nothing? >> nothing. >> no maribel on security tape from any nearby store. police checked all of them. they found only this image from the security camera outside the manager's office for her apartment complex. it's maribel paying the rent. it's may 2nd, 8:18 p.m., the night before anyone realized she had disappeared.
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maribel seems to be alone. so what the cops needed to do was talk to everyone who was anyone in maribel's life. turns out there were a lot of people they suddenly needed to get to know, including a current boyfriend, an ex-boyfriend, and someone maribel had just met, a guy she'd made a date with online, a guy whose name maribel had apparently kept completely to herself. >> coming up -- the haunti in i phone call. when "dateline" continues. g, burning, pins-and-needles of diabetic nerve pain, these feet... grew into a free-wheeling kid... loved every step of fatherhood... and made old cars good as new. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer. so i talked to my doctor and he prescribed lyrica.
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>> this is the city of orange, california, in the county of orange, california. much of it is a small town stuck in time. there's a university, a zoo, cute local businesses. and a police department that doesn't have to deal with a lot of violent crime. after all, the happiest place on earth is just down the street. but in may 2013, detective joey ramirez was far from happy. he had a lot of ground to cover and a strong sense that time was against him as he tried to figure out what had happened to maribel ramos.
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she just vanished? >> yes. >> how often does that kind of thing happen? >> it doesn't happen often. >> ramires started by investigating the men in maribel's life. it turned out there were a few of them. >> did you know she was doing online dating? did she talk about that? >> yeah, she did. >> maribel sometimes met guys through a website called plenty of fish. that's how she found paul lopez. they had been dating for a few months, and paul had even joined her weekly softball game. lopez was the last person maribel talked to on the phone. now police wanted to talk to him. >> you know you're not under arrest or anything like that. >> i wouldn't think so. >> ramirez sat across from paul and asked about his relationship with maribel. >> nothing's been exclusive. it's just been dating. >> okay. you date other people too? >> me, yeah. >> you don't know if she dates other people or not? >> i don't ask, don't tell.
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>> and he asked lopez where he was on the night maribel disappeared. >> did you come into orange at all on thursday? >> no. >> police also had to consider this. maribel had told lucy that things weren't working out with paul lopez. >> she wasn't a match with paul. so she was online talking to people. >> maribel was back on plenty of fish and had met a new man. he was a photographer who'd worked a lot with the military. it was a connection for both of them. how did she describe that guy? >> she said, oh, i met someone. he's very interesting. we have lot in common. >> and you thought what? good? >> i thought, great. >> they planned a date for cinco de mayo. but two days before that date was to happen, maribel vanished. so police talked to that photographer. and made a recording of the conversation. >> you're saying you never actually met her in person. >> no. >> so he said, anyway. there was also an ex-boyfriend who had been calling. police needed to check him out.
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and there was this lead. >> there was a person at cal state fullerton that was in the veterans association with her that had given her a bad feeling. he may have wanted to pursue some sort of dating relationship. >> but gave her a bad feeling how? >> she wasn't interested and she didn't give him any attention, yet he didn't go away. >> so he made her feel uncomfortable. >> correct. >> and by now, detective ramirez had learned something else. just a little over a week before she vanished, maribel ramos had called 911. >> hi, it's not an emergency but i just -- is there a recording? >> is there a what? >> is this conversation recording? >> yes. every conversation is recorded. >> maribel wanted it on the record. she wanted police to know she was very afraid of someone. >> i'm just calling to let you
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guys know that if something happens, i did it because i was trying to defend myself. >> she might have been afraid, but this army-strong woman who had always taken care of herself feared she might be the one putting the hurt on her attacker. >> all i'm trying to say is that, i'm warning -- honestly, i will fight for my life. and i swear, i will kill him. >> something had happened to make her pretty scared. >> yes. >> there was nothing on the call to say what that was. >> right. >> what was she afraid of? not clear. who was she afraid of? that was another story entirely. >> coming up -- >> you were doing your own surveillance? >> yes. >> did her roommate know something that police didn't? when "dateline" continues.
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i'm dara brown.
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president trump fatherappeared rally friday night to rally support for roy moore. it was held about 15 minutes from the alabama border. first major winter storm of the season has dropped record setting snow in the deep south, but there are all sorts of traffic troubles in areas unbeing a kuna unbeing unaccustomed to snow. the storm is heading up the east coast. now back to "dateline." welcome back. maribel ramos had joined the army to put herself through college, but just days away from her graduation ceremony, she vanished. earlier maribel had called police to say she was in danger, and afraid for her life. what was it, or who was it, that had her so concerned? here again is josh mientkiewicz with "mystery in orange county." >> by now, posters blanket the
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city of orange. maribel ramos was missing and her family was frantic. >> as soon as i got the call she didn't show up for her baseball game, i got the worst feeling in the world. >> putting himself out there with all the rest was maribel's roommate, k.c. joy. >> she's the only family i have. she's my best friend. that's all. >> k.c. had moved from tennessee to southern california for a job. he had no family and few friends here. so he turned to maribel, and she was happy to include him. she even arranged for k.c. to tutor her niece in math. >> he seemed nice, respectful. he liked to be involved with the family and my aunt. >> he didn't have family of his own so he kind of attached himself to yours? >> yeah. >> but they weren't boyfriend and girlfriend? >> no. >> even so, in photos, maribel and k.c. seemed to be having a great time. they even went on a cruise together.
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soon, police would be talking with k.c. joy. >> do you have a business card, sir? >> yeah. >> so i keep track of names straight. >> yeah, that's a good idea. >> formalities over, detective ramirez started asking about maribel. >> as you know, right now, there's some people, some family and friends that are worried about maribel, your roommate. >> i was her friend and i care about her very much. >> but he said he had no idea what happened to her. >> so when was the last time you saw her? >> about 9:00 p.m. about 9:00. then i went out. >> that was thursday night, may 2nd. the next night when the cops were called to maribel's house, k.c. wasn't there. he explained he had been so worried that he did his own investigation, watching his own front door from his car parked out front. >> i saw in movies, detective movies of a crime scene,
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whatever. i want to see who's going to knock on my door. i just parked my car in front with a notebook. had binoculars -- >> you were doing your own surveillance? >> yes. >> it sounded a little odd. maybe k.c. had just seen too many crime movies. but if he had, then he'd probably know cops don't miss little details like -- well, like this. >> he was sitting across the table from me wearing short-sleeved shirt, jeans on and sandals. instantly i can see he has scratches on both his arms. he's got a scratch across his forehead from his hairline to his eye. >> how did you get all these scratches on you? >> we go to the park all the time. you go exactly -- we pick up, by the pond, we pick up fishing line all the time. you go there. -- >> can i see? >> fishing lines. >> those are from fishing lines? >> no, no.
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i will explain. >> k.c. explained he was walking the dogs when he saw a fishing line in a bush. worrying about the ducks in the park getting caught in the line, he reached in to remove it and got all those scratches. you've been around long enough, you can tell the difference between scratches that a person might get, you know, reaching into a bush, or from an animal, and scratches that somebody would get during a, you know, an actual fight with another person? >> right. some of the scratches on his arms did look like scratches that would be from something other than fingernails. but there was one particular set of scratches on his right bicep that to me clearly looked like scratches from a hand. >> and that says to you he was in a fight? >> it does. >> when was the last time you guys had any sort of an argument? >> actually that thursday. >> this thursday? >> that was the last night
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anyone saw maribel, the night she was caught on camera paying the rent, which k.c. said was what they were arguing about. >> well, what happened? tell me about that. >> because i was -- i'm supposed to move out. >> it turned out k.c. had recently lost his job and could no longer pay his share of the rent. maribel had asked him to move out. that was reason for concern, of course. and so was this. detective ramirez had learned about the 911 call maribel had made 11 days before she disappeared. and he knew that in that call the man maribel said that she might have to kill was k.c. joy. >> his full name is kwang choi joy. >> weren't the police out to your house recently because you guys had an argument? >> we'd been drinking that
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night. she started yelling at me. >> k.c. said it was all just a drunken misunderstanding. >> i don't like you, i'm not attracted to you. i said, maribel, we had a great time tonight. what's the problem? >> what was the problem? detective ramirez heard from maribel's family something very interesting. k.c. joy had wanted to be more than just roommates with maribel ramos. lucy told us the same thing. when did it become apparent to you that k.c. sort of had a crush on your sister? >> he called me, and then he just said, i'm like in love with your sister. so i was like, oh, this is great. >> because you knew your sister wasn't in love with him. >> yes. and that's a bad situation. so at that point i'm like, okay, k.c., you know, you're a good man and i'm sure you'll find somebody out there for you, but -- >> but it's not going to be her. >> yeah.
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>> now the woman k.c. told lucy he wanted had told him that not only did she not love him, but he had to basically get out of her life. despite that, k.c. continued talking with police. mr. joy was being cooperative. >> he was. >> talking to officers, let you guys take stuff out of the house? >> he did. >> and never showed up with a lawyer? >> he did not. >> doesn't sound like that did a lot to set aside your suspicions? >> no, it didn't. >> suspicions, sure. but no proof a crime had even occurred. maribel ramos was missing. that's all anyone knew. >> ready, sir? >> and so k.c. joy walked out of that police station, like all the other men in maribel's life, a free man. >> finally, the clue they've been waiting for. and you won't believe how they got it. >> no one had searched there? >> no. >> but he's looking at it? >> yes.
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>> he knew a lot more than he was telling us. >> when "dateline" continues. it's the phillips' lady! anyone ever have occasional constipation,diarrhea, gas or bloating? she does. she does. help defend against those digestive issues. take phillips' colon health probiotic caps daily with three types of good bacteria. 400 likes? wow! try phillips' colon health.
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the days were ticking by and still no maribel. forensic results were coming in, dna, fingerprints, cell phone data, none of it adding up to anything that told the cops what had happened to her.
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so police were looking at the usual suspects, like her boyfriend, paul lopez. lopez works for the gas company and goes from call to call in a company truck. the gps on that truck puts him nowhere near the city of orange on the night maribel was seen on that security video, that is, until about midnight. lopez told police that's when he went home. he said he was alone and could prove it. >> my parking spot is actually right by a surveillance camera. >> so the surveillance camera would show you parking? >> yeah. >> that was enough to get lopez off the list. there was that ex-boyfriend who had been calling. maribel had never mentioned he'd been a problem, and police didn't think he was involved. there was the photographer from the website, plenty of fish. his cell phone data placed him in san diego, out of the area at the time in question. and the veteran from cal state who had come on too strong? he was in japan.
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none of them could be connected to maribel's disappearance. so in the end there was just one person the cops couldn't stop looking at, the first person to report maribel missing, her roommate, k.c. joy. >> orange police dispatcher. >> this is not an emergency. i have a roommate. she's 36 years old and she didn't come home last night. >> he was also the last to see her alive. >> i felt she most likely was dead. i felt there was a high probability mr. joy was responsible for it and he knew a lot more than he was telling us. >> so detective ramirez became k.c. joy's shadow, appearing in the morning, and then later by moonlight. hours after k.c.'s first police interview, a cheerful joey ramirez showed up at his house. >> hey, k.c., how are you?
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can we come in? >> he brought a voice recorder and a few more questions. >> how are you this morning? >> all right. >> good, good. >> detective ramirez already knew the answers to some of them. >> when you say work, she works at? >> fullerton. >> cal state fullerton? >> yeah. >> and to some he didn't. >> did you have any marks on your legs or anything? >> no. >> well, let me just ask you, do you have any injuries on your legs? >> no. >> you have no injuries on your legs whatsoever? >> no, i don't have any. >> okay. >> then ramirez showed up again that night. >> k.c. joy, just a couple of quick questions for you, and i'll get out of here. how are you doing? are you okay? >> i've been crying. >> how many times did you talk to him? >> i believe i talked to him at least nine times. >> ramirez tried scaring k.c. about potential evidence found in his car. >> why would there be blood in a red versa? >> blood?
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you tell me there was blood? i don't know anything about it. what blood? you tell me. >> he tried backing k.c. into a corner about what might be found on k.c.'s hard drive. >> the good thing is if there's anything that you ever deleted that you wish you hadn't, we should be able to help you out with that. >> you're hoping he's going to think to himself, okay, everything i've deleted they're going to see. >> right. >> didn't work. >> didn't work. we were swinging and missing regularly on a daily basis. >> k.c. joy was willing to talk repeatedly without an attorney. >> k.c., you've been very cooperative with us. >> i've seen movies. the detective takes my fingerprints. >> he says to you, i've seen movies, and now you're going to take my fingerprints. he's like a pro. he's seen it all. >> he's being very relaxed.
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i felt that he was very confident that we weren't going to figure it out. >> what mr. joy apparently didn't know was that other officers were watching him 24/7. the surveillance teams noticed he was spending a lot of time at the public library, and he was using the computers there. probably because police had taken away his phone and maribel's computer, which was the one k.c. normally used. >> initially we would have undercover policemen go into the library and walk around and see what he's doing. at one point he's seen googling can a cell phone be tracked if it's turned off. >> well, that's certainly suspicious. >> it is. >> detective ramirez was consulting daily with orange county deputy district attorney scott simmons. there are things that can be called into question, but they're not immediately proof of anything. >> exactly. that's why we didn't arrest him right away.
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>> police needed to see exactly what k.c. joy was doing on those library computers. that would require a very unusual plan. they obtained a search warrant allowing them to watch in realtime every move made on the computer. this is a recording of k.c.'s actual computer keystrokes and mouse clicks. that's k.c. checking his e-mail. that's k.c. applying for a job. that's k.c. typing in how long does it take a body to decay. suspicious maybe, but not enough. and then he did this. >> he pulled up a facebook page that showed there was going to be an awareness walk in the near future. >> a walk to help find maribel? >> it was. he google mapped that park and zoomed in onto it. he then panned out, navigated
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over about eight to ten miles. >> this area he was zeroing in on, was it an area that had crossed your field of vision at all? >> no. >> here, k.c. is google mapping a place that no one had searched. watch as he zooms in to that area with that tree. that tree didn't figure in the investigation in any way? >> not in any stretch of the imagination. >> no one had searched there? >> no. >> no reason for that to be in the paper or anywhere else? >> no. it's out in a remote canyon location. >> but he's looking at it. >> yes, yes. >> by the time k.c. was walking out of the library that afternoon, police were already headed to that tree. coming up, another startling discovery. >> this is way off the beaten path. we didn't know what to think. >> when "dateline" continues. i love you, couch.
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welcome back. police were growing confident they knew who was involved in the disappearance of maribel ramos. but they hadn't made an arrest. but that was about to change. here's josh mankiewicz with the conclusion of "mystery in orange county." >> as he dug deeper into k.c. joy's background, detective joey ramirez found more and more evidence k.c. was infatuated, even obsessed, with maribel ramos. for instance, the time maribel
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told k.c. he was too old for her and he responded by getting plastic surgery. $12,000 later he's got a different face? >> correct. >> and he says the reason he got it is because of the woman who's missing? >> correct. >> now here was k.c. at the public library google mapping a remote wilderness area. since the dawn of detective novels, killers have returned to the scene of the crime. but these days there's no need for the bad guy to even get in his car. now it can be done with the click of a mouse. the good guys still have to do it the old-fashioned way. detective sean hayden got the call on the radio. drive out to rustic majestic canyon southeast of the city of orange. >> we didn't know what to think. this is very rural area. no one would be out here mountain biking or hiking.
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this is way off the beaten path. >> at the other end of the two-way radio, detective brian stanley was rewatching k.c.'s google search trying to give detective hayden better directions. k.c. focused on an intersection and then moved over to the tree. >> in the center of the shot there's one tree that looks like the bush out in the middle of the wash. i told him to look for that tree and then in the wash from that area. >> he and his partner found the tree, then moved off the road and past a barbed wire fence. and then they knew they were close. >> as we were kind of trekking through this brush here, the first and foremost thing we found was overwhelming smell of like a decaying body or something dead. my partner and i kind of turned our head and we looked over and saw this kind of shallow gravesite. >> at long last, there she was. >> one of the detectives called and said, joey, you're not going to believe this. we found her. >> maribel ramos had been left alone in that dusty canyon since before anyone knew she was
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missing. now ramirez knew it was time for one last meeting with k.c. joy. >> well, thanks for coming down here voluntarily, i really appreciate it. >> if you give me a ride back to library i'll have to walk -- >> ramirez didn't tell k.c. that maribel had been found. he just tried for the final time to get k.c. to be the one who would say what had happened. >> k.c., i think that you have the answers in your heart, that you do and that you should share them -- >> i'll go. >> so once again k.c. joy walked out of the interview room. he didn't get far. this time he was arrested and charged with the murder of maribel ramos. the woman he had loved who had not loved him. when he was taken into custody, k.c. joy was wearing maribel's dog tags. k.c. joy pleaded not guilty and in july 2014, a year after maribel vanished, he went on trial for her murder.
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>> miss maribel ramos. maribel is no longer with us. >> the prosecution laid out the evidence against k.c. the unrequited love. the scratches. the 911 call. and finally the computer searches. >> he's wondering how close is maribel's body to where they're doing that awareness search? that's why he goes to google maps. >> the defense pointed out there was no dna, fingerprints, cell phone info, or standard forensic evidence that tied k.c. joy to maribel's murder or to the crime scene. >> we don't know what happened. what kind of force was used? nobody knows. who used it first? nobody knows. was there a weapon used? was it used by maribel or was it used by k.c. joy? nobody knows. >> all true. but the computer searches were enough for the jury. >> we the jury in the above-entitled action find the
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defendant, kwang choi joy, guilty of the crime of felony, to wit -- >> k.c. joy was convicted of second-degree murder, after which he told me the jury got it wrong. are you dangerous? >> me? i'm the perfect, most honest guy there is, most trustworthy. i'm a gentleman. >> you had a crush on her. >> no, we are absolutely not. we always maintained that real platonic friends. >> you never told lucy that you had a crush on her? >> no, i never said that. >> you never said you were in love with her? >> no, never said that either. >> you weren't obsessed with her? >> no, i was not obsessed with her. >> the plastic surgery? his choice, he says, not done for maribel. and the computer search of the area where maribel's body was found? k.c. says he didn't do it, someone else did, by remotely accessing the same computer right after he had used it. >> you don't think that's quite a coincidence? >> are many questions but i didn't do it. >> you're being framed here? >> i say yes.
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if i had a paid attorney, somebody who could -- somebody like o.j. simpson had, i wouldn't be here right now, i'd be out. >> the problem here is not that you're guilty, it's that you don't have enough money? >> exactly. seems like money talks. if i had money, i would not be here. >> k.c. joy was sentenced to 15 years to life for killing maribel ramos. what do you think happened? >> i think she went to bed, and i think what he did is he got a pillow and smothered her. and as he's got this pillow over her face, she struggles a little bit. and i believe that's where he got the scratches on his right triceps. >> if mr. joy hadn't done that google map search, leading you essentially to the body, would he be a free man? >> if no other evidence came up, yes. >> he'd be a person of interest in a cold case? >> correct. >> maribel ramos graduated from
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college posthumously. her niece gisele, who maribel had always hoped would follow in her footsteps, instead ended up walking the path meant for her aunt. >> i received her diploma. and i got to sit in her seat. and walk upstage and receive everything. >> it was so difficult so be there. it was difficult to see my daughter in such pain. walking for her aunt. >> maribel ramos, we lost this gal a couple years ago. she was an army veteran -- >> every wednesday in the city of orange, they lower the flag for the fallen who served. but maribel has a legacy, gisele, who seems well on her way to becoming the successful woman maribel had hoped for. your mom says that you've sort of been the rock. >> yeah. >> that they wouldn't have made it through this without you. >> yes. >> where'd you get that toughness?
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>> from her. >> from maribel. >> yeah. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> everything just began to shake. i just kept asking where is she, have you seen her? i wouldn't know what i'd do without her. >> it looked like the world was ending. >> growing um in indiana, tsunamis and earthquakes are the things you only see in hollywood films. >> he was sure his world had ended. the love of his life was missing. >> that feeling that she's not all right began growing as each minute wen


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