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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  March 4, 2018 1:00am-2:00am PST

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y loved her more than-- than i even imagined, or he's still trying to prove what a man he was, or thinks he is. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. [theme music] real, that is was fake. >> it is horrific to see someone you love -- lying there, dead. >> we brought the girls in. and just told them that daddy was in heaven.
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>> reporter: tonight it started out as a cozy evening of christmas cocktails but this family gathering, ended in gunfire. >> they started drinking and -- >> reporter: one of them wound up dead.
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>> andy's wife and i work together. she answered the phone call. and she didn't even recognize andy's voice. and they've been together for nine years. >> reporter: your own wife. >> she came in the back and said, tam, something's wrong. andy just called and said come quick. dad's laying in a pool of blood.
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>> reporter: but like the rational farm folk they are, 30 miles away and close to the nearest hospital, they did not assume the worst. even when they tried to call back andy, who now wasn't answering.
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the children of wayne and sharmon stock were still reeling from their grief as they bury their parents less than a week after perhaps the most horrific
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murder their little town had ever seen. nearest hospital, they did not assume the worst. even when they tried to call back andy, who now wasn't answering. >> we were both like something's really wrong. and the minister called and said, you need to come home. and i said, i'm not going anywhere until you tell me what's wrong. and they said, your mom and dad have been killed. and i think i did start screaming. and we headed towards the farm to be with andy. never in a million years would you think that you'd see your parents' house taped off by that yellow tape. >> reporter: it was a stunning crime. big news throughout the midwest. the stocks the most unlikely victims. wayne found on the upstairs landing dead of a shotgun blast. wife sharmon murdered in her own bedroom. a telephone in hand as if trying
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to call for help. the county sheriff advised caution. >> right now this is an unsolved homicide. whether it's somebody local or somebody from another town, we don't know at this time. >> reporter: who could have murdered wayne and sharmon stock? and why? just a couple of hours after wayne and sharmon stock's son discovered their bodies in their rural nebraska farmhouse on easter monday 2006, the word got around. law enforcement swarmed the scene, neighbors expressed shock in that understated midwestern way. >> they're just typical nebraska farm background people, and you wouldn't expect it. >> reporter: andy stock, as you can see in these pictures taken on that very day, stood next to his pickup in utter shock waiting for his brother and sister to arrive. and he struggled to process it all. as his father's words echoed in his mind.
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>> i'll never forget july of '05. dad and i were working together. we were standing there, and he looked at me and he said, son, he said, when it's my day to go, hold your head high, keep living life. i'll never forget that. >> reporter: but it was all happening so fast. wayne and sharmon stock had been gunned down in the safety of their own home, the sanctity of their own bedroom. why would anyone want them dead? and who? andy was the last to see his parents alive, the one who found their bodies in the morning, which made him, bizarre though it sounds, a potential suspect. >> before i even saw steve and tami, they had put me in a car and took me to another town and questioned me in a room. >> reporter: trying to establish whether or not you were involved. >> yeah. did gunshot residue tests.
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like is this really happening? >> reporter: andy stock didn't realize it at the time but investigators were soon looking hard at him. after all, he was there, he had opportunity and he may have had motive. he might have had something to gain from his parents' death. why? andy stock was the already designated heir to the stock hay company, which some people might consider a family fortune. investigators questioned andy, csi units were busily working the crime scene as well. >> it was a very brutal crime scene. it was one of the worst i've ever seen. >> reporter: one of those leading the investigation? david kofoed, the head of the csi squad in douglas county. from omaha, an hour away, he was called in to help the smaller cass county sheriff's
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department. >> what really bothers me is that these two people were just sleeping in bed and the male victim was apparently crawling away and he was shot in the head. clearly an execution. >> reporter: close up. >> close up. and the female victim was along the side of the bed holding a phone in her hand, and she had been shot in the eye at close range. >> reporter: investigators found out pretty quickly how the stocks' killer or killers who entered the house. a screen had been lifted, a window appeared to have been forced open leading into the laundry room. from there it appeared the killer's route might have gone past the now empty easter basket sharmon had made, through the well kept kitchen, then up the stairs to where the stocks lay sleeping. four shotgun shells leaving a trail to the bullet. wayne tried to get up but was shot in the knee. it left a huge powder burn on the bed. then wayne was shot in the head. sharmon killed, too, as she tried to call 911. then it became apparent, it wasn't just one killer, but at least two. >> when we did the blood pattern
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analysis, we saw a void area at the top of the steps. >> reporter: which could only mean one thing. as one of the killers fired at wayne stock from behind, this area, called a void area, was where another killer would have been standing. the second killer sprayed with blood spatter instead of a wall. kofoed and his team found a wealth of evidence outside the house, too. >> it was a big farm operation. and there was a lot of out buildings and it was complicated by the fact that they'd had an easter egg hunt the day before. so we had a lot of shoe prints and stuff. >> reporter: but one print stood out. >> i saw a shoe print in the mud that was unusual. by a flower bed near the front door. >> reporter: and beyond the flower bed, there was a virtual trail of evidence left by the likely killers. >> in a gravel driveway, there was a marijuana pipe and about ten feet from it, there was a flashlight, and those two things were obviously out of place. >> reporter: you could sort of
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imagine the television show "csi." >> right. >> reporter: there's a light, oh, there's a -- it's just too easy. but there it was. >> it was there. i think one thing i knew pretty much right at the beginning was i could visibly see blood on the outside of the flashlight. we knew that had to be involved. >> reporter: but then a real breakthrough. a newspaper carrier called in to report that he and his girlfriend saw something. they'd been driving down this country road middle of the night about a mile from the stock farmhouse down there. and just here outside this cemetery, they saw a car just parked here. strange cars just don't get parked on country roads outside murdock, nebraska, at 3:00 in the morning. it was tan or light brown, four-door sedan said the young man. and what really stuck out was that this car later passed them in the same area that same night. this time driving 60 or 70 miles
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an hour. it was in a rush, it appeared, to get away. investigators now had a number of clues. that car, seen by the newspaper carrier. the flashlight with what appeared to be blood on it. the marijuana pipe. and detectives were probably looking for more than one killer. but a motive? who knew? not a thing was missing. wallets, purses, gun collections, even a safe hidden in the bedroom floor, all untouched. but all that evidence. and asking questions of those closest to the stocks would soon pay off because just a week later an arrest and a confession. and another shattering blow to the stock family. coming up -- stories surface of a long simmering feud between the beloved farming couple and the family's black seed. >> just knowing that, i had my
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own suspicions.
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andy stock was and still is a grief stricken man. and it wasn't long before investigators restored him to his family and dropped him from
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their list of possible suspects in the awful murders of wayne and sharmon stock. besides, as detectives questioned the couple's large extended family, another relative's name came up quite often actually. matt livers. he was wayne and sharmon's nephew, 28 years old. he attended the easter dinner the afternoon leading up to the murder. but he wasn't there by virtue of being a family favorite. in fact, livers was considered a black sheep. he bounced from job to job. never finding his niche. matt was slow, different. he had no criminal record, but there was, they said, an ongoing problem between matt and the stocks. they described disagreements, sometimes heated. they said sharmon had a dislike for matt. the stock's oldest son steve -- >> i think in my head i went to it a little bit just knowing that they hadn't gotten along real well. i had my own suspicion. >> reporter: just two days after the murders, detectives visited
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matt livers' former employer, asked about his personality, rumors that he had a temper. they put a watch on him and went through his garbage, too. this was in lincoln, about 30 miles from the murder scene. then eight days after the bodies were discovered they asked matt livers to come in and answer some questions. >> you're free to leave at any time. >> i'm here to cooperate with you gentleman. >> reporter: he was unerringly courteous, deferential to the two detectives questioning him. said he'd never been interviewed by police before. >> what do you think happened? >> i don't have any idea. i would like to know why. who, what, when, where and how and why? you know, why would somebody do this to such good people, very christian people? very likable people. >> reporter: livers told them
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after the big family dinner with the stock, he drove home the half hour to lincoln where he stayed all night with his girlfriend sara and sara's young son and a roommate. he did admit to having disagreements with his uncle wayne over the various family issues, but those were minor, he said. >> any problems between you guys? >> years ago we kind of had a tiff. yeah, but you know, that's been done, forgetting. >> reporter: matt livers agreed to take a polygraph. >> do you know for sure who caused the death of wayne stock? >> no. >> reporter: if he was looking to clear himself of suspicion by taking that test, it did not have the desired effect. >> your subconscious body is telling the machine. you cannot fool it. >> i didn't have anything to do with this. >> you did. >> i did not. >> you did. >> no, i didn't. >> reporter: for hours they
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locked horns with livers. despite his continued denial of involvement, they knew he was lying. >> we've had too many people sitting in that chair that think they're smart and they're not. >> no. you're dumb as a brick. okay? you made a mistake. and you got to pay for it. >> reporter: why were investigators here in nebraska so convinced matt livers was lying? well, besides the polygraph, there was the state profiler who suggested that this is the sort of crime committed by young males who know their victims. how else would they know to find the farm house way out in the middle of nowhere if they didn't know them? and add to that, said the profiler, this is the sort of crime that appeared to be very personal. an execution. matt livers rang those bells, all of them and rang them loudly. eventually, detectives got quite explicit, telling livers he was headed for death row. unless he would start giving
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them what they knew to be true. >> you don't admit to me exactly what you've done, i'm going to walk out that door and do my level best to hang your ass from the highest tree. you're done. >> this is your one shot. we put the olive branch out right now and attempt to help you. okay? electric chair, gas, lethal injection. >> reporter: it was that technique that produced the desired effect. rough, perhaps, but matt livers started confessing.
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but i'm not standing still... and with godaddy, i've made my ideas real. ♪ ♪
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i made my own way, now it's time to make yours. ♪ ♪ everything is working, working, just like it should ♪
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>> you got a gun. >> right. >> and you took that gun back to your uncle and aunt sharmon's house, right? right or wrong? come on now. >> right. >> reporter: now that the cat was out of the bag, livers began filling in more of the blanks. how the murder went down, for example. >> you put the gun to her face and blew her away. >> okay. >> and then as i headed out, i just stuck it to him and blew him away. >> reporter: then a bonus. remember how that blood spatter indicated a second killer was involved? well now before they trooped him off to jail, matt livers gave them a name to match the void on the wall. so perhaps it's not so
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surprising that in the elation of the moment, detectives had no idea, not a clue, that they had just jumped down an alice in wonderland rabbit hole. the children of wayne and sharmon stock were still reeling from their grief as they bury their parents less than a week after perhaps the most horrific murder their little town had ever seen. and then to grief add shock. late one evening son andy answered his phone and heard the news from one of the detectives. andy called his sister. >> about 12:30 at night. he says, tam, i need you to be awake. are you awake? i said, yeah, what's going on? he said, they arrested matt and nick. and i said, matt and nick who? and he said, our cousin matt and nick sampson. >> reporter: it was true. matt livers had confessed to the
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murders of his aunt and uncle. >> put the gun to her face and blew her away. >> reporter: and he'd named an accomplice. 22-year-old nick sampson. a cousin of matt's on another branch of the family tree. >> my husband had given me the phone. i was sitting up in bed. and i said, andy, should i be shaking? he said, that's normal, the shock. >> reporter: but matt livers had been with them at easter dinner just a few hours before. now he said that he and nick had returned to kill his aunt and uncle. >> our first reaction was grandma she had had just lost her only son and her grandson is being arrested for this. and just like us, she's like, i don't understand. and i said, grandma, none of us understand any of this. >> reporter: did it give you any sense of at least somebody has been found responsible? did it make you feel any better? >> we move on to the next phase of this. we're in the going to wonder for the rest of our lives.
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i was relieve to 'n they had somebody. >> reporter: with livers already in jail, police descended on murdock to arrest nick sampson. he was a cook at bulldog's bar in murdock. he was a guy by his own admission liked to drive too fast, had a problem with marijuana as a teenager, had done two separate stints in boys' homes now he had been printed and processed, then like livers, questioned on videotape. >> i guess i'll just ask you flat out. why do you think you're here? >> i think they think that i'm involved with the murders. >> reporter: but unlike his co-defendant. >> i had absolutely nothing to do with this. >> reporter: during three hours of questioning, did not confess to anything. >> if something's left at that house, okay, with your dna and your prints, how are you going to explain how it got there? >> i'm not.
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because i don't think you have my dna anywhere near that house because i've never been in that house. never, ever, once in my entire life have i ever been in that house. >> reporter: he agreed to take a polygraph. but again it wasn't quite what the accused hoped for. the polygrapher showed that sampson was deceptive when he denied being at the home when wayne was shot. and investigators seized on that to ratchet up the pressure. >> you were at the house when he was killed. >> no, i was not. >> your body's telling me otherwise. we need to get past that. what's going on there? >> i honest to god was not at the house when they were killed. >> reporter: but the investigators did not believe nick sampson. after all matt livers had already told them nick sampson was behind the whole thing, that the two of them actually planned the crime together on their cell
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phones in the two days or so before the murder. and so, said the detectives, they were pretty sure. matt livers was telling the truth. nick sampson was lying. >> you were there when they were shot. >> i was not there. >> i want you to understand how the system works. >> i do understand. i'm getting framed for something i didn't [ bleep ] do. >> reporter: but it didn't look good for nick sampson. he denied being a marijuana user any more, but he had had trouble with the drug before. and investigators found that marijuana pipe at the scene. when detectives visited nick's grandfather in murdock, the old man told them that a month ago nick borrowed a 12 gauge shotgun from him, the same gauge weapon that was used in the murders. then investigators executed a search warrant at sampson's home in palmyra. among the items seized, from under the bed, that 12 gauge
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bore ode from his grandfather, and a pair of blue jeans, examined by csi chief david kofoed's team. >> we had a pair of pants. it look like it had blood on it. we tested that with phenolphthalein and that tested positive. >> reporter: then there was more. remember that car seen by the newspaper carrier parked a mile from the farmhouse the night of the murders? detectives had found it, they believed. a 1997 ford contour owned by nick sampson's brother. and it had been cleaned and detailed actually at 5:30 easter monday morning just hours after it had apparently been used in the murders. who details a car at 5:30 in the morning? >> that's exactly why the detectives thought it was pretty suspicious. >> reporter: but wait, it gets even better. the car had been searched for evidence once and nothing was found, but then csi chief kofoed got a lead from one of the investigators.
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>> when matt confessed, he said he threw the shotgun in the backseat of the ford contour. he said maybe you can find some transfer evidence there. take another look at it. i said, well, maybe we missed it. >> reporter: so they examined the car again. and this time, lo and behold, a stain was found just below the steering wheel on the dashboard. a stain found by csi chief kofoed himself. >> i just took it along that edge and wiped it because i figured that way i wouldn't miss anything. and it reacted. >> reporter: so you got a hit, though? >> i got a presumptive positive, yes. >> reporter: and before long, tests confirmed that what the csi chief found under in dashboard was indeed blood, the blood of wayne stock, the victim. only one way it could get there, carried by livers and sampson. with the confession and now real physical evidence to back it up, many in the community thought
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case closed. oh, but they were mistaken. coming up -- a piece of evidence that had gone unnoticed turns the case upside down. let's talk about haribo goldbears.
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as april turned to a midwest may, less than two weeks after the murders of wayne and sharmon stock, cass county sheriff's investigators were in mop-up mode. they had arrested 28-year-old matt livers. he'd confessed.
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and he'd named an accomplice, his cousin, 22-year-old nick sampson. so the cass county sheriff's department called in the press and announced that one of the most shocking crimes in this part of nebraska in decades was solved. >> people ask us is this closure on the case. it's not. it's another chapter, turning a page. >> reporter: though he was right, the sheriff had no clue just how much work there was yet to be done. but for the stocks' children, the arrest brought a small measure of relief, at least they decided they could try to move on, as they knew their parents would have wanted them to. >> i could hear mom and dad say, tami, you can let this eat you alive or you can go on and be the best that you can be and do what needs to be done. and that is family. and so we can dwell on it, but we choose not to. because that's not what mom and dad would want.
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>> reporter: now the system could grind forward, too, and the system provided defense attorneys, jerry soucie for nick sampson, julie bear for matt livers. >> first thing he says is, look, i told them i did this, but i didn't do this. and you've got to believe me. >> reporter: they all say they didn't do it, right? >> i've been lied to a lot as a defense lawyer. so the cynical side of me goes, mm-hmm, right. >> reporter: yet bear and soucie were puzzled, too. there were things that just didn't quite add up. both nick and matt and their live-in girlfriends swore up and down that on the night of the murder they were at home asleep 25 miles away. and nick claimed, despite what the cops believed, he'd never talked to matt by phone or in person the week before the murders. what? >> the first thing i simply was concerned about was what was the evidence against nick sampson,
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regardless of whether he did it or not? i just had to know what the evidence was. >> reporter: then quite by chance, this tiny piece of what seemed to be evidence showed up. police missed it the morning after the murder. one sharp-eyed cop just happened to notice it a couple of days later. it was this gold ring on the kitchen floor. >> i thought somebody took it off to wash their hands and fell down and they forgot about it. >> reporter: but at the time it could have belonged to the victim. >> it could have. >> reporter: except one thing people should know about the stock house, nothing was ever out of place. so one of the investigators picked up the ring, bagged it and tagged it as evidence. it was a size 10, a man's ring, bearing a message. >> the inscription said "love always, corey and ryan." they wanted to find out who was a ryan and who was cori. >> reporter: who was cori and who was ryan? they asked the stocks' children, nobody knew anybody by those names. didn't recognize the ring
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either. but as they were arrested and put in jail, one of kofoed's officers kept puzzling about that ring. on the inside were three tiny letter, aaj. the manufacturer perhaps? well, yes. turned out to be a place called a & a jewelers, buffalo, new york. >> i remember one of the girls in shipping had indicated that there was a call from somebody in the nebraska police department. >> reporter: mary martino was running what was left of buffalo's a & a office just then. why what was left? the places with going out of business. massive layoffs. 200 jobs lost. by the time nebraska cops started calling, mary was one of only three people left to clean up the buffalo office and close it down. and now, here was this investigator asking mary to track down a ring the company likely shipped years ago. and you said what? you got to be kidding? >> i said that's like looking for a needle in a haystack.
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however, she mentioned homicide. >> reporter: and that's when mary martino heard about the ring and the double homicide and the fact that nobody else at the company seemed able to help. >> she said she had made several attempts and no one was willing to assist her. >> reporter: so mary martino said she'd see what she could do. certainly her company would have taken the order, made the ring, inscribed it "love always, cori and ryan" and shipped it, but where? mary went to the warehouse where tens of thousands of back orders were kept. >> so i started with just box number one, stores 1 through 25. then box number two, stores 25 through 30. >> reporter: and you went through each one? >> yes. until i got to like 100 and -- i believe it was 108 or 118 and i said, this is going to be impossible. >> reporter: so mary asked for
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help. had a colleague make a computer grid of the more than 3,000 stores a & a shipped to across the country. a block of dates when the ring might have been ordered, and cross matched that with the inscription. how long did that process take? >> it took me probably three days and two nights. >> reporter: does that seem a little over the top? i mean, you can look for an hour or so and say, i can't find it, sorry, and that would be that. >> i heard homicide. i heard it was important. >> reporter: and lo and behold, after three days of searching, suddenly, there it was. >> i got up from my chair and i said, bingo. i found it. i found it. >> reporter: any specifics about what you found out on that order form, where it was sent. do you remember that? >> it was wisconsin. i do know that. >> reporter: wait, wisconsin? not nebraska? actually, it was quite specific. the ring was sent to the town of
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beaver dam wisconsin to this walmart store. this is where a girl named cori bought the ring for a boy named ryan. but it wasn't love always, and the ring was soon gathering dust in the cab of ryan's red pickup truck. but then the strangest thing happened. the truck was reported stolen from here on ryan's farm just a few days before the murders of wayne and sharmon stock in far off nebraska. >> really nothing more than a standard missing vehicle. >> reporter: jim roarer was then a detective back in dodge county, wisconsin. when the call came in, it suggested some local joy ride, they'd find it nearby. instead, what a surprise. >> our dispatch had received confirmation from a parish down in louisiana that they had the stolen truck. >> reporter: stolen in wisconsin and abandoned way down in louisiana. that's a long way to go. what did you think? >> a couple kids on a joy ride.
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somebody taking it that needed to get back down south for whatever reason. >> reporter: it wasn't long before they fingered the suspected thieves. there were two of them. the guy was greg fester, age 19, with a history of drug use, suicide attempts, anger issues. fester was on probation for weapons and disorderly conduct convictions. >> greg was a little odd. he seemed a bit slow. just didn't seem to grasp things quite as well as a typical person. >> reporter: fester's alleged accomplice was a 17-year-old named jessica reid. a former honor roll student and cheerleader turned troubled teen after a divorce. she'd become mixed up with drugs and, by extension, fester. not exactly master criminals, were they? >> no. not by any sense of the word. two teenagers from wisconsin whacked out on drugs and not knowing what the hell they were doing. >> out of control. >> reporter: but the detective had no idea just how out of control these two had been. or where their stolen truck had
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taken them. and that, a few weeks later, is where the ring came in. that's when roarer got a call from nebraska, heard how that ling turned up at the scene of a double murder, heard how they tracked it back to the walmart in beaver dam and then to cori and ryan and the stolen truck. that must have been a shocker to get that information, to have it cross your desk. >> a huge shocker. that pretty much sends a chill down your spine. >> reporter: what was going on? how were these two teenagers, reid and fester, tied to the murders of wayne and sharmon stock? or were they at all? coming up -- an interrogation of one of the teens provides a chilling first glimpse of what may have happened inside that farm house. >> i freaked out and left because obviously that guy's up there killing somebody. hi, can i help you?
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two towns, murdock, nebraska, beaver dam, wisconsin, more than 500 miles apart. now united, undeniably, by a single band of gold. that ring sold in a beaver dam walmart and found days after the murder in the kitchen of the stock farmhouse. how did it get there? matt livers never said anything about a ring when he confessed to killing wayne and sharmon stock. nothing about a stolen truck or out of control wisconsin teenagers either. one of whom, jessica reid, out on bail over the vehicle theft, responded to an invitation to visit the wisconsin detective, jim roarer. >> she had to know somewhere in the back of her mind that maybe they know more or want to talk to me about more than just a stolen truck. >> reporter: did she? in fact, as she settled in, young ms. reid seemed to view the police interview as little more than a nuisance to be endured. >> my grandma's coming into town, and i kind of -- i want to
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do this, but i want to do it a little bit faster. this going to take forever. >> reporter: jessica was all of 17. did she wonder why the wisconsin cop was joined by investigators from nebraska? >> i really want to know what nebraska has to do with this? because i don't think we even entered nebraska. >> reporter: didn't go to nebraska, didn't know anything about a gold ring, she said. she and fester just stole a truck, she said, and fueled by massive dose of overhe-counter cough syrup, went off in srch of the ocean before runng out of gas and money and leaving that pickup truck in louisiana. but then they showed her a picture of a marijuana pipe, which, along with the gold ring, turned up at the stock farmhouse. and jessica reid's mantle began to crack. >> okay. i did steal -- i stole a whole bunch of money from somebody. i don't know who, i don't know where. i just remember stealing a whole bunch of money. yes, we did lose that pipe when
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they stole this money. >> reporter: reid then blurted it out. at this farmhouse, now apparently to her surprise, in nebraska, greg fester sneaked in through a window and let her in the back door. in the kitchen she said she sh found $500 in an envelope. and then left. and the ring, she admitted finding it in that stolen pickup and feeling it slide off her thumb inside that house. where was all this going? >> coming up, a letter from jessica reed, and what she wrote stunned investigatorinvestigato.


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