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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  December 8, 2019 1:00am-2:00am PST

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thanks to a young woman and a little dog who fought for her life -- and won. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline". >> i got a phone call. "somethin' is wrong with brandy. she's not movin, car's running." emergency vehicles, officers - that's as far as i could go. there's my baby and i can't do nothin' about it >> reporter: she was a hard-working young wife and mom. >> sweetest girl you could ever ask to meet. >> reporter: just minutes from home when she saw the headli >> somebody was tailin'
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>> my sister is in my driveway and her head is bloody. >> reporter: so you bury your girl. and then it's a murder te investigation? >> yep.ig >> reporter: there were two people brandy feared. one in town. >> she thought she was being followed. >> reporter: one thousands of ow miles away.r: >> josh was still in alaska.ay >> reporter: and then there was the new man in her life. >> anybody close to brandy, we need to take a real hard, r: serious look at. >> reporter: no fingerprints. no dna.r: and no arrests, for years. >> reporter: you're grieving, how do you put all that awful time together, molly? >> day by day. >> reporter: then hints emerge of someone's dark past. >> you've got robberies going on, the homicide.go >> reporter: and one brave woman willing to talk. >> he told me the same that happened to brandy would happen to me.ld >> reporter: the question wasn't just who murdered a young m it was why? >> there was no money.hy there just wasn't a reason to do it. >> she didn't hurt nobody. she didn't bother nobody. why did they have to kill her?
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hello. welcome to "dateline." imagine driving on a dark isolated road and then, suddenly, a car behind you and itr gets closer and closer and too close for comfort. is somebody tailing you or is your imagination in overdrive? for brandy daniels, her mind wasn't playing tricks. someone was following per. then she was found slumped over the steering wheel. here's dennis murphy with "out there in the dark."veri >> reporter: it was a chillier t than usual monday night in may 2014, as brandy daniels drove home from her shift at kohl's. zanesville in eastern ohio is the kind of not-too-big, not-too-small, city where you can be off the downtown grid and into wooded rolling hills in just a few minutes. and out there in the dark,
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that's where this 25-year-old single mom was heading -- back home to her daughter waiting to be tucked in at brandy's mom's house out in the country where she'd been living lately. brandy had been through a rough few months, years really. but one of the big reasons things were finally turning around for her was that soothing voice on the cellphone this night, her fiance, talking her home.nd >> i'm just talkin' to her as she's driving home. trying to drive a stick shift, which she'd just learned, talkin' on the >> reporter: the fiancee was craig berry, her older boyfriend. >> i'm a hairstylist, have been for >> reporter: one day, brandy walked into craig's salon. >> we hit it off.o >> reporter: women are very funny about who they will turn their head over to isn't it? >> yeah, we turned out to be really good friends.r the most beautiful eyes you ever saw. g >> reporter: like the song, brandy turned out to be a fine girl for craig and that, right e away mutual attraction, grew into something more serious. >> touched my heart. immediately. it was connection like i've never felt.y.
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and -- it just kept gettin' bigger and bigger every time wee talked. we were lookin' at houses. >> reporter: you guys were lo fixin' to marry?te >> oh, yeah. yeah. >> reporter: count brandy's mom, molly edwards, among the many te people thrilled at the arrival of craig in her life -- just il when you needed something nice to happen. craig, what did you think of him?ha >> he was really nice. he put her first. he put her >> reporter: growing up, brandy wasn't much for barbie dolls but give her a sketch pad and a pencil and she was lost for hours. a she loved to draw. she had a deft eye for realistic wildlife portraits. >> she took every kinda art class there was.oo if it had anything to do with art, she took it.d >> reporter: brandy enrolled at her local college, zane state, but before her freshman year wao up, she left school to marry josh daniels, a part-time student she'd met. not too long after, she had news for mom.lo >> she called me up, said that she was pregnant. >> reporter: you must have been so torn up.alwa >> i was.
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that was my baby. >> reporter: brandy, husband josh, and the baby daughter were living nearby. >> you couldn't ask for a better mother. if it was somethin' that she needed or the little girl s needed, the baby got it first. >> reporter: and how did th grandmother like her new baby?te >> the baby got everything. yes, yes. >> reporter: the marriage, after seven years of trying, foundered. she filed for divorce. >> reporter: she seemed to be on the other side, molly, of a d.d really rough patch in her life? >> yes. >> reporter: but on this may night as she was driving home from work, with fiance craig in her ear, he heard brandy starting to sound edgy. >> she says -- somebody was h tailin' her.ay you know, "these people need to get off my butt." and the phone just -- went dead. >> reporter: went dead? >> i text her, you know? "what's up?"r: so about ten minutes passed by, and i called her sister. and said, "is brandy home yet?" she goes, "no.""i and i said, "well -- her call dropped on me and she shoulda id
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been comin' in the door by now.n she said, "you want me to go check?" i said, "would 'ya?" >> reporter: brandy's kid-sister tess, headed up the almost half mile-long drive from her mom's house to look for her.le >> just a few minutes later, hel sister calls me back and is losin' it. she was at the top of the driveway. and she says -- "i see her car. her headlights are on, but it's not movin'. her head's slumped down." and then she just become hysterical. and i said, "i'll be there." i said, "you need to call the al cops." >> 911. your emergency? >> reporter: the muskingum county 911 center fielded the call. >> my sister is in my driveway and her head is bloody and she's not moving. i just need someone to come quick, i'm just scared i need someone p to come now. s >> stay on the line with me no while i get the squad on the way. >> reporter: fiance craig was on his way too.r: there was his girlfriend's little nissan sentra in the drive. >> i pull in right behind her car. and there's a sheriff there already.
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and i'm walkin' up to the car. and i see her in the driver's seat. and i said, "what's wrong?" he goes, "i think she's been shot." >> reporter: nothing can prepare you for that, huh? >> no. she was dead. that's what he told me. >> reporter: he told you that at the scene? >> yeah, and "stay away. you don't wanna contaminate the crime scene." >> reporter: no bridge ahead. into the abyss. >> yeah. blew me outta the water. >> reporter: brandy's mom was tt just leaving the bottle factory where she worked. >> 11:05, i got a phone call. and i went runnin' out to the truck., tess said, "somethin' is wrong with we get home. b >> reporter: see emergency vehicles, officers. >> we go right off into the driveway. and that's as far as i could go. >> reporter: the car with the driver side window down, the vehicle stalled in first gear, and brandy inside looking rag doll, shot three times execution style. the detectives were arriving.
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>> who would want brandy dead? it's always the husband, right? maybe not this time. when we return -- >> josh was, in fact, still in alaska that night. >> but there was someone who lived right in town. >> reporter: did you wonder what was goin' on with the boyfriend? >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues whoa whoa under control. with less eczema, you can show more skin. so roll up those sleeves. and help heal your skin from within with dupixent. dupixent is the first treatment of its kind that continuously treats moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis, even between flare ups. dupixent is a biologic, and not a cream or steroid. many people taking dupixent saw clear or almost clear skin. and, had significantly less itch. that's a difference you can feel. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur, including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems,
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you have power over pain, so the whole world looks different. the unbeatable strength of advil. what pain? >> reporter: it was may 5th, 2014. the car was at the head of the
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driveway. lights on and two county detectives arriving to try to figure out what had happened to the young woman dead in the driver's seat. detective mike ryan and captain steve welker in the first minutes of what would be a years' long investigation. >> mike and i arrived at about the same time. >> did the scene explain itself to you? >> we could see the basics of what had happened. >> reporter: their victim brandy daniels had been shot three times at close range. crime scene techs would later recover three shell casings and a clip for a semi-automatic pistol. brandy's purse and phone were beside her. >> we eliminated robbery almost immediately. there was an amount of money there that somebody would of took if it would've been a robbery. >> reporter: as the csi's took their photos and estimated bullet trajectories, gathered blood, dna, brandy's mom, sister, and fiancee watched on in blank horror. what do you remember about the rest of that night? >> sittin' in -- in the vehicle behind her car. just watchin' it. >> and there's your girl, gone.
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>> there's my baby and i can't do nothin' about it. it was 2:00. went to the house. 4:00, detectives came down to the house, said that they removed her and the car. >> reporter: who would benefit from a single mom's death? of course, the questioning turned quickly to the soon-to-be-divorced husband, the father of the little girl. brandy's mom told them about josh daniels. said he was a personal trainer at the gym and an obsessive weightlifter. >> when you ran him through the computer, what'd you find out about him? did he have priors? >> he did not. >> he was not on law enforcement's radar. >> reporter: not on law enforcement's radar, but none the less, somebody they wanted to talk to right now. but, there was a problem, a big one. there was every reason to believe he wasn't in the driveway that night but 4,300 miles away in alaska. josh had moved up there to be near his mom. he'd found work in the prudo bay oil fields. >> josh was, in fact, still in alaska that night. >> so that's a pretty good alibi. >> yes.
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>> because there's domestic turmoil doesn't mean you'd necessarily have a suspect though, does it? >> not necessarily. >> doesn't explain why she's dead in this vehicle, huh? >> but it's a good idea to eliminate the husband as a suspect in the get-go. >> reporter: detective ryan called josh daniels on alaska's north slope. can you discern things like demeanor or attitude through the phone line? >> not really. i wasn't detecting shock or -- or grief, or anything like that. >> but nothing you can hang your hat on either, huh? >> no. one of the questions i asked him was, "who have you been -- talkin' to here in zanesville?" and he gave me a list, about a half a dozen people. >> reporter: daniels told the detective he'd return to zanesville as soon as he could. but there was another person much closer that the cops had to figure out -- craig berry, the fiancee. he is the last person known to have talked to her? >> yes. >> did you wonder what was goin' on with the boyfriend? he's quite an older guy. he's got 20 years on your victim, right? >> yes. >> so he is a person of interest until he's not, i'm guessing,
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huh? >> well, at that point, anybody close to brandy, we need to take a real hard, serious look at. >> reporter: within hours of brandy's death, craig got the third-degree. >> were they asking you hard questions? >> where have you been? what are you doin'? >> did you think, "wow, they think i'm a suspect here?" >> oh, yeah. well, that's common, right. >> until you're in it and then there's a cop right in your grill. >> right. they asked for my cell phone. i handed it over right then. >> how long did that last? >> i got home at 5:30 that morning. >> reporter: then the legwork of the investigation began in earnest. starting with where she was last seen alive. so you're talkin' to your victim's coworkers. what's the picture coming together there? >> they all described brandy as a very good young lady. a devoted mother in a marriage that she really wanted to get out of. >> reporter: patrol officers traced the route from kohl's to the murder scene, hoping they'd find a security cam that recorded brandy's car headed home. >> the boyfriend's story is there's a guy right on her bumper. but that image doesn't show up anywhere, huh? >> no. >> reporter: when the lab
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results came back, disappointment. no useful fingerprints or dna. and the long slog of getting search warrants to recover data from the cellphone and the towers the signals bounce off of, had only just begun. a few days after the murder brandy's husband josh returned to zanesville from alaska. they met him downtown at his lawyer's office. he was fully cooperative. the detectives asked for his cell phone. >> he and his attorney voluntarily turned it over. >> now you can look him in the eye, and you can check out his demeanor. what are you seeing? >> josh was very cool and collected. he looked very confident. >> reporter: with the data from his phone on the way to the lab, josh returned to alaska with his 8-year-old daughter. molly and her family had buried their brandy but no one was coming to terms with the magnitude of this crime. did the officers tell you anything about how the case would go? >> they figured that it'd be summed up within a couple days. >> reporter: if only. coming up. a new suspect. but he has an alibi.
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>> want to my girlfriend's house. was he telling the truth is in the texts tell the tale when "dateline" continues. ale when "dateline" continues
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>> reporter: brandy, the young mom, found shot to death in the front seat of her car in the family driveway. detectives put her fiance craig through the wringer.
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but his story including about his last text to brandy checked out . >> within two or three days, we were sure that he was cleared. >> reporter: but craig wasn't a total dead end. the fiance did have a tip for the detectives. he told them they should check out a fellow gym rat of josh daniels, a guy who gave brandy the creeps, someone with an unusual first name, sirius. sirius e. underwood, when they ran the name, investigators found a son of a local preacher, who'd had some juvenile offenses but in the years since had redeemed himself. he graduated from zane state, got a good job with a local manufacturer and seemed to charm every woman he met. four days into their investigation, detective brady hittle found sirius at a girlfriend's place. >> i asked him if i could look at his cell phone, if i could take it back to the office, and download it. he agreed to let me do that. >> how'd he present himself? >> calm. >> he claimed he didn't know brandy was killed. just calm, cool, and collected. >> reporter: sirius came to the sheriff's office.
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>> we'll put it in airplane mode. >> reporter: while the squad's phone expert examined his cell, sirius explained how he knew brandy's husband josh. >> we went to zane state together. >> okay. >> i worked out with him and stuff like that. >> reporter: he said he hardly knew brandy. >> i didn't, like, meet her meet her, i seen her one time. >> reporter: as for his pal josh up in alaska? sirius said they hadn't been in contact for a while. >> when was the last time, he sent you a text, he called you? >> i'll say about two or three weeks ago. >> it was not this week? >> i didn't talk to him this week, no. >> reporter: sirius said he'd been with his girlfriend around the time cops believe brandy died. >> and went to my girlfriend's house and i kind of stayed the night there. >> reporter: officers returned sirius' iphone and thanked him for coming in. wendy lemon, the girlfriend in sirius' alibi, was next up on the detective's list of people to talk to. wendy, a mother of five, said she met sirius a couple of years earlier at the same place brandy and josh got together at zane
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state college. >> i just knew from the moment i met sirius that this is just a new friend. happy. always smiling. >> reporter: the mid-life single mom back to college and deans list student sirius were ambassadors for their school. they were just looking for a face for zane state college that would be friendly, and that would be outgoing, and so that we could go to different events in the community, as well as giving tours on campus. sirius had found time to work as a campus security guard, and that's where he met josh, who did the same thing. sirius was an overachiever even featured in brochures about the college. wendy liked almost everything about him. they became a couple. >> one year for my birthday, he totally set up an entire day skydiving. >> happy birthday! >> thank you! >> woo! >> it was so amazing. so awesome. we took motorcycle rides, and went on picnics. >> reporter: now wendy found herself caught in the undertow of a homicide investigation.
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cops had her downtown the same day as sirius. >> i just wanna let you know, you're not under arrest, okay? >> reporter: detective ryan asked about the night of the murder. he used wendy's texts with sirius to refresh her memory. >> could you put it here so we both could see? >> oh, yeah. >> may 5th. >> reporter: did wendy's texts that night fit in the timeline they were building of brandy's murder? and did they speak to sirius' whereabouts? >> at 11:00, when you type these, you were sure he was not in the house at 11:00? at 11:00, he was not at your house? >> he was not in my house then. >> reporter: sirius arrived, wendy said, after that 11:00 text. sirius had given the cops wendy as his alibi and she'd inadvertently only made him someone detectives needed to take a closer look it. >> there's a window of opportunity in there in which he could easily have done this crime. >> yes. >> reporter: and there was another thing, the squad's phone
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expert filled them in about some internet searches he'd found on sirius' device. >> sirius had opened every news article that had to do with the homicide. >> reporter: interesting because earlier in the day he claimed he didn't know brandy was murdered. question was sirius the gunman in brandy's driveway? he seemed to be no more than a casual friend of josh's from the gym, but when the i.t. guys cracked josh daniels' phone use history it told a different story. >> what had he deleted? >> a lot of text messages. >> to whom? >> sirius underwood. sirius underwood was, by far, the one he was in contact the most. >> what's your thinking? >> when we first talked to josh, he never mentioned sirius underwood. why would they be lying to us about that? >> reporter: why indeed? the story told by the phones the concealed relationship fed a growing theory of the crime that they were looking at a long distance killing between ohio and alaska. if that was their case, then technology was going to be as valuable to them as dna or bloody fingerprints. the first big question -- did the killer, assuming he was a man, have a phone on him when he
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did the shooting. and what tower near the murder scene had the phone pinged off? >> we had tons of, and i'm not exaggerating, thousands upon thousands, upon thousands of phone calls that hit all these various towers. >> reporter: in that electronic haystack, a sharp-eyed cop noticed a call around the time they believed brandy was killed. it was made from a number with a 310 area code. now normally that's southern california. the county lawmen traced that 310 number back to an anonymous disposable phone, a burner purchased in zanesville a week before brandy died. >> i get the call records for the 310 area phone, and start combing through those. he only called two people -- a second burner phone and josh daniels. those were the only two. >> reporter: was this their breakthrough? that burner phone, at the right time, right place, had called josh's phone in alaska. then the phone techs did another extraction of josh's phone, and they retrieved something josh thought he'd deleted.
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>> a voicemail that was left on josh daniels' cell phone from this california area code. >> hey, what's up, man? it's me. hey, hit me up on this phone right here whenever you need to talk about something. hear me? holla at me later. bye. >> reporter: detective hittle's ears perked right up when he heard it. >> i listened it to and now i know that that phone, 310, is sirius underwood's. that is his voice. >> reporter: the detectives wanted another, technically deeper dive into sirius' iphone, which they had returned to him. sirius came downtown again, as requested, but while the cops were preoccupied chasing down a search warrant for his device, he outfoxed them. sirius found a computer and remotely wiped his phone clean. >> when i reached in i got sirius' phone, i could see that it had been reset, factory restored from the icloud. >> so whatever story he was going to tell, you weren't going to hear it? >> there was nothing left on that phone.
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>> pretty clever. >> we knew at that time we had a serious problem with our evidence. we were not dead in the water, but we were definitely struggling. >> coming up, a stalled case. >> are you starting to lose faith in the police investigation? >> it was threatful. >> then a woman is convinced to talk. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues man: sneezes skip to the good part with alka-seltzer plus. now with 25% more concentrated power. nothing works faster for powerful cold relief. oh, what a relief it is! so fast! [ chuckles ] so, what are some key takeaways from this commercial? did any of you hear the "bundle your home and auto" part?
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-i like that, just not when it comes out of her mouth. -yeah, as a mother, i wouldn't want my kids to see that. -good mom. -to see -- wait. i'm sorry. what? -don't kids see enough violence as it is? -i've seen violence. -maybe we turn the word "bundle" into a character, like mr. bundles. -top o' the bundle to you. [ laughter ] bundle, bundle, bundle. -my kids would love that. -yeah.
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law enforcement officials are releasing new details. sources tell nbc news a saudi student hosted a dinner party earlier in the week to watch videos of mass shootings. three people were killed in the
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attack. north korea says it has carried out what it calls an important test at its long-range rocket launch site but south korea says nothing has been fired from the site. now back to "dateline." welcome back to dlt"datelin" it had been nearly three months since brandy daniels was scott execution-style in front seat of her car. brandy's estranged husband and his friend sirius underwood were suspects but underwood released his cell phone of evidence to tie him to the shooting and josh had an ironclad alibi. soon the detectives would get
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evidence. >> reporter: investigators were pretty sure they had the right guys for brandy daniels' murder. they'd learned a lot about just how awful her marriage to josh was. cops found a 911 call brandy had made six months before her murder. >> zanesville police and fire. >> i'm in a abusive relationship. and i'm afraid to go home. and um -- tell my husband that i want to leave but he won't let me. and it gets physical. >> reporter: brandy didn't request a deputy that night but she did file a restraining order against josh when she left him. cops knew josh's buddy from the gym, sirius, was likely involved in the murder, but they just
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couldn't tie the two of them together despite some suspicious phone traffic between the pair. an additional difficulty in the investigation was the fact that josh was still living in alaska, about as far away as you could get from ohio and still be in the same country. josh daniels was here starting his new chapter, living in wasilla about an hour outside of anchorage with his mother and step-father. keeping tabs on him from thousands of miles away were the zanesville police, and they were seeing some patterns. when he wasn't working a job in the north slope oil fields, he was partying, pumping iron and chasing women. back in zanesville, meanwhile, the cops kept the pressure up on the person they did have in their zip code, sirius underwood. the detectives were all over his girlfriend wendy. >> every time that i had a little spat or whatever i was frustrated or disgusted with sirius, they would always show up, again, "just wondered if maybe you remembered something." >> trying to find you at a vulnerable moment -- >> yes, yes and -- like, "i've already told you every single thing, and it's never going to change. if you don't lie, you don't have to cover a lie." >> reporter: brandy's mother was losing faith in cops ever making an arrest in the case of her daughter's brutal murder. >> are they saying, "trust us"? >> yeah. every time we'd hear somethin', we'd contact 'em. still need to get more evidence. still need to get more evidence. >> reporter: but something was about to happen and it was
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enormous. call it a good luck bolt from the land of the midnight sun, alaska was calling. it was three months to the day after brandy's murder when the ohio investigators got a phone call from up here in wasilla. it was a woman on the line saying that she had been seeing josh daniels, and she had a story to tell the police, something he had told her. well, when detectives ryan and hittle heard that, they were on the plane to alaska within hours. the young woman explained she and josh had been engaged at the time of brandy's death. but he had commitment issues. >> he lied all the time. he was dating multiple people at the same time. >> reporter: she had the detectives undivided attention as she related what an intoxicated josh told her on the fourth of july. >> and he told me -- the same that happened to brandy would happen to me. >> did he say happened to brandy? >> he kill her. he kill her. >> he said, "i killed her--" >> yes. yes. >> do you remember what his exact words were?
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>> he said that -- he killed brandy with a phone call. and i believe everything he said. i believe that he killed her and i was so afraid. >> did he say who killed brandy? >> he said it's a black guy at the gym that was in his group of people. >> reporter: it looked as though the detectives were ready to put a bow on their investigation. take the blizzard of messages between the two men, mix in the geography of the cell phone towers that put a suspect burner phone tied to sirius right near the crime scene, and now add in the story of the woman from alaska who'd apparently heard a confession and you should be ready to swear out arrest warrants. not quite. when the detectives got back to ohio, their first stop was at the office of state's attorney mike haddox. and they come to you and say are we there yet? >> yes. >> and you're tellin' 'em, "no, you're not quite there." >> yeah. i wanted to make sure that before we took the case to grand jury that we had a motive. obviously, in the case of josh daniels, the -- the husband, we
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had a motive. marriage was breaking up. he'd been violent with her in the past. >> but he was thousands of miles away -- >> that's correct. >> in alaska at the time of the killing. >> we knew he didn't pull the trigger. >> couldn't put the gun in his hand. >> when we came up with -- with sirius underwood. well, the most obvious is there's been some sort of a payment. we spent about a year lookin' through bank accounts, couldn't find any. >> reporter: almost two years went by and nothing. how do you put all that awful time together, molly? >> day by day. >> are you startin' to lose faith in your police? the investigation. >> it was stressful. mike ryan, he would call. i said, "have you heard anything?" "oh, we still have to get some more - more evidence, more evidence." >> reporter: but it's funny how things sometime work out, because the investigators were about to get another bolt out of
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the blue lead like the one from alaska. it began with, of all things, a message to the facebook page of the zanesville p.d. the tipster had volunteered that her husband was part of a stick-up gang. >> we came in and spoke with her and obtained a lot of valuable information for this investigation. >> reporter: detective phil michel of the zanesville p.d. had been working for two years on a string of armed robberies. when got the facebook tipster in for an interview, guess who she identified as two members of the robbery crew? none other than sirius underwood and josh daniels! if the tipster could be believed, they'd been bandits together two years before brandy would be found shot to death. the woman confirmed something detective michel had long suspected, but been unable to prove, that the robbery of a local department store had been an inside job. josh daniels had been working at the store at the time and handed over $7,000 to a masked gunman. if we had been here on january 1st, 2012, what might we have seen?
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>> you can an individual come from the southwest side of the parking lot -- he stuck the gun in josh's face -- >> shows a pistol? >> yes. he ended up falling down. being knocked down. >> reporter: the tipster claimed that josh wasn't the victim of the robbery but actually one of the participants. and, that his pal sirius had been the mastermind, not only of the department store job, but the prime mover in a crime wave -- responsible for multiple armed robberies -- most of them captured on surveillance video. the two bodybuilders' secret sideline was a head-snapping revelation. >> sirius underwood at night is over here robbin' drug dealers, or he's robbin' tumbleweed restaurants, or they're hittin', you know, gabrielle brothers. but during the day, he's the sweetest guy, loves the women, they love him. he'll train with you. poster boy, just an all-around great american. >> reporter: the cops believed that linking sirius and his partner in crime josh daniels to the violent robberies would help nail the two for brandy daniels' murder. >> we're on the right track for the robberies.
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we're gonna go try to confront josh. >> reporter: back to alaska. when josh landed at anchorage international on his way home from the north slope, airport police whisked him into their office. detective michel showed josh photographs of the department story robbery suspects. >> have you ever seen him before, around the store, or anything like that? >> no. >> reporter: detective michel then handed josh another photo. >> you ever seen sirius underwood? >> yeah. i used to work with him. >> would you have talked to sirius that day? would he have called you or texted you or anything like that? >> huh-uh. >> not at all? >> no. >> reporter: really? the cop accused josh of lying. of being up to his eyeballs in the robberies. >> so if you guys came up with some dumbass scheme to take some money, then be honest with me. >> no. >> reporter: josh stuck to his story. then lawyered up. the detectives flying home to ohio knew they had more work to do but in any conspiracy, there's a weak link. they just had to pick their man and break him.
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>> coming up, who would crack first? >> we get the -- the phone call saying, "hey"-- >> "let's make a deal." >> "let's -- let's talk." >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues nothing works faster for powerful cold relief. oh, what a relief it is! so fast! thenot actors, people, who've got their eczema under control.
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theraflu dissolves in seconds, so it's ready to work before your first sip, and absorbs quickly to target and attack 8 cold and flu symptoms fast. try theraflu. at chevy, we're all about bringing families together. this time of year, that's really important. so we're making it easier than ever to become part of our family. man: that's why our chevy employee discount is now available to everyone. the chevy price you pay is what we pay. not a cent more. family is important to us. and we'd like you to be part of ours. so happy holidays. and welcome to the family. the chevy family! get the chevy employee discount for everyone today. >> reporter: a dogged investigation with a generous dollop of luck had revealed that josh and sirius were more than gym buds spotting each other reps, they were armed robbers together. detectives surmised that brandy,
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their victim, must have know about sirius, and her husband's part in the hold-ups. for state's attorney mike haddox, the homicide case had achieved critical mass. so what was the final green light for your investigators? when did they have it? >> when we found that these two guys were criminal conspirators, violent criminals in several robberies, there was our motive, and once i felt that we had the motive for sirius underwood to be involved in this murder, we were a go. >> which is, josh's wife might be a risk for him? >> that's correct. >> she might snitch him out? >> she might snitch him out. >> reporter: haddox convened a grand jury. assistant state's attorneys ron welch and john litel would present the case. there would be a lot of convoluted storytelling and evidence for the jurors to follow. >> you've got robberies going on, the homicide, the cell phone data, how you link all these people up. you're going to have multiple snitches who are all going to be testifying, who all have their
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own issues. >> reporter: the grand jury sat for three months and heard more than 100 witnesses. in march 2016, it returned indictments against josh daniels and sirius underwood. at the request of authorities in ohio, the alaska state troopers located josh at his mother's home in wasilla. once ohio gave the green light to the troopers to move on their suspect, they did. the cuffs went on without incident. a bulked-up josh was put in the backseat of a cruiser and driven downtown. detective michel confronted him. >> you been charged with several counts, including the robberies that occurred at gabriel brothers, tumbleweed, the one that you were going to do at campbell's, and the murder of your soon-to-be ex-wife, brandy. >> reporter: josh was shown a graphic crime scene photo of poor brandy. >> this is what you are responsible for. this is what happened to your
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ex, i'm willing to talk to you to get your side of the story if you're willing to talk to me. >> i think you're a good investigator but i'm going to have an attorney. >> okay. >> we're gonna do that. >> that's fine, josh. >> reporter: meanwhile, back in zanesville, police surrounded sirius underwood's car and arrested him. his interrogation didn't last long. >> you know why you're here? >> tell me. >> okay, we've had a grand jury, and you've been indicted. >> for what? >> aggravated murder, aggravated robberies, attempted robberies, weapon under disability, tampering with evidence. josh daniels was also arrested, and if josh is up there talking, i think it's the proper thing to tell you that you have the opportunity to tell me too. would you like to talk to me about this? >> no. i want a lawyer. >> you want a lawyer? >> yeah. >> okay. >> reporter: josh waved extradition, and was brought back to ohio. brandy's mother got word at the end of her shift. >> i get a phone call, you need to get down here now. >> you're in the courtroom. what is going on? >> josh is there doing his plea,
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and then they go over details that we weren't aware of. >> so it's got to bring all the pain right back again? >> yeah. >> how did he look to you in that courtroom? >> not a care in the world. >> reporter: wendy was in the courtroom as well. >> this is big news. sirius is charged. he's in jail. do you believe that he killed brandy daniels, that he shot her to death on that road? >> no, no, i don't. sirius had just so much going for him and he had worked so hard and i would just say why? what did he have to gain from doing something like that? >> reporter: over the next few months welch and litle prepared their cases. josh would be tried first, then sirius. they laid out their case on index cards. motive was looking more complicated than ever. in opening arguments, they would have to explain to jurors just who these defendants are, sirius the over-achieving charmer and bad husband josh who'd been abusing anabolic steroids for years. >> josh was roided out.
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he was out of his mind using steroids sirius is a sociopath. whereas for josh, it was a status of being enraged, and jealous. >> i think he still loved her, and she was just done with him. >> reporter: josh sat behind bars for seven months. deprived of elephant doses of steroids, his chemically enhanced muscles deflated like spent balloons. they'd found their weak link. >> we get the phone call from josh's defense attorney saying, hey. >> let's make a deal? >> let's -- let's talk. >> the issue that we had is, you know, who do you make the deal with, the guy that had his wife killed, or the guy that shot her point blank range in the face? >> reporter: the states attorney agreed to a plea deal, but josh daniels would have to tell all. >> i want to start off with the murder. >> making a deal with the devil. but who will get burned? coming up. one down. one to go.
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>> what was the weakness in the case? you're still going to have josh come in as your witness. >> josh. >> the jury wouldn't like him. >> so within that, there might be wiggle room for sirius? >> right. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues
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westboulcome back. . had been two and a half years since brandy daniels had been killed. the state's attorney had been holding out hope one of the two defendants would take a plea deal in exchange for their detailed confession. then after seven months in prison, josh daniels agreed to tell investigators what he knew. but would his story help them
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convict sirius underwood? here is dennis murphy with the concussion of "out there in the dark." >> reporter: as part of pleading guilty to murdering his wife brandy, josh daniels had to admit what he'd done -- provide what lawyers call a proffer. he was brought to a conference room at the prosecutor's office. >> when was the first time that this idea came about? >> i've known sirius underwood for a while. we were having a conversation one day at his apartment. and i was telling him about, how hard this was on me -- me and brandy splitting up. how pissed off i was that -- that she was seein' that guy, craig. and he made the comment, "well, [ bleep ] that [ bleep ]. let's just off her." and, you know, at the time,
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being emotional and mad, you know, i -- i made the decision that maybe that wouldn't be a bad idea. >> reporter: josh helped him stalk his wife. >> sirius asked me where she lived. and i told him. and he asked me about her work schedule. and i told him. >> reporter: and, it wasn't just brandy josh wanted dead. >> i told him see if he could go over to her boyfriend's house, craig's. see if he can find where he lives. and break into his house and kill both of 'em. >> did he? >> huh? >> did he find out where he lived? >> yeah. >> did he try to break into the house? >> no. not that i know of. >> reporter: they schemed together on the eve of the murder. >> he asked me a day before, "are you sure that you want this done?" and i'd been drinking. and, you know, i had alcohol problems and steroid problems and i was just mad. i said, "yeah." >> how did it go down? >> i told him when she was getting off work.
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i would text sirius and -- and just say the word "close." he just said that, "i've -- i've got this. i see her car." i don't know actually what took place on the night. i know she was shot. so i don't know if he parked his vehicle somewhere and came running outta the bushes. i never talked to sirius after the murder actually happened. >> he certainly confirmed with you that it happened? >> he said, "done." >> reporter: they asked how could josh live with himself after killing the mother of his child? >> i thought that, you know, it would just go away. and that this day would never come. that me gettin' arrested would never happen. after brandy's death, i became an alcoholic. drinking every day. taking hero -- using heroin, downers. just anything to numb that pain. >> reporter: the killer husband sounded almost contrite. >> if i could go back and i
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could change it, i -- i would. brandy didn't deserve what happened to her. she was a good girl. and, ultimately, years down the road, having brandy gone, seeing how that affects my -- that's gonna affect my daughter's life. she's not gonna have her mom. and knowing that i played a part in that, i can't -- i can't live with that. >> reporter: with josh about to throw himself at the mercy of the court, prosecutors still had the accused triggerman to deal with. but sirius was hanging tough, not saying a word. so with only one of the two accused going to trial, the state's star witness would be josh daniels. as prosecutors prepared him to testify, they were still trying to wrap their arms around sirius' motive for the murder. what's he telling you? >> when i pushed josh on why, why would he do this? and he says, "that's what dudes do for dudes." that's what sirius told him. he's like, "you'd do that for me?" and he just said, "that's what dudes do for dudes." >> reporter: kill your wife? >> right.
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>> reporter: crunch time for the prosecutors. sirius' trial was looming. and, they were far from confident. what was the weakness in the case? you're still gonna have josh come in as your witness. >> josh -- the jury wouldn't like him. you're asking the jury to rely upon somebody that's admitted to having their wife executed. that's a tough pill to swallow. >> reporter: so within that, there might be wiggle room for sirius? >> right. >> reporter: just days before sirius' trial was scheduled to begin. >> i was writing my opening. i got a text message from the defense attorney saying, "you guys do an alford plea?" >> reporter: sirius' lawyer was proposing a plea deal. an alford plea -- the screwball pitch of american jurisprudence. alford plea, to civilians, to layman, has a very sketchy kind of feel to it. do you wanna take a crack at trying to explain what an alford plea is? >> sure. it basically is when somebody says, "i'm willing to say that you have lots of information, and i'm gonna plead guilty, but i'm not gonna say i actually did
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anything wrong." >> reporter: and i say, "huh?" >> right. >> reporter: and then i turn to ron and say, "how does this go again?" >> so, he's gonna take responsibility without saying he did it. >> reporter: the state's attorney signed off, and the trial judge accepted sirius underwood's alford plea. sirius was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 38 years. josh daniels got life with the possibility of parole after 28 years. not enough time for some of brandy's loved ones. so where do we stand now? they've both been dealt with? >> yeah, i guess. >> reporter: your opinion, do you think they both got off easy? >> yes, they did. they're still breathin', she's not. >> reporter: josh and sirius are serving their sentences in separate maximum security prisons. brandy's parents are raising her daughter. the family is left with a snapshot album itself getting older, but the young woman pictured in the pages inside staying the same, never to have her own album of her daughter graduating, getting married. time ran out for brandy on a
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dark hilltop before she could kiss her daughter goodnight. >> reporter: that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. e morales. thanks for watching. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." marie was a very loving person.ri she had a heart of gold. what happened to this woman? my job is to be a truth teller and seek out the truth. i wanted to solve it. >> reporter: her case was a mystery for years. the mom with the tender heart m and tough-as-nails career. >> she was part of the sheriff's department.he her ultimate goal was to try toe get into the fbi.ti >> reporter: she'd found a new sense of purpose in the church.r her pastor and his wife, like family. >> they had taken her in, they were helping her out. >> w


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