Skip to main content

tv   Dateline  MSNBC  December 22, 2019 2:00am-3:00am PST

2:00 am
>> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. . i'm craig melvin. and i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." i'm craig medical and i'm natalie morales. this is date line. >> hopelessness. where did she go? who did she see? i just want to know what happened to my sister. >> a young mother is missing in a case gone cold. >> that was so important to me to know the truth behind that evening. >> then detectives had an ah-ha moment. to solve the case they were turned to something that they're probably seeing every day. >> why don't you establish a facebook account? >> i thought that could really
2:01 am
establish a great deal. >> something happened. >> a hidden crime and a son's heart pounding moment. >> this is a horrible crime. >> i'm glad we know the truth. she was a restless young mom with two kids when she vanished from her southern california home. her loved ones assumed she left to start a new life but as the years passed, a nagging suspicion took hold. was her disappearance the result of something more sinister? before investigators could solve the mystery, her son would have to face a dark family secret but would it lead them to carol? here's keith morrison with secrets in the mist.
2:02 am
january 2013, the wet gray morning cold set in. the police boat sets off into the pea soup fog. a hail mary pass. why out there? why after all of the last 30 years? maybe some cases are decembstino stay cold. before they came along with their wild ideas about murder and facebook of all things and now this. their doomed errand into the fog. her name was carol jean myer. the night of the slamming doors and harsh words, the car roaring
2:03 am
away. and pretty girl gets pregnant at 15. marries the guy. pretty soon she's 20 something with two kids and a hankering to live, really live for a change. and this particular pretty girl. >> she was fun. she was outgoing. she had a lot of friends. >> she had these two sisters. we were very close and made each other laugh all the time. >> but carol wasn't laughing at the end of march '81. for one thing, she wanted to be somebody. her own somebody. >> i know that carol wanted to complete school and further her career and that's when she went back to study architecture. >> sure her husband was a nice kid and she loved him with all the intensity of first love. the handsome football player that would hang out on the front porch. he stepped up and married her
2:04 am
after the baby was born. >> he was a good father. enjoyed his kids. >> enjoy's carol's family too. especially her dad. he brought young mike into the family house painting business. >> took to him immediately. always a very likable person. friendly, loyal, but not exactly ambitious. he didn't seem to mind at all settling down to a modest existence. them and the two kids all cramped up in a two bedroom one bath house in torrence but carol did mind it very much. she had a secret affair by then. maybe more than one. she got herself a cute little red car, ordered personalized plates. the car is long gone now so we did this to look just like it and she would get in the little car alone and would go roaring off to school or to the red
2:05 am
onion. >> i know she was going to the red onion. i never went there with her so i don't know what she was like. >> then that night in march. kids off to bed. mike junior was just a boy. 10 years old. >> i had just got a new stereo for my tenth birthday and i was listening to the headphones. >> from his bed, he could see something happening out in the hallway. >> i remember them getting into an argument, which was unusual. >> because they just didn't. >> not that i knew of. i remember her marching past and going out the front door and slamming the door. >> you heard the slam. >> i heard the slam of the front door. i know that. >> and the next morning. >> we got up and she wasn't there. >> mike senior told carol's dad that carol had demanded he sign papers to sell their house and he didn't want to and she got mad and he went to bed and when he woke up in the morning she was just gone. >> so we just assumed she needed
2:06 am
to get away for a few days but as the days went on we got extremely worried. >> nearly a week after herrerd audi fox showed up in the parking lot of the red onion. dusty as if it had been there for awhile. >> i remember being upset about it. she was gone and i didn't know where she went. >> they drove around looking for her. went to bars. carol's picture in hand. torrence police department opened a file but they couldn't answer any of the questions. she just finally gotten fed up with mike and this little place and gone off to start a new life somewhere else, or had she been in an accident or something worse? more than a week after carol disappeared, there was still absolutely no sign of her, and then something strange happened here at the house. something very strange. could it be that carol unbeannounced to anyone sneaked back in here when nobody else was around. imagine what it was hike back
2:07 am
then in that little house. mike thinking things over. on a hunch he said he placed tape on her dresser drawers. a little trap. one day he took the kids to universal studios and sure enough when they returned he noticed the tape was broken and some mail on the counter was moved as well. a few weeks later, it happened again. some of carol's clothes went missing along with some money from a place no burglar would know to look. under the butter dish in the refrigerator where they kept $100 in emergency cash and now $60 was missing. just like carol. >> she would have not taken all of it. that was in her permnalty to be fair. >> made since then. >> then there were mysterious phone calls. >> we'd get the phone calls on special days. her birthday. my birthday.
2:08 am
my grandmother we would get calls. >> sounds on the other end. what did you do? >> we'd say carol, we love you. we hope you come back. we felt like she was finding a happier life somewhere. >> and understood that to make that successful she might have to make a complete and total break. >> yeah. >> almost three months after she vanished the detective put it in the inactive file. in his report he wrote no foul play involve d. >> i remember thinking about her all the time and playing records over and over that she liked. >> eventually mike started dating a 19-year-old named carrie. brought her into the fold. >> we were happy that mike was going on with life. >> so they did all go on with life and many years went by. until the morning in a whole new
2:09 am
my ly millenium. >> this didn't sound right to me. >> detectives turned to a surprising source to help solve the mystery. coming up. >> why don't you establish a facebook account for carol. >> when dateline continues. arol >> when dateline continues is skincare from around the world better than olay? to find out, olay faced the world. we tested our vitamin b3 formula and beat japan's top moisturizers. and even the $400 french cream. olay regenerist faced 131 premium products from 12 countries, over 10 years. olay's hydration was unbeaten every time.
2:10 am
olay. face anything. want a light as air feel? try olay whips. so chantix can help you quit slow turkey. along with support, chantix is proven to help you quit. with chantix you can keep smoking at first and ease into quitting so when the day arrives, you'll be more ready to kiss cigarettes goodbye. when you try to quit smoking, with or without chantix, you may have nicotine withdrawal symptoms. stop chantix and get help right away if you have changes in behavior or thinking,
2:11 am
aggression, hostility, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions, seizures, new or worse heart or blood vessel problems, sleepwalking, or life-threatening allergic and skin reactions. decrease alcohol use. use caution driving or operating machinery. tell your doctor if you've had mental health problems. the most common side effect is nausea. talk to your doctor about chantix. the most common side effect is nausea. i can't believe it. that sophie opened up a wormhole through time?
2:12 am
(speaking japanese) where am i? (woman speaking french) are you crazy/nuts? cyclist: pip! pip! (woman speaking french) i'm here, look at me. it's completely your fault. (man speaking french) ok? it's me. it's my fault? no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on my car insurance with geico. (pterodactyl screech) believe it. geico could save you 15% or more on car insurance. too shabby! too much! i can rent this? for that price? absolutely. it's just right! book your just right rental at
2:13 am
in march of 1981 a young mother unhappy in her marriage vanished leaving behind not only her husband but her son mike junior. >> i never felt my mother abandoned me. i was never upset with her. >> really. >> i never thought she did. i don't know why. i was just upset she wasn't there. i thought she would show up at a graduation or something. >> but she didn't and at family gatherings as the years went by, thanksgiving, christmass, that awful question, why would she leave them remained the unmentionable elephant in the room. >> when it came to my family i think they didn't talk about it because they figured it would upset me or my sister. >> my family is pretty closed to talking about heavy things.
2:14 am
so something like that rarely talked about. >> could you see it in your mother's eyes or your fathers? >> in my fathers for sure. >> what would you see there? >> a lot of emotion. a lot of sadness. i'm going to cry thinking about it. >> in 1987 the police department revisited the case and time seemed to alter his memory. a few more details had come back to him. remember soon after carol vanished mike said they argued and went to sleep alone and woke up in the morning early and she was gone? but in 1987 he remembered they argued and went to bed together and she got up at 5:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom. he woke up to the sound of a car engine starting and driving
2:15 am
away. odd. but memories do play tricks. anyway. it didn't seem terribly significant so the case went back into the file and got colder. mike took over the house painting business from carol's dad and went on to marry carrie and have two more sons. gail and terry raised their own families and having babies started to change terry's way of looking at her sister's disappearance. >> as unhappy as you might be in your life, you might leave your husband, you'd take your kids with you. >> so when you began to suspect it she wouldn't leave her children, what did that mean to you? >> that something happened to her. >> in 1996, 15 years since they had heard from carol, the police came around again. this time they scanned the backyard with ground penetrating radar. even dug up the ground didn't
2:16 am
find a thing. funny thing though, about four months later the daily breeze did a little story and interviewed mike and this time his memory was slightly different. he remembered that on that terrible morning when carol left he heard the garage door go up before she drove away. just one more little detail though nothing profoundly different and of course no evidence whatsoever of any crime. and then one day in 2002, a detective was rummaging through some cabinets behind his sergeant's desk. >> i was being nose y. i thought what was this? >> it was the case folder. more than 20 years old and cold as they come. >> i never heard about it before. i said this is interesting. i wonder if this lady is still missing. of course she was so he read through the police report and couldn't help but notice the
2:17 am
subtle changes in mike's story chl. >> and i thought that's strange. i wouldn't think you'd forget the last time that you saw your wife. >> so he went to see carol's parents. her mom and her dad. >> and he looked up at me and he was starting to cry and i'm like milt, are you okay? and he said oh, i'm just so happy, i can't believe you guys are still interested in this case. >> how much did that have to do with you driving ahead on this case? that conversation? >> a lot. i'm the father of three daughters as well and i thought what if this was my middle daughter. >> milt died one month later. never knowing what happened to his beautiful middle daughter. but when terry went to her father's funeral and saw mike there, a private thought ate at her. mike must know something. >> i didn't say anything. i tried to keep away. he was of course paying his respects to my family but i couldn't carry on a conversation
2:18 am
with him. >> meanwhile, walt had become a little obsessed. he had many other more pressing cases but something kept pulling him back to carol. >> i actually would shove some of my work away. i got in a little trouble for that sometimes. >> for years he chipped away until finally in 2010, 8 years after he found that musty old blue file, he decided to pay a surprise visit to mike. his colleagues thought he was nuts. >> yeah, what do you think he's going to admit it to you? i said well i played enough sports in my time. i know you're not going to get anywhere if you don't try. you never know. >> hi. i want to talk about carol. >> what story would mike tell this time? >> dateline returns after the break. dateline returns after t break. this time of year, that's really important. so we're making it easier than ever
2:19 am
to become part of our family. 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 want you to be part of ours. so happy holidays. and welcome to the family. all: the chevy family! get the chevy employee discount for everyone today. they have businesses to grow customers to care for lives to get home to they use print discounted postage for any letter any package any time right from your computer all the amazing services of the post office only cheaper get our special tv offer a 4-week trial plus postage and a digital scale go to and never go to the post office again! when you take align, you have the support of a probiotic and the gastroenterologists who developed it. align naturally helps to soothe your occasional digestive upsets, 24/7. so, where you go, the pro goes.
2:20 am
go with align, the pros in digestive health. we need a solution.ut their phones down. introducing... smartdogs. the first dogs trained to train humans. stopping drivers from: liking. selfie-ing. and whatever this is. available to the public... never. smartdogs are not the answer. but geico has a simple tip. turn on "do not disturb while driving" mode. brought to you by geico.
2:21 am
some things are too important to do yourself. ♪ get customized security with 24/7 monitoring from xfinity home. awarded the best professionally installed system by cnet. simple. easy. awesome. call, click or visit a store today.
2:22 am
for 8 years lawrence police detective worried away at the file drawn by an irresistible hunch, that this young mother did not disappear voluntarily. but actual evidence of a crime? there just wasn't any. so in 2010, 29 years after carol supposedly walked out on her family and never came back. he decided it was time for a surprise visit to michael.
2:23 am
he went over with his sergeant. >> he invited us in. we did catch him unexpectedly. that was the plan. >> but was mike upset or thrown off? not at all. >> very nice. like i anticipated he would be because i have now heard from everybody how mike is a good guy. >> so together they went over again the details of that last night back in march '81. right away mike remembered a little more about the night carol presented him with a real estate contract and demand they sell the tiny house. >> she came in and she just said you make my skin crawl. >> you make my skin crawl. >> and i thought i'll bet you she did say that. so i pushed him some more for more details. >> and the details were once again a little different about when and where he last saw her
2:24 am
for example. it wasn't when he went to bed around 10:00 p.m. as he said on one occasion or 5:30 the next morning as he also said. this time he last said he saw her about 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. in the bathtub chlts. >> i used the bathroom. >> then he said he heard the garage door go up and he went to the door and actually saw carol's car driving away. >> taillights. >> you see taillights. >> yeah. >> you're sure it was her car. >> yeah. >> remember the story about putting tape on the dresser drawers and later he found it broken. didn't remember that now. >> i don't know. >> you don't know what that is? >> no. >> but as he said in 2010 he did remember other traps he had set even more elaborate. >> i would take like baby powder
2:25 am
and put it inside the door so if somebody stepped in i'd see it. >> baby powder. what else? anything else? >> i think that did that james bond thing with the paper on the door. >> paper on the walls. >> that's about it. >> by now, the detective was working with his colleague jim wallace and deputy d.a. he specializes in tackling the most difficult of cold cases. >> do you remember when you saw the results of that interview what you thought? >> yeah. i thought his memory had grown in areas where it shouldn't and in areas where he should be saying the same story was different and that's the ha hallmark of deception. >> but the mind plays tricks, the mind invents things and inserts them into your memory and you believe them. >> that's an interesting theory. i don't think it's really supported. memories can be lost but memories don't increase in details over the years and they
2:26 am
don't increase in different details and that's a sign of what we saw a lie. >> his version of what happened from the start made no sense to any of us. >> why would mike lie? to the cold case team it seemed obvious. >> he killed her that night. she stopped living that night and everything else that doesn't make sense is all because it's a lie. if you know it's a lie, then it all lines up. >> remarkably he continued to talk to them, three more times of his own free will. very frankly without an attorney. he even let the prosecutor take a crack at it chl. >> if you were me in my position, tell me what you would think. >> what you're thinking. >> which is. >> that i did it. >> well, mike, i can tell you, sometimes you know the kind of murder cases we get. we get cases where the husband finds out that his wife is cheating on him and he kills
2:27 am
her. >> it had nothing to do with that. >> did you catch what mike said? it had nothing to do with that. >> when you just look at sentence structure and how people talk and communicate, it wasn't about that. >> what is the it. >> you gave that great significance, didn't you? >> oh, absolutely. >> so they kept at mike and at one point it seemed to them he was on the verge of confessing. >> listen, why don't you give me a few days or something to think about all of it. >> we'll come back. >> but when he came back, he didn't give them anything and they were right back where they started. suspicion, sure, but no evidence of a crime. no way to even prove carol was dead. jim wallace was a detective that finally hit on an idea. to use a tool that didn't even exist when she fought her husband on a march night in
2:28 am
1981. >> coming up, a dramatic turn in the case and fresh heartbreak for carol's family. >> another nightmare on top of the first nightmare. >> when date line continues. rst. >> when date line continues. you have power over pain, so the whole world looks different. the unbeatable strength of advil. what pain?
2:29 am
too shabby! too much! i can rent this? for that price? absolutely. it's just right! book your just right rental at
2:30 am
2:31 am
president trump spoke at the student action summit on saturday and took the opportunity to lash out at democrats in the house that impeached him this week. >> north korea expanded a factory linked to the production of long range nuclear missiles according to nbc news. american officials are tracking the regime's moves and are bracing for a potential new test. now back to dateline. welcome back to dateline. detectives believed he was on the verge of confessing to the
2:32 am
murder of his wife carol but then he refused to talk and the investigation hit a wall. without a body, how could they prove there was a murder at all? the answer would send investigators in an unexpected direction. could facebook help them find out what really happened to carol? here again is keith morrison with secrets in the mist. >> deputy d.a. and the torrence police department cold case team believed mike killed his wife carol back in 1981. but they had one big problem. they couldn't prove carol was dead. >> the biggest assumption is going to be well how do you know she's not just out of the country or across the country or changed her identity. >> kind of an important question with no answer. and then in january 2011, jim wallace got the flu.
2:33 am
lucky break. no really. >> and i was laying in bed and my wife came in and unfortunately when you work these cases all you talk about is we're a dedicated cold case team. you're talking about the case you were working. i'm sure she was tired of hearing it. but she said why don't you establish a facebook account for carol? i thought that could actually accomplish a great deal. >> of course back in 1981 is when carol disappeared facebook creator mark zuckerberg wasn't even born yet. but he knew social media's ability to connect people around the globe instantly could determine whether carol was alive or dead. >> we know that it's a place where we say here i am. it's also a place where you could find people. >> surely if carol was still alive, someone on facebook or twitter would know something. of course he also knew carol would look fastly different so
2:34 am
he found an age progression artist to create an image of what she might look like today and then he placed that photo and others like it on facebook or other sites. >> it was a great point of contact for me to contact 350 friends and family of carol. and we said has anybody seen carol? and we discovered immediately that nobody had seen carol since the night she disappeared. if he googled her own name she would find herself at his website. but that never happened which meant something very significant said the detective. >> she's not looking for herself. she's dead. >> or a farmer's wife in uruguay. >> lots of people are not on facebook. don't check or google things. it doesn't mean she is dead for sure. you just have a fairly good case for it. >> in this large cumulative thing we're looking at its another piece that points to the
2:35 am
same conclusion. >> if carol was dead, if mike killed her, taking the accusation to court would be risky. circumstantial. no clear motive, a sympathetic defendant. but he decided to roll the dice. 30 years after carol vanished from her family's life on april 13th, 2011, mike was arrested for carol's murder. >> when you went to the family and said we're going to charge him, what was the reaction? >> mixed at best. >> mixed. that's a mild word. how about upset, horrified, mist identified. in fact, most of carol's family members believed the idea that mike could have murdered carol with you just ludicrous. >> he was a member of our family, you know? and nobody wanted to see him be arrested or him be the reason or any of that. it's like another nightmare on
2:36 am
top of the first nightmare. >> this was a case where i think the family would have been more than happy to believe that carol is still out there somewhere. she's not dead and their beloved son-in-law is not a killer. >> but of all mike's family members no one was as torn as his name sake first son mike junior who loved his father, unreservedly. followed him into the family painting business and worked side by side with him for decades an confessed to detectives that like his aunt terry, he too had doubts about his father. doubts that had taken route shortly after mike senior's second wife left him. >> he talked about my step mother constantly for years. it was non-stop. >> why was that so significant to you. >> he never talked about my mother at all. >> never. >> but mike never confronted his father. >> i just knew the back of my
2:37 am
mind that this could be a possibility and i really honestly at that time, i never wanted my father to go to jail. i just wanted to know. it was so important to me to know the truth behind the evening. >> to get the truth and avoid the trial, the prosecutor was willing to make a deal. >> we had offered him voluntary manslaughter if he gave us carol's body. >> and he turned you down flat. >> he did. repeatedly. >> mike pleaded not guilty. the case was going to trial and if members of carol's own family didn't believe mike did it, what would a jury think? >> coming up, being accused on the stand. >> isn't it true that carol lived her last breath in that bathtub when you murdered her? >> when dateline continues. >> when dateline continues not actors, who've got their eczema under control.
2:38 am
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, such as eye pain or vision changes, or a parasitic infection. if you take asthma medicines, don't change or stop them without talking to your doctor. so help heal your skin from within, and talk to your eczema specialist about dupixent. of a lifetime. it's "progressive on ice."
2:39 am
everything you love about car insurance -- the discounts... the rate comparisons... and flo in a boat. ♪ insurance adventure awaits at "progressive on ice." tickets not available now or ever. at "progressive on ice." they want to get rid of their pain as quickly as possible. patients want something that works faster for them. why would somebody want to suffer if there is options that they don't need to. i think dentists will want to recommend sensodyne rapid relief. sensodyne rapid relief builds a layer fast on the tooth's surface over those sensitive areas, which means patients are going to get fast relief from their sensitivity. sensodyne rapid relief is clinically proven to work in 3 days. i think dentists will want to recommend this product because it's going to help their patients and that's what we are trying to do is help patients.
2:40 am
2:41 am
31 years, 5 months, 12 days after the last known sighting and in auspicious day to begin the prosecution of a popular man? may be but he went ahead anyway. >> what i'm going to be able to
2:42 am
prove beyond any reasonable doubt, ladies and gentlemen, is that despite the fact that mike luhbahn is a decent man, he murdered his wife. of course he knew that to prove a murder had occurred he had to show the victim was, in fact, no longer alive. for that he turned to detective wallace that explained the facebook and social media presence he created for carol turned up a whole lot of nothing. >> had you been contacted by anybody either by phone, e-mail, in writing who says, you know what, i've seen carol after the day she disappeared? >> no. >> though as he and his team also let the jury hear, family members like carol's sister gail believed what mike told them, that carol had run off. >> has it been hard for you to accept the possibility that she may be dead. >> well, yes.
2:43 am
>> is it maybe even more difficult by the fact that you care deeply for the defendant? >> yes. >> and younger sister terry, even though she had suspected mike for years. >> do you still think of mike as a part of your family. >> yes. >> but most anguished of all, mike and carol's son mike junior. >> is there anything about the way you remember your mom that would make you think or made you feel that she would leave you and never come back and never say good-bye. >> no. >> he loved his dad, but also secretly doubted him. something he had never revealed until now. >> i was sweating so profusely during that whole trial. he never knew i had these feelings. so on the stand publicly i had to basically say yeah, i'm thinking maybe there's some
2:44 am
weird things about your story and it was the first time that my father really would have known i felt that way. so i was really, really stressed out about that. >> how hard is it for you to be here today? >> very. >> do you want to believe that your dad is responsible for your mother's disappearance. >> do i want to believe it? >> yes. >> no. >> let's assume that your dad, in fact, did kill your mom, would you want to see him punished for it? >> no, not particularly. >> he knew the ambivalence of the family members didn't help his case. >> in the end my job isn't to make sure that the family members get what they want. my job is to make sure that carol's killer is held responsible. >> but was mike a killer? his attorney kevin donahue. >> i think the police are just wrong. >> no forensics, no witnesses, not even a body.
2:45 am
the defense might have stopped right there. instead they decided to gamble. mike was a nice guy and the jury should see that. and if the details had been a little different each time he was asked to tell the story, here was his chance to straighten it all out for the jury. how odd then that mike under oath now amended his story, just a little again. like when he added the detail that carol was in the bathtub when she said something mean to him. >> she said you make my skin crawl. >> also slightly different, the way he discovered she was gone. >> i opened the front door and went out and the garage door was open and the car was gone. >> in earlier versions, didn't ma mike say he heard the garage door go up and saw tail heights. why has his story changed again. >> what's the deal with that?
2:46 am
did you hear the garage door? >> i don't think so. >> why do you think that now? >> i think over the years i have thought about this night so many times and i had seen that car back out of that drive way many, many times when she was leavingment so i think i just thought immediately in my mind that that's what i thought happened. i saw the car. i can see it right now. >> he never thought for a moment it would be the last time he would see his wife. >> i thought she went out that night and had gone dancing and stayed the night with a friend. >> what did happen to her? mike insisted he simply didn't know. >> did you have anything to do with killing her? >> no. >> did you have anything to do with her disappearance? >> no. other than i didn't sign the papers and made her upset but that's it. >> successful testimony, maybe? but now the down side. he would have to answer questions from john.
2:47 am
>> do you lie sometimes? >> no. >> you never lie. >> i wouldn't say never. a white lie. who knows. >> have you ever lied about something serious that wasn't a white lie in your life. >> no. >> in your entire life you have never lied once about anything that wasn't a white lie. >> i'll just say not that i can remember. >> in fact, mike had a hard time remembering a lot of things he asked about. >> i don't remember. i don't remember going to bed. i don't remember. i don't know. >> but how on earth could he not remember the last time he saw his wife. >> would you agree that that would be one of the most significant events details of your entire life? >> yes. but that doesn't mean i have to remember it. >> he wasn't buying it. >> isn't it true that the last place that carol lived her last breath was taken in that bathtub
2:48 am
when you murdered her. >> why are you looking at the judge? >> waiting for him to correct you, no. i didn't murder her. i'm sorry. in the bathtub? >> and if you had murdered her, you would tell us today that you did. >> i would have admitted it. >> you would have admitted it on the stand today. >> yes. >> do you think that statement is believable? >> i think so. >> i'm done. >> of course, believeability was a question for the jury to decide and decide they did. though as you'll see, that wasn't the end of the story. not by a mile. >> coming up, a final push for the truth. >> please for your family, your for kids, tell us what happened. >> when dateline continues. >> when dateline continues
2:49 am
(cat meows) (dark barks) ♪ guess who's early? (cat meows) good thing walgreens is right around the corner with last minute holiday supplies. get in. get out. get jolly.
2:50 am
they have businesses to grow customers to care for lives to get home to they use print discounted postage for any letter any package any time right from your computer all the amazing services of the post office only cheaper get our special tv offer a 4-week trial plus postage and a digital scale go to and never go to the post office again! looking around here i see tablets, laptops, printers, smartphones.
2:51 am
they're all connected to the internet. they're all connected. can your network handle all those devices? sometimes. comcast business runs on the nation's largest gig-speed network. so you can get the bandwidth you need to power all of your devices at peak performance. if all of my devices could have that kind of speed, i would be dancing! get started with secure 35-megabit internet and one voice line for just $64.90 per month. call today. comcast business. beyond fast.
2:52 am
okay, let's call the jurors out. >> there are few things in american life as dramatic, as weighted with consequence, as the moment a jury, verdict in hand, files into a courtroom. have they been persuaded that mike killed carol or even that she was dead? mike's family held its collective breath. so did the prosecutor and the police. >> you know, you don't know what
2:53 am
to expect. >> and now, here are mike's fate. >> we the jury in the above-entitled action find the defendant, michael lubahn clark sr. guilty of the crime -- >> guilty of second-degree murder. mike lubahn was going to prison. and longtime detective jim wallace felt surrounded by a very unfamiliar reaction. >> i've had cases before where you get done, you know, and you'll walk out of the courtroom and the family throws their arms around you. they're just so grateful, right? that's not this case. >> i was just very surprised that the jury would convict him on such little evidence, and i don't think any of us are happy to see mike go to jail. >> and you still believe mike is a nice guy, believable guy. >> yes. >> what the family wanted most were some answers. >> it's not so much that i want mike to pay for what he did. i just want to know what happened to my sister.
2:54 am
>> and at the sentencing hearing in december 2012, mike's own son echoed those sentiments. >> guilt or innocence aside, i've never wanted my father to go to prison. i've only asked that if he knows anything to please let me know. >> and then, mike jr. made a heartbreaking plea to the court. >> he's been a good father and a good person. if he's sent to prison today, i want him to know i'm going to miss our time together. it's going to be hard to see the world change without him. i humbly stand before the court today to request leniency for my father when giving his sentence. thank you for the opportunity to speak. >> after that, well, then the strange tale of the much-loved convicted killer took quite a remarkable turn. it happened that very day in court. prosecutor lewin. >> i'm asking right now as we sit here, mr. lubahn's going to have a chance. please, for your family, for
2:55 am
your kids, just let it go. tell us what happened. >> can i just have a moment? >> the judge granted a recess so mike could speak with his attorney privately. did he actually have something to confess? he returned a few minutes later. >> and we're asking to continue the sentencing. >> time to think? the judge pushed back sentencing by a month. >> my hope was that he would tell us what happened, that he would tell us what he did with carol, and that he would be honest about both. >> for almost four weeks they waited, until january 7th, 2013. all eyes were on mike lubahn as he entered the courtroom. and then shifted as one to prosecutor lewin, who told the court that that very morning, mike finally revealed to him the secret he'd been keeping almost 32 years. and so, now lewin did the talking, and mike, for once, said not a word.
2:56 am
>> all of the information about them fighting about the selling of the house, he says that was truthful. that occurred. >> then carol stormed out, and it might have blown over, as arguments do, but she came back at 1:30 a.m. and said the one thing that would not blow over, not ever. >> she told him that she was going to be taking somebody else, another man, to her sister, terry's upcoming wedding. he said he was very upset. >> she tried to comfort him. then, he said. >> and she was telling him, don't worry, you'll find somebody else, et cetera. >> and that was the last thing carol lubahn ever said. >> he didn't want to hear it, and he said that he pushed her. she fell and hit her head on a heavy end table in the living room. he said that she didn't bleed, but he knew instantly that she
2:57 am
was dead. >> detectives hooked lubahn up to a polygraph machine. how much of this was true? >> after the polygraph, the test was done, he confronts him and says "you didn't pass." now the defendant changes his story and he says, okay, i punched her in the head and i punched her hard, but he said only one time. >> then he told lewin what he did with carol's body. >> after he killed her, he put her in the garage behind some carpet. he took her car the next morning to the red onion parking lot, dumped it there. at some point, she was placed in the trunk of mr. lubahn's vehicle. >> and then he said he took her to the ocean, put her on a raft, paddled out to sea and dropped her down, a cinder block tied to her body. it was a shock, of course, a big shock. for so long, the family, or most of it, believed mike.
2:58 am
and now in this very public way, they finally knew that carol was dead and he, their sweet mike, killed her. but the whole truth, was it actually out there somewhere? and so, on that cold and foggy january day, mike, surrounded by cops and lawyers, floated out into the midst to find carol, find whatever was left. >> if they find the cinder block in the ocean after the search, if they find that, that will give me half of the closure i need. >> she didn't get it, because after the boat ride, mike admitted his ocean tale was one more lie. and perhaps it was finally for the sake of his son, the son who never abandoned him, that he finally passed a polygraph and led investigators to the place he said mike's mother had actually been all these many years. police searched the area, but once again were unable to locate carol's remains and give the
2:59 am
family what they hoped for most, the chance to say good-bye. >> i don't really know why getting her back is the ultimate bookend for me. i want to know that she is, you know, properly buried or cremated or whatever we will choose to do with her. >> why is that so important? >> i think it just is the ultimate answer. this is it. there's no more wondering. >> no, not about that, but his father in prison 15 to life? when we last spoke to mike, it was clear he had a good deal of wondering left to do about that man and what he took away. >> do you still love him? >> yeah, i do. i mean, i always will. i've just got to figure out how i'm going to process these facts i know. i don't know yet. i kind of thought a perfect punishment for my father was i was going to ask him to write one sentence about my mother to me every week he's in prison,
3:00 am
you know, just so he has to think about her and i have to -- i can remember her again. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. good morning. i'm phillip mena at msnbc world headquarters in new york. it is 6:00 in the east, 3:00 out west. now here's what's happening. the white house a short time ago firing back after just-released emails shedding light on details in the ukraine story. hear what happened 90 minutes after president trump's controversial phone call. witnesses or no witnesses at the senate trial, a new prediction from the president's former communications director about how bad it could get for the president. a sobering survey about holiday shopping and the one thing that worries parents the most. plus --


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on