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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  December 29, 2019 2:00am-3:00am PST

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i said no he's going to call me in a couple of days. i know he is. he's going to call me in a couple of days. and he never called. he never called. >> one day turned into the next. natalie morales. >> and this is date line. police, family, everybody tried to find him. >> do you have one that got away. couldn't. >> my first love. >> the guy that disappeared. >> started looking, searching, accept in his case he really canal, pipes, little bridges on disappeared. >> he's going to call me in a little dirt roads. couple of days and he never anywhere. you see a car that looked like called me. >> his family, in agony. >> i wrote letters to america's that. >> how long did that go on? >> that went on until they found most wanted. his car. >> a rookie detective finally >> which more than three months broke the case. >> i said oh my gosh, they have later turned out to be at the airport. hit pay dirt. so did he just take off? >> ae strange phone call revead the secret. >> david needed to be gotten rid his friend didn't think so. of. >> then we gotgo the real story >> a bombshell revelation. >> maybe he got on a plane. maybe he wanted to do something was she really a bereaved ex. different. >> for one thing david had been preparing for the arrival in two >> i'll always love david. >>ys or maybe a black widow. weeks of his 5-year-old son >> barbara briton is in the john. this was a big one. he was preparing for this visit.
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>> and right in the middle of preparations he vanished? it didn't make sense but the days turned into weeks, months, middle. hello and welcome to dateline. years. not a sign of david the police for years, judy lived in the most painful kind of limbo. her son david disappeared without a trace. went on to cases but his mother the case went unsolved, sitting cold for more than a decade never let up. until the rookie detective was she knew david was out there assigned to investigate. somewhere. >> on to america's most wanted digging into david's past, she and then a picture of him in the uncovered a twisted tale of love back and i got a list of all the gone bad and a grizzly family big trucking companies that did all the letters but it was -- it secret. but the detective still needed took me a long time to finish to knowte what motive was at th any letter about him because i heart of this crime. here's keith morrison with didn't want the ending to be buried secrets. like i thought it was. >> it was, she said, a horrible limbo. a little piece of her still >> it's a strange thing. hoping for good news. part of her mourning a loss. the soft soil here in coastal i found a therapist right away. florida. things have a way of coming up. take 20 minutes out of every day things buried in the ground in and scream and cry in the the past. morning or scream and cry at it was july 2003, beaches quite,
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night. >> anybody know what it's like snow birds back up north so no for a mother. >> no. one noticed at first in a town >> years later the investigation was back in high gear. called pembroke pines where judy said in some corner of her donna, threes months a detecti, heart she hoped david might turn a rookie really had just been up safely some day. the detective was not inclined assigned to a brand new cold to false hope. she did not for a minute think case unit. >> the sergeant came into the he was still alive. office and dropped a box of papers right on my desk and said surely a sign of him would have here, see what you can do with appeared. no, she believed when bodies this and i began to wonder, is aren't found it's because someone has intentionally hidden this a test to see can she but david jackson might show up. really do this. >> but the case was a challenge just not alive. >> and my wheels started turning was an understatement. and i started thinking we live now all but forgotten mystery. the disappearance 15 years in florida with the crazy weather that we have and the water table that we have, if he earlier of a young man named were ever buried anywhere, david jackson. and the file offered no hints, no pointers, nothing really somewhere along the line you're going to pop up. beyond the basic file. >> maybe the detective thought even the rookie cop knew she remains had popped up. would have toco learn about the after all it had been a decade
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victim. so she began with something and a half since he disappeared. easy. she found david jackson's so she googled unidentified mother,da judy carlson. remains. it lead her down an endless she found judy's son, actually. internet trail. >> it's probably going on 10:00 >> he said are you sitting? or 11:00 and i'm sure my husband i said yes. he is saying where the heck is that said they reopened david's case. >> thepe detectivene and the mo girl. >> one site after another. talked about david for hours. dead end until she got to one it wasn't a problem for judy. created by a florida medical shefo loves talking about her b, examiner. even now to us. promising but exhausting. >> i'm there typing away and >> david was my first child. typing and typing and it pops up he loved everything and about 100 matches. everyone. she was determined. he would walk in a room and she finally got it down to a possible three. >> one of them really stands out everyone would be a magnet to him. >> he was the eldest of judy's for me. it was white male. it says over 6 foot. david is a tall guy. three children and he idolized he's a white male. his older brother. >> he looked out for me. possibly. >> those particular bones, just he was f that way with his friends, with everybody. a few, a partial skeleton turned >> bill brown was one of those friends. in 1982 after high school brown up during construction of a walmart parking lot not far from and david jackson worked together at burger king where the place where david lived. david became a manager. surfaced just a year after david brown also had a front row seat died and have been gathering
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dust in storage for 15 years. to the romance between jackson and a co-worker named barbara the detective went to see a forensic anthropologist but when britain. >> they were together. if you can find love that's what the doctor measured the bones she comes out and she says it's we all want. >> so all of these years later, looking like he's only about the detective played a visit to 5'9". >> still she had a hunch that the woman that had been the girl she had finally found david that had fallen in love with jackson and she wasn't the sort david jackson. happy to help she told the of person to give up on a hunch. >> and i said can we please do detective. same thing when we called on her to talk about the david she this one more time. she comes back and she said hey, knew. >> he was a very good-looking i was wrong the first time. man. we had an attraction for each other and started talking. she says this person is anywhere sweet,d nice, kind, swept me o between 5'9" and 6'1". my feet. he was a good guy. >> and as she talked it became and i said oh my gosh. clear, deep emotions would not i think i hit pay dirt. >> she got dna from david's stay beneath the surface. mother and waited for a lab to >> i was young. i was still going to school. cam pair the samples and ten days later she called the testing facility. this is my first love. >> she comes to the phone and she said i hope you're sitting >> two youngsters in love and then well things happen don't down. i said why. they. >> i got something to tell you. you got 100% match. oh my gosh. i said what, because i'm not >> i said what. >> barbara is pregnant. believing that i'm hearing what >> judy was surprised a little i'm hearing. >> 15 years after he worried maybe but nowhere near
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as worried as barbara's parents. disappeared, david jackson had finally been found. the question now was what particular her dad. happened to him? a marine that was not so how did he end up here? impressed with mr. jackson. >> coming up, a strange >> he didn't liked him. consequence or was it? i don't know why. >> still david said his mother >> it's an eerie feeling that he was walking on air. heon came home one day and said was in that area that i didn't i'm going to have to sell the even know about. >> when dateline continues. truck. i said why. even know about. >> when dateline continues he said i'm going to be a father you have the support of a probiotic and a husband and it's not and the gastroenterologists who developed it. appropriate to have a truck. align naturally helps to soothe >> so the pretty girl and the your occasional digestive upsets, 24/7. handsome boy got married. a big wedding too even though so, where you go, the pro goes. go with align, the pros in digestive health. they were just kids and very soon parents also to a son, john jackson and they fought, made up, fought again. babies having babies is no easy thing. >> they were just too young. it was difficult for him and it was difficult for me. >> so who was the first-person to say you got to get a divorce. >> myo dad. >> how did david take it? >> he was just kind of like,
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let's just find somebody, some lawyers and see what we have to do and that was it. >> the two divorced in 1985. david arranged weekend visits with john. >> how were they together? >> wonderful. johnny just clung to him. they loved each other. >> they all moved on. a couple of years later barbara married michael mawolf. an ex-military man like her dad. about the same age as her dad too. >> your dad and your new husband probably saw eye to eye a lot. >> they sure t did.y they had a lot in m comcommon. >> wolf took barbara and john to live with them in arizona but david wanted to be apart of his child's life so he travelled out west to see the boy. he saw johnny for three days. i have pictures of johnny in the old western town and everything. >> maybe it waswn something abo thes distance said barbara. >> we became very good friends when i was out in arizona.
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we i used to talk a lot. >> in fact, what she felt deep in her heart neff did go away. >> i'll always love david. >> and l then it was june 25th, 1988. brother, mark, was flying into town to visit the family. david was tovi pick him up at t airport but when mark arrived he waited and waited. no w david. and mark jackson had a terrible feeling. >> no matter what he would have been there for me. i knew something was wrong. w i knew something bad happened. >> oh, yes, very bad. and as the rookie detective poked around deep in the past that something was reaching up some things are too important to do yourself. ♪ through the mud to tell her it's get customized security long neglected story. with 24/7 monitoring from xfinity home. awarded the best professionally installed system by cnet. >> the case was both cold and simple. easy. awesome. call, click or visit a store today. baffling but maybe nature in south florida could help the investigation. >> coming up. >> with the crazy weather and the water table that we have if he were ever buried anywhere
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somewhere along the line you're going to pop up. >> when dateline continues. pop. >> when dateline continues she said she needed one. good thing walgreens is right around the corner with great gifts for her. get in. get out. get jolly. where did we hide danny's gift? really? good thing walgreens is right around the corner with lots of great toys. get in. get out. get jolly.
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>> it was good detective work that identified david jackson's early remains. what's left of them. but a chance that it was found at all. >> a construction worker came with lots of great toys. hi susan!) honey? across bones. yeah? they went out and dug up a bunch i respect that. but that cough looks pretty bad... try this robitussin honey. the real honey you love... of bones. >> they were found about a year plus the powerful cough relief you need. after he disappeared and they mind if i root through your trash? sat in the morgue for 15 years. robitussin honey. because it's never just a cough. uh, "fifteen minutes could save you 15%ain? >> as far as i know he was or more on car insurance." disappeared. he was missing. i think we're gonna swap over to "over seventy-five >> but now the detective had a hard truth to tell. years of savings and service." david jackson was dead. what, we're just gonna swap over? not missing. yep. pump the breaks on this, swap it over to that. and the way he had been hidden pump the breaks, and, uh, swap over? made it perfectly clear he had that's right. instead of all this that i've already-? been murdered all those years ago. yeah. most likely before his friends what are we gonna do with these? keep it at your desk, and save it for next time. or family even noticed he was geico. over 75 years of savings and service. gone which put a final period of
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his mother's lingering hope for his return. and apparently an ex wife's what ifs. >> are you seriously thinking, maybe some day i'll get back together with him? >> when it's your first love you always think, wow, what if. >> strange how things turn out. barbara had moved back to florida, remarried again. had a daughter. took a job at walmart and still held a candle for david even as he lay under the ground practically next door to the very walmart where she worked. >> what did that do to you? >> it's an eerie feeling that he was in that area that i didn't even know about. >> such an odd consequence. too odd maybe? time for a chat. the detective called barbara. got herself invited over to barbara's house. barbara seemed to have no
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problem talking about david. >> she said she cared about him a lot and i say well how is david as a father? i'm part of a community of problem solvers. >> well, david became abusive we make ideas grow. toward johnny physically and from an everyday solution... emotionally, verbally. to one that can take on a bigger challenge. >> wait a minute. this was a whole new thing. from packaging tape... to tape that can bond materials up until now everything about to buildings... and planes. david's history had been squeaky one idea can unlock a breadth of solutions. clean. >> as an investigator and as a at 3m, we are solving problems that improve lives. mom i begin to say did you ever call the police? she said oh, no, i never called the police. i just thought he would change. she proceeds to tell me that i documented the injuries with photographs. never produced any photographs for me. >> for us by the way barbara changed her story and said it was really her father and not her who accused david of abusing his son. >> my dad was having him fort lauderdale when he evaluated and stuff like that failed to meet his brother mark because i would just be like at the airport. this is david, you know, what
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>> 15 years later she relived are you talking about? >> but of course the detective that puzzling time. couldn't talk to barbara's father about the murder or anything else. harry britton had been dead for got a call. barbara said she wasn't years but she had more information for the detective. she recalled a troubling conversation with david. at the time david was working for coca-cola. delivering the product. >> he told me that someone was placing drugs on his coca-cola truck. and through his route they were being taken off of the truck. i said wow, that's pretty serious. and she says yeah. >> interesting. >> very. >> to the detective, that sounded like a made up story almost as if she was trying to divert suspicion away from someone. an ex-wife would qualify of course as a person of interest in this kind of case but as we learned, barbara had an alibi.
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she wasn't anywhere near florida when david disappeared. >> i was in arizona in the apartment. i was nowhere around here. >> and lacking any further evidence, the detective was the man barbara was ater unless married to at the time knew something, michael wolf. a little checking revealed wolf had been married seven times. number six, a woman named nancy graham lived in alabama. she called her. >> i told her, i'm investigating the disappearance of david jackson. and she said to me, how much evidence do you have against him. and i said i can't discuss the evidence with you but i can tell you that it's enough for me to put him away right now. i was just totally bluffing. i had really nothing. i'm just throwing it out there,
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you know, fishing that long line and if something bites i'm reeling it in and she says, honey, she said, let me call you back. >> the minutes tick by. she waited by the phone and when nancy called back, what she said blew the case wide open. >> she started telling me about who was involved, how it happened. where it happened. what they did. how they did it. how they planned it. >> they? why yes, they. and by the way, be ware of the sting of an ex-wife's tale. >> she said i'm going to tell you everything that you need to know. >> michael wolf's ex-wife nancy has a jaw dropping story to share and it will send the investigation into overdrive. >> coming up -- >> the first shot didn't kill him. they had to shoot him again. >> when date line continues. n d.
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the man suspected of stabbing multiple people in new york is found in new york city. a senior law enforcement official says he was taken into custody in harlem and is suspected of stabbing people on the 7th night of hanukkah. new york city already stepped up patrols after a wave of attacks in recent weeks. back to dateline. ecent weeks. back to dateline >> welcome bah to dateline. i'm craig melvin. >> divorced dad david jackson had been murdered. his body buried in a shallow grave and then years later a stunning development. rookie detective donna velasquez tracked down a woman that said david's killer confessed to her
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in detail but there's one staggering new wrinkle. was david jackson's murder a family affair? once again here's buried secrets. >> david jackson was murdered in 1988 in florida. that much detective donna velasquez could say for certain. but the rest, after more than a year of phone calls and late nights, all velasquez had come up with is a web of stories and relationships. david jackson was married to barbara briton. her father harry disliked david. she went on to become the fifth wife of a man named michael wolf. they divorced and he later married two more times. now, finally, one of wolfs ex-wives was telling police she knew everything about what happened to david. >> can you tell me again.
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>> i know how he was killed and what they did with him. >> how did she know? according to her, michael drank a lot. >> every night he would almost down a whole bottle of scotch and i guess he just needed to talk. >> and the story wolf told according to the ex implicated more than just himself. here's what happened as nancy heard it. wolf and harry britton rented a motel room on that long ago july night. invited david to a meeting there. >> when he gets at the hotel. they have a very small conversation and michael shot david in the head. >> he said he had to get so drunk to do it. the first shot didn't kill him. he had to shoot him again. >> afterwards as nancy relayed the story. >> they took his car to the airport and left it there and then he took him -- there was an
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empty lot there and that's where he buried him. >> he did not spare the detail, said nancy. >> he did tell me he poured some corrosive on him. >> that was consistent with the investigation. >> david disappeared as he w preparing for a visit from his 5-year-old son john. >> they decided that david needed to be gotten rid of because they never wanted david to be in johnny's life. >> david was murdered in cold blood just to keep him out of his son's life. >> and boom, it clicked for me all of a sudden i said wow, that's over child custody. that's why he's not here today. >> that was the motive. >> that was the motive. >> but was wolf's confession to an ex-wife a true story or alcohol fuelled bravato? there was no way to know for
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sure but it was enough to at least bring about the arrest, october 2004 of michael wolf, now living in ohio. but an arrest is not a conviction and as michael wolf cooled his very sober heels in an ohio jail he professed his innocence to anybody that would listen including the local police to whom wolf sent a letter to which he claimed all he knew of a crime centered on a conversation with his ex-wife's barbara's father a few months before the murder. he read michaels letter. all michael would admit to was meeting harry in a park near the walmart overlooking the place where david's bones would later come out of the ground. >> michael wolf said he had basically pointed over to that plot of land and said well if you needed to bury a body that would be a good place to do it and then he concluded this letter with and i don't know if he listened or not. >> apparently he did.
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>> if michael wolf had not known anything beyond that point it would get him off the hook and leave it all in the hands of harry britton. >> so moikel wichael was pinnin murder on no one but harry that was safely dead and could tell no tales, but now she believed she had enough evidence to stand trial for the murder of david jackson. >> we did the arrest war rapt and within a couple of days we were flying out to extradite michael wolf back to florida. >> how did he react? >> he said some pretty harsh words. it's not very haylady like if iy it. >> you can say it. >> he said i'm [ bleep ]. >> finally after 15 years she made sure someone is going to be held accountable for the death of david jackson. >> it was the culmination of 16 months of such a long, grueling, up and down investigation of nights of not sleeping of days
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of going to work and living off of coffee and i thought, you know what, this is what it's all about. >> it was november of 2007 when michael wolf went on trial for murder. after so many years, any physical evidence that might have tied him to the crime was long gone but what prosecutors did have was the verbal confession, the drunken story his ex-wife said he had told her. then, check mate, another ex-wife told police virtually the same story. >> he told me he shot him in the head and he told me that he had a silencer on the gun. >> now she too was called to the stand. that was enough. the jury was out less than an hour, the verdict was guilty. at the sentencing, life in prison, david jackson's family confronted michael wolf. not just to condemn him but to ask a question because there was still a piece missing, something that still didn't make sense, what was david doing in that
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motel room the night they killed him? why did he walk into that trap? >> why would he go to a motel to meet mr. britton. why would mr. britton want to see him in a motel. there would be no justice unless everyone involved was held accountable. outside of the courtroom, david's brother encountered the state's attorney. i said he's going to tell you. he said he's not going to tell you anything. i said he's going to tell you. >> in fact, two days later wolf finally confessed the true measure of his guilt and gave police firsthand his unedited version of events the night he said they buried david jackson in the shifting florida clay. was someone else involved? oh, yes, said michael wolf. she certainly was.
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>> coming up. >> what made david go to that motel? >> david takes the phone, turns out a little while later he's all spruced up ready to go out. >> when dateline continues. o go >> when dateline continues we used to love going out with julia and mike, but since they bought their new house... which menu am i looking at here? start with "ta-paz." -oh, it's tapas. -tapas. get out of town. it's like eating dinner with your parents. sandra, are you in school? yes, i'm in art school. oh, wow. so have you thought about how you're gonna make money? at least we're learning some new things. we bundled our home and auto with progressive, saved a bunch. oh, we got a wobbler. progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents, but we can protect your home and auto when you bundle with us. that's what the extra menu's for.
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are critical skills for scientists at 3m. one of the products i helped develop was a softer, more secure diaper closure. as a mom, i knew it had to work. there were babies involved... and they weren't saying much. i envisioned what it's like for babies to have diapers around them. that's what we do at 3m, we listen to people, even those who don't have a voice. at the end of the day, we are people helping people.
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the man that shot david jackson to death was found guilty of the crime and sent to prison for the rest of his life. but a couple of days after he was sentenced wolf sent out word he was ready to tell the rest of the story. sure he said he was the trigger man and yes his father-in-law was determined to get rid of david permanently. but to set their trap to lure david to the kill site, the motel, they needed bait. that bait said wolf was barbara. barbara who did not require persuasion. quite the contrary said mr. wolf. >> barbara britton is in the middle. from what i was able to learn about david he would have never gone to that hotel room to meet harry britton. he would have never gone to that hotel room to meet michael wolf. he agreed to come meet barbara. >> the woman who cried tears for her long lost david was the same
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woman that called david on the phone and enticed him to go to that motel room to be killed. >> they needed to use barbara as the lure because david still had feelings for barbara. >> evidence, david had a roommate and that roommate heard david take a phone call just before he went out that night. >> he was pretty sure it was a woman on the phone. david takes the phone, goes into his room, comes out a little while later, he's all spruced up, ready to go out. he's got a smile on his face, combing his hair and putting on his cologne and david jackson left the apartment at that point. that's the last any of his friends saw him at that point. >> what really happened in the motel? wolf said he hid in the bathroom when david arrived. >> barbara answered and he was glad to see her. so they walked in and sat down on the edge of the bed and barbara had a stun gun and barbara hit david with a stun gun. >> but the stun gun malfunctioned. so wolf stepped out of the
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bathroom with his gun. >> he said so i had the gun wrapped in a towel and he showed me like this i fired one shot and about that time harry britton came into the room and said he's not dead yet. he's still breathing. shoot him again. so he said i shot him again and that shot killed him and they put david's body in the back of predug the grave so all they had to do was lay his body in there and cover him up. >> but that wasn't the end of wolf's tale. a year after the murder he said he got a call from harry britton. >> he learned they were going to build a new walmart where the bones were buried. >> where the bones were. >> and harry told him you have to come back up to here and move the bones, almost as an order. wolf flew back to florida. >> michael says he went out in the middle of the night and
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collected what he could find and put them in a trash bag and then went back to barbara britton's family house and put the bones out in the trash in a plastic bag. >> the story seemed to tell it all and cast barbara britton in a leading role. and once she heard that story, the detective was convinced that barbara determined to keep david away from their son was a full partner in his murder. >> what are the chances that either michael wolf or harry britton forced her to take part in this scheme. >> forced? >> yeah. >> you don't have to worse a willing participant. >> and you believe she was willing. >> yes. >> the detective couldn't help remembering what barbara told her when she heard that david's bones had been identified. >> strangely enough, the first thing she said to me was how many bones do you have? >> come on. >> she had participated in retrieving those bones and they thought they had gotten them all
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when they had left about 50% behind. >> all of this time said the detective, she just knew barbara had been lying and now she had the goods. we asked barbara about all of this of course. about her ex-husband's allegations that she was deeply involved in the murder and she denied it. >> you had no part in killing david. >> no, i did not. i had no knowledge, and i had no part and, you know, little lies here and there that mike keeps changing his story. i think it's just psychotic for the things that he has said. i was 21 back then. i was very like i don't think i could plan much. i'm not stupid but i'm not that smart, you know? >> now said barbara, it was all ex-husband michael wolfe's doing. his guilt made sense of his strange behavior during that time in arizona. particularly the weekend that david disappeared.
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a weekend when her ex-husband was not with her at home. >> he would always go on business trips and every time i asked he would tell me don't worry about it, you know, i got business to take care of. >> but she knew nothing at all about the murder she insisted until the penny dropped during a conversation years later with her father. >> i'm like i wonder what he's doing. i wonder if he's coming back. i wonder where he's at or what happened and he would just be like, you don't have to worry. he's not around to bother you. >> what was that like to deal with? >> very, very rough. it's my dad. it's my dad. i couldn't accept it. and what satisfaction did it get? you know? did it satisfy him? because it sure didn't satisfy me. >> still in december of 2007, it was detective velasquez that got what she wanted. she worked hard to prove what she believed to be true, that barbara was an integral part of
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the plot to kill david jacques and finally now, barbara britton was arrested and charged with murder. now perhaps the jury could answer the question. do you belief this woman? a woman whose hands literally shook, whose tears flowed at the mere mention of her departed ex-husband? do you belief the things she said. >> all the time we thought he was -- it's always been he's missing. >> dateline returns after the break. missing. >> dateline returns after the break. that they don't need to. i think dentists will want to recommend sensodyne rapid relief because it's clinically proven to work in 3 days. which means for patients that they get relief very fast.
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you have fast-acting power over pain, so the whole world looks different. what pain?
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barbara britton, the woman who sobbed at the mere mention of jackson's name was in jail awaiting trial for killing him, exactly where barbara belonged said the detective. >> she made it happen, she was the instigator. she was in the one in the middle. >> i have no doubt in my mind she was the innocence, claimed there was a reason michael wolff lied about that happened while they were married. here came another odd story. earlier, you remember the one suggesting drug running on david's delivery truck. now a story about michael and gun running. >> i was putting away laundry one day and i saw a bulge in a
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dress shirt pocket. there was quite a bit of money there. when he got home from work that night, i confronted him on it. he told me that he was doing gun runs to haiti. >> barbara said she told the police about wolfe's alleged gun running. >> he got mad and even told a cell mate of his that that's it. >> you pay the price. >> yeah. >> interesting. wolfe hasn't commented. barbara's defense attorney suspected wolfe had a much more practical motive. >> he was offered a 15-year plea bargain to take 15 years and testify about whoever his accomplices may be. lo and behold, there was an option at that point to maybe get that 15 years back. that was his motivation. >> in other words, said barbara's attorney, wolfe would
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sell out barbara anyway he could to get a reduced sentence. of course, there was the uncomfortable fact of the two unprompted confessions he had made to his ex wives, confessions in which he portrayed barbara as a sort of black widow intent of having david killed. >> well, there are two versions that he gave to each of those ex wives. >> the stories were not entirely consistent says attorney celtser. besides, barbara was at home in arizona the night of the murder. how does he know that? >> a phone bill from her mother's home placing calls to her home in arizona that night when nobody else could have been there. >> what's a phone bill of that age doing lying around where it can be grabbed for evidence by defendant? >> the father was a meticulous record keeper. >> what's to say it wasn't an answering service that picked it up. >> michael wolfe testified in their first deposition they had no answering machine. >> could have been somebody else in the house.
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>> he questioned mr. wolfe about that. he said nobody was there. >> as the defense prepared for trial in december of 2010, something changed. >> there was new evidence discovered. >> lane i blan dell, the prosecutor who inherited the case. >> that new evidence was what we consider a jailhouse snitch. he came forward and said michael wolfe fabricated the whole story about barbara participating in the murder of david jackson. >> that jailhouse snitch was well-known. mostly for the false information he provided. still, after three years in jail, it was enough to get barbara released and placed on house arrest pending trial. then, the prosecutor met michael wolfe to ask him about testifying against barbara. didn't go well. >> the blow came to me when he said, what am i getting in return? what will my sentence be reduced to? >> now, the state reassessed its
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options. >> i think with any case you're taking a 50/50 chance. the lack of forensic, the lack of physical evidence that a jury wants to seechlt but most importantly, the fact that you have a co-defendant giving the testimony which was the foundation of this prosecution who wanted something in return. >> the people who conducted the investigation, you know, deep down in their guts are sure that she was at the center of it. did you think so, too? >> what i think as a person and what i think as a prosecutor, i have to keep them separate. while i may have believed that barbara was a full participant in this, what i can prove is totally different. >> so you made an offer? >> we made an offer. >> barbara britton was offered two more years of house arrest and eight years of probation. she would avoid trial, but she had to plead guilty to accessory after the fact in david's murder. meaning she acknowledged knowing about the crime but only after
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it occurred. something she had always denied. >> you got to remember, i had that option to go to trial and take it. it's just taking a chance with 12 to 14 other -- >> jurors would hear a story about a mat harry, control freak who cleverly manipulated men to get them to do this awful thing. >> right. they know what you're there for. they're going to have somewhat of opinion. >> even though she accepted the deal, barbara was not happy. true, there was no prison time. but she was a felon now. >> you have a title over your head. it's life changing. it's very life-changing. >> do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. >> yes, i do. >> detective velasquez joined david's family at the sentencing hearing. >> you're okay with the stipulation and the fact that it's a guilty plea. >> yes, judge.
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>> judge, for the record david jackson's mother would like to speak. judy. >> she read a victim impact statement. >> because of you, i have cried endlessly for 24 years. i wanted to die myself to be with david. >> her gaze fixed on the woman her son once loved. >> you are guilty. michael is where he should be in prison. your father is where he should be and you would join him one day because that is where you should be. in hell. david's brother mark was not at all sure that justice was served. >> if you lose in trial, that's god's will. you can't yoel thcontrol that. i think it should have gone to trial. i think society when she's off house arrest needs to worry. >> picture of david. >> his mother? >> there is justice. yes. she's a felon now for life. she's got to live with all that.
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i don't. oh, my god, every time i get out of the morning, one says guilty, the other says felon. >> as for the detective who so doggedly pursued the case who thinks a murderer got away -- >> at first i was disappointed. i had to make peace with it. when i put my head down on the pillow at night, at the end of the day, she's a felon. mentally, when you're in prison here, do you ever escape that? >> as for barbara, she spent the remainder of her house arrest at her father's home. old vw, the one that allegedly carried david's body still parked outside. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. good morning. i'm garrett haake at msnbc world headquarters in new york.
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it's 6:00 in the east, 3:00 out west. breaking news. a stabbing attack at a hanukkah celebration north of new york city. new details on manhunt ahead. fresh outrage after the president's latest twitter attack retweeting a post naming the alleged whistle-blower. what will he do? another clarification from joe biden about what he'll do if subpoenaed for the president's impeachment trial. great expectations. what's in store for people earning minimum wage in 2020. breaking news overnight. five people injured in an attack during a hanukkah
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