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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  December 30, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PST

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96 kpke with the bird and the bee. >> i had a huge crush on him. he had this amazing voice. >> very gregarious, very charismatic. i think the passion he had for people came through. >> reporter: he was the guy the whole town woke up to, morning dj steven b. >> he was so funny and he had such a great love of music. >> he's loveable. i mean, everybody loves steven b. >> reporter: but soon it was fatally clear that not everybody did. >> they came upon a body floating in the water. >> shot him one time in the back of the head. >> i felt like i was in some made-for-tv movie. it's like "this can't be happening."
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>> reporter: what did happen? tonight, the hunt is on. a gleaming yacht. >> i thought, "why did you get on that boat?" >> reporter: a scheming businessman, and a missing fortune. >> you're a multi-millionaire and you don't have any money. >> fred: high seas adventure to heart-stopping murder. >> i don't think i'll ever get another case quite like this.
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>> reporter: down below the surface of the pacific ocean, on the far side of california's catalina island, is a silent current. strange, how it flows up to the swelling coastline of santa barbara. then, just before the open sea, turns back to glide again past this storied island. with, one sunny day in may 2006, someone in it. >> i have a saying that i'd rather be lucky than good. >> reporter: ken clark is a detective with the l.a. sheriff's department. been at it a long time. as has robert martindale. more than 50 years between them. but nothing like the case that literally floated to them on a lonely reach of ocean out by catalina.
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would never have had the case at all, except -- >> we were lucky that we had some boaters leaving newport beach going to catalina island and they came upon a body floating in the water. >> just happened to see it? >> just happened to see it. >> that's a big ocean out there. >> absolutely. >> so the chances of it being seen are, what, needle in the haystack? >> very slim. >> reporter: the sailors had spotted a flock of shrieking seagulls perched on top of a body. it looked like it had been in the water for some time. >> it was in extreme decomposition phase. >> right. >> bloated and -- >> barnacles had attached themselves. >> barnacles already? >> absolutely. >> yes. >> reporter: there was no i.d. on the body. it was labeled a 'john doe' and taken to the l.a. coroner's office. >> well, initially it was believed to be a drowning victim. >> reporter: but who was he?
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identifying their john doe posed a huge challenge. >> we could only say it was a human being and that was it. >> reporter: though there was one odd thing. medical examiner pointed to the man's left hand. three fingers were missing, and clearly had been, said the examiner, for years. >> when the victim was young, he had an accident where he severed three fingers on his left hand. >> reporter: which at least offered a slim chance of getting an i.d. >> we were hoping if someone were to call and said, "my friend is missing." tell us something about him. >> reporter: and then another piece of luck. someone did call. looking for a friend he hadn't seen for weeks. a friend who had lost three fingers in a junior high school woodshop accident. and just like that, john doe had a name. and a whole remarkable life. >> our victim we identified as steven bailey williams. >> reporter: steven bailey williams, better known to his friends, family, and fans as steven b. >> all hit 96 kpke, friday morning with the bird and the b. >> reporter: a dj with a distinctive voice and personality that had made him famous in the 1980s as part of
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the hit denver-based radio show "steven b and the hawk." >> say, step over here and say a few words to the radio people around the country. >> well, i think we can keep this short and simple. get a real job. >> he was really at his professional zenith in denver. >> reporter: doug johnson and steven were friends for more than 30 years. they were the guys that really pioneered two-man morning radio. they were funny. they were great writers. they were great comedians. >> we've been over here at kpke for about what? a hundred years? >> uh, well, let's see it was 18 --. it was about 90-some years. >> tempus fugit when you're having a good time. >> he's lovable. i mean, you just -- everybody loves steven b. >> reporter: young sylvia noland had a big crush on steven b when they both worked in a hawaii radio station back in the early days, so she worked up her nerve. >> i went in and asked steven b. if he'd be my date to the beach boys concert. and he turned me down and i was just like devastated, you know. and so i was sitting in my little sales cubical. and -- i -- >> what's the matter with me? >> i know. and the general manager walks in and he goes, "i think you need to know something." and i said, "what?" and he goes, "well, if you were a boy he would have gone."
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and i'm like -- here i am from west virginia, 18, i'm like, "what?" and he goes, "he's gay." it's like -- "oh, ok, well i can accept that then." so -- >> reporter: and that very day sylvia and steven began a warm, lifelong friendship. many afternoons spent lingering at this coffee shop. and many memorable evenings. >> what were those dinners like? >> oh, steven's an amazing cook. >> if you were patient, he was good. he was a phenomenal cook. but you had to be geared to eating at, like, 10:30 or 11:00 because he was the type of person that if he would talk to you, you would have his undivided attention. >> so by the time we would eat it's, like, everybody's drunk. >> reporter: and then somewhere in the middle of the '90s, the radio business seemed to tire of steven's huge deep voice and happy style. he got a job in the winery business for a while. then went home to care for his ailing father in southern california. and in 2003 when his father died -- >> oh, he was devastated.
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>> reporter: and then, in the depths of his despair, a window opened to a whole new set of possibilities. steven made a new friend who had just bought a yacht, planned to sail it around the world. would steven like to go along, be the chef? >> did he know anything about sailing? >> no, nothing at all. >> what did you think about that? >> he's excited about this. it's a nice diversion. it's something for him to focus on after his dad died. >> i thought it was amazing. i said i -- i think it's awesome. i was really excited for him. >> reporter: but now? the dream, the voice, the happy go lucky charm. all gone. what happened to steven b? did he fall overboard? in the harsh white light of the pathology lab, the coroner peered down at the body and made a pronouncement. steven b did not die of accidental drowning. couldn't have. because there was a bullet in the back of his head. >> when we come back, murder? who might have wanted steven b. dead?
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>> reporter: there had been so much promise in the air that spring of 2006. >> ok, child of the zodiac, here
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>> reporter: all that fun on the radio was over, yes, but now he was all set to sail the world. live a dream. and then he winds up floating face down seven miles off the coast of california's catalina island. a bullet hole in the back of his head. but who wanted him dead? and why? detectives ken clark and robert martindale started by asking his friends. >> what did you find out about him? >> the thing i noticed about this case and i give the credit to his friends was he was surrounded by a group of very close friends that knew a lot about him. these are lifelong friends. >> he was just a great sounding board, somebody who i'd call if i was angry, if i was frustrated, if i needed advice. >> he could talk you down. >> yeah. >> or talk you up as the case might be. >> yeah, he could do both, usually at the same time. >> reporter: and recently steven had found a sounding board of his own. a new friend named harvey morrow. >> oh he's just a quiet easy-going guy. he came up to him and said, "oh my gosh, i'm such a huge fan of steven b. and the hawk."
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steven thought that was awesome. >> reporter: steven soon became fast friends with harvey and his wife, debbie. >> what'd you think of steven? >> he was so funny. and he had such a great love of music. and he loved to cook. and i thought, "oh, this man's going to be perfect to go on the boat with us." >> reporter: ah yes, the boat. harvey had it docked at the l.a. yacht club. a 69-foot beauty called the "iolair mara." harvey and debbie had big plans for that boat. they'd talked about it ever since their first date. >> he says, "what do you want to do when you retire?" and i said, "i want to sail all over the world." >> reporter: it was her dream of a lifetime and now debbie actually found the man who shared it. they married at the dawn of the new millennium, right here on the front porch of their new texas home. all that adventure to look forward to. and now harvey had invited steven to go along as chef on their beloved yacht. steven moved aboard, lived with them on the boat. but before they set sail, there
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was some work to do. >> he had bought this kind of basically old rusty tub, right? >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> reporter: greg labano helped harvey fix up the old tub. greg fashioned all the stainless steel trim. felt a connection with harvey too. >> he was a wall street guy, investment banker. rejecting society. >> a little bit like you had been. >> yeah, yeah. i'm an outlaw mentality. that's why we bonded, you know. >> reporter: though as greg watched harvey pour money into the boat, the flatscreen, the teak, the $50,000 washer/dryer. >> holy cat, you can buy another boat for 50 grand. >> sure. >> he just wanted the biggest and the best of what he could get, you know. >> reporter: before harvey dropped out, he'd been in the investment banking business. had some old stock investments that finally paid off, he said, and so he plowed the money into the boat. along with what a still-working debbie was able to contribute. >> he says, "don't worry, you know, so what if you have to work another year."
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>> he said that? >> yeah. yeah. >> what did you think? >> it's like, well, okay. work another year. but by the time i'm in it. the boat's bought. he's already sunk so much money into it. so it's like, "let's just get but by the time i'm in it. the boat's bought. he's already sunk so much money into it. so it's like, "let's just get this done." >> can't walk away now. >> right. can't walk away now. let's get it done. >> reporter: they did not ask steven to kick in a share, which was probably just as well, given how steven was with money. >> the creative side of his mind worked very well. but he was not a good money manager. >> reporter: steven bailey williams, as his friends told the detectives, had lived hand to mouth most of his life. he was a radio guy, made good money, and spent it. finance not a strong suit, said his friend doug johnson. >> he was bad with money and he was paperwork averse. he would just forget to file his taxes for a few years. >> how many years would he go? >> his record was eight. >> reporter: but then steven's father died, and the bad money manager was suddenly confronted with a windfall.
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steven inherited nearly 2 million. so now he'd have to manage real money. >> he was trying to manage the estate, trying to get things organized, which for steven was an almost impossible battle. >> sure. >> reporter: but happily, there was harvey, the ex-banker, to help him get the money socked away. a nice, safe tax haven, off-shore. >> steven had said, he's helping me with stuff. he's a retired financial planner, investment banker. >> just the sort of person i need right now. >> yeah, and, "boy, this will be a real great help. >> reporter: but that was just business. what really caught steven's imagination was sailing around the world. that is, if the boat ever got finished. >> because every time he turned around it was a new computer being put in or new paintings and fireplaces and satellite systems. >> reporter: and two bathrooms, and its full kitchen. well, it never seemed to end. two years passed. three years. steven waiting and waiting. >> he had wanted to go to culinary school but harvey kept saying, oh, we're going to set
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sail soon. we're going to set sail soon. >> reporter: and then one day, without a word to anyone, steven simply disappeared. >> the questions began. where was steven? and what had happened to his newfound fortune? >> we were all kind of having the same that he had just dropped off the radar completely. >> i said how could this be? i mean, you're a multimillionaire, and you don't have any money. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues ugh, another delay... keep bouncing like i'm a bouncy castle! oh yeah!! 5 stops, 0 leaks. we're crushing this commute! huggies little movers. our best fitting diaper that fits like a hugg. hugg on
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in the spring of 2006 exdeejay was ready, eager. any day now he'd be ready to setoff and sail around the world. and suddenly without saying a word to any of his lifelong friends he vanished. >> i was worried sick. and we were all kind of having the same angst that -- that he had just dropped off the radar completely. >> reporter: his friends called each other, compared notes. no one had seen steven for weeks. >> so i called harvey. and i said, "hey, harvey. we're all really concerned about steven. have you seen him?" and he goes, "oh, well, he's over in hawaii. he went to hawaii." >> reporter: now, that was strange. because harvey told another friend steven went to mexico. >> what'd you think? >> i thought, well, steven
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wouldn't go into mexico at gunpoint. i mean, it was completely out of character for him. >> reporter: then harvey's friend greg, the stainless steel guy, said he noticed something strange about steven's usually cluttered cabin. >> it was completely sterile. just nothing in it, not one loose object. >> reporter: it was as if steven had never set foot in here. and then those boaters made their shocking discovery. steven face down in the ocean, a bullet in his head. >> what was it like to get that news? >> oh it was awful. i felt like i was in some made for tv movie. it's like, this can't be happening. none of us could believe it was happening. >> reporter: detectives ken clark and robert martindale wanted to have a look at harvey morrow's boat, steven's last known residence, and they wanted to talk to harvey. they got a search warrant. brought a whole team to the harbor. seized the yacht. >> when you first walked in, was it -- >> clean, absolutely clean. clean enough for you, and these are my words, eat off the floor. >> reporter: pristine, in fact. and for all the diligent efforts of the forensic people, there
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was no sign of steven b's existence. no evidence he'd ever set foot on that yacht. they did find some high-tech navigational equipment, which they hoped would tell them where the boat had been, but when the expert analyzed it -- >> he said it was never connected. it was never turned on. >> reporter: there was a manual for a handheld garmin gps. but only the manual. >> we went and we searched and we searched and we searched. and we just didn't find the gps. >> reporter: nor did they find harvey morrow. he seemed to have disappeared. and that's when they started digging into harvey's background. just who was he anyway? >> some said he was as wealthy as $12 million or more. >> reporter: though when detectives talked to the neighbors here at the yacht club, at least one of them wasn't quite so sure that harvey was for real. >> she says, "me and my husband, we have money, we live on our yacht. i knew when i saw harvey that he was full of it because no one dresses like gilligan and the skipper when they're living on a yacht and yet harvey always
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showed up -- these are her words. "he showed up in costume." >> reporter: and harvey's employment history? turned out it was not quite as gold-plated as harvey had been letting on. as the detectives discovered. >> i think everything harvey's been involved with throughout his career in banking or stockbroking has gone belly up. everything he's involved in seems to have some type of fraud involved. it's one con after the next. i don't think he's ever actually had a bona fide job where he's been there for a period of time. >> reporter: which led to an obvious question -- what kind of job had harvey been doing managing steven's inheritance? sylvia noland remembered shortly before steven vanished, somebody broke into the trunk of his car where he kept all his personal paperwork, his passport, his trust documents. all stolen. >> and i said, well, please tell me that the document between you and harvey, you know, wasn't in there. and he goes, "what document?" and i said, "well, you know, for him investing your $2 million." i said, "you have something documented, right?" and he goes, "no." and i said, "you gave some man you just met a couple years ago
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$2 million and you got nothing in writing?" >> reporter: she told the detectives, of course. and they took a good look at harvey's boat and soon learned something that probably should have been obvious all along. that fancy, dolled-up tub, with its pricey power winches, its expensive electronics, its polished teak, washer-dryer, fireplace, was paid for, practically every dollar, by the unwitting steven b. that answer turned up in meticulous detail in harvey's own ship's ledger. >> he put, according to his own ledgers, $1.7 million into that yacht. so almost the whole amount he took from steven went right back into that yacht. >> reporter: no wonder, said steven's friend sylvia, no wonder, the last time they went out to lunch she had to pick up the check. >> he was so embarrassed.
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and i said, "how could this be?" i mean, "you're a multi-millionaire and you don't have any money." and he said, "well, harvey's got it all tied up in these offshore accounts." >> reporter: the detectives discovered harvey morrow had put steven's inheritance money into an off-shore bank account in the british virgin islands, just as he said he would, but then he secretly brought it back to the u.s. in small increments and used the money to refurbish the boat. >> harvey just sucked up all that money? >> all of it. >> reporter: steven, by his own admission a lousy money manager, trusting, vulnerable after the death of his father, was, said detectives, the perfect mark. >> steven was no match for this man at all. >> reporter: nor, apparently, was his wife, debbie. >> i was really very much in love with harvey. >> reporter: but as she now began to discover the man she loved had lied. a house in vail, colorado, which he told her he owned outright, actually belonged to someone else. the money she sent him when she went back to work? vanished. the auto insurance he told her he bought for her didn't exist.
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and what he said was a $125,000 diamond ring he slipped on her finger when he proposed? a fake. >> it was cubic zirconium. >> reporter: just who was that man she married and believed she loved? >> i don't think harvey even liked me. you know, love is not only blind, in my instance it's also deaf and dumb. >> reporter: but devastating as those lies were, debbie couldn't bring herself to believe harvey could kill. >> i never once thought it would, it would be harvey that would have hurt steven. >> reporter: and in fact, there was nothing definitive tying harvey to steven's murder. no sign of any violent struggle, not a drop of steven's blood anywhere on the ship. if only the detectives could talk to harvey. it turned out they had just missed him. an employee at the yacht club told investigators harvey was standing nearby in plain sight, observing as the cops scoured his boat. but by the time they heard that, harvey was long gone. >> from friends and knowing his
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past, we -- there was some speculation that he would go south and he had some dealings in belize before and we believed that's possibly where he was heading. >> reporter: so they put out feelers, belize, the virgin islands, harvey's old haunts down there. but the trail went cold. steven's murder apparently unsolvable. >> coming up, a mysterious stranger surfaces hundreds of miles away. >> she was very sure of himself to the point of looking smug. the more he would talk, the more intrigued i became. >> could he hold the key to the case? >> did you ever get any money from steven and put it in your account? >> when dateline continues. >> when dateline continues if your dishwasher doesn't get dishes completely dry... try finish jet-dry.
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with your top stories, new video shows the moment two nypd officers arrested the man suspected of stabbing five people at a hanukkah party late
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last night. he's pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. his family says he has a long history of mental illness. the secretary of state and secretary of defense addressed u.s. air strikes in iraq and syria. the strikes targeted facilities tied to an iranian backed militia. it's been blamed for a recent deadly rocket attack on a u.s. military base. now back to dateline. welcome back to dateline. i'm craig melvin. where was harvey? los angeles detectives were determined to question him about the murder of stephen b. williams. he had drained the former radio star's bank account for a lavish yacht renovation and then skipped town. but the conman's lies were about to catch up with him. here again is keith morrison with who killed the radio star. >> reporter: it was september
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2006 when a smooth-talking stranger walked into pete's auto dealership in great falls, montana and got himself a job as a used car salesman. >> he was quite the character. wasn't your typical car salesman persona. >> reporter: joe parsetich was the finance manager at pete's auto. he was at the dealership the day the new guy started. >> he was very sure of himself to the point of a little bit smug. in montana, where you have a lot of down-to-earth meat-and-potatoes people, where they're very friendly towards one another, having somebody with a smug, cocky attitude isn't going to go over very well at times. >> reporter: still, joe was friendly in the way montanans are known for. he gave the guy the benefit of the doubt. one sunday evening, they got to talking. joe says the new salesman told him how he used to be a successful stockbroker, had a beautiful lakefront home in
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texas. they even looked up his property on google earth. so why on earth, joe asked, would someone leave all that and come to great falls? >> he had shared that his wife and a couple of her friends had taken their yacht down to the gulf of mexico and were gonna go sailing for the weekend. during that time, a storm ensued. and the boat was capsized, and his wife and her friends all perished, along with the boat. so he had shared that looking at large bodies of water was just more than he can bear. and he wanted to get as far away from that kind of environment as he could. >> reporter: and who did this tragic past belong to? joe said the wealthy salesman told him his name was harvey morrow. harvey was quite chatty with joe, but one thing harvey didn't know -- joe, his attentive audience, was a former police officer. and harvey's amazing story made joe's antenna buzz a little. >> the more he would talk about the loss of his wife and his boat, the more intrigued i became. >> reporter: so on his way home
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that night, joe took a little detour, drove by the hotel where harvey said he was staying. >> and when i drove by, i didn't find his suv at that location that he said. which i didn't think suspicious at the time. but i still, for whatever reason, drove around to see a few other hotels or motels, to see if i found his vehicle. and i located his vehicle at a place called the imperial inn. >> reporter: why would harvey lie about something as benign as where he was staying? when joe got home that night, he went straight to his office and turned on the computer. >> i entered harvey morrow's name on google. and i was surprised what i had found. >> reporter: a simple google search and there it was. a news article describing the murder of disc jockey steven b. williams. >> and harvey morrow was listed as a person of extreme interest. >> reporter: but if harvey really was a fugitive, wouldn't
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he have changed his name? maybe it was an awful misunderstanding. still, joe called the captain of cascade county sheriff's department in great falls and told him what he had learned. and it wasn't long before sgt. clark in california returned to his desk and saw the red light on his phone. there was a message. >> and he said i understand you might be looking for harvey morrow. >> wow. what'd you -- what'd you think when you heard that message? >> well, i was happy. >> reporter: it was another stroke of luck. >> you go to montana because i'm looking you down in the british virgin island. everyone i've talked to in southern california says that's where you like to go. that's where you're going to be. unfortunately for you, again, lucky for me, we got a retired cop that is not going have a bleeding heart. he's going to have sympathy and empathy and he's going to say, "okay, great." but behind the doors he's going to go run you on the computer and goes, oh my goodness. >> reporter: sergeants clark and martindale boarded a flight to great falls, montana to pay the elusive harvey a visit.
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joe helped arrange a little meeting at the car dealership. >> i told harvey, i said, "i need you to go back out there and get this one particular vehicle prepared," that one of his customers were coming back to look at it. >> reporter: and when harvey stepped out front, officers from the cascade county sheriff's department were waiting for him. >> they just walked up and said, "harvey, here are some guys from california that want to talk to you. put your hands behind your back. you're under arrest." click, click. >> that was that? >> that was that. >> it's pretty civilized, isn't it? >> very civilized. very civilized. >> we should all live like they do in great falls. >> i was -- i was impressed. i was very impressed. >> reporter: police searched harvey's landrover, discovered guns and ammunition. they loaded him into the back of a squad car, took him to the local sheriff's dept, eager to hear what he had to say. >> yeah, our -- my primary focus is about your vessel, harvey. how much money did you put into that boat? >> i don't know. >> what would you estimate? what would you think?
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roughly. >> i have no idea. it was over a period of a long time. >> and so we wanted to key in on him. how much money did you have? how much money did you spend? where did the money come from? and things of that nature. he was very vague. it became pretty frustrating. >> did you set up steven's trust fund? >> you lost me. >> did you set up steven's trust fund? >> steven took care of his own stuff. >> did you ever help steven with his finances after his father's estate sold? >> ask steven. >> okay. >> did you ever get any money from steven and put it into your account? >> we passed money back and forth. >> how many times did you receive money from steven? was it more than once? >> i don't remember. >> do you remember how much money you got from steven in total? >> no, no. >> you don't? >> he was very vague. i believe he talked to us thinking he was going to outsmart us in that interview. >> was he trying to prevent you from getting him on the record,
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pinning him down in a way that you could use it against him later? >> i felt that. >> you're asking questions that -- >> but harvey, you're a banker, man. you should know the answers to these questions. >> i don't want to talk anymore. >> you're done? >> yeah. i mean, you're not telling me anything. you're -- >> well, we're not finished yet. i told you i got a lot to tell you and i do and i will tell you. >> tell it to my lawyer. >> but -- tell it to what? >> tell it to a lawyer. >> reporter: of course, he was going to need one. harvey was extradited to california, charged with first degree murder. but for all the evidence that harvey conned and stole from steven, evidence of murder was pretty thin. at least without another stroke of luck. >> and that's exactly what they got. a missing piece of the puzzle discovered at last. coming up -- >> he said you need to look at the data that's in this gps. >> that gps was a pivotal point in the investigation. it kind of sealed this whole case together. >> when "dateline" continues. the case together. >> when "dateline" continues
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>> reporter: in september of 2006, doug johnson was walking on the beach, thinking about his friend of 30 years, the murdered one-time dj steven b. williams. >> and i see this light on the beach. and i thought, "now, what can that be?" i'd dropped my cell phone and it had landed face-up. and the panel was lighting up and i walked over to it and i
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picked it up and it was ken clark, detective clark calling to tell me that they had arrested harvey. it was a real great sense of relief. it was almost indescribable. >> reporter: which is perhaps where the movie version of this story would end. but real life is not quite like that. for all the suspicion of steven's friends, the murder case against harvey morrow was rather weak. no evidence sufficient to prove that harvey shot steven then dumped his body in the ocean. >> we were looking for steven's dna on the boat. knowing that his death was caused by a gunshot wound it was pretty obvious that there should be something that said this is where it was. >> reporter: but there wasn't. no blood, no gun, no significant fingerprints. what they needed, couldn't find, was something that put the two men together on the far side of catalina island where that current would have caught the body, carried it round to the
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spot where boaters saw it floating face down in the water. they hunted everywhere for harvey's gps, but they never found it. months went by. harvey sitting in jail. no luck for the investigation now. and then? a phone call. it was the commandant of harvey's yacht club. >> he says, "i found a handheld gps in the library of our club." >> reporter: the commandant told them someone in the club had found the gps, wrapped in a napkin and hidden in the back of a club library cabinet. >> and he says, "that cabinet is in a position where harvey morrow always sits and reads all the time." and he showed us a garmin c60 which exactly matched in the way it looked. all the manuals that we had recovered months earlier on that yacht. >> reporter: here it was, the device they searched for on the boat and couldn't find. >> and he said, "you need to
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look at the data that's in this gps." >> reporter: amazing thing. the gps preserved in its memory, in almost infinite detail, its very last trip. which was as follows -- may 4th, 2006 around 2 p.m., the gps headed out toward catalina island. went to the back side, where it seemed to putter around aimlessly in the middle of the night. then returned back to the dock 6:00 a.m. may 5th. that little device seemed to pinpoint the place and time of steven's murder. but how could detectives be sure the gps belonged to harvey and was on his boat? and then, what do you know. luck again. when harvey bought the gps, he took a friend. >> i was with him in the car when we picked it up. and it was such a cool gps. i've got one myself. >> that gps was a pivotal point in the investigation that really
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kind of sealed this whole case together. >> reporter: but though the gps evidence told detectives where harvey's boat was the day steven was killed, how could they be sure harvey and steven were together on the boat at precisely that time? >> electronic data is fascinating nowadays. very fascinating. our cell phones, we can also follow that signature. we were lucky again. >> reporter: lucky this time because of blackjack. blackjack cell tower, catalina island, where both harvey and steven's cell phones pinged together just where the gps said they would be. after which steven's cell phone went to straight to voicemail and harvey sailed right back to his dock the next morning. where he was late for a pre-arranged fishing trip with his friends. >> they basically said he looked disheveled. he looked as if he had been up all night. he was not himself. >> reporter: one question left. exactly what happened on that fancy boat, the last moments of steven b.'s life? doug remembered steven was angry over harvey's handling of his money. >> he had said that he was going to have a come to jesus with harvey. he was going to confront harvey
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about the money. >> reporter: did steven confront harvey over his lost fortune? is that what led to this? >> we believe that they were both on deck and he walked up behind him and just walked up, put with the gun in the back of the head and pulled the trigger. which can explain the lack of blood evidence. he just pushed him right over. or he fell over. >> reporter: it took five years and over 30,000 pages of evidence to build the case against harvey morrow. most of it hinged on a financial motive. all of it circumstantial. the detectives felt confident about the case they had so carefully assembled, while harvey all the while maintained his innocence. and then, the very first day of the trial -- the bombshell they didn't see coming. >> coming up -- >> i thought, oh, my god, he's being set free. >> so many years and so many cons. was there about to be another? >> when dateline continues. >> when dateline continues
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at chwe're a festive family. we're a four-legged family. we're a get-up-and-go family. we're a ski family. we're all part of the chevy family. and as we kick off the new year, we'd like you to be a part of ours. because our chevy employee discount is still available to everyone. the chevy price you pay is what we pay. not a cent more. so happy new year, and welcome to the family. the chevy family! the chevy employee discount for everyone ends soon.
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welcome back. harvey was about to stand trial for the murder of stephen b. williams. prosecutors believe the motive was money. he shot the former radio star after steven confronted him about his missing fortune. armed with crucial gps data, they felt ready to prove their case but the defense had a stunning surprise in store. new evidence that threatened to
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shatter the very foundation of the prosecution's argument. could harvey walk away a free man? here's keith morrison with the conclusion of "who killed the radio star." >> reporter: it had taken five long years to get to this point, but harvey morrow was finally being tried for the murder of steven b. police and prosecutors felt confident. that is, until the defense gave its opening statement and things took an unexpected turn. >> during the opening statement, it was said that the money that harvey got from steven was money that was owed to harvey in a loan that happened many years ago. >> reporter: harvey loaned money to steven's father back in the '80s, the defense told the jury. they had a promissory note to prove it. >> hadn't you encountered that along the way? >> no. it was part of the trust packet and the trust -- at this point,
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the numbers i'm getting from the court were over 33,000 pages of documentation. >> quite -- quite frankly, we missed it. >> reporter: they'd missed evidence that seemed to show harvey wasn't stealing from steven at all. had no motive to kill him. suddenly, the whole case against harvey, fragile to begin with, seemed in danger of falling apart. and amid doubt about the new evidence, the judge declared a mistrial. >> i thought, "oh my god. he's being set free." >> reporter: but harvey wasn't set free. instead, the state appointed to the case its third prosecutor in five years. >> this was my first case of this particular type. >> reporter: prosecutor john mckinney. >> how do you get ready? >> quickly. >> reporter: his first task -- to address that alleged loan between harvey and steven's father, the issue that caused the mistrial. he spoke to steven's best friend and heard this -- >> i said i know it's a complete fiction. i said, i know it's fraud. >> reporter: and sure enough,
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when prosecutor mckinney took a closer look at that loan document -- steven's father's signature didn't match. classic sign of a con job, said the prosecutor. >> even the idea that there had been any sort of relationship between morrow and steven williams' father is nonsense, right? bogus. couldn't have possibly been. >> couldn't have possibly been and wasn't corroborated by any evidence whatsoever. >> reporter: now he was ready for the new trial. he showed the jury, check by check, how harvey drained steven's accounts, all 1.7 million, in just 3 years to dress up a boat that was never going to sail anywhere. >> the boat wasn't properly outfitted for a trip around the world. in fact, it was outfitted in such a way that suggests that it was just going to be a showpiece. it was going to be part of his con. part of the image that he liked to sell to people. >> reporter: then the prosecutor took the jury through the gps and cell phone records and
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explained how that evidence put steven and harvey together on the far side of catalina island. after which, steven vanished and harvey told conflicting stories about where he supposedly went. >> i think the most damning evidence in this regard was the fact that despite having a history of calling mr. williams on the telephone over the years that they knew each other, he never called his phone one time after the day the victim went missing. >> reporter: but that didn't mean harvey killed steven, the defense said. steven b. was so depressed about losing his career and his father, about getting older, that he killed himself. and the medical examiner testified it was possible steven could have shot himself. >> what was your opinion of the idea that he might have committed suicide? >> i think it was incredulous. i don't think he would have done it. >> reporter: still, it was
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another explanation and the jury would have to consider it. so now the courtroom waited and whispered. would harvey take the stand? >> i told the investigators that i thought he was going to testify. and they didn't think so. they thought i was crazy. >> what made you think he would? >> well, he's a con man and he likes to talk. and con men think they can talk themselves out of any situation. >> reporter: he was right. sure enough, harvey was confident, self-assured. had answers for almost everything. he didn't steal steven's money, he said. >> he came up with a story that no one had heard before his testimony. >> reporter: which was that steven actually owed him his entire inheritance to pay back a whole different loan. naturally. >> but mr. morrow thought he could sell it. with a straight face. >> reporter: would jurors believe him?
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steven's friend sylvia worried. >> you know, i was thinking, "oh my gosh. what if he cons these people, you know, the way that he conned steven. >> reporter: and perhaps there was reason to worry. the jury stayed out for almost two full days. >> it was a long couple days, i'll tell you that. >> reporter: and then, finally -- >> we the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant, harvey morrow, guilty of the crime of willful, deliberate and premeditated first-degree murder of steven b. williams. >> oh my gosh. we were all holding hands. and when they read it, we all started crying and just were so grateful. >> reporter: and steven's many friends poured into the courtroom the day harvey was sentenced. doug johnson read a statement for all of them. things he had to say to harvey. >> for years you ate his food, lived and worked under what he
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thought was a common goal, the whole time stealing from him and ultimately taking what was most precious, his life. you worship a false god, the god of arrogance, ego and greed. today our nightmare ends. today yours really begins. >> reporter: harvey was sentenced to life without parole. after which his now ex-wife, debbie, invited us down to the pier where she took harvey's fake engagement ring and the other costume jewelry he'd given her and -- >> i threw them into the water as a tribute to steven. >> reporter: and his friends? >> steven was part of my family. he's part of the family you get to pick. i can open a great bottle of wine and sit there and think about steven. the pain fades. the memories are sustained. and that's the part that, you know, that i'll just keep with me forever. >> the only way that i can kind of deal with it is i knew that he was eventually going to get on a boat and sail around the world. so i just kind of think of him out there, you know? he's out there somewhere. >> reporter: out there like the happy-go-lucky free spirit on
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the radio. >> that's a good one. >> reporter: the man they called steven b. >> have a good weekend. bye! >> that's all for this edition of new details about opposition from within the house to president trump's demand to halt military aid to ukraine. john bolton, mike pompeo and mark esper all tried to convince him to release the aid. >> plus people are speaking out to condemn an attack that left five people wounded at ar rabbis home. >> authorities say worshippers returned fire after the gunman began


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