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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  December 6, 2020 11:00pm-1:00am PST

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to forgive becky, not to say that she doesn't have to be held accountable, and she doesn't have to suffer consequences, because that's a given, and that's the right thing, that keith would actually want us to forgive becky. and i know that. and i would just tell keith, well done. your time on earth here was well done. >> that's all for this edition > thank you for watching. he was well liked. he was well-loved. he was smart. he was fun. i had the most senseless, empty feeling. this is how it ends? why would somebody do it? now what? >> white hat. wide open smile. a handsome young veterinarian in big sky country. >> he loved helping animals. >> he asked me out that night. i was excited. >> then they found him dead on the floor. >> two shots went off, and then the third shot into his chest. >> three gunshots that launched a long-running mystery.
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who killed the veterinarian? >> i think the perpetrator stood there and watched him die. >> there were so many different leads and rumors. >> i felt like it wasn't for me, it never would have happened. >> jealousy, rage, revenge. >> it was your classic whodunit? >> could anyone solve it? >> look at what it's done to our family. >> it was hard. >> i wanted justice for my brother. >> reporter: there was a broad swath of prairie where the cattle outnumbered the people and a sad summer breeze sang around a modest dwelling in the grass. >> emergency. >> this is marlene protsman in geraldine. >> reporter: they called it the bunkhouse, though it was really just an old single-wide trailer. >> the veterinarian shot
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himself. my husband just went down to check to see if he was going to pasture. >> reporter: a nondescript little place out on the montana prairie. a bit worn around the edges. >> do you know where he shot himself? >> he doesn't know. >> is he still alive? >> there's blood everywhere. >> reporter: the sort of place a young vet could live cheap while he built his business. >> well, if you can have somebody go check and see if he's still alive. i have paged the ambulance. >> reporter: when the local sheriff's deputies arrived, they found the body in the middle of the kitchen floor lying on its back. blood had pooled under its head. on one foot was a shoe of the sort people wear in the water. the other was bare. a .357 magnum was on the floor not far from the dead man's left hand. marlene protsman saw all this, too, same time as the deputies. but she could tell right away, as apparently they could not, that she'd been wrong on the 911 call. the man did not shoot himself. >> bryan had a cut on his nose.
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and the way his shirt was ripped and just the blood on the floor, it just -- >> reporter: it looked like a struggle? >> yeah. it wasn't a suicide. >> reporter: but the deputies went about their work as they saw fit. and thus, on sunday, july 14th, 1996, they clouded a mystery that has come down all the way to us. >> there were so many different theories, different suspects, and so much conflicting evidence, it was your classic whodunit. >> reporter: or perhaps your classic nightmare. >> i'd lay awake at night and ask god to give me some insight here. where do i go now? >> reporter: the victim, the man on the floor, was bryan rein, veterinarian. charlene and teresa's big brother. >> he was my brother. he was my best friend. he was my business partner. >> reporter: they grew up together in scott city, kansas. >> we shared bedrooms.
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we shared clothing. everybody shared. >> reporter: bryan was the eldest. so what kind of an older brother was he? >> protective. ornery. >> reporter: ornery? >> we were always playing pranks on each other and especially teresa, because she didn't take them so well. >> reporter: that bryan was very smart was a given. maybe a little too smart? >> i remember turning to him once and saying, i just want to know what time it is. i don't need to know how the clock was made. >> reporter: here's what they got to do growing up in a small town. they joined 4-h, future farmers of america. they raised their special animals, showed them off in fairs and exhibitions. and bryan knew from the very beginning there was one job he was meant to do. >> i never knew bryan not wanting to be a veterinarian. bryan always said that being a vet was way more difficult than being a doctor because an animal can't tell you where it hurts or how they feel. you have to figure out how they feel. >> reporter: after finishing vet school, bryan moved to montana. big, wide open country. cattle ranches galore. an outdoorsman's paradise,
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really, which absolutely suited bryan rein. he took full advantage of what montana had to offer. and often. and so in 1995, a year before the events in our story, dr. rein set up shop in a speck on the map called geraldine, population 300. >> it's always a struggle starting a new business. and starting a vet clinic is very expensive, but it was doing very well. >> reporter: young dr. rein hired marlene to help him run the office and moved into the unused bunkhouse marlene and her husband owned on their property 11 miles outside of town. so she was both landlady and employee. >> bryan had a heart of gold. he was, you know, part of the family. >> reporter: mind you, a good looking young vet in such a tiny place? there was interest. lots of it. >> i remember asking him, is there anybody there you're dating? and he's like, well there's some girls, but they're just not the ones.
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>> reporter: it was possibly an overly modest answer. the handsome young vet's arrival was practically a news event. heads turned, hearts may have followed. certainly gossip did. and then, summer of 1996. >> i was like, again the same question that i ask. so what is going on? do you have a girlfriend? well, there is this one girl. she comes over and she does things for me. and i said things like? and he said, well, she'll clean up my house and stuff. so i was like, shame on you. you should be over there cleaning her house. >> reporter: it was strange what began to happen after he took up with that young lady. weird things. not exactly frightening. more like unsettling. like the rock that crashed through a window of the clinic. did he tell you what he thought it was? >> no. >> reporter: or who? >> no. and he did find a footprint out in the back of the building. but nothing really ever came of it. >> reporter: not long after, dr. rein called both sisters
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with a request. >> at one point he told me, quit calling and hanging up. i was like, bryan, i'm not hanging up. he just ha-ha'ed it off. he was like, it's not a big deal, teresa. it's not a big deal. >> reporter: but was it? on july 10th, 1996, dr. bryan rein drove to bozeman, three hours away, to attend a conference. he returned home friday evening, the 12th. no one saw him on saturday. and then on sunday, the 14th. marlene's husband drove over to bryan's bunkhouse. >> it was about, i don't know, five, ten minutes later, he came back and walked in the door and was very distraught, crying. >> reporter: such a shock, which is maybe why her husband got the mistaken idea that dr. rein committed suicide. but later that same day when marlene heard an undersheriff repeat the mistake to bryan's grandparents, here's what happened. >> verna mae jumped up and she
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said, no way in hell would my grandson commit suicide. >> reporter: then, the next day, when state investigators led by agent ken thompson of montana's department of criminal investigation arrived and looked at the ruined crime scene -- >> my partner and i would look at each other and think, oh, my lord, you know? >> reporter: yeah. >> it certainly makes things very difficult. >> reporter: difficult? oh, yes. difficult was not the half of it. >> so what did happen to dr. rein? >> we had been told that he had committed suicide. >> did you believe that could be true? >> absolutely not. >> blood on the doorstep. bullets in the kitchen. >> how can this happen? why would somebody do it? >> the search begins for a killer. >> i think the perpetrator stood there and watched bryan die. darrell's family uses gain flings now so their laundry smells more amazing than ever. isn't that the dog's towel?
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on a summer sunday afternoon outside tiny geraldine, montana, local sheriff's deputies used towels to mop up the blood around what they took to be a suicide. the town's veterinarian, dr. bryan rein, age 31, was dead. his own .357 magnum lay near his left hand. and the emissaries of sudden death delivered their message to dr. rein's sister, teresa, back in kansas. >> i remember saying, mom, i need to talk to you. >> reporter: i can't imagine what it would be like to tell your mother that her firstborn son is dead. >> yeah. it was hard. and he was that child. that perfect child. >> reporter: it was evening before the news found younger sister, charlene. >> i was actually in las vegas. we had been told that he had
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committed suicide. >> reporter: did you believe that could be true? >> absolutely not. it was a long plane ride home. >> reporter: do you remember what your mind was doing to you during that plane ride? >> how can this happen? why would somebody do it? >> reporter: those questions because none of them believed bryan capable of suicide. and sure enough, the next morning an autopsy revealed abrasions and contusions on the doctor's head. a swollen right eye. clearly, there had been a struggle. and he'd been struck by three gunshots. two in the lower right forearm, then a fatal shot to the chest. the conclusion? obvious. it was not suicide. it was homicide. how is it possible at first they thought it was a suicide? >> i can't answer that. i think you have to understand that that county had not had a homicide in, i think it was like 19 years. >> reporter: it was monday when state department of criminal
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investigation agent ken thompson was called in. and by the time he got to the doctor's bunkhouse, the locals had been gone, the scene left unguarded for more than 24 hours. >> montana's a remote state. sometimes you'll drive eight hours to get to the crime scene. so it's not like a big city where you can roll in and everything's pristine. >> reporter: no, not even close. in fact, the deputies and local coroner had spent just a few hours tramping around bryan's kitchen, had taken about a dozen photos. and in the process, had done things that couldn't be undone. like cleaning up blood on the floor under the victim's upper body. and tossing into the garbage a telephone handset found under dr. rein's head without swabbing for dna or dusting for fingerprints. those discarded materials were beyond recovery by the time investigator thompson arrived. the local deputies did tell him they found a water shoe on the bunkhouse doorstep. it appeared to have been knocked off in the struggle.
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the other one was found on bryan's left foot. and then investigator thompson saw the blood drops out on the doorstep. >> we knew that that's where the shooting had occurred. blood had dropped straight down and so it was just outside the trailer. >> reporter: did you find some bullets around there? >> they found two bullets lodged in the kitchen cupboard. so the two shots that went through the arm, went through the arm and through that wall and came out into kitchen cabinets on the other side. >> reporter: i see. thompson and his partner used string to simulate the path of the bullets. they even tried to act out what might have happened. and before long, they came to some conclusions. how far away was the shooter? >> pretty close range. >> reporter: so, if they struggle and the gun went off, it would be, right? >> yeah. some kind of conversation went on and a struggle ensued. two shots went off, and then the third shot into his chest.
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i think that bryan then struggled to get in to call for help. that he sat there. i think the perpetrator stood there and watched bryan die. >> reporter: and as for the location of the gun so close to dr. rein's own hand? so the killer must've put it there? >> correct. >> reporter: but were there any fingerprints on the gun? >> no. it looked like it had been wiped off with a solvent. >> reporter: so investigators now thought they knew how the murder occurred. but when it happened? that wasn't clear at all. friday night? saturday? it was an important question, of course. but just how important they might not have fully imagined just then. but there was no clear answer. in fact, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy left the space for time of death blank. remember, dr. rein returned home from a conference on friday evening, but his body wasn't found until sunday. investigators canvassed nearby farms. and?
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>> there was a neighbor that lived probably about a mile away, maybe a little less as the crow flies, that had seen an atv go by that night. and then said he heard two loud retorts about that time. >> reporter: that is, friday night. but -- it could've been that night or the next morning or something? >> at first he wasn't sure, and then he wasn't sure of the date. >> reporter: phone records showed the last time dr. rein received a phone call was at 10:15 on friday night. >> nobody heard from bryan after that last phone call on friday night. the thought that he would go all day saturday without having any contact with anybody was just really highly unlikely. >> reporter: on the other hand, dr. rein could have hung around his bunkhouse alone that saturday morning. or maybe he intended to go fishing. there were those water shoes, and they found a fishing pole near the door.
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of course, all this when and how did nothing to shine a light on who killed dr. rein. a question that was consuming everyone who knew him. >> my mind was just spinning trying to think who, you know, any little lead at all. >> reporter: there was, she knew, this friend of dr. rein's, larry hagenbuch, whose behavior had recently been erratic. and she also knew that some people in town said they'd heard larry badmouthing bryan in the local bar. though larry denied it. but investigators almost immediately had a different lead that seemed worth pursuing, and it was related to that broken window at the vet clinic and those hang-up phone calls dr. rein had asked his sisters if they were making. so he had no idea who was doing it? >> after he eliminated me, he had an idea. >> reporter: so he knew, or
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thought he knew, who the hang-up caller was, but he didn't seem very worried about it. >> everything was going to be okay. bryan was not afraid of anything. >> reporter: maybe he should have been. coming up -- a new relationship. >> i thought he was handsome. i was excited. >> and a jealous ex. >> should i file a restraining order? should i do something? >> what would investigators make of him? >> i was beginning to form an opinion that it was somewhat of a crime of passion. >> when "dateline" continues. ♪ beds get sick too protection. lysol laundry sanitizer kills 99.9% of illness-causing bacteria detergents leave behind. proven to kill covid-19 that came from me. really. my first idea was "in one quarter of an hour, your savings will tower... over you. figuratively speaking." but that's not catchy, is it? that's not going to swim about in your brain.
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veterinarian bryan rein's family went into a tailspin at the news of his death. and when they heard that somebody murdered him? you kind of fell apart after that, huh? >> yes. it was difficult to figure out where to go, what to do. >> reporter: bryan's mom was practically paralyzed in her grief. and so, much of the dreadful work that demands to be done after such a death fell on teresa. >> i can remember sitting through the funeral and sitting there thinking to myself, i am so tired. i just want to go to bed. >> reporter: and maybe that played a role in teresa's mood. because on that july day in 1996 when dr. rein was buried in his hometown in kansas and a large contingent of montanans made the trip to say good-bye, among them was that young woman from geraldine, the one who had gone over and cleaned his house, the one bryan had recently started seeing. >> i was almost annoyed she even came.
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and she was standing in our home and i really thought, why are you here? i was pretty irritated. >> reporter: and those feelings were not lost on that young lady in the middle of her own grief and confusion. >> i just felt out of place. because i felt like, you know, they didn't know who i was. >> reporter: her name is ann. she was 21 then. she had known dr. rein just two months. met him at rusty's bar in geraldine. >> i thought he was handsome. i was like, what is this guy doing in geraldine? it was just kind of surprising to me. >> reporter: they talked all night, she said. and in the morning, how did you feel? >> i was excited. i felt giddy, just excited that somebody would be interested in me. >> reporter: ah, but complications. ann had a live-in boyfriend. guy named tom jaraczeski. her high school sweetheart. they'd been together 4 1/2 years. and though the relationship had its issues, who knows, she might
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have married him. and then she had that heart to heart with dr. rein. >> he's like, you're too young to be settling down and somebody telling you what to do. >> reporter: how did that strike you when he said that? >> i agreed with him. >> reporter: like, why have i been with that guy all these years? >> yep. it made me see that i would be better without it. because it hadn't been a good relationship for a while. i had a reason now to move on and let go of that. >> reporter: and she was going to tell tom as soon as she got up the nerve. but then, oh, boy, dr. rein left a message on her answering machine at the apartment she shared with tom, who, of course, heard the message. >> he called me up and asked me what the hell's going on. >> reporter: well, a boyfriend would want to know what the hell is going on, right? >> yeah. >> reporter: and when she told him? >> he started crying and saying he couldn't believe i was doing this and how i was throwing away everything. >> reporter: but ann was done.
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she moved back to the family farm outside geraldine. and tom begged her to come back. promised to do better. >> he told me that bryan would, you know, when he got tired of me he'd dump me, and then i'd see. >> reporter: and then the phone calls started. over and over again. >> i asked him to leave me alone. i said i needed time, i needed space. >> reporter: and he wasn't giving you any? >> no. >> reporter: one day ann agreed to go for a ride in tom's new pickup, so they could have the talk. big mistake. tom drove out of town and kept on driving. wouldn't let her get out of the truck. >> so i was like, okay, i started looking at the ditch thinking, i can land in that grass. i'll be okay. so i opened the door, and i was going to jump out. and he grabbed my arm. he's like, what the hell are you doing? >> reporter: how did it eventually end? >> he finally took me back. >> reporter: did you go home that night? >> no. my brother was out of town so i asked bryan if i could stay with him. because i didn't want to be home alone. >> reporter: that's a big step. did you feel safer? >> yeah.
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>> reporter: but then tom, all of 23 years old, barged into bryan rein's place middle of the night when she was there, demanding to know the 31-year-old doctor's intentions. what did bryan think of this? >> he thought he was a stupid kid. >> reporter: well, he was being a stupid kid. you'd have to agree with that. >> yeah, because i asked him, should i file a restraining order? should i do something? and he said, no, he's just a stupid kid. he'll get over it. just give him time to get it out of his system. >> reporter: but he didn't get over it. and one night when nobody was home he went into ann's house, into her bedroom. >> and he said he found my journal and read it. >> reporter: what did it feel like to have your personal journal read like that by him? >> it just felt like i'd been violated. >> reporter: how did ann learn about it? tom told her. quoted from her journal. >> at the end i said -- and it was in a sarcastic way, but i can't believe i'm thinking i met
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the man of my dreams. he'll probably get killed in a car wreck. and tom will probably kill himself. >> reporter: just thinking of all the negative possibilities? >> yeah, like here something wonderful's happened. something awful's going to happen. >> reporter: and that actually turned out to be kind of a prophecy, didn't it? >> yeah. >> reporter: it plays back like a bad dream now. how she told bryan what tom had been doing and then discovered it was even worse than she thought. >> he goes, well, i got one better than that. he came over here last night saying he had car trouble and asked to use the phone. he said he let him use the phone and went back to bed. >> reporter: had to have been a ruse, bryan figured, designed solely to see if ann was sleeping there. must have confirmed that you made the right decision breaking up with him? >> yeah. the more he did, the more it solidified that i'm not going back. >> reporter: all that was just before that conference bryan attended out of town, the one he returned from friday night.
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that last phone call he was on 10:15 p.m.? he was talking to ann. >> and then all of a sudden he's like, well, i got to go. and before i could say goodbye, he had hung up. >> reporter: really? >> i thought it was kind of weird, but you know, it was late. i didn't want to read too much into it at the time. i kind of wondered. >> reporter: and now that bryan was dead, ann wondered a lot about something she remembered tom said years earlier. >> if you ever cheat on me, i'll kill him, and i'll kill you. >> reporter: so it will not surprise you to know that when he heard all this, investigator ken thompson made arrangements to call on young tom jaraczeski right away. >> you don't know the kind of person you're going to encounter. and just with my limited knowledge of what had happened here, you know, i was beginning to form an opinion that it was somewhat a crime of passion. so i thought, well, let's see where this goes, you know? maybe if this is heavy on his heart and it was a tragic situation, maybe we will get to the truth tonight.
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>> reporter: oh, if only the life of an investigator were that simple. coming up -- >> one of the first things i thought, everybody's going to suspect me. >> police have some questions for the envious ex. when "dateline" continues. i'm still on the road to what's next. and i'm still going for my best. even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin, i'm on top of that. eliquis.
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heroes what's happening president says the personal lawyer rudy giuliani tested positive for covid-19. he was recently seen in public thursday where he met with georgia law maybers would you tell us a mask. he was getting great care and feeling good. heavy rain and snow across new england over the weekend. strong wind knocked out power to 200,000 homes and businesses across the region. back to "dateline." it was dusk that monday in montana after the weekend murder
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of dr. bryan rein when investigators drove out to a farm 11 miles east of geraldine. here agent ken thompson and the local undersheriff intended to confront 23-year-old tom jaraczeski, the young man who'd lost in love and didn't take it well. when you arrived, what was his demeanor? >> oh, i think his demeanor was to be helpful. he was welcoming, very polite. >> when my mom told me about bryan, one of the first things i thought of, oh, everybody's going to suspect me, the ex-boyfriend, but that is not the case at all. >> reporter: tom jaraczeski admitted loving ann and being upset when he heard another man, dr. rein, leave a phone message for his live-in girlfriend. >> so what i did is i called ann right away and i said, oh, you got a call here from bryan, and she didn't say anything. and i said, so what the hell's going on? she didn't say anything again and i said, you tramp. because i knew right then she must have cheated on me. >> reporter: tom did not deny that he behaved badly then. he freely admitted that he
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phoned ann's family and her friends. he even called some of bryan's former girlfriends. what did that say to you, that behavior? >> he was literally doing his own investigation on bryan. he was calling ann's friends trying to get all the dirt he could on bryan so that he could turn around and -- >> reporter: give it to ann. >> give it to ann and say, you need to end this relationship. this is a bad guy. he's just using you and you need to come back and be with me. >> reporter: in fact, tom admitted nearly all the strange behaviors ann described. the constant hang-up calls. showing up at bryan's place in the middle of the night. sneaking into ann's empty house at 3:00 in the morning, snooping around in her bedroom and reading her diary. >> so after reading that, i knew that, you know, bryan was the big reason why she dumped me. >> he was actively pursuing her, aggressively pursuing her for her to change her mind to end that relationship with bryan and come back and start over.
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it was just a continual spiral, the things that he was doing, the more obsessed he got with her. >> reporter: it was, by his own admission, pathetic. like when he drove an atv over and hid outside ann's family farmhouse just hoping for a glimpse of her. and then was chased off by ann's brothers. >> i just apologized to them and i said, i'm so stupid and i can't believe i did this, and i told him, you know, i'm lower than life. i don't deserve to live. and they're like, oh, no, don't say that. it's nothing to beat your head over. >> reporter: but tom had an alibi, and a pretty solid one, for most of the weekend when dr. rein was murdered. except for friday night. oh and yes, he did admit, he phoned dr. rein that night. >> so my intentions were to just call him and just tell him that i didn't have any grudges against him. and that wasn't going to interfere with him and ann's relationship. and i hope you take good care of ann because she's a really special person.
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he answered the phone and he said hello twice and i just couldn't do it. i chickened out. and so i -- >> and when was that? >> this was this last friday, about quarter to ten. >> reporter: investigators had been thinking it, though the medical examiner couldn't tell them, friday night was possibly when dr. rein was murdered. and after they heard tom's story, how he didn't have an alibi for friday night, that seemed to them to clinch it. >> you called him up at 10:00 on friday night. >> yeah. >> to say, i don't hold any grudges against you? >> that's right. >> within hours, the guy's dead. >> reporter: and then tom dug a deeper hole for himself. remember, it appeared dr. rein scuffled with somebody before he was shot dead. well, guess who told the agents that he'd hurt his back that very friday night falling out of a pickup truck? >> so anyway, i hurt my back. >> did you get any bruises or anything? >> no, i didn't. >> no bruises on your chest or anything? >> no. >> reporter: but the next day tom went to a hospital and was
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treated for back pain. the only thing tom denied in that interview? faking a vehicle breakdown ten days before the murder and knocking on dr. rein's door to use the phone in the middle of the night. >> that didn't happen? >> no. >> reporter: but investigators weren't buying tom's story. >> all the facts are pointing to you, tom. everything. everything we've got. >> what evidence at his place do you have against me? that's all you've got to worry about right there. >> it's all being worked on. >> trust me. >> there will be a car load of stuff going to the crime lab. >> good because you won't find anything against me. >> reporter: when you left at the end of the first interview what did you think? did you think this is our guy? >> i thought clearly he was a suspect. he clearly had done some things that were very troubling. >> reporter: sure. but did that mean he was the killer? what will tom jaraczeski say if we ask him? coming up --
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>> they started accusing me of killing bryan. i was scared to death. i was worried that they were going to charge me that night. >> an arrest? hang on. could there be another person of interest in this case? >> we looked at him very seriously. >> when "dateline" continues.
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the plains of montana are no stranger to sudden, violent death.
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history is littered with it. but for the people living the history in july 1996 after the murder of the town veterinarian, bryan rein, it was all very, very hard. >> mom, for probably the next five years, crawled into a hole and didn't come out. >> reporter: and ann, that young woman in the middle? >> i was devastated. i just thought, here i'd met somebody that treats me nice and treats me like an equal. >> reporter: somebody you felt special when you were with him? >> yes, and to have that ripped away and not even know nothing may have ever came of it, but i didn't get the chance to find out. >> reporter: but what was worse, ann felt an overpowering sense of guilt. you felt responsible? >> i felt like if it wasn't for me, it never would have happened. >> reporter: because, of course, she broke up with him. >> it's just unbelievable.
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>> reporter: and here he is, tom jaraczeski. ann's ex. otherwise known as the prime suspect. >> it seems like a bad dream that i couldn't wake up from. >> reporter: how did you find out that he was killed? >> from my mom. she just said that she'd gotten a phone call that the veterinarian in geraldine had been killed. >> reporter: and of course, tom knew perfectly well who his mother was talking about. his rival, the man who'd taken his girlfriend and made his life so miserable. and so -- you had to be sort of a little bit okay with that? >> no, not at all. i had no ill feelings toward bryan. >> reporter: oh, really? come on. you had to have ill feelings toward bryan. he took your girl away. >> yeah, but not for somebody to lose their life. >> reporter: tom said he knew immediately that he would be high on the list of suspects, as, of course, he was. so he wasn't surprised when agent ken thompson and the local undersheriff showed up at the
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family farmhouse. >> i was nervous. i mean, both guys had guns on their hips and came into my house, and you know, i proceeded to tell them all these things that i was doing as far as the phone calls and the stalking. and when i told them all about that, then they totally changed their tune and started accusing me of killing bryan. i was scared to death. i was worried that they were going to charge me that night. >> reporter: but they didn't. while it was true, as we said, that the crime scene was compromised, there were hairs and fibers and fingerprints and blood samples yet untested. so the investigators said their goodbyes and told tom they'd be back. all these years later. sitting here now, two decades later, tom told us, yes, he did love ann. he thought they had a future together. >> you know, i felt like she was the one and we'd be together
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forever. >> reporter: but when he heard that phone message left by dr. rein at the apartment he shared with ann? what did that feel like? >> like my heart was torn in half. >> reporter: you did some things then which, in retrospect, probably you must think were not the brightest in the world? >> yes. >> reporter: what bothers you as you think about it? >> well, i didn't know anything about bryan. and so i started calling up some of ann's family and some of ann's friends to see what they knew about bryan. and i was concerned because he was a veterinarian and he had access to drugs. i thought maybe he was giving ann something. >> reporter: because why would she leave you for another guy? must be drugs involved? must be something like that something other than just wanting to make a switch? >> yeah, that was my initial impression. >> reporter: and all that other stuff? the hang-up phone calls, the stalking, going into her bedroom to read her diary? not great behavior. >> no. it was wrong of me to do that. i wanted to see her thoughts,
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what she had to say about me, what she had to say about bryan. >> reporter: you're having a lot of trouble letting it go? >> i did, yes. there's no manual on how long it takes to get over a relationship, and for me, it took awhile. >> reporter: but he swore to us here, as he did when he talked to the investigators way back when, that he had nothing to do with the murder of dr. rein, even though it looked pretty bad for him. >> they told me right away that this happened on a friday night. and i was home alone on friday night. i had no alibi. and so i was kind of stuck. >> reporter: although, remember, the medical examiner was unable to settle on a time of death. so despite what the detectives told tom, the murder could have happened on saturday when tom did have an alibi. which made another of the detective's interviews particularly interesting. because, yes, in fact, there were other persons of interest.
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and another man they went to visit did have an alibi for friday but not saturday. that man happened to be a close friend of the victim. his name was larry hagenbuch. how seriously did you look at larry? >> we looked at him very seriously. >> reporter: hagenbuch was the one who encouraged bryan to move from kansas to montana. but larry wasn't a stable man just then. his wife was leaving him. he'd been drinking a lot. he'd tried to commit suicide a month before the murder using animal medication he'd gotten from bryan. in fact, it was dr. rein who intervened to help save larry. and here's the thing, detectives had heard that larry seemed to know intimate details of the crime scene which had not been made public, as if he was right there when it happened. the problem? >> his story never stayed the same when he's even revealing it. i mean, at one point he said
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there was bullet holes everywhere. >> reporter: yeah. >> later he would say there was only two holes. at one point he indicated that it was a rifle and then it was a pistol. >> agent ken thompson -- >> reporter: still, from the sound of this 20-year-old recording, agent thompson wasn't accusing larry of murdering his friend in cold blood. more like things got out of hand somehow. >> i can just see this happening. i can see larry thinking, well, [ bleep ] he gets to drinking again, whether he's depressed or whether he's mad. i don't know whether it's just going out to talk to somebody and it just ended up in a stupid [ bleep ] shouting match. oh, well, here's the gun that's always laying around. but hey, i'll take care of this myself. i'll go out here and shoot my [ bleep ] self then. and then the fight. nah, you ain't going to do that. let's fight over the gun and bang, bang, bang or whatever. >> yeah. >> i can see all that happening. >> yeah. >> and then we got an accident. you know, we got a [ bleep ] tragic accident. >> yeah. >> is that what happened? >> no. >> makes sense, though, doesn't it? >> makes sense, but it didn't
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happen with this cowboy. it could happen but not with this cowboy. >> reporter: not much more the detectives could accomplish at that point. this in those days, dna took its sweet time getting tested. would the results put either of those men at the crime scene, firing the gun at dr. rein? seemed like maybe it was time for something hands on. or nose on, if you will. enter calamity jane. well named, that dog. coming up -- >> that was the closest thing we had to a link. >> calamity jane sniffs out a clue, and a sister's discovery is about to change the case. >> i said, well where's the gun case? the gun case was missing. fights pain in two ways. advil targets pain at the source... ...while acetaminophen blocks pain signals. the future of pain relief is here.
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the week after they buried
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bryan rein near his childhood home in kansas, sister charlene came to montana curious about the progress of the investigation. and that's when local deputies told her about the mess-up at the crime scene, how they threw away some potential evidence. charlene was horrified. have you ever heard of such a thing before? >> no. he goes, no, we cleaned it up. we didn't want the family to see it. >> reporter: wow. >> i'm like, why? where is everything? we got rid of it. >> reporter: but then when she went to her brother's bunkhouse, charlene discovered that someone else must have gotten rid of something, too. something the cops didn't know existed. and in an instant, charlene's discovery changed the whole theory of how the murder happened. >> they had found the gun beside him. and i said, well, where's the gun case? the gun case was missing. it was a gun case that bryan had made. >> reporter: so the gun was always in the gun case? >> the gun was either in it or
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beside it. >> reporter: a perimeter search of the property was organized. and lo and behold, the gun holster, a leather case inscribed with bryan's initials, was found lying in tall grass 84 feet from dr. rein's door. how did it get way out there? well, as he thought about it, the whole scene seemed to gel in ken thompson's mind. the way it happened, that is. the killer must have stolen bryan's own gun in its case while dr. rein was away at his conference, then brought it back that night expressly to kill bryan, discarding the holster on the way to the door. if it hadn't been for that holster out there, it could've been somebody came to the door, knocked at the door, bryan came to the door with a gun to maybe threaten him and there was a tussle. >> that could've been, sure. >> reporter: the gun changed hands and boom boom. >> it could've been, absolutely. but that holster being out there, there's just no other reason why that holster would be
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out there. >> reporter: that was agent thompson's theory anyway. was tom jaraczeski capable of such a thing? well, he already admitted he sneaked into ann's house when it was empty. and so, thought agent thompson, he must have been perfectly capable of walking into dr. rein's place too and stealing that gun. >> he had plenty of opportunity to get the gun. i mean, the trailer was never locked. >> reporter: but why would he get bryan's gun? he could get a gun anywhere. it's montana, for god's sake, everybody's got a gun. >> he certainly had the ability to go over there undetected and walk into that trailer. ample time to look around, to grab the gun. >> reporter: so that became the leading theory. larry hagenbuch, the doctor's troubled friend, if that's truly what he was, remained a person of interest, but the primary suspect, no question, was still tom jaraczeski. but how to prove it?
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well, as luck would have it, a bloodhound was at the crime scene that day owned by a local guy. a dog named calamity jane. so they let the dog sniff tom's baseball cap. and? >> the dog went right into the trailer, went right out the back door, went right to where the holster had been found, went right to the caragana bushes where there was an indication that somebody had been standing in there. >> reporter: what did you think? >> well, we believed that was a connection. that was the closest thing we had to a link from tom to the holster to a possible hiding spot. >> reporter: so you must have thought, we got him? >> well, it was the best that we had, given that we had no physical evidence. >> reporter: of course, they kept trying to find some of that, too. at tom's place. what did they want from you? >> they took everything imaginable. shoes was the biggest thing. they probably took at least ten pairs of shoes. they took other items like a sleeping bag, binoculars, the
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inside lining of a winter coat. >> reporter: but not one thing from those searches could link tom to the crime. months passed. a year. and more. back in kansas, bryan rein's sisters watched their mother suffer. >> it got very difficult to talk to her on a daily basis because she was so down and she wanted answers. >> reporter: she also frequently called agent thompson. and this was curious. so did thompson's prime suspect, tom jaraczeski. >> he was always wanting to know where we were in the investigation. >> coming up. >> i'll tell you something i didn't tell you before. >> tom changes his story.
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investigators pounce. >> it was devastating. >> another family distraught. >> i feel angry. you want to do anything you can to help him. >> help would arrive for tom. in an unusual way. look at this human trying to get in shape. you know what he will get? muscle pain. give up, the couch is calling. i say, it's me, the couch, i'm calling. pain says you can't. advil says you can.
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>> shot with his own gun. a young man admitted to some strange behavior after the doctor stole the love of his life. with no evidence linking tom to the crime scene, the case stalled. >> reporter: finally, january of '98, a year and a half after the murder, detectives ran a bit of a bluff with tom. >> we just pose it to him that, you know, why would we find anything in the house that would lead us to believe you were in the house? and he says, okay, i'm going to
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tell you something that i didn't tell you before. >> reporter: perhaps you'll remember detectives heard that tom once showed up at dr. rein's place in the middle of the night saying his truck broke down, he needed a phone. back then, tom swore up and down that didn't happen. but now, 18 months later? >> well, this is something i didn't tell you guys the first time that i talked to you. but that did happen, and it was at night. and i just wanted to see if ann was there. i asked if i could use the phone. >> what type of evidence would you have left in that place, or could you have left? >> could i have left? prints. i could have left some prints on the table. >> reporter: they didn't have tom's prints anywhere on the table, of course. but tom had admitted lying the first time and now was explaining how they might have found his dna or prints at bryan's place. >> he was only telling us things he knew we could confirm. >> reporter: and in your experience that's what guilty people do? they change their story once they realize they have to? >> the story evolves? yes.
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>> reporter: and it wasn't long before -- >> i was leaving my apartment to go to work and some guy that's standing behind the stairs says, tom? and i turned around and with guns drawn, they put the handcuffs on me. >> reporter: what was that like? >> shocking. i couldn't grasp that it was actually happening. >> reporter: tom jaraczeski rode in that police car to ft. benton where they booked him into the county jail and charged him with deliberate homicide. what was it like to hear that? >> refreshing. good to have it solved and put behind us. and hopefully mom and dad could pick up and keep going again. >> cruel ask and unjust. >> charged with murder facing
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life in prison. >> you feel angry. >> it was devastating. >> it wasn't the money to hire a fancy attorney. he got a state appointed lawyer. >> what was your impressions of this kid. >> i knew he couldn't have done it. >> come on. >> you get a sense of people. i got a sense of tom. i was sure he hadn't done it. as the evidence started rolling in. i became certain he wasn't the one. >> he could have said lack of evidence. despite test after test. not a single physical thing. not dna or prints or anything else connected tom to the few
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square feet where it happened. except. circumstantial evidence. phone calls and stalking. middle of the night visits. the middle of the night visits to dr. rein's bunkhouse in the days and weeks before the murder. but most of all, there was that dog. calamity jane. who, with one sniff of tom's baseball cap, led the cops from the doorway of the bunkhouse to a grove of bushes where the cops found and marked some footprints. the theory being that tom lay in wait for his opportunity to confront dr. rein at the door. mind you, calamity jane did her sniffing a full ten days after the body was found. so what did attorney peterson think of that? >> to me, it wasn't evidence. i made a motion before the judge to decide whether or not it should go before a jury. >> reporter: besides, he said, tom already admitted he'd been around there days earlier. maybe that's what calamity jane hit on.
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so bob peterson got calamity jane's handler up on the witness stand at a hearing here at the courthouse. and what do you know, neither dog nor handler were properly certified. >> when i asked him for all the paperwork, he told me about how he'd put the paperwork about the dog and himself on top of his suburban and it had, unfortunately, all blown away. so he couldn't provide it. >> reporter: not quite the dog ate my homework, but close. where's training documents since that time? he didn't have any. it just i thought oh my god. >> what did the judge do? he threw out the evidence. and just like that, the state
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dismissed the case against tom. because without calamity jane the prosecution decided there wasn't a provable case. tom was a free man. >> like a weight lifted off my shoulders. done and over with. no more interrogation. no more search warrant. i can go on with my life. >> brian's family felt they lost him over again. >> it was disappointing. >> >> reporter: did you think at that point, okay, it's all over? we're never going to find out? >> i think back of your mind you think, well, maybe one day. >> reporter: there was a reason she kept that in the back of her mind. why both sides did. because the judge that day in 1998, dismissed the charge without prejudice. meaning? >> meaning that the state can bring it back up if they choose to. >> reporter: how much of a worry was that to you? >> you always have this nagging thing in the back of your mind as a defense attorney when
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something is dismissed without prejudice. you know that something could happen in the future. >> reporter: agent ken thompson could have simply filed it away as one lost cause. a tough case that didn't work out. >> i mean, you talk about a case where it seemed like everything was stacked against you. this was that case. >> reporter: but he didn't let it go. just couldn't. mind you, there were new assignments and lots of other cases. years went by. but -- >> i kept those 10 four-ring binders. i moved them from one office to another office to our third office. i mean, it was always on a bookcase in my office. >> reporter: and always on your mind? >> it was always on my mind, you know. and that's to solve it. >> there were times that ken would call us and say, we're working on it. or we just don't have anhing.
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it just laid there. >> reporter: two years. five, ten, 13. the file stared down from its shelf like an accusation. but of course, we wouldn't be telling you this story if something didn't happen now, would we? but what turned out to be quite a surprise. coming up -- >> this is a homicide. we owe it to the family to go forward. >> another chance to solve the case. >> i just wondered what the hell is going on here? these are real people, not actors, who've got their eczema under control. with less eczema, you can show more skin. so roll up those sleeves. and help heal your skin from within with dupixent. dupixent is the first treatment of its kind that continuously treats moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis, even between flare ups. dupixent is a biologic, and not a cream or steroid.
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download now and get your first stock on us. robinhood. accusations like the one leveled at tom jaraczeski can do corrosive things to a person. sour the joy of a sunrise on the montana prairie.
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alter the look on a neighbor's face down at the local store. after prosecutors decided to dismiss murder charges against him, tom felt like he just couldn't live here anymore. >> i couldn't stay in montana. i needed to move away. and i decided to move to south dakota. >> reporter: so you set up a new life there? >> i did. i got married. had a couple kids. life was good. >> reporter: and truly, you thought it was over? >> i really did. i never thought it would ever come back again. >> reporter: neither did tom's old girlfriend ann, though she firmly believed tom killed bryan, the man she'd left him for. montana soured for her, too. she went to visit a sister in arkansas and stayed. never found out that tom moved away. >> i didn't feel like i could go back home to montana. >> reporter: why?
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>> because tom was there, and i thought if he was willing to kill somebody to be with me, i didn't know what he'd do. >> reporter: corrosive. that's what it was. but then, 13 years after dr. rein's murder, this man got a new job. this is brant light, who in 2009 became the top prosecutor in the montana attorney general's office. and one of his duties was to help small counties prosecute particularly difficult cases. cold cases. >> we don't get the slam dunks turned over to us. we get the older cases. we get the difficult cases, and we're expected to go forward with those cases. >> reporter: like the one light's old friend ken thompson had never really given up on solving. >> so i felt comfortable to go to brandt and say would you just review this and see what you think. >> reporter: what did you think as you reviewed the information? was it something worth trying again? >> yeah, well we had some work to do.
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i wanted them to go back and out make sure everybody's still around. we had to see what kind of shape the evidence was in. >> reporter: evidence was resubmitted to the crime lab. witnesses were re-interviewed. more years passed. is there ever a case to be made to just let it go? how do you look at these things? >> i would let it go if we don't have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. i'm not going to roll the dice with somebody's life. this is a homicide. we owe it to the family to go forward. and in my bureau, that's what we do. >> reporter: and then, in february 2014, nearly 18 years after the murder, agent thompson traveled to south dakota with an arrest warrant for tom jaraczeski. who heard his name called out one day at work and was ushered into the back of a police car. >> i was wondering what the hell's going on here, and maybe a minute went by. and then ken thompson popped his head through the door and said, tom, you remember me? i told you i'd be back for you.
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>> reporter: tom called his family and asked them to track down that attorney who helped him so much all those years before, bob peterson. who, for some reason, had been listening to a nagging little voice in his head all those years that told him keep the file. >> usually i destroy all my files after 10 years. but for whatever reason i maintained his files. >> reporter: and so when tom was charged again with murder, peterson got busy. first he got tom out on bond, attached to a gps monitor. and then he read through his old files and asked to see the prosecution's new evidence. >> my whole position was let's see what they think they have. >> reporter: and when he did, attorney peterson could not have been more surprised. >> it was almost verbatim the same affidavit that was used in
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1998 to charge him. >> reporter: no new evidence? >> none. i couldn't believe that they would bring these charges back up again and not have one piece of new evidence to justify them doing that. >> reporter: you were mad? >> it made me mad, yes. i know i'm not being very outraged about that. we defense attorneys have to control our emotions. >> reporter: who was the defense attorney angry with? >> we had a prosecutor with a big ego, fashioned himself to be a cold case expert and an investigator who has stewed about this case since the beginning of it in 1996 and had an obsession with tom. then all he wanted to do was get this case squared away before he retired. >> reporter: you're not really
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suggesting that a detective would persuade a prosecutor to go ahead with a case, a favorite case of his, just because he happened to be retiring? >> yeah. i really am. >> reporter: to which both investigator thompson and prosecutor light replied, no, it was justice they had in mind, not retirement. oh, and when attorney peterson asked a judge to throw out the murder charge, the answer was, oh, no. it wasn't going to go away. not this time. coming up -- >> it was murder. it was planned. premeditated. >> after almost 20 years, the case heads to court. >> he said, "if you ever cheat on me, i'll kill him and i'll kill you."
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>> tom jaraczeski in a fight for his life. when "dateline" continues. frustrated that your clothes get damaged when you wash them, and they just don't look the same? well now there's a solution, with downy defy damage. downy defy damage protects your clothes from the stretching, fading and fuzzing that happens throughout the wash process, all cycle long! simply toss in detergent, add defy beads, then toss in your clothes. and downy defy's unique formula conditions and protects fibers, so clothes stay looking newer, longer! now you can protect your clothes so they look newer, longer, with downy defy damage. shingles doesn't care. i logged 10,000 steps today. shingles doesn't care. i get as much fresh air as possible. good for you, but shingles doesn't care. because 1 in 3 people will get shingles, you need protection. but no matter how healthy you feel, your immune system declines as you age, increasing your risk for getting shingles. so what can protect you? shingrix protects.
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two debates wrapped up in georgia sunday. loeffler went head to head with reverend warnock. only democrat jon ossoff showed up for the other debate. sunday night football. he broke down the chances to make the play offs. with the same board he made election predictions. the veterinarian's little bunkhouse is long gone now. burned. its embers ground into the prairie dust. the young woman who'd fallen hard for the dashing vet is a happily married arkansas mother of three. and the young man accused killing dr. bryan rein has growing sons of his own.
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but two decades were a mere whisker of time to the law and the historic chouteau county courthouse. where, in september, 2015, six years after the case was reopened, 19 years after the murder, tom's sister and the rest of the jaraczeski family assembled on one side of the courtroom. >> it was hard seeing people that you thought were your friends sitting on the other side of the courtroom. >> reporter: that would be a number of local people along with dr. rein's family, whose attitude, must be said, was unlike that of many victims' families. >> i remember having a huge sinking feeling in my heart, thinking, can we not just let this go and be done with it?
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>> you wrn weren't excited for justice to be done? >> nope. >> reporter: well, a tough case, to be sure, said prosecutor brant light. but -- >> to just throw up your hands and say, well, this is too tough or i don't want to lose a case, that's just not right. >> reporter: mind you, prosecutor light himself could not be in the courtroom. he had another fight on his hands against lung cancer. so he handed the trial to two trusted deputies, dan guzynski and mary cochenour. >> it was murder. it was a murder that was planned. it was a murder that was premeditated, and it was a murder where no evidence would be left. >> reporter: the big evidence of course was tom jaraczeski's bizarre behavior in the weeks after ann broke up with him and began dating dr. rein. this friend of ann's testified. >> i thought that bryan should watch his back. >> reporter: ann herself told the jury about the hang-up calls, about the time tom snuck into her house and read her diary, about his middle of the night visits to dr. rein's trailer. >> i'm scared.
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i'm like, i didn't know what was going to happen after -- after tom had been acting so weird. >> the stalking was just unbelievable. i mean, he was overwhelmed by the fact that he'd lost ann wishman. he had done everything he could to try to break them up, and i think at the very end, when he understood that that wasn't going to happen, the only thing left was to take -- to take bryan out of the picture. >> reporter: in fact, remember this? ann testified about that time she said tom once threatened to do just that should she ever cheat on him with any other guy. >> he said, if you ever cheat on me, i'll kill him and i'll kill you, or i'll want to kill you. >> reporter: tom, by the way, has long denied ever saying that. but even after the murder, ann said, tom kept pursuing her. letters, cards, phone calls.
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>> he said he'd dreamed that we had gotten married and we had kids. and was telling me, you know, like we had went into detail about a life we were living together. there was a strange story a girlfriend told the jury. >> did he mention an exgirlfriend named ann. >> yes. the love of his life. he wished the vet was dead so they could get back together. that was keeping thoem apart. >> the vet was long dead. by tom's hand. the prosecutor argued. >> nobody else had the opportunity or means in this tiny community to kill brian as tom did. >> so, how did he do it?
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>> friday july 12. >> i think he had finally made up his mind. he didn't have any trouble going in the trailer. i think he located the gun. >> yes, he stole his own gun. and that night he placed a hang-up call to dr. rein to ensure he was home, and soon after that, a second call to a second location in another town a half an hour down the road. >> he calls. ann answers. he hangs up. now he knows ann is in great falls. that's 36 miles away. so he knew he could go over there and not find anybody there besides bryan. >> reporter: then he got into his atv, headed over to the bunkhouse. was that what his neighbor saw? >> well later, towards evening, i did see a four-wheeler go by. the atv was dark green. >> mr. jaraczeski owns a green and black atv, and within
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19 years, no one has ever stepped forward to determine who else in that small community had a green and black atv. nobody did. >> reporter: when tom arrived at the bunkhouse, said the prosecutor, he waited in the bushes, where he could see dr. rein's door. >> he's got the weapon there. and i think at the appropriate time he decides that he's going to walk up to the back door. >> reporter: and that must have been when tom threw the holster in the grass where it was found later, said prosecutor light. >> now it just so happens that ann makes a call to bryan. they even talk about getting a restraining order against -- against tom jaraczeski. and then ann says bryan almost abruptly gets off the phone as if somebody's there. >> reporter: according to ann, that was about 10:40 p.m. >> i think bryan then heard him, went to the back door. and i think at that point when there's thomas jaraczeski sitting on that back porch, has
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a gun, i think immediately bryan knew what was going on and the fight was on. and i think it was a struggle. i think he shot him twice in the arm. i think he then -- bryan struggled back to try to get to the phone and thomas shot him in the chest. left the weapon. got on that atv. >> reporter: and took off? >> took off. and then he had hurt his back, so the next day he had to go to the hospital, and there you go. >> reporter: and that was the prosecution's case. all circumstantial. no physical evidence was ever found to link tom to the murder scene. but the pieces, said the prosecution, fit together to tell quite a story. but only a story, tom's defenders were about to say. a tall tale, if you will, which, they added, a good montana steak would undo in a hurry. coming up --
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>> the state had concluded that the time of death was friday night. why? >> a whole new theory of the crime. >> it doesn't seem like a plausible time of death. >> dr. rein's last meal would tell a tale of its own. when "dateline" continues. with mucinex all-in-one you've got unbeatable relief from your worst cold and flu symptoms. so when you need to show your cold who's boss, grab mucinex all-in-one... and get back to your rhythm. feel the power. beat the symptoms fast. robinwithout the commission fees. so, you can start investing today wherever you are - even hanging with your dog. so, what are you waiting for? download now and get your first stock on us.
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robinhood. every minute. understanding how to talk to your doctor about treatment options is key. today, we are redefining how we do things. we find new ways of speaking, so you're never out of touch. it's seeing someone's face that comforts us, no matter where. when those around us know us, they can show us just how much they care. the first steps of checking in, the smallest moments can end up being everything. there's resources that can inform us, and that spark can make a difference. when we use it to improve things, then that change can last within us. when we understand what's possible, we won't settle for less. the best thing we can be is striving to be at our best. managing heart failure starts now with understanding. call today or go online to
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♪ i know you're waiting on the other side ♪ ♪ i'm like you on-demand glucose monitoring. because they're always on. another life-changing technology from abbott. so you don't wait for life. you live it. a harrowing thing happened to bryan rein's sisters at the murder trial of tom jaraczeski. they re-felt all the searing anger, loss and grief they'd tried to put behind them. >> i can distinctly remember sitting there almost feeling, great, we're going to have to relive this all over again. >> reporter: like attending a nightmare version of his funeral. >> but at this funeral we're not saying anything nice about him. >> reporter: why would that be? because the sisters knew defense
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attorney bob peterson and his new co-counsel jennifer streano would not only attack the case against tom jaraseczki, they'd bring up all the old long forgotten gossip about bryan. about what a ladies' man he was purported to be. >> when they went on about how he was a womanizer and he was having multiple affairs -- >> reporter: so she knew it was coming. but in fact, the defense went beyond that and cast doubt on the very idea that this 19-year-old mystery could be solved at all. >> throughout this trial you will have the urge to want to solve this. and that's only natural. but this case cannot be solved. >> your desire is close the
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book. it can't be done. >> it korcouldn't change two fa. he was never violent. and no evidence linked him to the scene. >> you never found a fingerprint belonging to tom and any of the items you tested. >> i did not >> i mean, they had all of his creepy behavior, sure. but beyond that they had nothing. they had nothing inside the house that connected him to this offense. trust me they looked. >> reporter: those first
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responders all those years ago certainly gave the defense a juicy target given how they treated dr. rein's murder at first like a suicide. >> you did not take any blood swabs that day? >> not that day. >> you did not take any fingerprints that day? >> not that day. >> reporter: and what about throwing away potential evidence? like that telephone they found under dr. rein's head? >> we all looked at it and i'm sure decided there was nothing on it to save or we wouldn't have thrown it out. >> reporter: the defense called them to the stand one by one to admit their mistakes. >> looking back now, deputy dallum, you probably shouldn't have done that? >> yeah, we shouldn't have. >> reporter: and if the state could make such a mess of things at the crime scene, confusing the manner of death, said the defense, maybe its theory about the time of death was wrong, too. >> the state had concluded that the time of death was friday night. and our question to them has always has been why? why did they choose that time
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other than it's the only time, really, tom doesn't have an alibi?' >> reporter: but what if the state was wrong? in fact, said tom's defenders, the state was wrong. how did they know? well, for one thing, there was cody, dr. rein's dog. >> if the state's theory was correct, cody then would have been left in that trailer with no exit for friday to saturday night, saturday till sunday morning without going to the bathroom at all. there was no evidence that he had gone to the bathroom at all in the house. >> reporter: dr. rein's sisters disputed the idea that cody couldn't have found some way in and out of the trailer. but the defense said it had even more dramatic evidence that the murder did not happen until, at the earliest, saturday morning, when tom had an alibi. remember, dr. rein returned home from a conference on friday night.
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but at about 7:00 p.m. that evening, two local men testified bryan stopped for dinner at a place called the square butte country club. >> we ate and visited with him. >> reporter: and what dr. rein had for dinner, according to these witnesses, destroyed the state's theory of time of death. it was this retired rancher, too ill to testify in person, who delivered the haymaker by remembering clearly, he said, what bryan had on his plate. >> do you recall what he was doing when you sat down across from him? >> i -- other than sitting there eating a good looking montana steak. that's what he seemed to be most interested in. >> reporter: a steak. why was that important? because the autopsy, the one in which time of death was left
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blank, did not reveal any steak in his digestive tract. how could that be if he died friday night? the defense called a forensic pathologist. >> so if he'd eaten a steak at 7:00 at night and was shot and killed at 11:00 at night, would there be steak still in his stomach contents? >> yeah. my opinion is that it doesn't seem like a plausible time of death. >> reporter: so what was in dr. rein's stomach? according to the doctor who did the autopsy -- >> there appeared to be scrambled eggs and green pepper and tomatoes. >> reporter: and in the bunkhouse? egg shells in the garbage. dirty dishes in the sink. as if he'd made breakfast. although dr. rein's sister testified that it was bryan's habit to stay up late, make eggs and work late into the night, the defense said the evidence
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pointed to dr. rein being killed not friday night but some time saturday. and there was a certain someone who had no alibi for saturday. someone you've already met. remember him? larry hagenbuch was about to take the witness stand. >> and it's your statement that you then just went home. is that right? >> correct. >> and you were home alone that night? >> that's right. >> reporter: no question what the defense was about to imply, that the killer could have been him. coming up -- >> he told this woman that mr. rein was shot with his own gun. >> the 19-year-old mystery takes a sudden dark twist. >> he started describing things that you wouldn't know unless you had been there. >> when "dateline" continues. oh humans.
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on day eight of his trial, tom jaraczeski's defense team attempted to flip the playing field. not only did they challenge the prosecution theory that dr. bryan rein's murder occurred on a friday night, they also pointed their suspicion at a man who had no alibi for saturday. >> the defense will call larry hagenbuch. >> reporter: larry hagenbuch, that friend of dr. rein's whose wife was leaving him, who had used medication he purloined from dr. rein to try to commit suicide a month before the murder. >> you took this combination of pills so that you could check out? you wanted to kill yourself? >> it was time. i mean, i was done with all the bs. >> it's, to me, very plausible larry goes to mr. rein's trailer. he's upset. he's been drinking.
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he wants either more pills from mr. rein. mr. rein refuses. and larry goes for the gun. >> reporter: thing is, the day bryan's body was discovered, larry admitted he had gone over to the bunkhouse. and the morning after, larry broke down crying in the waiting room of a counselor's office. and while people around him listened, he described things only someone with intimate knowledge of the crime scene would know about. >> he started describing things you wouldn't know unless you had been there. that mr. rein was laying on his back with his feet crossed, blood all over. but the one fact that i think that's the most important that stood out to me was that he told this woman on monday morning that mr. rein was shot with his own gun. >> reporter: in fact, this woman who worked in the office overheard larry. >> did mr. hagenbuch make any statements about whose gun that was? >> he said it was bryan's.
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>> sunday, during that investigation, these officers did not know that this was mr. rein's own firearm that had been used in this, in this shooting. so to me, that stood out as a major red flag. how did you know bryan was shot with his own gun? >> i don't. i probably said a gun. by that time i was in pretty good shock. >> do you recall telling her that bryan was shot saturday night? >> no. >> do you recall telling her that you were going to go out and have a six-pack of beer with him? >> no. >> so if she knows all of that information monday morning, do you know where she would have gotten that information? >> i guess from me. but i don't remember any of that because i do remember telling our counselor that my best friend got shot. >> so nobody saw you from saturday morning, 7:00 in the
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morning until -- they didn't see you all saturday night, correct? >> correct. >> and sunday you hear -- you come out to bryan's trailer. >> yeah. >> so that's the first time anybody sees you from saturday morning to sunday morning? >> correct. >> reporter: larry denied any role in the shooting, and remember, detectives didn't charge him with anything. but the defense had made its point. >> it comes back to they made a decision that mr. rein died on friday night. and so larry was around some people friday night, but all day saturday and sunday morning, he wasn't around anyone. >> reporter: and then finally, as if to twist the knife, the defense brought up one more thing. that thing that so upset dr. rein's sisters. the fact that in the underwear dr. rein was wearing at the time of his death, there was dna that was unidentified. >> so my question would be as to when that would have gotten
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there, and how, and more importantly, who? >> reporter: the implication, of course, that he was seeing and having sex with someone in addition to ann. another potential suspect added to the pot. >> we're just saying tom may not be the only ex-boyfriend out there who would have been upset with mr. rein. >> reporter: that, in essence, was tom jaraczeski's defense. anyone but tom. did you kill him? >> no, i didn't. >> reporter: do you think larry hagenbuch did kill the doctor? >> you know, i have no idea who killed bryan. i know what it's like to be an innocent person, wrongly accused. and i'm not going to sit here and accuse somebody else. >> reporter: the end was coming very soon. coming up --. >> tom was the only person with the opportunity.
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the only person with the motive to take him out of this world. >> he committed this crime masterfully. >> did he or didn't he? >> this was an incredibly tough case. >> the jury's decision. what would it be? >> put my head down on the table and i cried. >> when "dateline" continues. the usual gifts are just not going to cut it.
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we have to find something else. good luck! what does that mean? we are doomed. [laughter] that's it. i figured it out! we're going to give togetherness. that sounds dumb. we're going to take all those family moments and package them. hmm. [laughing] that works.
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imagine the poor jury with such a decision to make. the dreadful loss of a young man with a bright future. but 19 years, a whole generation ago, bad and suspicious behavior by the defendant. but no physical evidence. but they did have to answer the question -- did tom jaraczeski pull the trigger? for prosecutors, the question for the jury was who else could have done it? >> tom jaraczeski was the only person with the opportunity, the
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only person with the motive to take bryan rein out of this world. and he did it. and he committed this crime, masterfully. >> reporter: the defense, in its closing, took a swipe at ken thompson, the agent who for two decades wouldn't let the case go. >> we don't convict people because the lead investigator is retiring and wants this case resolved just so we can close the book. >> reporter: the jury went out first thing in the morning the next day. >> i didn't want to listen to it.
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they did not return as quickly as one side, at least, expected. >> it's just the worst time when you have a jury out. every hour that went by was pretty painful. >> reporter: and then? minutes before the 5:00 whistle -- >> all right. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. mr. foreman, has the jury reached a verdict? >> yes, your honor. >> i kept thinking if they said guilty, i thought, i'm going to fall down. >> my heart's beating so hard, so fast. either i was going to have a life or i wasn't going to have a life. >> we the jury, duly empanelled and sworn to try the issues in the above entitled cause, enter the following unanimous verdict. to the charge of deliberate homicide, not guilty. >> reporter: not guilty. >> i cried. i put my head down on the table and i cried. >> i just put my arm around him and said, it's finally over. >> the case is dismissed. the defendant is free to go. thank you. >> go get a group hug. >> yeah.
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>> reporter: his family, overjoyed, watched them cut off the gps monitor. did you realize it was finally over? >> yeah. it was a sense of relief. and seeing tears of happiness from my family, it's the greatest thing ever. calling my boys up in south dakota, telling them i'm coming home. that was a wonderful call to make. >> reporter: but while that was going on, across the courtroom -- do you remember that moment? >> i do. >> reporter: yeah. almost like you lost him all over again?
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>> i remember walking out of there and thinking, and it turned out exactly the way i thought it would. why did you waste our time? >> reporter: did he? ken thompson didn't think so, of course. but -- >> of course, i was disappointed. my heart fell, but i truly was more at peace that people got to hear it all. because a jury said he was not guilty, i don't think that changes things. for most people they either believed he did or believed he didn't. >> reporter: what do you believe? >> he got away with murder. >> reporter: clearly not what the jury believed. we ask judge greg pinski. who spoke to the jurors after the trial. >> this was an incredibly tough case to prove. it was a tough case to prove in 1998. it became an incredibly tough case to prove in 2015. >> reporter: what did the jury think were the weaknesses in the case? >> timing.
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they wanted to know why this case was coming to trial after 19 years. i think juries are motivated a lot by what they see on tv. and when they see an old case on tv, they expect that there was some new scientific technological advance. >> reporter: some dna or something, yeah. >> some dna that suddenly cracked open this cold case after 19 years and brought it forward. and that's not this case. >> reporter: a couple months after the verdict, we went to arkansas to spend some time with the woman at the center of that long-ago love triangle and discovered she is still tormented by a guilt that will not go away. she wonders if it hadn't been for her, would dr. rein be alive? it's odd, really. whether or not tom killed dr. rein and especially if he didn't, ann could have had nothing to feel guilty about.
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and yet she does. i know everybody says this to you, but stop it. it's not your fault. it really isn't. not even for a moment. >> i was hoping that if he was convicted, maybe that feeling would go away. that's what i wanted. i wanted them to say he's guilty. and then i could quit feeling guilty. and they didn't. >> reporter: no, they didn't. >> so now i got to figure out a different way. >> reporter: so do they all. the prosecutor, believing he had the right guy all along, has closed the case. but the judge? >> i mean it when i told the jurors when they wanted to find out who did this, when they wanted to solve this crime, that literally if they believe there's another world that they go to some day, look up bryan
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rein when you get there and ask him who killed him. because that's the only way we are ever going to know who killed bryan rein. this sunday, a covid crisis out of control. >> i actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of thisti nation. >> record hospitalizations. >> once they get to . us, we're not seeing ae lot that make it out of here. >> record number of cases. >> i think we have not yet seen the post-thanksgiving peak. >> record number of deaths. >> my dad taught me so much about life, but never how to livene without him. health care workers overworked and falling ill. >> when we're gone, there's just nobody that's going to take care of you when you're in the hospital, and that should scare everyone. >> this morning, i'll talk to dr. deborah birx,


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