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tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  December 27, 2020 7:00pm-9:00pm PST

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it's the thing that most people would fear, to be home, asleep in your bed and have intruders come in and do the unthinkable. >> i felt like a hand being placed on my mouth. i started saying, please don't kill me, please don't kill me. >> an attack in the night.
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>> i was really freaking out. what's going on? >> a mother murdered. >> it looked like two ghosts had just committed the ultimate crime. >> he lived to tell police a harrowing story. is it true? >> he's the only one who survived. he is practically unharmed. >> they're treating you like a suspect or a witness? >> they are treating me like a suspect. >> now an undercover plan to solve the mystery. who was the real mastermind? >> we all stopped breathing for about ten seconds. >> i want it to be wrong. i really wanted to be wrong. the american dream. so many of us want it. the loving family. the honest job. the home you can afford. the idea that you can start over here.
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and in this new country, that better life will be yours. this is a story about that dream. about a family who worked for it, won it, and then what happened to them. this wasn't part of anyone's dream. >> someone just robbed our house. they tied me and my mom up. >> how could this happen in this safe, gated community? in this home they work so hard to have? >> is everybody okay? >> i don't know. they just beat me up. i don't know where my mom is. >> and who deserved it less than this woman? >> my mom brought the heart to the family. >> ryan girgis was the baby of the family. spoiled rotten by his mother ariet. >> we couldn't function without my mom. she was the chef in the household.
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the counsellor. >> the full service mom. >> oh, yeah. she was really, really nice, a sweet lady. >> she was one of those mothers who showed her love through food. her cakes were legendary. making every birthday that much more special, says her older son richard. >> she made this really good upside down pineapple cake. it was phenomenal. i always remember cake and ice cream at the birthdays. >> growing up, richard was inseparable from his mom. was she like the other moms your friends had? >> no. i think she was more on the conservative side. >> serve -- conservative because of where she came from. ariet girgis was born in egypt and then came to the u.s. when she was 29 years old. her family settled in northern california. ariet led a comfortable all american life. but cultural ties are strong and in 1980, ariet was called back
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to egypt to meet a nice young man named magdi. >> when my mom went there and ended up meeting him, she really liked him. >> years later she would reminisce about how their romance blossomed. >> in egypt you can't just go out on dates and stuff. so they went together to the movie theater. when it got real dark, my dad reached over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. >> which was a very big deal. >> yeah. for her it was. it almost sealed the deal. >> it wasn't the american way of falling in love, but ariet seemed happy. she and magdi married just two weeks later in egypt and moved together to california. in 1981 richard was born. five years later came ryan. richard was delighted to have a brother to play with and to watch over. >> so you were his protector, big brother. >> yeah. i would keep an eye on him. i love my brother with all my heart. >> how did you and your brother get along?
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>> like best friends. i always looked up to him. >> their dad was the classic hard-working immigrant. magdi earned his license to become a respiratory therapist. then put in endless hours to put a roof over his family's heads and clothe on their backs. >> he came from a really poor country. for him, to come here, he was working real hard to build things up and try establish a life. >> magdi emphasized education. teaching both his sons math at an early age. he strove and saved to help them all prosper and they felt he would do anything to keep his family safe. >> he didn't want your family to get pushed around. >> not at all. >> it took many years of hard work saving and investing. but magdi finally put together
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enough money to buy this home in a gated community in the city of westminst westminster, a quiet town in california. the girgis family was well on its way to build the life they worked so hard to build. but then on september 29, 2004, all of it came crashing down. ryan girgis, then 17, was out with friends and stayed out later than he was supposed to. >> when did you get home? >> like 1:00 to 1:30 that night. i slid the back door open and i went upstairs. >> his dad was not at home. his brother at work. his mom, asleep. >> i remember i was fixing up my ipod dock and i fell asleep to music that night. next thing he know, i hear a door open, and first instinct was maybe it was my brother. >> his older brother richard.
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his best friend and protector coming home. or so he thought. but it wasn't richard. >> i looked back and that's when i felt like a hand being placed on my mouth. and it was a hand with some type of cotton glove. >> can you see who it is? >> i noticed it was a black male that was heavyset. i was going for my brother and my mom to help me and i was really scared. >> ryan said he fought the intruder. >> i bit down on the hand and i rolled off the bed. i popped up and i was shoved into the wall. he was telling me to shut up and calm down. >> the man put duct tape over ryan's mouth and started taping his hands and feet together. >> right after that, a second suspect comes inside. he starts making threats to me like, don't get your mom killed. don't get your mom killed. >> don't get your mom killed.
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that had to be terrifying to hear. >> yeah. i was really terrified. >> what did you think was going on? i didn't know. i thought maybe a robbery or something. >> a terrifying situation was about to get much worse. >> in the hallway, i saw my mom yelling, take anything you want. take anything you want. and then after that i noticed the guy was taking my mom away. toward her bedroom. >> ryan's attacker dragged her into the closet but then noticed the duct tape was slipping around ryan's hands. >> i heard him taking some shoe string off one of my shoes. >> using the shoelace, the man tied ryan' hands behind his back. through the closet door, ryan pleaded with his attacker. i was saying please don't kill me. please don't kill me. i started praying. during that time, he was like, i know your circumstances. i know what you're going through. i'm not going to kill you.
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>> "i know your circumstances." strange as those words sound, ryan found them somehow comforting. >> i started feeling a little sense of relief. >> but then ryan heard a sound that would come to haunt him. >> i heard cutting of sheets. i thought he was cutting my sheets up. i didn't know what was going on. >> and what was going on was worse than anything he could have imagined. coming up -- >> i will kill you. >> a panicked call to 911 and another to his brother. >> i was really freaking out. i was like, what's going on, what's going on? >> what really happened inside that house? >> oh, my god. oh, my god. >> when "the man who wasn't there" continues. man who wasn' there" continues us on punching above your weight. no matter how high you set the bar. try centrum minis.
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ryan girgis had just been through a terrifying ordeal. two men breaking into his home in a gated community in the middle of the night. >> both black guys, they were really huge to me. their whole persona was just gangsters and thugs. >> you had never seen them before. >> never, ever. >> they tied him up. threw him in a closet. but not before he saw one of the men drag his mother into her bedroom. he said he thought he heard the men walk out. thought he heard a car drive away. but for a few more moments, ryan sat in that dark closet, heart thumping, afraid, he says, to come out. it was now or never. ryan says he managed to untie
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himself and grab his cell phone. >> i went down the hallway. i looked to the right really quickly. i noticed that the door was in like a closed position. >> to your mother's bedroom. >> to my mother's bedroom. >> why didn't you check on her? >> i wanted to get out of the house as fast as possible and come back with help. >> you had to be wondering how she is. >> i wanted to get out of the house and come back with someone. i already got overpowered by myself. >> he ran outside the house and called 911. >> what happened? >> two black guys just jump in my house. don't make me have to kill you. don't make me have to kill you. i will kill. don't get your mom killed. >> ryan called his dad magdi. he was shocked and asked two things. if ryan was okay and where ariet
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was. and ryan didn't know. he also called his older brother richard who was working the night shift at the queen mary hotel. >> what did richard say when you called him? >> he questioned if i was all right, he questioned where was mom, and he said who do you think it is? someone you know? >> why would richard think that you might know the people who broke into the house? >> he felt like i was the one who got tied up and they came into my room. so he was just questioning, is it something having to do with you? did they have a personal vendetta on you or anything? >> as you'll see, that is a question that would come up again. after the call, richard left work and drove to the house but the police tape was already up and they wouldn't let him through. >> i was really freaking out. what's going on? i was asking him, where is my mom at? where is my mom at? >> police took richard and ryan to the station. the boys were surprised to find themselves split up and sitting
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in separate interview rooms. ryan's hands were bagged to preserve any evidence. but before detectives could ask too many questions, richard asked one of his own. >> can i talk to my mom, please? >> mom is dead. >> oh, no. no, she's not. i didn't hear that. i didn't hear that. >> ryan said he didn't know what was happening right then but he could tell it was bad. >> oh, my god. oh, my god. >> i just heard like a scream. and i'm like, what just happened? it sounds like richard, my brother, and he is screaming to the top of his lungs. >> no, she's not. she's not. >> you can't see richard. you can just hear him. >> i could hear him in the other room and he was going hysterical. i never heard him scream like that in my whole life. >> oh, my god.
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does my little brother know? >> police soon told ryan the same awful news. their mother ariet had been murdered. now, the cops started asking questions. that wasn't all they did. >> the police took your fingerprints? >> the police took my fingerprints, cotton swabs, dna, you name it, they did it. >> are they treating you like a suspect or a witness? >> they are treating me like a suspect at this point. >> did you have a chance to check on your mom? >> no. i just ran out. [ inaudible ] >> i didn't even look. >> richard was facing questions that were slightly different but just as skeptical. >> why would someone break into your house? >> i don't know, man. i wish i knew.
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>> did the cops take your fingerprints? >> yeah. >> and your dna? >> yes. >> did you think they were looking at you as a suspect? >> yeah. it was scary. i had never been in that situation with police. >> but the focus seemed to linger on his brother ryan. >> this wasn't directed against him that you know of. >> i don't know, dude. >> the first reaction i had was, was it one of your friends? did someone break in? >> that was your first reaction? >> as police continued their questioning, one question stood out above all. why would these two thugs come into your house, basically not hurt you, and then really brutally kill your mother? and leave behind a witness? >> yeah. >> this investigation was about to take a turn that no one expected.
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coming up -- >> two guys come into the house, beat up ryan, tie him up and then kill ariet in a brutal hands-on way and leave no trace? >> it looked like two ghosts had just walked in and committed the ultimate crime. >> dna and csi. what will the evidence reveal when "the man who wasn't there" continues. e man who wasn't ther continues. it's gentle on her skin, and out cleans our old bargain detergent. tide pods plus downy free. safe for sensitive skin with eczema and psoriasis. cenbut they pack a punch.l, with over 20 essential vitamins and minerals they are the most complete mini multivitamin. so you can focus on punching above your weight. no matter how high you set the bar. try centrum minis.
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our driver kristin came along in our most desperate hour. suzanne: bringing us home-cooked meals and gifts. andrew: day after day. we wanted to show you something. kristin: oh my god! andrew: kristin is the most uncommonly kind person that we've met. suzanne: thank you so much. ryan girgis was attacked in his own home and hours later, given the worst news imaginable. while he had managed to escape, his mom ariet had not. she was dead. all of which begged a pressing question. >> why would they kill her and leave me? >> police and even his own brother were asking the same thing. >> how many murders do you get in westminster? >> not that many, really.
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>> she was a deputy d.a. in orange county, california. the ariet girgis case landed on her desk. >> it's a nightmare. it's the thing that most people would fear, to be home in the sanctity of your home, your bed, and have intruders come in and do the unthinkable. >> police found ariet's body near her bed. she had been stabbed multiple times. that odd tearing sound ryan said he heard? investigators believed it was the sound of the knife ripping through the mattress as ariet's killer slit her throat. >> was that knife found at the scene? >> it was not. >> james wilson was a patrol officer at the time of the murder. wilson said the details of the crime scene pointed to something other than a home invasion robbery. in part because nothing appeared to have been stolen. >> this was an burglary in which she was collateral damage. >> definitely not. >> cash was in plain sight. jewelry, too.
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even ryan's ipod and new dock, all untouched. >> the house wasn't even rummaged through as if they were looking for something. >> what's more, this was a gated community. the killers would have needed a gate code to get in. >> it starts getting more interesting as to who could have done it. >> crime scene investigators collected mounds of evidence and surprisingly, with all that blood, not a single trace of unknown dna. all the dna results matched the people who lived in the house. ariet, richard, magdi and ryan. a witness who for some reason was left alive. >> two guys came into the house, beat up ryan, tie him up and kill ariet in a brutal hands-on way and leave no trace? >> that's what it looked like. it looked like two ghosts had just walked in and committed the
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ultimate crime. >> it seemed improbable and it encouraged detectives to look closely at ryan. he claimed to be a victim. but was he really? police learned the friend he was with the night of the murder had offered ryan a knife for protection. just hours before ryan's mother was brutally killed with a knife. a knife that had not been found. they also learned ryan smoked marijuana and not just at the occasional party. he smoked every day. and he wasn't just smoking. >> [ inaudible ]. >> police found small amounts of marijuana in ryan's room along with a bong, baggies and tin foil. and there was more, like the description ryan had given detectives about the two
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suspects. >> both male blacks, he said they were large. he said they acted like they were from a gang but that was something that we still didn't know 100% sure if that was true or not. >> claiming two black men committed the murder seemed almost too convenient. and more troubling, if ryan had been beaten by gang members much bigger than he was, why didn't he look like it? >> there's no question if ryan had been in a serious duking it out fight with a couple of guys, that he would have ended up much more battered than he was. >> if they wanted to hurt him worse than they did, definitely so. yes. >> and remember, ryan had told police that one suspect said, i know your circumstances. i'm not going to kill you. was that true? and if so, what did it mean? and then there was issue of ryan claiming to have left the house before he so much as took a peek into his mother's bedroom. >> did that strike anybody as odd?
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>> i think so. as a detective, you have to consider why someone would do that. >> soon detectives found out. ryan had more dark secrets than they'd realized. coming up -- >> he's the only one who survived. he is practically unharmed. >> new questions for ryan. and a new clue. had he received a warning before the attack? >> when "the man who wasn't there" continues. t there" continues te of the art tools and technology, to genuine parts made for the perfect fit. whether it's our place... ...or yours. we're there. rain or shine, day or night. no one knows your vehicle better. to learn all the ways we can be at your service, call, click or visit a dealership near you.
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i'm richard lui following the breaking news story tonight. president trump signed the $900 billion covid relief bill. according to the white house, the senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000 and starts investigation into voter fraud. authorities have identified anthony warner for the person responsible for the naexplosionn nashville, tennessee. warner died in that explosion. now back to "dateline." investigators looking into the savage murder of ariet girgis naturally took a hard look at the only other person known to be in the house when she died. her 17-year-old son ryan. >> he's the only one who
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survived. he is practically unharmed. he was selling a small amount of drugs. we had to pursue that. >> police still have a lot of questions about ryan's story but they haven't yet found any evidence to suggest he killed his mom. for now, at least, they had to take him at his word. >> until you can find a reason not to believe that person, you kind of have to go with what they say unless they're lying to you. >> as far as you knew, he was not lying to you. >> yes. >> but the investigation was just starting and police couldn't discount another possibility, that ariet was killed because of ryan. detectives learned a year before the murder, ryan had confronted another kid at school who had not paid him for some weed. later, that friend jumped ryan.
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>> it doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would spark a homicide but i'm guessing you've seen homicide that's were sparked by a lot less. >> it is typical for especially gang-related homicides to be something just as small as that. >> remember, ryan described his assailants as sounding like gang members. then there was this bombshell. a message ryan received on his aol instant messenger just weeks before the murder. >> about a week ago -- >> he brought it to detectives' attention during his interview. >> you'd better watch your back. i know where you live. i've never even seen this person. that's why i didn't pay attention to it, you know what i mean? ripe told police he had chalked it up to a prank. now it seemed like key evidence. except ryan had not saved the message. no way to tell now who had sent it. >> any idea who it was from? >> no. >> aol able to help with you that? >> no. >> a frustrating dead end but by now police were looking at other
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possibilities. they dug deeper into the american dream the girgis family seemed to be living. and interviewed the man of the house, magdi. >> how did you feel about your wife? >> i am devastated. we've been together 24 years. she's the mother of my kids. >> he really didn't have any vices. he didn't spend any money on any hobbies of any sort. so he was a guy who went to work and went home. >> but their father wasn't just a hard worker, said his sons. he was more like a workaholic. >> i think my mom felt neglected. he wasn't affectionate toward her. it was like all he would do was just work. >> i played sports all my life and he never, ever came to watch any sports that i played. >> you wanted your dog ad to co
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watch you play? >> of course. >> every kid does. >> i would come home and brag about, hey, i made that home run. he just wouldn't, like, care. >> a lot of childhood growing up, i can remember a lot about my mom but not about my dad. it is not because i don't want to. it is because he wasn't there. he would get up, go to work, come home, sleep, go to work. >> that was because for magdi, the american dream was all about the green. >> he was work, work, work. >> money, money, money. >> exactly. >> after a rare outing to the beach one day, ryan said he and his father dropped by mcdonald's. >> i asked him if i could borrow a dollar so i could grab a 99 cent burger. not only did he ask for it back. he asked for all the tax money on it.
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>> what kind of father asks a 13-year-old to reimburse him for a hamburger? >> he was always trying to hustle someone for some type of money. >> it didn't take the prosecutor long to learn about magdi's obsession. >> this is the united states. everybody goes to work. everybody tries to make money and provide for themselves and make money. he's different? >> yes. he's very different. he is in a category of very few people who have an unhealthy relationship with money. we have people who r -- are thrifty about their money, we have people who are wild spenders. then there's magdi. he is in a category of people who have an unhealthy relationship with money. it drives everything they do. >> we're not talking about pernurious or thrifty. we're talking about squeezing
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every dollar until it bleeds. >> yes, to the point where you have the house paid off but you can't run the electricity for more than one room at a time. >> even though you have the money. >> absolutely. he has food that expires and he hoards it. it is about collecting money. >> and never paying out. >> correct. >> his sons described magdi as not only obsessed with work and money but also a strict disciplinarian. >> did you love him? sdplz -- yeah, i did love him. >> were you scared of him? >> yes. from when i was a kid. i felt like there was a line and i didn't want to cross anything. >> the brothers say they saw what could happen when they crossed that line. one night when ryan came home past curfew when he was 13, they say magdi simply lost it. >> he threw me on the floor and started kicking me. my brother had to pull him off
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me. >> your brother kind of shielded you. >> he did. >> it sounds like you were closer to your brother more than your father. >> very much so. >> ryan rebelled staying out late. smoking weed. richard was more dutiful but he, too, felt his father's wrath. >> a punch, a kick, kind of name it depending. i would find the sooner i would cry, the sooner it would stop. >> a tough lesson to learn from your dad. >> yeah. he was a very harsh person which made it more fortunate to have my mom in my life because she was like the complete opposite. >> as tough as he was on his sons, they say magdi was just as tough on his wife. ryan and richard say they never saw their father hit their mother but they say they heard the yelling and they did see the bruises. >> we never ever called 911. we had the sense of fear that we didn't want to cross the line. >> you were more afraid of what your dad would do to you if you did call 911 than what might happen to your mom if you didn't? >> yeah. we were scared of my dad.
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we were just like so petrified. >> did you know your dad was capable of more than just hitting people? >> i always felt like you didn't want to mess with that guy. you didn't want to push him to the other level. >> so the boys stayed quiet. but a storm was brewing. in the end ariet would give investigators their best lead. coming up -- a transformation. >> i really felt like my mom was empowered. >> and a confrontation. >> my mom told him, he punched me in the face. that started the whole cascade. >> there is no going back. >> it was never going to be the same.
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as investigators worked the murder of ariet girgis, they heard disturbing information from her sons. most disturbing by far was what happened seven months before the murder in february 2004. on the eve of magdi and ariet's 24th wedding anniversary. >> so she starts talking to magdi. can we go out to dinner? that's what starts this fight. >> doesn't sound like a very long fight. >> no. he punches her in the face. that was a challenge to magd magdi girgis, and that will not happen in his household. >> standing up to him? >> no, that was absolutely, completely out of line. >> even if the person challenging you is the other partner in your marriage, your wife? >> to magdi girgis, she's not a partner. that's what we would call her, but that's not what he sees.
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>> richard remembers arriving home that evening and seeing his mom. >> she looked very subdued. her face was swollen. her nose was still bleeding. >> all that damage from one punch. >> my dad was a very strong person, and my mom was very -- she was very small and very fragile. so i went upstairs and i confronted my dad. >> what was his response? >> he told me to stay out of it. >> but richard, in nursing school at the time, worried that his mom could have a concussion or worse. he rushed her to the emergency room. they had kept their family secret for so long but that was about to change. >> the nurse asked her what happened. >> and your mom said? >> my mom told her that he punched me in the face. >> "my husband hit me"? >> yeah.
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she was very timid bh swhen shed her, but she said, he hit me, and she made a hand gesture like punching her in the face. from there that started the whole cascade. >> police went to the girgis home and arrested magdi. >> that was really scary. >> that was scary. not thrilling. >> it was terrifying. >> not the moment you'd been waiting for? >> no, no, no. there was no point of return. somehow i knew immediately after that that it was -- >> there is no going back. >> there's no going back. >> so the life you had before -- >> was never going to be the same. >> a court issued a protective order and magdi moved out of the house he worked so hard for to an apartment complex he and his brother owned nearby. after more than two decades of marriage, it seemed magdi and ariet were headed for divorce. it was a thought that seemed to terrify ariet. >> i think she was scared and had a lot of cold feet. >> about striking out on her own in the world. >> exactly. >> ariet was totally dependent on magdi.
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she had never written a personal check. didn't even know their mortgage was paid off. >> she had expressed to me, i wish all this would just not be here. i wish everything could go back to the way it was. >> magdi, too, seemed frightened and perhaps chastened. >> he was definitely trying to get back with my mother. >> did it seem like your mom was wavering at all? >> yeah. there was a limbo period where my mom was considering taking him back. >> richard, who had stepped up during his father's absence as the man of the house, overheard a strange conversation between his parents. >> he was like, oh, i love you. >> had you ever heard your dad say i love to you your mom? >> i can't really recall that. >> until that conversation when he needed something from her. >> yeah. >> what did magdi need? it turned out he was more worried about himself than anyone else.
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a domestic violence conviction might cost him his respiratory therapy license which would cut off his income. and magdi knew, a divorce would force him to split his hard earned money with ariet. >> he had his back to the wall. >> yeah. >> so magdi came up with a plan. a letter in which ariet would say she wasn't sure what happened. that her injuries could have resulted from a fall. magdi and ariet weren't speaking at the time so magdi convinced richard, the dutiful older son to transcribe the letter and persuade ariet to sign it. thus getting her husband off the hook. >> do you feel bad at all trying to get your mom to change her story of something that you knew she was telling the truth about? >> yeah. back then, i felt like i was just trying to help. >> and maybe the price of saving
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your family is convincing your mom to lie about something you know is true. >> he really just manipulated me. >> he knew his mother had mixed feelings about the break-up of her marriage. richard told himself, he was doing the right thing. >> i was trying to support my mom. at the same time, i still felt that he was my dad. i felt really pulled. >> ariet agreed to sign the letter. magdi, no doubt, breathed a sigh of relief. but then came the preliminary hearing in which ariet did something quite unexpected. she took the witness stand and she told the truth. >> she felt enough was enough. she went and she really laid everything out. >> not just about the night magdi gave her a black eye and bloodied her nose. but about abuse ariet described as stretching over two decades. >> did your dad feel betrayed? >> my dad was, i can't believe what she said up there.
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>> ariet girgis had finally stood up for herself. it might have been the manifestation of her own american dream. ariet hired a divorce attorney and began planning a new life. >> i really felt like my mom was empowered. she just wanted to be happy and she felt like there was happiness coming. >> instead, the next month, she was murdered. and to investigators who heard ariet's story, it now seemed obvious her husband magdi was the prime suspect. >> everything pointed at magdi. >> except for the fact the phone records proved that magdi was at his own apartment when ryan called him that night. and according to the only witness, two black men committed the murder. and there was still the question of why that witness, ryan, was left alive. and just a few days after his mother was killed, the
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rebellious son, ryan, received another anonymous message on his computer. how did you like your gift? lol. lol. >> how did you like your gift? >> yeah. coming up, an aha moment for police. a new look at that old int interrogation of ryan. could it lead to the break they needed? when "the man who wasn't there" continues. continues. centrum minis may be small,
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investigators were zeroing in on magdi girgis as the prime suspect in the murder of his wife ariet. the two had been going through a domestic violence case and were divorcing. >> you know, he's an obvious suspect. that doesn't mean he did it. we have many cases where individuals may want to divorce their wife, they may be unfaithful to their wife, but they didn't kill them. you have to consider that as a prosecutor. >> no matter how obnoxious he may have been during the marriage, maybe he's not the guy you're looking for? p. >> sure. you have to explore every possibility. >> especially after the couple's
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son ryan received a taunting message on his computer days after the murder. how did you like your gift? lol lol. >> it didn't make any sense to me. >> police looked into it. but just like the threat he'd received the weeks before the murder, they weren't able to track down the sender. >> do you wish more work had been done on that? >> yes. >> older brother richd caard ca under scrutiny. >> richard had stuck up for him. may be even could have had up for his father during the domestic violence investigation. did you think he might be doing that again? >> initially they believed there was a possibility. yes. >> soon after the murder, the brothers left westminster and moved to northern california and they did so without telling magdi. as police continued to dig, richard and ryan say they worried. whoever killed their mom was still at large and knew ryan was a witness to the crime. >> i have recollections. i have nightmares. i also get chills.
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i don't like to be home by myself. i have trouble sleeping. i mean, the list goes on. >> ryan and richard say they had a growing suspicion their father was responsible for their mother's murder. they said they were too scared to confront him. but in the months that followed, the investigation seemed to stall. it seems like you had a lot of leads that kind of hadn't gone anywhere. >> we had a lot of paths that we went down, yes. >> remember there was no physical evidence linking magdi to the murder. ryan said it was two black men who broke into the house and killed his mom. police never found those men or any trace they ever existed. and those threatening messages sent to ryan? still no idea who sent them. >> was there a point you thought
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this would resolve? >> it's hard to think like that when you definitely want to solve it. but yes. >> so the years rolled by. richard became critical care nurse. ryan, the self-admitted stoner, says he stopped smoking. he was working toward a bachelor's degree in business and had started his own events and entertainment company. magdi would have been proud of his boys if he knew how far they'd come but richard and ryan said they never got a call from him in all those years and they made no effort to contact him. the brothers did call the westminster police department again and again, urging detectives to investigate their father, and each time they heard the same response. >> you know, we're still looking into it. we don't have any new leads. there is nothing -- >> depressing. >> it was. >> they made endless calls,
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enlisting family and friends to write "america's most wanted" and they raised a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects. all of it led to nothing. >> how many a cases did you do in those years? >> a lot of murders. >> something about this one stuck with you. >> absolutely. >> was there something about ariet that made you not want to quit? >> you never want to quit on any case but i think the fact she came so close to being an independent woman, to standing up for herself, to being the kind of mother that she wanted to be to those boys. and she did everything right and she died on our watch. it was a terrible feeling. a terrible feeling. >> it was 2010, nearly six years after the murder when richard made another of his many phone calls to the westminster pd.
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this time it was james wilson who answered. he had been a patrol officer at the time of the murder but in the intervening years, he had worked his way up to detective. >> i really didn't have very good answers for them. what's going on with my mom's case? what are you doing on my mom's case? and you -- i knew there was nothing going on in the case so i started looking at it. >> out of guilt? >> i think obligation. it is one of the reasons you become a police officer. to help people like that. >> as detective wilson pored over the mountains of evidence in the case, he came across the interview detectives had with ryan right after the murder. reading through the transcript, he saw a key detail that no one had noticed. >> you say you bit this guy? >> yeah. >> on the hand? through a glove? >> i think it was through a glove. he had to take off the glove to put on the tape.
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>> ryan was telling detectives, the intruder took his gloves off before handling the duct tape, and also, the shoelace used to tie him up. >> you don't have to be a detective to think, maybe that had some dna on it. >> detective wilson checked to see if the shoelace had ever been tested. it had not. so he sent it off to the crime lab. and sure enough, one afternoon, eight years after ariet's murder, detective wilson's phone rang. >> the crime lab did call me and tell me they got a hit. >> and no one could have predicted the name police were given. >> it had to be our suspect, at least one of our suspects. >> and the name the crime lab gives you -- >> anthony bridget. >> was that in any of the case files? >> no. >> not someone who had been talked to at any stage of the investigation. >> wasn't even in our inhouse
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computers as a person ever kakt contacted by police. >> and yet the dna proved anthony bridget was the attacker who had tied up ryan. detective wilson entered the information into the computer. >> so who is he? >> a member of the crips. >> the crips. one of the most notorious and violent gangs in the u.s. and mr. bridget, street name little shotgun, was by any standard, a professional criminal. coming up -- >> he had the resume you would expect the intruders who came to kill ariet would have. >> the kind of guy you would hire to commit murder. >> that's right. >> a whole new suspect. >> did you know where he was? >> i knew exactly where he was >> investigators paid a surprise visit. when "the man who wasn't there" continues. en "the man who wasn' continues. mind if i root through your trash?
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after the murder of ariet girgis, when detective james wilson got his first solid break. home invaders had tied up ariet's son, ryan, with a shoelace. the detectives submitted that shoelace to a crime lab, hoping for a long-shot dna hit, and the results were in. the dna belonged to anthony bridget. >> he had numerous violent conduct, including prior
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conviction for manslaughter. so this was no novice. >> long, violent rap sheet. >> absolutely. >> bridget also had a drug conviction. and remember, ryan girgis admitted he sometimes dealt weed. could ryan and anthony bridget have known each other? is that why richard immediately wondered if ryan was the target of the attack? police considered that theory and dismissed it. in fact, for police, anthony bridget and his gang affiliation confirmed ryan's story. for one, bridget matched ryan's account that the man who tied him up seemed like a gang member. >> it looked like he was one of those guys that just came out of the pen and stuff and just, like, wanted revenge on someone. >> and two -- bridget's prior booking photos matched the sketch ryan had given police. and so, investigators developed a different theory about bridget's involvement. >> he had the resume that you
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would expect the intruders who came to kill ariet to have. >> the kind of guy you'd hire to commit murder. >> that's right. >> and they suspected the person who hired him was magdi girgis. but of course, there was no proof of any of that. i'm guessing one of the things you did pretty early on was subpoena magdi's bank records. >> oh, yes. >> looking for that big chunk of money that he took out a few days before his wife was killed. >> you could hope, but -- >> but it wasn't there. >> it wasn't there. >> maybe he's innocent. >> maybe he's just careful. >> careful? perhaps. but in what universe would magdi girgis and anthony bridget's paths cross? one way to find out, they could ask anthony bridget. did you know where he was? >> i knew exactly where he was. >> he was in soledad state prison.
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prosecutor balleste and wilson paid him an unannounced visit. and there you are in a little room. >> yes. >> a table like this one. >> yes. >> between you. and you say? >> i want to talk to you. >> and he's a little surprised, right? >> he's a little surprised, yes. >> but anthony bridget was hard to rattle. >> he's been involved in gang-related homicides in the past. pretty experienced at the prison system. >> so, saying to him, "hey, the guy that hired you, magdi girgis, just rolled over on you," that's not going to work. >> right. >> this is not a virgin. >> exactly. >> but they did get something. you said to him, "i have your dna at a murder scene." >> yes. and he said, "where?" >> he said, "where?" not, "i haven't committed any murder." did you ask him whether he knew magdi? >> no. we never got that far.
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>> here's what bridget didn't know. the prosecutor and the detective didn't really care what he said. their target was magdi girgis, and all they wanted was to prove a connection between him and anthony bridget. that's why before they left orange county, they'd set up a wiretap on magdi's phone. he was back living in the house where his wife was murdered. he even had a new girlfriend. and now, investigators listened to see if bridget would tip off magdi. >> i was hoping that at least my visit would inspire him in some way. >> didn't happen. >> no. it didn't. >> so, game over? >> he stepped out of the car right now. >> no. it was just starting. coming up, a return to the scene of the crime. >> what's up, man? >> a dramatic confrontation at magdi's house. >> check it out. me and my homie locked up in the
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pen right now. >> who were these men? and what did they want? when "the man who wasn't there" continues. man who wasn't there" continues. trelegy for copd. ♪ birds flyin' high, you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ breeze drifting on by you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ it's a new dawn... if you've been taking copd sitting down, it's time to make a stand. start a new day with trelegy. no once-daily copd medicine has the power to treat copd in as many ways as trelegy.
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january 30th, 2013. the home where ariet girgis had met her awful death was suddenly once again the scene of an unexpected confrontation. >> saw my [ bleep ]. >> two men showed up on magdi girgis' lawn. >> let me holler at you for a few ticks. let me holler at you for a second. >> and it was all caught on camera. >> check it out. me and my homie locked up in the pen right now. police approached him about him killing his wife for you in this [ bleep ] house. >> interesting, because prosecutor sonia balleste and detective wilson had just returned from visiting crips gang member anthony bridget in prison. they suspected magdi had hired bridget and another as-yet-unknown man to kill ariet.
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and now, apparently, here were a pair of gangsters on magdi's property. the more talkative of the two called himself d. money, and money is what he wanted from magdi. >> you know what i'm saying? we don't care about it. but the thing is, we want to get paid for it. we're not going to say [ bleep ], you know what i mean? >> what are you talking about? >> good question. and who better to answer it than d. money himself? you're a born actor. >> i believe i am. >> he's not a gangster. he's an officer from the long beach police department who was working undercover, which is why we are con sealicealing his ide. are you a little nervous going in? >> not at all, no. >> the role he played at magdi's home that day was part of a war game sonia and detective wilson had set in motion, even before they met anthony bridget. tell me about this scheme. >> you call it a scheme. i call it a plan.
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>> by any name, it was an attempt to trap magdi. >> the only way anthony bridget or somebody like him commits a crime like this is some kind of gain, financial, primarily. so you develop that kind of individual and you come up with a way in which they were able to contact magdi and demand more money. >> let me holler at you for a few ticks. >> in other words, these two undercover officers posing as gang members would approach magdi and hit him up for some hush money. since investigators knew that money was magdi's particular obsession, they hoped they were about to strike a nerve, but they had to be careful. if the killers were working for magdi, it wasn't clear if he knew them directly or hired them through a middleman. so, you couldn't have these guys claim that they were the actual guys in the house. >> correct. >> because possibly, he knew them. >> possibly he knew them. >> so, you have them pose as
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friends of the guy in the house. >> yes. >> and he's now in jail. >> in prison, which as we knew, that was true, because anthony bridget was in prison. >> and so, his friends are, what, trying to leverage that knowledge into some extra money for them. >> correct. because the ruse would be that the police came to see mr. bridget, which also was true. there would be a need for the remaining slei ining slayer to town. >> operations like this are especially tricky. there's usually only one shot to get it right. if the phony gangsters threaten magdi, the sting wouldn't hold up in court, and magdi could walk free. and at the same time, one thing had to be crystal clear.
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>> you want to make sure that everybody knows that we're talking about the crime that occurred about his wife being murdered in that particular house. that couldn't be left ambiguous. >> a risky plan, and no guarantees it would work. true that a lot of das might not go for an operation like that? >> yes. >> sonia wanted a win. >> she wasn't scared to fail. >> did you think you were going to fail? >> i was very nervous, to say the least. >> it had taken nine years to get to this moment. a team of cops watched and video-taped as the undercovers approached magdi. >> he's stepping out of the car right now. >> everyone was on edge, except for the man cast in the role of d. money. you had to be going over in your mind, like, you know, if he says this, if he does this, i'm going to -- >> no. things come out spontaneously. >> really? >> you have to be quick. you say "a," i say "b," you say "c," i say "d." you have to have something out there. there's nothing you can rehearse, nothing you can write
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down. you either can do it or you can't. >> still there was cause for worry. while these officers looked the part, they had never done anything like this before. were you worried at all about sort of their acting ability? >> i was concerned. >> too late now. it was on. coming up, right out of the gate, the mission hits a speed bump. >> his cell phone dials the number of undercover, and they tell me he didn't answer the phone. >> an undercover officer misses the call, and that was just the beginning. >> i think we all stopped breathing for about ten seconds. >> when "the man who wasn't there" continues. "the man who w there" continues hey, me towel su towel. more gain scent plus oxi boost and febreze in every gain fling. your lips have a unique print.
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head home this holiday with the one you love. visit your local mercedes-benz dealer today for exceptional lease and financing offers at the mercedes-benz winter event. i'm melissa rayburger. the united states has passed 19 million cases. that means one in 19 people have contracted the virus. these numbers only expect to increase as americans make it home from holiday travel. health officials are now worried that a post-holiday spike could overwhelm an already struggling hospital system. back to "dateline." e.
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magdi girgis didn't know it, but he was the target of a sting operation. he had just arrived home. the undercover officers approached, and the camera was rolling. >> check it out. me and my homie locked up in the pen right now. police approached him about him killing your wife for you in this [ bleep ] house, you know what i'm saying? we don't care about it, but the thing is, we want to get paid for it. we're not going to say [ bleep ], you know what i mean? >> what are you talking about? >> what's his reaction when you make it clear that you know about his wife's murder? >> he appeared to be shocked. you could tell it was something he wasn't prepared for, he never thought was going to happen. >> we want five racks, $5,000, you know what i'm saying? we ain't gonna say [ bleep ]. we ain't going to the police. we ain't gonna say nothing else. you understand what i'm saying? all right. give me a call, man. take my number. that's me. call me tomorrow by 10:00. i'm d. money. give me a call by 10:00. $5,000. hit me up tomorrow.
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>> almost as soon as it began, it was over. magdi left standing there with d. money's phone number, with instructions to call the next day. and in terms of oscar-winning performances, they did a pretty good job. >> i think so. they did a great job. >> certainly the audience they wanted bought it. >> yes. and i really wasn't too worried about him not buying that because he wasn't the type of person typically to hang out with gang members. so if they were off a little bit, i don't think he would have known, other than what he sees on tv. >> now police waited and wondered, what would magdi do? if he doesn't call, this all is for nothing. >> it's a done deal. case is over. >> more than eight years after the murder, here was the make-or-break moment. >> he was either going to ignore them, he was going to contact them, or he was going to call the police, say, guess what, i think the guys involved in my
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wife's murder just came to the house. >> which is what an innocent person would have done. >> yes. >> but he didn't call the police. >> he did not. >> and he didn't ignore them. >> very true. >> the next day, the surveillance team tracked magdi driving. and just at that time -- >> his cell phone dials the number of undercover. and i'm notified immediately by the wire room. and they told me he didn't answer the phone. >> the undercover officer missed magdi's call. >> so, i had to call the undercover and -- >> say, the target of the investigation is trying to reach you. >> he was in a bad area for reception, so he had to move. and then -- >> that's like a nightmare. >> so, we were hoping he'd call back. >> the undercover, as usual, was confident. why were you so convinced he'd call back? >> because he called the first time. to me, in this type of deal, when you call the first time, you know, you're over the nervousness and they're going to call back. >> and magdi did call back.
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the surveillance team caught him on camera, this time from a place that doesn't get a lot of traffic in the 21st century. >> we know he's at a pay phone. that got really interesting for me right there. >> i'm sitting in the car, and >> we're at a point in america where people who don't try to cover their tracks don't use pay phones? >> that's the kind of covert behavior we've gotten away from. especially if it was an innocent man, there would be no reason to call them, much less from a pay phone. >> i'm sitting and the car and the cell phone went off. let it ring a few times, then answered the phone, you know? this is d. money. what's going on? >> from yesterday? >> yeah, i came by yesterday. >> yeah, i have a problem --
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>> what's that? >> what's up? >> the problem is my boy's locked down in the pen, like i told you yesterday. we know what's going on, you know, my boy took care of a little business, you know? so you know, we're just trying to get paid just to keep it hush, you know what i mean? >> you got paid everything. >> once he told me, i thought i paid you guys everything. >> it's one of those feelings where you've known this all along, and then you actually hear it from him. and so, i think it was an overwhelming feeling of confirmation. >> and then, just as quickly, it all threatened to blow up in their faces. listen carefully. [ inaudible ] >> what? >> who was the middleman? >> middleman? the undercover had no idea. magdi had just asked a question that none of the investigators could answer.
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when magdi says, tell me who the middleman is, so i know i can trust you, that was something the undercover officers i think weren't ready for. >> no. i think we all stopped breathing for about ten seconds. >> investigators had considered the possibility that magdi might have hired the killers through some third party. and now this conversation seemed like confirmation that he had, but who was it? it seems to me that the middle man for this would have to be somebody that magdi really trusted, somebody he knew well. >> he would have had to trust this person, yes. >> somebody who would stick up for him. >> yes. >> any thoughts on who that might be? >> i do. i do. >> there was no way to tell the undercover that, so d. money just stayed in character. >> i don't -- you know, everybody knows who the middleman was. i ain't worried about that. people talking -- >> how can i trust you?
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>> people -- because the information that i got, player, i can go to the police, but i'm not. i'm just -- i'm just trying to get my money so i can go. >> so the conversation about hush money continued. magdi, true to form, haggled over the price. >> $5,000 ain't that much, man, i, you know -- >> i don't have it, that's the problem. i have some, but not the whole amount. >> it just goes to show the true character of this man. i mean, here's a guy who will negotiate with thugs ten years later because he feels like he already paid. i mean, it's just -- that's what i mean, he's not in a normal range of thrifty. this is a whole new low. when you consider what his net worth is, it was unthinkable he would even enter such a conversation.
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>> what's that? >> $1,500 i have on me. >> police probably had enough to arrest magdi right then and there, but they waited. now you want to do the actual exchange of money? >> got to get the money. >> that meant a second meeting, but would magdi even show up? and if he did, would he come with a plan of his own? coming up -- >> nerve-racking. >> and nail-biting. one more hidden camera moment. >> you bring me a check? >> no. >> when "the man who wasn't there" continues. continues
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magdi girgis had just been caught on tape, apparently admitting to hiring thugs to kill his wife. >> i thought you got paid everything. >> he seemed willing to pay even more to keep things quiet and made a date to do it. >> $1,500. >> what's that? >> $1,500 i have on me.
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>> the next day, officers secretly trailed magdi leaving his home, driving on the freeway, and pulling into this home depot parking lot, the meeting point chosen by magdi. everybody's out of sight, except you. >> everybody's out of sight, plainclothes, unmarked vehicles, except us, the two of us. >> i'm no police officer, but this is starting to feel like fun. >> oh, definitely fun. it's a rush. i would do it all over again. >> prosecutor sonia balleste was nearby, watching it all unfold. tell me what that was like. >> nerve-racking. it's exhilarating. >> did you see magdi? >> not at first. >> but soon enough, he came into view. the undercovers approached his car. >> what's up [ bleep ]? what's going on? what's happening? did you bring me a check? no. cash.
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>> 15? >> yes. >> so i took the envelope, basically snatched it from him and counted the money right there and put it in the envelope. >> that was what, $1,500 in $100 bills? >> $1,500 in $100 bills. >> gonna be over, you ain't gonna see us no more, man. everything good? >> yes. >> so this was not some sort of frightened little mouse who was doing what he was told by you guys. this was a guy who was poised and kind of in control of the situation. >> oh, yeah. i'm going to get it done and this is going to be it. and it will be over. >> but before it was, the undercover dropped one more line to see if magdi would bite. >> what the [ bleep ] did your wife do so mother [ bleep ] bad to you to make you want to kill her ass? >> he didn't take the bait. >> he almost did. >> magdi probably thought he was home-free, but as he drove away, officers swarmed in. you arrest him. and you guys are all feeling like wyatt earp. >> we're feeling pretty good, yes. very good, actually.
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>> ryan girgis, of course, had no idea any of this was happening. he had moved back to southern california and was completely unprepared for the call he received from detective wilson. you come to the station. the cops bring you in, and they say? >> your father has been arrested. and i couldn't be more happier. i really felt like my dreams and my prayers had been answered. >> richard, once their dad's loyal and trusted confidante, was not as thrilled. >> i was happy that the arrest was made, but then on the other end of it, i mean, i was sad in a way, too, because even though i knew in my heart he had something to do with it -- >> it's still your dad. >> it's still my dad, and i always had some deeply wedged fantasy that maybe one day the cops would arrest someone else completely and end up actually telling us, like you know what,
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your dad ended up not having anything to do with it. >> you wanted to be wrong. >> i wanted to be wrong on that. i really wanted to be wrong. >> have a seat over there for me, magdi. >> sure. >> i'm detective wilson. >> detective wilson brought magdi to the station and sat him down in the interview room. his tactic was an old one in small rooms like this -- play dumb and see where magdi took him. >> basically, what i need to know is what was going on in long beach there by that home depot center? looked like there was a money transaction there or something going on? can you explain that? >> two days ago, on wednesday, i was coming from costco. i find two guys approaching me. i never saw them in my life. >> mm-hmm. >> they are black guys. this is the truth.
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>> but his account differed in key ways from what detective wilson already had on tape. >> they told me, your lady get killed in this house, and you have to pay us $5,000. otherwise, we're going to hurt you and hurt your kids. >> that's lie number one. there are no threats on the tape. >> well, how did you get to be with them today? >> yeah. they throw telephone number on the lawn. >> like on a piece of paper or -- >> small piece of paper. >> they threw it on the lawn? >> on the lawn. >> hit me up tomorrow. >> lie number two. the tape clearly shows magdi taking the number. then, detective wilson asked magdi the million-dollar question. >> why didn't you call us? you had a phone number -- >> my kids and myself. >> are you scared of the police? is that why, or -- i mean, i don't understand. >> no, not scared, but my wife
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probably was not so -- and they considered the husband as a suspect. >> those tears had no effect on wilson, who now had magdi on tape paying hush money. >> and we know you paid them, okay? >> yes. >> wilson bored in. >> i'm here to find out one thing -- what kind of person are you? because right now, we don't know. is magdi the type of guy that's a hard, cold, calculated murderer, that pays someone to kill his wife? what kind of person are you? >> i'm just innocent person, just simple person, believe me. >> okay. >> magdi pleaded for sympathy. detective wilson was not sympathetic. >> i lost my wife. >> no. >> but it's your fault. you hired somebody. >> i not hire anybody. >> we recorded it. >> oh. >> we recorded the conversations with these guys. i'm not lying. i'm not lying. >> no, no, i need a lawyer to
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talk like that. no, you guys are going to trap me and stuff. no, no. >> magdi had said the magic word, lawyer. he was done talking. there would be no confession. you didn't expect that he was going to admit it. >> no. the lies were good enough for me. >> good enough to make the case. but wilson thought he'd try one more time to crack magdi, this time by making him face his own son. ryan wasn't so sure at first. >> i called my brother, as i normally do as a younger one, and i told him, "what do you think?" he was like, "do you feel like you want to talk to them?" i was like, "yeah, i want some questions answered." >> so he walked into that little room and saw his father for the first time in more than eight years. >> what's wrong with you? you forget dad? >> you don't even look the same. >> and ryan had a lot to say. >> you had a choice not to hurt
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me and richard. you had a choice not to hurt your wife. why did you do that? >> i didn't test anybody. >> look at me right now. >> i'm looking at you. i'm looking at you. >> i can't believe you, man. >> my son. i don't believe -- >> don't call me your son. i don't want to hear that. you're a horrible person for what you did. i just want you to know that you're a horrible person. >> i didn't do anything. >> yes, you did. >> i did not! >> was it hard to tell your dad that you thought he was involved in your mom's murder? >> yeah. it was definitely very, very hard. >> it's hard for you to talk about it now. >> yes, it is. it is. and the person that i had nightmares over was right in front of me, and i was scared. >> and soon, ryan would face his father again, this time in court. coming up -- >> the killing of ariet girgis was because she interrupted a
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robbery or a drug transaction between ryan and these two suspects. >> a father-son showdown. but exactly who's on trial? >> the evidence suggests that he was involved with people that were dealing hard-core drugs. >> when "the man who wasn't there" continues. man who wasn' there" continues (customer) hi? (burke) happy anniversary. (customer) for what? (burke) every year you're with us, you get fifty dollars toward your home deductible. it's a policy perk for being a farmers customer. (customer) do i have to do anything? (burke) nothing. (customer) nothing? (burke) nothing. (customer) nothing? (burke) nothing.
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march 2014. magdi girgis had been sitting in jail for about a year after an undercover sting led to his arrest for the murder of his wife, ariet. it was a case prosecutor sonia balleste couldn't wait to try. nearly a decade in the making. and as it turned out, it would be her last. sonia had been promoted to management. >> it's my swan song, yes. >> so you wanted to go out with a win. >> prosecutors don't like to lose. >> yeah, i've noticed that. >> but i think you want to do your best. that's how i approached my cases. i wanted to say i did my best and hopefully justice is done. >> despite what you've seen, the case still wasn't a slam dunk. there was no proof magdi knew the alleged killer, anthony bridget, no evidence he'd paid bridget any money. and while detectives had their suspicions about the involvement of a middleman, they still couldn't prove it.
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and, as you'll see, even that undercover tape could be seen through a different lens. >> who was the middleman? >> on the eve of the trial, richard and ryan got ready for the big day. their suits were pressed. they reviewed their prior statements. and they weighed the consequences of what this moment meant. >> i'm happy that we will get closure, but then it's just sad, because it's like, we lost our mom, and then in the same light, it's like, we lost our dad, too. >> their only surviving parent, the one they'd lived in fear of for years, would be the one they had to face in court. >> part of me is scared of him, but also, part of me wants to stand up and let my voice be heard after all these years. so i want to be strong. >> and so the brothers walked into court together, that first day of opening statements,
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standing strong, united in their quest for justice for their mom. >> magdi girgis conspired to have his wife murdered. she was an inconvenient woman to him. and people are disposable to this defendant. >> our cameras were not allowed to record witness testimony inside the courtroom, where sonia balleste stacked up her evidence against magdi. she showed the jury how, in the months leading up to the murder, magdi slowly drained his joint accounts with ariet, leaving her with almost nothing. and, sonia said, the crime scene evidence showed this wasn't just some random murder. >> it was about silencing somebody who defied him. >> but then on the witness stand, richard, who had once helped his father persuade ariet to back off her story, now defied magdi just as ariet had done. richard testified about the abuse his mom had suffered at his father's hands.
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he testified about coming home and finding his mother battered and bruised. richard recounted the story to the jury, but it seemed he was really speaking to his father. we caught up with richard after court. >> it was really a good experience for me just to be able to actually finally face him, face-to-face, and be able to look him in the eyes and actually, like, you know, be able to confront him for what he's done. >> but magdi faced an even tougher confrontation from the words of his now-dead wife. ariet's testimony from the preliminary hearing in the domestic violence case had been saved. and now the prosecution read it into the court record. how important was ariet's testimony from the previous case? >> it was huge. it was as if for an afternoon, she just came back to life and took the stand. >> ryan would need to channel that same strength of his mother's for what came next. he took the stand with magdi
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just feet away, a father's eyes bored into his son. >> i really felt if he had me one on one, he would beat me down. he just wanted anything to get me to shut up. >> this time, ryan refused to keep quiet, telling the jury and his father about that terrible september night when two men broke into his home, beat him up, and repeatedly stabbed his mother in the next room. then ryan faced cross examination, and defense attorney rudy loewenstein had already told the jury he planned to put ryan on trial. >> the killing of ariet girgis was because she interrupted a robbery or a drug transaction or a collection of a debt of some kind between ryan and these two suspects. >> the defense argument --
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ariet's murder was tied directly to ryan's criminal activity. >> i think that the evidence suggests that he was involved with people that were dealing hard-core drugs. >> ryan admitted that he smoked and sold weed, but loewenstein told the jury ryan was doing much more than that. he'd pointed to the drug paraphernalia police found in ryan's room -- tin foil and what loewenstein said was a pipe with white residue, which he said was consistent with heroin and methamphetamine use, evidence that police had failed to test. the defense said it showed ryan's drug dealing was bigger than he'd let on. then it is -- the defense directed jurors to those threats ryan had received on his computer just weeks before the murder. "you'd better watch your back." "i know where you live." and the taunting message that
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came after the murder, "how did you like your gift? lol. lol." >> did anybody follow up? not really. they just said, oh, well, we know who did it, magdi did it. they focused on magdi. they never left magdi. >> and they never really figured out who sent those e-mails? >> they never once mentioned the e-mails, never once tried to explain them, just left them hanging there. so the question is who sent those e-mails and why? >> could the threats be the reason ryan's friend offered him a knife? >> the fact that he was offered a knife for his protection by his drug-dealing friend just minutes, or at the latest, hours before the murder of his mother by someone using a knife suggests to me that there was some reason for him to be afraid for his own safety in his own home. >> the defense also attacked ryan's credibility. remember what ryan told us, that one of the intruders said --
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>> i know your circumstances. i know what you're going through. i'm not going to kill you. >> it turns out, ryan did not tell that to the 911 operator. why? the defense argued because those words were never spoken and said ryan made them up later to deflect suspicion from himself and his drug connections. one thing was irrefutable and hard to explain, the defense told the jury -- ryan did not check on ariet before he fled the house. >> how does a young man whose mother has come to save him not look in and check to see whether or not he could save his mother before running out of the house? what does that say about his character? >> after two days of brutal cross examination, ryan says he felt dejected and betrayed. >> i feel like i'm getting back-stabbed by my own father, that he's claiming that his son is such a troubled youth. >> take my number.
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>> of course, the defense also had a huge problem, those videotapes of magdi taking the phone number from the undercover. >> hit me up tomorrow. >> calling them the next day. >> i thought you got paid everything. >> and then showing up with $1,500. all of it made magdi look very, very guilty. >> i would like him to get up there on the stand and try to explain what he meant when he said, i already paid everything off. >> it turns out, the defense did have an explanation and documents, too, which might prove magdi's innocence. coming up, would that undercover tape convict him or clear him? a defense surprise. >> he's playing along with them in order to be able to apprehend them. >> and the verdict, would that be a surprise, too? >> this is it. >> i didn't want to let those boys down.
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in spite of the damning testimony against magdi by his own sons, defense attorney rudy lowenstein tried to show jurors magdi did everything to provide a better life for them and his wife, ariet. >> his life was dedicated to his family and to making the american dream work for him. he was an immigrant who came with nothing and made something of himself. >> magdi had his flaws, and he had done some bad things, the defense said, but he did not have ariet killed. but then what to make of those undercover tapes and magdi's apparent admission. would magdi take the stand to explain what he meant on those tapes? no.
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apparently he felt he'd done enough talking. instead, the defense attorney showed the jury evidence which he said proved magdi was not guilty. magdi had written down the serial numbers of the 15 $100 bills he had given the undercover officers, and he tried to write down the license plate number of their vehicle, which, said the defense, cast that undercover video in a whole new light. >> he's playing along with them in order to be able to apprehend them. >> and so when he said to them, just tell me the name of the middleman so i know i can trust you, he's bluffing. he didn't know the name. he's just trying to get that information out of them. >> absolutely. >> lowenstein said the only thing magdi was guilty of was trying to play detective. >> the police have never left their vision of him as being the suspect. and because of that, he's got to essentially solve the case on his own. >> what would the jury think? on the day of closing arguments,
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richard and ryan walked to court together. they had brought something for prosecutor sonia balleste, a religious tile belonging to ariet. >> sonia wanted me to bring like an item like from our mom and stuff to have right there, that she could hold on to. >> they learned the evidence-driven prosecutor had a superstitious side. she wanted to have something of ariet's to touch during her last closing argument to channel ariet's spirit and courage. >> she took the witness stand in the preliminary hearing and faced evil. and for the first time in her life, stood up to him. she knew exactly what he would do to her for it. >> he's done some bad things in his life, but he didn't hire anybody to murder ariet girgis.
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he's innocent. >> there was nothing left to do now but wait. >> i mean this has been like -- >> it's a lot of anxiety built up right now. just wondering when the verdict's going to come in. i mean if it's going to be like any moment. >> sonia, already at her new job, waited for the phone to ring. she had played the waiting game numerous times. it wasn't any easier this last time. >> i didn't want to let those boys down. so, yes, i was probably a little bit more nervous than usual. >> it was definitely agonizing. >> after two days, the jury had reached a verdict. were you worried there was going to be a not guilty verdict? >> the only thing that had worried me was all it takes is one person to not see things the way that everyone else sees it. >> you never know what a jury is going to do? >> you never know what a jury is
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going to do. >> when they filed back into the crowded courtroom, ryan didn't look at his dad. instead, he held on to his brother. >> i was just embracing the moment. this is it. this is all riding on this. >> we, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant magdi girgis guilty of the crime, a felony, conspiracy to commit a murder. >> it's what we've been waiting for for 9 1/2 years. >> in the gallery, the brothers cried. and as the hearing continued, richard's sobs grew louder and louder until he couldn't contain himself any longer. >> why, papa? why? >> i couldn't hold myself back. i was trying not to say anything, but i told him in arabic. why, dad, why? why, dad why? i still can't fathom the reason why he would do such a thing, why he would throw away our
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family, why he would throw everything away. >> what was magdi trying to tell his son? we'll never know. magdi's thoughts at his sentencing were somewhat clearer. >> i had nothing to do with the killing of my wife. i did to my best ability to work hard, secure future, and advise my kids no the to gt to get invh all this gang activity or anything. i'm not a bad father. maybe i'm strict, but i love them. they are my kids. >> magdi girgis was sentenced to life in prison without parole. if magdi had not taken the bait, if he had gotten the phone number from your two undercover officers and thrown it away and just said, i don't know who you are. i don't know what you're talking about, and if you call me again, i'm going to call the police,
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would he be in custody today? >> probably not. >> so he ended up giving you your whole case? >> his greed gave me my whole case. >> magdi girgis had worked tirelessly to build the dream, and then by his own hand, destroyed it. well, perhaps not all of it. these two brothers may have lost both their parents, but they still had each other. >> it's my little bro. >> yeah. >> love this guy with all my heart. >> love you too, richard. >> i'll take one right here. >> in april 2018, accused hit man anthony bridget was found guilty on several charges, including the murder of ariet girgis. in august 2020, the two most serious convictions, conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, were upheld
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on appeal. the court reversed two others, aggravated assault and false imprisonment, because the statute of limitations had run out before bridget was brought to trial. he is serving life without the possibility of parole. the second intruder has never been identified. and despite investigators' suspicions, neither has the mysterious middleman. you never found out who that was? >> not yet. >> been ten years. >> that's true. it took me nine to get magdi. you have to be patient in this line of work. >> there's still a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the remaining suspects. richard and ryan hope someone will come forward. in the meantime, they are keeping their heads down and working hard just as their father always taught them to do. when we last interviewed ryan, he said he planned to do some things differently. you picture yourself as a dad
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someday? >> i do. >> what kind a dad are you going to be? >> i'm going to be the opposite of my father. i'm going to be there when my kids need me. >> and that's the beauty of the american dream. there's always a new beginning no matter where you came from. i would tell her how much i miss her and that i love her and that she's the reason why i'm who i am today. i would tell her thank you. >> lauren giddings, law school grad with the world at her feet. fiercely intelligent.


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