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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  August 15, 2021 11:00pm-1:00am PDT

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mollie because mollie didn't get that chance. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline. " i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. she was family. a giant hole is ripped in our hearts. the first thing you want is well the police are going to go get the bad guys, right? i was not prepared for what happened. professor, artist, mom. murdered. >> that primal scream came out of me. >> and she immediately broke down and started crying pretty hard. >> police were quick to question her ex, maybe too quick. >> they focused in from the beginning.
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>> husband always does it, right? >> you don't find fingerprints, blood, dna in the house. >> could somebody else be the killer. >> i wondered what the man was capable of. >> so much tragedy, so much heartbreak. >> we waited for them to figure out that they had it wrong. it was a second of july, 2008, early evening in a fine old town called prescott, arizona. sun going down. air cooling down to a fine evening warm. here at the town's historic rodeo grounds, refuges from the summer heat and phoenix, two hours and 25 degrees away, settled in to the stands to enjoy the exploits of the cowboys. at the same time, a
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few miles away on the edge of town, a woman named carol kennedy jogged. some time after 7:00, she turned in at her street, backyard, called bridle path, she arrived at the back door of the house she intended to inhabit for the rest of her natural days. but of course, carol kennedy had no idea that this was going to be her last day and no, it would not be natural at all. >> it's the biggest loss of my life to this day. it's prefound. it's piercing. it's constant. >> carol kennedy was in as they say, a good place in her life, this is her friend, catherine morris. carol was the epitome of kindness. and living a life
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from a perspective of having an open heart and being loving. >> before she became a close friend, catherine morris was a student. >> she was well respected and admired her classes were full and very difficult to get had in to. >> what was she like? >> she was magnetic and always sort of searching for the truth. and you just gravitated toward her. >> that pulled her students in, especially maybe you. >> yeah, she was soft and inviting. >> i'm carol kennedy. i live in presprescott, arizona. >> you get a sense of her personality in this interview in which she was asked about her passion for teaching. >> such a gift to feel like you get to give seeds to this first row here and they turn around and give it to rows behind them. >> and in fact, she shared
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those passions with a man who was her husband for 25 years. love of her life, really. steve democker. >> they were crazy for each other. >> sharon is steve's sister. >> carol is easy to love. she was kind of a natural fit in the family, she was immediately a sister to all of us. >> all of us, being the democker family. >> sharon is a doctor. >> it's an accomplished bunch. one of my friends said is there's not a weak link in this group. >> carol and steve got married in his parents backyard. an outdoor wedding for a couple who loved adventure. >> steve was the one that started the adventuring side of things. first, hiking and skiing and mountain climbing and kayaking. >> they moved around as people do and wound up in prescott, which proved to be the perfect place to raise their two bright
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attractive daughters. katie and charlotte. >> they are amazing. i think it's really a testimony to the kind of parents that steve and carol were. the girls were their first priority. >> steve became the dean of prescott college. carol taught psychology there. >> but, life is a river. never the same for long. steve decided to change careers. left the academic life, became a financial adviser. very successful too. and there were other changes. more difficult ones. >> nobody knows all of what goes on inside a marriage. i did talk with both of them about it and they both struggled because their lives were moving in different directions. >> much as they had still cared for each other. there were infidelities, steve had an affair and they decided to separate. >> carol loved steve fiercely. she fought hard for her marriage until the end. >> but in 2008 after more than 25 years of marriage, steve and carol divorced. it was a long
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painful process. and after it was final, carol wept to a nearby lake where she called catherine. >> she was sobbing. and at first when she called me, it was like, oh, oh, no. and then i realized that the sobbing and the wailing on the phone was, it was a mixture. >> it was cathartic. >> yeah, absolutely. >> time for a fresh start. carol had left teaching by that time, was focused on a new passion. painting. >> her art was developing. she was really doing well with that. and taking off from sglampt and she remained close to her daughters and stayed close to steve. and in fact, just a few days before that july morning, the whole family went to the airport together to see katie off on a study abroad trip to south africa. >> charlotte was staying with
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her dad in prescott. nothing ahead now, but the long easy days of summer. as she joged the last few yards. she passed by the guest cottage she rented out. >> it is 50 feet from the house, it has its own kitchen and bath and shower and rooms. >> it was comforting, in a way. to have someone else with her on the property out here at the edge of things. man's name was jim knapp, divorced father, a bit of an odd duck some said, but easy to get along with. at least that is what carol told her friends. the man didn't cause any trouble. >> jim knapp was a free spirited surfer dude from hawaii, who hang 10. >> but she took him in as a border? >> it was my understanding that he was, had been diagnosed with cancer and i think they sort of cosupported each other through a lot of the painful times that they were both experiencing.
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>> once inside her house, carol put together a salad for dinner. answered a few e-mails. settled in for an evening alone, she picked up the phone and called her mother ruth who lived way off in tennessee. >> she was an amazing daughter that still called her mom every day. >> ruth was 83, the call, a nightly ritual and then at 8:00 p. m., oddest thing. the line went dead. but not before ruth heard something rather terrifying. ruth tried to call back, nothing, and there was she was so far away, and now worried. so she decided to call the sheriff's department who's headquarters is here in downtown prescott. >> sheriff's office, how can i help you? >> yes, my name is ruth kennedy and i'm calling from nashville, tennessee, i was on the phone with my daughter and she screamed and said oh, no and the phone's gone dead. and is there anything you can to do,
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can you go check? >> oh, no. those two words play back again and again in ruth's worried brain. and so began a mystery. and a story too unbelievable for some of its most intimate participants. what happened to caroller kennedy? >> coming up. that question, would take years to answer. >> not just what happened to carol, but who was behind it. >> she didn't have any enemies? >> none, none. >> we were just stunned. >> we were just stunned. >> when "dateline" continues. that covers heartworm disease, ticks and fleas, round and hookworms. dogs get triple protection in just one simparica trio! this drug class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions, including seizures.
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that's because you all have xfinity mobile with your internet. it's wireless so good, it keeps one upping itself. their nightly phone call, suddenly the phone went dead, ruth called back and could not reach her had, so she called
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the sheriff's department. >> she screamed and said oh, no, and the phone was dropped and i'm at my wit's end. >> did you call her or she had called you and this occurred? >> she called me tonight, and she calls me every night, because i'm 83 and she worries about me. so we were just having a conversation and then all of a sudden, she just screamed and said, oh, no, and then, i have not been able to get her to answer the phone back. so, i'm, you know, i'm afraid something bad's happened. >> okay, ruth and who does your daughter live with? >> she is recently divorced. she is alone. >> what's your daughter's name? >> carol kennedy. >> did you notice what she said, recently divorced. certainly the operator heard it. >> do you believe there's any reason that she'd be concerned of her ex-husband came back? >> i don't think so. no, i don't think it's that kind of a thing, yeah.
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>> no, okay. >> so is family and friends all knew that even after their divorce steve and carol still cared deeply for each other and their two daughters. >> they took time to nurture their relationship and to spend time together and to do things that they enjoyed doing, and bringing up katie and charlotte. >> this was hardly the time for reminiscing. carol was not answering her phone and ruth was frantic. >> all right, we will send somebody out to check on her and we will have them give you a call. >> you can imagine what that was like for ruth. so is far away, waiting for a phone call. she knew carol had a border. that off-beat guy jim knapp, but ruth didn't know how to reach him. steve would know what to do. so she called him on his cell phone and when he
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did not pick up. she left him this message. >> this is ruth kennedy in nashville, i was on the phone with carol, and she screamed and said is oh, no, and i can't get her to answer me back. i wonder if you could see what -- see what you can find out and let me know something. >> by that time, it was dark. steve and carol's daughter charlotte and her then boyfriend were at that moment at steve's house. waiting for him to come home. jacob was actually living there while he tried to sort out a few issues with his parents. what was your relationship like with him? and what was charlotte's relationship like? >> charlotte was very close with steve. he offered me to stay with him before you know, tried to figure something out just to make my situation with my parents better, and so, i had a lot of respect for him. definitely looked up to him.
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>> but that evening, steve an avid outdoorsman was over to from a mountain bike ride and it was getting late. really late actually. >> it was very on, and he would, we would usually have is dinner pretty late there, it was normal to have dinner at 9:00. 9:30. >> when he not come home, around that time, it was when we started to get worried. that maybe he crashed or gotten hurt or something. >> what the did you do? >> charlotte called his cell phone. and -- >> no answer? >> no answer. >> did it go straight to voicemail? >> yes. >> anyway, hungry for dinner they go to the store for groceries. >> we were at the store, it was around 10:00, 10:15 and we got a call from steve and he told us that he got a flat tire and he was at the workout center and going to finish up his work out there. >> and what his phone had been off or something? or what happened to his phone? >> he said that his phone had died. while he was out there having a flat tire a. >> steve was in the shower when charlotte and jake arrived back
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at the condo. they made a quick dinner. vegetable stir fry. a summer night, not a care in the world, it seemed, no idea what was happening at the house on bridle path. >> panic begins a daughter rushes to the scene. what does she find? >> she immediately broke down. started crying. pretty hard. >> when "dateline" continues. e wash. like fading, stretching, and pilling. new woolite has evercare, a first of its kind formula that keeps today's fabrics looking like new. new woolite with evercare july 2nd, 2008, steve and
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charlotte and her boyfriend jake were eating a late dinner. >> he took a few more bites of his dinner and by that point, charlotte and i were close to being finished. >> that's when steve told them about a strange phone call he received from carol's brother who told him that apparently carol's home phone suddenly cut out when she was talking to her mother ruth and nobody could reach her. >> how did charlotte react to that? >> she was worried. >> charlotte said she texted her mom earlier that evening and everything was fine then. now she called her mother. voicemail. >> hey, mom, it's char, i heard from grandma that something happened when she was on the phone and i'm kind of getting worried about you. so, if you want to text me back or call me, or something just let me know you are okay and everything is okay. >> the beginnings of panic bubbled up in charlotte's brain,
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she and her boyfriend called around to the local hospitals but nobody named carol kennedy was admitted to any of them. this was night time, any thought of going over? >> yeah, we talked about it. >> steve was concerned about carol, of course, as her now ex-husband, he another concern too. >> steve had expressed that he was not really comfortable with it, you know, they had just finalized their divorce and you know, he didn't feel invading her privacy if she was with another guy on a date or something like that. so we decided that charlotte and i would go out there and check on her. just kind of see if anything was out of the ordinary. >> it was around midnight when they drove to carol's place, having promised to call steve the minute they got there. do you remember what it was like driving over there? >> it was very quiet. i don't
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really think we spoke very much at all on the way there. >> because? >> just nerves. you know. >> a little anxious. >> right. >> do you remember pulling up to the house. >> yes, very vividly. >> at that moment, charlotte was on the phone with her dad. >> as soon as we got to the top of the hill, you could see the police, you know, the sheriff's lights and all the cars and you know, just the worst thoughts are kind of going through, you know, my mind at that point. >> yeah, that almost is the kind of thing that hits you here before it hits you here. >> yeah, kind of feel it in your stomach first for sure. we got closer to the house and we saw caution tape and all the, you know, people running around and everything. we had pulled up and stopped on the side of the road and two sheriffs walked up on either side of the car, and we rolled the windows down. >> did this person know who you were? >> i think he asked when you guys, were you just passing
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through and charlotte said no it's my mom's house. and he said, i'm sorry to tell you that carol passed away. at that point he she immediately broke down. started to cry pretty hard. >> charlotte dropped the phone. fell to pieces. were you frightened? >> scared, a little bit. really more so for charlotte, just, you know, not really, i mean even now i don't think that i could figure out how to console somebody in that situation. >> maybe steve would know what to do. >> i picked up the cell phone and told steve what had happened and he needed to come down and be with charlotte. >> and steve? >> he was taken aback, it was kind of almost the disbelief, he really didn't know what to say really. kind of hear him choking back some tears a little bit and that was hard. >> right away, steve rushed over to carol's house. and a
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detective had a recorder rolling. you can hear charlotte sobbing. and steve talking. >> i don't know i'm sorry, i don't know. it's ban while. >> someone else talked to the detectives too. a man who showed up minutes after the deputies got there. jim knapp, carol's border. the man who was living in the guest house. >> i can't remember the month i moved in. >> and jim knapp had a lot to say about carol. but he the not stop there. coming up. >> it was certainly a gruesome scene. >> blood drops, shoe prints. the includes tell a story. so that tells you something about how she died. >> she certainly died a violent death. >> and the man in the guest cot acknowledge has a story too. >> it's just my intuitive take. >> when "dateline" continues.
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before 9:00 p. m., july 2nd. around the time that carol kennedy's family was recording phone messages to each other. a deputy was dispatched to carol's house on bridle path, he shown a flashlight through a window, saw a bookcase toppled over and blood everywhere.
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that's when investigator mike shea was pulled in the strangest case of his career. the kind of thing that he had moved to prescott to avoid. >> it's acquaint little community nestled in the pines and not a lot of crime, especially from what i was used to. >> he put in 27 years in the phoenix police. this job at the attorney's office was supposed to be an escape from big city crime and here he was, middle of a july night, looking at one very brutal homicide. what did it look like? >> it was certainly a gruesome scene. not only a large amount of blood on carol's body but also on the furniture that was nearby. blood spatter that that had been cast off on to the walls and other items as well. >> that tells you something
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about how she died. >> she certainly died a violent death. >> something else, as he surveyed the room, he could see that the person who the did it was trying fool them. how did he know? when he looked past the obvious gore, there was things moved around after carol was dead. >> there was a ladder placed over top of her body. that along with the blood that had splattered on to a book shelf and then the shelf was knocked over. obviously, several minutes after the blood hit it. >> unlikely that it was tottering and it collapsed. >> that could not have happened. >> that's a significant detail then. >> yes, absolutely. >> staging, clear as day said the detective and there were drops of blood outside the door. the blood trail led detectives to another discovery. shoe prints outside the house.
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>> there was a lot of tracks out there. >> the house was next door to ranch land, a lot of people went running and riding there. carol too. >> horses, animals, people use that area and there were a lot of tracks. these tracks were unique. they were fresh. >> they found care's footprints from her jog that evening. but there were others. >> her track as it went out, the suspects track, then stepped right on one of hers. she went out and then the suspect came in to her house. >> and had a sequence of of tracks. >> yes. >> about 50 feet from the main house, you remember, was a guest cot acknowledge. which caroller had rented on out to that tenant. jim knapp. >> jim knapp was one of the first ones to arrive at the scene after the deputies had arrived. >> of course the detectives asked him, where was he that night and knapp was ready with a story.
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>> he been baby-sitting one of his boys at his ex-wife's house when this incident actually occurred. >> you would have the pin him down on that, sure he proof of it, correct? >> yes. >> another deputy had the recorder on. >> she and i sort of committed to each other to be co-coaches, to get through both of our divorces. >> but knapp did not stop there. oh, no, he seemed eager to tell them about carol's ex-husband. >> well, it's just my intuitive take, the guy comes off to me as a very sneaky, man ipulative man. >> so by the time steve arrived the deputies were suspicious. they asked him to the sheriff's department where he told them the same thing he told his daughter. he a flat tire. >> i on do some on and off,
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mostly i go trail running. so i don't have a routine. >> he drew them a map of the trail he followed. so, it goes up and then kind of goes out and there's a trail. >> at one point the trail got to within a mile of carol's house. >> the detectives perked up. but steve insists he never went to carol's house. >> i'm happy to give you blood, saliva, i'm happy to give you anything that you need. >> there's nothing that we are going to find that would tie you. >> i was not there. i would not do that. >> he said that he is tired and dehydrated. >> we can fix that. if you need food, i will give you food. tell us what you want. i'm asking for you to be patient with us and help us through this had matter.
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>> yeah, of course, i wanna do that, i'm happy to give you dna, i wasn't there. so, i assume that will be good for me. >> that is true. if it is like you say, then once we do our, our lab work, and -- >> i'm just -- i'm cold and tired. >> steve asked them, what were they thinking about him? was he a suspect? >> i don't know what looking suspicious looks like. i know i didn't mean to ask, just the to be tired. >> no, and here's the whole thing with it, there's certain things in what is going on. just like we have got a suspicious death and right now, we don't have any other person. >> well we have no other person right now. >> so, it was a long night in that little room. the detective gave steve a blanket asked again about that trail. >> the proximity of where the trail is. >> i know.
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>> where you are riding. >> wish i had chosen a different trail. >> i wish you had chosen a different trail also. and here's the thing right now. >> of course if i had done it, i probably would not have chosen to be right near that scene of what sounds like may be a crime. >> maybe so. but wherever he was, he picked up something that the detectives could not ignore. >> very fresh multiple scratches. >> on his arms and legs. >> steve said he got those riding a rough mountain trail on his bike. detectives poe toe graphed him. before letting him go home. >> meanwhile, overnight, other detectives searched steve's office and home and garage and they took pictures. lots of pictures. after the autopsy next afternoon, the medical examiner reported that carol died from blows to the head administered by some blunt object, seven times her killer hit her. with what is this the medical examiner offered an opinion that looked like might have been a golf club. and one
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more thing, carol herself might already be telling them who killed her. >> coming up. it sounds like kind of a ah-ha moment? >> it's one of those moments that you go, oh, my goodness. we may have overlooked something. >> the clue that police almost missed. will it help them crack the case. when dateline continues. continues. plus, its delicious beef flavor is #1 with dogs. ask your vet about nexgard. not touching is still touching protection. adding lysol laundry sanitizer kills plus, its delicious beef flavor is #1 with dogs. 99.9% of bacteria. detergent alone, can't. lysol. what it takes to protect. there is as catherine morris
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can tell you, no good way to find out your close friend has been murdered, especially a friend as incandescent as carol kennedy. >> it's the biggest loss of my life to this day. it's pro found. it's piercing. it's constant. >> she didn't have any enemies. >> none, none. >> catherine, who by this time lived in atlanta, flew across the country to prescott. >> i needed to see it. i needed to be in her home where she last was. >> she joined other members of carol's family at bridle path in the very room where carol died. blood still spattered on the furniture. the mess of what happened, everywhere in that room. >> you just can't imagine. painful. >> did it help? >> it helped greatly to put it in to perspective of the absolute horrendous brutalities and animalistic violence. >> evidence of that was still in room?
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>> oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah. >> steve was there too, said catherine and she remembers him saying something that to her did not make much sense. >> he put his arm around me and he said, you just want to think it's an accident, don't you? and then i looked at him and i said, this is not an accident what i'm looking at is not an accident. >> by then, so soon after the murder, steve was the only real suspect under investigation. and in the following weeks as friends and family mourned, detectives peel back the layers of steve and carol's relationship. and soon found evidence that their recent divorce was well, no divorce is pleasant. but -- >> we looked heavily in to e-mails and we learned that carol was very unhappy with the outcome of the divorce. they argued heavily back and forth. up until the day of her murder. >> steve made good money as a financial adviser. had agreed to pay $6,000 a month in spousal support.
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>> when you say somebody makes over $500, 000, you would assume that a $6,000 monthly payment is not a big deal. but he was spending way more than he was making. he was having to borrow money from his parents monthly. >> when he is making half a million a year? >> that's correct. and the $6, 000, he was going to be unable to sustain his lifestyle. >> those numbers were for 2008, the year when like a lot of people steve hemorrhaged money because of the financial crisis. still to the detective, that $6,000 a month sounded like motive and may explain why the murder occurred when it did at the beginning of july. >> and that payment started june 1st. the second payment
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was due july 1st. she was murdered july 2nd and that payment was never made. >> i wasn't there. i wouldn't do that. >> again and again, he denied killing his ex-wife. said he was out mountain biking evening she died. but look at this, along with shoe prints near carol's house after the murder. police also found tire tracks. bike tires. >> we then were able to see that the bike had been stashed and then the individual walked right to the back of her house. they did not take direct impressions of those shoe and tire tracks as investigators frequently do. but they took
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pictures of the tracks. looked like the treads on steves tires, they felt. while no matching shoes turned up. steve once bought a pair that may match and there was the curious business of the murder weapon or possible murder weapon. remember it was suggested she was hit with a golf club. when investigators learned that, something clicked in their memory from the first search through steve's house. >> there were golf clubs in his garage. >> so let's go back and seize them and examine them and see if we can determine that the golf clubs were used as the murder weapon. >> so it sounds like kind of a ah-ha moment, right? >> moments you go, oh, my goodness, we may have overlooked something. >> they returned to steve's condo and seized the golf clubs, tested them and could find no evidence that any of them were the murder weapon. there was something else. in the first search of a condo, a officer represented seeing a golf sock on a shelf, and they looked at
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the photo. there had it was. but when they searched the garage a second time, it was gone. >> and the shelf itself had apparently been sort of re-arranged. >> was it possible that now missing golf sock belonged to a different golf club. one that was no longer around, one used to kill carol kennedy. did steve knowing he was a suspect get rid of that golf sock because it was incriminating evidence. seemed like every investigative trail they followed led back to the same person they suspected all along. carol's friend catherine knew who that was. >> i didn't believe that steve did it, but i could not think of anyone else who would possibly do any harm to carol. >> so, three months after carol was killed, they arrested steve democker, on a charge of first degree murder. steve's sister, sharon.
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>> i'm trying to imagine what it was like for the family. this amazing, accomplished, interesting, intelligent family, when the leader child was charged with murdering his wife, a woman who you all loved. >> it was a total shock. you are going, they don't understand. if they knew him, they would see how wrong and impossible this was. >> even worse, prosecutors filed nor the death penalty. any chance for bail for steve given the charge was remote. still the, the whole democker family gathered in court forrer the hearing. which coincidence, had been scheduled for christmas eve 2008, then, it was delayed. >> it was this crushing blow seeing that, the wheels turn painfully slowly in this process. and so, we left and we are standing out in the corridor, then, they were just starting to bring steve out, and we said is, you know what, let's just sing him a christmas carole, so we started singing
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we wish you a merry christmas, there were tears streaming down steve's face. >> steve's family wept too, they believed he was innocent. that someone else killed carol and their belief grew stronger after -- >> 9-1-1. what is the emergency? >> a 9-1-1 call, this time, to the prescott police department. >> the door is opened, it looks like a gunshot hole in the window and there's a shell casing inside and the bedroom door is closed. >> coming up. husband always does it. right? >> they focused in on one person from the beginning. a thumb print, a smear of blood and here's the bombshell. neither one belong to steve democker.
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>> there were a lot of red flags that were concerning. when "dateline, " continues. yardwork... teamwork... long walks.... that's how you du more, with dupixent, which helps prevent asthma attacks. dupixent is not for sudden breathing problems. it's an add-on-treatment for specific types of moderate-to-severe asthma that can improve lung function for better breathing in as little as two weeks. and can reduce, or even eliminate, oral steroids. and here's something important. dupixent can cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. get help right away if you have rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, tingling or numbness in your limbs. tell your doctor if you have a parasitic infection, and don't change or stop your asthma treatments, including steroids, without talking to your doctor.
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charged with first degree murder of his ex-wife carol kennedy's violent death. he plead not guilty. his attorney found what he felt was an elemental mistake by detectives. >> they put together their story, their version of events immediately. >> husband always does it. >> they zeroed in on steve democker right from the beginning. >> robertson said that detectives should have taken a closer look at another man in carol's life. jim knapp. the man who lived in the guest house and showed up at the crime sign within minutes of the officers and who was the
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first person to point the finger at steve. >> the fact that law enforcement viewed him in a different way that they viewed steve democker. that they shot jim knapp as a friendly witness, and they see steve democker as a suspect, frames the way that they investigate. so, anything having to do with jim knapp becomes excusable, explained. it's just not something you have to worry about because he is not our guy. >> and yet, look for example at the crime scene photos in carol's kitchen counter. the magazine was sitting on it and slipped inside, between the pages were some financial documents that were printed the very day carol was murdered. >> that became really important because his thumb print is on the financial documents. >> what was jim knapp doing with those documents? and something else, perhaps very significant. >> there was blood on the door
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knob on a door that led from the main house in to the backyard garage. the blood became evidence item 805, collected days after carol's death. and who's dna was mixed with carol's blood? jim knapp's dna. >> just like the thumb print the question becomes when did jim knapp's dna get put on the door handle. >> robertson had his suspicions and steve's sister sharon did too. >> you felt that jim knapp should have been investigated. >> he should have been investigated there were a lot of red flags that were concerned. >> jim knapp said he was nowhere near carol's house, he
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was miles away baby-sitting his son. didn't they find out that in fact the alibi was pretty solid? >> no, actually it wasn't. the son said, yeah they got a video and the son was watching it. he doesn't know where dad was. >> dad wasn't besides him in the room. >> no, dad was not watching with him. so he doesn't know where dad was. the son got bored watching the movie, and i believe, he went and got on his computer. so, there's a period of time that we don't really know. he might have been in the house. but nobody saw him. >> so, maybe knapp's solid alibi wasn't and remember how he told everyone he cancer. sharon, a doctor discovered something about that. >> i have seen the medical records. >> and? >> he had a superficial skin cancer and it was removed. >> they recorded jim knapp saying things about carol that they found deep thely disturbing. >> carol and i lived life alike a oldly married couple. >> he was really obsessed with
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carol. i have e-mails about what he and carol share is more than anyone could picture that no one will understand the bond that they have and how close they are to each other. and he referred on to her to some people as his girlfriend. but she never had any romantic interest in him and no one the -- >> he tremendous romantic interest in her. >> very much so. >> thus in your mind, a reason to be angry one night? >> certainly. >> was it possible carol rebuffed him and he got angry. the detectives did not ask those questions said steve's family and soon it was too late. six months after carol's murder, a 9-1-1 call from a condo where jim knapp came to live after carol was killed. >> we came for a well check, the door is open, and it looks like gunshot hole in the window and there's a shell casing and
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the bedroom door is closed. >> who are you doing the welfare check on? >> jim knapp. >> jim knapp was dead. begunshot wound. the medical examiner ruled it a suicide. >> i was stunned. it was, it was one of those moments where it just sort of took my breath away. and then when i found out there was no note and as i learned about the details of what the scene looked like, it's still a baffeling death. >> baffeling because it simply did not look like a suicide. >> there was multiple gunshots fired in that room. there was furniture in disarray, there was drawers pulled out. >> staging. in other words. >> just as the investigators believed someone staged the scene of carol's murder. >> was jim knapp carol's killer or another victim of an unknown killer or maybe both. couldn't
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have been steve, he was in jail. and then the questions multiplied. in june, 2009, steve's attorney received an e-mail. the e-mail read, i can tell you what really happened the night kennedy was killed. jim knapp was running his mouth about a prescription drug deal he was in. it was meant to look like home robbery gone bad. when steve's attorneys told him about the mail. steve replied with a startling story. he heard the same thing. just a month earlier in jail. >> coming up. would this be the evidence that steve democker was waiting for. >>.
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kennedy's death. her ex-husband, steve, had been arrested, charged with murder. now an anonymous email sent to steve's attorney said the killing was the result of a drug deal gone wrong. with carol's neighbor. steve said he was told a similar story. >> steve said that somebody was communicating to him through the ventilation system in the jail and told him a story about how a drug ring out of phoenix had been trying to seek retribution against jim knapp for an involvement in a
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prescription drug ring. >> the attorneys arranged for a meeting. an opportunity for steve to tell law enforcement what he heard so they could investigate it. they showed him the mysterious email. listen to his reaction -- >> i'm sorry. >> i almost hate to ask you this, but can you explain why you're so emotional today? >> i spent a year not knowing what happened to carol and being accused of it. that's what's happening right now. >> there was more than the email to go on. remember the dna the medical examiner found under carol's fingernails? turned out it wasn't steve's or jim knapp's. police called the dna evidence item 603, but to defense investigator rich robinson, it represented more.
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>> it became mr. 603. it was a male's dna that was found mixed in with carol's blood under the fingernails of her left hand. and this wasn't a small amount of dna. reasonable person i think would think this probably could have gotten there during an attack. >> jim knapp, the anonymous email, mr. 603. steve's family and attorneys thought investigators should focus more on all of those things. instead seemed to them prosecutors had already made up their minds. and steve would go on trial. summer, 2010. two years after carol kennedy's murder. american flags were once again draped up around the town square in anticipation of the annual rodeo. and on june 3rd, inside the square's historic courthouse, county attorney joe butner opened his case against steve by ticking off the
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reasons why in his view steve deserved to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. by this time, pretrial legal rulings had taken the death penalty off the table. the attorney told the jury the case was no less condemning. >> i want to ask you to find the defendant guilty of the first-degree premeditated murder. >> first he said steve had motives and not just that $6,000 a month in alimony. no, carol, said the prosecutor, was worth a lot of money dead. >> the evidence will show that at the time of her death that steven was the owner and beneficiary of two life insurance policies. the total was $750,000. >> steve and carol's daughters,
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katy and charlotte, were sitting behind and supporting their father. >> to have your father accused of killing their mother and for them to not believe it, you can't imagine what that must have done to how they view things. it's got to be a horrible experience. >> in his opening statement, defense attorney john sears was quick to address that life insurance money. >> you will hear from katy and charlotte that their father told them from the beginning, this is your money from your mother. this isn't mine. he disclaimed, signed over, any interest to the girls and what he was paid. >> the prosecutor called the first witness, steep and carol's elder daughter. >> did she have a habit of things she did when she came home from work? >> she did, typically went for a run on the back land. >> to your recollection did she leave the door unlocked when she would do that? >> yes.
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>> an unlocked door. opportunity for her killer to enter and wait. on the stand, carol's mother, ruth kennedy, had to relive that very last phone call with her daughter. how exactly did it end so abruptly? she told the sheriff's department operator that carol had screamed, "oh no. " >> you just said that "oh no" a certain way with a certain emphasis. was that related -- she said it to your recollection? >> she said, "oh no. " basically that's the way it came out. >> did she scream that? >> it really was not a scream. it -- i'm sure it was because i was so rattled myself. she just said, "oh no. " that's all she said. and basically in that tone of voice, like it was more dismay. >> this was very difficult for ruth as you can imagine. >> she was everything a mother would want in a daughter. she was a good mother.
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>> charlotte, the younger daughter, was living with steve that summer, was in steve's house the night of the murder when he was unreachable for five hours and said his cell phone was dead. >> your father, did he have normally have spare batteries with him? >> sometimes in his car. >> did he carry them in the car and also in his briefcase? >> it's possible. i don't know. >> normally he was reachable by way of his cell phone? >> yes. >> when he finally got home, she saw those scratches. suspicious according to the prosecution. >> it did you ask him about those scratches? >> i did. >> what did he tell you? >> he explained they were from branches from riding his bike. >> and then the prosecutor asked charlotte's by then former boyfriend jacob about the weird business of the golf club cover. the golf sock that appeared in a photo in steve's garage the night of the murder but was gone when detectives returned with another search
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warrant. the implication, of course, was that the cover fit the club never found that killed carol. jacob said that after the detectives left he talked to steve. >> what was that conversation? >> the golf head sock cover was found after they had left. >> he said he had found it? >> yes. >> did he say what he was going to do with it? >> he didn't know whether or not to turn it in to the police or give to his lawyer. >> implying, said the prosecution, that steve knew the golf sock could incriminate him and didn't know what to do with it. just as the case seemed to be building momentum, two weeks into the trial, the judge left the bench at lunch break and suddenly collapsed. it was a brain tumor. and everybody waited for five weeks until a brand-new judge was appointed so they could pick up with testimony right where they left off. and that's when the jurors finally got to hear what became of the missing golf
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cover. >> go ahead and open your evidence bag. >> the detective showed it to the jurors, and the judge explained a skipulation made by the attorneys. >> on july 5th, 2008 -- >> reporter: days after the murder he gave it to his attorney, john sears, who kept it into his locked office for steve's arrest. that's when sears turned it over to law enforcement. so with a curious case of the migrating club sock, was it an attempt to cover up a murder or confusion? an investigative dead end? prosecutors weren't done, mind you. they next tried to tie steve to the crime scene. didn't find any of steve's dna or fingerprints at carol's house. but they did see those tire tracks. a criminalist compared them with the tires on steve's bike. >> the tread on this tire is similar to the tread to this tire track. >> did you find any discernible
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differences between them? >> no, i did not. >> and those shoe prints. they brought in an expert from the fbi. >> did you find any shoes that seemed to be comparable to the impressions that you observed in these photos from the crime scene? >> yes, i found one shoe that could have made those impressions. >> for pike's peak. records show that steve bought a pair of those shoes two years before the murder. when detectives searched his house, they didn't find any such shoes. so intriging but hardly proof. prosecutors knew they had a big problem -- the anonymous email linking the murder not to steve but to jim knapp and illegal drugs. so even as the trial went on, the investigator was re-interviewing witnesses including steve's girlfriend, renee. >> it was obvious to me that she was very protective of him. >> steve began dating renee when he was separated from carol. they were together
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during that tumultuous time, steve's divorce, carol's murder, his arrest. renee had always stood by steve and his family. but there was the feeling diabetes. >> -- feeling -- >> we were convinced she wasn't telling us. >> during the trial, renee broke up with steve. so on the eve of her testimony, sash a interviewed renee again about the anonymous email. what he discovered -- explosive is not too big a word. coming up -- >> steve was terrified, we were terrified. >> the email trail, the money trail. a winding trail of surprises was about to change this case. that was a doozy of a mistake. >> uh-huh. the first full
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>> reporter: mornings dawned cooler in the arizona mountains, the summer flags in the town square were stored away for another year. and the murder trial of steve democker ticked into its fifth, fitful month. the prosecution had amounted to circumstantial bits and pieces to that point. and investigator mike sechez knew that steve was likely to mount a strong defense. >> mr. democker is a very intelligent individual. >> mm-hm. >> but he's also a very narcissistic personality. you put those together and you can make it difficult to solve a crime. >> narcissistic? that's what it seemed like to the detective. also seemed to him like steve's girlfriend, renee girard, was protecting him. knew more than she was telling. then renee broke it off with steve. and sechez interviewed her one more time. and remember the "anonymous" e-mail that claimed carol's murder was linked to an illegal drug ring? oh boy.
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>> she told me that mr. democker had informed them during one of their in-person visits at the jail to bring some pencil and paper. there was a glass between them. mr. democker had brought a document with him that he placed on the glass, so that they could view it. >> reporter: according to renee, steve himself wrote that document. then asked his daughter charlotte, just 17 at the time, to copy it down. >> mr. democker then asked them to send that document which became known as the anonymous e-mail to mr. sears and to the prosecutor's office. >> reporter: "mr. sears" was john sears. one of steve's defense attorneys. steve's reasoning, according to steve's sister sharon, he'd heard that story from an inmate in that air-vent conversation and desperately wanted to get the story out, and investigated. >> the death penalty was still on the table. so, steve was
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terrified. we were terrified. i can certainly appreciate when you're terrified, maybe you do some stupid things. >> well, it's when you start making mistakes, and that was a doozy of a mistake. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: and uncovering that fraud led investigators to what they thought was another, even bigger one. remember carol's life insurance money? $750,000 worth. steve's defense attorney talked about it during his opening statement. >> he disclaimed, he signed over any interest to the girls and the money was paid out to the girls. that's what happened in this case. >> reporter: that statement caught investigator mike sechez by surprise. >> we had made contact with the life insurance company several times throughout the investigation and we had been informed that the life insurance had not been paid out to anyone. >> reporter: so, had the insurance paid out or hadn't it?
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sechez took another look, a much harder look at the money trail. >> not only was the insurance paid out, but it was paid to the two daughters who then transferred it to several accounts, including wire transfers to mr. democker's parents'account in new york, who then wire transferred it back to mr. democker's defense team. who then wire transferred it back to mr. democker's defense team. >> reporter: remember steve democker was a highly-paid financial adviser. the prosecutors now believed he was using that expertise to try to get away with murder. >> here is a person that murdered his ex-wife then collected her life insurance of over 750 thousand dollars and is using that life insurance to pay his defense team in the murder prosecution. so then prosecutors added fraud to the charges steve was facing. but fraud is certainly not what it
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was, said defense investigator rich robertson. >> these girls voluntarily, on their own, believing in their father's innocence, dedicated money that they inherited to defend him. how can that be wrong? >> the girls decided to use that money for their dad's defense. there was no fraud, or the insurance company would have been the first one to say, "hey, we got a problem here. " >> so, was that just piling on, on the part of the prosecution? >> yeah. >> the much bigger issue for the defense, said investigator robertson, was that phony e-mail. an e-mail the attorneys presented in court as real. because, they said, they, too, were duped by steve. >> suddenly, the attorneys are in an awkward legal ethical kind of posture and, in relationship to their client. and so it created an untenable situation for the first defense team.
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>> so untenable for these highly respected defense attorneys that they no option, they said withdrew from the case. and so, seven months in the judge was forced to declare a mistrial. >> we thought we were sprinting to the finish line. we thought that steve was gonna be home in time for thanksgiving, and suddenly the finish line just kinda moved off into the horizon. >> gut wrenching said carol's friend katherine. >> it was so emotional of, not even a roller coaster. just the intensity of -- of the emotion. >> they'd have to start all over again. the money the girls received from their mother's insurance was gone now. gone to pay for the first team of attorneys. so, since steve was pretty much destitute, court appointed attorneys stepped in. and right away craig williams and greg parzych were impressed by how steve's family supported him. >> it's a large family. very
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educated, very tight-knit group. >> how uniformly did they support steve through this process? >> i'd say very uniformly. >> they're all behind him? >> yes. >> reporter: but one thing after another. as steve's second trial approached. there was another, huge, surprise. the source of the dna found under carol's fingernails was finally identified. that would be "mr 603. " >> coming up -- >> exhausted so many man hours and looked at any and all alternatives. we finally were able to discover and verify who mr. 603 is. >> the mysterious mr. 603, not who anyone expected. how can you trust anything after that? how can you trust anything
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>> it had always been an issue in the case against steve democker: that one fascinating clue that could break the case wide open. who was "mr. 603"? that's what people were calling the mysterious dna found under carol's fingernails after she was murdered. one thing for sure, it was not steve. >> we exhausted so many man hours and looked at any and all alternatives. >> reporter: and then it was
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during the long months of waiting for a new trial to begin, the prosecution had an idea. what if that 603 sample was a simple mistake. what if something just got mixed up in the lab? so investigator mike sechez looked up the autopsy done just before carol's. and submitted a sample from that for re-testing. and? nearly three years after carol's murder, a call from the crime lab. >> the sample dna that we sent had matched the dna under carol kennedy's fingernails. we finally were able to discover and verify who mr. 603 is. >> mr. 603, it turned out, was another dead soul, the man lying on the autopsy table before carol got there. it was his dna. maybe on one of the coroner's instruments, that ended up under carol's fingernails. mystery solved.
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one more doubt removed, said the prosecution. but for steve's defense team, it was further proof of a shoddy investigation. >> contamination. we found out not only potential contamination, there was actual contamination in this case. >> how can you trust anything after that? >> exactly. >> defense attorney craig williams said the case against steve had an even bigger flaw. >> you cannot put steve democker in that house where there was a horrific murder, a bloody murder, you can't put him in the house. >> no dna at all. >> no dna, no blood. you don't find any dna of carol's on him anywhere. you don't find any dna, fingerprints, blood, anything of his in the house. how can you convict him of murder? >> but in july 2013, by this time a full five years after carol's death, steve was still in jail, and the case finally went to trial again. new defense attorneys. a new prosecution team. who, it soon
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became clear, had, during the long delays, spent some quality time honing their argument against steve. >> carol kennedy had no enemies. this was not a burglary or a robbery, no valuables are missing. the overwhelming evidence in this case points to the defendant and at the close of that evidence we will ask you to return verdicts of guilty on all charges and especially first-degree murder. >> reporter: and now the prosecution had more evidence. like steve's google searches during the month before carol's death. damaging, to say the least. >> there was some information for the term "how to kill and make it look like suicide, " and there was some information on the term "how to make a homicide appear suicide. " >> reporter: those e-mails and texts messages, carol and steve arguing in the days before her death, were read to the jury. a
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crime scene analyst claimed the blood spatter indicated the killer was left handed. >> with the position that i think is the most comfortable position, i would think that they're swinging from the left. >> and steve was left handed. remember the golf sock in the garage? it was made, said the prosecution, for a now missing left handed club. so here, at last, was the state's theory about how steve killed his ex-wife. days before the >> after a day of fishing in a murder, said the state, he small, quiet village in dropped off that club at carol's house, supposedly for switzerland, a teenage boy did her to sell in an upcoming garage sale, but left the golf not return home as planned. the sock in his garage. and then, the night of the murder, he investigation revealed some sneaked into her house, and important microscopic evidence used that club to kill her. in the water near where he was last seen. it was the only though such a club was never forensic evidence detectives found, the golf sock was evidence it existed, said the had. prosecution, and the shape of carol's wounds confirmed it. then, to bolster an alibi, as his ex-girlfriend renee girard testified for the prosecution, steve allowed his cell phone >> late in the afternoon of
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battery to die. something he august 4th, 1993, in the small never normally did. swiss village of neuparadies, >> in general, there was 13-year-old dario cicolecchia usually a battery in his phone left his home to go fishing in and an extra battery either charged or being charged. a nearby creek. as night fell on the town, dario had not >> did you ever know him to be returned home, and his mother to not have a phone at the ready if he needed to use it? called the police to report her >> he didn't. >> reporter: renee also son missing. revealed that a month after the murder, steve told her something that in hindsight >> (speaking in a foreign language) >> when we found the bike and seemed very significant. his clothing, we concluded that he had last been fishing there. >> in the evening we would take where and with whom he could a walk on the golf course and have left the place, we had no idea. >> two days passed, and the he picked up a bag on the way out the door one evening and as we were walking told me about search intensified with more the bag and what he was going to do with it. than 100 policemen patrolling the area with search dogs. a >> a getaway bag. missing person poster aired on which she said he buried on a golf course. and sure enough, local television, and with renee's help, detectives newspapers asked, where is found the bag on the golf course. inside were cash, dario? as time passed, people feared the worst. clothing, and a cell phone, and >> a pen light. also, after steve (speaking in a foreign language) was arrested, they conducted more searches. in his storage unit, they found books about >> to us, there were clear
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indications that a crime had how to "cover your tracks" and taken place because of the objects found, his bike and his trunks. >> search teams meticulously live as a "fugitive. " at an combed the field next to the creek where dario's swim trunks and fishing pole had been apartment he rented in found. farther downstream, scottsdale, arizona, they found police found dario's t-shirt on something interesting in the the bank. a dam was placed in parking garage. >> i believe it was a bmw the creek in order to search motorcycle that the detectives the muddy bottom for evidence. showed me that was in the many items were discovered but parking garage. they believe that he had recently purchased nothing that could be linked to it. the missing boy. two nights after dario was reported >> and inside these missing, two women were walking locked cases, they later learned, steve had maps, a dog along a field path near clothing, hair dye, makeup, and fifteen thousand dollars in switzerland's border with cash. charlotte, who still germany. they saw what appeared believed her father was innocent, reluctantly testified for the prosecution. put on the to be blood. just a few feet spot, she had to agree she knew away in a nearby cornfield lay he was thinking of running. and under a grant of immunity she the naked body of a young man. admitted that she wrote the so-called anonymous e-mail that claimed carol was killed by drug dealers. an e-mail >> dictated by her father. (speaki- ng in a foreign language) >> when i got the message from >> and at one point, your dad these two women, we immediately held up a piece of paper to
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that glass window and wanted sent a police officer to check you to write down what was on the site. when he reported that that paper? the body was that of a young >> yes. >> and you did? man, we realized that it might >> yes. be dario. >> the body was positively >> what were you supposed to do with that piece of paper? identified as dario >> i was supposed to write an cicolecchia. he had been e-mail with the same substance sexually mutilated. >> that i had copied down. i (s- peaking in a foreign language) >> i certainly will never believe, in the hopes that it forget this all of my life, that terrible sight. it was would be investigated further. quite obvious from the >> what did that mean to you, i beginning that it was a sex crime. this could be seen from mean, did you believe it? the injuries. there were cuts >> i did. i believed that that and bruises also in the genital was what he had been told by area. someone in the jail. and that, >> when the medical examiner you know it was very emotional arrived at the scene, he for me. and i wanted it to be concluded that the cuts on the investigated. body were consistent with a >> so how did you get the pocketknife but were made sometime after the boy was information out? dead. >> i sent an anonymous e-mail. >> i found on the body a lot of >> reporter: anonymous. so that long cuts, side by side, and this helped me to think that it could not be traced back to the boy did not move during the her or her father. her older cuts that were made, and on the other hand, there were no defensive wounds.
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>> although blood had been sister katie wasn't aware the e-mail had come from charlotte. found near the body, dr. wyler but, she was at the center of believed it wasn't enough blood to indicate that the boy's the story about life insurance. heart was still pumping when steve had signed a disclaimer the mutilation took place. with saying he would not benefit no evidence of a struggle, from the proceeds of carol's police suspected that dario had life insurance. but katie was been murdered somewhere else forced to testify that wasn't and the body transported to the true. cornfield. police found dario's sneakers in the cornfield, but >> my father was asking me for various things related to that they did not find the knife money. used in the mutilation. >> >> reporter: once carol's life (speaking in a foreign language) insurance paid out, katie >> we were greatly alarmed. transferred her share to her grandparents. such crimes are frequently >> but you knew that your repeated if the killer is still grandparents were going to use at large. we therefore started that money for attorneys'fees? >> that was my understanding, immediately with a very>> that g immediately with a ver
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hear from the defense. and, no surprise, it had a quite different theory about carol kennedy's murder. a theory that had nothing whatsoever to do with steve democker. >> coming up--that man in the guest cottage. >> it wasn't a little bit of evidence that we had on mr. knapp. it was a mountain of evidence. >> he was lying about having active cancer and asking people for financial help. >> i'm wondering if what was this man capable of? was he going to hurt me or hurt my family? i was scared. were family? i was scared. were telling us to check out the only tampax has five sizes. if it hurts to remove, go down. if it leaks, go up. what's your combo?
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behavior after the killing. getaway bag? fake e-mail? defense attorneys craig williams and greg parzych could see that as well as anyone. but was he guilty of murder? no, they said. rather, he was the victim of some detectives'tunnel vision, beginning with a sloppy investigation. >> there was kind of cavalcade of people roaming through this scene that they didn't lock down, tromping through footprints and tromping through the house. and they didn't seal it off correctly. to me, when somebody shows up on the scene and immediately points the finger at the ex-husband, and then that's all they ever did. >> it's always boom, right on him? >> it was always on him. >> reporter: the jurors listened to steve's interview with the detectives, conducted the night carol was killed. >> we've got a suspicious death and right now we don't have any
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other person. >> and you're suspecting me. >> well, we have no other person right now. >> in which you can hear the suspicion, said the defense. and steve, said the attorneys, felt a cold fear overcoming him. >> he's afraid of what's happening, that the investigation is all on him, they're not focusing on anybody else, anything else that focuses on him, and he's afraid that nobody will believe him. >> reporter: that's why he buried the getaway bag, they said. wasn't a sign of guilt, but of terror. in fact, it didn't turn up until months after steve was arrested. >> you never had any evidence that mr. democker tried to use that bag to flee, correct? >> that he tried to use the bag to flee? >> yes. >> i believe that's precisely what he did. >> he never fled. >> we arrested him before he could flee, yes. >> well, you're using a term of art there "before he could flee. " my question to you is very direct. he did not flee, did he? >> he was not able to no. >> okay. there's another term of art. it's a very simple
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question. did mr. democker flee or not? that's a yes or no question. >> no, he did not flee. >> and steve's sister sharon had a simple explanation for those coincidences, the night of the murder. the circumstantial evidence. like his dead cell phone battery. >> i think most of us with cell phones can appreciate that later in the day it's not uncommon for the battery to go. >> but their ears perked up when he drew the route and part of it came within a mile of the house on bridle path. >> well, he lived out there. for many years. so that was a favorite trail. >> they also made a great deal of the tracks that they found in the property. the shoe prints that must've been his, the tire tracks that must've been his. >> nobody knows whose those are. he did buy a pair at one point. but he doesn't know if he kept them. he said, "i never keep any shoes for more than six months. " he ran all the time. no shoes lasted more than six months. >> and he bought them a couple years earlier, is that right.
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>> yeah. the bicycle tire, that's the tire that's on 80% of all the mountain bikes in the u. s. it's the most common tire. so there's nothing very distinctive about that. they wanted to be able to tell the jury that it was a match. they were not allowed to do that because as the experts said, "we have no idea if it's a match or not. " >> something that has more or less. >> the defense called its own forensic pathologist to ask if the medical examiner was correct in his conclusion that the murder weapon was a golf club. >> with regards to saying, ah, specifically this weapon, i can't. >> i think the golf club is a, as alfred hitchcock used to say, it's the mcguffin, okay? it's the magic device to tie it to steve democker, the golfer, the elitist. >> sure. >> the rich guy who is pissed off about -- >> fine. but isn't there scientific evidence to say that's a golf club head that hit it? >> no. i don't agree with any of that. and nobody, not a single person could say that
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that was a golf club. they all said it could have been a golf club. but they also said it could have been other weapon. >> the defense argued detectives should have looked into other suspects too. one person in particular. jim knapp. the man who rented carol's guest house and arrived at the scene almost immediately after deputies. >> why was he a potential suspect in your view? >> well, it's like the guy who lights the fire that comes back to watch it burn. and that was our feeling about mr. knapp. because it wasn't a little bit of evidence that we had on mr. knapp. it was a mountain of evidence on him. >> reporter: knapp, said the defense attorneys, was in serious financial trouble and cooked up a shameless lie to persuade friends to lend him money. they told the jury about how knapp faked cancer. >> he got to the point where he was lying about having active cancer and asking people for financial help so that he could take care of his cancer, which he actually didn't have. >> he didn't have. >> they said knapp desperately wanted to buy a franchise
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business, a smoothie store, with carol's divorce money. at one point, even introducing carol as his business partner. so was he obsessed with carol? his behavior with this former girlfriend when she tried to break up with him certainly seemed obsessive to her, she said, he wouldn't leave her alone, kept sending her e-mails. >> i'm wondering what was this man capable of. was he going to come up and stalk? was he going to do something mean? was he going to hurt me or hurt my family? i felt threatened is what it felt like. and i was scared. >> more defense questions? how did jim knapp's fingerprints wind up on those financial documents that were printed the day of the murder and found slipped inside a magazine sitting on carol's kitchen counter? and how did knapp's dna get mixed with carol's blood in a sample taken from a doorknob, leaving the house? that was evidence item #805. they called a dna expert.
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>> so you can see that all the way across that top line the numbers are the same as james knapp and there are many points of difference with steve democker. >> your point was that on each of these analyses, james knapp matches each one of these, and steve democker doesn't. >> that's right. >> reporter: in fact, neither steve democker's d-a, nor his fingerprints, were ever found at the crime scene. so, had police focused on the wrong man all along? and because steve democker knew that, did he make a foolish mistake like a frightened man would? the anonymous e-mail, the voice in the vent, all of that occurs once he's placed in custody, loses hope and becomes desperate. that should not, in our opinion, should not have been introduced in this trial. that's a whole separate trial, a whole separate issue. >> the defense tried to keep all that out of the trial -- did not succeed. yeah, because it makes him look like a bad,
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evil guy who forced his daughters to use their inheritance money to pay for his attorneys, a low, scummy thing to do. >> but none of that put him in the house. none of that put any dna on him, in his house car, person, anything along those lines. >> judge, at this time, the defense rests. >> thank you. >> all along, steve's family remained rock solid in his corner. as sister sharon said. >> i wanna think the best of my brother. the other part of it is that no one showed me anything that changes my mind. there is no evidence to say, "well, you know, you're not thinkin'about this. " show me something. >> but do you see your own kind of, understandable family bias affecting your judgment about these things? >> if you can prove to me that this is what happened then that's different. but i'm missing the big evidence that's,
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says that he was there. >> and now, five years after the brutal murder on bridle path, a jury would finally get to decide. and steve would finally get his say. >> coming up -- >> you can't sleep. >> it was rough on everybody. >> you really are on pins and needles. >> the verdict when "dateline" >> the verdict when "dateline" continues. called tardive dyskinesia - td. and it can seem like that's all people see. some meds for mental health can cause abnormal dopamine signaling in the brain. while how it works is not fully understood, ingrezza is thought to reduce that signaling. ingrezza is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with td movements in the face and body. people taking ingrezza can stay on their current dose of most mental health meds. don't take ingrezza if you're allergic to any of its ingredients.
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>> there may be nothing else in life to compare to the agoniing hours and days a family waits, endures. as twelve strangers sit in a locked room and prepare to dictate fate. >> well, as -- as anyone who's watched a tv show -- i can tell you unfortunately, the reality is really similar. you really are on pins and needles waiting for that verdict that you don't know what it is.
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>> yeah, and you have no control over it. >> uh-huh. >> strangers are gonna decide. >> uh-huh. >> who don't know your brother? >> uh-huh. >> this family of highly educated professionals knew the case for and against steve as intimately as any attorney. on the third day of deliberations, there was nothing for them to do but sit together. watch their phones. and then, as they prepared to leave a coffee shop in prescott -- news. the jury had reached a verdict. but it was four in the afternoon. apparently quitting time. and the judge decided they'd all have to wait until morning to hear what the verdict was. katie and charlotte, comforted by steve's parents, his siblings. had another night to wait and wonder what did the jury decide? >> it was rough on everybody. >> it is. and it's just horrible. with that nervous energy then is to the -- you can't sleep. >> we were thinking, "well, are they just stretching this out? " >> was it torture? >> well, sure, i mean, we -- we just want them to go ahead and let him go now.
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>> then the next morning, the clock struck nine. it was time. >> when they came back into the room, could you tell? >> yeah. didn't have a good feeling. it's never good when they come back in the room and they won't look at the family. >> we the jury duly empaneled and sworn find the defendant, steve democker, guilty. verdict count 2, guilty. for count 3, guilty. >> reporter: guilty on all counts. >> how'd it feel? >> we were just stunned. it's -- it wasn't the right verdict. the law didn't support that verdict. >> defense investigator rich robertson didn't think so either. >> the biggest shock to me was that they came back unanimous and came back unanimous fairly quickly. it was disappointing. and still is. >> how did steve take it? >> devastated. >> steve's innocent. and steve wants to continue to fight and prove his innocence. that's what his mission is now.
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>> but is he innocent? investigator mike sechez. >> i believe in my heart and soul that steve democker killed carol kennedy. >> he thinks often, he said about the daughters, about the impact on them. >> while my heart goes out to them, you know, you have to recognize that this is all because of one man's actions. >> carol's friend, katherine. >> i never wanted to believe that steve was capable of doing this. and the jury has made their decision. i accept their decision. i agree with their decision. >> i'm so glad it's over. i'm so relieved. because so many of us have been dragged through it for the last five and a half years. >> katie and charlotte were back in court at their father's sentencing. and in spite of everything, the state's case against steve, how steve used charlotte to create that phony e-mail evidence and then paid for his defense with life insurance money carol intended for her daughters. in spite of all that, at their father's sentencing, they asked the
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judge for leniency. >> i ask because i would like the opportunity to someday walk again with my father, freely and outside. to speak openly and honestly with him and find ways to heal the pain of this prolonged nightmare. i believe in healing and forgiveness because that is the way that i was raised. as for me, i can promise that i will never forget the memory of my mother. she lives in me every day and will for the rest of my life. >> the additional pain of the reality that we now face is very difficult for me to grasp. the knowledge that like my mother, my father may never attend my wedding or see my children born or even watch me graduate. it feels like losing a parent all over again. this excruciating punishment is almost as difficult for me as i know it must be for him. >> steve professed his innocence. >> i did not kill carol. we
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loved each other for more than twenty years. our marriage was over, but not our affection for each other. i would no more have harmed her than i would harm my daughters by taking her from them. >> leniency was not forthcoming. the judge sentenced steve democker to natural life plus 20 years. no parole. no hope of a life ever outside prison walls. all along, we'd been asking for an interview with steve. he was willing. the sheriff wasn't. finally, after the sentencing, we were allowed a brief telephone interview from state prison. >> the lengths that they went to to string, to -- to amplify, to exaggerate the evidence, to even misrepresent it, that was the only way they were able to achieve this conviction. and it's just wrong, keith. it's just wrong.
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>> you could be in fact in prison for the rest of your life. are you prepared for that? >> i'm as prepared as anyone can be. i mean, the part that's really hard is you become nothing but a burden. so i guess if i wind up here for the rest of my life, i will try to find some way to be of use in the world. >> interesting thing about steve democker. he's an extremely articulate man. can he possibly be sincere, too? all we can know with certainty is that carol will never again have the chance to be useful. although, scratch that. maybe she will. >> one thing that she always, sort of, said to us, "as long as i'm living in this world, i am always here for you and with you. " and i think she should have rephrased that to, "no matter if i'm here living or in heaven, i'm always with you, " because i feel her in my heart. i feel her when i'm doing
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certain things. and her presence certainly lives on.
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♪♪ this sunday, afghanistan's sudden collapse. taliban fighters on the brink of total control of the country. and they have entered the capital city of kabul, prompting the u.s. to increase the number of troops for the evacuation of the embassy which has begun. president biden, though, standing firm on the u.s. withdrawal. >> we're going to continue to keep our commitment. i do not regret my decision. >> i'll talk to secretary of state antony blinken and to nbc's richard engel in kabul. also, the growing covid crisis. >> we're in an emergency situation here. no doubt about it. >> covid cases rising nationwide, overburdening hospitals. >> we're not machines.


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