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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  March 7, 2021 11:00pm-1:00am PST

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veronica is still as determined as ever to continue to do good work and to help children in need. she and james have since adopted five more children. it is just what annie would have wanted them to do. . she's a beautiful woman. >> she was a mother of five with a double life. five with a double life.
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she had communications with at least two other men. >> from the shod doughs of the internet, depth of the human heart. >> he was very controlling. and he was losing control. s verg and he was losing control. december 1st, 2011, one of those days that make teeth chatter, joints creek. business mal. austin starbuck 21-years-old was at the end of his shift in deerpark, washington. half an hour or so north of spokane when his phone chirped, text messaged. >> yeah, it was from logan. >> logan, his younger sister at school. >> i remember she said, i'm cold, come pick me up.
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>> but what about her mother? >> i took them to my dad's house, where i had a key. >> no word. the kids called her cell, not afraid, no, more like irritated. >> please give us a call. >> it hath had happened by then, of course. though as the children bedded down at their father's house, they never guessed, wouldn't understand for days, that everything about life is different now and nothing made any sense at all. >> unbelief. it was unbelief. >> a friend named summer starks, put the words it to. so impossible that she, of all people. >> it was hard to wrap your mind around that it had occurred. >> but apparently it was
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possible. shannon starbuck, mother of five, was dead, dead in the way that made skin crawl. she had been so many things, mother, artist. woman on the brink of something new. >> shannon was funny. she was vivacious. she liked to joke around and have a good time but classy, always very, very classy. >> always very classy. >> her two older sons remember how she stood out and that she embarrassed them sometimes. >> she would embroider our names and numbers of our baseball teams on all the hats. >> the only ones with our names and number in the back of our hats. how was she with the kids?
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>> i wouldn't hesitate saying she was good mother. >> reporter: this is their dad who was a boy on vacation from alaska when he laid eyes on her in florida more than 20 years earlier. cold and hot worlds colliding. >> i told her i lived in alaska and she probably thought she was lucky she'd never see me again. >> but they did and married within months. they settled within months in alaska where clay worked on the pipeline. he wasn't as interested in church, not the way she was. she wanted you to be there? >> yeah, i couldn't meet her there. it is a big issue and i'm not sitting here sayingives right and it had to be my way or she was wrong. that's not an issue at all. we were different. >> they divorced in 2000. hot and cold. they lasted ten years that time. yes, that time. full of hope and good will, they tried again in 2006 they
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remarried, moved to washington state, set up a house in deer park and from there, clay commuted up to his job in alaska, which meant he had to be gone weeks at a time. so when he came home. >> the kids and i were about playing cap, frisbee, playing basketball. >> having fun? >> yes. i know shannon said several times make reference to me being a disneyland dad and in her eyes that probably -- that probably was true because she was making dinners and taking care of the kids and trying to maintain the house. >> so it was up and down, good and bad. >> shannon and i never fully recovered. >> it was 2010 when they filed for divorce, the second time. they decided to live apart but close to each other. he got house near shannon. the two often boys chose to live
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with him. the three youngest stay would with their mom. and they got along especially in the last months of 2011. he was on disability, he was home. income was vastly reduced but at least able to share parenting. like swapping days taking kids to and from school. >> i'd go over and pick up the kids and take them to school and sometimes she'd pick them up and take them back. it just worked out. . >> or at least it did, until that dismal day, the day shannon failed to show up after school. they weren't worried, said clay. they all knew she started dating again maybe a mixup. >> my thoughts weren't that anything serious happened to her. >> you thought she was with a guy? >> with a guy, it went late, they're having a good dinner.
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>> but the next day one of of kids texted the grandma in florida. had she heard from their mother? she had not and that, said melanie, was alarming. >> i texted shannon and i never got anything back and i called and her phone box was full. i knew something was wrong. >> she felt the panic rise in her throat, called her sister and brother steven. >> she said it was very unlikely she wouldn't answer the calls. >> spoke every day 9:00. >> so mom continually tried to contact shannon, finding out what was going on, talking to the kids. >> clay called the cops, asked them to check shannon's house. >> that was december 2nd in the evening. so it's find her.
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>> schiff's deputies went over there, had a good look around outside and left. but shannon's family insisted something was wrong, there had to be. and her friend, somer said she'd never not pick her kids up from school, let alone answer their calls. >> i knew she doted on them. >> reporter: a deputy met shannon's landlord, got him to open the house. two deputies with went inside and right away radioed for back up. they found shannon. she was dead, her body on her blood and displayed in such a way detectives knew her killer had more than just murder on his mind. coming up. >> i just backed up and i screamed, "no! no! it can't be true."
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>> the crime scene would raise more questions than it answered and so would a tip from someone close to shannon. >> she said look at a tip in her phone in the computer. . >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues by downy infusions calm. laundry isn't done until it's done with downy.
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flashing lights, squad cars violated the peaceful neighborhood in deer park, washington. something big is going down at shannon's house. >> a bunch of crime scene tape and detectives outside the house. >> when her son, blake, drove up to the street where his mother lived, he stopped cold. >> it was something bad, the whole yard was blocked off. >> the awful news was beginning to spread around the now crowded street. >> do they know?
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do they know what's happened? where are they? and they just lost their mom. >> and thousands of miles away steven heard it first from the local sheriff and called his sister. >> i called amy and told her you need to meet me at mom's and she could tell something was wrong and started crying immediately. so i high tailed it to moms, we walked in together. >> he broke the news. >> i looked at mom and told her she was gone. >> and i just backed up and i screamed, in the no! no! it can't be true" but she was, she was gone. >> but they didn't provide ugly details, but just that she was left mostly naked posed pornographically with a sex toy
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and before she took her last breath, the sheriff's detective knew she suffered. >> she was strangled. i believe she was tortured and she was beat badly. >> inconceivable. why would anyone do such a thing? and why her? when she was just starting over in life? after calling it quits with clay in 2010 she went back to school to be a dental assistant. >> she presented herself in a very modest, a very conservative family woman sort of way. >> she's are shannon's classmates. they looked up at her as a cross between a den mother and an older sister. >> she was like the the epitome of a dental assistant. her beautiful teeth and that laugh. i can still hear her laugh. i love it. . >> very approachable. >> as busy as she was, said her school friends, she always seemed to have time for anyone
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that needed her. >> she was very strong to be able to do that. because that's a very hard program. >> especially with the children. . >> yeah, with a family to tend to and she was top of the class. what did she do graduate with honors or something? >> >> yes, she did. an excellent student with finally prospects of her own. . >> her ex, clay, said he was happy about that. >> we were looking forward to her achieving her own independence. >> including you? . >> absolutely. >> here was the strange thing. it seemed that shannon was in a crisis months before her death. >> it appears she was upbeat one minute, distraught the next. >> she's not public. she doesn't want her business known everywhere. >> there aren't that many of those people left. >> but we come into class in the morning and we would see her crying in her truck. >> was it her ex-husband? kids? or maybe a new man?
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there were one or two, new men that is. . >> and there were a couple times i asked her if she was dating. she showed me a picture of this one guy, a friend they would chat. >> met them online. somer is the one that encouraged her to get out there, get dating again. >> i tried to set her up and it didn't work out. but i said, why don't you go date, just go out. >> nothing serious though. not yet. maybe she was finally having fun. >> i thought it would be great if she could focus a portion on a little part of herself. she deserved that. >> of course, she did. >> and her love life wouldn't have been anybody else's business if it hadn't been for what happened but now detectives went digging into hidden places. things she did she might not want the world to know. yet, there were secrets and oh,
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there were. they were about to be exposed. coming up, one of those secrets was right here on the dead woman's cell phone. >> there was a text message to shannon asking her to pose a specific way. >> the pose was one detectives had seen before at crime scene. >> i'm appalled that she was found that way. awful. and embarrassing for her. it's a mess. when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues. man: condos, 150k. [ traffic passing by ]
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if there is such a thing as a fate worse than death, then certainly someone seemed to intend that shannon deserved one. . >> shannon starbuck was there posed on her bed in a manner to bring disrespect to her. >> and her family and close friends, as you can well imagine were not. >> she had so much going for her for it to all end like that and the way it ended. she did not deserve that at all. >> it was an ugly thing? >> she did not deserve that whatsoever. >> i'm appalled that she was found that way, you can know. awful and it's embarrassing for her.
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it makes me mad. >> who could be so cruel? well, of course it's the homicide detective's job to figure that out. . >> it could mean many things. it could be someone close to her upset with her and angry with her or somebody else. >> the investigation began the very day shannon's body was found and as luck would have it, among those just beyond the yellow police tape that night was a man police surely would have looked up sooner or later. shannon's ex-husband was clearly looking for them. what was going on, he wanted to know. his ex-wife was missing. was she okay? >> he was asking to talk to the lead detective. he wanted answers. >> first responders wouldn't tell him anything about what was found inside the house, not even that shannon was dead. an ex-husband, after all, is no longer next of kin. so clay went down to the schiff's station, where he met a detective. i said come in.
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we need have a chat and he said your jacket says major crimes. what's going on? nobody will tell me anything. >> the detective broke the news. shannon was gone. waited for clay to collect himself. and then. >> i start by asking him very simple things. give me a little about shannon's history. is she on medication? does she have any enemies? and what i ask anybody in that situation, do you know what happened? >> he asked me do you know anybody that wants to harm her? do you know who she's seeing? when did you see her last? >> clay recalled telling the detective he knew his wife had been dating again. in fact, he was pretty sure shannon had a profile on a website that caters to mormon singles. . >> i said, well, last i knew, there was an lds planet website and i don't know. i don't have any idea who she's
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seeing. you'd need to look or talk to somebody else. >> they talked to plenty of others. that was just day one of of the investigation and a logical step in a case like this, the ex\/ himself would have to be checked out thoroughly. >> i said we'll talk to you later. why don't you take care of your kids. . >> but even as he left the station, he seemed to be eager to help. >> he said look at her phone and her computer. it will tell you what you need to know. >> no detective worth his salt needed to be told that. the cell phone was right in the bedroom. you couldn't miss it, said detective lysle johnston. >> the phone was on a table right next to her bed a couple of feet from the body. >> like she'd just been using it. . >> >> correct. >> i wanted to look at the cell phone because it may have told us who she had been in contact with last.
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message thursday morning from clay asking her to take the kids to school because he had car trouble. and later exchanges about who would pick them up. not terribly interesting stuff except that's not all they found and the what else was there was very interesting. >> she'd had communications with at least two other men that appeared that she was planning on meeting with one or two of them. >> now that got the detective's attention and fairly jumped at them a particular text, a very explicit one, a specific one. >> it was to shannon asking her to pose a specific way. >> the hair rose on his neck. that was almost exactly the way the killer posed shannon's body. a coincidence? the detective had to think it was anything but.
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coming up. >> there were normal text messages and then they moved into more sexually suggestive text messages. >> investigators took a hard look at two men shannon seemed to have contact with the day of her murder. one guy posted a picture of himself. but -- >> we found he had stolen it from another person's website a doctor in new york city. >> who was this mystery man and what was he hiding? when "dateline" continues.
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in an interview with oprah winfrey, meghan markle said she often thought about suicide after her life being put under a
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microscope. new york wants governor cuomo to step down over a scandal nursing home deaths and he says no way i resign. now back to "dateline." "datelin. >> strange, the small things that can offer comfort however cold in the midst of horror. once, long before her death, she said how she wanted her funeral to be. more of a talk and now a blessing in the midst of so much grove. >> so she's able to give shannon what she wants for a funeral. her old classmates brought and brought candy cramming for the test. >> i felt silly but then i didn't feel so silly because someone brought chocolate.
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>> but nothing could sweeten the bitterness, nothing. >> the children were allowed to see her and i remember one of them saying he was look at her, he said "it doesn't look like mom." and i don't think he even recognized her. >> that's how badly she'd been beaten. it made her family furious someone had done that to her. so in the days that followed, they see, quite unaware they had a break. the lead detective mike rickets. >> they were normal text messages. then they move under -- moved to sexually explicit. . >> on the last day she was seen alive, shannon had developed
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text messages with the man that she was seeing. >> and to the top of the list of suspects was the it man that sent her the sexually explicit text asking her to pose a certain way, take a picture and send it to him. >> it was alarming because the text mimicked somewhat what we found at the crime scene. as far as shannon being posed. >> shannon did not take or send the picture. but the request wasn't just a red flag. that was a canon shot. within hours, the detective had that man on the phone. afterall his number was right there in shannon's cell. >> i asked who he was and if i could come speak with him and he said yes. >> he was a car salesman from spokane. and named tom walker. in his statement said he had nothing to hide. >> i said good morning, sexy. she text me back 14 minutes later and said good morning,
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handsome. . >> walker admitted trying to sext with her that morning. but he said he was at work at a funeral that day. were you at work all day thursday? >> except for the funeral, yes. >> did you have any involvement in her death? . >> no >> they took a dna sample without taking a hard look at his alibi. the problem was, they weren't still sure how he was killed. besides they still had other people to interview. that's what happens in a murder investigation, everybody gets pulled in. they even called shannon's eldest son, austin in. >> they asked me how our relationship was. >> austin lived with his father and told the police, yes, he was closer to his dad since his
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parents split up. and did the question seem cruel? the adult son had to be looked at, eliminated if possible. >> did it feel weird to be put in a position of suspicion like that? >> he tried more leaning on me like did you do it? it wasn't like i know you did it. it wasn't like that. he made me stand up and i actually cut glass. i had older cuts in my hands and he'd be like where did you get that one from? >> and they talked to blake, then 18 and naturally the ex-husband, clay. what was he doing the day she likely died? >> he told me his car had broken down in deer park. >> clay said he spent the day fixing his car, never saw shannon at all. so who, if anyone, was shannon with that day. as detectives continued to dig,
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they found what might be an answer, right there in shannon's phone. a message from a different man, one named jon wilson. wilson also seemed to be messaging on her phone under a different name. just wondering 06. . >> it appeared from the communications that they were trying to meet, set up a date or they were going to meet on december 1st, 2011. >> the very date detectives believe shannon was murdered. but when they traced the call, they found a payphone. but when they google names, they found profiles on dating sites and facebook and quickly realized, this man wasn't who he appeared to be. >> it was a pretty minimal site. >> and we found that he had actually stolen it from another
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person's website, a doctor who lived in new york city. >> so now you know john wilson is not the person you see on the screen. >> correct. . >> a phony picture. a phantom, who was clearly interested in keeping his real identity a secret. but why? exactly who was this latest mystery man? coming up. >> he is completely stressed out. he's completely worried about his life, his professional life. >> how do you track down a guy determined to hide? >> he is doing everything from public locations. >> what does this tell you? >> it caused us a lot of concern this could be our suspect. >> one detective would try his luck with an instant message. >> i said i need talk to you about shannon starbuck. and i bet it wasn't 20 minutes,
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what's a 40-something single woman to do if she's looking for a little romance and who isn't? why not press a button, type in your name and see what happens. >> she said i'm online on a
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dating site. >> it's not uncommon for this day and age to online date. so i don't know why -- >> she wouldn't have put herself in danger or harm's way, whatsoever. >> you wouldn't think. >> but that was something shannon's children did worry about a lot. >> i'm sure you know "dateline" nbc and how to catch a predator. i've seen that, the weirdos on the internet. so we're all afraid she was going to meet that one weirdo on the internet. >> detectives were, in fact chasing down a new lead in connection with shannon's internet dating. >> if there's a murder investigation, there's no stone unturned. >> hiding under one particular rock was one very likely suspect. the man calling himself john wilson who planned to meet with
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shannon december 1st, the last day she was seen alive. they realized he was a imposter and had been communicating with shannon from locations clearly designed to hide his real identity. >> they were all public locations. >> boy, this guy's been careful. >> right. he's doing everything from public locations. >> what does this tell you? >> it caused us a lot of concern this could be our suspect. >> to trace one of those pay phones he used to call shannon, it was here outside a university library that happened to have a surveillance camera. was this john wilson? only one way to find out. detective johnston sent him an instant message of his own. . >> i identified myself as being from the sheriff's office and said i need to talk to you about shannon starbuck. and i bet it wasn't 20 minutes, before my phone rang.
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>> it was him, all right. yes, he told the detectives yes, he knew shannon starbuck, yes, the two had been seeing each other. but -- >> i asked him who i was speaking to? >> sounded a bit shaky, distrustful. >> it was obvious that he didn't seem to believe i was with the sheriff's office either. . >> mike rickets was listening in and scribbled a note to the detective. >> i told him we need have his name shortly or i will post this on the media and find out. who he is. >> at that point he told me his true name. >> suddenly wanted to cooperate? >> well, he didn't want to but expressed the fact that he was married and he was having an affair. >> that was his explanation for the fake name, the hiding from his wife, he said. his real name was john kenline. he was a school teacher.
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he agreed to talk in person but asked to have the conversation at the office of his lawyer, robert cossey. >> he is completely stressed out. he's completely worried about his personal life, his professional life. >> this interview is done with your permission and your attorneys? >> yes. >> so tell me, if you can, how december 1st panned out? . >> december 1st, the last day shannon was seen alive. detectives already knew the answer from the messages on shannon's phone, the man they were talking to had plans to meet her at her house. but they wanted to see if he'd tell the truth. >> at 10:30 i was at her house. knocked on the door. >> he said he made prior arrangements to meet shannon. >> so he went to her house? >> he did. >> except that she never
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answered the door and so he went to a public phone and left a voice message. he even stopped by her house again, frustrated, peered through her windows, didn't see anything, he said. and then he told detectives he spent the rest of the day and into the evening exchanging messages with shannon. >> i texted her and i got a text message in reply from her that said did you come over? and she says something to the effect of how about tonight or later tonight? >> he really wanted to see her? >> right. >> but never did? or at least said he never did? >> right. >> there was, however, a problem with his story. for much of december 1st, he couldn't say if anyone had seen
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him. in other words, no one to back up portions of his alibi. the lead detective didn't know what to think. here's an official going to great lengths to hide his identity and at the same time being as detailed as he can and providing as much information as he can. so i was on the fence but it was someone we had to investigate. >> boy, did they ever. to see the mystery man was telling the truth, detectives waded through all of his communications with her. >>. >> we are /* we didn't let the idea go that he could still be our killer. i don't remember the number of days.
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but it was a week or two that we realized shannon had called 911. >> 911? well, kent county sheriff's detectives were about to uncover another piece of evidence, a recording and it might just be enough to help solve a murder. coming up. >> the records that we get from a phone company indicate a 911 call. >> a break and shock. >> it hit me really hard. it was like a rock in my stomach. >> when "dateline" continues. you can't just wear my face! ♪suddenly i'm up on top of the world...♪ ♪should've been somebody else.♪ you've been through so much jason alexander hoodie. ♪believe it or not, i'm walkin' on air.♪ it's dirtier than it looks.
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there is nothing quite like a murder to put the most intimate parts of life on public display. investigators have tracked down two suspicious men shannon was dating. one was a married teacher at heir house likely the day she died.
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if the other wanted a pose like the one in the crime scene. since they didn't know exactly when shannon died, they couldn't check them out. funny one little break can make all the difference. >> it hit me really hard. it was like a rock in my stomach. . >> detective mike rickets wasn't expecting it at all. weeks into the case. his colleague had gotten a record of the calls dialed from shannon's phone. and there it was, staring back at him. >> the records we get from the phone company reflect a 911 call. >> 9:17 a.m., december 1st, not long after she dropped the kids off at tool, the 911 failed to properly file it with the
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sheriff's department. some don't store it in the call list, an effort to save those in dangerous situations like someone has been can kidnapped. so they had no idea shannon called 911 until they got the records from her wireless carrier. >> were you able to find out what was in the 911 call? when it lasted? when it came? >> yes, they were able to, based on date and time, find a recording of the exact date and call. . >> it was just 28 seconds long. >> it started with a noise. could you hear it? >> you could. and unfortunately for the 911 call operator, i believe he talked over it and he didn't hear it. >> 911, what are you reporting? >> so brief, so garbled but listening to it now, they became convinced this must have been shannon as she was being attacked. 9:17 a.m. >> 911, what are you reporting?
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hello. >> it sounded like someone was struggling over the phone and you could definitely hear a female's voice and that's about all it amounted to. >> but who was the attacker? the car salesman? the teacher? or somebody else? now the investigators had to go back over the alibis and compare them to the 911 call. they started with the salesman, tom walker. >> were you at work all day thursday? >> except for the funeral. >> his phone never binges off any of the towers. he's at work, attends a funeral. we confirmed that. >> the salesman, the guy who sent the racy request for a photo was in the clear. that left the school teacher. he admitted he was actually outside the deer park house that morning, 10:30.
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but in the hour before that, when it appeared that shannon was being attacked according to 911 call, he said he was not at her house but at a starbucks in spokane getting coffee. a specific frappuccino the store happened to have a record of selling. i heard there was a great to do about whether he ordered a specific and unusual drink. >> correct. that is the case. he purchased coffee at about the same time the 911 call came in. just a little variation of time but well-within the time frame that he couldn't have been at starbucks and deer park at the same time. >> and so the man who once looked so suspicious convinced detectives he was telling the truth. >> they looked at him every which way you could be looked at. they check out every part of his story and every single fact, everything that he told them
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checked out 100%. >> now he just had to deal with his wife. and detectives, they went through the list of possible suspects. shannon's killer was still out there, which, judging from the story her friends had been telling, might have been building up to an attack. during the last six months of shannon's life, said summer starks, her friend was convinced somebody was out to get her. >> shannon's house was broken into a couple times, the barbecue would be messed up, knocked over. lights would be unscrewed. you could tell somebody had been in but things went missing sometimes. odd things you would notice weren't right when you would come home. >> shannon filed a police report. the incidents were investigated. but never solved. shannon had been accusing clay. >> shannon thought clay was
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behind everything that was happening. that he was trying to scare her or trying to assess a way into her home. >> but police didn't find any evidence of that and besides, he said, he was in alaska on at least one of the strange disturbances happened. >> at first i was like i didn't do that and then the date hits me and i was like for sure i didn't do that. i wasn't here. . >> in fact, he said he and shannon got along better than most divorced couples. >> shannon and i made things work. we would text or say hey, i'll get the kids. i know next weekend is my weekend but can you take them that weekend? >> but now that shannon was dead, they had to rethink their suspicions as related to them by somer and she wasn't the only person who viewed their relationship through anything other than rose-tinted glasses.
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her siblings claim clay cheated on heir and the last break up was so nasty that in the months before shannon died, clay stopped paying child support. >> we were paying rent -- >> power. she was going to the food bank for food. >> my mother was paying for her school and computers. >> fascinating how the issues of a divorce can seem to change depending on who's doing the looking. now the detectives were. and they at least began to make that kind of progress that comes from dead ends. >> i was able to eliminate tom walker. i was able to eliminate john kenline. >> one name they hadn't been able to quite cross off their list seemed more and more important. >> clay starbuck was never eliminated as the suspect. >> clay starbuck, the ex-husband and by now they had something
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else to consider. a slew of unflattering tidbits from her family. >> he was constantly trying to make her feel inanimate. . >> i always thought he was a creep. >> and the dental classmates were eager to share a few stories about clay. >> he was always bugging her, i guess you will, what are you doing? or can you do this? trying to keep her -- yeah. >> shannon said clay wouldn't leave her alone, some kind of control freak. they didn't know, clay, of course, never met him. but their within went from bad to worse when shannon came to school visibly upset one day telling her clay sent a gift, a sex toy.
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>> it was in a gift bag, if you will, hanging on her door knob. with a note from clay that said here enjoy. i can't have you, so you can have this. >> he was very controlling and he was losing control. >> coming up. >> he told me he had to go back and forth to his residence four times that day. >> a hotel camera makes you rethink the investigation >> what did you think when you saw that? >> i thought he was lying. . >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues yeah, for sure. thanks, boys. what about that? uhh, yep! it can? yeah, even that! i would very much like to see that. me too. tide pods ultra oxi. one up the toughest stains with 50% more cleaning power than liquid detergent. any further questions? uh uh! nope! one up the power of liquid with tide pods ultra oxi. ♪
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>> reporter: still, said summer, it seemed almost like a joke the
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first time chanin wondered out loud if clay might try to hurt her. >> i told her quit being so dramatic. she's kind of being a drama queen. and you know, that's ridiculous. that only happens in the movies or on "dateline." and i just said you're just so full of it. >> reporter: but according to summer, chanin was scared, particularly after the windows were mysteriously shot out of the car parked in her driveway. chanin changed the locks in her house, didn't even give the kids a key, telling friends she was afraid clay would find a way to steal a copy. >> she was very vocal about her fear that he would kill her. >> reporter: hardly surprising those stories would tend to put a sinister spin on everything that police observed about clay, starting with that very first police interaction the day chanin's body was discovered. detective dressback thought something was off the minute clay arrived at the station and he told clay the news. >> and he goes, oh, my gosh, what happened to my wife. i said, well she's dead. and his knees buckled and everything became very histrionic crying and wailing, and that was okay for a while.
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but it became ridiculous. >> reporter: ridiculous? >> it became ridiculous. >> reporter: even more ridiculous, more suspicious, said the detective, was when clay, told he was free to go, didn't. >> then i couldn't get rid of him. he would not leave me alone. >> reporter: kept wanting to talk. >> he kept wanting to talk. what he kept telling me was the same thing over again. look on her phone, look on her computer, that will tell you everything you need to know. >> reporter: it's suspicious to you but it's not really evidence. >> no, not necessarily. it's suspicious, circumstantial, but suspicious to me. >> reporter: which meant that right there on day one clay needed to be checked out but good, and they began with his alibi for that december morning. his day started with car trouble and his text to chanin. asking her to take the kids to school. he said he spent much of december 1st walking between his home and the spot the car broke down, about a mile away.
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>> he told me that he had to go back and forth to his residence four times that day to work on his car and get tools, to eat, to take a nap. >> reporter: but detectives couldn't find anyone along that route who remembered seeing clay. and another odd thing, his cell phone was off for several hours, no pings to trace. but in the area clay said he walked, a little shoe leather produced a stroke of luck attached to a house. >> there was a camera on the side of the house. >> reporter: a home surveillance camera pointed in the very direction they remembered clay telling them he walked. and no sign of clay as far as they could tell. >> i mean, there's no indication that he ever passed by there that day. >> reporter: what did you think when you saw that? >> i thought that he was lying. >> reporter: one statement that looked like a lie, one dead cell phone, a complaint about overdue child support and a bunch of tales about alleged threatening behaviors, which, try as they might, they couldn't verify. the detectives didn't have
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enough for an arrest let alone a murder charge. they needed something more, something to tie clay directly to the crime scene. and? enter the dna. >> i believe it was january 24th, 2012, when i obtained the initial dna report. >> reporter: they had submitted several samples from chanin's body for dna testing. thought the most important thing would be from her neck where she was strangled and her fingernails as she fought off her attacker. some of the samples came back labeled unknown male. which didn't match any of the known suspects, but some other of the dna material could be narrowed down to a very small pool of candidates. starbuck male. >> clay starbuck or austin starbuck or blake starbuck. >> reporter: there was no getting around it, dna didn't lie, after all. detectives were now convinced
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that a starbuck male killed chanin. but which one? was it possible one of chanin's own sons killed her? not a chance, said detective rickets. >> we obtained records that indicated they were at work and at school. we eliminated them as suspects. >> reporter: only one man left standing now, but not for long. on february 6th, 2012, two months after they found the body of chanin starbuck, they arrested clay and charged him with murder. it was the moment chanin's siblings and mother had been waiting for. >> when clay was arrested, it was a big relief. >> we felt as though clay should have been arrested right off the bat. >> i knew that he was the one that murdered her. >> reporter: it was, of course, a victory for the detectives, too, but it came at a terrible price. >> i didn't want it to be clay starbuck. i didn't want to take those children's father from them.
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>> reporter: chanin and clay's five children, still in shock over their mother's death, now had another blow to absorb. chanin's brother was especially worried about the three young children in the family. >> that means they have no guardian then, so we all just decided that it would be best that we try to get custody of the kids and get them out of that situation. >> reporter: but the starbuck children weren't going anywhere. austin, just 21, filed to be the guardian for his younger siblings so they could all stay together and fight together for their dad. >> it's hard to grieve, you know, over our mother when we're fighting for our dad's innocence. >> reporter: yes, they said, their dad was innocent. and if that meant sacrificing their mother's good name to save their dad, so be it.
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coming up -- >> she lived a couple different lifestyles. >> the things we could find on her laptop were not normal dating relationships -- >> her private life was about to become very public. >> we can verify at least ten men that she was meeting with electronically, most of which she had met one on one. >> a string of strangers, now potential suspects.
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at first the arrest of clay starbuck for the murder of his ex-wife chanin seemed to be playing out with all the predictability of a well-worn movie plot. in hindsight it all seemed so obvious, at least to chanin's close friends and family.
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>> we knew that clay killed her. just because he'd been stalking her and causing her so much grief. we knew what he did to her. >> reporter: but you might be surprised to hear the starbuck children weren't buying any of it. so you believe that your dad is innocent? >> yes. >> reporter: there's no way he could have possibly done it? >> no. >> reporter: arguably the only witnesses with ringside seats to the running drama were their five kids. and those kids, every single one, including the three youngest, seth, marshall and logan, rally to their father's defense. >> he didn't do it. he's a nice, caring, loving person. why would you kill your ex-wife? >> that he still loves. >> that he still loves and leave all your five children parentless? >> reporter: yes, so often what a family looks like depends on who's doing the looking. the kids?
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all their lives they said it was their father who was the long suffering one, not their mother. in fact, they said their mother chanin was not always what she seemed to be. over the years, they said, she would up and leave, taking them with her, to live with other men. more than once. for months at a time. but they said their dad would always take her back. >> even through all this, he would always say he loved her. just through this last divorce he would say that -- like no matter what, he could forgive her and take her back. >> reporter: the older starbuck boys said it was patently obvious to them that the case against their dad was a frameup from start to finish. >> there's no physical evidence. >> there were a couple times where i actually laughed out loud reading what they had said in there and how ridiculous the story is that they put together
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of what he did and how he did it. >> reporter: none of it, they said, beginning with the dna evidence detectives found so incriminating, that male starbuck dna, in all likelihood, they said, came from one of them, austin or blake. but it couldn't have come from the youngest, marshall, who learned in the process that he was not clay's biological son, was conceived during a relationship chanin had after their first divorce. murder, as we say, exposes all kinds of secrets. >> the evidence they have is trace dna. it's like i go up to you and touch you on the hand. it's that small. >> reporter: but there is starbuck dna. >> yeah. >> reporter: and there are some who have said, if it's not him, was it one of you guys. >> there's starbuck dna in the starbuck house. >> kind of funny how that worked. we all lived there. my dad lived there months before this happened. his hair everywhere, his sweat. >> the kids coming over back and forth from our house to her house. >> reporter: according to the starbuck children, their father
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was essentially a victim of a kind of marital profiling. a suspect simply because husbands and ex-husbands of murder victims are always suspects. if not for that bias, they said, the investigators would have found the real murderer. >> the evidence is shoddy. >> reporter: and there's so many other possible suspects, they say. take this theory of blake's. not long after clay's arrest, there were news reports about a man named israel keys. he was arrested for murdering a young coffee barrista in alaska and later admitted he'd killed many more people, some in washington state. a serial killer whose family hailed from, of all places, a town just a few miles from chanin's house. well, why would you think it was israel keys? >> because he has killed over ten women. he admitted to four in washington. he was arrested a month about after my dad, so he wouldn't
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have been on the radar until then. >> reporter: serial killer? maybe. but here's the biggest reason they don't believe their father is a murderer. it was the children's bombshell. their mother had been keeping a dangerous secret, they said, a secret life, one austin said he figured out when he was just 8. >> she lived a totally different lifestyle. she lived her church lifestyle, her home lifestyle and her online dating lifestyle. >> reporter: to hear the starbuck kids tell it, that the mom known to most as a prim and proper mormon homemaker lived a racy and risky personal life. a secret from even her closest friends and family but impossible to hide from them, the kids. >> it wasn't normal online dating. it wasn't like she didn't meet some guy and be with him for three, four, five months to a year at a time. she was with him for, you know, just a short visit. you know, on to the next one. >> reporter: was it true? sitting in jail awaiting trial,
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clay told his public defenders derek reed and jill gannon neagle, the same thing he said to sheriff's detectives, look at her phone, look at her computer. >> the things that we were able to find and confirm on the laptop were not normal dating relationships. it was sexual relationships. and most of those can be confirmed that they were only sexual in nature. >> reporter: and explicitly so. >> explicitly so. >> reporter: with videos and photos and you name it. >> yes. >> reporter: all there on the laptop, evidence of trips to meet men she had connected with online but didn't know in person until she made them completely vulnerable to them, these strangers. >> several men. i don't think that we can even give a number of the amount at least e-mail addresses. >> reporter: two, three, ten, 15? >> ten would be a minimum, i would say. >> we tried to keep it as close to the incident as possible, and
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in november of 2011 -- >> reporter: the month leading up to her murder. >> -- we can verify ten men she was communicating with electronically most of which she had met one on one and we can verify that. >> reporter: every one of them a possible suspect. that's what clay's public defenders thought. >> well, investigators had run down leads from chanin's phone the lawyers said. that crack team didn't follow up on any of the potential leads from her laptop. it was there. they had it, right? >> it was there. they swabbed it. at some point somebody suspected something. i'm not quite sure why they didn't follow up. but isn't this all just a smoke screen? because the evidence is pretty clear that clay starbuck's alibi doesn't hold up and the ali buys of the other people do.
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>> the alibis of the ones they looked into. >> reporter: so armed with the evidence they found on that computer alone, defense attorneys were confident they would instill in the jury at least reasonable doubt. as the day of the trial approached the starbuck children were giddy with the anticipation that soon dad would be coming home to stay. >> i know he didn't do it. we need to fight for our dad's innocence, get him out, so we can go back and hit it on the head again and find out who did it and solve it. coming up, at trial the jury hears chilling testimony. a prediction once made about chanin. >> he said i wouldn't be surprised if we found her dead with her throat slit open. >> reporter: when "dateline" continues. it protects for a full 30 days, prevents the infection that causes lyme disease... ...and is safe to start protecting puppies as early as 8 weeks.
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here's what is happening. san francisco officials say
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public schools will reopen and teachers are getting vaccinated before schools reopen. jury selection begins on monday for the former minneapolis police officer accused of killing george floyd. now back to "dateline." every trial for murder has this simple question at its core -- whose version of the truth will the jury believe? and in the case of chanin starbuck, the two competing realities set for display could not have stood in starker contrast. >> we'd been waiting over a year for this moment. >> as you can say i'm an a mission. i want him put away. >> reporter: the divided family couldn't have been farther apart in the small spokane county courtroom when the trial began in may 2013. the prosecution set out to prove clay starbuck was a jealous,
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controlling and ultimately violent man who murdered his devout and long suffering ex-wife. well, the defense prepared to argue that chanin herself recklessly courted danger and, quite possibly, died at the hands of one of the many strangers she met online for sex. to chanin starbucks' friends and family who heard in advance what the defense had planned, it sounded like an old fashioned smear campaign. >> that's all they had to go on. that's the only thing that they could turn chanin into was this awful person. >> she wasn't a sexual deviant. she wasn't -- she wasn't running around sleeping with everybody in deer park and spokane. >> reporter: the state presented its case first, argued in court by larry steinmetz, and he began not with sex but with that other less titillating root of all evil -- money. the jury heard from summer
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starks that chanin didn't have any. >> with respect to miss starbuck's financial situation, how would you define that? >> dire. >> reporter: do you know whether or not miss starbuck had been receiving any child support or spousal maintenance from mr. starbuck during that period? >> she had told me she did not. >> reporter: clay owed more than $9,000 in back child support. eliminate the ex and his financial obligations would die with her, thus a money motive said the prosecution. and then they brought it up -- sex. or rather chanin's love life, not the life that the defense had in mind but the romantic kind that sometimes produces jealousy, the other age-old motive for murder. >> miss starbuck now a single woman dating other men, much to chagrin and dismay of the
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defendant clay starbuck. >> reporter: chanin's newfound romantic freedom enraged clay. one of the couple's friends testified that clay seemed unnaturally obsessed with his ex-wife's personal life. >> he basically gave me a litany of things about chanin, about what she was doing and how she was seeing lots of other men. >> reporter: and one of the kids' teachers testified that she heard clay predict something that sounded to her quite chilling. >> he said, i wouldn't be surprised if we found her dead, i wouldn't be surprised if we found her with her throat slit open. >> reporter: then the view from the detectives who testified how it seemed to them clay was just a little too eager to direct their suspicions away from himself. and towards some anonymous online lover. >> i don't very often have people pushing at me a piece so much that it pushes everything
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else, all the other information out. just constantly pushing that at me. >> reporter: jealous, resentful and on the morning of december 1st luring chanin out of her house with a phony story about a broken-down car. remember clay texted chanin, asked her to take the kids to school, then shut off his phone to avoid detection, or so said the prosecutor. laying a trap. >> taking the children out of the house, entering the house, waiting for ms. starbuck to return. >> reporter: they played that snippet of a 911 call that the prosecution said confirmed the time of the attack. >> 911, what are you reporting? >> reporter: then an expert told the jury about the dna they found on chanin's neck. >> is this yrstr a match that
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you described, an exact match to clay starbuck and the male blood line of his family? >> yes. >> reporter: the dna had to be clay's. he was the one with the weak alibi. and detectives had already cleared his sons, though the prosecutor called them as witnesses anyway. >> during the school week, what time would you normally go to school? >> it was just after 9:00. >> on december 1 of 2011, did you work that day, a thursday? >> yes, i was. >> reporter: and someone else cleared by his alibi, john kenlein, the married teacher, was forced to appear, admitted an affair with chanin. >> we engaged in a sexual relationship yes. >> he was not here to be ashamed but to testify about curious messages he received from chanin's phone, messages sent long after the 911 call. >> again, sir, could you read that? >> did you stop by, question mark, question mark, question mark.
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do you want to come over tonight? >> reporter: those messages found on chanin's phone, investigators believe, could only have been sent by chanin's killer. and by this time you believed she was dead? >> right. based on the 911 call, we believe she's deceased and yet someone is using her cell phone to communicate. >> reporter: and to prove it must have been clay who sent those messages, they entered into evidence this seemingly innocuous text message from around 3:00 p.m. that afternoon. >> at 3:06 p.m. chanin starbuck phone to logan starbuck phone, send marsh a note, dad will be there in ten minutes. >> reporter: send marsh a note? who besides his mother might know the nickname marsh? the youngest starbuck marshall came to the stand. >> how often would your dad call you marsh? >> a lot. he also called me son and marshall.
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>> but he did call you marsh a lot? >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: yes, it had been an intimate act, an angry ex-husband killing the mother of his children, then staging the scene as a humiliating sex crime, premeditated murder said the state. and as evidence of clay starbuck's twisted state of mind, the prosecution offered this final piece to the puzzle. detectives said they found chanin's death certificate on a wall in clay's house pinned up like a trophy. >> as a reminder, she's no longer in my life, she's no longer going to cause me any misery or pain. >> reporter: so no smoking gun but a pile of circumstantial evidence deep enough, the prosecution hoped, to bury any chance of acquittal. >> at the heart of this killing -- and i would submit the motive -- greed, anger, obsession and jealousy. >> reporter: and, through it
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all, clay and his defense waited to tell an entirely different story about a risky life and unsolved murder. coming up, unsolved the defense would argue because investigators blew it right from the start at the time crime scene. >> they swabbed the face of the cell phone and got dna, and the phone doesn't have his dnc. >> whose dna did it have, when "dateline" continues.
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elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis have an increased risk of death or stroke. call your doctor about unusual changes in behavior or suicidal thoughts. antidepressants can increase these in children and young adults. report fever, stiff muscles, or confusion, which may mean a life-threatening reaction, or uncontrollable muscle movements, which may be permanent. side effects may not appear for several weeks. high cholesterol and weight gain, high blood sugar, which can lead to coma or death, may occur. movement dysfunction, sleepiness, and stomach issues are common side effects. when bipolar i overwhelms, vraylar helps smooth the ups and downs. clay starbuck, on trial for murdering his ex-wife, had something big in his corner, something he believed would establish reasonable doubt. chanin's laptop computer, it held evidence, he said, of his ex-wife's dangerous secret life. >> we're talking about casual encounters with people who aren't using real identities. >> reporter: in fact, chanin's
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own children were convinced that one of those men must have been her killer. >> make no mistake, there were men that she talked to the day before. >> reporter: that was the story the defense and the children were poised to tell in court. and then a ruling from the judge. the evidence was inadmissible. the children's story, the activities revealed in the laptop, the evidence pointing to other men chanin knew intimately, it was all too speculative, too prejudicial. and it was out. the jury wouldn't hear it. suddenly at the defense table, the air went out. >> i think the court was thinking we don't want to make this a forum to run somebody who
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was murdered down. unfortunately, this isn't something that's just being made up. we didn't create this, these allegations. >> reporter: clay starbuck's lawyers needed a plan b. so they went after the murder investigation itself. pointing out in court all the things investigators failed to do. >> on the right hand, they found on one of the nails what tested positive for blood. they don't test it. don't even look at it. in fact, you'll hear from the crime lab that they intentionally swabbed around the blood. >> reporter: it was a recurring theme for the defense -- they didn't test it. evidence collected but untouched by lab techs. and under cross-examination detective rickets was pilloried for making the decision. >> did you direct anyone to collect any piece of evidence from the master bathroom that would be consistent? >> no. >> as far as you know have you or have you directed anybody to have that? >> no. >> and if there was any
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potential trace evidence or any evidence on that, we don't know? >> we don't, right. >> the crime lab didn't test it? >> right. >> reporter: but there were also issues with the evidence that was tested, said the defense. that cell phone, for instance, the one the prosecution went to great lengths to say clay used after killing chanin -- >> they swabbed the face of the cell phone and they got dna. and they got this dna and it's not his. unidentified male. the phone doesn't have mr. starbuck's dna on it. >> reporter: and more unidentified dna found on chanin's neck, where she was strangled. >> fair to say going back to the term match, that there was another contributor on the sample referenced miss starbuck's neck male contributor that has not been identified? >> correct. >> reporter: whose dna was that, the defense asked? no one knows. but the presence of male starbuck dna at the crime scene
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was no mystery at all. not only had clay lived in that house but the dna could have been transferred from children going back and forth between parents as marshall explains. only his audio could be shown not his face. >> do you ever share clothes with austin now? >> yes. if all my shirts are dirty or something i'll borrow one of his shirts. and i use also blake's old sweatshirt. >> reporter: the matter of the alibi. neighbors in the area where clay starbuck claimed his car broke down testified that they did see a car matching that description parked by the side of the road. >> i came up early in the morning to smoke a cigarette outside. i had seen it parked up the street. >> reporter: austin told the court that the jury should not be suspicious about clay's phone
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being off that day. >> why would he have it off? >> so he wouldn't be interrupted when he was sleeping because he had back surgery and he needed his sleep. >> reporter: yes, the back surgery. the reason clay was in deer park and not out working on the pipeline at the time of chanin's murder. clay was simply too weak, said his kids. didn't have the physical strength to kill their mother. >> so my mom, she's 5'10", 5'11", 180 pounds. she's not a small lady. she's not big, but she's not small. >> reporter: debilitating surgery? absolutely said clay's doctor. >> he would probably still be somewhat limited after surgery, yes. >> reporter: austin also addressed that so-called trophy the prosecution brought up, chanin's death certificate supposedly hanging on clay's wall. it was actually his, said austin. as executor of chanin's estate, he needed copies of the death certificate. and he wanted to keep one safe where it wouldn't be lost. >> and where did you put that? >> the master bedroom my dad stayed at in a closet we use for
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a gun safe it was behind a key locked door handle. >> reporter: but the star defense witness? clay starbuck himself. >> mr. starbuck, you were married to ms. chanin starbuck at one time? >> yes. >> reporter: speaking in calm, deliberate tones, he told the court his back surgery forced him out of work which is how he came to be more than $9,000 behind in child support and alimony. >> i couldn't do anything about it till i went back to work. that was my goal. >> reporter: money was no motive said the defense, and as for jealousy, not him. his talk about chanin's online dating had been misconstrued. >> why did you tell people about that information? >> concerned and to see if we could help her. >> reporter: some of the officers testified that you told them about the same sort of activity after the death of miss starbuck. >> yes. and they were interested in
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anything that could help them with the investigation as well so that's why. >> reporter: on the stand clay starbuck patiently followed his lawyer's lead, no gaffes, no slipups. >> did you kill chanin starbuck? >> no, i did not. >> thank you, no further questions. >> reporter: when it was over clay and his defense team felt so confident they encouraged him to talk with us about the case and some things that did not come out in court. coming up -- in an exclusive interview, clay tells us why he believes he's about to go free. >> the case has been botched in your view. >> i wouldn't say botched. there's smart people that have made elementary mistakes. >> when "dateline" continues.
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on the stand clay starbuck was one cool customer. taciturn and stoic when pressed by the prosecutor on cross-examination. >> are you a jealous person? >> not at all. >> do you ever get angry? >> not at all. >> ms. starbuck was granted 50% of your pension. did that make you angry? >> no. >> did it bother you? >> no. >> do you think that chanin starbuck's killer was trying to send a message? >> i don't know. >> but make no mistake, clay starbuck has plenty to say about his ex-wife chanin, about the detectives whom he believed ignored promising leads in order to hang her murder on him. >> they were after me.
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they had their guy. they didn't want anybody else. they wanted to drive me to prosecution. >> for starters, clay starbuck told us in an interview given near the end of his trial, the case against him is based largely on a faulty understanding of the dna evidence. >> it was not considered a match of dna. it was not a 100% match, it was not a full inclusion nor could they exclude it. >> reporter: the starbuck dna found is actually a partial strand but can occur in nearly 1 in 300,000 males in the u.s. according to the state's crime lab, not nearly as accurate as standard dna testing yet that evidence, said clay, was blown out of proportion by investigators on a mission. >> mishandling. really, i can state a lot of things. >> reporter: the case has been botched in your view? is botched a big word or is it okay in this case?
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>> i would concur. i would say botched is fair game. there's some smart people that have made some elementary mistakes. >> reporter: but even if that was his dna at the scene, said clay, it proves nothing. he told us that not only had he slept in that bed for years, he'd been there since his breakup with chanin. >> i left june of 2010. was that the last time that chanin and i were intimate? no. not even close. >> reporter: really? >> absolutely. >> reporter: feelings, hopes of reconciliation perhaps? no, not that at all, said clay. he had moved on. >> at the time of chanin's death i was seeing a gal in valdez, alaska, it was a long distance
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relationship. >> reporter: you were otherwise engaged? >> i was otherwise engaged. >> reporter: and he disputed all the nasty stories chanin supposedly told her friends about him, wondered why detectives would listen to what he considered to be gossip. she was terrified of you and she told her friends this. and so when she winds up dead and humiliated that way, who else are they going to look at but the person she was terrified of? >> chanin's friends that you mentioned, if they make those comments, i don't control those comments. i have no way of knowing what chanin told them, but i would hope that they would follow the evidence. i would hope that they wouldn't chase somebody down over a comment made off the cuff. >> reporter: and those were secondhand stories about clay the jury never heard anyway. as for his alibi that morning in the surveillance video, it was nothing said clay. of course the camera didn't show him on that street, he never told the cops that's where he walked and they never asked. they didn't ask you where you went. >> no. >> reporter: they say you told them. >> i did hear that. >> reporter: are you saying their memories are bad?
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>> or something. >> that they were lying or what? >> many statements in this that have not been true from law enforcement standpoint. >> reporter: and speaking of alibi, clay said he doesn't believe the time of that 911 call means anything at all. >> it is so short, you can't tell what it is. >> reporter: but a call to 911, she winds up dead, they kind of go together. so the time of death makes most sense right around that time. just after because she would have been under attack at that point. >> i don't see how with any of the evidence that's been provided in statements by witnesses that anybody can make that assumption that a 911 call at a quarter after 9:00 and her death were exactly related. >> reporter: for more than two hours as he talked to us clay starbuck remained unflappable, quite determinedly so. i can see why you would be quite a hard guy to argue with. >> actually i'm an easy guy to argue with because i don't argue. >> reporter: that's the problem. makes me crazy. >> it doesn't make me crazy. >> reporter: no, the other person crazy.
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>> then i suggest you get counseling. >> reporter: never angry, never jealous, the only emotion clay starbuck pleads guilty to is disappointment. he was disappointed, he said, when his youngest daughter told him about some explicit images she'd seen on her mother's computer. pretty upsetting for you? >> it was disappointing. i wouldn't say upsetting. >> reporter: now, according to clay starbuck, murder never crossed his mind. >> she was a beautiful woman, smart woman. she didn't need to travel those paths to find men to be with. it was senseless. >> reporter: and did you try to stop that behavior by killing her? >> absolutely not. absolutely not. i wouldn't kill her. i wouldn't harm her. i wouldn't kick, bite, scratch anything her. i've never done anything to hurt her. and i didn't kill her. >> reporter: he faulted once, only once. the question was about his children.
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what did you want to say to them all these months? >> you're going to end up making me get emotional. so i'll just leave it that i'm just very proud of them. >> reporter: pretty tough thing for kids to handle. >> it is. it is. not only did they lose their mother, they lost their dad for a period of time. >> reporter: maybe forever. >> it's not going to be forever. it's going to be till next week. >> reporter: clay starbuck was, he said, a confident man, quite sure that acquittal was just days away. all he needed now, he said, was to hear the jury say those words, not guilty. coming up -- >> i hope after all this is done i never see a courtroom again. >> knowing what i know, and i know in my heart that clay did this. the verdict, and the emotional fallout. >> i jumped up and i screamed.
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i screamed. >> when "dateline" continues.
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for more than two weeks in spokane, washington, discussions about the murder case sounded a little like political debates these days, polarized and as the judge sent the jury out to deliberate -- >> you'll now be escorted back to the jury deliberation room. >> chanin's two families, her mother and siblings who believed clay poisoned the children against their mother on one side of the great divide. >> i hope that they learn the truth. >> and those very children on the other wanting nothing more than to have their children come home. >> to never see a courtroom again. >> but of course it was only those 12 strangers who could decide. the hours went by. people close to the question on both sides were in some kind of agony. >> i was sick to my stomach, nervous.
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knowing in my heart, i know clay did this. all it takes is one person, one person not to believe and we have to start all over again. >> not easy for any of them. but austin had an especially difficult task. a new father himself and now after fighting with his uncle and grandmother over custody he was guardian of the three younger children. and until this moment he had been like a rock. funny how these things sneak up on a person. >> if you could speak to your dad and just say one thing the two of you, what would it be? >> see you soon. >> yeah. >> and then, then they were all in court, their opposing wishes
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on full display. the jury was back. >> has the jury reached a verdict? they had been out one full day. here was their decision. >> narrator: the matter of state of washington versus mr. clay starbuck verdict form a count one reads, we the jury find the defendant mr. starbuck guilty of the crime of premeditated murder in the first degree. >> guilty. his face looked like stone. but something else going on inside said his lawyers. how was he when that verdict happened? >> shocked. >> he actually thought he was going to be acquitted. >> absolutely. >> but chanin's mother and siblings finally felt vindicated. all along they believed it was him. and now a jury agreed. >> as soon as that first guilty verdict was read, it was like a ton of bricks were lifted off of us.
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>> and got the text, guilty. i jumped up and i screamed. i screamed. i was like, yes, yes! >> how separate these worlds were. austin starbuck, head of the household, weight of the world on his shoulders. >> it's not over yet. >> he was convicted. >> yeah, but there are still appeals. >> i thought it would bring me more peace than it did. i was relieved he was found guilty but it didn't bring me the peace i thought it would. >> justice? sometimes what feels like justice to some, doesn't to others. not at all. but this we can say. once there was a fine and lovely
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woman whose life was good and useful, who loved her children. >> they were her world and no matter what had happened, what was said, what's been done, what's been drug out that she loved them and she wants them to be successful and have a good lives. >> no, she did not deserve the way her life ended on that cold december morning in deer park, washington. this sunday, the senate approves covid relief. >> we're not going to let anything stop us until we got the job done. and by god, we did, and here we are. >> democrats pass their $1.9 trillion covid relief bill. >> today i can say we've taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise, that help is on the way. >> all without republican votes. >> count me out for $1.9 trillion spendfest. >> now, will democrats pursue
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