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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  March 21, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> the night before, angela thought she heard someone messing at door of the residence. she thought she was being watched, all the wounds to her body, angry attack. >> nursing student with three children, nobody was busier than angela. >> back home. >> that's where they found her.
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>> could see a lot of blood. >> boyfriend's behave seemed odd. >> he doesn't go in. >> thought there was something suspicious about that. >> he had an alibi. >> did he try to point the finger at anybody else? he did, angela's ex-husband. >> the ex had an alibi too. >> calm and collected. >> something else missing. >> got a phone call. >> until somebody found it. >> asked me to wear a wire. >> one old friend talking to another about a secret she was dying to share. >> i think she was almost proud of the whole thing. >> the case where the biggest twist came off the verdict. >> wow. >> that was my response, wow. >> hello and welcome to "dateline," working mom angela
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wilder dreamed of becoming a nurse, burning candle both ends. then angela was murdered. investigators suspected it was personal, just when they thought it was case closed, it was not. they set an elaborate trap. here is keith morrison with "prairie confidential". >> it was dark in the great central plain, moonless in early hours of friday the 13th of november. night wind shivered along deserted streets and nipped the ruins in north dakota. was there a muffled cry, sound of a car making haste away? no one heard, not a thing. modest place, modest in a good way, and uncommonly friendly,
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comparatively speaking. >> nice community. >> north dakota nice, old-fashioned phrase, still fits. >> people around a long time still greet each other on the street. >> as they did that morning when parents dropped off kids at this elementary school, and where later that morning at university department of nursing, professor wondered why one student hadn't shown up for exam. >> before taking the test, has anyone heard from angela? >> this woman. >> a student nurse with msu, i'll be assessing your cardiovascular system today. >> a sweet, southern girl. miss diane, yes, ma'am and no, ma'am. >> a mother of three, who just days before had revealed to her
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professor she was pregnant. >> did you have advice for her. >> we talked about how stressful school, we talked about her not feeling well, then that's when i just told her, yes she's expected to come to class but if she couldn't, call and let me know. >> but no call, no angela. was she ill? class was over before one of diane's students dropped a kind of bombshell. >> she said well, think it was angela's house when i drove to school but there's police tape around it, lot of people in hazmat suits. >> indeed it was angela's house. this little place next to a lutheran church, across the street from that elementary school. it was angela's fiance, home from a night shift, who called 911. >> just got home, back door is kicked in and my girl ain't
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answering the phone. son is inside with her, i'm about to go in, see what the [ bleep ] is going on. >> why don't you wait for officers. >> fiance stayed outside, officers went in. house was neat, tidy, found the two-year-old unharmed. went down the hall, looked in the next bedroom, there she was, very dead. >> i didn't know at the time exactly how many times she was stand but knew it was vicious. >> police detective sergeant dave goodman. >> how many stab wound? >> near 40. >> there was the fiance and looks like crime of passion, what story did he tell? >> reported he had been at work all night, arrived home and found back door kicked open, obviously concerned about that. >> if that was me, i think i
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would have rushed in to see what was going on with my family. >> and i say that too. of course until you experience that yourself, none of us know how we would react. >> still goodman's detective instinct kicked in. so what if 911 dispatcher told him to wait, would an innocent parent do that? it was suspicious. why did chris stay outside, and had he really been at work all night as he said he was? they took him downtown for first of several interviews, where goodman and partner sized him up, chris jackson. how did he present? >> calm, crying, upset. mad. >> where was he that night? chris said angela drove him to work at walmart, dropped him off before 11:00 p.m. >> and i kiss her, say i love you sweetheart, drive safe.
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>> angela was nervous he said, afraid to be left alone. why was she anxious? >> night before, she thought she heard somebody messing at front door of the residence, felt she was being watched. >> so says chris, he called and texted her repeatedly. after 2:00 a.m., didn't pick up. >> figured she had fallen asleep. >> she wasn't sleeping. but who killed her, why? when chris first arrived at police station, they let him make a phone call, it was obvious he has his own suspect in mind. >> probably the [ bleep ] that [ bleep ] did it. i [ bleep ]. >> richie, who was he? >> a pregnant young mom dead, toddler nearby, and investigation about to lead to even darker discoveries.
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coming up -- >> her fingernails were broken off. >> detectives talked to richie. >> what happened to your face? scratch on your face. >> are they getting closer or getting played? >> did he have an alibi? >> he said he did. >> when "dateline" continues. ons ♪let's make lots of money♪ ♪you've got the brawn♪ ♪i've got the brains♪ ♪let's make lots of♪ ♪uh uh uh♪ ♪oohhh there's a lot of opportunities♪ with allstate, drivers who switched saved over $700. saving is easy when you're in good hands. allstate click or call to switch today. your mission: stand up to moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. and take. it. on... ...with rinvoq. rinvoq a once-daily pill can dramatically improve symptoms... rinvoq helps tame pain, stiffness, swelling.
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tell me more. it's for people 45 plus at average risk for colon cancer, not high risk. false positive and negative results may occur. ask your prescriber or an online prescriber if cologuard is right for you. i'll do it. good plan. >> reporter: the wind on the prairie is a fickle thing, like
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people sometimes are. is that why angila wilder's fiance, chris, was so angry? >> richie is probably the -- piece of -- who did it. >> reporter: there was a history to this. long before that november morning in 2015, and far away from minot, north dakota in alabama. angila met richie at church. they were the best of friends as kids. and, after angila had a baby as a teenager, it was richie who scooped her up. married her. adopted her little girl. and before long they had a boy of their own. all witnessed by angila's sister, crystal. >> she tended to date guys that were funny, that were gentle, that were intelligent. and really, richie was all those things. >> reporter: richie was in the air force. that's why they moved to minot, big airbase there. and it's where angila pursued her dream of becoming a nurse. >> she took classes whenever she could.
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she could have up to two jobs at a time, still attend her classes and take care of her kids. >> reporter: why did richie and angila's lifelong bond rupture? who really knows, but theirs curdled into a corrosive, toxic anger. richie was court martialed. convicted of domestic abuse. drummed out of the military. a divorce followed. and then, like the prairie wind, their affections shifted. richie re-married. a small town north dakota girl named cyndi who'd moved to minot and become a kindergarten teacher. and soon cyndi and richie had a baby of their own. and angila got engaged to chris. and she had another baby too. and these two new families all settled down again. or they might have, except for richie and angila's nasty custody battle. >> she said, "he's just fightin' me all the time, y'know.
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and it's just been really hard with the kids.” >> reporter: it was bad between those two. scary. >> i got a frantic phone call from her one morning and i was like, "calm down what's going on?” and she says, "it's richie. i just woke up, came out of my bedroom, went into my living room and he's sitting on my couch. and looked at me and said, 'see, i told you i can get to you if i wanted to.'" >> reporter: is that what happened here? an angry ex-husband's revenge? >> hello. hi. are you richie? >> yes ma'am. >> reporter: a few hours after the murder, after talking to angila's fiance, chris, detectives goodman and mattice called richie in for a talk. but he didn't seem to know what was going on. >> and i'll tell you, angila's dead. oh really? >> yeah. >> did he seem upset by what had happened? >> he didn't. no. >> that strike you as odd? >> it did. yes. >> well you'd wanna have some reaction. it's the mother of his child. >> that's what we would expect. >> reporter: their questions got tougher. >> did you kill her?
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>> no. >> no? >> no. i'm a hundred percent truthful. >> did he have an alibi? >> he said he did. >> did you work last night? >> from 7:00 to 11:00. yes ma'am. >> okay, where'd you go after you left work? >> uh, straight home. >> can anybody tell us what time you got home? >> mm-hmm. cyndi. >> reporter: that is his new wife the kindergarten teacher. who confirmed that when she woke up for the baby during the night, richie was beside her in bed. >> he was home. the three times that i was up. >> if that's the truth, cyndi, then that's fine. i mean, maybe he was home during those three times that you were up during the night. is that possible? sure. but what do you know about this? >> i don't know anything. >> reporter: so maybe the detectives could get some evidence from the crime scene techs who told them angila had tried to fight off her killer. >> her fingernails were broken off. it appeared that the assault actually occurred while she was in bed and ended up on the floor next to the bed. >> your dna's not gonna show up
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anywhere on her? >> no. it's not possible. i wasn't even there. >> gonna show up under her fingernails? >> no. >> reporter: but they couldn't help but see the scratch. >> what happened to your face? >> where? right here? >> you have a scratch on your face. >> he had this story that he had been wrestling with his younger son and that he had got scratched. >> reporter: police also impounded two cars driven by richie and his wife. and in one? a small spot of something dark brown on the inside of a door. >> visible to the naked eye, but not obvious that it was blood. but enough suspicion for them to go ahead and collect that. >> reporter: and when the lab called back a few weeks later with news? well, it was quite a moment. >> we were excited. we couldn't believe it. >> reporter: that spot in richie's vehicle? it was indeed blood. angila's blood. >> we ended up standing up
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during that conference call and hugging. we were so excited to get that news! >> reporter: but no arrest. not yet. not until more results came in on material found under angila's fingernails. >> about a week later we heard back on the fingernail clippings and that came back to richie and we said, "okay, let's go get him.” >> reporter: and so they did. >> we found him at a local gym in town. and, i said, "i have an arrest warrant for you for the murder of angila." . >> reporter: richie wilder jr. was charged with murder. he soon pleaded not guilty. >> we offered an interview to him he didn't wanna talk and he went to jail. >> reporter: and then a couple of months later -- >> richie, remember us? detective mattice, detective goodman. >> reporter: richie asked to see the detectives again. because? he was finally ready to tell the truth. and blow the whistle on his accomplice. wait, accomplice?
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>> coming up. >> he drug her off the bed and kept just stabbing her. >> reporter: richie's story. and why, he says, he kept it secret. >> he kept threatening my family. >> when "dateline" continues. es ...i was cured. i faced reminders of my hep c every day. i worried about my hep c. but in only 8 weeks with mavyret... ...i was cured. mavyret is the only 8-week cure for all types of hep c. before starting mavyret your doctor will test... ...if you've had hepatitis b which may flare up and cause serious liver problems during and after treatment. tell your doctor if you've had hepatitis b, a liver or kidney transplant,... ...other liver problems, hiv-1, or other medical conditions,... ...and all medicines you take. don't take mavyret with atazanavir... ...or rifampin, or if you've had certain liver problems. if you've had or have serious liver problems other than hep c, there's a rare chance they may worsen. signs of serious liver problems may include yellowing of the skin, abdominal pain or swelling, confusion, and unexplained bleeding or bruising.
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>> he drug her off the bed and kept just stabbing her. >> reporter: richie wilder jr. had a new story.
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a new and shocking story that put him in his ex-wife angila's bedroom the night she was stabbed to death. but did he kill her? oh, no, richie said. so who did? richie was finally ready to reveal the secret. to point the finger at the very man who first accused him. the killer? was angila's fiance chris. >> i was like, "what the -- are you doin, man?” >> reporter: but to start from the beginning. richie said chris had discovered angila was cheating on him while he worked his night shift at walmart. he wanted to catch her in the act. prove she was an unfit mother, so they, chris and richie, would win custody of their respective kids. sounded good to richie. so friday, november 13th. 2:15 a.m. >> richie told us that he picked chris up from walmart. that he drove him to the house. they were supposed to catch her
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in the act of cheating on chris. >> and when he opened the door it looked like there was two people in the bed. and course when he pulled back the cover the first thing i notice it wasn't a person. it was a body pillow. >> reporter: but maybe chris didn't understand that, said richie, because he went crazy and started stabbing her. >> i ran over there and i touched her neck to feel her pulse you know? 'cause she was kind of like you know? and like, as i went to touch her pulse or whatever she like leaned up and like, scratched the mess out of my face. i grabbed her hands and she was just like, 'i love you'. >> reporter: that was why his face was scratched, said richie, and his dna was under her fingernails. anyway, afterwards, said richie, he drove chris back to work. dropped him off at walmart. >> and where did chris ride? >> in the passenger seat. >> reporter: the same side of the car where that spot of blood was found. angila's blood. >> when we first interviewed you, richie, why did you not tell us this? >> well, one because he kept
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threatening my family! he's like, "you tell anybody," he's like, "i'm gonna kill your wife and i'mma kill your little one, you know?” your little one. >> reporter: it was quite a story. the only problem? walmart, where chris worked, has cameras everywhere. and it just so happened that detective goodman had spent most of the night before the interview with richie, watching videos. videos that kept witness of every movement, every minute. if chris left the store to kill his wife, then goodman wouldn't find him on any video shot between 2:15 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. >> every five to ten minutes we have him there at the store. we have him in the entryway sitting down eating his lunch during the time that richie's telling us he's stabbing angila. >> reporter: in fact, the only times chris briefly left the store? his scheduled breaks. >> so he simply couldn't have taken part in such a game with richie? >> he couldn't have.
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and we knew that. >> reporter: goodman held back as richie spun his tale. and then? >> chris did not leave walmart during those times. >> i know he did 'cause i picked him up. >> i know he didn't because i watched him on video. >> reporter: and minutes later, richie wilder, his bluff called, simply folded. >> you can stop any time you want. >> all right. let's stop. >> reporter: and so, when richie wilder's murder trial started a few months later -- >> the evidence shows that -- >> reporter: prosecutor kelly dillon was confident. >> i felt i had a very strong case. my strategy was to simply present the crime scene, present the physical evidence and present richie's multiple stories about how this went down. >> reporter: straightforward enough. as richie listened, his wife cyndi dutifully seated near the defense table, the prosecutor called witnesses who told the
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jury about angila's blood in one of richie's cars. about dna linked to richie under angila's fingernails. about the changing, self serving stories richie told. >> she like leaned up and like, scratched the mess out of my face. i grabbed her hands and she was just like, "i love you.” >> up to that point i was thinking, "he might be able to convince a jury.” but then when he got to the point where angila sat up and said, "richie, i love you," it was done. it was done for me. it's just such an incredible thing to throw into that story. it was just an example of richie needing to be the hero. >> what did he gain from killing her? or what did he think he would gain? >> control. he wouldn't have to deal with angila anymore. >> richie wilder is responsible for angila's murder. and only richie wilder!
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>> reporter: richie's defense attorney countered that the murder weapon was never found. and suggested richie was somehow set up. >> i think there's reasonable doubt here and i ask that you find richie wilder not guilty. >> reporter: and the jury went out. and returned in less than an hour. >> i've had simple theft cases that have taken longer to decide than this case did. >> we the jury find the defendant, richie edwin wilder jr., guilty of the crime of murder. >> reporter: guilty. richie's wife, cyndi, dissolved in tears in the courtroom. and then again later, in the hallway. >> he's a good man, he's a good husband. he would never do anything that would hurt his kids. none of it makes any sense to me at all. i know that i was home that night. i got up on a couple occasions with my kids. when i got up, he was at home. >> reporter: sad. still so loyal. still clinging to that long-demolished alibi.
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not so uncommon, really, for a spouse to refuse to accept an awful truth about her man. anyway, cyndi was left to pick up the pieces. her sister abby moved to minot to help. >> i just felt like she needed me as a sister and she needed the support. i've been a single mom for years, i know how hard it is to do it on your own. so i felt like i was going to do what i could to help her to bear that burden and to figure things out. >> and it helped. cyndi went back to her teaching job. but even with abby there she felt lonely. a certain kind of lonely. oh oh. >> reporter: coming up. growing suspicions about cyndi. >> did she drive him there? was she inside the house? was she involved in this? >> and a secret revealed.
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>> wow. >> and that was my response. wow. >> when "dateline" continues. so roll up those sleeves. and help heal your skin from within with dupixent. dupixent is the first treatment of its kind that continuously treats moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis, even between flare ups. dupixent is a biologic, and not a cream or steroid. many people taking dupixent saw clear or almost clear skin, and, had significantly less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur, including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes, or a parasitic infection. if you take asthma medicines, don't change or stop them without talking to your doctor. so help heal your skin from within, and talk to your eczema specialist about dupixent. if your financial situation has changed, we may be able to help.
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here's what's happening. miami beach has extended state of emergency until end of spring break. curfew in place. point to disruptive and sometimes violent crowds of party goers. defense secretary lloyd austin visited afghanistan thursday, deciding whether or not to extend may 1st troop withdrawal deadline. reported that biden is considering keeping troops there until november. back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline," i'm natalie morales. it took less than an hour to find richie guilt of murdering his ex-wife, and his wife cyndi,
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the story would have a surprising new twist. keith morrison. >> reporter: murder can have so many innocent victims. like the children. angila and richie's. forever deprived of both parents now. >> i am what the kids have now. i am. they have been with me for the past year and they will continue to be with me. and they need to know that their dad is a good man. >> reporter: step-mother cyndi, the kindergarten teacher, said she was doing her best in trying circumstances. raising as step-kids, the children of the woman her husband had just been convicted of murdering. she did get some help, mind you, from her sister abby. >> i saw that she was struggling and needed some help you know, trying to figure out the whole
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single parent thing. >> reporter: but of course, abby had to wonder what happened that night. the night richie murdered angila. human nature, really. >> i had tried to ask her a few times, um , you know, "are you -- are you sure he was home that night? >> reporter: same question that bothered those minot detectives. but cyndi stuck to her story. >> he didn't leave the house that night. >> yes, he did cyndi. >> reporter: he did leave the house that night. >> no, he didn't. >> reporter: but, as you could tell, they had their doubts about cyndi. >> did she drive him there? was she inside the house? was she involved in this? >> reporter: but, no way to know. >> we just did not have anything to go on. >> did you kind of put it out of your mind? >> we did. >> reporter: meanwhile, abby helped cyndi with the kids. and watched her sister grow even more sad. >> she did seem lonely. she wanted someone to talk to. she wanted a companion. um, it seemed like she was just
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dealing with the realization that her husband wasn't coming home. >> reporter: it wasn't necessarily romance she was looking for. just a man to talk to. like the bartender she'd once known at a minot watering hole called "the original.” his name was matt walters. he and cyndi had met before her marriage to richie in 2013. >> we'd hang out on slow nights and sit there, do shots together and there was one night where we had a really good in-depth conversation. but ever since then she felt this connection. that's how she always referred to it. was this "connection.” >> what, did she trust you? feel safe with you? >> she seemed like it. >> reporter: they lost track of one another after cyndi married richie. and cyndi had a little girl. but after the murder, cyndi found matt on facebook. >> she said something like, "i suppose you've heard.” and i said, "heard what?” and she linked an article to richie being arrested. >> did you feel a bit sorry for her? >> yeah, i felt really bad for
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her. >> reporter: matt and some friends took cyndi out for a drink at, well, where else? and talked about, you guessed it, richie's arrest. >> did she have any comment about his guilt or innocence? >> she insisted that he was home alone with her all night and he never left and i think the only thing i ever said to her is, if that's not true, um, and you testify to that in court, you could end up in prison. >> reporter: matt knew something first hand about prison. he'd done a little more than a year behind bars himself in his early 20s for burglary before turning his life around and going to work as an electrician. >> you warned her. >> yeah. i let her know that prison isn't a place she wants to go to. >> reporter: anyway, matt was a shoulder to cry on. >> she was going through a really crappy time. >> reporter: and, even after matt moved to denver, they chatted online and one day cyndi said something very disturbing.
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>> we were talking about how richie got caught and he's going to prison and i said, well a knife's kind of a stupid way to do something like that. and she said uh well, the knife was a back up. it was supposed to be a gun. >> wow. >> that was my response. wow. >> she wasn't the innocent bystander. >> she wasn't the innocent bystander and uh, the right thing is to -- to let the proper people know. >> reporter: so matt did. he called the minot police, who, by then, had all but given up on the cyndi angle. >> there was a phone call into the general police department phone line. >> uh huh. >> this individual had given his name and phone number and that he had information in regards to the angila wilder homicide. >> so. what'd you do? >> we arranged a time for detective mattice and i to place a call and we heard him out. >> he seemed very credible. he was somebody that had this bad, gut feeling from conversations that he had with cyndi that there was more to this.
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>> reporter: so detectives took the next step. they enlisted him as a "confidential informant" and gave him a name -- ci-17-001. >> i mean what's it like to be a confidential informant? >> during the time it was kinda cool. it was kinda like what you see on tv. >> reporter: the arrangements, however, were a little daunting. >> they came out and they asked me if i would be willing to come up there and wear a wire. >> what was it like to hear that? >> i was kind of stunned and dumbfounded for a second. and y'know after a second of thought, if she was involved y'know the right thing was to go up there and help 'em. >> reporter: careful. you can never know, when you set a trap, exactly what you'll catch. >> test, test, test. i'm almost there. coming up, cyndi stays silent. until -- >> all of a sudden, it happens. >> we like had this thing, like planned for like, two -- years.
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like disney+, hulu and espn+ on select unlimited plans. you even get one of our best 5g phones on us when you buy one. and it all starts at just $35. only from verizon. tonight...i'll be eating loaded tots for march madness. ( doorbell ) thanks boo. ( piano glissando ) i think you better double them tots. no, this me was last year. i didn't get my madness last year, so we're doing double the madness this year. >> reporter: what do you do when you suspect an old friend has helped commit an awful crime? do you wear a wire for the cops? matt walters was willing, but how could he even arrange a way, without arousing suspicion, to see cyndi? after all, he lived way off in denver. >> how did you organize the meeting with cyndi?
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>> i told her i got laid off and i was gonna come back to minot to see some friends. and i asked her if she wanted to hang out. she seemed to jump at the opportunity. >> reporter: but nervous? oh yes. investigators set up a secret meeting at this hotel. >> there were four detectives sitting there and that's when it kinda hit me. like, holy, holy cow, this is for real. >> reporter: but how to do it without spooking her? the detectives had an idea. >> one of our options was to have a hotel room which we had audio and video wired and we were gonna be in the room next to it. >> reporter: but matt was engaged to a girl in denver. >> i said, naw, that's not gonna happen. there's only one reason you go to a hotel room and i'm like, we're, y'know, not doing that. >> reporter: so they considered hiding the wire on his body. matt didn't like that, either. >> cyndi was very careful and paranoid. and i just gathered that if they put a wire on me and we started talking about this stuff, there was a chance that she would
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wanna search me. >> he felt that it would be better to just go for a ride or to go out and have his car wired. >> reporter: so police did just that. then hid a transmitter in the trunk so the detectives could follow and listen in. >> test, test, test. >> reporter: 9:30 p.m. matt picked up cyndi at her house. >> how's it goin'? >> well, you know. kids are finally passed out. >> reporter: they went to a bar where matt turned on a phone app to capture the conversation while they weren't in the car. >> well, i'm gonna get a beer. >> i wanted us to all be comfortable together. i hadn't seen her in years. >> reporter: he didn't push too hard, didn't probe. >> this is just my second drink. >> reporter: for now he was just an old friend, catching up, till, past midnight, then -- >> i drove her home and, y'know, she didn't get out of my car, which is good, but it got to the point, it seemed like an hour in where she wasn't saying anything.
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uh, anything relevant. >> reporter: detectives goodman and mattice, parked no more than 30 feet away in the dark, were desperately trying to stay awake. >> at some point we both were probably thinking, okay we're on hour four. we're sittin' in this dark car. you're getting tired, you're getting exhausted, we've been listening for hours. >> and there's nothing there. >> and then all of a sudden, it happens. >> y'know, i said, "well, i should probably get going.” and her body language changed and just the tone of the situation changed. uh, it was pretty obvious that she was, that she was angry. >> angry? >> she seemed angry. >> angry about what? >> well i wasn't sure. so i asked her. are you mad at your husband? >> no, like, i'm -- i'm proud of him. i'm just pissed that he got caught, and that he got sloppy and impatient, and --
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'cause we were, like, had this thing, like, planned for, like, two years. >> reporter: planned for two years? what? >> it was almost like the floodgates opened and she got it all off of her chest at once. >> like he came home that night, and he said, "it got sloppy. she fought back.” he had to do what he had to do. she put up a good fight, like, she did. >> well i'm sure. she was fighting for her life. >> she scratched his face like -- and that's what got him, too, was -- like, if it was me, i -- would've gone back and cut her -- fingers off. i would've burned 'em. i would've lit the house on fire. >> what was it like to hear that? >> it was the hardest mental thing that i've ever had to do. to hold back that urge to -- to tell her to shut the -- up, that she's sickening. that -- that she's -- she's disgusting. >> he -- like, went psycho on her, because the hate, and the anger -- >> yeah. >> -- and the frustration. and -- and i totally would've
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done the same thing too. >> i know. it's like i said before, a knife is a stupid -- way to kill somebody. >> well, he had a gun that was untraceable. but -- and every time he, like, took it, it kept, like, jamming. and i guess that night it -- it was old. >> i helped him clean up. he left again to, like, dispose of the clothing, and, uh, and the weapon, and everything. and i thought we were, like, in the clear. >> do you think you're a horrible person, or do you think it needed to be done? you, because now you've said both. >> it -- i fully believe that it needed to be done. >> reporter: needed to be done, she said. as if murder was somehow a winning solution to their long-running struggle over who got custody of the kids. and finally, remember how angila had told her fiance before the murder that she was worried about being watched? angila was right to be worried. >> like, i helped him. like, i would leave -- like when he worked nights, i would leave the house at, like, midnight, and, like, sit outside her house in my vehicle, seeing who came into the house. when her boyfriend left, where she -- when she -- yeah we -- had --
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planned out. and he [ bleep ] up because he didn't clean the car good enough. one -- spot of blood in my car. >> when she said that, can you tell me what that was like? >> we were pretty excited. >> there were some high fives in the car. >> yeah. >> all right. let's call it a -- night. i'm beat. you're beat. we'll see each other again. right? >> it's up to you. >> maybe. >> reporter: wrung out, and exhausted, matt rendezvoused with the detectives at the sleep inn. >> well we got back to the hotel and we went into the room. and i said to him, "is it too soon to hug you"? >> i couldn't sleep for two or three hours, i was exhausted but it was all so surreal. it was a whirlwind of disbelief and shock and disgust, and i
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kept having graphic images of what angila went through during the murder. >> you didn't know angila? >> i didn't. >> reporter: a few days later, the detectives went to the school where cyndi was a substitute teacher. 3rd grade that day. >> we met with her privately in an office at the school i showed her that i had the arrest warrant for her for bein' part of the homicide with angila. >> how'd she take it? >> she really didn't respond. she didn't cry. she didn't make any statements. >> reporter: oh but she would. such a surprise on the way. coming up. cyndi says she was just bragging. >> a handful of things in that conversation are somewhat true, but for the most part it's false and extremely exaggerated. >> but will anyone believe her? >> that was kind of a shocker in the courtroom that day, in fact, wasn't it? >> when "dateline" continues. ons [ chuckles ]
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welcome back, cyndi wilder did not hold back, recalling the murder to matt walters. she had no clue matt was recording the conversation as part of a sting operation. she was arrested and headed to court to share a different version of her story. first she talked to us, keith
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morrison with the conclusion of "prairie confidential." >> reporter: cyndi wilder was tiny, almost childlike, in her jail jumpsuit. barely 5 feet, maybe 100 pounds, a trusted teacher of the very young and very innocent. >> raise your right hand. do you swear the statements you're about to make will be -- >> reporter: and yet here she was in court, answering to allegations of a very big crime, of huge hatreds, of lying to everyone, even those who loved her most. >> i felt betrayed because i had felt sorry for her. and as a sister, i wanted to help her. and then to find out that it all felt like a big lie and that i was betrayed and deceived. it -- it was terrible. >> reporter: no doubt. she did say what she said on those tapes with the confidential informant, matt walters. >> like, if it was me, i -- would've gone back and cut her -- fingers off. i would've burned 'em. i would've lit the house on fire.
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>> reporter: what did you think when you heard that, knowing there was a 2-year-old child in the house at the time? >> i thought, "well, those are -- those are strong words. that's a lot of hate.” >> reporter: but was it? or was it something else altogether? a few days before that scene in court -- >> reporter: hello? >> hello? >> reporter: yes, hi. >> this is cynthia wilder. >> reporter: we interviewed cyndi by phone from the ward county jail in minot. how would she -- how could she explain all those terrible things she said to matt, on tape? her answer was also her legal defense. >> i mean, i'm lonely, and i was trying to see if there could be any sort of relationship. and i was kind of, well, trying to impress him because i -- >> reporter: you were trying to impress him, did you say? >> yeah, 'cause i know he has had a criminal history too. so i thought, you know, that would kind of be like our connection, our, like, common thing. >> reporter: so you said, "i did all these terrible things," when you didn't really do them? >> i mean, a handful of things in that conversation are
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somewhat true, but for the most part, it's false and extremely exaggerated. >> reporter: so what would be true out of that conversation? >> the fact that i knew about it after it happened. >> reporter: okay. and you hid the fact that you knew about it? >> right. i didn't -- to get arrested. i didn't want to lose my kids. i didn't want to lose my job. >> reporter: would a jury believe that she was just trying to impress him with tough talk? >> if you're trying to impress a boy, you make up a story about being a state champion gymnast or diver, not about being an accomplice to murder. >> reporter: in any case, no jury would have to decide. on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, the prosecutor offered a deal. cyndi would spend 25 years in prison, then get out to resume her life.
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and cyndi turned it down. she had a strategy of her own. she would take an alford plea, meaning she'd plead guilty, not because she did it, but because a jury would likely find her guilty. and that way, she believed, the judge would impose a much lighter penalty. and in may, 2018, cyndi's attorney appealed to judge stacy louser for a lenient sentence. ten years. and now it was the judge's turn. would she believe cyndi's explanation? you were the one person who could have stopped this nightmare. you were the one person who could have intervened, who could have called law enforcement when richie wilder left your home. you were the one person who could have spared angila wilder's life. you chose not to do so. i am hereby remanding you to the north dakota department of corrections and rehabilitation as to count one, conspiracy to commit murder, to a sentence of
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life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. >> reporter: life without parole. that was kind of a shocker in the courtroom that day, in fact, wasn't it? >> it was a surprise. but, i mean, it's certainly, in my mind, well deserved. >> reporter: from cyndi? not a flinch. from her sister? >> it almost -- almost feels like a death of someone in the family. everything changed. at least before there was some sort of a hope that, you know, even if it was a long period of time, there's still that hope that, you know, we can make memories again and go on trips and, you know, spend time together outside of prison walls. and that's gone. >> reporter: but for angila's sister? >> she's a horrible person. she's exactly where she needs to be, and i'm so thankful that the judge saw her for the individual that she is.
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the monster that she is. >> reporter: cyndi wilder, now serving life, has already filed an application for new trial based on the denial of effective assistance of counsel and right to appeal. her husband richie, also doing life without parole, he did appeal but court affirmed his conviction. so our story ends with a family shattered. and matt walters? doesn't regret his decision to wear a wire. but he struggles. doing the right thing was not easy. >> basically i'm responsible for ending another person's life in all meaningful ways, which is fine. she deserves it. but it's still kind of a hard thing to deal with to know you ended someone's life. >> reporter: like you feel somehow it's on you? >> yeah, there's like a weight on me. >> reporter: and angila would surely be working as nurse by
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now, finally have achieved her life-long ambition -- to care for people and make them well. >> she pops in my head and i just think, "oh, sad," because she would've been one heck of a nurse. >> that's all for now. the desert is a strange place. it's so isolated. somebody got lost out there. a marine's wife had gone missing. i never expected to be a huge piece of a murder case. >> my heart just sunk. something had happened. >> we don't know if she's stranded in the desert, if she's being held somewhere. can we find her before she meets a horrible end? >> it was a little suspicious that he waited to report her as missing. >> they treated me like a suspect. >> they were laughing and cheering.


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