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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  April 11, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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prison. this time, from the outside. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm ♪♪ i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." we used to have a debate about who loved each other more. i love you more. no, i love you more. and sometimes i even go to sleep and i still say it, like mom, i love you more. that's the kind of stuff a kid never forgets. >> she was the single mom who kept him safe. she was also keeping a secret. >> she was really working for the cia? >> that's my understanding, yes. >> an undercover job handling classified documents, but the real intrigue started when she went missing. >> i knew something was wrong.
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>> i didn't want to believe that this was actually a reality. >> we had concerns that there may be missing classified information. it could turn into an espionage investigation. >> espionage? was this some kind of international spy caper or maybe it was something closer to home? >> what we got was the information that would break this case wide open. >> the case of a cia mom. could a clue from her son help solve this mystery? >> i'm never going to give up. never going to give up on anything. >> hello, and welcome to "dateline." for marie singleton, the sun rose and set on her boy marcus when the single mother met andre jackson, a solo dad with two kids of his own, marie thought she had found the man of her dreams and a father figure for
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her son. but that new life shattered when marie suddenly vanished, and police discovered there was a lot more to this mom and her marriage than met the eye. here's josh mankiewicz with "missing marie." ♪♪ >> secrets. we all have them. some are small. some large. some professional. others very, very personal. this is a story about secrets. about a woman who was very good at keeping them. and about what happened when that woman suddenly disappeared. >> she was beautiful. my mom was really beautiful. a great person.
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a nice person. >> as a little boy, marcus singleton couldn't possibly foresee the loss he would suffer or the terrible choice he would one day have to make. all he knew back then was his mother's love. >> i mean, she helped people, you know, if there was a kid in the street who needed something, she would pull over and see if they were okay. you know, she was -- she was that type of person that taught me to basically put others before myself first. >> marie was single when she had marcus. he was the center of her world. kelly clayton was marie's hairdresser and good friend. >> she talked about him a lot, the things that he was doing in school. she got really excited about marcus. >> marie's friends and co-workers bridget harris and jean jones apthel. >> he was, like, the apple in her eye. she just sparkled every time he
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was around. she loved hugging him. >> we traveled a lot together, so it was just us two. >> for her job? >> yeah. >> marie worked for the federal government in los angeles, but friends say she was driven and ambitious in other areas, too. >> she was an entrepreneur, that's what i know most about her, because she talked about owning her own business. >> but marie wanted more than work and success. >> i know that she wanted to have somebody in her life. >> what kind of guy was she looking for? >> someone that will take care of her, love her, protect her. >> that was kind of missing. she didn't have that guy figure, the father figure from marcus. >> then one day, marie told her friends -- >> i met this guy, you know, they had a lunch date and he was cute and just, you know, the excitement of meeting somebody new. >> his name was andre jackson. a handsome single father of two. sparks flew immediately. >> i mean, she would just light
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up every time she talked about him. i mean, just -- >> big smile. >> oh, the glow. >> uh-huh. >> he was -- he was her -- her -- her everything. >> the methodical businesslike marie seemed to change overnight. were you privy to the courtship with andre? >> the whirlwind courtship? >> yeah. >> well, that's -- >> real quick. >> that's the way we would put it because one day she was smitten. the next day she was in love. and then she was pregnant. >> pregnant and having a wedding and no one knew about it. >> marcus knew about it. he was there. your mom was happy? >> yeah. she looked happy. >> andre was happy? >> yeah. we all were happy. >> at age 8, marcus found himself welcoming a little brother named marquis. >> i think once my little brother came into the picture it was more, you know, i realized that it wasn't just the two of
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us anymore but we're actually starting to become a family. >> and there were two other stepsiblings in the mix, andre jr. and andrea. and you get along with them? >> yeah. it was pretty great. i had a brother and a sister at home, and it was a pretty cool experience. >> another cool experience, for the first time having a dad. >> he taught me how to swim. he taught me how to throw a football. he even rode me on the back of his motorcycle a few times. it was good to actually have a male figure in the house that i could, you know, do stuff with. >> so andre was living up to his job as your father? >> yeah. yeah, he was. >> for marcus and his mom, everything seemed just perfect. >> honestly, it was like a complete family. it felt like i finally had a complete family. it was the best feeling in the world. like the ultimate high. and then suddenly, the ultimate low. >> the ultimate low because on
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november 11th, 1994, marie singleton, rock solid wife, mother, businesswoman, vanished. the local police investigated, of course, but so did an fbi agent named rick hadel. >> we had concerns that there may be missing classified information, u.s. government information. >> classified information? yes. as we said before, everyone has secrets. and marie had a big one. one she had told very few people. officially marie singleton worked for the department of defense. >> that's what was publicly disseminated, yes. >> but she was really working for the cia. >> that's my understanding, yes. coming up, it could turn into an espionage investigation, somebody's going over helping the russians, chinese, it could turn into that kind of a case. >> the mystery was just beginning. when "dateline" continues.
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♪♪ the day that changed marcus singleton's life began like any other, except that he had the day off from school. it was friday, november 11th, 1994. marcus, then 8 years old, was glued to the tv in his family's living room. >> i was watching a cartoon movie, bugs bunny movie.
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my mom comes up the stairs. she says something to me. i'm thinking she's going somewhere, you know, i'm like okay, yada yada yada, i was watching television. >> you were zoned out. >> i was zoned out. and i'm so zoned out finally i fall asleep. >> marcus woke up later that evening to the sound of his baby brother crying. >> so i go downstairs, i'm like why is this little kid crying? where is everybody at? >> finally the phone rang. >> my stepfather calls me and he tells me, you know, he's saying, hey, is your mom there, is your mom home yet, whatever? and she -- and i'm like no, where the heck are you guys? i've been here and marquis won't stop crying. he just won't stop. he says, okay, okay, i'll be there soon. >> andre said he'd last seen marie around 5:00 p.m. just before he left for his son andre jr.'s football game. now when he returned home, marie and her car were gone. andre made a round of calls to friends, nobody knew where marie was.
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he then took all the kids to his mother's house and dropped them off. >> i remember somebody asked him where are you going? and he says he's going to go check with my mom's girlfriends to see if he can find out where she's at. >> andre's first stop was the home of marie's friend bridget harris whom he'd called earlier. >> first he called and then i didn't really think anything of it, because i'm like, well, she'll be back and then when he showed up is when i got concerned. i'm like, she's still not back? >> cell phones were still pretty rare in those days. >> so i paged her because i knew if i paged, she would immediately call me back. >> but marie did not call back. the next morning andre knocked on the door of another friend, jean jones apthel. >> he said they had an argument, i said, well, you had a little argument, don't worry about it. but the second he told me he had the baby, i knew something was wrong. >> and so you paged her how many times? >> i couldn't count how many times i paged her.
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>> and no answer? >> no answer. >> by now it was saturday, 10:20 a.m. marie had been missing for almost 18 hours. andre called the inglewood police. >> police? >> yes, i'd like to file a missing persons report. >> okay. who is missing? >> my wife, her name is marie jackson. >> an officer came out to the house and met with andre. >> you know, i see him talking to the cops but i still don't see my mom anywhere. and i think that's when i found out that my mom still hadn't come home yet. had no idea where she was at. >> police started interviewing witnesses, searching the neighborhood, but the weekend passed with no sign of marie. that's when the phone rang on the desk of fbi agent rick hadel. >> we got the report i believe on a monday, maybe a tuesday, that she was missing, didn't report to work. of course, they were concerned of her disappearance. >> and that was unlike her. >> absolutely.
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>> it's unusual for the bureau to get involved in a missing persons case, but it turned out that marie singleton was no ordinary missing person. not with her job. >> they called it department of defense. they didn't call it cia. but she was working for the u.s. government for the agency working on communications for them. >> unbeknownst to just about everyone in her life, marie singleton was a code clerk for the central intelligence agency. she wasn't a spy, but she did handle classified communications from agents overseas. information that might be very interesting to enemies of the united states. part of what the fbi does is investigate things like this, if a cia employee goes missing. >> right, exactly. it could turn into an espionage case if you have missing classified information and somebody's going over helping the russians, the chinese, it
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could theoretically turn into that kind of a case. so now there were parallel investigations. the local cops looked for a missing person. the fbi covertly looked for an intelligence worker who might have been kidnapped or changed sides. marie's family, meanwhile, just wanted her back. >> they started making flyers for my mom. >> do you remember the flyers? >> yeah. definitely remember the flyers. >> soon a number of marie's co-workers and friends were posting flyers on telephone and light poles, storefronts, and shopping centers. kelly clayton remembers how she and a friend asked andre what they could do to help. >> he asked us to pass them out by the beach. at this time i asked him why would we pass them out at the beach. and so then he said, well, you know, that's okay, you don't have to pass them out at the beach. >> did he mention a specific beach or just anywhere in southern california? >> no, dockweiler beach. >> dockweiler beach is about
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eight miles from andre and marie's home, near los angeles international airport, where flights leave daily for moscow and beijing. on tuesday november 15th, 1994, four days after marie disappeared, andre himself went there to post flyers. he had an encounter with a perfect stranger and asked for help, and that's when this story took another strange turn. coming up -- >> i couldn't believe that i was seeing the car that this man was just looking for. >> a huge break in the case. when "dateline" continues.
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♪♪ tuesday november 15th, 1994. marie singleton, wife, mother, and secret cia employee, had been missing for four days. police were looking for her. so was the fbi. she might have been a runaway, a crime victim, or a double agent. but tim kiniff didn't know any of that when he stopped by dockweiler beach near l.a.x. to take a short walk and unwind after work. >> i saw a man posting flyers for a missing person. >> the man was andre jackson. >> he actually mentioned that he was doing this because it was
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his wife. and that she'd last been seen on friday. and he was -- seemed very concerned and obviously worried about it. he asked me then if i would take one of his flyers, so i said sure. >> the flyer had a picture of marie, a description of her car, and the car's license number. kiniff studied it and put it in his pocket. a short time later he finished his walk, got into his car and started to drive home. >> i was parked here on vista del mar facing south. so, i got in my car. i made a u-turn to head north. and as i started heading north, i saw the gray saab was parked here along the road. >> there was something oddly familiar about that car. >> so i made another u-turn, pulled up behind it, and then saw that the license plate on the car was the license plate on the flyer. >> a perfect match. what were the odds? >> i couldn't believe that i was seeing the car that this man was just looking for.
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>> kiniff called police. the next day, november 16th, the gray saab was towed to the inglewood pd impound lot. police looked it over, very carefully. there were several parking tickets under the windshield wipers. it had been there for a while. the battery had been removed. the driver's seat had been tilted forward and a cell phone, unusual at the time, was left in plain sight. after inspecting the interior investigators opened the trunk and made a ghastly discovery. marie singleton was missing no longer. she had been beaten and strangled to death. marie's son marcus, then just 8 years old, knew something was wrong when he came home from school and saw that all over the neighborhood his mom's missing flyers had been taken down. >> i walk in the room and everybody's in there crying. >> everyone in tears.
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>> everyone in tears. finally i say what the -- what's going on? what's going on? and my grandmom is just -- she's just crying. and my stepfather's crying, too, but you know, he grabs me and he pulls me and he hugs me. and, you know, he tells me straight up. he said they found your mom's body in the trunk of her car. you know, she's dead. >> marie's sister, elaine roundtree, had just arrived from philadelphia. like the rest of the family, she was devastated. elaine was one of the few people who knew marie worked for the cia. but even she didn't know exactly what marie did. >> we loved her as a sister. we respected her as a sister. and with her job she traveled a lot. we knew she worked for the government, for the cia, and that was it. >> and you never asked what she did. >> never asked. >> but now elaine had a lot of questions. starting with what could possibly have induced marie to
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leave 8-year-old marcus and infant marquis home alone? >> that was preposterous. that would have never happened. >> so elaine started to compare notes with friends and family. but the conversations weren't about the cia. >> they were telling me different incidents and different things that they had with andre. >> andre, marie's husband, things he was saying and doing didn't add up. first, there was jean's story about what she saw that saturday morning when andre showed up at her home looking for marie. >> he had a bruise on his lip. >> andre had a bruise on his lip? >> he did. he said, oh, i bruised it playing football with andre jr. really? it looks kind of fresh. >> then there was kelly clayton who spent the better part of sunday calling andre's house hoping marie would show up. and with each phone call, andre
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seemed to have a new developing story. first, it was this -- >> she had drank a little and she wanted to go to her son's football game. he told her that he did not want her to go, and they had a argument and she stormed out. >> but during the next phone call, andre said -- >> one of her old boyfriends was in town, and she was with him. >> and then finally -- >> he let me know when she does get there, i'll call you, i'll have her call you, letting me know, don't call no more. >> then on monday, when marie's friends went to the condo to help pass out flyers, jean noticed something in andre and marie's bedroom. >> it was a big hole in the wall. that was a reality check for me, because it wasn't where the doorknob was. it was above it like someone had put their fist through it. big enough for, like, a head because it went straight through. >> elaine heard all of this and
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contacted inglewood police and found out they were way ahead of her. >> i had spoke with the one detective over the telephone, and he said that andre was a suspect. i was also told that this would probably be resolved because they may arrest him at the funeral. >> you thought andre was going to be arrested? >> yes. >> pretty quickly. >> yes. >> but andre wasn't arrested at marie's funeral or the next day or the day after that. after the service, elaine and her relatives flew back to philadelphia. a few weeks later marcus joined them. marie's relatives still expected an arrest any day. but days turned into weeks, and then months, until a whole year had passed. and that's when a mysterious letter arrived for the singleton family, an anonymous letter that sent this investigation in a
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whole new direction. coming up -- >> we didn't know where the letter came from. and because she worked for the cia, it opened up that door of suspicion. >> was her death related to her job? the questions start all over again. when "dateline" continues. allergies don't have to be scary. spraying flonase daily stops your body from overreacting to allergens all season long. psst! psst! all good if you printed out directions to get here today, you're in the right place. my seminars are a great tool to help young homeowners who are turning into their parents. now, remember, they're not programs. they're tv shows. you woke up early. no one cares. yes. so, i was using something called homequote explorer from progressive to easily compare home insurance rates. was i hashtagging? progressive can't help you from becoming your parents, but we can help you compare rates on home insurance with homequote explorer. guess what. the waiter doesn't need to know your name.
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i'm dara brown. here's what's happening. ramsey clark, the attorney general in the lyndon johnson administration who became an outspoken activist for unpopular causes and a critic of u.s. policy, has died according to the associated press. after serving in president johnson's cabinet, clark set up a private law practice where he championed civil rights, fought racism and the death penalty. he was 93. an archaeologist discovered an egyptian city that is more than 3,000 years old. an archaeologist says it is one of the most important discoveries since king tut's tomb was unearthed in 1922. now back to "dateline."
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welcome back to "dateline." i'm craig melvin. marie singleton, mother, wife, and secret cia employee, had been beaten and strangled to death. police suspected her husband andre was to blame, but no arrests had been made. the case was growing cold. then marie's family received a letter suggesting that investigators may have been looking in the wrong direction if they were looking at all. continuing with "missing marie," here's josh mankiewicz. >> it had been about a year since marie singleton's body was found in the trunk of her car at a los angeles beach. her son marcus, 8 years old at the time of her murder, was
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being raised by an aunt in philadelphia. but his mother was never far from his mind. >> we used to have a debate about who loved each other more, you know, i love you more, no, i love you more. no, i love you more. and sometimes i even go to sleep and i still say it, like mom, i love you know. you know, that's the kind of stuff a kid never forgets. ever. >> he also stayed in touch with marie's husband, andre jackson. you still felt a connection to him. >> yes. he was my dad. you know, that was the only father i had, and i missed him. >> meanwhile, the rest of marie's family wondered if andre knew more about her death than he was saying. they believed police had those same questions. but andre had never been arrested. and then came that letter, which changed everything. handwritten or typed? >> it was typed. >> the unsigned letter read in part, "it is very unlikely that
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the individual or individuals responsible for her death will be brought to justice. although you may be receiving lip service from her former office, believe me when i tell you that the agency has literally placed her death on the back burner. the agency, of course, meant marie's secret employer, the central intelligence agency. >> she worked for them, and they never offered a reward for her, any information regarding her case or anything. >> the letter continued, "her former colleagues at work have been placed under a gag order by their office. they have ordered these people to cease all contact with you and marie's family in pennsylvania. someone in your family needs to stir the pot." >> we didn't know where the letter came from because it was anonymous and because she worked for the cia, so it opened up that door of suspicion that maybe they had something to do with it as well.
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>> remember, when marie first disappeared, the fbi investigated on the theory it might have been espionage. but the family didn't know the results of that investigation and didn't know why police hadn't moved against andre. >> and since we didn't have the answers, it was always a wonderment to us on why it was taking so long. maybe they all were working in cahoots with each other. >> despite their dark suspicions, the family turned the letter over to inglewood police, but still, no answers. not for years. >> i constantly called california to find out what was being done and what was happening with the case. >> you didn't want to give up. >> i couldn't give up. it was my sister. >> the family didn't know it, but there was someone else who refused to give up. fbi agent rick hadel. he had never found any evidence
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of espionage in marie's murder, but he'd also never forgotten about her. >> so, here it is now january, 2002, i'm a squad supervisor now, i'm the guy that assigns the cases instead of investigating them. and i'm talking with an agent. i said, tony, how about reopening this case as an assault on a federal officer case. >> all just because you never stopped thinking about it. >> exactly. i just -- i didn't like the -- the fact that you got a woman who has given her life, dedicated to the government murdered and just lying out there because nobody cares. and so i thought, well, let's give it another shot. >> so eight years after the murder fbi agent tony vasley called on inglewood pd and met detective russ eniard, who was a month shy of retiring. they started combing through the old files and were assisted by a new inglewood detective, steve siler. >> technology advances so quickly that in 2002 i said to
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tony vasley, hey, maybe there's fingernail scrapings, maybe there's something of that nature. >> in fact, there were fingernail scrapings in this case. there was also a drop of blood on marie's saab. but at the time of marie's murder dna analysis was still in its infancy. those samples had never been tested. in 2004 detective siler called john lewin, a prosecutor with the l.a. d.a.'s office major crimes division. lewin specializes in cold cases. >> they had collected originally the fingernail scrapings. they had collected the blood, and detective eniard had been unable to get the lab to test it. so when i first got on the case i started trying to cash in favors at the crime lab to get it done. >> but a ten-year-old cold case was not a priority. three more years passed before those samples were tested. finally in november, 2007, the fbi crime lab came through. >> what we got was the
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information that would break this case wide open. >> a new clue triggers a bold move from the cold case prosecutor, and someone close to marie is in for a surprise. coming up. >> it was very hard. i had to have marcus arrested. >> marcus, marie's own son, under arrest? when "dateline" continues. when eye allergens attack, the itch can last 24 hours. but with pataday once daily relief extra strength you get fast, 24-hour relief in one drop. make it a pataday with the drop that's right for you. now without a prescription. everywhere. now, simparica trio simplifies protection. ticks and fleas? see ya! heartworm disease? no way! simparica trio is the first chewable that delivers all this protection. and simparica trio is demonstrated safe for puppies. it's simple: go with simparica trio. this drug class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions,
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after years of murky speculation that marie singleton was targeted for her work with the cia, the case suddenly came into sharp focus. first, that mysterious letter suggesting marie's death was related to her top secret job, that turned out to be a dead end, written by a co-worker who just wanted to encourage police to work harder. next, there was the dna. more than a decade after marie's murder -- >> they tested both the bloodstain on the car and the scrapings under the fingernails. >> the dna found under marie's nails and the blood found on the hood of her car were from the same person, a man, and police thought they knew who that man was. marie's husband, andre. but andre had moved out of california. >> we did not have his blood test. >> how did you get a match?
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>> well, what we did was we tried to find him, and we couldn't locate him. we were finally able to track down his son, andre jackson jr., and to get his dna. when we got his dna, we got what you would characterize as a near miss, a familial hit. >> a near miss, but still enough to get an arrest warrant. the fbi's fugitive task force caught up with andre in tempe, arizona. he wasn't expecting it? >> no, he was not expecting it. >> andre also said he didn't do it, didn't kill his wife. but he couldn't make bail, so he sat in a jail cell, even though prosecutor lewin knew the evidence was not as strong as it might be. although andre's inconsistent statements, the bruise on his face, his appearance at the very beach where marie's car was later found, all seemed suspicious, they might not be enough for a jury. >> we have to be able to say is
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a jury going to be able to look at the evidence we have and prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, do we take this risk or not. >> even the dna was not absolute proof. after all, andre and marie were husband and wife. to find his dna on her car or even under her fingernails was not necessarily evidence of murder. after andre had been in jail for nearly four years, lewin decided to offer a deal. >> we offered him voluntary manslaughter. he would have had to serve roughly another year. and he didn't want it. his attitude was you don't have any evidence. >> so the case was going to trial. lewin knew he needed more evidence to make the jury believe his theory of the crime. >> i believe that they had probably some kind of argument.
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i believe that marie said that she was leaving. i believe that an argument turned violent. and i believe that at some point during the argument andre hit her, and then he made the decision, you know what, i can't let her walk out of here. >> what lewin needed most was a witness, and no one had seen anything on the day of the murder. yet lewin found there was a secret, buried in the memory of a grown man, who was all of 8 years old when a murder was being committed. marie's son, marcus singleton. >> we interviewed marcus in 2004, really the first in-depth interview that had ever been done. >> marcus was deeply conflicted between his feelings for his mom and the love he still felt for his stepfather andre. and at first, he had no intention of talking with investigators. but finally he broke down and told the story of what an 8-year-old marcus had seen on
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october 1st, 1994, 6 weeks before the murder. it's a story he also told to us. >> i remember hearing them screaming and going into the bedroom and them arguing and her telling me to call the police, call the cops. >> what was happening? >> i had no idea, none. and i froze because my stepdad told me not to, and that's when she said, you hit me. and then he said, well, you hit me first. and she looked at him like he was crazy. she screamed call the cops, and then she moved towards the bed, and he grabs her. tries to place his hands over her mouth. one hand over her mouth, one hand over her throat and they fall on the bed. >> young marcus then ran for the phone in the hallway. >> at this point now i'm leaving to go call the police, and i'm guessing maybe he got off of her to come stop me or whatever because now my mom, she must have gotten free somehow, some way, brushes past me and runs up the stairs, i guess to the
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kitchen phone. he comes running past me, runs up the stairs to the kitchen phone. now my stepsister is leaving her room coming out in the hallway like what the heck is going on. then we hear the clatter like some silverware falling on the ground. i run upstairs. the drawer is out on the floor, there's a whole bunch of silverware on the floor. they're still arguing. >> marie ran to the bedroom and locked the door. >> he knocks on the door. she doesn't open it. he kicks the door in. and he walks in and puts the door frame back on the door and he closes the door, and then it's just quiet for a while after that. >> somehow during the struggle marie managed to call 911, but the call is cut short. >> hello? >> and then after a few minutes the cops come. you know, i guess my mom told them everything was okay. they left. and six weeks later -- >> six weeks later, his mother was dead.
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>> i hate the fact that i didn't go and call the cops myself. you know, so the cops could have talked to me instead of her. >> add to that the guilt he feels about the day she disappeared. >> i hate the fact that i can remember that it was a bugs bunny movie on the television but i can't even remember the last words my mom said to me. >> you were, what, 8 years old? >> i hate that. yeah. >> because why? you think this is your fault? you've got to know intellectually it had nothing to do with you. >> i feel like i could have done something to protect my mom. i could have just changed up one thing. >> and yet even now marcus still couldn't accept the idea that the man he once considered his father had killed his mother. marcus didn't want to testify against andre. lewin had to serve him with a
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subpoena for a pretrial hearing. marcus ignored it. >> i got subpoenaed to go to court and said no, i'm not going. i ripped it up, threw it away. >> lewin had to do something he'd never done before. >> i had to have marcus arrested. it was very hard. i've got to have him arrested when he's a victim. >> unpleasant. >> very unpleasant. >> lewin the prosecutor and marcus the witness were at odds. and if the prosecutor's star witness didn't show up for trial, andre could easily walk free. coming up -- >> did you kill your wife? >> no, i did not. >> the case heads into court and andre jackson heads to the stand. at last, he tells his own story. >> i approached her in the bedroom and embraced her and kissed her. >> when "dateline" continues.
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wait, where was i? introducing self protection from xfinity. designed to put you in control. with real-time notifications and a week of uninterrupted recording. all powered by reliable, secure wifi from xfinity. gotta respect his determination. it's easy and affordable to get started. get self protection for $10 a month. february 17th, 2012, nearly 18 years after marie singleton's body was discovered, her husband andre went on trial for her murder. >> it might be hard to accept, but that man murdered his wife, and he needs to be held accountable. >> in the weeks leading up to trial, prosecutor john lewin wondered if his star witness would show up. >> he wouldn't even come out
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here. >> marcus was terribly conflicted over the guilt he felt at not speaking up sooner and the love he still felt for his stepfather andre. he didn't like the idea of testifying against andre? >> no, he did not. >> but a day before opening statements, much to lewin's relief, marcus did show up for trial. but he was, to say the least, a reluctant witness. >> in the beginning when i first came to speak with mr. lewin, i defended andre on my family's side and i didn't want to believe that he did it. then i found out that i'm probably going to have to accept the truth, a truth that i really don't want to have to accept even today to be honest. >> marcus told the jury his harrowing story of the fight he witnessed between his mom and his stepdad six weeks before her murder. >> they were frantic, and my mom was -- like, she was distraught i guess is the best word, like,
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she was just like -- she was screaming, you know, she was -- "call the police, call the police!" >> compelling, damning, but it turned out the defense had a star witness, too. did you think andre was going to take the stand? >> no. i was -- i was very surprised. i would say shocked. >> andre's defense attorney got right to the point with his first question to his client. >> did you kill your wife, marie jackson? >> no, i did not. >> do you have any idea who did? >> no, i do not. >> then andre gave his innocent account of the day his wife disappeared. for starters, he said, though he and marie may have argued six weeks earlier, they didn't fight the day she vanished. >> when you got home, did you -- did you greet marie? >> yes, i did. >> how did that go? >> i approached her in the bedroom and embraced her and kissed her. >> then he said he left marie at home and drove to his son's football game. as for witnesses who said he had
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a bruised lip that day, andre said it happened at the game where he and his son accidentally collided. >> as i approached him, he was jumping around and he wasn't aware that i was near him, and he jumped and his helmet hit me on the -- on my mouth. >> andre told the court he didn't know marie was missing until he returned home after the game. >> and did you try to page her or call her? >> i did. >> as for his decision to post flyers at the very beach where marie's car was later found? >> i was in the area, picked up some lunch and went down to sit down by the beach, and just pray and try to figure out -- put things together what was going on at the time. >> did you see marie's saab? >> no, i did not. >> did you know that marie's saab was at or near dockweiler beach? >> no, i did not. >> of course, prosecutor lewin
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thought andre was lying about everything. on cross-examination, he pointed out that when andre left the beach he had to drive right past marie's car. >> is it fair to say that as you're driving, mr. jackson, the main thing on your mind is looking for that car, where could that saab be? is that fair to say? >> not in that moment where i was driving on a scenic route at the beach. >> wait, wait, a scenic route? >> yes. >> your concern was scenic routes when the mother of your 8-month-old son is missing? >> lewin also wanted to get andre's thoughts about why marcus testified against him. >> are you aware as you sit here of any motive that he might have for trying to say that you're responsible for his mom's death? >> yes. >> you are aware. and what is that? >> the influence by many who
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pretty much tainted him and telling him negative things about me over the years, from his relatives to the law enforcement people who interviewed him. >> finally, lewin asked a question that seemed to get under andre's skin. >> isn't it true, mr. jackson, that marie told you that she was leaving you? >> absolutely not. >> that same day? >> november 11th. >> absolutely not. >> had she ever -- >> after three months in court and 18 years after marie's death, co-prosecutor pat kerry gave the prosecution's closing argument. >> there's only one person in this case who six weeks prior to the murder was observed choking marie. there's only one person in this case who drove right past marie's car when they were looking for it. there's only one person who left a fresh drop of blood on marie's car. there's only one person that murdered marie jackson. and he's sitting right there. >> but the prosecution was
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pointing in the wrong direction, said the defense attorney in his closing remarks to the jury. >> the actual evidence does not support the allegation that andre killed marie. it certainly doesn't support it beyond or doesn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. why? there's a simple answer. andre didn't kill marie. >> nearly two decades after marie's murder, the case was finally before a jury. and just 2 1/2 hours later there was a verdict. >> we the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant andre jackson guilty of the crime of first-degree murder. >> andre jackson was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. for marcus singleton, this victory was bittersweet. he still wants to hear the truth from andre himself. he knows, he says, that that may never come, but he hopes his mother would be proud that he
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finally spoke up. >> i try to live my life to make her proud of me. i'm never going to give up. never going to give up on anything that i feel is important. and -- >> and that's her. >> and that's her. that's living for her. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> horrible, knowing the person you love is dead and you're being looked at for it. >> imagine you're shaken in the dead of night. >> my ears were ringing, i thought i was dreaming. >> in bed next to you, your husband murdered.

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