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

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>> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline". >> do you have one that got away? >> he's my first love. >> the guy who disappeared. except, in her case, he really disappeared. >> he's going to call me in a couple days. he never called. >> his family, in agony. >> i called everyone from oprah winfrey to "america's most wanted". >> a rookie detective finally broke the case. >> i said, oh my gosh. i think i hit pay dirt. >> a sweet strange phone call revealed a secret. >> david needed needed to be
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gotten rid of. >> then we got the real story. >> a bombshell revelation. was she really a believed ex? >> i always love david. >> or just maybe a black widow? >> however barbara britain is in the middle. >> hello and welcome to "dateline". four years, judy carlson lived in the most painful kind of limbo. her son david had disappeared without a trace. the case went unsolved. sitting called for more than a decade before rookie detective donna velazquez was assigned to investigate. digging into david's past, she uncovered a twisted tale of love gone bad. and a grizzly family secret. but the detective still needed to know what motive was at the heart of this crime? here is keith morrison with "buried secrets".
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>> it's a strange thing that happens among the boggs and marshe. the soft soil here in coastal florida. things have a way of coming up. things buried in the ground, in the past. or both. it was july, 2003. beaches quite. snow birds back up north. so no one notice at first when inland, a little, in a town called pembroke pines, where donna velazquez, just three months a detective. a rookie, really. had just been assigned to a brand-new cold case unit. >> the sergeant came into the office and dropped a box of papers right on my desk and said, here, see what you can do with this. i began to wonder, is this a test to see could she really do this? >> the case was a challenge was an understatement. now all but forgotten mystery,
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the disappearance 15 years earlier of a young man named david jackson. in the file, offered no hints, no pointers. nothing, really. beyond the basic value. to unearth the truth, even the rookie cop knew she would have to learn about the victim. so, she began with something easy. she found david jackson's mother, judy carlson. how do the sun, actually, who called his mom. >> he said are you sitting. i said yes. he said that if they're reopening david's case. >> the detective and the mother talked about david for hours. wasn't a problem for duty. she loves talking about her boy. even now, to us. >> david was my first child. he was just -- loved everything and everyone. he would walk in the room and everyone would just be drawn to him. >> david jackson was the eldest of duties three children. and mark jackson idolized his
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older brother. >> he looked out for me. he was that way with his friends. with everybody. >> bill brown with one of those friends. in 1982, after high school, brown and david jackson work together at burger king. where david became a manager. brown also had a front row seat to the budding romance between jackson and a pretty 16 year old coworker named barbara britton. >> they were together and that's awesome. if you can find love, that's what we all want. >> so, all these years later, detective velazquez paid a visit to the woman who had been the girl who had fallen in love with david jackson. i need help, she told objective. same thing when we called on her to talk about the david she knew. >> he was a very good-looking man. you know, we just had an attraction for each other. started talking. sweet, nice, kind. the swept me off my feet. it he was a good guy. >> as she talked a became clear, deep emotions would not see stay beneath the surface. >> i was young. i was still going to school.
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this was my first love. >> two youngsters in love. and then, well, things happened. don't they? >> mom, i got something to tell you. i said what. she said barbara's pregnant. >> judy was surprised. a little worried, maybe. but knowing nowhere near as worried as barbara's parents. particularly her dad. an ex marine. who is not very impressed with young mr. jackson. or so judy heard. >> mr. britton did not like him. i don't know why. >> still, david said his mother was walking on air. >> he came home one day and says mom, i'm going to have cell the truck. i said why. he said, i'm going to be a father and a husband. and that's not appropriate. i'm going to have them. >> so, the pretty girl and a handsome boy got married. big wedding, to. even though they were just kids. and very soon, parents also to a son. john jackson. and they fought. made up. fought again. babies having babies.
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no easy thing. >> we were just two young. it was difficult for him and it was difficult for me. >> so who is the first person to say you've got to get a divorce? >> my dad. >> how did david ticket? >> he was like, let's just find somebody. some lawyers, and see what we have to do. and that was it. >> the two divorced in 1985. david arranged we can visits with john. how are they together? >> oh, wonderful. >> johnny just clung to him. they love each other. >> and they all moved on. couple years later, barbara married again. michael wolfe. an ex military man like her dad. about the same age as her dad, to. your dad and your new husband probably saw eye to eye a lot. >> they sure did. they had a lot in common. they were top a lock. >> wolfe took barbara and john with to live with him in arizona. but david wanted to be a part of his son's life. so, he traveled out west to see
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the boy. >> he went out there with a friend of his. so johnny for three days. i got pictures with johnny. in an all western town, and everything. >> but maybe it was something about the distance, said barbara. >> david and i became very good friends when i was out there in arizona. we used to talk a lot. >> in fact, where she felt deep in her heart never did go away. >> i always loved him. >> and then, it was june 25th, 1980. david's brother mark was flying into town to visit the family. david was to pick him up at the airport. but when mark arrived, he waited and waited. no david. and mark jackson had a terrible feeling. >> no matter what, he would have been there for me. i knew something was wrong. i knew something that happened. >> oh, yes. very bad. and as the rookie detective donna velazquez poked around deep in the past. that something was reaching out through the mud, to tell her
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it's long neglected story. >> that case was both cold and baffling. but maybe, nature in south florida could help the investigation. coming up -- >> it was a crazy weather and water table that we had. if he were ever buried in there somewhere along the line, you're going to bump up. >> when "dateline" continues. [swords clashing] - had enough? - no... arthritis. here. new aspercreme arthritis. full prescription-strength? reduces inflammation? thank the gods.
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. . . >>. . >>, donna velazquez. barbara,, velazquez,. ,. . >>, -- and i said no. he's going to call me in a couple days. i know he is. he's going to call me. and he never called. he never called. >>. police, family everybody try to find him. couldn't.
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canals pipes. little bridges under railroads, anywhere. you see a car that looked like his go by. you you turned and chased. >> how long did that go on? >> that went on until they found his car. >> which more than three months later turned out to be at the airport. so, did he just take off? his close friend didn't think so. >> maybe he got on a plane and maybe he wanted to do something different. i was like no, he wouldn't do that. >> for one thing, david had been preparing for the arrival in two weeks of his five-year-old son, john. this was a big one. a month long summer visit. he was preparing for this visit. >> yes, for johnny. he wanted everything perfect. >> and right in the middle of preparations he vanished. did it make sense. but the days turned into weeks, months, years. not a sign of david. the police went on a two new or cases, but his mother never let up. for winning, nagging, writing.
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she knew david was out there, somewhere. >> i wrote letters to oprah winfrey i wrote to "america's most wanted". i thought, okay maybe i can have the semis put a picture on the back of the semis. i got a list of the big trump trucking companies and it all the letters. but it took me a long time to finish and a letter about him. because i didn't want -- >> it was, she said, a horrible limbo. a little piece of her still hoping for good news. part of her mourning a loss. >> i found a therapist right away. she said, take 20 minutes out of every day. either scream and cry in the morning. scream and cry at night. >> did anybody who has anybody who hasn't been in your shoes understand what it's like for a mother? >> no. >> now, lakers later, the investigation was back in high gear. judy told detective velazquez that in some corner of her heart she still hope david might just turn up safely someday. >> the detective, however, was not inclined to false hope. she did not for a minute think
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he was still alive. had he died accidentally? surely, a sign of him would've appeared. no, she believed when bodies are found its because someone has intentionally hit in them. that david jackson might show up. just not a life. >> and my will started turning and i started thinking, you know, we live in florida. with the crazy weather that we have and the water table that we have, if he were ever buried anywhere. somewhere along the line, you're going to pop up. >> maybe, the detective thought. remains had popped up. after all, it had been a deactivate and a half since he disappeared. so, she googled unidentified remains. let her down and endless internet trail. >> it's probably going on ten, 11:00. i'm sure my husband is saying, we're the heck is that old girl? >> one dead and until she got to one created by a florida
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medical examiner. promising. exhausting. >> i'm there typing a way. typing and typing. it pops up about 100 matches. >> she was determined. she finally windshield it down to a possible three. >> one of them really stands out for me. it says, white male, and it says over six foot. david is a tall guy. he's a white male. possibly. >> those particular bones, just a few. a partial skeleton. told turned up during construction of a walmart parking lot not far from the place where david lived. surface just a year after david died. had been gathering dust in storage for 15 years. the detective went to see a forensic anthropologist. and when the doctor measured the bones -- >> when she comes out she says no, it's looking like he's only about five foot nine. >> still, velazquez had a hunch that she had finally found david jackson. and she was in the sort of
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person to give up a hunch. and >> i said, can we please do this one more time. she goes, i was wrong the first time. she says, this person is anywhere between five foot nine and six foot one. i said, oh my gosh. i think i have hit pay dirt. >> she got dna from david's mother. waited for a lap to prepare the samples. and ten days later, detective velazquez called the testing facility. >> she comes to the phone and says, i hope you're sitting down. i said, why? we got 100 percent match. oh my gosh! i said what? because i'm not believing that i'm hearing what i'm hearing. >> 15 years after he disappeared, david jackson had finally been found. question now was, what happened to him? how did he end up here? >> coming up -- a strange coincidence. or was it? >> it's an eerie feeling. you know, that he was in that
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that identified david jackson's remains. what was left of them. but by pure chance the partial skeleton was found at all. that david is rather mark found out. they >> were getting wedding to build a walmart. a construction worker came
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across and balloons. he reported them. they went out and they got the bones and put the bone somewhere and forgot about it. they were found about a year after he disappeared. they sat in the morgue. for 15 years. >> sat there all those years. even as those who loved david held a shred of hope that he was a life. somewhere. >> as far as i know he was disappeared. he was missing. >> but now detective velazquez had a hard truth to tell. david jackson was dead. not missing. and the way he had been hidden made it perfectly clear he had been murdered. all those years ago. most likely be for his friends or family even noticed he was gone. which put a final period on his mother's lingering hope for his return. and apparently, an ex-wife's what is. were you seriously thinking, yeah maybe some day i will get back together with him? >> when it's your first love, you're always think would it
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work. what if? >> strange how things turned out. barbara had moved back to florida, remarried again. had a daughter. took a job at walmart. but still hailed a candle for david. even as he lay under the ground, practically next door to the very walmart where she worked. what did that do to you? >> it's and eerie feeling. you know? that he was in that area that i didn't even know about. >> such an odd coincidence. too odd, maybe? time for a chat. detective velazquez called barbara. got herself invited over to barbara's house. barber seem to have no problem talking about david. >> she said she cared about him a lot. i say, well, how was david as a father? david became abusive towards johnny, physically and emotionally. verbally. >> wait a minute. this was a whole new wrinkle. up to know everything about
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david's history had been squeaky clean. >> as an investigator and as a mom, i begin to say, did you ever call the police? she said, oh, no. i never called the police. she says, i just thought he would change. she proceeds to tell me that i had documented the injuries with photographs. never produced any photograph for me. >> for us, by the way, barbara changed her story. said it was really her father, not her, go accused david of abusing his son. >> my dad was looking to counselors and having them evaluated. stuff like that. i would just be like, this is david. what are you talking about? >> but of course, the detectives couldn't talk to barbara's father about abuse or murder. or anything else. harry britton had been dead for years. but barbara had more information for the detective she. recalled a troubling conversation she had with david. at the time, said barbara,
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david was working for coca-cola. delivering the product. >> he told me that someone was placing drugs on his coca-cola truck. and through his route, they were being taken off of the truck. i said, wow. that's pretty serious. she says, yes. >> interesting. >> very. >> so detective velazquez, that sounded like a made up story. almost as if she was trying to divert suspicion in a week from someone. an ex-wife would qualify, of course, as a person of interest in this kind of case. but as velazquez and we learned, barbara had an alibi. she was in anywhere near florida, she said. when david disappeared. >> i was not a florida. i was in arizona. i was nowhere around here. >> and looking any further evidence, detective velazquez was stalled dead in the water.
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alas, maybe the man barber was married to at the time knew something. michael wolfe. a little check unrevealed wolfe had been married seven times. number six, a woman named nancy graham, lived in alabama. velazquez called her. >> i told her, i'm investing in investigating the d disappearance of david jackson. she said to me, how much evidence do you have against him? i said, i can't discuss the evidence with you, but i can tell you that it's enough for me to put him away right now. i was just totally bluffing. i have really, nothing. i am just throwing it out there. fishing that long line. if something bites, i reeling it in. she says, honey, let me call you back. >> the minutes take by. velazquez waited by the phone. and when nancy called back, what she said blew the case wide open. >> she started telling me about
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who was involved. how it happened. where it happened. what they did. how he did it. how deep landed. >> they? why, yes. they. and by the way, beware the sting of an ex-wife's tail. >> she says, i'm going to tell you everything you need to know. >> michael wolf's ex-wife nancy has a drawback dropping story to share. and it will send the investigation into overdrive. coming up -- >> the first shot didn't kill him. he had to shoot him again. >> when "dateline" continuous. a place like this must rely on? -no. they just sell candles, and they're making overhead? you know what kind of fish those are? -no. -eh, don't be coy. [ laughs ] [ sniffs, clears throat ] koi fish. it can be overwhelming. think a second. have we seen this shirt before? progressive can't save you from becoming your parents. but we can save you money when you bundle
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control in southern oregon. it's burning over 70,000 acres. the wildfire has interrupted electrical lines that transmit power from oregon to california. the heat we've already has california's power grid under strain. now back to dateline. rain now back to dateline >> welcome back to "dateline". i'm craig melvin. david jackson had been married murdered. his body buried in a shallow grave. then, years later a stunning development. lucky detectives donna velazquez tracked down a woman who claimed david's color had confessed to her in detail. but there was one staggering new wrinkle. was david jackson's murder a family affair? once again here's keith morrison with "buried secrets". >> david jackson was murdered
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in 1988 in florida. not much detective donna velazquez could say for certain. but the rest? more after more than a year of phone calls and late nights, all velazquez had come up with was an increasingly complicated web web of stories in relationships. david jackson was married to barbara britton. her father harry disliked david. barber went on to become the fourth wife of a man named why cold michael wolfe. the divorced and he later married two more times. >> we needed to talk. but >> now, finally, one of wolfe's ex-wife's, only named nancy, was sitting with detective velazquez. telling police she knew everything about what happened to david. >> can you tell me again? >> because i know how he was killed and what they did with him. >> how did she know? according to the ex, michael drink. a lot. >> every night he would almost down a whole bottle of scotch. i guess he just needed to talk.
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>> and the story wolfe told according to the ex, implicated more than just himself. here's what happened as he heard it. wolfe and harry britton, barbara's father, granted a motel room on that long ago july night. invited david to a meeting there. >> and when he gets at the hotel, they have a very small conversation. and michael shot david in the head. >> he told me he had to get so drunk to do it. and that was the first shot didn't kill him. he had to shoot him again. >> afterwards, as nancy related the story -- >> they did take his car to the airport and left it there. then they took him over to, i mean, there was an empty lot there. and that's worth he buried him. >> he did not spare the detail, said nancy. >> and he did tell me he poured some corrosive, and i think it was a lie, is what he said, over the body.
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>> and sure enough, unlike, that was consistent with the investigation. >> along with that story came out sounded like a motive. david disappeared, remember, as he was preparing for a visit from his five year old son, john. >> they decided that david need to be gotten rid of, because they never wanted david to be in johnny's life. >> david was murdered in cold blood just to keep him out of his son's life? >> and boom. it click for me all of a sudden. i said, wow. that's over tell custody. that's why he's not here today. >> that was the motive? >> that was the motive. >> that was wolfe's confession to an ex-wife a true story or just alcohol-fueled bravado? there was no way to know for sure. but it was enough to at least bring about the arrest. in october, 2004, of michael wolfe. now living in ohio. but unrest is not a conviction. and as michael wolfe cooled his very sober heels in no ohio jail, he professes innocence to
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anybody who would listen. including the local police. to whom wolfe sent a letter. which he claimed all he knew of a crime centered on a conversation with his ex-wife barbara's father, harry. a few months before the murder. stephen kemp was a reporter with broward palm beach new times and read michael's letter. all michael would add mitt to was meeting harry near a park over the place where david's bones would later come out of the grounds. >> michael wolf said that he had basically pointed over to that plot of land and said, well, if you needed to bury a body, that would be a good place to do it. and then he concluded his letter with, and i don't know if he had listened or not. >> apparently, he did. >> if michael wolfe had really not known anything beyond that point to get him off the hook. it would leave it all in the hands of harry britton. >> so, michael was pretty pinning the murder on the one by harry. who was safely dead and could tell no tales. but now detective velazquez
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believed she had enough evidence to bring michael wolfe back to florida to stand trial for the murder of david jackson. >> we did the arrest warrants and within a couple of days we were flying out to kettering, ohio, to extradite michael wolfe back to florida. >> how did he react? >> he said some pretty harsh words. not very ladylike if i say though. >> you can say. >> he said i'm [bleep]. >> this was it, velazquez had her moment. finally, after 15 years, she needs to or someone was going to be held accountable for the death of david jackson. >> it was the culmination of 16 months of such a long, grueling, up and down, tiresome investigation. nights have not sleeping. days of going to work and living off of coffee. i thought, you know what? this is what it's all about. >> it was november 2007, when michael wolfe went on trial for murder. after so many years, many physical evidence that might have tied him to the crime was
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long gone. but what prosecutors did have was the verbal confession. the drunken story his ex-wife said he had told her. >> then, check me. another ex wife told police virtually the same story. >> he told me he shot him in the head. and he told me that he had a silencer on the gun. >> now she too was called to this stand. that was enough. the jury was out in less than an hour. the verdict was guilty. at the sentencing, life in prison. david jackson's family confronted michael wolfe. not just to condemn him. but to ask a question. because there was still a piece missing. something that still didn't make sense. what was david doing in that motel room the night they killed him? why did he walk into that trap? >> why would he go to a motel? mr. burton was ten minutes down the road. david is not as to a child at 24. why would mr. britton want to
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see you in a hotel? >> what do you know, they demanded. there would be no justice they told wolfe, unless everyone involved was held accountable. outside the courtroom, david's brother encounter the states attorney and -- said >> i said he's gonna tell you. he i said he's not gonna tell you. i saw on his ice, he's gonna tell you. and then we got the real story. >> in fact, it was just two days later when wolfe finally confessed the true measure of his guilt. and gave police firsthand his unedited for xin. of events the night he said they buried david jackson. in a shifting florida florida clay. was someone else involved? oh, yes. said michael wolfe. she certainly was. >> coming up -- what made david go to that motel? >> it was a woman who is on the phone. david takes the phone, comes out a little while later. these all spruced up. ready to go out. >> when "dateline" continues.
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plus 8 b-vitamins for brain support. one a day and done. hi, verizon launched the first 5g network, and now we want to be the first to give everyone the joy of 5g by giving every customer a new 5g phone, on us, aha! old customers. new customers. families. businesses. in-laws. law firms. every customer. new 5g phones when you trade in your old ones. and if you're not a customer, we'll help cover the cost to switch. just ask wanda. she's been with us since... (gasps)... now. upgrade your phone. upgrade your network. >> >> in november of 2007, the
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man who shot david jackson to death was found guilty of the crime and sent to prison for the rest of his life. but a couple days after he was sentenced, wolfe sent out word he was ready to tell the rest of the story. sure, he said he was the trigger man. yes, his father in law was determined to get rid of david permanently.
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but to set their trap, to lure david to the kill side at the motel, they needed beat. and that be, said wolfe, was barbara. barbara who did not require persuasion. quite the contrary, said mr. wolfe. >> barbara britton is in the middle. from what i was able to learn about david, he would have never gone to that hotel room to meet harry britton. he would've never gone to that hotel room to meet michael wolfe. there he agreed to come meet barbara. the one >> woman who wept tears of love for her long lost david. who profess to have healthy torch all those years. was the very same woman, said wolfe, who called david on the phone and enticed him to go to that motel room. to be killed. >> they needed to use barbara as their lure, because david still had feelings for. barbara >> evidence? david had a roommate, reported journalist stephen kemp. and that roommate her david take a phone call before he
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went out that night. >> he was pretty sure it was woman on the phone. david takes a phone, goes into his room. comes out a little while later. he's all spruced up. ready to go out. he's got a smile on his face. he's calling his here. but in on his cologne. david jackson left the apartment. and at that point, that was the last any of his friends saw him. >> what really happened in the motel? wolfe said he hid in the bathroom when david arrived. >> barbara answered and he was glad to see her. he said they walked in, sat down on the edge of the bed. barbara had a stun gun. and barbara hit david with the stun gun. >> but the stun gun malfunction malfunctioned. so, wolfe stepped out of the bathroom with his gun. >> he said, so he had the gun wrapped in a towel and he showed me like this. he said picked up and fired one shot. and about that time, harry britton came into the room and said, he's not dead yet. he is still breathing. shoot him again. so he said, i shot him again. and that shot killed him.
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and they put david's body in the back of high-res vw. and transported it to the site where they had already pre dug the grave so all they had to do is just lay his body in there and cover him up. >> but that was in the end of wolfe's tail. a year after the murder, he said, he got a call from harry britton. >> he had learned they were going to build a new walmart right there. >> where the bones were buried. >> where the bones were. and harry, michael wolfe said, told him you have to come back down here with the bones. that's in order. >> flew wolfe back to florida. >> michael says, that he went out there in the middle of the night and collected what he could find. put them in a trash bag. and then he went back to barbara britton's family house, and put the bones out for the trash in a plastic bag. >> michael wolfe's story seemed to tell it all. and to catch barbara britton in a leading role. and once she heard that story, detective velazquez was convinced barbara determined to
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keep david away from their son, was a full partner in his murder. where are the chances that either michael wolfe or harry britton forced her to take part in this scheme? >> forced? >> yeah. >> you don't have to force a willing participant. >> and you believe she was willing? >> yes. >> the detectives couldn't help remembering she said when barbara told her when she heard that david's bones had been identified. >> strangely enough, first thing she said to me was, how many bones do you have? >> come on. >> she had participated in retrieving those bones. and they thought they had gotten them all. when they had left about 50% behind. >> all this time, said the detective, she just knew barbara had been lying. and now she had the goods. we asked barbara about all this, of course. about her ex husband's allegations that she was deeply involved in the murder. but she denied it.
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you had no part in killing david? >> no, i did not. i had no knowledge. i have no part. and, you know, little lies here in there that might might keeps changing his story. i think he's just psychotic. i think is psychotic for the things that he has said. i was 21 back then. i was very, i don't think i could play much. you know? i'm not stupid. but i'm not that smart. you know? >> no, said barbara. it was all ex-husband michael wolfe's doing. his guilt, she said, made sense of his strange behavior during their time in arizona. particularly the weekend david disappeared. the weekend when, barber says, her ex-husband was not with her at home. >> he would always school on business trips. every time i asked him, he would tell me don't worry about it. i got business to take care of. >> but she knew nothing at all about the murder, she insisted. until the penny dropped during
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a conversation years later with her father. >> i'm like, i wonder what he's doing. i wonder if he's coming back. i wonder where he's at. what happened? he just be like, you don't have to worry. he's not around to bother you. >> what was that like to deal with? >> very, very rough. it's like, he's my dad. my dad. i could accept it. what satisfaction did it get? did it satisfy him? because it sure did is satisfy me. >> still, in december 2007, it was detective velazquez who got what she wanted. she worked hard to prove what she believed to be true. that barbara was an integral part of the plot to kill david jackson. and finally, now, barber britton was arrested and charged with murder. now, perhaps, a jury could answer the question. do you believe this woman? a woman whose hands literally shook. who's tears flowed at the mere mention of her departed
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ex-husband? do you believe the things she said? >> all the time we thought -- it's always been he's missing. >> "dateline" returns after the break. namaste... ...surprise parties. aww, you guys. dupixent helps prevent asthma attacks... ...for 3!... ...so i can du more of the things i love. dupixent is not for sudden breathing problems. it's an add-on-treatment for specific types of moderate-to-severe asthma that can improve lung function for better breathing in as little as two weeks. and can reduce, or even eliminate, oral steroids. and here's something important. dupixent can cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. get help right away if you have rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, tingling or numbness in your limbs. tell your doctor if you have a parasitic infection, and don't change or stop your asthma treatments, including steroids, without talking to your doctor. are you ready to du more with less asthma?
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donna velazquez. >> she made it happen, she was the instigator as well as being the one in the middle? >> i had no doubt in my mind that she was the catalyst. >> barbara, meanwhile, maintained her innocence. claimed there was a reason michael wolf lied about her that way. it was payback, she said, for something that happened when they were married. >> and here came another one of those odd stories. earlier, remember, the one suggesting drug running on david's delivery truck. now the story about michael and gun running. >> i was putting away laundry one day and i saw a bulge in a dress shirt pocket and there was quite a bit of money there. when he got home from work that tonight, i confronted him on it and he told me that he was doing gun runs to haiti. >> barbara said she told the police about his alleged gun running. >> and he got mad and he even
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told a cell mate of his that that's it, you know? >> pay the price? >> and i was -- yes. >> interesting, but true. wolfe hasn't commented. but keith seltzer, barbara's defense attorney's expressed stick suspected wolfe had a more practical motive. >> michael wolfe was offered a 15-year plea bargain. to take 15 years and testify against whoever is accomplices might be -- >> sure. >> lo and behold the week after the jury convicts them a first degree murder, there was an option at that point to maybe get that 15 years back. that was his motivation. >> in other words, santa barbara's attorney, wolfe would sell out barbara anyway he could to get a reduced sentence. of course, there was the uncomfortable fact that the two unprompted confessions he'd made to his ex wives, confessions in which heap portrait barbara as a sort of black widow intent of having david killed. >> well, there are two versions
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that he gave to each of those ex-wives. >> the stories we're not entirely consistent, said attorney seltzer. besides, he said, barbara was at home in arizona the night of the murder. how does he know that? >> a phone bill from her mother's home, placing calls to her home in arizona that night, where nobody else could have been there. >> what's a phone bill of that age doing lying around somewhere, where it can be grabbed for evidence by the defendant? >> the father was a meticulous record keeper. >> what's to say that wasn't in that swing service who picked it up? >> michael wolfe testified in his first deposition they had no answering machine. >> could have been somebody else in the house? >> we question mr. wolfe about that and he said there was nobody there. >> but as the defense prepared for trial in december of 2010, something changed. >> there is new evidence discovered. >> lady bandell was the prosecutor who inherited the case. >> that new evidence would be considered and jailhouse snitch. he came forward and stated that
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michael wolfe told him he fabricated the entire story about barbara participating in the murder of david jackson. >> particular jailhouse snitch was well known, the da said. mostly for the false information he provided. still, after three years in jail, it was enough to get barber released and placed on house arrest, pending trial. and then? prosecutor bandell met michael wolfe to ask him about testifying against barbara. didn't go well. >> the blow came to me when he said what am i getting in return? what will my sentence be reduced to? >> now the state reassessed its options. >> i think, with any case, you are taking a 50/50 chance. the lack of forensics, the lack of physical evidence, the jury wants to see but most importantly, again, the fact you have a codefendant who is giving the testimony, which was the foundation of this prosecution who wanted something in return. >> the people who conducted the
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investigation, you know, deep down in their guts are sure that she was at the center of it? did you also sink think so? >> when i think as a person and but i think as a prosecutor i have to keep them separate. and while i may have believed that barbara was a full participant in this, what i can prove is totally different. >> so, you made an offer? >> we made an offer. >> barbara britton was offered two more years of house arrest and eight years of probation. she would avoid trial, but she had to plead guilty to accessory after the fact in david's murder, meaning she acknowledged knowing about the crime but only after it occurred. something she'd always denied. >> you have to remember, i had the option to go to trial and take it. it's just... taking a chance with 12 to 14 other -- >> jurors who would hear a story about a mother harry control freak who very cleverly manipulated men to get them to
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do this awful thing? >> right. the only know what you are there for. you can have somewhat of an opinion. >> even though she accepted the deal, barbara was not happy. true, there is no prison time, but she was a felon now. >> you have a... title over your head. it's life-changing. it's very life-changing. >> these were just hard to tell the truth the whole truth nothing but the truth? >> yes, i do. >> detective velazquez joined david's family at barbara sentencing hearing. >> you are keep stipulation and the fact it's a guilty plea? >> yes, judge. >> okay. >> judge, for the record, david jackson's mother would like to speak. judy? >> of course. >> david's mother right a victim impact statement. >> because if you barbara, i cried endlessly for 24 years. i've wanted to die myself to be with david. >> her gaze fixed on the woman her son once loved. >> you are guilty.
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michael wolfe is where he should be, in prison. your father is where he should be, and you will join him one day because that is where you should be. in hell. >> david's brother, mark, was not at all sure the justice was served. >> if you lose on trial, that's gods will. you can't control that. but i think it should have gone to trial. i think society in two years when she comes out for house forest needs to worry. >> a picture of david. >> but his mother? >> there is justice. yes. and she's a felon now for life. she's gotta live with all that. i don't. oh my god, every time i get out of bed in the morning, one leg sits guilty, one says fell in. >> and as for the detective who so doggedly pursued the case who now thinks a murderer got away. >> at first, i was disappointed. so, i had to make peace with it. when i put my head down on the pillow at night, at the end of
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the day, she's a felon. mentally, when you are in prison here, do you ever escape that? >> as for barbara, she spent the remainder of her house arrest and her father's home. that old vw the one that allegedly carried david's body the night he was killed. still kept outside. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. r watching >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> i said, have you ever contemplated committing the perfect murder? and he said, yes. the key element to that is making sure that someone is caught. once i have somebody, they will stop looking and that's how you can get away. >> a cold blooded killing, a

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