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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  July 17, 2021 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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and the things they chose to do to him. i would rather remember the loving times we had together. they're not going to take that away from me. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline". i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. i'm craig melvin, and i'm natalie morales, and this is dateline. >> what god no, please, this cannot be real. >> a teenager, home alone in the night of terror. >> i would just stare out the window and try and figure out how scared she must of been. >> on her body, like a signature, a handprint in blood. >> it was a crime of passion. there's a lot of anger involved
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in this. >> but how long? because that handprint doesn't belong to the man police put in prison. >> the anger just surged through me. >> now, a mother turns detective. >> her words to me were, i just want to know what happened to my daughter. >> join in as she hunts for the killer and searches for the truth. >> i wanted to put my fist through the tv. >> it still brings the hair up the back of my neck. >> hello, and welcome to dateline. a confession can wake up murder investigation wide open. soon after 19 angie was found stabbed, a local named christopher tapp admitted he was one of her killers. police reported every grisly
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detail that convinced that they had cracked the case. but years later, there was someone else who thought those tapes might tell a different story. here is keith morrison with "the confession" what. >> they kept him here, deep inside the multiple walls and the arm doors, and the roles, and rolls of razor wire. the confessed stab are, the convicted killer that sweet young woman all those years ago. he's lucky to be alive, probably. given the nature of the crime and the appeal from that girl's mother, for the death sentence. which made with that mother told us later on very puzzling, indeed. >> let him go. it's the only thing his mother has. it's only her only child. will let him go. >> her name is carol dodge and the amazing story she would tell us began on the worst of
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her life. it was a thursday june 13th, 1996 midmorning. she placed a call to a beauty salon to talk to her daughter, angie. >> why dialed angie's at work. and a lady answered. i said this is carol dodge and she said, she's been found dead. >> on the phone? >> and i remember thinking, god no, please no. this can't be real. >> happen to turn out the night before, in a tiny second floor walk up where an 18 year old hug just started to build her life. stabbed to death. her throat cut. and carroll was haunted by a conversation sheet had with angie that very weak. >> that's when she said to me, you know mom, i did something very stupid. >> did you say to her, what did you do? >> no i didn't want to pry. >> what could've been, that that something stupid? could it lead to murder?
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>> well idaho falls, a big blue heaven above, dazzling warm and temple below to welcome the town, and a signal of a beacon of american virtue. a nice place to raise a family. three dodge boys and one girl named angie whose birth occasioned, brother brent, remembers, the biggest celebration of all. >> it was a miracle for my parents. >> little angie is one of those kids who learned about independence early on. she grew up busy and strong and stubborn. >> and she was five, 11, and she was strong. >> but of course big could be a problem for a girl. as a teenager she was too tall, too awkward. she struggled. and to make it worse, her parents marriage fell apart. >> that's when angie we went and made friends with whoever accepted her. >> among angie keith morrison's
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new friends was jessica martinez. >> back then carol worried a lot about those friends. didn't know that they, like angie, had big plans. >> she wanted to go to college and be the best person she could be. >> then suddenly, in this little apartment, her life was over. and carol stricken and dazed endured a murder investigation. >> we clearly thought that there was some sort of relationship there, it was a crime of passion. >> her other friends seem to have alibis to. so they turn to the physical evidence, like this bloody handprint on angie's stomach. must have been left after she was dead, they figured. when her killer did something quite beyond sick. pulled on her pants, pulled up
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her shirt, left a deposit of semen on her body, his mark, and his dna. >> there's a lot of anger, a lot of humiliation involved in this. >> and frustration for the cops because that dna didn't match any of their possible suspects. month after month, they chased leads into disappointing dead ends, and all the while, carol dodge hunted the investigation, does preferring formation, begging them, find the killer. >> i drove to the police department every day that they were open. >> and then one day, seven months later, dead of winter, january 1987, in nevada, they broke the case wide open. in custody was a young man named benjamin hobbs. one of her least savory friends. he was now charged with sexually assaulting a woman at nightfall. some familiar?
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so when detective was -- detective was fuhriman began talking to his friends. >> why did you think you're down? they're >> on this i don't know. >> one of whom is 20 year old christopher tapp, he was no felon, but he was an admitted drug-y. and would you know, well christopher tapp had a bit of a history -- >> he was. i was trying to help him out. >> i trust you, and hopefully you trust me okay? >> yes he trusted him but he did know anything about angie's murder. >> if i did say anything -- know about this, i would say -- >> and having made his statement. went tapp home, in the clear apparently. a couple of days later, detectives asked him to come downtown again. >> i told him, what are you
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doing? this is a murder case. >> this is tapp's mother vera. she was afraid that her son was talking himself into big trouble. he said >> he said mom, i don't have anything to hide. >> but that didn't quite work out that way. before long, christopher tapp wrote a statement for police. he said that was hobbs killed her and i left it off as though it was a joke. >> after over the course of several, weeks they had to happen here nine times. the even gave him an immunity deal and that is when mr. tapp 's story began to evolve. he seemed to be there, even held her down, he admitted. and stabbed her, and he said he even stopped her once himself. the motive? revenge. what angie had been meddling in
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hubs marriage and he did like that one bit. >> so detectives questioned him and denied all part of the murder. >> i don't know, that's why i'm asking you. because if she was, my dna will prove my innocence right there. >> and lo and behold, he was right. that dna results came back, and the semen found on angie's body did not belong to hobbs or tapp. neither one of them. >> what went through your heads when the dna results came back and it showed that the attacker was not them? >> one word, frustration. >> but the detectives decided that didn't mean that christopher was lying or that their theory of the crime was wrong. it could only mean, they decided, that they needed to expand the theory. hobbs tapp and tapp -- the mystery dna must of come from a third man, a third
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attacker. so they put tapp back into the interrogation room and asked him if a third man was involved in the crime. and sure enough tapp said that yes there was a third man. but no matter how many times detectives as, he wouldn't tell them who it was. so prosecutors made a decision, if tapp wasn't going to tell them the whole truth, he would get his deal. christopher tapp was charged with murder, but only christopher you. not enough evidence to go after hobbs or anyone else. the vertical carol dodge and surprise. but one look at christopher tapp she knew, she wanted him dead. >> i mean i was finally looking somebody in the eye i felt was the devil who had taken my daughter's life. >> was tapp found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for murder and 20 years for rape.
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which is when carol dodge's odyssey began. full of danger and surprise and a disturbing discovery. >> one discovery so disturbing, and his mother reached out for help. >> the anger surged through me. >> it still brings up the hair on the back of my neck. >> when dateline continues. teline continues you'll find better bedtime stories. you'll find a better life is in store at miracle-ear, when you experience the exclusive miracle-ear advantage. it starts with our free hearing assessment. plus innovative products that fit your needs and budget. with free service and adjustments for life. we're so confident we can improve your life, we're offering a 30-day risk-free trial. call 1-800-miracle today and experience the miracle-ear advantage for yourself. try one a day 50+ multivitamin gummies. with vitamins c, d & zinc for immunity support. plus 8 b-vitamins for brain support.
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safely tucked away at state prison. his alleged accomplice hobbs was never charged with andes murder. the and the police told karow carroll, and easement mother, one said that they still can find the man. that's when carroll became, her word, obsessed. if the police can trap down her daughters killer, then she would. >> the anger just surged through me, and that's when i went to the streets and i literally drove 60,000 miles on my truck searching for her killer. >> you put your way yourself in harm's way? >> absolutely. i -- want you need to leave before somebody hurt you. >> that's how the days and weeks past. >> i had my head -- i had a gun put my head one night. >> she parked outside of the apartment where and she was
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murdered. i would stare at the house, stared the windows. and try and figure out how scared she must of been. >> something else cowl can stop doing. reading police reports. practically memorizing them. >> i don't sleep, i get up and i just go, what part of this donor stand? >> it did make sense. >> none of it made sense. >> and in one of those reports, carol found a phrase which, the more she read, it sounded out of place in the dna world. it was about cuba cares which, in addition to the semen found on angie's body. >> it was written in this lab report that it was similar, or same, as the victim. and i said to myself, it's either angie's or it's not angie's. it cannot be an either or. not in today's scientific world. >> then carol remembered reading an article about internationally dna known expert who just happen to live
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and work in idaho. >> how does it feel to be recognized as a dna expert? >> it's fun. i did fruit flies, nobody invited me to talk on television. >> this is the expert, doctor greg hampikian amy fruit fly geneticist who now spreads his infectious enthusiasm at boise state university. but his work is not all done in the classroom, in fact his own path changed back in 2004 when he was asked to test some dna which would lead a innocent man to be released from jail in georgia. he wrote a book on that. and just like that, the doctor found a new calling. hampikian in is now in high demand. he was in a team credited for freeing mr. knox. and in a spare time, he is the
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founder of the idaho innocence project. >> honestly, i've worked on 13 exonerations now. for the ones in georgia, they found the actual perpetrators. so to those four guys, i'm the guilty project. >> so now the coincidence you could not make up. the very weak carroll left a message to doctor hampikian asking for help, what the idaho innocence project will take on a new case, the case of the man who killed angie. the doctor called her back. >> her words to me were, i'll never forget, i just want to know what happened to my daughter. and it still brings the hair up on the back of my neck. >> did it surprise? you >> the knowledge surprised me. she turned all of that love and devotion for her daughter into a very careful record of this case.
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>> so she read that report to him. the one that said, the people cares found on angie's body were similar to, or the same as the victim. >> he goes, it's either hers or her not. and he asked where the hairs? and i said, i assume they're still an evidence. >> she called the white idaho falls police department, where the evidence had been store for all those years. what the people cares were sent to a crime lab where state of the art forensics shows that christopher was tapp there at the crime scene, wombat hobbs was there at the crime scene, or that there was a third man. it was a big question. huge. and the dna left no doubt. >> it was one person who did this in terms of the dna. >> one killer. the science said that there was no evidence that there were three attackers in angie's apartment that night as the
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police had theorized. but just one. and that remarkable news could mean only one thing. that these, according to the innocence project, what christopher tapp's story was a false confession. he was not there. he was a an innocent man. the theory of multiple killers? ridiculous thinks hampikian. >> to think that there is a group of killers who know about dna, what did they do, plant someone else is cnn semen and dna and cleaned up their own prints? >> so this had to mean that chris top was innocent. this came down like a hammer on the head on angie's mother's head. >> i was extremely angry. -- the blitz to the same person, it's not chris tapp. >> so why did you do?
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>> i met with the chief and i asked for copies of all of the videotapes. >> those videotapes, the ones in which chris tapp had confessed to taking part of the murder, and moore accounts, carroll knew more about the case more than anyone. but one thing she did not do was watch more than 20 hours of the chris tapp interrogation. and now she did, watched every minute. when she was done, carol dodge was a changed woman with a brand-new case. >> coming up, the tale of the tapes. what exactly what she found? >> maybe it's gonna jog some memories for you. and we're gonna go from there. >> when dateline continues. n dateline continues
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after her daughter's murder, the ground beneath carol dodge 's feet was quaking. new dna tests indicated that none of the -- pointed instead to some mystery man still at large. and the womanhood relentlessly brought it to the idaho falls wall police to find her daughters killer, began doubting everything those detectives told her. >> for 13 years they had me
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convinced that tapp was there. they kept saying, he confessed, carol, he confessed. >> but was it a real confession? carol as for, and got, a complete set of tapes, video taped confessions. and what she saw amazed her. by this time, of course, she knew so much more than she knew a decade before. knew that then detective fuhriman had been a school resource officer, well known to the young christopher tapp. >> i trust you. and hopefully you trust me, okay? >> he kept telling chris, trust me, we go way back, chris. and i thought that he was taught to respect adults. >> she watched as chris insisted he knew nothing. and then she saw the detectives as they're trying to do subtly make tapp an active participant. >> let's say that you're there
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with christopher -- >> hypothetically chris, how do you think it happened? >> and i remember chris saying, you mean like a tv show? >> next she saw police administering polygraph, esther after polygraph and always with the same result. they would say that he was deceptive. and when he was promised immunity, his story about benjamin hobbs changed. >> he got a knife. and he just heard to qatar. >> but perhaps was troubled carroll most was seeing how confused tapp was. even ten days after his first interview. he still seem not to know what's house and you lived in. >> then she, like, live on the corner? or was it. it was in the middle of the block. >> police, carol noted, kept correcting him. for a guy who had taken part in a murder, he didn't seem to know the layout of angie's apartment. >> why don't you try and draw? it sometimes it's easier if you
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-- if you can draw it out. >> when they asked him to draw it? he could not do it. take this even, inadvertently, showed him where the murder occurred. >> bathrooms back here. and the bedroom was, like, back here. no the bedrooms there. >> oh yes, and there was more. police had always told carole that chris tapp did only a killer would know. the position, the location, because she was wearing. but now kyle could see first off on tape, the reason why chris would know those things -- >> she was stunned that police would show him photos of the crime scene. >> i want you to tell us if that's how you remember, it maybe is going to jog some memories for you. and we're gonna go from there. >> here's times where i wanted to put my fist through the tv. >> and finally, remember that the police theory of the crime after dna didn't match tap or hobbs, was a three people
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committed the murder together. the detectives spent hours, literally, trying to drag the name of that third man out of tapp the. and when carroll saw the tape, we'll, you watch it. >> the name, nothing comes to my head. it was in -- it wasn't russ. i mean. mike is his first name, okay? mickelson, mickelson. >> by the time he had gone through all those tapes, but did you think about chris tapp the man you believed all those years -- >> how could they do this to me? how could they managed to keep someone in prison for all these years and it's a possibility that it's not there? >> and after that eureka moment, carol dodge made a decision. she would do more than search to find for her daughters killer. she would actively work to free christopher tapp the only man convicted of the murder. >> i think that chris is case truly got taken seriously after i made my contact with boise
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state. >> she was the first victims family member to come forward to work on in innocence project the. she is part of a group of people that came forward and said, you know at, i just want to know what happened. >> but the man who is now on his side, chris tapp was face to face with too uncomfortable truths. one, years of appeals had done nothing to overturn his conviction and prison sentence. and to, the detective who put him behind bars had gone on to a much more powerful position in idaho falls and he was still absolutely certain that chris tapp was as guilty as sin. >> the former detective reveals one makes them so sure of taps guilt. coming up. >> he took us into the bedroom, and relived that night. and you could see it on his face. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues
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here's what's happening. over 60 people were decontaminated after being exposed to dangerous chemicals at a six flags water park in spring, texas. 26 people went to the hospital, including a three year old child. the cause of the league is not known. three fully vaccinated texas democrats have tested positive for covid in washington d.c.. the first positive test was on friday. with two more positive tests on saturday. no other representatives have tested positive yet. now back to "dateline". >> welcome back to "dateline". i'm craig melvin. more than a dozen years had passed since the merger of angie dodge. convicted killer chris tapp, had it admitted his role in the crime. but as angie's mother as carol, was convinced that chris's confession was course. not true, said the investigators.
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and what made them so confident? well, we asked them and were told about something that could not be found on the tapes. here again is keith morrison with "the confession". >> by the time we visited the city of idaho falls in march of 2012, the angie dodge murder case was to some, just a piece of city history. but to idaho's innocence project and its founder doctor greg hampikian, it was a miscarriage of justice. >> if there is dna, for god sakes, believe the science. people are not that accurate. the dna is very precise. >> and 15 years after the murder of her daughter, angie's own mother, carol dodge, had done what was once unthinkable. she had joined forces with the innocence project. >> the city of idaho falls has got it wrong. >> you want somebody to take you seriously? >> yes. >> in the years since the murder, finding angie's killer
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had become carol's reason for living. through three heart attacks. the death of an estranged husband. on often on battles with the idaho falls police. and now she was going to have to fight that power in a whole new way. because -- remember jared fuhriman, the detective who befriended chris tapp, in a previous position as school resources officer? >> the fellow who got that confession has gone on to become the mayor of the town. >> true. >> does that have anything to do with it as far as you know? >> people are going to protect their story, without looking any deeper and saying, is this really accurate? >> so, the idaho falls police had taken a false confession. put the wrong man in prison. and failed to find the real killer? when we spoke to the former detective, then mayor, jared fuhriman, he said no, just not true. and how did he know? it was fuhriman who took tapp to visit the crime scene during
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some of those many interviews, all those years ago. >> let me tell you, they weren't in the room with me when he took us up the stairs. took us into the bedroom and relived that night. and you could see it on his face. he was reliving it. >> of course, the critics wouldn't be able to see that because it was one of the only times during the investigation when the police did not videotape chris tapp. but -- >> i have no doubts in my mind that chris tapp was part of that on the side. >> but you can't fake anything. >> while you can. because what is it? 25% of all dna resolved cases where somebody is released from prison it turns out there was a false confession. people do confessed to things they didn't do. >> we know that. but when people confess to crimes they don't do, they don't know the minute details of the case. and chris new and knows the minute details of that case.
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>> he of course claims that he knows them because he was fed them. >> we would politely disagree with that. >> is it possible, at least, that there was some suggestion involved in these things before he actually said? them >> for this for us to sit and say there's absolutely no possibility anything could've happened, we can't say things like. that we can say that we have reviewed those tapes, over and over. we had a jury who reviewed those tapes. >> two guys who interviewed this person, over and over again, i found that in the first interview, the second interview, third interview, the fourth, the fifth, he lied like a sidewalk. then you finally get to the seventh interview about the gospel truth. >> go, absolutely. not during each of the interviews he was bringing out into information that was. the color close he was wearing. the position of the clothes. how many times she was stabbed. the diagram of the room. >> interesting. many times. as the interviews progressed, chris tapp claimed to know
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nothing about the clothes angie dodge was wearing. >> do you remember what she had on? >> no, i just saw a lot of blood. >> do you remember if she was clothes, unclothed? >> i don't know. >> but, some details in the interview could be interpreted to back up the claims by police. once, for example, before was tapp shown the crime scene photos, he seems to in a guessing kind of we know what angie was wearing. >> i mean, the only thing that comes even halfway close in my mind is a t-shirt and sweats. >> and although he is wrong about the color of her clothes, after being asked many times if her clothes were half on or half off. or pulled up or push down. he does correctly say this about her pants. >> like, her sweats were half on. one leg. >> also, said the detectives, chris talked about ben hobbs hitting angie behind the air and -- >> we have the evidence to back it. we have bruising where he says that ben hit her.
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>> so, detectives insisted they were. right ben hobbs was the ringleader. chris tapp was involved in the attack. an unknown third man left the dna in the form of semen. three attackers. the identity of the third, still a secret. unrevealed by either of the other to all those years later. and about the fact that carol dodge now disagreed with their theory i was supporting chris tapp, the only man in prison for the murder? >> what's it like to know that carol is now actively campaigning for his release? believes he's an innocent man? >> i think it's part of the process. in some respects, her heart has been broken. >> and she's convinced you got the wrong guy? >> when i heard that i was genuinely surprised. >> it's been a rollercoaster ride for 16 years for her. she's looking for closure. tomorrow or the next day, chris could be guilty in her mind again. >> so, perhaps now, would be a good time to talk to the man in the middle of all of this.
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the serial confessor, christopher tapp. >> coming up -- >> i didn't kill nobody. >> so, why would he confess? when "dateline" continues. teline" continues. or atopic dermatitis under control? hide our skin? not us. because dupixent targets a root cause of eczema, it helps heal your skin from within, keeping you one step ahead of it. and for kids ages 6 and up, that means clearer skin, and noticeably less itch. hide my skin? not me. by helping to control eczema with dupixent, you can change how their skin looks and feels. and that's the kind of change you notice. hide my skin? not me. 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. when you help heal your skin from within,
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welcome back to the world. viking. exploring the world in comfort... once again. >> there comes a time in every tale to meet the man at the center of the story. and here he is. christopher tapp. no longer the aimless pot head
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you saw in those videotapes in 1997. when we met him he was a man who had done more than a decade of hard time. as people look at you, what do you most want them to know about you? >> i've been so wronged all these years. how could the individuals do something to another human being like they've done to me? >> you're an innocent man? >> yes, sir, i am. of course, everybody imprison is innocent, right? if >> if you look at the whole entire case, the dna, none of it points to me. >> on that point there is little dispute, of course. but how did chris tapp get here? that's a familiar story to many families. the sweet little boy shown in all these pictures of a typical childhood. carefully kept by his mom, vera, started smoking marijuana at 13. then at 16, turned to meth. chris dropped out of high school.
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got and stayed high, every minute he could, he says. hanging out down by the river in idaho falls with all those kids his mother warned him about. and that he said, is how his name came up after the murder of angie dodge. when police were scouring the city for suspects who might match that the any left behind after the murder. so, to, he was asked to submit the any. did you think anything of that? >> no. i had no rhyme, no reason to be scared. >> and then? not a word. for months. until, you'll recall, january of 1997, when was tapp brought in for questioning after his friend ben hobbs was arrested for a nevada sexual attack. which police said, with similar to the murder of angie dodge. >> i didn't know what i was burying brought in for. >> you didn't connect it with the angie thing at all? >> no, i thought i was going in for drugs. >> as you've yet seen over the course of several weeks, chris tapp soon went from saying he
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knew nothing about angie's murder. to being the only man charged in the case. just as his mother warned him. how is your mother during all of this? >> frantic. and i was honest with her. i said, i had nothing to do with this, month. and i try to explain to her, i didn't really confess. it took days to get to a story. we're actually made a confession. >> well, of course your story was it kept changing. >> very much a did. >> you went from saying i don't know anything about this to then saying will maybe ben had something to do with it. to then, well maybe there is a third guy involved. to, wait a minute, i was there. and oh, yes, i cut her. where did that come from? >> trying to give them what they wanted to. here just took pieces. >> wait a minute. but why would you say you cut her? >> because during that time, mr. fuhriman, he said, hypothetically even if you did cut her, is still won't matter. will be able to get you another deal.
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we'll be able to help you. you just need to help. us >> indeed. here it is. on tape. with then detective jared fuhriman, in charge of the interview. >> hypothetically, if chris tapp was holding on to as she's being cut. or chris tapp took part in the knife in any way, shape or form in cutting her. okay? >> but i didn't. >> would you listen? >> sorry. >> okay. hypothetically, i said. >> okay. if >> you took part in any of that, that's okay. because you're still here. you are still showing some good faith that you want to cooperate. and the prosecutor will reconsider another -- >> agreement? >> possible, exactly. >> you believe that story? >> hope, line and sinker. >> try and put yourself there right now and tell me what's going on inside your stomach and your brain. >> scared. trying to figure out what they want. just for them to leave me alone. >> lie? >> i didn't kill nobody. i was never there the night
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with the murder happened. they just kept focusing on, well if you were there. if you did do it. if you held a knife. it's okay. we will help you. so, like an idiot, i believed them. >> and then they charged with murder? >> yeah. >> by now, of course, chris tapp was fighting to clear his name. with the support not only of his own mother and the innocence project. but of carol dodge, the victims mother. carol dodge came around to your side. what was that like? >> it's an amazing feeling. and i appreciate her finally understanding that i'm innocent. >> and, as we spoke, for the first time in years, chris tapp had reason to feel one spark of possibility. someone in a position to change his future was going to listen. >> coming up -- a new chance at freedom. could that controversial confession get thrown out of
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court? >> if this condition goes, the state has almost no evidence. >> when "dateline" continues. ateline" continues nexgard is the flea and tick protection that's #1 with vets. it even prevents the infection that causes lyme disease. your vet trusts nexgard for her patients and her own dog. plus, its delicious beef flavor is #1 with dogs. ask your vet about nexgard. what can i du with less asthma? with dupixent, i can du more....beginners' yoga. plus, its delicious beef flavor is #1 with dogs. namaste... ...surprise parties. aww, you guys. dupixent helps prevent asthma attacks... ...for 3!... 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
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angie dodge was murdered on, a quiet street in idaho falls, something was about to change in the case of her confessed killer, big chris tapp. for the first time since his trial, a hearing on evidence
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was about to be held before a judge. and as chris he tapp entered the courtroom, he and his supporters finally heads reason for hope. not that the judge could review the evidence and just declare tapp innocent. no. this would have to be based strictly on points of law. the court of appeals had over the years thrown out all but one of tapp's videotaped interviews. that being the one where he said he took part in the crime. but in this hearing, it could be thrown out, to. if the court decided tapp believed he was in custody when he said those incriminating things. if he thought he was unable to leave this little room, because that would have violated his basic constitutional rights. tapp's attorney dennis benjamin and john thomas -- >> what's the best result of this? new trial or is it possible to have an exoneration. >> if this confession goes, the state has almost no evidence. >> i think they'd have to dismiss the case. >> the stakes could not have
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been higher for mr. tapp. his mother, vera, sat right behind him. carol dodge was there to. two of her sons also. >> there's got a lot at stake. if chris tapp walks free, then what? then it's who is the color? >> the prosecution would rely on the word of the detective who later became idaho falls mayor, jared fuhriman. fuhriman round the police interviews and said chris tapp was never technically in custody. >> was chris tapp free to leave? >> yes. >> that's funny, chris tapp's or geared when it was their turn. how could a 20 year old who had been arrested twice and watched as the door was actually barred during some of his interviews -- >> the only reason i'm doing this is so nobody comes in, okay? >> how could that young man who had been questioned on and off for nearly a month. who spent more than a week of that time actually locked up in jail. who watched as immunity deals were offered and then later torn up. how could that kid, the lawyer asked, be expected to believe
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he could leave whenever he wanted? >> did you think that if you decided not to talk to the police that you are going to be able to go home? >> no. i would not have been allowed to go home. >> but tapp had to acknowledge when he was questioned by the prosecutors, he had, indeed, lied over the years. many times. including in sworn affidavits used in past appeals. you've admitted the fact that you lied on any number of occasions. and if you lied before, how can we believe you now? >> of course you're gonna see i'm a liar now. he's just trying to save himself. but it's the truth. i'm innocent. i've never committed this crime. >> when testimony was over, it was up to the judge. would he order a new trial for chris tapp? or would he send it back to prison? maybe, for good. and then, for months later, a ruling. chris tapp was never threatened, restraint, handcuffed, said the judge. and thus, was not in custody.
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appeal, denied. >> the court is lying, but the truth will set me through free someday. >> and you're convinced of that? >> as the years go on, yeah. >> there were more motions. more hearings. but always the same result. and then, two decades after his conviction in march, 2017, a stunning twist. prosecutors offered chris tapp a plea deal. downgrading his conviction to second degree murder and vacating his rape conviction. chris had a decision to make. this was not an exoneration. he'd still be a killer in the eyes of the law. but he'd be out of prison. he accepted and was re-sentenced to time served. no probation or parole. after 20 years behind bars, he left the hearing a free man. >> how are you feeling? >> overwhelmed. completely, totally
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overwhelmed. >> for a doctor greg hampikian of the idaho innocence project, the answer to who killed angie dodge still rested in science. he said that dna left at the scene points to the simplest explanation. not to the three men. not even to. just one. >> secrets can be kept, but science reveals those secrets. somebody went in and committed a typical, violent, rape murder. and left typical evidence. there's no other person there by danny. where is he? >> and then, in may 2019, a long awaited breakthrough. using the newest advancement known as genetic genealogy, investigators finally matched their dna. >> today we're here to announce we've arrested brian leigh dripps. >> it belonged to a man named brian dripps, a neighbor who lived across the street from angie when she was killed.
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>> dripps was charged with the rape and murder of the teenager. it was an emotional moment for a angie's mother carol, who is there at the press conference. >> he orchestrated the whole thing. >> for chris tapp, the break in the case was a new beginning. in july, 2019, a judge finally vacated his murder conviction. and this time he left the court, not only a free man, but a fully exonerated one. [applause] >> i'm thankful that my mother will know but this last name is fully. that's the most important thing to me in this world. >> brian dripps on the other hand, who had lived to free all those years, atlas faced the consequences. he pleaded guilty to both the rape and murder of angie dodge. and was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years to life. as for carol dodge, the idaho
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falls police department called her a warrior. adding that over the years, many of their investigators said they were inspired to do more. try harder. and innovate. because of her fierce love for her daughter he. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline". i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. yo >>tching i was completely baffled at how this could've happened. >> i didn't know anyone who wished anna any harm. nobody >> she was stunning. model like. she had that personality that happiness phone. >> men found anna irresistible. >> i see her, my angel of. like >> i called her my muse. >> they wrote her poetry. gave her gift. >> how much money did you give anna? >> $46,000. >> is he some kind of sugar daddy? >> that's what it appears to


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