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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  July 31, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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>> haven't even looked at it. >> where'd you put it? >> it's in my mom's basement. she let's moved a couple of times, and it's in her basement. i'm craig i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> he says they watch over dead, jimmy, they do. >> risk your life? >> what if i get shanked, what if i get killed. >> to go undercover into one of the country's most dangerous prisons. >> once they stepped out the door, i was on my own. >> to help catch a killer. >> she had such a zest for life. >> young girls were being murdered.
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>> i can't imagine sending my daughter off to school and never seeing her again. >> and investigators needed help to get a confession. >> if anybody could pull it off, he would probably be the one to be able to pull it off. >> this snitch was different. he was already a convicted felon. if it worked, he could win his freedom. if it didn't, he could lose his life. >> they had your back. >> they had my back. >> least you thought. >> that's what i thought. hello and welcome to "dateline j jimmy king was offered a special deal, if he could get a confession, he could walk away a
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free man getting in was the easy part. getting out was much harder. here's leicester holt with "the inside man." >> two enemies who didn't trust each other faced off across a table. one of them in handcuffs was a clever con named jimmy keene. the other a hard-charging prosecutor. >> in court he called me the john gotti of kankakee. >> the prisoner was worried sick. larry beaumont, the prosecutor that convicted keene and put him behind bars suddenly wanted to talk, a top secret meeting, no less. what more could he do to jimmy? >> he was the last person i expected to hear from. he was my biggest fear. >> but keene's fears went off the chart when the prosecutor slid an accordion file in his direction. on top was a grisly photo of a dead girl. >> i flipped to the next page,
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and here's another young dead, mutilated girl. i'm thinking, whoa, wait a second. >> he's probably them at this point that you're about to charge him with something else. >> yeah, because you know, i had been pretty rough on him in the initial prosecution. >> jimmy was in the dark. he had no idea the crazy scheme beaumont had in mind. >> he says, jimmy, listen, he goes, this is something that we have another person on, he has killed many, many young women, and i personally think you're the one that can help us with this. >> "this" turned out to be an investigation to try and catch a suspected serial killer. beaumont, an outside the box thinker, believed this convict, jimmy keene, was the one who could somehow crack the case. taking on a unique and deadly mission. >> i realized how serious it was and also realized the danger of it. >> what he couldn't know was how
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such a daring mission would change his world and the person he was forever. if this all seems fodder for a hollywood movie, brad pitt would agree. the megastar who was benjamin button, then moneyball's billy beane, is interested in playing none other than jimmy keene. >> brad pitt likes the fact that this guy jimmy keene risked his life to try to find what he could find. >> clearly, this guy is one of a kind. charismatic, conceited, courageous and complicated. from an early age, he had personality, charm, cockiness that made him dream a hollywood star might one day want to play him in the movies. his first big brush with fame came on the football field. >> everybody called you the assassin. in football. that was a good thing, i take it. >> yes. i was taught by my dad at a young age, if you don't hit that young age, he says, son, if you
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don't hit that guy first, he is going to hit you and hurt you first. >> a superstar athlete and mr. popularity in high school, jimmy seemed to have it all as a big fish in the river city of kankakee, illinois, a blue collar town south of chicago. >> i was most valuable player, i was captain of the team every year that i played. >> jimmy grew up in the shadow of his father, big jim, a giant of a man who was a cop, fireman, and hero to his son. >> he was my best friend. you know, he was my backbone in pretty much everything i did. >> but all of keene's grand potential would be put in peril by a terrible choice he made as a teenager. he began selling drugs. he started small, peddling bags of marijuana here in this kankakee park. then he expanded to cocaine, and at the tender age of 17, he moved to chicago where the business and profits exploded. he was now a big fish in a bigger pond. lake michigan, to be exact. he was his own in-crowd, fast
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cars and souped-up living. >> all the hot spots, all the big nightclubs, all the owners that i was in tight with. i would come in and have carte blanche in every place i went to. >> were you feeling invincible? >> yeah, there was a certain point i would say there was an invincible feeling. >> did your pop know what you were doing, did he suspect? >> he didn't suspect until much, much later. >> it would be a rude awakening for both his dad and jimmy that day in 1996 when jimmy was just relaxing at one of his chicago homes. >> all of a sudden, kaboom, the whole door blew off the hinges, come flying into the house. and all of these dea, fbi, and locals all came in single file line with their automatic weapons, pointed at me, freeze, get on the ground, get on the ground. >> he had been caught in a drug sting spearheaded by a hard-nosed federal prosecutor, larry beaumont. >> we scooped him up in an operation that i ran, we called it "operation snowplow." >> in court, beaumont showed keene no mercy.
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>> he was coming at you on all fours, wasn't he? >> oh, yeah, he was a bulldog. >> jimmy was convicted and slapped with a ten-year sentence. >> it was a pretty stiff sentence. i knew he didn't expect ten years in that case. >> your father was in the courtroom. >> right. i knew i had let him down in probably one of the biggest ways you could let somebody down. >> keene's future was bleak. he faced ten years away from his glamorous life. the fancy cars, the big bucks. but in 1998, just when all hope seemed lost, his old nemesis, beaumont, came to him with an offer of freedom -- attached to that accordion file he'd slid across the table. in return, keene would have to agree to risk everything and become an undercover informant in one of the roughest prisons in the country, the maximum security lockup in springfield, missouri. it was a psychiatric prison with both hardcore killers and the criminally insane.
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>> these people all have life sentences, they're all in there and they're crazy loons and they have nothing better to do but to try to hurt you or kill you just for the fun. >> if he accepted beaumont's offer, keene's target would be the suspected serial killer, a mysterious man in a van. coming up, every picture tells a story. >> when i put the picture down, he flinched, raised his arms up, refused to look at the picture. . >> when "dateline" continues. 2 hours and 58 minutes. progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents, but we can protect your home and auto when you bundle with us.
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from several years before jimmy keen's businesses and connections, his life was non-stop fun and games. for a lot of hot clubs here in the '90s, this was a place you were doing business? >> i worked and played right here, yes, it was a good time. >> back then, he had no idea of the danger lurking 150 miles south and a lifestyle away that would change his life forever, rural, tranquil illinois was where they were raising their 15-year-old daughter jesse and two other children, far removed from big city crime. >> everybody knew who everybody was so they were more conscious
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of what was going on, usually. you could count on somebody to look after your kids, if they needed it. >> in 1993, jesse was a devoted sophomore devoted to home and family. >> jesse was a homebody, one be right back ride up and back, she was done and she would be watching "gone with the wind." >> one monday in september, jesse went out for a bike ride, minutes later, her sister noticed her beloved bike down on its side in the middle of the road. >> not on side of the road, the middle of the road. >> she would have put the kickstand down and lay it up. she would never knock it down. i immediately went down there, there was a bicycle. i knew something was wrong. >> gary miller was the dep tip sheriff dispatched to the scene. >> the more we learned about family and girl's background, we didn't feel she was staying
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away. >> it terrified all the investigators and of course, jesse's family. >>. >> we few she wasn't going to walk. . >> after six weeks, jesse's parents were realized, her body beaten and sexually violated was discovered in a cornfield. it can never be easy telling a parent that their child is dead? >> no, it wasn't, but at least we were able tell them, this is her, she's gone. we were able to erase all doubts. >> gary miller had a murder case to solve, and it was now a federal case involving prosecutor larry beaumont as well, since jessie's body had actually been found across the illinois state line. for the next year, miller did lots of leg work, but to no avail. >> every day you get up, are you thinking about this case? >> oh, every day.
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>> what have i missed? >> exactly. >> i know this case really shook him from the beginning. he would check any and all leads that would involve young girls and kind of run them down. >> then in late 1994, miller's persistence finally paid off. a man in a van had been reported chasing two teenage girls in jessie's hometown of georgetown. miller traced the van to a man named larry hall from wabash, indiana, a three-hour drive from georgetown. >> your heartbeat starting to pick up a little bit now? >> oh, yeah. thinking, this has got to be checked out. >> miller learned that hall was a gung ho civil war re-enactor, a pretend union soldier who traveled the midwest to fight fantasy battles. miller immediately drove to wabash to interview hall, who wasn't saying much. so miller showed him a photo of jessie roach. >> when i put the picture down, he flinched, raised his arm up, turned in his chair. and refused to look at the
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picture. >> convinced larry hall was hiding something, miller became obsessed with making a case against him. days later, back in illinois, miller turned up a huge lead. he found witnesses who vividly remember hall from a revolutionary war re-enactment in the georgetown area the very weekend before jessie was abducted. to them, hall stood out for his bushy muttonchops sideburns, but also for playing a soldier who was fighting the wrong war. >> he was wearing a civil war uniform, and he had a civil war hat. >> at a revolutionary war re-enactment. >> exactly. >> armed with this new information, deputy sheriff miller returned to wabash for a second crack at hall. this time, he pressed his suspect harder, stressing that hall's fellow re-enactors had seen him near georgetown.
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>> he came along to the point he said, well, you know, i go to so many re-enactments, i could have been there and i just don't remember because i go to a lot of them. >> he was giving a little more ground. >> right, yeah. >> miller seized the opening and kept at it. finally he said hall came clean and confessed that he abducted, sexually violated, and strangled jessie roach to death. how much detail did he give you about the killing of jessica roach? >> very good detail, what he actually did and what took place. >> not only that, miller says larry hall confessed to other killings, including a co-ed from indiana wesleyan university in nearby marion, indiana, named tricia reitler. . >> he did say he was involved in reitler. >> deputy miller didn't know much about tricia, he called on the local indiana police handling that case. but when marion detective jay kay and other indiana cops arrived, hall was suddenly
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telling a much different story. he denied confessing to any killing, including jessie's and tricia's. what's more, he claimed it was all a misunderstanding about disturbing dreams he had. >> he takes us out to a location where "in my dreams i strangled here and left her lay here." we searched the woods and searched the area and never really found anything. >> the indiana cops familiar with hall were not at all surprised by his actions. some of them like jay kay thought hall might be a wannabe, a pretender who gets his kicks from confessing to crimes he didn't commit. is it possible he's simply obsessed with these cases but not involved? >> there's no doubt in my mind he does follow these cases, that he does read and is attracted to cases all over the country, you know, so the question does come is he a wannabe? >> deputy sheriff miller and prosecutor beaumont, however, felt certain they had a real
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killer on their hands, a serial killer with a unique m.o. he would drive cross country to re-enactments where he'd play fantasy soldier, then prey on young women and kill for real. >> the fbi started discovering girls that were, in fact, missing at these various areas at the time larry hall would have been there. >> but the only case for which prosecutors had sufficient evidence was jessie roach's. larry hall was arrested in connection with her death, even though he denied making that confession to miller. hall went on trial in 1995. as a prosecutor, what's the best card you're holding? >> we had a statement, his confession, said he did it. >> beaumont called deputy sheriff miller to the stand to testify that hall had indeed admitted that he abducted and killed jessie after he spotted her with her bicycle. >> she was walking her bike at that point. >> miller testified that in his confession, hall gave him a detail that only the killer
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would know, that jessie was not riding her bike but walking it, a safety precaution the roaches insisted she follow when she was on their narrow road. >> that was never in the press, that she was walking her bike that day. >> right. >> when you heard that, did that give more credence to the story? >> oh, yeah, that just sealed it for me. i knew. i knew that he was the one. >> a jury unanimously agreed. it took just three hours to convict larry hall. but prosecutor beaumont believed this was just the tip of the iceberg. he felt certain hall was a serial killer, and now he had to find a way to prove it. so he began investigating tricia reitler's abduction, a case that wasn't his for a family he didn't even know. >> i can't imagine sending my daughter to school and never seeing her again. >> and he came up with an outside the box scheme to get hall, which would risk the life of that charismatic convict he had just put away for dealing
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drugs. jimmy keene. >> what happens when i've got to deal with all these crazy killers and stuff? what if i get shanked, what if i get killed? am i going to survive this? . >> jimmy's get out of free card comes with a he wasry price. >> coming up. >> they had my back. >> they had your back? >> that's what i thought. >> when "inside man" continues. our new scented oils give you our best smelling scents. now crafted with more natural ingredients and infused with essential oils that are 100% natural.
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people typically don't admit murder, sexual assaults and murders, to police officers unless in fact they probably have done it, so it was clear we felt he was responsible for the >> she had such a zest for life, and she'd walk in the room and everybody knew she was there. >> tricia reitler, a 19-year-old psych major at indiana wesleyan university, was on the way to becoming a family counselor. >> her goal was to be able to put families back together again. >> then in march 1993, donna and gary reitler receive that late-night phone call every parent dreads. a cop from marion, indiana, was on the line. >> he said, "do you know where tricia is?" in my heart i knew something was drastically wrong.
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>> tricia had walked to an off-campus supermarket and never returned to her dorm.arstill wa. >> and we have no answers, and somebody out there, that's what eats at me, somebody out there has that answer for us. >> tricia reitler wasn't even prosecutor beaumont's case, but he was deeply moved by her parents. >> that was always a horrible crime to me. i knew about the facts of the case, i knew about the family. i never met them, but i read all the newspaper articles and the accounts of them, you know, asking for help. >> beaumont felt certain that suspected serial killer larry hall was responsible. not only did hall live 25 minutes from indiana wesleyan, he had been identified chasing two co-eds there just a week after tricia went missing. so in the summer of 1995, a month after convicting hall for jessie roach's murder, beaumont was leading a search for tricia. it was in those same indiana backwoods where hall had told indiana authorities he dreamt he
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killed and buried tricia. >> i wanted to feel like i did everything i could to see if we could find her body. >> but after two days searching in sweltering heat and humidity, tricia's body didn't turn up. >> we couldn't find anything. doesn't mean it wasn't there. >> then beaumont decided to try something completely different. >> i came up with the idea of putting somebody in the prison cell with him to see if we can get him to tell us what he did with tricia reitler. >> they didn't think you were crazy? >> most people did think we were crazy, yeah. but i was able to convince them we should do it anyway. >> enter jimmy keene, the drug dealer beaumont had just convicted and sent to a low security prison. why did he stick out in your mind? >> because i knew he was kind of a con man. he was smart. i knew if anybody could pull it off, he would probably be the one to be able to pull it off. >> he said, you've been trained in martial arts. he said, you can go into a dangerous environment where a lot of people can't. you can maintain and protect yourself in an environment like that. >> in return, beaumont offered jimmy freedom.
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but first, jimmy would have to exact more than a confession. >> i told him unless we found a body, he would get no credit. no body, you get nothing. >> jimmy was skeptical, he was a drug dealer, not a criminal profiler. he knew this was a mission impossible. he said no. but then fate intervened. jimmy's dad suffered a stroke. weeks later, frail and sickly, he came to visit jimmy. now this is big jim, the guy who had been superman to me my whole entire life. we cried through the window to each other and we talked for a while. he didn't know about the offer. nobody knew about it. >> jimmy realized he had a one time only opportunity to fix the mess he made for himself and get out while his dad was still alive. >> as soon as we were done with the visit, i called my lawyer, said, tell beaumont i'm going to take him up on his offer. >> the mission was on. so on august 3rd, 1998, federal marshals escorted jimmy into the
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psychiatric prison. >> once they stepped out the door, i was on my own. >> jimmy's cover story was that he was a convicted weapons runner whose 40-year sentence pushed him over the edge and landed him in the psych prison. a psych prison filled with killers. his one inside contact, the chief psychiatrist, couldn't protect him, nor could his outside lifeline, a female fbi agent who visited as his girlfriend to monitor his progress. >> i did have a hotline to her, too, so if i got caught in a dangerous situation, i could get a hold of her. the deal was, they would have me out in 24 hours. >> they had your back. >> they had my back. >> at least you thought. >> that's what i thought. >> when keene's mission began, it was all about him, his shot at freedom. he had few feelings, if any, about tricia reitler or her family. all he wanted was to get in and out with tricia's location, and as fast as possible.
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day one, breakfast in the mess hall. jimmy zeroed in on larry hall. >> i was waiting with my tray, and i look over, and there he is. 20, 25 feet away from me. sitting there all by himself. it felt like a magnet was compelling me to come to him. finally i bumped shoulders with him on purpose. >> jimmy explained he was a brand-new inmate needing directions to the library. hall obliged. >> i kind of slapped him on the shoulder, i said, thanks a lot, i appreciate that from a cool guy like you. >> after that, they occasionally talked. but the next step came when jimmy was invited to join hall's breakfast club. >> which in the prison system, it's a big thing of who you're invited to have your breakfast with. >> keene thought he was making progress. but then prison politics got in the way. >> i left out of the chow hall one morning and a few really big, muscular guys came up to me, hey, the old man wants to talk to you right now, right now he wants to talk to you.
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>> the old man was celebrity mafioso vincent "the chin," known as the godfather, who used to wander new york city in his bathrobe, pretending to be nuts. >> he goes hey, boy, what's wrong with you, what's wrong with you. what are you hanging around them baby killers for? he goes you hang with us from now on. he goes you hang around those people, maybe somebody comes up, puts a knife in your back. he would be at my cell early morning, jimmy, get up, get up, we're going to play bocci. i said, what about breakfast? he said,we will play first. >> all very nice about the you're trying to get out of prison. >> exactly. >> "the chin" was taking up jimmy's valuable time, making it harder to even talk to hall. then he learned hall's favorite show was "america's most wanted." so one saturday night in the tv room, jimmy would make a daring move, putting his body on the line, just to gain larry's trust.
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coming up, jimmy's new best friend shares a nightmare. . >> it was probably the hardest thing in my life to sit there, pretend to be his friend, listen to this kind of stuff, and not rip him apart. >> when "the inside man" continues. you try to stay ahead of the mess but scrubbing still takes time. now there's dawn powerwash dish spray. it's the faster way to clean as you go. just spray, wipe and rinse. it cleans grease five times faster. dawn powerwash now available in free & clear.
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hello, i'm dara brown here's what's happening, a last-minute push by democrats to extend the moratorium set friday. it had prevented the removal of renters during the pandemic. the house is now in recess until late september. and a highly contagious delta variant, hot spots, louisiana, arkansas and missouri are seeing upticks as high as 114% in people getting shots. now, back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline
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i'm craig melvin. convicted drug dealer jimmy keene was on a mission. undercover for the prosecutor and put them away. if jimmy could get convicted killer larry hall to spill his secrets about another missing woman, jimmy would be a freeman. but winning larry's trust without raising suspicions was a tall order. now jimmy was about to get a chance to lock in larry's loyalty. here again is leicester holt with "the inside man." >> by the fall of 1998, after several months in missouri's toughest federal prison, jimmy keene could have won a popularity contest. he charmed everyone, just as beaumont knew he would. he even won over some convicts with his lending library of pornographic magazines.
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and he'd managed to placate "the chin" and the mob faction by day, while circling his prey, suspected serial killer larry hall, with one-on-one bull sessions at night. >> we just talked about a lot of normal things, hung out. made him feel like i was wanting to be his friend. >> but it wasn't fast enough for keene, who feared someone might recognize him and blow his cover. >> if you went by the fbi's technical terms, i was pretty much staying right on pace. but from my point of view of being in this place, it was starting to get very hard. >> on the outside, the mission mastermind, larry beaumont, could only sit and wait for secondhand news on how this crazy scheme of his was going. >> now were you pacing the floors, waiting for updates, during all this? >> i don't know if i paced the floors, but i was eager to get updates. i had information they were starting to trust him, they were talking, that kind of thing. >> but beaumont had absolutely no idea that a breakthrough
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moment had arrived. it was a saturday night. keene and hall were in the prison's tv room, watching "america's most wanted" again. >> and here comes this big prisoner. he's a big, muscular, buff guy. he walked over to the tv, he turned the channel. hall looks at me, quietly mumbles under his breath, hey, that's not right, i was watching that. i thought, you know what, this is a prime opportunity for me. >> jimmy, a martial arts expert who had continued working out in prison, was ready for this moment. he got up and changed the channel back. >> he jumped up, slobbering all over the place. you turn that channel again i'll rip your damn head off, you don't touch that tv, blah blah blah, going on all crazy and stuff, he turns the channel, sits back down. i just looked at him, i turned the channel again. he jumped up, starts cussing at me. i finally threw a particular cuss word at him that i knew was going to set him off. as soon as i did, he took a wild
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haymaker swing at me and i come up with an uppercut, nailed him. kicked him through three rows of chairs, jumped on him, and i beat him to a pulp. >> hall had a ringside view of saturday night's main event. afterward he staunchly defended his friend as a retaliator, not an instigator, in the brawl. you are larry hall's new hero? >> i became his new best friend and hero too. >> jimmy could sense his heroics brought him closer to hall. and now he was ready to make a bold move. in the prison library, jimmy had figured out a strategy to draw hall out on tricia reitler. >> i noticed he was reading his hometown newspaper. and that was really important eventually for me to start cracking into his psyche. >> even though the goal was tricia's body, jimmy decided to ask first about something already public knowledge. hall's conviction in the jessie roach case. jimmy fibbed that his mother
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lived near wabash and read about jessie's case and other stories involving hall. >> she gets that newspaper from that hometown where you're from, i said, and all the newspaper stories said you've killed multiple women. >> that was a big risk though. >> it all was a big risk. i said larry, i don't care what you're in here for, but be honest to me, that's all. just tell me what happened, man, i'm still going to be your friend no matter what. i said, i've had girls do me wrong in my life, i understand how girls can get under your skin and how they can be bothersome to you. >> jimmy pressed hall about jessie roach. at last, hall began to open up, recalling that september day in 1993. >> he was driving down a back country road and he seen her walking her bicycle. >> hall then told jimmy exactly how he abducted and killed jessie. >> you must have been revolted. >> oh, god, lester, it was probably the hardest thing i've ever done in my life, to have to sit there and pretend to be his friend, to listen to this kind of stuff, and not just rip him apart. but i knew what the mission
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involved, i knew what was at stake for me, i knew what was at stake for the people's families, you know that were still, you know, trying to find their daughters. >> a major transformation was taking place. jimmy was starting to care about more than just himself. and now he was determined to squeeze the most crucial confession out of larry hall. and not just for himself, but for the family of tricia reitler. >> i started thinking, i don't know where this is still going to lead, how long this is going to take, but something is now happening. . >> coming up, a disturbing discovery. has jimmy keene solved the mystery of the missing girl? >> jimmy was about to make an alarming discovery in the prison wood shop. was he about to solve the mystery? >> what are these things anyway? he says, they watch over the dead, jimmy. he goes, they do. >> when "the inside man" continues.
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. >> jimmy keene's five months of hell. jimmy keene had managed to win the trust of larry hall, who had been convicted of one murder but was suspected in more. for months jimmy had been pretending to be his friend. hall had no idea jimmy was a prison informant focused on getting him to admit that he'd killed 19-year-old tricia reitler. now jimmy was about to make both a gruesome discovery, and a rash decision he would regret. continuing with the discovery, here is lester holt. >> jimmy keene's five months of hell, five months making nice to a killer he despised, finally paid off. hall had described in gruesome detail how he murdered jessie roach. >> i open that door, he's feeling that he can trust me enough now. >> but jimmy felt he needed to wait a bit before going for the goal line. how did you broach tricia reitler? >> i had to slowly keep prodding, i didn't want him to think i was piling on. >> he plotted the next move. days later, he thought the time
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was right. he tried that hometown newspaper ploy again. >> i said, you know, the newspapers say you killed this girl from the college over here. i says, what happened there? >> jimmy couldn't be sure how hall would react. had he been too blunt, too direct? no. it was all clicking. according to jimmy, hall began to open up about tricia and said he drove his van right up to her that day he saw her outside school. >> he said that he tried to kiss her, and when he did, that she started fighting very violently. he said she was a very strong girl and she fought stronger than anybody had ever fought before. >> and did he admit it? >> he said he had killed her and he knew he had done it again, these are his words, that he knew he had done it again, and he said he went way out in the woods and buried her way out in the woods. >> hall gave a general location for tricia's body, near a river in indiana. but jimmy needed more specific information. luckily, he seemed to stumble into it a few nights later when he spotted hall inside the prison woodshop, a restricted area. >> there's nobody at the door, no guards or anything. i went in there, and as i came
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up from behind him, he had all these little different statues lined up, 10, 15 of them maybe. i couldn't tell what they were at first. as i got closer, i noticed he had a big map laid out. he dove on that map and folded it up really fast and slid it off the side of the table. i go, what are these things anyway? he said they're these little falcons, they watch over the dead, jimmy, they do. >> and they look like? >> a good-size chess piece. >> jimmy had a strong feeling his wood-carved falcons and map were journal keeping by a serial killer. >> that map had little red dots over it of illinois, indiana, wisconsin. you'd look down at this map, you could see all of those little spots are burial spots where he's got somebody. >> all those months of dangerous, painstaking work paid off. jimmy had cracked the case. mission accomplished. >> once you see the map, the falcons, you want to tell the fbi about it, right? >> i did.
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i went to the hotline i had for the fbi girl. i called. i got some type of voice recording, it was after hours. >> so jimmy left a message for his fbi contact to come get him, the map, and the falcons. his freedom and the answers to tricia's parents' prayers were now just hours away. >> i was elated. i felt i wrapped this up. >> you're expecting troops to come marching in. >> expecting the troops to come marching in. and didn't quite work that way. >> what he couldn't know was his fbi contact didn't get his voice mail, and his one inside contact, the chief psychiatrist, was on vacation. >> then you get a little full of yourself, didn't you? >> i did. i went back to my cell, was really happy. i thought, you know what? 24 hours they said they'd have me out of here, i got what they need, this is it. so i went across so his cell over there. >> impulsively, jimmy decided he couldn't leave prison without giving his fake friend a piece of his mind.
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>> the repulsiveness i felt about him throughout the whole time i had to stay being his friend and the disdain and dislike i had for him, that i thought it was good for me to unload on him and tell him what i really thought of him and who he really was. i said, you know, i'm going to be going home tomorrow, larry. i said, you're a crazy killer. i started calling him everything you could think of. >> with that, jimmy returned to his cell and waited to be released. >> you're going home the next day, you think, and things take another turn. >> about 5:30 in the morning, hear some little lady in a white doctor smock come walking in. >> it was hall's psychologist, and she was furious that jimmy had blasted her patient, turning him into an emotional wreck. >> she told the guards, grab him, take him, throw him in the hole. they put me in the hole, keep me in there. i'm not really worried. so what? fbi's going to be here, they told me 24 hours, they'll have me out of here. >> morning turned into afternoon
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turned into evening. the cavalry hadn't arrived. this was hard time at its hardest. >> you can't see if it's day or notice because you're in the hole. you can tell what time of the day or night it is by the meals in the slot. here's coming breakfast, lunch, dinner. here's breakfast again, lunch. where are these guys? wrong. they got what they needed, got the info, pulled the rug out from under me. >> while jimmy was wondering where they were, beaumont was looking for him, too. >> and we were like, where could he be? he's in a prison, for god's sakes. coming up -- >> they lost you. >> yeah, they lost me. >> but had they also lost their best chance at finding the body of tricia reitler. >> when "dateline" continues. re. >> when "dateline" continues
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larry beaumont successfully snuck informant jimmy keene into springfield prison in 1998. he just didn't expect to lose him there. >> goes off your radar. >> yeah, disappeared. couple weeks we didn't know what happened to him, trying to find out, we were getting frantic. >> two weeks later, only after keene's psychiatrist returned from vacation, did they finally find jimmy. >> i knew the fbi was there, and she kept apologizing, kept saying i am really sorry, something happened with the message. >> at last, investigators got to search the woodshop and hall's
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cell, but by then, the map and falcons, items jimmy believed could lead to tricia, were gone. >> what were you thinking telling larry hall you're out of here and dressing him down? >> people wouldn't understand the mounting pressure, that kettle is ready to boil over at any time, you know, and it felt good to unload on the guy. >> the problem as i see it, you've unloaded on him, he knows you're against him, but nobody has that map. >> right. i am disappointed i didn't wait another day or two at least. i should have waited a few more days. i wish i could have done more for them, but i did all i could do. i feel in my being i did all i could do. >> meantime, the people that would benefit the most from a successful mission, tricia's parents, only learned about the
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secret operation ten years later in 2008 when the story came out in a playboy magazine article. the reitlers are thankful for jimmy's courage and corroborating details he said he got from hall, but they're furious he blew his cover before finding their daughter. >> why would you have been so close. >> yeah. >> and then give it up like you did. >> i try not to dwell on that at all because it eats at me and it's very hard to deal with that he was that close. >> jessie roach's parents find small consolation in that jessie was the victim that tripped up hall. >> if something good could possibly come out of losing jessie, it's the fact that he is in prison and he will never get released. >> hall, 49, remains in federal prison with no possibility of parole. in recent years, he actually has made more murder confessions to reporters and investigators. >> i sincerely believe that
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there are young girls out there somewhere who are alive today because larry hall is in prison. >> do you think he killed before? >> i think he killed before and i think he would kill again. >> jimmy did tell beaumont that hall had killed again, but there was no documentation. it was just jimmy's word. so to be sure, the prosecutor made him take a lie detector test and jimmy passed with flying colors. >> he was telling us the truth, so bottom line is we had further information that larry was responsible for tricia. >> a grateful beaumont decided to reward him with full credit for his brave undercover work, releasing him from prison, and scrubbing his criminal record clean. >> from his perspective, he expected to get nothing. from our perspective, of course, he spent time in the looney bin with this guy, going through this whole process. >> for 15 years, jimmy had been the only one to see those falcons that hall said watched over the dead. >> problem is we never got them, they disappeared, we don't know
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what happened to them. >> you've never seen the falcons? >> no. >> show you a picture. that's one of the falcons. >> "dateline" took pictures of a falcon when we met larry hall's twin brother. he said larry carved that falcon in the woodshop at the springfield prison, then mailed it to their mother. i showed a photo of that falcon to beaumont and jimmy. >> what's it like for you to see that after all these years? >> it's definitely bizarre, but it's also reassuring to me, lester, i'll tell you why. now these falcons backs everything i said. that's exactly what it looked like. >> after becoming a free man in 1999, jimmy got to spend five more years with a father he idolized before big jim passed away. and he's kept his nose clean, not wasting his incredible opportunity. >> he sees the hall experience as something that gave him a second chance at life. >> he's done well in real estate
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and co-wrote a book, "in with the devil," that tells jimmy's compelling story of redemption. he says he is working on several hollywood projects, most notably, the movie version of his book, academy award winning producer of "the departed" owns film rights. >> but jimmy is especially proud he says his book re-energized some cold case investigations, several targeting hall in indiana and wisconsin. at least one near a civil war re-enactment site. investigators dug up locations where hall spent time over the years and found articles of women's clothing and a belt modified with wooden handles, all sent out for dna testing, but cold case detectives following fresh leads still haven't developed enough evidence to bring charges. >> i did a good deed and i did a lot of good things, and that's
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where i feel the redemption comes in. i did something good for the things i did wrong. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. first up on msnbc, alarming new warnings about the delta variant as the cdc says vaccinated people can spread the virus, and it could be as contagious as chicken pox, president biden now signaling more restrictions could be coming. >> can americans expect more restrictions because of covid? >> in all probability. >> well, despite those concerns, massive crowds packing a chicago park for the


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