tv Dateline MSNBC October 23, 2021 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
honor. remnants of a marriage many thought was as good as it gets, but as tex settled into prison, an auctioneer sold it all to the highest bidder. that's all for this edition of "dateline. " i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline. " what'd you hear? >> uh, laughing some -- almost screaming. >> you heard screaming? >> i've known these kids their whole life. i don't believe for a minute that they made any of that up. >> like screaming noises or something else? >> like -- like laughing, screaming. >> they believe their father killed their mother. >> they found her in the bedroom. a young mom stabbed to death. >> i can see her fighting,
fighting for her life. >> i was so distraught. she was gone. >> she was your wife, the mother of your children. >> it's awful. i wouldn't wish that on anybody. >> her ex had been to visit the day she died. a trip with the kids. and just like that, he was suspect number one. >> they had no evidence. >> i was absolutely flabbergasted. >> how can anyone think this? >> police said they were a key to the mystery, his own young children. >> she says she peeks through the mail slot. >> she looks in the mail slot, yes. >> daddy was in the living room upstairs. >> that was planted in their minds. >> we're going to prove that he's innocent. >> two children on the stand. what did they see? >> that was the hardest thing. because i love them so much. i didn't do this. >> hello and welcome to "dateline. " there should be nothing more
innocent than seeing the world through the eyes of a child. but in this story this that may not be the case. detectives believe a 6-year-old girl and her 7-year-old brother witnessed the unthinkable, the brutal murder of their mother. the case would be built around what those kids observed, but it wouldn't be so simple. this crime was as brazen as it was mystifying. here's dennis murphy with "what they saw. " >> got it? i think you're good to go. >> all right. thanks for sitting down with us. >> you're welcome, thanks for having me. >> did you take a butcher knife and plunge it into ciara's neck and kill her? >> no. >> while the kids were waiting outside? >> absolutely not. >> that did not happen? >> no. >> credibility. the reliability of years-old memories. there's a lot of that ahead, because this is the story of a murder. june 8th, 2012. columbus, georgia. it was an apartment
maintenance man who found her. she'd been stabbed to death upstairs in the bedroom. in the kitchen sink, a butcher knife. the victim was ciara ingram, a 28-year-old nurse and mother. her good friend kendra smith said she hadn't been answering her phone for days. >> at first i thought, you know, why didn't i go down there? well, i knew something was wrong. >> police would later estimate ciara had been dead in her apartment for nearly a week. >> i think -- i think i was so distraught she was gone that i don't really think that at the time i put a lot of thought into like who did it or why. >> apartment managers told the arriving officers that ciara had small children. so one of the detectives'first questions are where are the kids now? that led to a bigger question, one all homicide inspectors asked. what is the backstory here? what was this victim's life all about? they began piecing together the story of
ciara and jarod. ciara is your wife, mother of your children. what do you think about the end, the brutality of it? >> it's alwful. i wouldnt wish that on anybody. they both enlisted in the army in the early 2000s. he and a friend cozied up to the pretty young recruit and tried to get her attention. >> we started talking about how none of the soldiers who got off the last bus looked like they were going to make it. and she stood up and she challenged me and she said, i'm going to be the top of the class. i said, okay, and asked her if she wanted to go out that weekend. >> you had a momentus early day. is that too nosey a question? you know what i'm referring to? >> i do. our first date, we -- >> conceived a child? >> yes. >> were you okay with that? >> yeah. i was okay, and i was excited. i'd always wanted to be a father. >> ciara and jarod, intimate strangers, decided to make a go
of it when the army forced them into a quick decision. get married or be stationed apart. >> when we got in the cab to go get our marriage license, the cab driver mentioned to us that she was also a licensed pastor. so she drove to us her church, we got married on the steps. >> you got married by your cab driver? >> we got married by our cab driver. >> one-stop shopping. >> yep. >> the army, as the army does, moved them about. they tried to build a happy home, had another child. but jarod acknowledged they weren't good at living together. >> once we got married, we actually had our first argument that evening. >> on the 10 scale, how active an argument was this? >> a good 8. but that set the tone for the rest of the relationship. that was every night. >> why don't you guys just shake hands and say, see ya later, it's been nice? >> the kids, mainly. >> they decided co-parenting was the arrangement that worked best for them. they divorced in 2009 and shared custody. by then they'd both left the military. ciara had become a
nurse. her friend and co-worker at the hospital, samela payne, says the main thing keeping ciara in georgia was being near her ex. >> she didn't want the children to be without their father. she tried her best to co-parent. you understand she didn't have anybody here. >> so she sacrificed her short-term happiness -- >> right. >> -- for the kids? >> for her children. that's the type of mother she was. her friend kendra lived in tennessee, but they were as close as could be. >> when did you start? end of the day, start of the day, middle of the day? >> all day. we were single moms dealing with our exes. she was my support system, and hopefully she thought of me as hers. >> by june 2012, ciara decided it was time for a fresh start. she made a plan to move home to indiana to be near her family. their kids, ages 6 and 7, would stay with jarod for the summer and join her later. >> was she dating again? >> yes, she was, absolutely. she was young. so of course, you know, she didn't want to be alone, you know.
>> in fact, even before the move to indiana, she'd already met a guy online who lived up there. he was going to help her move. >> he was going to come down to georgia. he had made plans. bought a plane ticket. >> and that brings us back to ciara's apartment and the bloody bedroom. as ciara's moving day approached, kendra noticed her friend's daily texts and phone calls had stopped completely. >> i didn't talk to her on the 2nd. so on the 3rd i messaged her and got nothing. so i was like, okay, she's busy. called her. then on the 4th, started getting worried some more. >> you wondered, is she ditching me here? >> i thought, okay, she dropped her phone in the toilet. but then you think about, okay, well there's other phones in the world. or send me an email, hey, i'm not ignoring you. >> samela was worried too. she'd helped plan a good-bye party for ciara at the hospital, but ciara never showed up. >> i was around the table, all
the co-workers looking at each other. >> and you fully expected she was going to walk in the door? >> i want her to, but i knew something was wrong. >> samela was at work june 8th when ciara's brother called her with the news. >> i answered the phone. he told me, we just found ciara dead. i don't remember nothing else after that. >> jarod says he got a call that afternoon as well. there was crime scene tape up at his ex-wife's apartment. the coroner was there too. he says he feared the worst and went to go talk to the children, just 6 and 7 years old. >> we said a prayer. i told them, no matter what happens, i love you very much. i didn't tell them any details. but i told them, you know, something might be going on with mommy, we don't know yet. asked if they had any questions. >> did they? yes. my son asked me if he could have some candy. >> did he know his mom was dead? >> he didn't know. i didn't know. we at this point only had assumptions and worries and fears.
>> assumptions, worries. fears. and that was just day one. the investigation begins and ciara's ex-husband is the first person in the hot seat. coming up -- >> i can see an officer approaching me with his gun drawn. and he raised it up and he said, don't move. >> police have some questions for jarod. >> you're the last one that i know of to see her. there is something that you want to talk about? >> and for the man ciara had met online -- this is sergeant david with the police department. >> what's going on, officer? oh my god. >> when "dateline" continues. yardwork... teamwork... long walks.... that's how you du more, with dupixent, which helps prevent asthma attacks. 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
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stabbed three times in the neck and left to die at the foot of her bed. her ex-husband jarod was tending to their two children when a police officer reached him on the phone. he asked me if the kids were okay, i said theyre fine. he said they're going to send an offer an officer had to talk to me and a counselor to talk to the kids. >> as i approach i see out of my peripheral vision and officer approached me with his gun drawn. and he raised it up and say don't move. and so i put my hand up, he pressed me up against the wall and put my hands against my back and cuffed me. >> before he could get his bearings, jarod says his kids were whisked off in an suv. jarod okayed a search of his home and was taken to the police station for an interview.
i'm detective leon. >> the conversation started amicably and jarred said the last time he'd seen ciara was six days before. he and the kids had stopped by to pick up some toys before her move to indiana. >> kids went in, gave her a hug. they ran right upstairs and started playing with some of their toys and watching tv and stuff. >> how long were you there for? >> it seemed like a couple of hours. >> he said they hadn't talked since. >> that wasn't unusual. we didn't call each other a whole lot when the other one had the kids usually. she wasn't like one of those who wanted to call every day. >> detectives wanted to know about the state of jarod and ciara's relationship. how had they been getting along? he said they hadn't had any issues lately, but admitted things between them were strained. >> what's been the problem? >> no problem. just once we broke up, i felt like, you know, there was no reason to have an argument with her anymore that after that. >> they also asked jarod how he felt about ciara's decision to move to indiana.
>> i didn't feel any kinda way about it, really. >> did she ask you? >> no. >> so she just said, "i'm -- i'm leaving"? >> yeah. but i mean, that was her. >> after about an hour, the interview took a turn when detectives hit jarod with a revelation. as far as they could tell, no one had heard from ciara since jarod's visit with the kids. meaning jarod was quite possibly the last person known to have seen ciara alive. >> i feel like you're more than insinuating that i'm responsible for ciara's death. >> i don't know. right now, i don't -- i the only thing i know is you're the last one that i know of to see her, and so far you're the last one i know that was there now is there something you want to talk to me about? >> no. >> are you sure about that? >> i'm sure. >> the detective told jarod that as they were speaking, officers were spooling through the video cameras at ciara's apartment complex. >> what are you feeling right
now? >> i'm feeling like i can't wait until you get finished with the rest of that videotape. >> okay. >> and, i'm feeling scared [bleep] until you do. that's what i'm feeling right now. >> now, why would you be scared? >> because if i was the last one that saw her alive, then you're gonna put it on me. >> well, i'm not gonna put something on anybody. i'm gonna take the evidence for what it's worth. >> and a look at some of the evidence made it seem unlikely that jarod could have done it. the murder was brutal, bloody. and jarod's two small children had been there with him the whole time. though jarod did mention that, as they readied to leave the apartment, the kids went outside first. >> they went outside to the car while i was talking to her. and i came outside and she came outside and that was it. it wasn't, like, a long period of time. >> did detectives really think jarod had something to do with his ex-wife's murder? or were they just pressing him because he was the ex-husband? they
ended the interview on friendly terms. >> i appreciate you coming in. i appreciate you being cooperative. >> i appreciate you guys doing what you're doing. >> it had been a very long night. jarod says he was just desperate to hug his kids who'd lost their mother. >> you can see why you became a figure of interest here? >> when i step back and put myself in the shoes of the police officers, absolutely. they show up at ciara's house. they find her body. they go -- they pick me up. >> back at the crime scene, investigators looked for clues to fill in the story. could it have been a botched robbery? it was hard to tell if anything had been taken. the apartment was in such disarray with moving boxes. and there were no signs of a forced entry. but there was an attempt to clean up the scene with bleach. and they did find a man's watch tucked into the sheets of ciara's bed. who could that belong to? what about this guy she'd met online, the man flying in to help her move?
>> this is sergeant dayton with the police department in columbus, georgia. >> yes, sir. >> his name was ryan morgan. detectives got him on the line. >> were you supposed to come down, come here to help her move? >> yes, i was, and then about a week before, i -- she quit texting me. >> ryan thought he'd been ghosted. said that he'd canceled his plane ticket. >> and i just text her back. i said "hey, thanks a lot for the thoughtfulness and thanks for wasting my money. " >> detectives didn't tell him right away why they were calling. >> what's going on, officer, if you don't mind me asking, because i'm freaking, i'm like, well [bleep], what's happened? >> she -- she was killed. the reason you didn't hear anything from her was she was murdered. >> you've got to be [bleep] me. >> no. >> holy [ bleep ]. >> was that genuine surprise? >> oh, my god. >> of course, they'd have to check out ryan's story and pick though every detail of the last day of ciara's life. that meant talking to her children. what did they see? what did they hear? coming up --
>> daddy wasn't in the living room. he was still upstairs. >> that final family visit. what was happening inside their mother's apartment? >> what did you hear? >> laughing, almost screaming. >> you heard screaming? screaming noises or something else. like laughing, screaming. when dateline continues. eline continues.
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murder of his ex-wife, ciara. jarod insisted he was innocent, but knew being the last person to see her alive did not look good for him. as news of ciara's death spread, one friend would come forward with alarming secrets about what ciara said was really happening inside that relationship. once again, here's dennis murphy with "what they saw. >> kendra smith felt she'd found a kind of dread spirit when she met ciara ingram. losing her was awful. >> every day, i'd get in my car, i'd cry all the way to work'cause i talked to her every day on my way to work. you know? every day on my way home. i mean, i'd just be in tears all the way home. >> samela payne felt hollowed out when she heard. her good friend, fellow nurse, gone just like that. >> so you were going to be friends for life, no matter where -- >> absolutely. >> -- each of you traveled to, huh? >> absolutely. we were family. >> the day after she got the
news, samela drove to ciara's home. she just had to see the place with her own eyes. you went to the scene? >> i went to the scene,'cause i -- i just still did not want to believe that she was gone. >> so everything's yellow-taped -- >> i was in denial -- >> -- and closed off. right? >> i was in denial that my friend was gone. >> she spoke to an officer who was there guarding the crime scene. >> what did you talk to him about? >> any and everything that i can remember that -- that she would tell me, and what she was goin'through. >> and what samela said about her conversations with ciara caught the officer's ear, because it certainly didn't match jarod's story. this post-divorce relationship was more than just a little strained. samela says ciara had long confided in her that it was tumultuous. >> she would tell me how he would break her computers, break tvs -- >> just, "i'm mad at you. bang. here's one for your computer. " >> oh yeah. yeah. >> the way the stories went, jarod would lash out if he couldn't get his way.
did he ever get physical with her, sam, as far as you knew? >> she told me that, yes. >> but you didn't see any bruising or scratches or anything like that, huh? >> no. if she did, she would hide it. she's the type that want to be strong. she didn't want you to be upset or worried about her. >> as for jarod, he told us any stories about abuse in his relationship with ciara just weren't true. >> were there any hands-on altercations here? her on you? you on her? >> absolutely not. she threw some thing -- small things. not -- like a remote control. >> jarod told us anyone who knew ciara well, knew that she wouldn't put up with abuse. >> she was a very fierce woman. she had her way. she's not gonna let you tell her any different, and she's very determined. i couldn't see her being in an abusive relationship. >> of course, he says, he and ciara had plenty of scorching disagreements during their marriage, but once they split, the drama ended, and, he says, they shared responsibility for the kids amicably. >> co-parenting, and very successfully. i think the biggest issue we ever had was that -- when she -- she cut my
son's hair. i didn't really like that. he had a big puffy afro, and it was really cute on him, and i liked it. >> but given what investigators had heard, they were now very focused on jarod. did he have any opportunity to murder his ex, what with the kids in tow? >> jarod said he put the kids in the car and went back inside ciara's place to get the last of their things. two kids, sitting in the backseat of a car, a boy and a girl age 6 and 7. what did they see, what did they hear in the next few moments of their lives, and importantly, what would they say about it? >> the police talked to the children the day they discovered ciara's body. >> what grade are you in? >> um, kindergarten. >> the kids confirmed that for at least some period of time, mom and dad had been inside the apartment without them. >> why would daddy leave you and your brother in the car? >> i don't know. >> you don't know? >> he never leaves us in the car. >> here they are talking to a forensic interviewer a few days later.
>> why do you think daddy made you stay in the car? >> maybe he's doing something. >> jarod's 6-year-old daughter says she got restless, and did what 6-year-olds do. she says she got out of the car and went to the door, lifted the mail slot, and peered inside. she told investigators she saw her dad. >> what was he doing? >> i forgot. >> i mean, was he standing? was he sitting? was he -- >> he was standing. >> was he just standing there doing nothing? did he have something in his hand? did he -- >> no. he was just standing there doing nothing. >> she says he told her to go back to the car, but she says she peeked in again. investigators were interested in what she saw, and what she says she heard. >> mommy was still laughing, but -- but she -- she sounded like she was somewhere. daddy wasn't in -- daddy wasn't in
the living room, he was still upstairs. mommy was still laughing, though. >> her brother says he got out of the car too, and he also heard the laughter. or was it something else? >> what'd you hear? >> uh, laughing. almost screaming. >> you heard screaming? >> uh-huh. >> yeah? tell me, did you hear -- when they just saying, like, screaming noises? or something else? >> like -- like laughing, screaming. >> yeah? >> screaming? what in the world was going on inside ciara's home while the children waited outside? >> coming up -- >> if you're asking did i think he did it, it was an absolute no. >> a new relationship for jarod. and new questions about those interviews with the children. >> those statements that come out later are, in my opinion, conditioning. >> what do you mean? >> i mean that the police are suggesting something for the children to say.
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here's what's happening. the shooting at an off just this party near fort valley state university in georgia left one dead and seven injured. local authorities confirmed the person who died was not the student. the injured victims are all expected to survive. need a ukrainian businessman was found guilty of campaign finance crimes on friday. the associate of rudy giuliani was accused among and those charges of funneling foreign funds to various republican candidates through 2018. he was convicted on all counts. now back to dateline. unts >> welcome back to "dateline. " i'm natalie morales. in a taped interview, ciara ingram's young son said he heard his mother both laughing and screaming inside her home on the day she was murdered. police were
looking into ciara's ex-husband, jarod. now a team of supporters was about to rally to jarod's defense, taking their own look at what the kids told detectives. continuing with "what they saw, " here's dennis murphy. >> in the weeks following ciara's murder, investigators compiled their evidence. there were those police interviews with the children. and they had ciara's cell records showing her phone went silent around the time jarod was at her apartment. there wasn't a single phone call or text after 6:39 p. m. on june 2nd. and the only wisp of a lead, that guy from indiana who was going to help ciara move. >> she was murdered. >> you've got to be [bleep] me. >> well, his alibi checked out. and that left one person, jarod. so on july 1st, a month after ciara's murder -- >> i was leaving to go to work. and then people started getting out of their cars and putting their hands up like this saying, you know, "don't move, you're under arrest. "
>> jarod was charged with murder and spent the next 15 months in jail before posting bond and being released. by then he'd lost custody of his son and daughter. they'd moved to indiana to be with ciara's mom. >> are the kids taking your phone calls? because i'm sure you're trying to reach them. >> at this point, part of my bond agreement is that i cannot speak with anyone in ciara's family, including my children. >> so that's a whole area of your life that's gone away. >> so no contact. yes. >> jarod says he started attending church and began reaching out to old friends, like katie duke, a girl he knew from high school band days. >> i always had a thing for him, even in high school. but it was just not good timing, it never was. >> this wasn't exactly great timing either. after all, jarod was accused of murdering his ex-wife. >> what did you think? >> if you're asking did i think he did it, it was an absolute no. why would they even think this? and how could it have possibly come to this? >> and you're saying that
because of the guy you knew, the -- >> yeah. >> the character of the man? >> the -- the character, just how could it -- how could it possibly -- anyone think this? >> their relationship grew from a friendship into something more. >> how'd you decide you're going to get married? >> we started talking about it, and it was a lot of back and forth. because with something like this hanging over your head, do you wait until everything is over and then get married? that sounds sensible, right? >> katie disagreed. >> i basically told him, "i'm -- i'm ready, i'll marry you, " you know. >> they began their married life together in a kind of limbo waiting for jarod to go on trial. he still hadn't been indicted. what was taking so long? jarod and katie kept their anguish quiet. a lot of people in the church didn't even know his story, right? >> no. >> then january 2017, four and a half years after the murder, the indictment came down and a trial date was set. no more secrets now. >> what did you think when you heard? >> in my mind initially was just, it's impossible.
>> debbie duke is katie's mom. laura duff and jim o'donnell are church friends. >> did you ever think, my goodness, this young man's a killer? >> no. >> debbie? >> no. not for a second. the very notion that somebody could consider jarod capable of this -- was beyond my belief. there's just simply no way i could apply my brain to that. >> the support wasn't just moral. the church friends offered to help any way they could. >> we had two or three people come up and says, "well, what -- what can we do? " i'm like, "well, pray, i don't--" but one of them said, "well, come on, there's something we could do. what about all that paperwork? couldn't you use help with that? " and i'm like, "that would be wonderful. " >> that paperwork was the case against jarod. mounds of documents, police reports, audio and video recordings. and to mount a defense, they would need to understand it. >> my lawyer was very good, but he has a small practice, just him and his wife. and so as far as legwork, there's not --
there's not 100 paralegals going around to do legal research for him. >> jarod and katie transformed their kitchen into a war room. and those church friends became legal assistants of sorts. they vowed to be objective. >> i was a true believer in jarod's character, okay? >> but if the evidence had persuaded you otherwise -- >> had the evidence persuaded me otherwise, i would've gone with the evidence. >> the ad hoc church team divvied up the work. jim, a software wiz, took a crack at the cell phone records. >> it took me some study and everything to try to figure this out. but it came down to numbers. simple math. >> according to the cell records, ciara was alive and on her phone at 6:39 p. m. three minutes later, 6:42 p. m., jarod's cell records indicate he is still at ciara's apartment. and 26 minutes after that, jarod's phone pings off a tower that the friends estimate is a good 15 to 20-minute drive away from ciara's apartment. >> there's not enough time here for him to have committed the
crime. >> and the telephone traffic persuades us of this? >> yes. the math doesn't work. it just simply doesn't work. >> at least by their calculations. then jarod's supporters looked at the bloody crime scene photos, which raised more questions in their minds. >> how do you walk out of an apartment without completely showering and changing your clothes and doing all that? that would add even more time. >> because tick, took, tick, took, he's got to get to that other tower? >> absolutely. >> he wasn't wet. he didn't change clothes. and there were no -- none of his clothes ever found with any evidence on them. >> the friends then turned to those interviews with the kids, and they transcribed every word. including the interview where jarod's son says he heard screaming. >> what did you hear? >> uhh -- laughing some -- almost screaming. >> you heard screaming? >> uh-huh. >> they noticed that interview took place five days after ciara's body was found. but in the police file, the friends found an earlier interview. the son's story about what he heard on that occasion was completely
different. here's that interview. >> did you hear anything when daddy was inside? >> i didn't hear nothing. >> jarod's supporters wondered where his son could have gotten the idea of screaming? the first time it comes up on the tapes is in a question from police just hours after they found ciara's body. >> was mama screaming or daddy screaming or hollering? nobody was screaming or nothing? >> uh-uh. >> there's absolutely nothing incriminating about their initial testimonies. >> those statements that come out later are, in my opinion, conditioning. >> what do you mean? >> i mean that the police are suggesting something for the children to say. and if you suggest something to a child of that age who's impressionable, it's possible that they may say, "yeah, i guess it could've been that. " >> and there was something else laura picked up on. i could hear one of the investigators whispering under their breath,
trying to tell the children to say something on their recorded interviews. >> do you remember that? say yes. >> hmm. >> i mean, do you remember that? >> was the officer putting words in his mouth? it's hard to say. but the children would speak about that day again, this time in court, where they'd be the chief witnesses against their father. coming up -- >> what's the little girl see? >> she sees her father standing. he is changing his shirt, and he has a white bottle beside him. >> two young witnesses with powerful stories to tell. >> were those children coached to give details of their story? >> never. >> when "dateline" continues. plan is right for them. hey, that's me. i barely know where to start. well, start here with me, karen. i'm a licensed humana sales agent. well, it's nice to meet you karen. i'm john smith. hi john. at humana we know you're unique so you have different needs from other john smiths. yeah, i've always thought so. and together we can find a plan that's right for you. great! i go to the doctor a couple of times a year and i have some prescriptions. but i'm
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nearly six years after ciara ingram was brutally murdered, jarod ingram entered a muscogee county courtroom in columbus, georgia, to stand trial as her accused killer. but he wasn't alone. you're behind your husband in the -- >> uh-huh. >> -- church pews there in the courtroom, huh? >> yep. >> was it important you had -- you show solidarity, that you have a lot of people? >> we felt so, yes. we invited anybody to come and just let the jury see how much jarod is loved, and how much support and love that he has sitting behind him. >> muscogee county district attorney julia slater and her team hoped the jury would be persuaded not by jarod's supporters, but rather by the cold hard facts of the case. >> is it your belief that jarod
ingram murdered his ex-wife, ciara? >> yes. >> while the kids are waiting in the car. >> yes. >> and the motivation for this crime was what? >> he did not want ciara to move with the children to indiana, and would do anything to prevent that. >> the prosecution called friends like samela payne who testified that ciara told her numerous times that jarod was threatening, violent. >> was that unnerving for you? >> no, because i wanted justice for ciara. it's too long, it had been too long. i just had to do what i had, you know, my part. >> he's sitting there. >> yeah, to the left of me. >> you couldn't look at him. >> no, i was too disgusted. i hate him. i hate to say that, but i do. um, and i just didn't look. >> the prosecution said jarod had another motive. to the tune of nearly $13,000 in back child support payments. the prosecution also argued that the forensic evidence pointed squarely at jarod ingram. police found jarod's fingerprint on ciara's cell
phone, a cell phone last used about the same time jarod's cell phone placed him at her apartment. >> so did he have enough time to do this? >> yes, he certainly had enough time. we know that he -- that his phone was at the apartment at the time that her phone went silent. there's enough time to have killed her. he knew where the bleach was. he could get to the bleach, do the -- the -- the cleanup that he attempted to do -- >> and we're not talking about extensive cleanup here, are we? >> no, we are not. >> a little bleach -- >> we're talkin'about -- >> -- here, a little bleach there. right? >> throwing bleach a few places in the apartment. trying to clean her up a little bit. >> jarod ingram steadfastly maintained to anyone who would listen that he had not killed ciara. but the prosecution found someone who said jarod told him a different story. >> he would tell me about how he killed his ex-wife. he told me all how he did it and all that. >> a confession. jockas gilchrist testified that jarod confided in him when they
shared a cell at the county jail. he detailed jarod's words in this police recording. >> and he said he just snapped and he said he had stabbed her in the neck or something like that. >> this witness was able to give details, this particular person who was in jail at the time of the murder, no way that he would have known any of this information unless he received it from someone who knew it. >> but the star witnesses for the prosecution were jarod's own children. >> you hadn't seen them in years at this point. >> that's correct. >> they even look the same to you? >> no. >> are you making eye contact with them, are you trying to send them any messages? >> i'm looking at them. they're not making any eye contact with me. i did mouth, "i love you, " and that was about all that i thought i could get away with. >> the children, then 12 and 13 years old, told the jury with clear-eyed detail what happened that last day they saw their mother alive. and the details were more damning than ever. as when jarod's daughter testified about peeking through that mail slot. what does the little girl see? >> she sees her father standing. he is -- he is changing his shirt, and he has
a white bottle beside him on the floor that she doesn't know -- she doesn't know what it is. but a white bottle beside him. >> a white bottle. bleach. a change of clothes. those sounded like new elements. >> were those children coached to give details of their story? >> never. >> was it different years later than it had been at the beginning? >> there were more details years later, and there were some things that were clarified. but no, the -- the children were never coached. they were forensically interviewed intentionally so that they would not have ideas put in their heads. and they were never coached with what to say on the stand. >> are you persuaded that little girl saw her father changing his clothing and doing the cleanup? >> absolutely. >> and that the little boy heard screams? >> absolutely. >> heard his mother's dying declaration, as it were. >> yes. so sad that it -- that they had to see and hear that, but yes, that's what they saw and heard. >> but there was another version of what happened that day. and the jury was about to weigh the credibility of that storyteller. >> coming up -- >> why'd you take the stand? >> i'd been waiting six years to be able to stand up in front of a jury and stand up in front of a judge and say, i didn't do this. >> who would the jury believe?
the children or their father? >> what if this jury says you're guilty? what if? >> when "dateline" continues. why hide your skin if dupixent has your moderate-to-severe eczema or atopic dermatitis under control? hide my skin? not me. by hitting eczema where it counts, dupixent helps heal your skin from within, keeping you one step ahead of eczema. and that means long-lasting clearer skin...
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after my car accident, ♪ call owondnder whahatmy c cas. eight million ♪ so i called the barnes firm. >> welcome back. jarod ingram i'm rich barnes. youour cidedentase e woh than insurance offered? call the barnes firm now to find out. yoyou ght t beurprpris was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife, ciara, and the couple's two children were the prosecution's star witnesses. on the stand their recollections of that traumatic
day included surprising new details. but injured had a surprise of his own, a risky move that he believed would prove his innocence. with the conclusion of "what they saw, " here's dennis murphy. >> twelve jurors sitting in judgment of jarod ingram. so, back to where we began. >> did you take a butcher knife and plunge it into ciara's neck and kill her -- >> no. absolutely not -- >> -- while the kids were waiting outside? >> absolutely not. >> pour bleach on her? >> no. >> that did not happen? >> no. >> and that's been the story for your life for the last, what, how many years now, huh? >> six years. >> it had been six years since the crime. six years of suspicion. but jarod's attorney, mike reynolds, says it had taken investigators mere hours to come to a conclusion. >> you get domestic cases, you get a lot of them, and it's automatic that you go to the deceased's former spouse or current spouse. and that's my man, we're going to make it fit.
>> and, the defense argued, there wasn't a shred of physical evidence linking jarod to the actual murder. no dna. no prints on the possible murder weapon. nothing. in that bloody scene at ciara's apartment, all the prosecution pointed to was jarod's fingerprint on her cell phone. >> he was over at that townhouse quite a bit. it would not have been uncommon for his fingerprints to be all over this place. >> jarod says, sure, he used ciara's phone that day. >> i just remember my daughter handing me the phone saying that it was her older brother in indiana and that he wanted to talk to me. >> and they weren't worried at all about that jailhouse snitch. >> he was totally not credible, as most snitches are not. because if you talk with any jurors, they don't -- they believe them. i mean, you don't call somebody and talk about another crime unless you expect to get something out of it. >> but what about the kids and their ever-important stories? the defense questioned the new
details. dad changing his shirt. the white bottle of what could have been bleach. >> you're saying that the -- the cops in this case are seeding the story? they're coaching the kids? >> i absolutely think that they were asking leading questions that were leading them to conclusions that they didn't originally have. >> jarod's attorney was confident the jurors would understand the facts if they heard from jarod directly. >> i knew that he was going to make a good witness, most particularly because he was well spoken. >> you took the stand. always risky. rarely advised, but you did it. >> there was no question. >> why? why'd you take the stand? >> i'd been waiting six years to be able to stand up in front of a jury and stand up in front of a judge and say, "i didn't do this. " >> but it exposes you to aggressive cross-examination by the prosecutor. >> it does, and that was rough. it seemed like he was doing everything in his power to kind of get a rise out of me. >> provoke you so the jury could -- >> exactly. show the jury the monster. >> jarod faced the prosecutor's questions for more than a dozen hours over three days.
so, this is a poor set of facts that have come together against you. you're the last known adult to have seen her. the kids are saying they've heard screaming in the house. the father acting very suspiciously. bleach. it's -- everything seems to be consistent with you going in and killing ciara and doing a rough cleanup and then coming out. >> absolutely not. if i had done a quick rough cleanup, there would have been something on me, there would have been something in the car. the police had the car in their custody. they combed it inch to inch. the -- they found no blood. they found no bleach. that's impossible. >> jarod denied he'd ever been violent with ciara. the defense pointing out there's never been so much as a single report to the police. and, no, child support wasn't a problem. he said they were working on it, and he hadn't been upset about the ex's move to indiana either. his new wife katie watched from the gallery. >> jarod is calm, cool, very intelligent. he's our evidence. >> the jury went off to
deliberate. two days passed without a verdict. then, in an odd quirk of the court calendar, everyone took a week off. no decision. >> what if this jury says you're guilty? you know, i -- we couldn't stop hugging. i mean, we're pretty much always like that. but there's -- i guess a little more emotion behind it, because of what if. >> jarod was charged with the commission of four felonies, including murder. what were you hoping for in the court? >> that he would be found guilty of what he did. >> it took less than two hours once the jury went back at it. you watching the faces as they file in? >> i am. very intently. and nobody's giving anything away. >> and then what, you hear the words? >> they start reading off the counts, one at a time, and it's just not guilty. not guilty. not guilty.
>> jarod ingram. not guilty of the murder of ciara ingram. >> i started crying. i've never in my life cried in happiness, never, and in that moment, i cried in happiness. >> for ciara's friends and family, the reaction was much different. >> surprised. and i think that my surprise came mostly from the children's testimony. i don't believe for a minute that anyone coached them into saying any of that. >> they told the jury what they saw and what they heard? >> i absolutely believe that. >> and if you believe it, that means that he's guilty. >> right. >> you think jarod murdered ciara? >> i do. >> does she need justice? >> she does. i don't know how they're going to get it. >> but, the prosecutor says not guilty is not the same as innocent. >> i do think that he is the murderer, and we would not have
tried him if we didn't have confidence in that. >> jarod and katie are grateful to the circle of friends who they say helped acquit him. they're now fighting for custody of his children who've been with ciara's mother for more than six years. >> the frustration of still not being in contact with my children has been hard. >> is it better at this point, given all the poison that you say has been put before them, poisoning their minds towards you? is it better just to let them be raised by their grandmother? and maybe later on in life, when they're -- they're bigger, you can catch up with them? >> absolutely not. >> but they think you killed their mother. >> i don't know if they think that or not. i think they've just trained to hate and fear me. it would be better for them to heal this relationship as soon as possible. >> the children. what they saw. what they heard. what they remembered. ciara's friends say what's more important now is what they know about the woman lost on that day.
if her kids start to forget her, the memory dims, what would you sit down and tell them about their mother? >> mainly how much she loved them. she did. those kids were everything to her, and, you >> i'm craig melvin, >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> i know he is my son, but he was the kindest person i ever met. he was definitely god's gift to me. -- >> are you sure? what are you talking about? >> we all need to be stron