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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  November 27, 2021 8:00pm-10:00pm PST

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i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales, and this is "dateline." >> the neighborhood had everything a burglar wanted to find. private yards, wealthy homes. >> and she had the worst of possible luck in that he picked her. >> yes. >> i'd like to report an attempted break-in. >> a mother, home alone, cops raced to her front door as she walks into an ambush in her backyard. >> how does somebody die within a matter of seconds with officers all around her home. >> it was surreal. it was awful.
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it all came crashing down. >> your first thought at that time? >> it was a burglary gone wrong. >> but the killer caught red handed starts pointing fingers. >> this is a guy who aspired to be a hitman. >> she was a sitting target. >> doesn't that mean that you now go out and charge them all with murder? >> i have no facts. >> so detectives lay a trap. >> try to play cat and mouse. >> he was already really paranoid about being set up. >> he held up a little note that says are you wired. >> will they catch their prey? >> you hold your breath, the world kind of stops. >> you never think it's going to be you. >> oh, no, no, no, no. >> the young man is right. in fact, this is the kind of thing that just doesn't happen to anyone. >> no, never. never would have thought i would have ever seen anything like
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this. >> no, not here. not in this neighborhood, in this house. but certainly not, surely not, at the very moment when at least three policemen were just outside the front door, and just over the backyard wall not more than 30 feet away. >> we had to be told a few times just to get it in our heads what happened. >> what happened here in broad daylight under the very noses of the cops was murder. long beach, california, a town that may have been cheated a little in the city pride department. >> a lot of people assume it's like l.a., but it's not. it's different. it has its own identity. >> different culturally or just? >> i think so. i think long beach is sort of its own beast. >> sure. >> it's a little more working class. >> yes, and it's one of those 50
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suburbs in search of a city that everybody calls l.a. but long beach is a brawny city unto itself, half a million people, 52 square miles, a busy airport, a big university, an ocean front, a long beach, and its share of wealth and poverty, and of course crime. >> lots of scope for a person who -- >> no shortage of work for, yeah, if you cover crime. >> tracy manser covered the police beat of the local paper, the long beach press telegram. she was fair to the cops, they trusted her. so maybe that's why one november morning. >> a contact was in the police department came over to me in the midst of this sort of press conference and said you need to go to bixby now, and i was a little taken aback. >> taken aback because bixby was not a name you heard on the crime beat. >> so it was very clear to me
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that something major was going on. packed up my stuff, ran out the door, and got to the scene. >> the scene was in bixby knolls, quiet and affluent, leave it to beaver homes on carefully tended tree lined streets. violent crime is unheard of at bixby knolls, which is just the way they like it here, maybe that's why as they grew up here or moved here, they'd rarely leave, like rachel kearns. >> everybody is very friendly, always waving. you don't get that a lot in southern california. >> rachel still lives in the house she grew up in. >> we were able to play as kids at all hours of the day. we didn't have to worry about anyone ever hurting us or coming after us. it was a really safe neighborhood. >> but then came that november morning when tracy manser roared over there in her car. >> i had no idea what i was going to find. but i knew based on how i was
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told about it that it was going to be something, you know, very bad. >> oh, and it was. >> i was barely out of my car before i saw the homicide lieutenant the homicide sergeant, two commanders and a bank of black and whites. my first thought was there was an officer-involved shooting. either an officer had been shot and killed or an officer had shot someone. >> but no, not that. no, what really happened was far stranger than that. >> long beach police department. >> yes, i'd like to report, i believe we have an attempted break-in going on at the moment. >> it was a never who saw it, like the start of some dreadful shock movie rolling out in slow motion, it was 11:03 a.m. >> it's taking place at my neighbors, the house just west of me. >> one just west of you? >> yes. it's the southville resident. >> the shockners, the caller's
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next door neighbors. several cops responds, were there in minutes, and as they talked to the 911 caller, they heard and saw a little white dog barking incessantly at the window. >> it was a little american eskimo. >> not a very large dog, kind of fluffy, yappy dog. >> the petite framed woman came to the window to see what her dog was barking at. an officer gestured to her, come outside, clearly bewildered, she finally opened the door. >> so he's telling her they got a call from a neighbor that they saw a prowler and would it be okay if they looked in her backyard, and looked around the house, and she had said that that was fine. >> but hold on, the woman said to the police, let me grab the key, the gate is locked. >> so she closes the front door, walks through the house, and walks out the back door. >> three cops waited outside the front door, two more cops pulled
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in right here in the alley behind the house, and then to their great surprise, the prowler jumped over the backyard wall, practically into their arms. they searched him, found jewelry in his pocket, and a taser and a cell phone and a knife with blood on it. the cops out front waited for the woman to return. she didn't. ten seconds, 20 seconds, did a minute go by? they decided time to go in. they opened the door, looked through the house. and what they saw was not just terrible, but a riddle, a deception, a piece of pure evil. coming up, what could have happened in that house while it was surrounded by police officers. >> i didn't believe it. i thought it was a joke. >> until your father arrived with tears in his eyes. >> that was when i knew
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something was wrong. >> when "dateline" continues. wr. >> when "dateline" continues gold bond. champion your skin. your eyes. beautiful on the outside, but if you have diabetes, there can be some not-so-pretty stuff going on inside. it's true, with diabetic retinopathy, excess sugar can damage blood vessels, causing vision loss or even blindness. so remember this: now is the time to get your eyes checked. eye care is important to your long-term diabetes management. see a path forward with actions and treatments that may help your eyes— and protect against vision loss. visit noweyesee.com and take control of your sight.
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it was a mild day that particular november 8th, california weather, not quite noon, and as usual, it was quiet in bixby knolls here in long beach, quiet and in that quiet more menacing than anybody understood. as police responding to a call about a prowler waited outside the front door, neither they nor the half awake homeowners sensed the jeopardy as she closed the door in their faces and went in search for a key to the gate in the yard. seconds tick by, the dog barked, the woman didn't return. so the cops still not getting it went in too late. >> she was attacked and she was killed right then and there when the officer was on her front porch. >> just extraordinary. >> yeah. >> the victim's name was lynn shockner, she was 50 years old. when they found her lying quite dead just outside her own back
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door, they could clearly see the bright red gash across her throat. how was it possible? the policemen were just outside her front door, and more cops were in alert mode out in the alley, but the only apparent witness to the silent murder of lynn shockner was lynn's little dog, zoe. horrified officers found her lying by lynn's side, her white coat spattered red. back at police headquarters, long beach cops like undercover man chris nelson heard the chatter. >> we were sitting in the office and we used to have a police radio on in the office listening to what's going on on the street. >> this was bad. >> we were right down the hall from homicide and, you know, knew right away that this turned into a callout, you know, where somebody got killed. >> now, crisis node, detective richard birdsaw took the call, get down there fast. >> your first thought at the time, do you remember what it was? >> it's a burglary gone awry.
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>> did you have a sense of how the hell could we screw up like that. >> like anybody else, you're trying to discern what she said, what did the officers say, what was the conversation. >> oh, yes, there were lots of questions. this would be ugly. why did she go back in the house. why did the cops let her? why didn't they move in faster? how could they let the murder happen right under their noses. >> that was really disturbing, and you know, he hates a second judge, another cop that there were mistakes made. >> after all, a neighbor reported a prowler in the back alley, a prowler who may have sneaked into her house. but she, the victim didn't seem to believe that. >> she had a little eskimo dog that barked at butterflies, and there's nobody in the backyard, this dog would have alerted me to anybody. >> but she was wrong. >> she was wrong. >> lynn's son charlie was a freshman in high school then. he was sitting in math class.
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somebody told him he was wanted in the principal's office. on the way there, he thought he was in trouble. and then when they told him. >> i didn't believe it. i thought it was a joke. >> until your father arrived with tears in his eyes. >> that was when i knew something was wrong. >> his father manfred or fred as most people called him came to take charlie home. >> how was your father? >> upset. he was definitely crying. he couldn't drive. you know, i didn't really have eyes for him in that moment. >> you were just a mess. >> yeah. >> and charlie still could not believe what he was hearing. >> it really didn't set in really until i actually saw the house and then it really just all came crashing down. >> his home was a crime scene. >> the house was taped off. and just people going in and out of the house. a lot of neighbors around.
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like everything you see on tv. you never think it's going to be you. >> no, no, no, it's surreal, very much so. >> what does that loss feel like? >> yeah, i can't put it into words. it was tremendous. it was awful. i immediately call mark, and i'm babbling on the phone. like i can't even speak. >> mark jicha is charlie's uncle, lynn's brother. >> after the initial shock, there's disbelief. i didn't burst into tears right away. i didn't start screaming. i was just stunned. >> lynn grew up in ohio. she was the baby of the family, the only girl. here she is with her two older brothers, jon and mark. but lynn was not like them. >> she was a tentative girl, whereas my brother and i were very outgoing. >> their father died young. lynn often fought with her
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mother. >> co-dependent. love/hate. call it what you want. >> she got married, moved to california with a brand new husband. it didn't work out. ended pretty quickly. but then one day she went to a ball game, dodgers versus somebody, who knows? and she found him. the right guy. her guy. fred schockner. he was almost 14 years older than she was but didn't seem to matter. didn't hurt either that fred was a very successful man. anyway, this time it clicked. they had an intimate wedding on a boat off the california coast. the captain did the honors, and they lived alone together in that house in bixby knolls until finally, after 11 years, they had a son who grew up to be charlie. as parents, they encouraged him to try new things. >> it was one of the olympics. and we were watching gymnastics, and i turned around to my parents and go, i'm going to do
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that. and i think like a month later i enrolled in gymnastics. so it was very much a supportive environment. >> and lynn doted on her only son. it might be trite to say this, but she loved him more than life itself. he was the center of her universe. >> so after what happened, mark flew out to california right away to comfort charlie and fred, and to make funeral arrangements for his only sister lynn. and at the very same time, as if in another world altogether, a world devoted to the minutia of violent crime, detective richard birdsall poked around the entrails of this burglary gone bad. he could perhaps write up a report, be done with it, make the growing bad press go away. but no, richard birdsall was a troubled man. >> we said, we know something's wrong. my partner and i just feel something's wrong. but we don't know yet. >> wrong?
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well, of course it was. but the wrong the detective had in mind was not the grief or the loss or the vitriol thrown at the police. no, it was almost like a smell. the kind that sticks in your nose. something off. coming up -- one of the strangest things of all was the alleged killer himself. not your typical burglar. >> in his words, he always wanted to be a cop. >> and this wasn't your typical burglary. >> i worked burglary division for four years but i've never had one come with a device that's used simply for killing. when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues. from align. the #1 doctor recommended probiotic brand.
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♪ and all the fun we had last year ♪ watch the full story at www.xfinity.com/sing2 young charlie was a lucky kid to go up in a place like bixby knolls. >> tree-lined streets, beautiful neighborhood. it's a wonderful place to grow up. would ride my skateboard all around the block, take my dog with me. >> he was lucky, too, to have lynn for a mother. how did she make you feel? >> i guess how a parent should. >> safe. >> safe, happy, welcome, loving. just good. >> but now lynn shockner was gone. killed in a burglary. and charlie, just 14 and grief stricken, was so angry at the police. >> well, you didn't do your job. how could -- how could that happen with you being right there? that's just negligence. >> charlie was far from the only
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one. this was a broad daylight murder. police officers just outside the front door when it happened. i can imagine that people would be kind of upset in the neighborhood. a burglar had been there. robbed a house and killed a woman and the cops couldn't prevent it. >> right. i think the majority of the neighborhood was just stunned and shocked by the violence. you know, how does somebody who's in her own home die within a matter of seconds with officers all around her home? >> tracy's paper, "the long beach press telegram," was reporting on the community backlash. there was fear and, of course, anger. cops often tend to pull together in the face of a thing like that, but in private? harsh judgments, said the undercover cop, kris nelson. >> i'm sorry. you just don't let her go back into a situation like that. it's police 101. >> what? >> at the very minimum, you go with her. >> so what was the feeling in
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the department when this happened? >> they [ bleep ] up. >> detective richard birdsall, used to asking tough questions suddenly found himself answering them. you would think that the department would kind of adopt a bit of a defensive stance at this point. because you know the public's going to say, what the hell was going on here? why did you guys let that happen, right? >> yeah, they did, you know, because they're trying to defend the officers. and they didn't do anything wrong. you were waiting for someone to bring you the key. they waited a short period of time, within a minute. you know, they're yelling for her, ma'am, can you come back? hello? where are you? >> just a minute or so. enough for lynn to surprise the burglar, who stabbed her in the neck and grabbed some jewelry, and ran into the arms of the police. the detective prowled around the crime scene. >> we see that in the bedroom drawers were being opened, jewelry. things are thrown around. so a lot of things in disarray. >> looked like a standard
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daytime burglary gone horribly bad, of course, when lynn encountered the robber. but one thing stood out like well, like a bloody knife. >> i worked burglary division for four years. but i've never had one come with a device that's used simply for -- for killing. >> so, time to focus on that so-called burglar caught with a bloody knife in his pocket. name was nicholas harvey. he was 22 years old. and this was unusual. >> he didn't have a criminal background. he'd never been in trouble with the law before. >> seemed like a reasonably nice young man? >> yeah, very personable. i mean, he came across that way. he wanted to ingratiate himself with us as law enforcement. and you know, in his words, he always wanted to be a cop sometime in his life. >> and here, he's robbing and killing a woman. >> correct. >> he'd been an athlete in high school, still worked out a lot. was a personal trainer at his local gym. he was a big muscle-bound sort of character? >> correct. >> from port hueneme?
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>> but that's way up the coast. >> that's up by -- yeah, by ventura. >> in other words, about 70 miles from the crime scene. but why would he commit a robbery so far away from home? >> that's one of the flags that immediately came up. >> when detective birdsall and his partner first asked him, nick gave them an answer that, frankly, still didn't make sense. >> we came at him. and you know, his initial story was, oh, i heard this was a good area. >> really? there wasn't a good area closer to home? well then nick gave them another answer. >> he wanted to get out of his area. and he worked at a local gym up there where he's a gym rat and worked out with police officers and did martial arts with police officers. he felt they would recognize him. >> when he said that, did it seem plausible? >> no. it wasn't plausible at all. >> and one other thing. remember how, when police arrested him, they found jewelry in his pocket? turned out it was fake. even though lynn had lots of
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real diamonds right there to be taken along with other valuable items. >> if you're going to do a daytime burglary and you just killed somebody, you're going to make the effort to get the good stuff. but he didn't. >> so, either nick harvey was the world's worst burglar, or burglary wasn't the point of his visit. the detectives pushed him hard. but -- >> he didn't want to change his story. we went at him for hours, and we walked out of there going this is not what it seems to be. >> just a hunch, of course. no way to prove it. until 70 miles up the coast, a man picked up the phone to call the police. coming up -- a family feud. >> i wrote that letter. i signed the letter. i handed it to my sister. and i dared her to give it to him. >> what was that all about? when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues. mul.
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i'm dara brown. the variant of the coronavirus popped up in several country, germany, hong kong have confirmed omicron cases. the u.k. has confirmed cases which led boris johnson to have tougher rules. they'll be required to quarantine until they test negative. masks will be mandatory in shops and public transportation among other rules. now, back to "dateline." k to "d" detective richard birdsall didn't believe for a moment that he was investigating a burglary gone bad. for one thing, a guy doesn't travel 70 miles just to break into a house. but for all his suspicions, birdsall couldn't prove a thing. that is, until a man who knew nick harvey called the police and said -- >> nick harvey came to him and offered him some money, several
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hundred dollars to say hey, can you drive me down to long beach? >> he agreed. they met at a park and ride parking lot, and he drove nick's car. the driver also said nick told him why he needed to go to long beach. >> nick harvey said he was an enforcer for the local drug dealers up there. so he thought he was coming down just for that one reason. >> honestly, he had no idea the agenda included murder, said the driver. >> he never knew that he was going to come down to take someone's life. >> of course, the guy was probably lying. so they put him under arrest. anyway, his claim that he thought he was driving a drug enforcer didn't make a lick of sense. the notion that suburban housewife lynn schockner was somehow tangled up with drug dealers and had been targeted for execution was frankly preposterous. lynn had been living a quiet life for 25 years, married to a man with a lot going for him. >> he was a wealthy man. >> for years, fred earned top dollar in the aerospace industry.
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not to mention all the family money he inherited. >> they were able to afford things that none of us growing up could possibly afford. we were blue collar working class people, and we didn't know many millionaires growing up. >> he bought her things, jewelry and that sort of thing? >> well, right out of the gate they bought a very nice home in an exclusive suburb of long beach, bixby knolls. so that was a big step up. >> mark remembers flying out to see lynn after she got married. >> she was dying to show off her home, show off her new life. >> lynn seemed happy, said mark. >> she set out i think with special determination, having had her first marriage not last, to make this one work and function.
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>> to make a complete family, a desire that only intensified once charlie came along. >> she wanted her son to be the best person he could be. and would stop at nothing to make sure that he got that. >> around bixby knolls the schockners were considered a perfectly normal, if upscale, family. certainly not the kind of people who would be targeted by drug dealers. of course, members of the family had a slightly more intimate perspective. mark, for example, loved his sister but found fred a little obnoxious. >> he wasn't shy about dropping hints about the extent of his holdings. >> mark didn't see them very often. he lived way across the country in georgia. but when he did come to visit in long beach, and they went out for dinner, fred always managed to monopolize the conversation, then somehow, stick mark with the bill. >> cheap.
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totally opinionated. absolutely self-involved. >> so, when he invited lynn and charlie to visit him in georgia -- >> i basically told my sister not to bother to bring him. stay as long as she wanted. leave her old man at home. >> and on one of those visits, mark told lynn exactly how he felt. >> i said, how can you let someone run your life and forget about yourself? >> afterwards, he sat down and wrote many of the same things in a harshly worded letter to fred. >> i wrote that letter. i signed the letter. i handed it to my sister, and i dared her to give it to him. >> did you think she actually would? >> i didn't know, but she did. >> that took guts. >> it did. it did. >> and frankly, mark was pleased when, a few years later, after a quarter century of marriage,
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lynn told him they were splitting, and fred moved out of the house in bixby knolls. she changed somehow after your father left? >> she seemed freer, seemed happier, more able to get excited, just really interested in everything and very lighthearted. >> but her happiness was short-lived. and when mark first heard she was murdered, his mind went to a very dark place. could fred have had something to do with it? but as much as he disliked fred, he just couldn't see it. >> there were no connections in their personal life to this person that committed the crime. >> no, it seemed pretty clear, fred had nothing to do with lynn's murder. besides, lynn changed the locks on the house after fred moved out. could it be that someone she hired to install some protection actually came back to rob her and wound up killing her?
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after all, such a person would have seen that lynn had valuable things around her house in this very nice neighborhood. >> the neighborhood had everything a burglar wanted to find. private yards. >> sure. >> wealthy homes. >> and she had the worst of possible luck in that he picked her. >> yes. >> and now, the family came together in grief. and when he saw fred -- >> we hugged, traded condolences. >> within five or ten minutes, he mentioned the letter. he said, do you still believe that? i said, no, that's water over the bridge. we need to get on with our family. we need to stick together. >> fred moved back into the family home. he and charlie and the rest of the family leaned on each other. while around the neighborhood
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people absorbed the news that police had the driver, a possible accomplice, in custody. neighbors wondered, were more people involved? >> there was concern that there were others that might come back to more houses and more homes and that they were violent. >> but that fear soon turned to anger when another bit of news swept through bixby knolls. that police let the driver go. coming up -- detectives were convinced nick harvey didn't have a motive to commit murder, but just maybe someone else did. >> my partner discovered that there was a person that he talked to multiple times right before the murder. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues
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for the gifts you won't forget. the mercedes-benz winter event. get a credit toward your first month's payment on select models. ever since lynn schockner was murdered in her own home as police stood outside, criticism of the long beach police department had been intense. emotions raw. >> the officers were extremely upset. my understanding was one of the officers who was on the call had had a nervous breakdown or, you know, an episode like that afterward because it was just too much for him. >> detective richard birdsall knew, even as he investigated lynn's murder, that her family was angry with the police. >> yeah, they were.
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they were upset, like every -- anybody would be, and like the press. i mean, everybody else was upset with us, that we didn't do our job to protect someone's life. because that's ultimately what we're supposed to do. >> lynn's husband, fred, even threatened to sue the long beach pd for not protecting his wife. and so detective birdsall knew he'd take even more heat when the news leaked out that police had arrested an alleged accomplice of the suspected killer and then, just as quickly, released him. but that's exactly what birdsall did. release the man who admitted he'd driven the killer to the crime scene. but the detective had a plan. >> we actually put an active feed on his -- on his phone. we want to find out who he's talking to. we have the driver. we have the killer. now we want to find out if there's more people involved. >> detective birdsall didn't believe nick harvey was a drug enforcer. just didn't buy it. so he hoped that by releasing the driver and tapping his phone he could uncover what was really going on.
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there was just one problem. after he was let go, the driver didn't reach out to anyone. >> the only person he ever spoke to was nick harvey. >> no, the driver was not part of a larger web. he had nothing whatever to do with lynn's murder. so he was telling the truth. >> it turned out, yes. >> dead end. so they kept on digging into nick's background. and remember, this was a guy with a clean record. he came off like a perfectly ordinary young man. >> we talked to the family. i mean, they were all incredulous that he would ever do something like that. >> nick's family. >> nick's family, correct. >> incredulous? >> it didn't fit him. didn't fit his persona. never thought he would be capable of doing something like this. >> so when you asked his family about him, how did they characterize him? >> at that time, he worked out a lot. he was doing steroids, but just didn't really have a focus in life. he actually was a trainer for the local gym up there. and that's all he did. i mean, he worked -- did a bouncer at a bar.
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not in trouble with the law. he wasn't someone that attracted trouble to himself. >> but somehow he'd found plenty of trouble. police started to figure out how when they subpoenaed his phone records. >> my partner discovered that there was a person that he had talked to frank jaramillo and multiple times right before the murder. >> frank jaramillo? >> correct. >> frank jaramillo, aka "el cubano," once managed the gym where nick trained. odd person to call just before committing a murder, unless, of course, he was in on it. how to find out? step one, said kris nelson, go back to nick harvey. lean on him a little bit. >> you got to talk to this guy before he gets arraigned. because once he's arraigned, you're screwed. he's going to get an attorney. >> sure. >> and his attorney's going to tell him to shut up. >> just what birdsall and his partner were thinking. so they confronted nick again. now two days after lynn's murder. >> you need to be fully truthful
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with my partner and i right now because it's only going to, you know, benefit you to tell the truth. this is getting uglier and uglier. >> we went at him one last time. tell us your story. he reiterates almost exactly what he said before. >> which was that he killed lynn schockner because the burglary he tried to carry out went bad. the cops still didn't buy it. >> him and i been doing this a long time, nick. you need to take nick and your responsibility now. take care of nick now please. be truthful with us because we're not going to stop, nick. him and i, that's our job. >> and that's when nick's story started to change. >> i might as well break it down for you guys. i was hired to hit the house. i don't know why. i didn't ask. >> that is, said nick, he was hired to commit a burglary. one that, depending on what he could steal, might prove very profitable. >> what's the amount you were promised? >> what was in the house plus uh, $2,500.
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>> b.s., said the cops. he was hired to kill, and they knew it. because those phone records told a very different story than he did. and finally, nick harvey cracked. >> and i remember nick harvey's words like, yeah, you guys are good. you got me. >> just like that? >> just like that. and then he cops out. >> yes, he said. frank jaramillo, the guy they called el cubano, hired him to kill lynn schockner. gave him $2,500 up front, promised $2,500 more when the job was done. why a guy would commit murder for a measly five grand was one question, but a more urgent one was this. who was this el cubano, really? and why would he pay a guy to kill a housewife in long beach? coming up -- it's always the husband, right? but in this case police didn't seem to think so. >> the detective was very quick
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the plan had been as simple as it was ugly. nick harvey, in exchange for just $5,000, was to kill a long beach housewife named lynn schockner, stage it like a burglary, and then get away clean. instead, nick was in jail facing murder charges and detectives were prying apart a conspiracy. nick had already told them he'd been hired by a man named frank jaramillo, who went by "el cubano." >> they wanted the job done, wanted the burglary staged. >> nick met el cubano at an el torito restaurant, he said, where he was paid half up front. >> what did you do with that money? >> i moved. so i had to buy a bunch of new
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bedroom stuff. >> he'd spent the $2,500 on new furniture from a store called the couch potato. but when the time came to earn the rest of his money, to kill lynn, he said, for a moment he got cold feet. >> truth be told, when i got there, i didn't want to do it at all. in fact, when i was sitting there, i was sitting actually back by the back of the door and i was -- [ bleep ] part is i actually thought about leaving right when she came up walking. >> that's when he went into something like fight or flight mode, he said, and he killed her. then he quickly ran into the house pulled out some drawers, grabbed some jewels to make it look like a burglary. but then when he tried to escape, he discovered, to his horror, that the cops were, or appeared to be, waiting for him. so then, listen to this. harvey had a question for the detectives. >> can i ask you a question?
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i don't know if you guys can answer this. how'd you get there so fast? >> neighbor. there's people in the neighborhood. someone saw you get out of the car. >> did you know the cops were even out there? >> not until i got back over the wall and i saw the van. and when i saw the van that's when i said, this has got to be a set up. >> that is, he thought he was being double crossed by his friend frank, aka el cubano. that's why he decided to stick to the botched burglary story, he said. maybe he'd just get second degree murder. and once he got out of prison, he was going to find frank and -- >> take care of him myself. >> the detectives played along, of course. let nick dream up whatever conspiracy theory made him happy. but meanwhile, they requisitioned el cubano's phone records, and they found something quite surprising. >> not only had frank jaramillo been talking with nick harvey, but he also had talked to the husband. >> fred schockner.
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>> fred schockner. >> fred schockner, lynn's husband of 25 years. on the surface, it didn't make much sense. after all, fred had been cooperative with detectives from day one. and yes, he had moved out of the family house, but he told them the break was amicable. she was my best friend, he said. and yet, not long after the murder, young charlie sought out detective birdsall and whispered an awful question. >> did my dad have something to do with this? >> charlie remembers what they told him. >> the detective was very quick to assure me that they have no suspicions of that. they don't think that would be something that was happening. and if they had thought that, that they would already have looked into it and not to worry about that. >> is that what detectives really believed? well, no. >> we had to sit there and look at him in the eye and say, we'll catch everybody who was involved. >> but not say, we suspect him? >> exactly. >> they believed they simply
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couldn't tell charlie or the rest of the family what they were discovering. afraid that fred would find out and stop talking to them. so charlie stayed at home with his father. his uncle mark was allowed, even encouraged, to believe that fred was not involved, even as the detectives were getting the real story from the hit man, nick harvey. >> did you know who talked to cubano regarding this? >> yeah. >> who did? >> her husband. >> so doesn't that mean that you can now go out and arrest jaramillo and fred schockner? charge them all with murder right then. >> we wish. but remember, it's a co-conspirator statement. i have no facts. i've got a statement from one person. >> that person, nick harvey, was an admitted killer and demonstrated liar. and with the police department under so much scrutiny, they didn't dare arrest anybody without solid proof. just think of the scandal if, on
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top of everything else, the prosecution failed. they did find fred's business card in harvey's wallet, but that wasn't enough either. meanwhile, the public and lynn's family would be encouraged to believe it was a simple case of a burglary gone bad, a murder the cops should have prevented. >> i couldn't go out there and defend my department, as much as i wanted to. >> you couldn't say anything. >> and i can't tell the press. i can't tell -- i mean, we can't defend ourselves because the suspects, the persons of interest, are the ones we're looking at. we don't want to alert them. we don't want them to get lawyers. >> and so, inside and outside the long beach pd, the pressure was on. >> and my department wanted a quick resolve because we have a black eye. the press was just beating us up daily because of what we did. >> so the clock was ticking. detectives needed to prove the murder-for-hire plot, and they needed to do it fast. >> so that was the whole game is trying to play cat and mouse, trying to get more. we want to get them to talk. we want to get them to communicate.
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>> but wasn't going to happen, by the look of it. even though they kept talking to fred. >> we kept going to the husband. >> playing dumb, of course, but hoping he'd panic and call el cubano. >> i mean, at the point we were calling almost every day but, again, trying to give a reason so he wouldn't become more suspicious than what he was. >> oh, just one more question, sir. >> exactly. i felt like columbo. oh, one more, sir. >> this was a game, of course, with deadly consequences. death also has a way of bringing people together. lynn was a private woman, had very few friends beyond her son charlie and yet. >> we had a big service for her. it was amazing how many people came out for my mother. it was nice. i just remember at that point i couldn't even cry. it was just still just depressed
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and shocked and i felt bad for that for a long time. but. >> well, that's pretty normal. >> yeah. >> did the tears come? >> yeah, it took a while, but they did. >> meanwhile, detective richard birds all was chipping away at the case, but far too slowly for his bosses at the beleaguered long beach police department, still under fire for not preventing a murder. the detectives found connections among the three suspected conspirators but not nearly enough to go to court. >> you have a murder for hire, now you have to go arrest everybody. i would love to, but do i have probable cause? no, i really don't. i've got to prove more. >> and you couldn't even say that either one of those people was a suspect? >> correct. and, you know, i was 6'2" when i started, 5'2" when i finished because there was so much pressure on me to do it and go
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out and arrest. coming up, fred and frank finally start talking. >> we had like 60-plus phone conversations between them. >> how are you doing, bud? >> it has been a rotten, rotten time. >> but will it help detectives catch a killer? when "dateline" continues. when "dateline" continues. nurse mariyam sabo knows a moment this pure... ...demands a lotion this pure. new gold bond pure moisture lotion. 24-hour hydration. no parabens, dyes, or fragrances. gold bond. champion your skin. your eyes. beautiful on the outside, but if you have diabetes, there can be some not-so-pretty stuff going on inside. it's true, with diabetic retinopathy, excess sugar can damage blood vessels, causing vision loss or even blindness.
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police suspected that fred was the murder for hire for his wife. but they don't have enough evidence to make an arrest. so they kept dropping in on fred, all very nonthreatening. and then finally, they asked him if he happened to know anyone in the port hueneme area. that's where hit man nick harvey lived. and fred said, yes, he did. the man he knew, he said, was frank jaramillo, just a guy he
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met when frank managed a gym in long beach. in fact, said fred, he had bought a used bmw from frank for 25,000 and frank was going to deliver the car when he returned if an overseas business trip. in new delhi. of course, from phone records the cops knew perfectly well that frank, aka, el cubano, was in fact at home, about 50 miles north of long beach in woodland hills. but fred kept talking. and ever more chatty volunteered he left frank more than $100,000, which made sense given what detectives had already learned about frank. >> he had a fetish for watches and living a lifestyle of the rich and famous. he really didn't have a full-time job. >> but if frank thought he was taking advantage of fred, the detectives believed it was just the opposite. >> i think fred schockner wanted
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to own frank jaramillo in some way. >> so frank already had the $100,000. now he's on the hook big time to fred. and fred says to get off the hook, you got to make this happen? >> correct. >> then the slate's wiped clean. >> absolution of all debt. >> so in the detective's view, fred was the mastermind, using his financial leverage to manipulate frank who in turn hired nick for a bargain basement price. but fred still didn't know the cops even suspected him, didn't have any idea, for example, that they were tapping his phone. so when fred actually began calling the cops to play mr. cooperative, they recorded every word. >> hello, officer. this is fred schockner. >> hey, mr. schockner, how are you doing? >> there has never been anything as bad as this in my life. >> oh, right, right. >> and i hope there never will be. >> i don't blame you. >> but you asked me a couple of
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questions and let me give you some information. >> okay. >> the check that i wrote to frank was cashed on october 29th. >> that was 5,000. that was for the bmw. >> that was for the bmw. >> and look at this. on the check there's a note that indicates the bmw would be delivered between 11/7 and 8. lynn was murdered on the 8th of november. >> i called them today and asked about the status of the car on the voice mail. >> you didn't happen to ask him if he was back in the country, did you? >> no, i just left him a voice mail. >> does it sound like fred is having fun toying with the cops? >> any other questions you have for us at this time? >> happy fishing.
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why is it going so long? that's a good question. because the fishing isn't answering, right? >> well, like i said, i told you from the beginning, it's a pretty simple case. >> hold on a second, the other line's ringing. >> in the middle of the conversation, fred got another call, from frank jaramillo. fred puts him on hold, continues to speak with the detective. even offering a theory about the killer. nick harvey. >> you know the kid from port hueneme may have been someone that was associated with the lock change, it may have been someone that was associated with someone she met and tried to help. >> exactly. >> fred hung up with the detective and picked up his cell phone to talk to jaramillo. that call was also recorded. >> hello. did you hear a lot of that? >> kind of. >> okay. good. >> i don't need to talk about it. >> okay. >> how are you doing, bud? >> it has been a rotten, rotten time. all the -- so much sympathy and so much activity surrounding it. it's unbelievable.
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>> so just as the cops had been hoping, fred and frank talked, but not a word from either one to establish they were involved in a murder. >> we had like 60-plus phone conversations between them. >> you're tapping them all. >> we're tapping them all. >> but they just didn't slip up. so it was time, the detectives decided, to launch the undercover squad led by kris nelson. >> i was armed with information now. nick harvey's told the homicide guys what's up. they've told me. so now if you're frank and fred, frick and frack. >> yeah. >> your biggest concern is that nick's caught. >> yeah. of course. you want to make sure he's not going to say anything. >> what does he have to trade. >> first detective nelson decided he'd phone fred schockner himself and pretend to be the hired killer, nick harvey. how did you go about doing this? >> i went to county jail and i
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used one of their inmate phones because i wanted the prerecording that says, you're receiving a call from a california penal institution, blah, blah, blah. and he hung up on me i think the first time. there was a pause there where they ask you if you're willing to accept. and he said no, click. then i waited about five minutes and i call him again. >> and this time fred took the call. >> i said i'm the guy that did the work at your house for you and i'm going to need my other half. i'm going to need my money, you know, for an attorney. he says, you already have it. i said no. and he said, well, you need to talk to your guy. >> your guy. he could only mean frank jaramillo. but he didn't say the words. didn't say anything incriminating. and so, he tried something different. much riskier. time to get uncle john involved. coming up -- >> frank?
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>> yes. >> frank, my name's john. >> detectives set a trap. >> i'm the one that can keep nick quiet. you're going to give me money. >> but will frank walk into it? >> i really don't have money to help him out. help him out claim forgiveness-nr home premium won't go up just because of this. (woman) wow, that's something. (burke) you get a whole lot of something with farmers policy perks. [echoing] get a quote today. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ ♪ ♪
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after days of repeated calls and interviews with fred schockner, detectives had elicited some tantalizing details, but not enough evidence to arrest him for lynn's murder. so they decided to focus on suspected middleman, frank jaramillo, el cubano. undercover cop kris nelson had a plan to set a trap to make frank believe he was about to be fingered by the hit man, nick harvey. so he'd phone frank, and portray himself as -- >> a relative of nick's with a past of my own, not particularly
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liking cops, you know, i'm the one that can keep nick quiet. and what are you going to give me in exchange for that? you're going to give me money. >> afraid frank would recognize the trap and hang up on him, detective nelson elected to make up a very unthreatening persona. >> so i thought, well, i'll be uncle john. you know, that his mother sent down from the bay area to see what's really going on and what's harvey got himself into. >> so uncle john places a call to el cubano. >> hey, uh, frank? >> yes. >> frank, hey. hey, my name's john. >> now to set the trap. he'd say nick needs money for a lawyer. >> he seems to think you or fred will help him out. he didn't want a [ bleep ] public defender. >> okay. >> frank tells uncle john he knows nick, but -- >> he's more of an acquaintance. i don't, you know, i really don't have money to help him
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out. >> at first frank doesn't seem to take the bait. >> yeah, if i can help him in any way i -- understand, i would but i'm sorry, i apologize, i can't. >> but then, carefully, uncle john reels him in. >> well, he seemed to think that if somebody didn't reach out to him -- he told me not so much you, but he told me to have you tell fred that if he didn't get some help pretty soon, he was going to go to the cops. >> okay. give me a call tomorrow and i'll see what i can do to help you, partner. >> but after all that, frank did not make the all important and incriminating call to fred schockner asking for money. and so the very next day uncle john tried again. >> hey, did you get a hold of fred? >> no, but between you and i, i don't mind taking care of him, bud. >> frank asked for time and agreed to meet uncle john in person to hand over some money. >> do you know where the
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thousand oaks mall's at? >> thousand oaks mall. >> it's off of lynn road. >> lynn? >> yes, off the 101. >> lynn road, the irony was apparently lost on frank jaramillo. it was mid-morning, late november. detective nelson was worried. would he show up? >> you sit in the parking lot by yourself and you kind of go over -- and sure, your heart races a little bit. i mean, it's crunch time and you feel like everybody's kind of depending on you to get this done. you want it to go well. >> so the idea is you're reeling them in like a fisherman? >> yep. >> but there are times when you don't know what's going to happen? >> right. you know? could have a fray in the line. have it break. had that happen a few times. >> but not this time. there was frank in a brand new lexus suv. >> frank? >> yeah, that's me. >> that's not an i.s. >> an i.s., referring to the less expensive car he said he'd be driving. >> oh, yeah. my wife took the other car this morning. >> that's sweet.
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now i know what you spent your money on. >> money from fred schockner, is what the cop meant. frank did not take that bait. >> i gotta get going. >> hard to tell from the video, but frank coughs up the money. >> i got a grand for you right now because they're still monitoring my accounts. >> who is? >> [ bleep ] detectives. >> are they looking at you? >> yeah. >> detective birdsall was inside a van listening to the whole thing go down. >> and when you finally get something like that, that's gold. that was the nail in his coffin. >> so the instant he offered that $1,000, you knew, i got him. >> yep. we got him. he locked himself into it. >> and a couple of days later, detective birdsall and his partner paid frank a visit to snap their trap shut. >> they basically brace him with, you know, who is this guy john? and you know, it's our understanding you gave him some money.
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and he's like, i don't know what you're talking about. >> i've never met any guy named john. >> yeah, you know, i come into the room a few minutes later and -- >> whoops. >> yeah. it was like the oh look of the century like. >> then he realized you're a cop. >> yeah. he just hung his head and he just looked sick. i think the whole world came crashing down at that point. >> you could see the look in his eyes, like, the deer in the headlights. and then he just started giving it all up. coming up -- >> he would want to beat you with a belt and he would try to prevent it. >> and he would beat her. >> at home with fred schockner behind closed doors. >> you thought all families were like that? >> yeah. that's what families did. did check out this multi-flex tailgate. multi-flex, huh? wow. it becomes a step. mom, dad's flexing again. that's not all. you can extend the bed for longer stuff. is he still... still flexing.
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saturday, a ban of planes from south african. a man headed in the landing gear of an american airlines flight arrived at miami international airport saturday. he survived a 2 1/2 hour flight. he with you unharmed. now barack to "dateline." o "dat. nearly a month after lynn schockner was cut down at her own back door her killer was behind bars, but her husband fred was still a free man and back in the family home with charlie. the press was in the dark. long beach was in the dark. no one seriously believed what the police now firmly believed that fred schockner ordered and paid for his own wife's murder. as charlie's uncle mark said --
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>> never in my wildest dreams, even after she was killed, because the circumstances, nothing pointed at fred. and the police did not point at fred. >> but, said detective richard birdsall, they had their reasons. >> we used them, in a lot of respects. you feel guilty because they're beating their chests and they're upset. and they had no idea that the father of charlie is the one that set the whole thing up. >> well, remember, maybe some idea. >> yeah, i always had my suspicions. >> in spite of the fact that it was a burglar and the police said it was a burglar. >> uh-huh. >> you still suspected your father? >> i didn't want to put it past him, as much as like, as a kid you don't want to suspect
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someone of that. it just seemed false. like there were just little ticks of stuff that just seemed wrong. >> it started the day his mother was murdered when he and his dad surveyed the house ransacked during the burglary. >> he had me go back and clean up all the jewelry that had been overturned and spilled out. >> what does that do to your mind? >> it made me very numb, very numb. it was a task. and i did it, and then i went to bed. >> and your dad went to bed in the house with you. >> uh-huh. >> charlie understood his father intimately, of course, and he alone knew the secret, understood his father in a way that had been hidden from the outside world for years. charlie may have looked like any other happy suburban kid, but at home, he said, he understood normal life to be the constant expectation of moments of terror. frequent, unpredictable rages. abuse. a mother desperately trying to protect him. and so he would want to beat you with a belt, and she would try to prevent it, and that would produce an argument between them? >> and then he would beat her.
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>> how often? >> often enough that as a child i knew what was going on. but then, that was normal, so i didn't know it was wrong. >> you thought all families were like that? >> until i had friends really come over, and they noticed stuff, and it was weird for them to notice things and to comment on it. but yeah, it was always just that's what families did. >> year after year it went on, said charlie, until his mother came to whisper her own secret. she was finally going to leave fred. >> my mom was tucking me in at night when i was 12 or so, and she was talking about how she was thinking about doing this and that she was so nervous about doing it and didn't know if it was the right choice or what to do about it. >> what'd you think? >> my first thought was very
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excited because it was just great to be able to think of getting away from him. >> and then, finally, more than a year later lynn hired family law attorney lisa brandon. what did she tell you she wanted from you? >> she wanted a fair division of the property. >> but, said lisa, fred controlled all the finances. so she didn't know how much money they had as a family? >> no, no idea. >> how much money did they have, this family? >> well, including the equity in the home, probably $6 million to $7 million. >> which in a legal separation by california law would be split down the middle. but lisa said lynn told her fred would never part with any of that money. lynn also told her about fred's physical abuse. and so with a pending separation lisa worried about lynn and charlie's safety. >> i wanted her to move out of the home with charlie. she wouldn't do it.
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she wouldn't leave her home. she wouldn't disrupt charlie. he was just starting high school. they'd lived in the neighborhood forever. so she was a sitting target. >> did she understand that it was dangerous for her? >> yes, yes. >> and yet, she went ahead and did it anyway? >> that's how important getting out of that relationship was to her. she was willing to risk her life, and she told me that. >> lisa told lynn she should at least get a restraining order against fred. >> it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. >> that's what she told you? >> uh-huh. if he's going to kill me, he'll kill me. restraining orders won't stop him. >> too late now, of course. but what about charlie? the detectives, worried about his safety, called lynn's brother mark. he'd gone back across the country to georgia. and urged him to invite charlie for an extended visit with him and his wife susan even though they did not tell mark about
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their suspicion. >> i was surprised. i am still to this day. that fred allowed that to happen, but he did. >> perhaps fred had more pressing things to think about. whatever his reason he put charlie on a plane to georgia just in time for the main event in the murder investigation. frank jaramillo, under arrest as the alleged middleman, was spilling it all, telling police he took money from lynn's husband. a lot of it. and used a little of it to hire the killer, nick harvey. and then, with a little polite arm twisting, frank agreed to set a trap for the suspected mastermind, fred schockner. wait a minute. did you promise him something in exchange? >> didn't promise him anything, no. >> so why would he do it? >> i think, in his mind, because we got him on everything else, he was trying to dig himself out of a hole. >> or maybe frank didn't understand how deep the hole was. as undercover cop kris nelson prepared frank for his big meeting with fred, el cubano got a call from his wife. >> he said, hey, i'm down here with cops and i'm helping them. and he goes, i'll be home later.
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he actually thought he was still going home. he even told me, he goes, well, i didn't kill her. i almost wanted to slap him and go, no, you hired somebody else to. >> oh, he must have known. i mean, you got to be blind and deaf not to know that. >> you'd think. we used to laugh like is this guy for real? >> frank set it up, called fred's land line, got the answering machine, still lynn's voice. >> hi, you've reached the schockners. sorry we missed your call. please leave a message after the tone and we will get back to you. have a great day. bye-bye. >> hey, old man, it's frank. just wanted to come on by and see you and talk to you about a couple things so we can get a couple things straightened up. i would appreciate it. i'm going to try you on your cell phone. >> hello? >> hello. >> hello? >> you there? >> yeah. >> what's going on, bud? >> nothing much. >> and they agreed to meet 7:30 in the evening at a local restaurant. >> i'll try to be there on time.
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>> all right, bud, that's all. i'll see you around 7:30, bud. >> okay, bye. >> less than two hours later, frank, wearing the same hidden camera that the detective used to catch him, walked in to the restaurant to meet fred schockner. >> i set him up with the camera and the audio. and we got a table, a couple tables away, the three of us, to make sure that he didn't run. >> so you had your eyeballs on him. >> yeah, and we wanted to see everybody's reaction and we had, of course, the audio. we had a surveillance team outside listening to everything. coming up -- one problem. 7:30 came and went. minutes ticked past. no fred. >> he was already really paranoid about being set up. >> would he show? and what if he didn't? when dl "dl "dateline" continues. l "dateline" continues.
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after nearly a month of painstaking investigation, detectives had engineered a face-to-face meeting between the murder middleman frank jaramillo and the suspected mastermind, lynn schockner's husband, fred. this is where frank would attempt to get fred to say something to incriminate himself. except fred was late. had he finally realized they were laying a trap? 7:30. 7:33. 7:35. nothing. if he didn't show this could all fall apart. then a signal from the surveillance van. there he was. >> the guys outside saw him kind of casing the place to make sure he wasn't being -- he was already really paranoid about being setup. >> clearly. >> came in with his note pad. >> hey, old man, how are you feeling? >> now all eyes were on frank and fred. >> and they both at this point look like they've been rode hard and put away wet.
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i mean, just jaramillo's tired looking and, you know, you can imagine the amount of stress that must be going through him. and then the old man who didn't look like he was doing particularly well either. >> did he look frightened or something? >> yeah, they both looked scared. they both looked like trapped rats on a burning ship, you know? >> and as they feared, fred was suspicious. he sat down, said not a word. but he'd written something on his note pad. >> at which point, fred schockner lifted that note up that says, "are you wired?" >> i'm not. >> very possible. >> i thought he was going to walk, you know? i thought, you know, this guy's going to come to his senses and realize this -- >> stand up and turn out and walk out the restaurant. >> but he didn't. >> he stayed. and they talked. frank trying to get fred to admit his role, fred deflecting
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his attempts. >> you know, you and i would not be sitting here if you didn't want, if you didn't want lynn killed, you know that. >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> but frank kept going at him, and fred finally let something slip. >> i'm scared, fred. i don't know, i understand you're scared, too. you have to understand. we would not be in this position if it wasn't for her. if it wasn't for lynn, we would not be here. >> that's true. and if it hadn't been sloppy on nick's part, we wouldn't be here either. >> fred referring to nick harvey, the hired killer. for the first time connecting himself to lynn's murder. but frank kept going after him, as if he knew they needed more. >> we wouldn't [ bleep ] be here if it wasn't for you. we would not be here. we wouldn't. >> and we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the way things were [ bleep ] up by nick. >> he [ bleep ] got caught. that's him. he's doing the time for you.
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>> like watching two old married couples arguing back and forth about whose fault it was that the dinner was cold or something. >> but of course, this argument was deadly serious. >> you have to understand, we need to [ bleep ] erase this problem. this is your problem, okay? you have to understand. listen to me. >> no. it's not my problem. it's our problem. isn't it? >> i would have to say it's more your problem. >> fred was still very suspicious of frank and asked a few more times if he was wired. frank, frustrated now, tried to goad him. >> i killed lynn? you're saying that i killed lynn? >> nope. you arranged. >> you're saying i killed lynn. >> nope. >> who wanted her dead? answer me that [ bleep ] question. who wanted her dead? who benefited from that, fred? >> nobody.
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>> frank argued like a man who wasn't acting. maybe he wasn't. >> oh, really? then who wanted her dead? me? answer me that [ bleep ] question. who wanted her [ bleep ] dead? not me. >> the tension between the two seemed to reach a breaking point. >> if you would back off and allow us to think and talk together. >> you have to understand that's why i'm here. >> no, what you're here is trying to incite me to do things. >> oh really? >> you keep on saying this over and over. >> okay, you know what, fred? why don't you just go home? thank you very much, and i will tell nick the same. have a good evening, fred. have a good evening. thank you for everything. whatever money i owe you, i'll pay you back. get the [ bleep ] out of my face. you [ bleep ]ed me. you [ bleep ]ed nick. and don't worry about me
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anymore. i asked you a [ bleep ] question. you cannot answer it. >> and just as fred was walking away frank gave it one last shot. >> why don't you [ bleep ] admit what you did wrong? >> i haven't done anything wrong. >> okay, and i did everything, right? >> no, you haven't done anything, either, have you? >> no. >> that's what you told me on the phone. >> you need to quiet nick's family. on your part. >> i don't have the cash for nick's family because you have all my cash. so if you want to give me the cash, i'm give it back to you and you can do what you want. >> and that was it. maybe not exactly the words detective birdsall hoped to hear, but after weeks of dead ends and intense pressure, getting fred on tape saying those things finally made his case. what was the mood in the van you were sitting in? >> it was elation. we got enough. >> finally, enough evidence to arrest him. but they didn't. they let him go home just to see
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what he'd do. >> let's just see if he reaches out to somebody. because now he's scared. >> back at the restaurant frank waited for an all-clear signal from the detectives. and the waiter, who'd frequently served the schockner family, stopped by to reminisce about lynn. >> she's very nice, very funny. >> putting frank in a very uncomfortable spot. >> there's nothing that anybody can say can -- >> he wasn't able to complete his thought, and soon fred would be having a very different kind of conversation with the police. coming up -- what a mess. and fred forgot to clean up. >> didn't throw out his trash in time. >> no. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues
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>> you have to understand, i'm a 29-year-old man, fred. >> before he got mixed up with
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fred schockner, frank jaramillo, aka el cubano, had so many possibilities. he'd just recently married a wonderful woman, a school teacher, who had no idea what her husband had done or what he was facing. >> there's nothing that's going to happen if we both maintain our cool. >> but it was too late for that. frank did not go home to his wife that evening. he submitted to a pair of handcuffs and was carted off to jail. and fred, well, fred did go home under the watchful eye of the undercover cops, who also conducted a thorough search of the restaurant for those notes fred wrote. they found nothing. nor did fred contact anyone else that evening. and so the next morning -- >> we just showed up 9:00 in the
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morning and caught him in his pajamas and disheveled. i mean, you could tell he hadn't slept a lot that night. >> he look shocked, worried, upset? >> very shocked and very upset. why were we there? and, you know, our response is, we're here to arrest you. >> they took him away. and when they searched his house, they found one last piece of evidence in a trash can. one of those notes fred scribbled in the restaurant. "sloppy nick," it said. he didn't throw out his trash in time. >> nope. >> across the country in georgia, charlie got the news. >> yeah, that was another kind of happy moment, to be honest. >> that's quite a place to get to in life, when you're happy that your father's been arrested for murder, the murder of your mother, mind you. >> yeah. it's -- >> i mean -- >> no one wants to -- no one would want to actually say, gosh, yeah, that's a good thing, but after everything growing up with him in the house, it seems like a little bit of justice. >> almost three years after
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lynn's death the three men charged with her murder finally went on trial. and detective richard birdsall and undercover cop kris nelson, both retired now, were there. >> it's always nice to see a case all the way through, and see it in, you know, in my opinion, see people get, you know, get what they got coming to them. >> do they give you a special weird look? >> you know when they walked into court the only one that looked good that day, like rested and fine, was nick harvey. you could tell he had come to terms with what he'd done. he knew he was never going to see the light of day again. the other two were really struggling with it. they looked really beat. >> they were so different, the three of them. they were a very unlikely trio of criminals. >> wendy thomas russell, a reporter for "the long beach press telegram" at the time, covered all three trials.
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nick harvey's was first. >> i would have to say he was more brawn than brain. and i don't mean that to be insensitive, but this is a guy who took the witness stand in his own defense and he said that he aspired to be a hit man. that he -- >> he said that on the witness stand? >> yes. >> what did you think? >> i thought you're not the brightest bulb of the marquee. >> no kidding. >> so he said that he'd toyed around with being a hit man, that he idolized the hulk as a child, the incredible hulk. and he said that he had taken steroids just to get bigger and stronger. and you know, it's was very hard for the jury to have sympathy for him. >> and they didn't. the jury found him guilty in about 35 minutes. first-degree murder and burglary.
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next was frank jaramillo. >> he said that he wouldn't have done it had schockner not threatened his wife and his in-laws. >> so this was -- he did it out of fear then? >> yeah, he said, literally, he said on the stand that he had sacrificed his life for his family, when we all know that he has sacrificed lynn schockner's life for his pocketbook. >> but that was his defense. >> it was his defense. ed >> the verdict, guilty of first-degree murder. and now it was fred's turn. >> and the man had aged at least ten years. he looked so frail. >> but this wasn't over just yet. when fred schockner took the witness stand he told the jury he could explain everything. do tell. coming up -- >> he was very defiant and completely maintained his innocence. >> will the jury believe him? >> i had a moment of just
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you hold your breath. the world kind of stops. >> a hushed courtroom in long beach, california. fred schockner, charged with commissioning the murder of his wife, caught on tape blaming a sloppy hit man, took the stand in his own defense. >> he was very defiant and completely maintained his innocence until the end. i mean, in the face of this overwhelming evidence he maintained his innocence. >> it was all a tragic misunderstanding, said fred. he didn't pay for murder, just for a used bmw. and all those calls to his alleged co-conspirator, el cubano?
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fred said they were -- wait for it -- pocket calls. and they proved nothing. the jury had to consider all possibilities, naturally, and there was no shortage of nerves among members of lynn's family. charlie, just 17 years old that day, watched the jury file back in. >> it's "law & order" and everything right there. you sit there and everyone comes in and just you hold your breath. the world kind of stops. you don't know what the outcome is because they have all the power. whatever they say is either the truth or what is going to be the truth. >> a lot of butterflies in your tummy. >> oh, god, yeah. >> he looked at their faces for some sign. waited nervously for justice for his mother. what was it like to hear the words? >> emancipating. it was just unbelievable. >> the verdict -- guilty of first-degree murder.
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>> i had a moment of just sitting there, and i just started crying. i hugged my family. >> you know, it's interesting you say, hugged my family, because somebody who doesn't know the whole story might say, well, you just lost your family. but they don't know the whole story. >> yeah. no. no, they were -- having my mother's side of the family, her two brothers and their family with me, it was amazing. it was what families should be. they were all there for me. >> the judge allowed charlie to address his father in court. >> i had this whole, like, speech prepared of, this is like vindication of everything. but, i was so angry, was just shaking and not really able to get my words out. but i managed to say, like i'm no longer your son. i can't believe you would do this. and just you're going to where
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you belong. >> that would be a pretty scary moment, i mean, a nervous making moment. >> oh, it was terrifying. to know that it was actually going to happen, that this was the culmination of everything. it was a lot of emotion. >> also your way of saying good-bye to him. >> yeah. yeah. >> through all of this, fred schockner maintained his innocence. in fact, even before his trial began fred did carry out a threat he uttered right after the murder. he launched a lawsuit against the long beach police department for not protecting his wife, lynn. >> he went to the city and filed a claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit against the city of long beach blaming the long beach police department for not preventing the murder of his wife because they had not, you
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know, followed through, followed proper procedure. >> wait a minute. it's their fault because they didn't prevent me from killing my wife? >> that's right, exactly, yeah. >> the claim was rejected. but now, on the day of his sentencing, he tried the same argument again. chutzpah. >> that was the -- yes, that was the judge's response too. he called it sophistry. and he called him a disgusting human being. and he did not mince words. >> fred was sentenced to life without parole. they all were. in a few sentences, what you think the motive in this murder was? >> money. >> wow, in one word, apparently. >> for whatever reason, $3 million or $4 million was not enough for manfred schockner. he wanted $6 million or $8 million. >> even from prison fred
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schockner fought to keep it all for himself. fought his own son, his own blood, tried to prevent charlie from getting a share of the schockner estate. and though charlie was eventually granted some of the money, fred kept millions for himself. though how he'd manage to spend it in prison was unclear. we wrote letters to all three of them, nick harvey, frank jaramillo and fred schockner, asking to hear from them what happened. fred wrote back and said that he was convicted on highly skeptical circumstantial evidence and that there should have been more than enough to prove my innocence. nick, now in his 30s, called us. he has matured in prison, he said. was mad at the world back then. but has found god now. but listen to this, though he takes full responsibility for what he did, he's also been nursing a strange and very lonely conspiracy theory. >> i've always believed the police were involved. >> you mean they intentionally
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sent her back there to be killed? >> yes. >> you don't still believe that, though? >> well, i'm not a big believer in coincidence, especially in situations like this. >> lots of time to think in prison about things like that. but also about charlie. >> oh, young charlie. he -- what i did to charlie is -- haunts me every day. >> yeah. >> i took so much from him. >> but whether nick knew it or not, charlie was in the very capable hands of his uncle mark, who'd received a commission from his worried sister lynn before he was murdered. >> if anything happens to me, take care of my son. >> and he did. how do you feel about that boy? >> love him. yeah.
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yeah, this one's going to be tough. i always look back at that moment as the greatest gift i ever received from the man who i still hate more than any person i've ever known. and my wife and i didn't have children of our own. now i've got the best son in the world. >> oh, it's been great. mark and susan are just, they're great. i love them so much. >> and so in a sad, strange way, out of unimaginable evil and loss came love. a real family. an unexpected blessing. what's he done for you personally, having him in your life? >> it's like getting another life.
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like somebody opened a door and said, here's a second chance. >> got a reason to get up in the morning these days. >> damn straight. a reason to live. >> mark and susan are now his mom and dad. he has taken their last name. and charlie has more than survived. he is thriving. >> i'm going somewhere, and i'm going fast. a >> he's a grad student with ambitions in theme park design. and has learned, in spite of everything, that rarest of lessons, to accept and move on. >> i mean, i know it happened, and i know it's influencing me, but it's not defining me. >> but there is one thing that defines him, his mother's character, and that follows him everywhere. >> my mother was just ethereal. she holds a very special place. she's just everything that you think of as good, everything that you think of as kind,
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everything that is just great about people. that's what she embodied, and i'm going to carry that with me. >> i'm craig melville. >> i'm natalie morales. >> this is dateline. >> it was all surreal, it still is. things like that don't happen to small town people. i was very scared, i was worried that i was going to be next. >> he was the friendly former about to make it big on reality tv. >> he loved being on tv. >> a success to celebrate after so much loss, his first wife ki

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