tv Dateline Extra MSNBC October 22, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
i'm craig melvin. and i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." don't know what it is about my mom that has captured the heart of so many people. there's just something to her that people connect with. what was so beautiful about her, it made her a target, too. craig melvin: she was the queen of the million dollar listing, the real estate broker who sealed the deal. her customers love her. hands down the most genuine person you ever met. craig melvin: she headed out to show a house that day and never made it home.
and i'm texting her. i'm calling her. oh, gosh. what's happened here? something's wrong. craig melvin: was she in danger? was someone behind this? beverly: it's beverly. i haven't been hurt. please don't call the police. if you call the police, it could be bad. you can hear how scared she was. craig melvin: suddenly, an all out manhunt. this is like a movie, this chase and this kidnapping. oh, yeah. craig melvin: could anyone reach her in time? how to be strong for everybody-- i had to be. emotions were just everywhere. i know she pleaded. i know she pleaded. did you find her? is she alive? [music playing] welcome to "dateline." beverly carter was well known in little rock, arkansas. she was a beloved mother, wife, and a successful real estate broker with a long list of clients. then she vanished. like all too many missing persons cases,
police knew it was a race against time to find her before it was too late. here's andrea canning with "the client." [music playing] andrea canning: beverly carter was making a name for herself in little rock, arkansas. her face was in the paper every week. she had a billboard on one of the busiest interstates with her face on it. andrea canning: as a top selling realtor, beverly carter had become somewhat of a local celebrity. with her infectious smile, she put house hunters at ease. trusted to find the perfect home, she often did. beverly was awesome at it. i mean nobody could do it like beverly could. andrea canning: but there was a downside to her celebrity. this realtor had a target on her back. she did. she didn't know it. andrea canning: for beverly, being a realtor was more than just closing a deal. was she in the perfect job for her personality? yes. absolutely. yes.
andrea canning: her sons, chad, and carl jr., and carl jr.'s wife, kim, were always amazed at how much their mom's clients loved her. well, one of her clients, she had gone to their wedding, and then went to a baby shower. so she just sold them a house. it was a newer client, and i think that that speaks for itself. she had a nice smile. she had a beautiful smile, and she had a laugh that would fill a room. and she was hands down the most genuine person you ever met. andrea canning: chad, beverly's youngest son, says it was like his mom glowed. chad: she was very radiant. i think that's what spoke out to people is that confidence, and people noticed. obviously, she was naturally beautiful. andrea canning: it was that natural beauty that caught the eye of her husband, carl. they met when they were just kids. yeah, she was 16. i was 19. andrea canning: wow. where did you meet her? splendora, texas. she was working at a little hamburger joint named the bionic burger. i said, well, did not know i was going to get a wife when i got up there and got me a hamburger.
you just knew? yeah, like right there. andrea canning: a wedding soon followed, a quick stop at city hall. carl: we was a very small wedding, but she loved me, and i loved her. we thought it was love, anyway. andrea canning: their young love led to three children, all boys, and later, six grandchildren. they had their share of marital problems, including money issues and infidelity, but they worked them out. so when their 20th anniversary rolled around, they decided to renew their vows and throw a big party. carl: i just asked her, i said, how about you-- would you marry me again if i asked you to? she said, well, yeah. i says, ok. chad: they wanted to renew their love and show everybody, and it was a way for her to get her dream wedding. gosh. andrea canning: a few years after that, she got her real estate license, and her best friends, stacy, brenda, and denise, say it didn't take long for beverly
to build a loyal clientele. did she sell a lot of properties? she was the top listing and selling agent in 2013. she did over $12 million, which in central arkansas, is very well. what was it that made her so good at closing the deal? i mean she just had that magic about her. she had such a bubbly personality that it made you fall in love with the house. andrea canning: the women worked together in the same office, although they say it often felt more like play than work. denise: we would laugh at anything. you know how it is when you get with your girlfriends? you know, you talk about things that are personal or things that you find funny. we would tell stories, and she had this huge goofy laugh that you could hear all the way down the hall. andrea canning: and as realtors, they looked out for each other. their office even came up with a secret code, a text that signaled there was trouble. so "red folder" was the code. right, like emergency. you would say, do you have the red folder on 123 main street? andrea canning: a code they hoped they'd never have to use.
as her 50th birthday approached, beverly was determined to get in shape. she started running, working her way up to 5k races. brenda: the reason that she started running some of the times was the medals. andrea canning: she lost nearly 60 pounds and threw herself a big birthday party, and she gave herself a present-- cosmetic surgery. you know, she'd had the tummy tuck, but she had also had implants, because she'd had-- stacy: a lift. --a lift. and it was kind of a big joke, because when they put the implants in, they were just a little bit larger than she wanted them to be. yes, they were. brenda: and oh, we had some big laughs about that. and she was going to go have them reduced, because she was like, i mean they hadn't fallen, and they were like sitting up here, and it was-- but she did look good. oh, she looked fabulous. andrea canning: and being a real estate agent, she felt it was important to look her best. on an unseasonably warm september day in 2014, beverly was easing back into work.
brenda remembers beverly telling her she was going to show a house not far from her home. the potential buyers were offering cash. she really didn't want to go. she was tired, but she was hoping that she'd be able to get a fast close, because if it's a cash close, you can also close it quicker. so this is just kind of an everyday run of the mill showing. it's a no brainer, yeah. andrea canning: beverly left the office and headed off to show the property to a young couple. she told her husband she'd be home for dinner. but you didn't hear from her? mm-mm. andrea canning: carl says he started to worry. beverly had given him the address, so he decided to take a ride over. if she's over there, her car will be there. well, i went and drove around there, and there was her car. beverly was not in the house. that's right. so this is panic time for you. yep. i thought it was weird, because beverly wouldn't leave, unless she was in her car. do you call the police? yes, instantly. andrea canning: that call set off a frantic search for beverly carter.
where was she? craig melvin: coming up, what had happened to beverly? carl: all of a sudden, beverly texts me, bam, bam bam. brenda: our phones both started beeping at the same time with texts. and she said, i'm sorry. my phone has been dead. craig melvin: some simple miscommunication? the mystery was just beginning. denise: i still can feel the same pain. craig melvin: when "dateline" continues.
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andrea canning: carl carter was worried about his wife, beverly. she had promised to be home for dinner after showing this house not too far away, but it was dark now. she wasn't answering her phone, and at the property for sale, her car was in the driveway, but there was no sign of her. carl says he called the police. then, his son. he says, you know, it's almost 9 o'clock, and he says, son, i haven'heard from your mom. have y heard from her? and you know, i'm texting her. i'm calling her, and i can't-- i can't get any response. and my first thought was, dad, this is just the nature of the business. andrea canning: to reassure his dad and himself, carl jr. and his wife, kim, drove over to beverly's office hoping she'd be there. there was no one there. i mean the place is completely black, and about that time, dad had let me know that he had made it to the property where
mom told him she was going. and her car was there, but she wasn't. andrea canning: carl jr. figured there must be an explanation, as did beverly's friends, stacy and brenda. being real estate agents themselves, they thought maybe she had gone with the potential buyers to show them other houses. brenda: we went to the two vacant houses that were beverly's listings and went and checked the lockboxes and read them to see if anybody had opened them, and nobody had opened them. andrea canning: as the hours ticked by, beverly's friend, denise, couldn't sleep, so she checked her phone. denise: there was an email from brenda, and i can still see the words that said, it is with a very heavy heart that i let you know that we can't find beverly. she went to show a house, and she is missing. and i still can read that and feel the same pain. andrea canning: police and beverly's family gathered at the property, trying to figure out where she was. how was your dad handling everything? chad: i felt like he was hard to read, and he would sneak away from time to time, you know, to collect his thoughts.
andrea canning: then around 1:00 am, all of a sudden, bam, bam, bam, three texts. i hollered at the officer. i said, come here, man. come here. beverly texted me. andrea canning: word that beverly was texting gave everyone hope. i was ecstatic. like i was like, this is done. her phone had died. she got somewhere it's charged. it's good. andrea canning: across town, beverly's friends, brenda and stacy, got texts of their own. brenda: our phones both started beeping at the same time with text. and it-- i mean it was like such an eerie feeling. i was just like, oh, my gosh. what was she saying to you two? she said, i'm sorry. my phone has been dead, and i just turned it back on. andrea canning: it sounded promising but a little off. concerned, brenda used that safety technique the office had come up with. she texted beverly the special code. i said, can you tell me if you left the red folder on my desk? andrea canning: if beverly was in trouble, she would know to text back her location. there was no response. the one that i got was, "out having drinks with friends."
and i was like, well, we're right here. andrea canning: the texts on beverly's husband's phone were just as deflating. they read, "yes," "sorry, phone been dead," and "having drinks now." carl jr. knew his mom would never go out and not tell anyone. carl jr.: i can't even tell you like to go from this she's ok, this is all over, to the second we saw that screen and saw what those texts said, we knew. someone has her phone. totally flipped me out. i said she's-- she'd been took. andrea canning: the patrol division who responded to the call decided they needed backup. detective jeff allison rushed over to the property. beverly hadn't really been missing for that long, so why were you called here that quickly? [inaudible] division showed up and started speaking with the husband and determined that some of the factors in the case were odd. andrea canning: not only was beverly's car parked in the driveway, her purse was locked inside.
did you have just a grim feeling right out of the gate that this woman did not disappear voluntarily? i was hopeful, but i did have a feeling, yes. andrea canning: the detectives searched the vacant house. it was pitch black. the electricity was off. detective allison: i got down on the floor with my flashlight, and when it's dark, you can shine a light at a specific angle, where you can see disturbances in dust. there were disturbances, but it just looked like somebody had walked through there. andrea canning: no signs of a struggle inside, but he did discover a clue outside the front door. detective allison: there was a tire track in the grass, so it looked like somebody had pulled up against the-- next to that front door or back into the back door. the neighbor across the street had seen something. yes. she looked out the window and saw a black vehicle pulled into the driveway, and about 25 to 30 minutes later, looked outside, saw a skinny white male with short hair outside of the house with a vehicle backed to the front door. put two and two together, and that's probably where the tire track came from. andrea canning: the detective found more to go on
in the back of beverly's car. detective allison: i found a notebook that she kept with realtor information on it that showed a listing for that house. was there anything in that notebook that was providing you with any clues? attached to that listing was an email address and a phone number. did you call it right away? i did not call it right away, no. andrea canning: he didn't pick up the phone for a good reason. the detective had a theory. detective allison: i felt that beverly, wherever she was, she was being held against her will. andrea canning: if this was a kidnapping, he knew they had to tread lightly with any possible suspects like the couple she'd met at the house. if they were involved, the last thing he wanted to do was tip them off. and the detective says there was someone else he had his eye on. craig melvin: coming up-- carl jr.: they were asking questions like, ok, you're the husband, and you just completely contaminated our crime scene. why did you do that? i knew that i was a suspect. craig melvin: when "dateline" continues.
andrea canning: as the sun rose the next morning, there was still no sign of beverly carter. her family and friends were out searching. brenda: we had beautiful 8x10 color flyers that we were posting everywhere. yeah, she had just had some new head shots done. we had hundreds. andrea canning: and hundreds of people joined search parties all over the area.
denise: her family, her office family came together, and we had realtors from all over the state helping us. and by that afternoon, we had the search set up, and everybody had an assignment. andrea canning: many realtors felt this was personal. one of their, own while out doing her job, had gone missing. and agents were already on alert. in recent years, there had been a rise in crimes against real estate brokers across the country, brutal assaults, and even murder. how often did you talk about safety? i mean we always talked about it, but a lot of times, if somebody would call and ask us to go show a house, it was just kind of, out of instinct sometimes, you would jump up and go. andrea canning: but this was not a last minute showing for beverly. brenda said she'd been in contact with the clients for a few days. she did have some concerns initially, because it was a man who had contacted her. she wanted to make sure that the wife was going to be there also. she wanted to show them both at the same time. that deal was made that both parties would be there. i think it made her feel more comfortable that the wife would be with him, and the wife actually got on the telephone
and told her, yes, she'd be there. andrea canning: and her friends pointed out, the neighborhood where she was showing the house was one beverly knew well. she felt very comfortable in this area. stacy: yes. that was her stomping ground. she had sold several houses, you know, on that street, so she was very familiar with that area. her pastor lived on that street. andrea canning: and that street was now a crime scene. news stations helped get the word out. an arkansas real estate agent remains missing this evening. did this become immediately the lead story on every newscast? shannon miller: every newscast, all kinds of feedback from viewers, the biggest story online, the biggest story on facebook. viewers were immediately latched onto it. andrea canning: shannon miller covered the story for nbc affiliate, kark. she says finding beverly became a local obsession. people came out in droves looking for her, wondering, where could she have gone? to not come home from work after doing something you do every single day, it left a huge mystery.
what happened to her? andrea canning: beverly's husband, carl, even made a televised plea. i just would like to have my wife back. andrea canning: he sounded heartbroken. crazy people out there in the world. andrea canning: but not everyone was buying the distraught husband story. people were saying, oh, the husband must have had something to do with it. the husband must have hired somebody. you know, we all watch a lot of "dateline." andrea canning: carl jr., so worried about his mom, now feared his dad could become a suspect. carl jr.: they were asking questions like, ok, you're the husband, and you just went into this home to search for her. you've gone even up in the attic. your fingerprints are everywhere. you've just completely contaminated our crime scene. why did you do that? and so you could just see their wheels turning, and it was like, oh, no. andrea canning: he was right to worry. detective allison brought carl sr. in for questioning. did you put carl in an interview room? yes. and treated him like, this is somebody we need to take seriously. yes.
any time you do an interview like that, it's always best to get into a setting. you're down at a detective office in an interview room, and i'm giving an interview. so that plays on their emotions. did you ever consider the possibility that carl could have paid somebody to do this? yeah, i thought about it. andrea canning: did you know why you were considered somebody that they needed to talk to? once i got in there, and they started questioning me, then i knew that i was a suspect. andrea canning: as detective allison continued to question carl, he discovered some skeletons. they were having financial issues. yeah. how much money did beverly carter have in her checking account? i don't know the exact dollar amount, but it wasn't much. andrea canning: $126? yeah, sounds about right. was there a life insurance policy? yes, several thousand dollars. $100,000. $100,000. yeah, but i don't remember the exact dollar amount. andrea canning: the detective also learned about other issues he found disturbing. carl: he said, well, did you have any kind of affair?
and i said, yeah. i said there was one. andrea canning: and something else that was troubling-- years before, carl says he got violent with beverly as she tried to stop him from driving drunk. carl: i mean i even hit her one time. that's when she got out of the truck. she says, i'm not going to ride with you. i said, well, stay here, then. i mean i just drove off just straight into a ditch. did you regret it? oh, yeah. like i felt like poo-cocky as far as that goes. honestly, i really need to roll in it. so did you worry how that would look? no. i didn't worry a bit. i wanted to find beverly. one thing-- i wanted to find beverly. and i said, you know, i hit her, and it was that. but just one time out of 34 years, one slap upside the head-- that isn't bad. andrea canning: he says that was many years ago, and beverly never held it against him.
carl: she forgave me right then, because she knew that i wasn't me. andrea canning: detective allison says he wasn't ready to cross carl off his list. he had other work to do. the email address and phone numbers of the prospective buyers found in beverly's notebook were fake. tracking the couple required more digging, and he had a new clue to follow. beverly's cell carrier retrieved eerie photos from her phone taken inside the house just before she went missing. what had happened inside that house? a new lead morphs into an all out manhunt. coming up-- detective allison: a guy jumps out of a second story window. this is like a movie, this chase and this kidnapping. oh, yeah. craig melvin: when "dateline" continues.
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welcome back. i'm craig melvin. the hours had turned into days since family and friends had seen real estate agent, beverly carter. and it was some good old fashioned detective work that gave police their first big clue. once again, here's andrea canning with "the client." andrea canning: detectives searched computer and phone records, and data was pouring in. they were hoping it would lead to the missing real estate agent. beverly carter's cell carrier turned over everything on her phone, and there was one thing that caught
investigators' attention-- these blurry and dark pictures she took of the house she was trying to sell. not exactly showcase material. and when her daughter-in-law had a chance to see them-- you have a theory about why they're badly taken photos. kim: you can just tell that it was like quick, just quick. like she knew. i knew she knew something was wrong. andrea canning: she believed beverly was scared of those potential buyers and was rushing to finish showing the house. it was all bad news. beverly carter had now been missing for three days. carl jr.: now i've never felt that kind of loss of control. you feel utterly hopeless. and helpless. carl jr.: yes. you can't do anything. yeah. andrea canning: what they didn't know was that detectives were about to crack this case wide open. the team that had discovered the buyer's contact information was fake kept investigating. detective allison: and they were able to start taking the email address and the phone numbers, start working that, sending out search warrants,
and obtaining subscriber information to those email and that phone number. did names pop up? yes. andrea canning: their real names-- aaron lewis and his wife, crystal lowery. police raced over to put the couple's house under surveillance. this was a very delicate operation. yes. we were working with the expectation and the hope that she was still alive. andrea canning: detective allison says he wasn't sure if the couple was even involved. he first wanted to see what aaron lewis looked like. remember, their eyewitness had seen a skinny white man with short brown hair the night beverly disappeared. they hadn't been sitting there long when suddenly, a man matching that description walked out the door. but they didn't approach him. were you hoping he might lead you to beverly? detective allison: yes. - was that the idea? yes. we felt that if we made contact with him too early, then if he was the one we were looking for, then everything's shot. andrea canning: lewis got into his car, and that's when the detective says the plan quickly fell apart.
detective allison: he actually saw us sitting there, so that's when he started speeding off. he knew you were following him. oh, yeah. yeah. and he actually went around a 90-degree corner and wrecked and was almost-- he was out of the vehicle by the time we went around the corner and saw him. andrea canning: lewis was injured. police photographed him and rushed him to the hospital. detective allison: we're not allowed to go back with them while they're getting certain treatment, so the detective is sitting out waiting for the treatment. and when they take aaron back to get mri or a cat scan or whatever they're doing, he decides he's going to leave the hospital. aaron-- aaron doesn't come back. doesn't come back. andrea canning: aaron lewis bolted from the hospital. it would seem the closest link to beverly carter had slipped through their fingers. police launched a citywide manhunt. was that one of the first things you did-- get his photo out to the news media? - yes. andrea canning: everybody knows that-- - everybody knows. - --you got to get this guy. right. andrea canning: and beverly's life is at stake. right. andrea canning: reporter shannon miller remembers her station cut into programming
with the breaking news. authorities are searching for a man wanted for kidnapping beverly carter, a realtor. was the whole city kind of glued to their tv sets as the hunt for this individual was on? absolutely. so many people knew this picture and knew this face. andrea canning: and everyone was on the lookout. ben boyette and conan watters, managers at a mortgage company who knew beverly from real estate deals, were discussing the case in their office. and as we're standing inside of this room looking out with the window open, aaron lewis walks right in front of the window. andrea canning: ben immediately called 911. 911 operator: this is 911. ben boyette: hi, i'm sitting over here. they're looking for a guy here that was involved in the realtor being kidnapped. and this guy looks like him. and he is nervous. he's out here at a bus stop. andrea canning: conan went out to the bus stop to confirm it really was lewis. i approached him, and he was a little standoffish at first, so i made quick conversation about the bus
routes and the times, which put him at ease. and i thanked him for his time, and then i walked away and went back inside and told my colleagues, absolutely, that is aaron lewis without a doubt. andrea canning: they spotted lewis ducking into a subway sandwich shop. he's caught on a security camera. and when lewis left-- someone from a distance outside had made the comment, hey, i think that's him. and that's what spooked him. andrea canning: lewis took off across the street towards this apartment complex. ben boyette: maybe five people chasing him. we knew we were in different areas, so i think we were confident where he was. and luckily for us, when we returned the corner, we saw the police coming in. detective allison: when the police get there, aaron takes off running into an apartment and jumps out of a second story window before he's taken into custody. this is like a movie, this chase and this kidnapping. did it feel like that? oh, yeah. yeah. still does. andrea canning: the cops finally had a suspect, and what he revealed would send detectives on a hair-raising ride to find the missing real estate agent.
craig melvin: coming up-- beverly: carl, it's beverly. craig melvin: --a haunting recording. beverly: i just wanted to let you know i'm ok. i haven't been hurt. craig melvin: could beverly still be alive? detective allison: i had hope. you have to. it's what keeps you going. craig melvin: when "dateline" continues. theseare heading back home.y oil thanks to dawn, rescue workers only trust dawn, because it's tough on grease yet gentle. i am home, i am home, i am home whstuff happens. old shut down cold symptoms fast with maximum strength alka seltzer plus liquid gels. hi, i'm the internet! you know what's dtj! get a job!ting... hi, guys. i'm back. time to slay! heals, heals, heals!
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to beverly's son, carl jr., he didn't look like a kidnapper. carl jr.: he just looks like a regular guy, and it's almost like, what did this punk want with my mom? like it didn't make sense. and so i almost was like, are we sure we have the right guy? andrea canning: detectives believed they did, but the roller coaster ride for beverly carter's family and friends was far from over. i can remember the feeling when he was captured. we were just all like, yes, ok, now where is she? come on. where are you? you know, we're ready to find you. andrea canning: as investigators focused on aaron lewis, they backed off on beverly's husband as a suspect. now detective allison was keeping carl in the loop. and he said, maybe we got him. and i said, well, where's beverly? he said, we're still questioning him. we're going to find out. we're going to keep [inaudible]. we're going to keep on until we find her. then did you have a little burst of hope? just a little bit of hope. i mean that's all i had. really, your biggest task is to find out where beverly is.
that was my biggest task and my biggest concern at that time. andrea canning: did lewis know where beverly was? and if he did, would he tell the detective? what was his story? where was beverly? he said that he had kidnapped beverly, and it was because of money. he said that he found her on the internet, searched her out, and saw that she was a broker and felt like she had money. andrea canning: lewis described in detail what he claimed happened. he says when he contacted beverly about the house showing, she told him she didn't feel comfortable meeting just him. so he got his wife, crystal, on the phone to say she'd be there too. aaron shows up. he goes in and makes some excuse as to why crystal couldn't come. and aaron tells me that he had beverly take photographs of the house with her phone. andrea canning: so that explained why those photos the detective had seen were dark and blurry. lewis said he'd asked beverly to send them to crystal since she couldn't be there.
detective allison: he said they walked upstairs, and when they got to the top of the stairs, he pulled out a flashlight taser and told her that she was about to have a bad day. and she asked, what are you talking about? he said, you're being kidnapped. beverly must have been just absolutely terrified. i mean no doubt, no doubt. andrea canning: lewis then claimed he had an accomplice, and he wasn't talking about his wife, who had set up the meeting with beverly. it was someone else. he said if anything happened to beverly, trevor done it. who's trevor? trevor is a guy that aaron actually lived with for a short period of time. did this give you some hope that maybe there was an accomplice here and that maybe he did have beverly? detective allison: i had hope that we were going to find beverly alive. you have to. i mean it's what keeps you going. andrea canning: lewis said the last time he saw beverly, she was with trevor, and then offered evidence that she might still be alive. lewis played a recording from his phone, and it was chilling.
beverly: carl, it's beverly. i just wanted to let you know i'm ok. i haven't been hurt. just do what he says, and please don't call the police. if you call the police, it could be bad. just want you to know i love you very much. andrea canning: it was encouraging, but it only proved beverly was alive at the time of the recording. the detective told lewis he needed more. and that's when he finally says, well, i'll take you to the last place that she was. so this is a big moment now-- yep. andrea canning: --in this whole case. this is it. detective allison: yep. that's when we load him up, and we started going to cabot, arkansas. andrea canning: beverly's family prayed this nightmare was about to end. did you note that aaron lewis was saying your mom was alive? yes. we knew that after they had him, and they were interrogating him. chad: and that was a big boost of energy. when he was telling us, it was like it was so uplifting. we're like, ok, we're about to get her back. it's great. is everyone just sitting by the phone waiting for the call?
we got her. mm-hm. pacing. andrea canning: lewis led detective allison on a nail-biting road trip 30 miles out of town to the last place he claimed to have seen beverly alive-- a shed on the side of the road. what are you thinking as you're approaching this shed? that there's a really good chance she could be here or you're not so sure? i'm hoping like hell she's in there. we go in, and she wasn't in there. she had never been in there. that's such a letdown. tell me about it. it was bad. it was bad. andrea canning: but lewis wasn't done. he had a captive audience, and he knew it. he took the police to a new location, a house about 35 miles away. and he says, well, this is where i initially took her right after i abducted her. [inaudible] somebody walked in. there was nothing. andrea canning: another letdown. another letdown. are you feeling like this guy is just taking us on a wild goose chase?
yep. i was so mad that i couldn't drive him back. i had to ride back with another detective. there's a woman's life that could be at stake. he's messing with the police. playing games. playing games. andrea canning: while lewis was leading detectives on this wild goose chase, another cop had tracked down this trevor, the man lewis claimed was his accomplice. we figured out that he was in the military here in little rock, assigned to little rock air force base. we did make contact with him, actually interviewed him. andrea canning: they interrogated trevor for several hours, then let him go. he wasn't even in town when this happened. he had an ironclad alibi. absolutely. we confirmed through his job through the air force base with their office of special investigation that he was on base that day. andrea canning: lies after lies-- there was no accomplice. neither location turned up anything. police were running out of options.
and then detective allison thought of one more possibility-- a cement plant called argos, where lewis had recently worked. detective allison: i point blank asked him if beverly was at argos. and at that point, he was looking down at the table. when i said that, he looked up, and he just had this stupid look on his face. and so i figured right then that that's probably where she was at. andrea canning: police raced over to the factory hoping to find beverly alive. craig melvin: coming up, another game from aaron lewis. i was so mad about how dare you try to tarnish our sweet beverly's reputation? craig melvin: and at last, an answer for her family. he said, we found beverly. craig melvin: when "dateline" continues.
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andrea canning: four days after beverly carter disappeared, police pulled up to this remote cement plant. they frantically searched for the missing real estate agent. you just now have this gut feeling that that's where she's at. yeah. andrea canning: shortly after arriving, an officer stumbled on something straight out of a crime novel-- an elbow sticking out of a shallow grave. it was beverly. detective allison went to see carl. you never forget the look on somebody's face when you tell them that you found their spouse. it's hard. that's probably the hardest part of it. he said, we found beverly.
i said, well, was she alive? and he said, no. i'm sorry. but she wasn't. we had worked so hard, i mean, to find her. i mean we just-- we really tried to do right, and it wasn't enough. i know she pleaded. i know she pleaded for her life and to be sent-- come back to us and for her grandbabies. and i just have to know that god was there to comfort her. andrea canning: aaron lewis was charged with murder and kidnapping, and his wife, crystal lowery, charged as his accomplice. they pleaded not guilty. but his words to reporter shannon miller outside the sheriff's office didn't sound like those of an innocent man. why beverly? beverly? she was a rich broker. it was just as chilling in person as it was on tv. and then he gets into the car, and you're going,
what did he just say? andrea canning: two weeks later, shannon interviewed lewis in jail, and he told a vastly different story from the one he told detectives. was he willing to cop to anything? no. i didn't kill her. i didn't murder her. and anything that did occur was an accident. andrea canning: then he tried to say beverly played a role in her own death. he implied she willingly met him at the house for a sexual hookup that went wrong. it didn't have nothing to do with her showing the home. just a place to meet. andrea canning: in your opinion, how far-fetched was this news story about the sexual encounter? well, it is 100% made up. so it was completely far-fetched. andrea canning: assistant district attorney, john johnson, was assigned the case. he believed it was a kidnapping gone wrong, but needed help proving it in court. he turned to lewis' wife, crystal lowery. john johnson: i thought from the very beginning
that we would need to flip crystal, and it would be important for the case for her to testify. andrea canning: he made a deal with crystal. she agreed to testify against her husband and plead guilty to murder and kidnapping in exchange for a reduced sentence of 30 years. it's good for the jury to be able to hear, you know, the back story of what went on and the why of what went on. andrea canning: aaron lewis went on trial. the prosecution's star witness, crystal lowery, took the stand and told the jury all the grisly details. she claimed it was all about money, not sex. john johnson: she said, he came up with the idea of kidnapping someone, but she went so far as to suggest real estate agents. andrea canning: she testified that she was in class at nursing school when lewis abducted beverly. she got a text from aaron lewis saying, look at this, or something like that. and it was a picture of miss carter bound in the trunk of the car.
she said that when she got home, he had brought miss carter back to the house. andrea canning: she told the jury when she got home, beverly was locked in their bathroom, and what she said next showed how little thought went into this plan. lewis had forgotten beverly's purse with her atm card at the property, so we went back to get it. crystal says when he got close to the house, cops were everywhere. one even pulled him over. this particular officer just stopped a car that was coming in to say, hey, if you see-- have you seen-- just to ask questions and to put the person on alert. andrea canning: the officer couldn't have known that aaron lewis was the man they were looking for. miss carter was still alive, and he just didn't know it. andrea canning: when lewis returned home, crystal told the jury that's when the couple ran out of options. john johnson: she was in the bathroom with crystal's medication, and so she knew crystal's name. andrea canning: beverly had seen too much. they agreed she had to die. aaron took miss carter from their house
and put her in the backf the car and drove her out to the cement plant. andrea canning: that's when prosecutors believe lewis did something horrific. he wrapped beverly's face in duct tape and let her suffocate. he came home and told crystal that she was dead. andrea canning: and then the heart of the prosecution's case-- that recording of beverly pleading to her husband. they played it for the jury. beverly: just do what he says, and please don't call the police. if you call the police, it could be bad. andrea canning: prosecutors argued the recording proved beverly had been kidnapped and contradicted lewis's claim of a hookup. so how would the defense explain that tape? attorney bill james chose to ignore it. i was unable to come up with any plausible explanation for that recording that helped us. so was this one of your biggest obstacles then? this recording? i mean everything came back to the recording. andrea canning: instead, he led jurors in a different direction--
beverly's personal life. you said this case is about secret lives. what did you mean by that? in order for our defense to be correct, she would have to be living a life that was basically secret or at least doing something that other people didn't know about. andrea canning: here's where lewis's story got even stranger. he was no longer implying that he had sex with beverly. he claims he was out of the house at the time. that's what he said, yes. andrea canning: lewis said the tryst was between beverly and crystal. he said beverly accidentally died during rough sex. she died while with his wife, and he was only just protecting his wife and trying to cover up for her. andrea canning: to further bolster this story, james suggested to the jury that beverly had been prone to poor judgment. he pointed out that she was broke but driving a brand new cadillac and getting expensive plastic surgery. i'm just saying she made some bad decisions. maybe she made another one.
andrea canning: finally, aaron lewis took the stand and told the jury the story about the alleged rendezvous with beverly and his wife. during cross-examination, prosecutors pounced. they questioned him about every detail, including that one piece of evidence that seemed to contradict his entire story-- beverly's voice on that tape, telling her husband she'd been kidnapped. what he ultimately told the jury was that he had done it himself. he had synthesized her voice and created this tape. you'll forgive me if that sounds maybe a little silly. well, you'll forgive me if i remind you that i didn't say it happened. i'm just telling you what the evidence was. i'm just saying what happened in the trial. andrea canning: to beverly's friends and family, lewis's story was not only preposterous, it was painful to listen to. we have been victimized over and over again by him. i was angry that not only that he was able to do it, but that he continued to be able to hurt my mom.
i was so mad, because i thought, how dare you try to tarnish our sweet beverly's reputation? andrea canning: the verdict was back in less than an hour. kim: we hear footsteps running, and they're like, the verdict's in. what? it was very quick. - good sign? - yes. great sign. great sign. andrea canning: aaron lewis was found guilty on all counts and given two life sentences. i felt relief instantly, relief that we got him. andrea canning: and beverly's family is working to make sure this doesn't happen to someone else's family. they started the beverly carter foundation. her son travels the country training real estate agents about safety. it's a blessing for me, because i get to not only raise awareness, talk about safety, best practices, but then i also use that as an opportunity for me to kind of slide in some great stories about my mom
and so kind of keep her alive. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. and i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." aves, and it's where everything else is clear and flat. my heart is racing a million miles an hour. i was using my boots to move leaves. and that's when i screamed this blood curdling scream. craig melvin: nique leili, a corporate exec who made time for romance and her three daughters. she was the best mom. craig melvin: then she disappeared. dozens joined the search. we need nique to come home. craig melvin: then they found her. oh, i need to see her.