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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  April 20, 2019 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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of "dateline extra," i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. it was very exciting. >> they met in vegas. a professional poker player. >> he said he was making good money at it. >> a former trapeze artist. she fell for him. but she didn't gamble on this. >> i could smell the odor of decay and blood. >> or this. >> at every turn there was another woman. >> married, with a child and women in multiple cities. >> what else is he capable of? >> capable of murder? he had an alibi. >> credit card transactions and phone records of me driving from las vegas. >> but could this little card hold the key? >> that was just a shot in the
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dark. >> absolutely. >> was he a calculating killer or was his lifestyle on trial? >> he made mistakes, but that doesn't make him a monster. >> was there one more card up his sleeve? >> it goes back to him thinking i've bluffed some of the best. the victims, a respected couple. their son, it turned out, played poker for a living. could that lifestyle have had something to do with the crime? the case was a mystery until prosecutors looked again at blood-stained evidence could that be the key? here's keith morrison. >> it was her first time in las vegas, her first look at that
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famous strip, its outsized kitsch, its gaudy cavernous casinos. with their endless electronic clatter and their darker places where men in black suits hover over the steadied calm of high-rolling wishful thinkers. her name was adrian solomon, and she was here on business. >> i was excited to go, to see what this city was all about. >> adrian came to las vegas to plan a medical conference. meeting planning was her business. a road job. >> i was probably gone 50% of the time. >> and now the job had brought her here, to a vast casino, all alone. exciting of course, but buttoned down compared to her previous more exotic occupation, teaching the flying trapeze. >> i went to work for club med and worked for the vacationers for seven years, living all over the world. >> i can't imagine what it's
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like to have a job where your responsibility is to teach people how to relax and have fun and do it in a wonderful setting. >> it was the best job. >> in which she learned to embrace moments of fun, new experiences, and learn something too about how to read people. or so she thought. and now here she was april 2006, noisy casino, observing a craps game. >> gentleman standing right to my side turned around and said do you want me to explain the game to you? so he did and we started chatting. and like any woman in her mid 30s i looked to make sure he didn't have a wedding ring as he started to flirt we me a little bit. and he asked if i wanted to go to dinner that night. and i said i'm going to dinner anyway so, why not? >> her dinner date? a man named ernest scherer iii. >> there was not that awkward silence that sometimes you have in the first date. >> ernie, that's what he called
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himself, was good-looking, college educated, a former eagle scout who'd been raised in a mormon household. though his occupation was rather unusual. he was a professional poker player. >> kind of surprised me that someone with his background would be a professional poker player. >> of course you did something kind of odd for a while too. >> exactly. which is why i had no judgment about it whatsoever. i found it very interesting and yeah, he said he was making good money at it. >> ernie explained how he had mastered the poker skill of cleverly hiding any tells, any clues about the cards he was holding. >> he was good at reading people, which of course is very important in the poker world. >> he kept an apartment in southern california, he told her, but spent much of his time in las vegas. >> he gambled enough at the tables. he had high enough status that he got free rooms and free meals, show tickets. >> and he seemed to be doing it all rather responsibly, saving money he told her for those times when the cards weren't so
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lucky. >> it was almost like somebody having a sales job that they know sometimes they're going to get a lot of great sales and sometimes they're not. >> she fell for ernie over the next few days of magic time in vegas. and soon a long-distance relationship blossomed. they were on the phone every day. there were trips. she to vegas, he to meet her in places like aruba and mexico. and one day ernie told adrian he loved her. >> oh, it was very exciting. >> ernie traveled to adrian's home base in north carolina several times. got to know her family, her mother lynn. >> he was charming and was very comfortable with us and us with him. >> we talked about marriage. we were looking at engagement rings. >> they actually talked about children. >> if the first one was a girl, of course he would love her, but he really wanted a boy. >> so it was wonderful. not perfect, of course. what is?
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ernie's mother, the devout mormon, did not approve of his poker playing, apparently. even though ernie's father loved poker and they often played together. >> he really seemed to like his father and respect his father. they seemed to be close. >> so why didn't they want to meet her? it was frankly a little hard to understand. >> how he explained it to me, his mother did not approve of our relationship because i was not mormon and we traveled around together and were living a life of sin or whatever. >> the scarlet woman. >> exactly. >> and when she did meet ernie's dad once, it didn't go so well. >> so we were in the lobby of caesar's and he started to say this is adrian. he said, "i know who she is" and turned his back to me. >> wow. >> yeah. i don't think i've ever been so offended in my life. >> anyway, by then the bloom had faded. wasn't going to be a marriage or children. >> for probably the last six
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months of our relationship i think we both knew that it wasn't going anywhere. >> and in february of 2008 they broke it off. so maybe that's why weeks later she didn't hear right away about what happened. >> we need emergency. we need everybody now. >> what kind of problem? >> i don't know. >> didn't hear about the grisly double murder or that one of the victims was named ernest scherer. coming up, was one of the victims the man she had loved? >> it didn't seem like something like that could really have happened to someone i know. >> when "the player" continues.
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>> adrian solomon was putting life's pieces back together. her two-year romance with ernie scherer once appearing marriage bound he deflated and failed. a couple weeks later she was in san francisco when her phone chirped, text message from an acquaintance. >> she said i heard about his parents, let me know if there's anything i can do. >> adrian got herself to a computer and got herself online and saw the appalling story. >> and learned that they had been murdered. it was surreal. it didn't seem like something like that could really have happened to someone i know.
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>> not her ernie, thankfully, but ernie's parents. ere ernie scherer jr. and his wife charlene abendroth murdered. found dead in their own house which was in an upscale country club right across the san francisco bay from adrian's hotel. and now, of course, the house was a crime scene where even the season lead detective scott dudek was horrified by what he saw. >> it was probably the most gruesome brutal homicide scene i've ever seen. >> it was march 14th, 2008, when the call came in. a country club employee had seen what looked like a body through the scherer's window. detective kirsten tucker was one of the first on the scene. >> as i approached the front door of the home, i could smell the odor of decay and blood from quite a distance away. >> and inside was like a war zone. blood everywhere. and the battered bodies of two people who had clearly fought for their lives.
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>> the bodies had suffered extensive, extensive injuries. >> it wasn't just the odor that told investigators the bodies had been here a while. >> there was a week's worth of newspapers that had been uncollected. >> they narrowed the time of death had to be some time between friday evening, march 7th the last time anyone saw them, and march 8th. method of death? hard to be sure. no murder weapon lying around but they'd been hit repeatedly by some sort of blunt instrument and sliced by what must have been a very big knife or sword. what happened here? was it a home invasion robbery? possible, judging from the mess. and ernest scherer was a wealthy real estate investor who was known to carry cash around. detective mike norton. >> in the victims' bedroom, the drawers had been pulled out, a lot of clothes thrown on the floor. >> a decorative sword was missing and two jade statues. likely expensive.
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but wait a minute. maybe it wasn't a robbery. >> her purse was present on the kitchen table. there was jewelry. >> in the father's pants pocket which were in his bedroom, there was a large amount of cash. >> $9,000 in cash rolled up in his jeans pocket. and that was untouched? >> untouched. >> so was the crime scene staged to hide something more sinister than robbery? why did they find that odd and very obvious pattern of bloody shoe prints but only around the bodies? >> and the shoe prints would go back and forth to each victim but they just disappeared. you were thinking how did this person get out? >> still, easy enough to id the shoe prints. there was an obvious nike swoosh right there in the middle. little checking revealed it was a nike impact tomahawk. big. maybe close to size 12. but who wore them? who would do such an awful thing? and why? >> in our area we just didn't
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have a husband and wife in their 60s in a multimillion-dollar neighborhood killed for no reason. >> investigators poked around the scherer's background looking for enemies with motive and it turned out they had some, or at least ernest did. >> ernie was a passionate person in his views and he wasn't afraid to let you know how he felt. >> guy houston, a former california state assemblyman, knew ernest scherer for his extreme fiscal conservatism for his work with the republican part write and the local school board. >> he did make people angry but it was all on a political, not a personal basis. it was all political. >> besides, what happened to them was too ugly even for politics. and as for charlene -- >> i don't know anybody who didn't like her. >> here was her friend from the mormon church. >> her confidence, her command, her good heart, her ability to reach out and help people. >> which she'd also been doing
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professionally for decades as an accounting teacher said this colleague at cal state east bay. >> she not only wanted to help the students with the particular subject area and the class, she also wanted to help the students with their career and their life. >> so who was responsible? who knew? not a suspect in sight. >> i instantly got my phone out and sent him a text message. >> the minute adrian solomon heard what happened, she reached out for her ernie. they decided to meet in san francisco for dinner that very night. >> even though we weren't in a relationship anymore, we'd been friends for a long time. i felt good that i was able to be there for him. he got really upset during dinner. i was just there to be a listening board for him. >> and that was that. until a few days later when ernie phoned again very upset. >> and he said that the cops are starting to harass him a little bit.
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>> and again adrian calmed him down. all normal police procedure, she told him. >> you always hear that they have to look at family first. and so that's just what they were doing. >> but ernie was a mess, asked to see her again. so adrian arranged to meet him at her next business stop in dallas. be a support again. >> be a support again, exactly. >> but adrian had no way of knowing what was coming. or what that news would do to her. >> it was horrible. i think i started shaking. what was wrong with me that i didn't see this? >> was it about the murder? no. no, it was something else altogether. coming up, revelations about the double life of a man she thought she knew. >> he did it in las vegas. he did it in new orleans. >> he did it everywhere he went. >> what else had he done? when "the player" continues.
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>> when adrian solomon learned her ex-boyfriend's parents had been murdered, she wanted to be there to support ernie especially now that he said police were harassing him. >> i know everything about him. we dated for a couple of years. of course he couldn't have done this. >> she told ernie she could meet him during her business trip to dallas and it was actually just as she arrived when it happened. the moment she will recall for with absolute clarity for the rest of her life. >> i was in a taxi headed from the airport to the hotel in
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dallas and my phone rings and it is a detective. >> she listened to him say he was investigating the death of ernie's parents and he had a question. >> and he said, i know you guys have broke up, but can you tell me how long this affair lasted. >> affair? why did he use that word? >> why would you say that? we dated exclusively for two years. >> you don't know what you're talking about, she told him. >> he said, so you didn't know that he was married and has a child? i said what are you talking about? i said to him, why would i believe you? >> but by the time she hung up the phone, adrian knew she did believe him. >> all of the puzzle pieces came together in my head. >> suddenly it all made sense. why he never wanted her to see his apartment or meet his parents, why his dad snubbed her that time in the casino. he had been married all along to
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a woman named robin and had a young son, ernest iv, and every good opinion adrian had of him and her and her own judgment flew out the window of that dallas cab. >> i'm a smart person. how could i not have put all these pieces together? we talked about having kids together. and he wanted to have a boy. well, he already had a boy. what is going on? >> things happened quickly then. quickly and painfully. >> my phone rang and it was him. i said listen, the cops just called and so he asked what did they tell you. i was like, well, i know you're married. he was like, it's in name only. it's not a true marriage. he said let me come there and explain the whole thing to you. i said like, i don't want to see you. please just go. >> he wouldn't. he refused. she met him in the lobby. >> then he tried to explain everything away. >> he couldn't, of course, and she sat there half listening. equilibrium gone and a bad feeling.
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>> i was hurt and angry with him and myself and it was just unbelievable to think that those two years had been a sham. >> yes. and in fact more than one sham, a whole quilt of shams. detectives back in northern california had begun to uncover details of a double life which had been, shall we say, prodigious. >> it seemed like at every turn there was another woman this guy had some involvement with. >> it was coming out of the woodwork. >> there was quite a few of them. >> he said he was recently single. >> like pamela icles, for example, who responded to ernie's ad in 2008 in the dating section of craigslist in las vegas. she met him for drinks. >> ernie's personality was very nice, friendly. >> the two had plans to have dinner march 14th, 2008.
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but about 2:00 in the afternoon, said pamela, ernie called to cancel. >> saying he needed to go home. that his parents' house was broken into and burglarized. and they were both murdered. >> but in the weeks after the murder ernie's craigslist conquest resumed. >> he did it in las vegas. he did it in new orleans. >> he did it everywhere he went. and he got lots of responses. >> does that surprise you? >> it surprised me that he was able to form the level of intimacy very rapidly with so many different women that he did. >> kimberly olson was one of them. kimberly formed a very intimate relationship with ernie scherer. met him in september 2008 six months after his parents' murder. she was at a casino in mesquite, nevada. >> he came over and said he needed a pretty girl to blow on the dice at his craps table. he was a smooth talker. >> now, that's a line.
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>> from day one, said kimberly, their relationship was based on honesty, full disclosure, all the dirty laundry. >> he would tell me stories about his wife and his girlfriend and going back and forth and i told him he was a jerk. i think he knew he made a lot of mistakes. >> of course ernie also told her about his parents' murder. >> he missed his parents. he would tell me stories about him and his father. he'd get teary eyed about it. >> kimberly got to know ernie, she said, very, very well. >> if you can drive through texas with someone and not want to strangle them in the middle of texas, you can get to know someone very well. he was really sweet. >> and eventually he moved in with her. did you grow to love him? >> i did. i cared for him. >> but that other woman who had loved him, adrian solomon, was struggling. >> if he could lie to me every day for two years, lie to my family, look at rings, talk about having children together, what else is he capable of? >> but of course, living a
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double life doesn't make you a double murderer. those alameda county detectives knew that perfectly well. but as they were discovering, a cheating heart wasn't the only disturbing thing about this professional poker player. coming up, turned out he had some other secrets and he was battling some long odds. >> why did he want to get in the house so badly? >> he wanted the will. >> when "the player" continues. dear freshpet, rudy got older and suddenly stopped eating... then we found freshpet. now rudy's 13, and going on 3. ♪
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returning to our story, here again is keith morrison. >> it was, to say the least, eye opening when detectives encountered adrian solomon and heard her account of the secret life of ernie scherer iii. >> i kind of thought, you know, he stole two years from me. >> not to mention the truly audacious extent of ernie's philandering. but this, after all, was not some tabloid smackdown. ernie's parents had been callous ly deliberately, brutally murdered. not the sort of thing at all you'd expect of some hormonally hopped-up lover boy.
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and as detectives pored over the scanty evidence, they encountered lots of the victims' blood but very few useful clues. >> we were looking for everything. every blood stained fingerprints. >> they found nothing that pointed to ernie. those shoe prints were consistent with a size 12 and ernie wore a 9 1/2 or 10. also the csi people found in one of those prints a speck of human dna that did not belong to either ernie or his parents. early on there was only that curious incident just a little odd that happened the day after the bodies were discovered. ernie showed up at the house all distraught insisting officer tucker gave him entry. no can do, she said, active crime scene and all. >> he became demanding and even condescending very, very quickly, which surprised me. >> why did he want to get in the house so badly? >> he wanted the will. >> he told you that? >> he did. >> his parents' will, which investigators found in a desk
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drawer. >> and the will indicated that their fairly significant estate would be divided equally between their two children, catherine and ernest, and they would receive their inheritance at the age of 30. >> did you determine how old ernest was? >> i did. ernest scherer iii would turn 30 in july. and his parents were killed in march. >> ernie's father had a couple million invested in real estate, though at the time of his death the value of the estate was certainly shrinking right along with housing prices. still, was it even remotely possible ernie would kill his parents to cash in on an inheritance? the detectives had a look at ernie's financial situation. and you know how some professional poker players claim they win a lot? maybe not. at least not in ernie's case. >> we learned that he had 60-some-odd-thousand dollars in
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credit card debt and he also, in talking with different casinos, he had lost a significant amount of money in the tune of $80,000 to $90,000 in his play in the last year. >> that was not the worst of it. not even close. by march of 2008 when the murders happened, real estate in california was huffing and puffing on its race to the bottom. and six months before that ernie the son wanted to buy a house in the city of brea in california but couldn't get a loan. banks not so sanguine anymore about the security of a poker player's income. so he borrowed the money from ernest the father, $616,000. but then real estate started tanking, so father ernest asked son ernie to go to a bank, refinance, pay back his loan. and ernie couldn't. >> he was frantic trying to refinance his home. >> and at the time that they were killed, he had missed a mortgage payment to his parents for the first time.
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>> so this is approaching some sort of crisis? >> that's what we felt, yes. >> so motive? well, maybe. investigators told ernie they wanted to talk. and he agreed to come down to the station, where he explained that their suspicions were groundless. ernie had an alibi. >> there will be credit card transactions and phone records of me driving from las vegas back to brea, california. >> night of the murder, said ernie, he was at home in southern california hours and hours away from his parents' house. he had driven from las vegas that afternoon, stopped for gas and a bite to eat at a mcdonald's in primm, nevada. and yes, there were credit card records to prove it. he arrived home around 5:00 p.m., fell asleep on the couch for a bit, watched a movie on tv and went to bed. wife and son were away, he said. and bright and early the next morning, he met his elderly grandfather for a bridge tournament which his grandfather ernest i confirmed.
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still, detectives had some questions that ernie surely should have been able to answer, shouldn't he? >> so we asked him what road did you take to get to your home. and he was not able to tell us. we asked him, what television show did you watch? he wasn't able to tell us. >> and then when they checked ernie's cell phone records, they found an unusual gap in transmission right around the time of the murders. from the afternoon of march 7th to the early morning of march 8th. 17 hours 46 minutes ernie's phone did not register on any cell phone tower anywhere. >> he was just a guy that was constantly talking on his cell phone. so the fact that there's a 17-hour window where he's not using it at all was definitely suspicious to us. >> but as the investigators' suspicions grew, just as they felt they might possibly be closing in on something, ernie scherer iii disappeared. coming up, following the
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trail, connecting the dots. police turn up a strange story. >> he asked me if i would do something slightly illegal for $300. >> but was it the smoking gun they needed? when "the player" continues. -and we welcome back gary, who's already won three cars, two motorcycles, a boat, and an r.v. i would not want to pay that insurance bill. [ ding ] -oh, i have progressive, so i just bundled everything with my home insurance. saved me a ton of money. -love you, gary! -you don't have to buzz in. it's not a question, gary. on march 1, 1810 -- [ ding ] -frédéric chopin. -collapsing in 226 -- [ ding ] -the colossus of rhodes. -[ sighs ] louise dustmann -- [ ding ] -brahms' "lullaby," or "wiegenlied." -when will it end? [ ding ] -not today, ron. when it comes to type 2 diabetes, are you thinking about your heart? well, i'm managing my a1c, so i should be all set. actually, you're still at risk for a fatal heart attack or stroke. that's where jardiance comes in. it reduces the risk of dying from a cardiovascular event
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>> it was the 23rd of march, 2008. ernie scherer iii, a person of interest in the particularly violent murder of his parents, quite suddenly got out of dodge. >> he was gone. >> a guilty conscience or an innocent man fed up with negative attention from the cops? but detectives back in alameda county, california did not panic. ernie probably didn't know it but an enterprising officer fitted his car, his deceased father's car, with a gps tracking device. >> for the majority of the time we knew where he was. >> and the car plus ernie's regular visits to social media dating sites led the police to a number of young women he, well, met. like the one in new orleans who called the police after a strange night with a man who first told her he was writing a novel about a gambler who is a suspect in his parents' murder. and who then told her his own parents had been murdered. and when she went back to his hotel room, he'd rigged it with bungee cords so if someone came to get him he had a plan to escape.
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>> he was going to break the window of the hotel room and he was going to basically rappel out the hotel room window. >> so did she quite understandably high-tail it out of there? >> no. she chose to stay. >> stayed the night. >> she did. >> meanwhile, lead detective dudek called in reinforcements. and before long some of the most boring of all police work paid off. a deputy borrowed from the local jail for the investigation pored through hours of video taken by a security camera at the scherers' country club. and finally, there it was. a red chevrolet camaro approaching the scherer home at 8:27 p.m. on march 7th and exiting at 12:42 a.m. on march 8th, just when the murders were thought to have occurred. a red chevy camaro with a black top. and wasn't that the very same make, model, and color of ernie scherer's car? sure looked like his car to a cop's eye, anyway.
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trouble was they couldn't see the license plate or the driver's face. could have been coincidence. and even that, the car and the other evidence they gathered, wouldn't be enough to persuade the d.a. to file murder charges. the cops brought everything they know to the forgotten woman in this story, ernie's wife robin. she had been left behind when ernie took off a couple of weeks after the murders. when she saw what investigators had, she was not only ready to divorce ernie, she told the police she'd help them by attempting to bluff the poker player. be [ phone ringing ] >> hello? >> hi. >> hi. how are you? >> detectives recorded this phone call in which she tells ernie about the video but chooses to embellish the facts a bit. telling him his face was visible. >> the video was sent to a studio like disney or something and was enhanced. it looks like you in your car. and they're basically saying you were there friday night.
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were you in the bay area on friday night? because i thought you were driving back home. and there's this video that they have and it clearly looks like it's your car. >> and then a long pause. >> hello? >> i'm here. i'm just thinking. was the video like from somebody's house? is it from a gas station? what kind of video is it? >> no. it's going into the country club area. >> going into the country club area? >> uh-huh. and it looks like your car and looks like you in it. >> you can see the face of the driver? >> yes. were you there? and if you were, you owe me a good explanation as to why you were there. >> no. >> are you lying to me? >> i understand why you're asking the question. i mean, obviously, you know -- the police are listening to this phone call, i'm assuming. right? >> i guess.
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i have no idea. >> and in this game of poker it was hard to say who was playing whom. in the end there was no smoking gun, but was ernie spooked a little? was that why he reached out again to adrian solomon with this request? >> i'm really hoping we can end up back together. >> he told her, said adrian, he was thinking of changing his lifestyle, quitting poker, if only she'd take him back. well, she was a different adrian now. >> i think i kind of felt more powerful in that conversation than i had with him in a long time because i know that i don't trust a single word that he says. >> meanwhile, back in vegas, detectives learn that just days before the murders ernie scherer had made a rather unusual request of this man. his name is david mock. >> he asked me if i would do something slightly illegal for $300. >> david is a professional piano
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player in vegas. >> he says, oh, i'm looking to get a gun because i'm a professional gambler and i carry a lot of money. i thought, you know, no. i'm not going to do that. >> and investigators discovered ernie also asked david's performance partner to buy him a gun and offered another friend $50,000 to point the finger of suspicion away from ernie and towards someone else. and even if none of it was definitive, it all added up and it looked bad for ernie. and so finally nearly a year after the murders, the alameda county d.a. made the decision to roll the dice. it was february 2009. kimberly olson was at home with ernie in their las vegas apartment. >> there was a knock on the door and ernie answered the door and i came out and there was fbi agents with guns drawn. >> ernie scherer was charged with two counts of murder, and kimberly olson thought the whole world had gone crazy. >> he's a poker player and he had made his mistakes,
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obviously, with the women in his life. but i mean, that's a very far jump from being a poker player to murdering your parents. >> but back home in north carolina, when adrian solomon heard about ernie's arrest -- did you believe he could have done such a thing? >> i believe that he could have and for me that was enough. >> a date was set for trial based on circumstantial evidence. even though that mystery dna at the crime scene was never identified. even though not one piece of direct evidence connected ernie to any murder weapon or those mysterious nike footprints. remember, they were consistent with a size 12 and ernie wore 9 1/2 or 10. and you knew that one of the lines that was coming had to be a defense attorney couldn't resist it was if those shoes don't fit you must acquit. >> absolutely. >> and a jury just might look at that. >> and that went through my mind several times. >> and then someone noticed that little piece of paper right there.
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what was that? coming up -- >> so that was just kind of a shot in the dark? >> absolutely. >> and it hit its mark. a bullseye. >> i'm thinking, that's the end of the book. >> but does the gambler have one more bluff in store? when "the player" continues. dear freshpet, rudy got older and suddenly stopped eating... then we found freshpet. now rudy's 13, and going on 3. ♪ let's see, aleve is than tylenol extra strength. and last longer with fewer pills.
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we're on the move. hey rick, all good? oh yeah, we're good. we're good. terminix. defenders of home.
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ernie scherer is charged with murdering his parents. the evidence against him was largely circumstantial except for a small slip of paper discovered at the crime scene that could be the key to blowing the case wide open. here again, keith morrison. >> it was september 2010, just months before ernie scherer iii was to go on trial for the murder of his parents. prosecutors pored over the evidence scott dudek and his detectives had collected. was there anything else? anything they missed, they might use to seal the case against ernie scherer? and that's when they saw it. something quite odd. >> they came across a piece of paper that we had collected that had blood droplets on it. >> just one small piece of paper, which one of the detectives picked up from the bloody floor of the murder scene a few feet away from the lifeless body of ernie's father, ernest scherer jr.
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it was a warranty card for a baseball bat. that's all it was. no big deal. except when police searched through that house, searched every square inch of it, one thing they did not find was a baseball bat. >> and they just thought it was odd. why would 60-something-year-old people have a warranty for a bat? >> and the warranty wasn't just for any old bat. it was for a nike baseball bat. right on the warranty card. they couldn't help but see that same distinctive nike swoosh, just like the ones they saw printed on the floor in blood by those size 12 nike impact sneakers. were they on to something here? >> so they kind of backtracked. they wondered, hey, was there any kind of nike store around where we had getting gas and a hamburger? and they found across the street there was in fact a nike outlet store. >> so that was just kind of a shot in the dark?
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>> absolutely. >> and there it was. a nike outlet store in primm, nevada just yards away from the gas station where ernie used a credit card to fill his tank, and very close to the mcdonald's where he used plastic to buy a burger. this was maybe 12 hours before the murders. possible hitch? ernie did not use a credit card at this or any other nike store that day. so maybe he didn't buy a baseball bat to use on his parents. unless. did he use cash in an effort to hide a purchase at nike? one of the d.a.'s investigators asked nike to check purchase records for march 7th, 2008. and as they say in vegas, jackpot. at 11:38 a.m., just before ernie used his credit card at the mcdonald's and the gas station, there was a cash purchase at the nike outlet. one pair of size 12 nike impact tomahawk sneakers, a ripken
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youth baseball fat and junior match soccer gloves. >> i'm thinking even the most skeptical jury in the world has to realize, put it all together, the book has just finished, that's the ending of the book. >> in january 2011 the alameda county prosecutor told jurors ernest scherer iii was a narcissistic sociopath who savagely murdered his parents in cold blood. >> he is sheer evil. he thinks he's smarter than everybody. >> heavily in debt and desperate for minute, ernie's house of cards was collapsing before his very eyes, said the prosecutor, and so he killed his parents for the money, for his inheritance. even ernie's own family unanimously turned against him, including ernest scherer sr., ernie's grandfather, who took the stand on his 95th birthday to testify against his own grandson, his namesake. and once again, adrian had a
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date to see ernie in court. they asked you to testify. >> they did. it was overwhelming and terrifying. >> adrian told the jury about ernie's two years of deception, the double life, all those lies. >> i made it a point not to look at him during the entire time i was in the room and during the entire testimony. he. >> was it enough for the jury? ernie's defense jumped to its task, arguing that the evidence, the red chevy camaro on the surveillance video, the dead cell phone at the time of the murders, asking his friends to buy a gun, all of that could have been simply coincidence, it could be explained away. and besides, said the defense, there was actual physical evidence to prove someone other than ernie could have committed the crime, the speck of bloody dna found number one of the shoe prints at the crime scene. the prosecution argued it was just a mistake, contamination. but did it point to the real killer?
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as for the so-called jackpot evidence, the cash purchase of the nike sneakers and baseball bat and gloves, who knows who bought those, said the defense, but it wasn't ernie. anyway, those nike sneakers were a size 12 and ernie wore a 9 1/2 or 10. proves he didn't do it, right? and on that point the prosecution had only this. >> he is very proficient at misinformation and disinformation, and i think that he intentionally bought shoes that were too large for him. >> ernie scherer took the stand himself, sat up there for the better part of seven days, confident, often smiling, and claiming it was his lifestyle the prosecution put on trial. >> he's a human. he made mistakes like everybody else does. that doesn't make him a monster. >> would he convince the jury? >> i think it goes back to him thinking i'm at a table and there's all kinds of chips on the middle of the table.
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and you know what? i bluffed some of the best. these 12 people, they're nothing compared to some of the poker players i've bluffed so, i'm going to give it my best. >> the jury stayed out for 2 1/2 days. we spoke with one of the 12 jurors who deliberated and an alternate who sat through the case. >> the defense would argue that in a way the prosecution put this man's lifestyle on trial. i mean, he was a -- >> somebody should. >> raised as a mormon -- somebody should? >> yeah. all other things being equal, his lifestyle counted against him. >> but of course all things were not equal. and although a couple of jurors held out for a while, in the end it came down to this. >> too many coincidences. way too many. >> because taken by themselves -- >> yeah. >> they could be explained. >> they could be. but you put them all together, it doesn't work. he. >> and so ernest scherer iii was
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found guilty. two counts of first-degree murder. two consecutive life sentences. no parole. his sister, catherine, daughter of the victims, spoke publicly for the first time outside the courtroom. >> it's hard to have to talk about my parents and the loss. they're no longer with me at all. just here. >> do you feel justice was served? >> i don't know. it's hard. it's hard to admit that anybody could do something like that. >> and adrian solomon, the one-time teacher of the flying trapeze, the woman who thought she'd learned a thing or two about reading people, still wonders why she just didn't see it. >> i don't trust my judgment, and i don't trust other people are telling the truth. and that's hard. >> will you ever get that back? >> i don't know. i'm sure -- over time everything's been getting better, but i'm still not ready to be trusting everyone so easily.
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>> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. this doesn't happen in our happy little world. >> their world shattered. a young mother strangled. >> also, no evidence. but police found a dark side behind that bright suburban facade. >> she slept with the children and the door locked. >> and finally, a vital clue. what happened to nancy? "the day she disappeared."


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