tv 2020 ABC December 27, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
your father say, i have a plan to rob a bank. shouldn't your first reaction be, are you crazy? >> i asked my dad, you know, are you the devil here to tempt me? he said, yeah, probably. >> tonight on "20/20" -- >> the unbelievable story of a father who turned his own kids into hard core criminals. the surveillance video, the terrified bank tellers. mug shots replacing those family photos. and now, they're talking only to "20/20." >> he was the muscle with the gun and i was the money guy. >> 18-year-old daughter in the get away car. >> it was my family. the loyalty was greater. >> the father's guilty plea delivered in court. and the confession tapes that would shot shock even the police. and the jailhouse confrontation.
tell his kids to lie to "20/20." >> you clearly told your kids to manipulate us. >> plus, the moment no one saw coming. the brother and sister reunion. >> i don't want you to go. >> i know. >> and you won't believe what our mike picked up, and the father with the questions you'll all want answered. >> do you think you're a dad or a devil to these kids? >> tonight, they're keeping it all in the family. >> i said, oh, son, if i didn't know better, i'd say that was you. >> here now, elizabeth vargas and david muir. >> good evening. we hope you've had a great christmas with your family, but tonight here, a father, son and daughter who weren't home for the holidays this year. as we come on the air tonight, they are all behind bars. it's all in the family. locked up after that father asked his children to do the unthinkable. >> he convinced them to rob banks with him. and tonight, they're all telling all about their disguises, the guns and the getaway cars they used. and "20/20" goes one-on-one with that father, as matt gutman looks him straight in the eye
and asks, how could you turn your only children into criminals? it's an all in the family crime spree. >> that's dad in a mask and son in a fake mustache. >> reporter: it was a family affair all right. a father on an outing with his two kids, but they weren't out for fast food. they were hungry for a fast buck. these three, the catt family, didn't look like the typical jailbirds in the fbi's most wanted list. nope, they looked like they belonged in your church group, the balding dad, his pimpled son and the pretty blonde sister, still a high school senior. but apparently, the family that stayed together robbed together. have you ever seen anything like this? >> in my 20-plus years in law enforcement, i haven't, matt, a family, a bank robber. >> reporter: if news of daddy's misdeeds bewildered local cops and journalists, it blew away their own family members. >> horrible. horrible. how can i wrap my brain around this? >> the fact is they pointed guns
at people. that's terrifying to me. my little nephew, who has the sweetest heart, has been turned into that. it's just -- it's sad. so sad. >> reporter: how could this have happened? we spent 13 months piecing together this story, talking to every major character. it begins where it ends, with dad, scott catt. we met the father of this felonious family here. nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you. >> reporter: behind two inches of glass at the ft. bend county jail in texas. >> it's just shocking to me because i've never been in trouble before. >> reporter: that would be the first of many lies he would tell us. back then, we couldn't have known this tale would have more twists than a knotted rope, especially given how catt started life, with a homemaker mom and a dad who worked at the local bank. good student? >> he was a football star. >> reporter: everyone, especially his mom, remembers him being so likable. >> scott, he was so much fun,
great sense of humor, always wanted to make us laugh. >> reporter: scott catt fell in love and married his high school sweetheart beth, a champion swimmer. she called him her handsome cowboy. what was beth like? >> beth? oh, very, very loving, good mommy, terrific mother. >> reporter: seemed like they had it all. >> they really did. >> reporter: he became a structural engineer. and the all-american family settled into a four-bedroom house with a front porch tucked into oregon's wine country. >> they both had great jobs. they both had great cars. they had the two kids. they had the dog. everything that you work so hard to do. >> reporter: money, family, love. scott and beth had everything until beth was diagnosed with breast cancer when daughter abby was just a baby. >> the only memory i have of my mom, she was on a bright orange stretcher being carried down the stairs, and i remember her face. >> reporter: so your first memory of your mother, your only memory, is one of her being
carried away on a stretcher? >> yeah. that's all. but i -- i hold onto it maybe as a good thing. >> reporter: because it would be the only thing she had. beth catt would die at the age of 32, leaving behind 4-year-old hayden and 2-year-old abby. suddenly, scott catt was a widower, a single dad with toddlers. how did you deal with it personally? >> i didn't deal with it. >> reporter: you were in denial? >> completely. i was in denial about not needing help, about grieving, about depression, about my ability to raise them by myself. you know, i started drinking heavily. >> reporter: what does heavily mean? >> well, a fifth a day. a fifth of vodka or jack daniel's a day. >> reporter: that's a lot of booze. >> that's a lot of booze. >> reporter: while dad was drowning his sorrows, the kids were thriving in the pool. the star swimmers were also decent students. and when he was sober, their dad was the proud president of the swim club.
and the kids idolized him. >> he was my best friend for a long time. >> reporter: he was a whole lot of fun, loved water parks and disneyland almost as much as the kids. >> we'd all be on the ride together. it was just fun. we're all screaming and yelling. and he went on all the rides with us. and that -- that's cool. >> reporter: so cool that he was really more a friend than a parent. >> there wasn't really a disciplinarian. i mean, there was no one there hounding us to do homework or keep up our grades. >> i knew it wasn't normal, but to me, it was my normal. >> reporter: abby and hayden, by this time young teenagers, soon realized dad was fun, but they could only rely on each other. >> we were very close. my sister's the only consistent thing i've had my whole life, and i'm -- i'm the only consistent thing that she's had, too. >> well, my brother is my best friend. he was basically the only one that was there for me. >> i can just look at her and know what's on her mind, what she's worried about.
>> reporter: what scott's kids worried about most? their dad's drinking. >> i lied to them about it. i told them i was going to quit, i didn't. but i did do quite a bit behind their back. >> reporter: and some of it in plain sight. there were arrests, there was brawling, disorderly conduct and a new, more expensive vice, cocaine, he says. >> i'd say probably three, four grams a week. >> reporter: and the kids often found themselves assuming the roles of parents. >> there was times when on my lunch break in school, that i was going to pay the light bill. and i picked up his clothes from the dry cleaner's. >> reporter: scott partied away their savings. they went bankrupt. they lost their home. the lights went out. for a fresh start, and scott says, a new job, catt traded the oregon greenery for this scenery, an apartment in a houston suburb with a whole lot of banks nearby. >> money was tight, and i was really depressed.
and, you know, i had complained to him saying, you know, if we didn't have to worry about money, there wouldn't be any of this stress or any of these negative things happening in our life. >> reporter: now at this point, most parents would urge their kids to earn money the old fashioned way, with a job. scott catt offered a job, all right. a bank job. and a career of crime. >> that's when he approached me and said, "would you be willing to do something to get some money more illegal than selling drugs?" and i said yes. >> reporter: so, you're 18 years old. you need money. your father says, "i have a plan to rob a bank." shouldn't your first reaction be, "are you crazy?" >> looking back on it, i can't believe that wasn't my first reaction to say, "are you insane?" >> reporter: why did you go along with it so easily? >> i had a real struggle. i knew it was wrong, but i was really motivated by the money. the night before the first bank i was supposed to rob with him, i had kind of a panic attack all night, deciding, do i want to go down this path of evil, or is
this not for me? >> reporter: ultimately, hayden catt would agree to walk down that path of evil. >> he really wanted my help. in his mind, two people could be much more successful at it. >> reporter: but maybe a third would even be better, and there was just one catt left to choose. scott told hayden to talk to his sister into joining their gang. she was a high school senior, just three months shy of graduating. >> my dad sent my brother to ask me. >> reporter: your dad sent your brother to ask you -- >> yeah. >> reporter: to rob banks with them? >> yeah. and then the next day, my dad just basically laid it all out. you know, "i'll buy you a new car and i'll get you an apartment." >> reporter: could you have asked, "well, why don't you just give me the money? why do i have to be a bank robber with you?" >> no, i never asked. i mean, it was just, in some way, i was led on, like, this is how i protect them. and these are the only people i
have. >> reporter: now, son and daughter say this is when they crossed over to the criminal side. a plan was in motion. the mark, the comerica bank, just down the block. >> the morning of the first bank, i asked my dad, you know, "are you the devil here to tempt me?" and his answer's what really scared me. he said, "yeah, probably. i'm asking you to rob a bank." >> reporter: so, he knew, full well, the world he was bringing you into. >> the biggest point he made to me was the plan for all the details. >> reporter: the details would've been what you've seen in the movies, the fake mustaches, fake guns, in the hopes of getting real cash. but what the kids were really banking on was beginner's luck. >> i was actually shaking so bad that the employees grabbed the bag and started throwing money in for me. >> reporter: the family robberies, what could possibly go wrong? when we come back.
you fifteen percent or more on huh, fiftcar insurance.uld save yeah, everybody knows that. well, did you know that playing cards with kenny rogers gets old pretty fast? ♪ you got to know when to hold'em. ♪ ♪ know when to fold 'em. ♪ know when to walk away. ♪ know when to run. ♪ you never count your money, ♪ when you're sitting at the ta...♪ what? you get it? i get the gist, yeah. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. when you feel good no one is immune. with antioxidants, electrolytes, and b vitamins plus more vitamin c than ten oranges. emergen-c transforms more than just water.
emergen-c. let your awesome out. [martha and mildred are good to. go. here's your invoice, ladies. a few stops later, and it looks like big ollie is on the mend. it might not seem that glamorous having an old pickup truck for an office... or filling your days looking down the south end of a heifer, but...i wouldn't have it any other way. look at that, i had my best month ever. and earned a shiny new office upgrade. i run on quickbooks. that's how i own it. for my skin. lease on life new l'oreal age perfect cell renewal. surface skin renewal is accelerated. millions of new cells surface every day. i can feel it working. skin looks fresher, full of life. new l'oreal age perfect cell renewal.
reporter: 93-degree texas heat, the catt family wasn't headed to a water park, but to a stickup at a small bank in a strip mall. the man with the gun was scott catt. and along for his first heist, his apprentice, his 20-year-old son hayden. their disguises? painter's masks and white overalls. outside waiting in the getaway car and communicating with the men on walkie-talkie, 18-year-old abby. >> once we walked into the bank, then it was on. i was running on so much adrenaline and so amped that i wasn't even really feeling anything. >> two individuals walked into the bank, and they ordered the tellers and everyone into the vault. >> reporter: did they say anything? >> put your hands up and get into the vault. >> he was the muscle with the gun, and i was the money guy. >> reporter: both men are big, over 6'3." their sheer size and the gun enough to terrify customers. but it's the novice bank robber who's quaking in his boots. >> i was actually shaking so bad that the employees grabbed the bag and started throwing money in for me.
>> reporter: in hayden's hands, more money than he'd ever dreamed of. how much does $50,000 weigh? >> i'd say about 15 pounds. >> reporter: with their garbage bag full of cash, they sprint out of the bank to the getaway car, which has been outfitted with stolen plates. the wheelman, a frightened teenager. >> i was scared. it was just something you just, like, want -- want to be over with. >> reporter: and what was it like driving the getaway car? you know, it's hard because you want to obey traffic laws, but your adrenaline is pumping. >> it was hard, but i had them in my ear. my dad would yell at me to not drive fast, so i didn't. >> reporter: despite the heckling from her backseat driver dad, the reluctant 18-year-old gets them to their apartment, a half mile away, undetected. the heist had gone off without a hitch, just like dad had promised. was there a woo-hoo moment? >> not till we got home. >> reporter: with their sack full of 50 grand, the spending began. cars, motorcycles, booze and drugs.
abby's spending much more sensible. how did you guys celebrate? >> i went off on my own and just got my nails done. >> reporter: in fact, the money came so easily and went so fast, within two months, they'd burned through all their loot. time for another bank job. the first community credit union, just a few miles from the scene of their first crime. before the hit, abby cases the bank. that's her smiling and grabbing brochures from a bank employee. 11 days later, it's the same drill, new disguises, ditching the painter's overalls for safety vests to blend in with nearby construction. >> they walked into the bank with orange construction vests on. >> reporter: did you carry a gun in there? >> no. we used a little -- a bb gun. >> reporter: but it looked real. >> yeah. i remember a few people's faces, still. >> reporter: what was their reaction? >> total shock. there -- >> reporter: terror? >> yeah, they were scared, terrified. definitely. >> you start walking into a bank
with a weapon and you start pointing that at people and ordering them to, you know, cough up the money, i mean, that can change your life forever. >> reporter: their take after two bank robberies, over $100,000. but the loot isn't exactly divided up evenly according to the kids. what percentage were they willing to give you? >> 10%. >> reporter: did you feel like 10% was enough? >> oh, yeah, because i'd never even had that much money, so -- >> reporter: in your whole life. >> right. >> reporter: $10,000. >> it was enough for me. >> reporter: enough to buy a very practical used ford focus and more of those manicures. i guess by now, you're aware that in texas, whether you're the driver or you're the guy holding the gun, holding up a teller, it's the same crime. >> yep. >> reporter: but you didn't know that then? >> no, i didn't know that then. and i know the part that i played was wrong, but it was my family, and the loyalty was greater at that point. >> reporter: but her father and brother seemed more loyal to the cold hard cash that was coming in and to blowing it fast.
>> shopping, cars, partying. really nothing to show for it. >> reporter: when the comforts of daily life include jack daniel's, a new chevy tahoe, a harley and a swanky houston apartment, even 100 g's can disappear pretty fast. and for the catt family, that meant one thing, time to go back to work. had you planned another heist before you got busted? >> yeah. the morning they picked us up, i think we're going to do probably one or two more. >> reporter: that day? >> yeah. >> reporter: that's right. the catts had gotten cocky, planning a pair of heists the day before their arrest. >> it got to the point where i thought my father knew what he was doing so well that there's a risk involved, but the risk was so minimal. >> reporter: but that would prove to be wishful thinking because, as we all know, where there are robbers, there are also cops. and the cops were already onto them. on the surveillance video from the latest heist, they picked up a detail that would impress even sherlock holmes. >> the vests looked new. they actually had creases in them.
>> reporter: because they were creased, you figured they were new. and because they were new, they must've been purchased somewhere nearby. >> yes. we were able to tie those two vests back to a local home depot. and those vests were purchased with a mastercard debit card that went back to scott. >> reporter: by using that mastercard, scott catt might as well left his calling card. and there his kids are, using it in home depot to buy the gear they were about to use in a bank heist. it was just the break detectives needed, and the catts were in the bag. >> when scott was arrested, the detective that actually made contact with him told him, "well, you're under arrest for bank robbery." and scott's initial response to that was, "which one?" >> reporter: quickly arrested hayden as well, who was up in the apartment. there, they found the kind of evidence gumshoes dream of. >> in the apartment, we found some bank straps. and a bank strap is a little paper strap that wraps around a certain quantity of money.
usually, it's $1,000 denominations. and it identifies whatever bank it comes from. >> reporter: and some of those straps were from a bank in an entirely different state. suddenly, the cops realize catt is no rookie, but a bank bandit with a resume. they now had more than enough evidence to haul both catts in for questioning, and authorities were zeroing in on abby too. >> from my interviews with employees at the comerica bank, we knew that at least scott was carrying a walkie-talkie and that those employees at the comerica bank heard a female voice on that walkie-talkie talking to them. >> reporter: police had a pretty good idea of who that voice belonged to, and the getaway girl abby was arrested that day. >> abby called, and she was yelling at me, "i'm in jail and i need $10,000 to get me out of here. get me out of here right now." and i said, "you have to get that money from your father." she says, "he's the reason i'm in jail."
>> we're on twitter throughout the hour. and we want to know, no matter how desperate were you, could you as a patient ask your churn to do what he asked them to do? tweet us and use #abc2020. >> really, when you thought you saw it all, next here, the confession tames. a father, the son, the daughter. in those interrogation rooms. each with something that would shock even the police. next, a how-to guide for planning a stick 'em up, the family's confession tapes just released by the court. >> the getaway is everything. >> sharing detail of how they planned the rob rips. >> this cute blonde girl is the last thing you'd ever look for. >> and coming up later, a first for a texas jail. brother and sister, the hug that broke all the rules. when "20/20" returns. ♪ my baby drove up in a brand new cadillac... ♪ ♪
>> reporter: police had nabbed scott catt for holding up two banks. he wasn't the only catt in the hot seat. just down the hall, in another interrogation room, was his 20-year-old son, hayden. scott made it clear as he walked in, he was ready to come clean. >> you know, i'll lay it all out. i'll lay it all out from the very beginning until yesterday. it's the day of reckoning. i get it. >> reporter: investigators were expecting to hear about the two heists in texas, but they were about to learn that scott catt's secret life of crime dated back to the clinton administration. he didn't even ask for a lawyer before he started spilling the beans. >> first federal savings and loan. >> reporter: for this head-scratcher, scott actually needed a whiteboard to lay out crimes that began in his home state of oregon 2,300 miles away. it was like a seminar in bank robbing 101.
>> so this was number one. >> this was number one. i just went into the tellers. they just grabbed money and threw it in this bag, and i left. so i'd say i got about, like, 2,500 bucks, roughly. >> we were able to insinuate to him that we knew all about what was going on in oregon when, in all honesty, that wasn't the case. we didn't know about the banks he had robbed in oregon really until the interview. >> reporter: in total, scott would confess to having robbed five banks in oregon before even setting foot in texas. >> grab it and be out. >> i'm surprised he was able to, you know, remain undetected, especially when one of the banks he robbed was in his hometown. you would think that someone would've known him. >> reporter: in fact, someone did. it was scott catt's own mother. >> i picked up our local newspaper. and on the front page was a picture of a man that robbed our local savings and loan. and that is where his father retired from.
>> reporter: he worked at the bank? >> yes. and i looked and i saw this frame of this big man. and i said, "oh, son, if i didn't know better, i'd say that was you." and he grabbed the paper from me, and he looked at that. i remember it so vividly. and he said, "yeah, it does, kind of." >> reporter: but a mother knows what her son looks like. >> oh, i know. and his hands, i know his hands. and scott said, "well, he didn't get very much money." >> reporter: but her son was honing his skills, and you know what they say about practice. with each hit, he was banking more and more money. >> that one i got close to 30, because by then, i had figured out that there were two cash drawers, so i made sure i got both cash drawers. i selected the bank based on accessibility and escape, how
quick can i get in, how quick can i get out and blend in with the rest of the world. >> he didn't just see a bank and decide to rob it the next day. he would plan for weeks at a time. >> how many of those did either hayden or abby know about? >> none. >> this was all just -- >> not -- not a one. i mean, you got to think back, they're still pretty young here. >> reporter: but growing up in oregon, abby and hayden did know about the secrets scott kept by the fistful in his dresser drawer. >> he would keep an envelope full of $100 bills. i never really thought it that strange that he would keep a couple thousand dollars in cash. >> there was a lot of money in there. and it freaked me out. like, i never -- i never seen something like that before. >> reporter: that extra cash came in handy when scott got laid off in oregon. he says it was a job opportunity that brought him to texas in early 2012. >> well, i had a nice chunk of money to come to houston. >> right.
>> and i blew it partying. i don't know. i just blew it. >> reporter: the cash tasted so sweet, catt craved more. soon, blowing off that job in houston to focus on his more lucrative gig. >> i hated the job. it was just a -- it was a really bad job. i just -- [ bleep ], i'll just rob banks. i'm probably better at that anyway. >> reporter: and in his new full-time job, he knew more help could mean more money. >> this is where i started to, you know, talk the kids in. hayden wanted to come out here, and i said, "well, look, you know, there's a little business proposition i have for you." i talked him into it. >> reporter: a couple of doors down the hall, hayden would soon fill cops in on his version of that dirty deal. >> that's when he started, you know, going over all the details about how it's done and what he's done in the pals past. also, what to look for in a bank, you know. >> like what? >> the getaways, everything.
he just needed somebody to drove slow and steady and abide all the traffic laws, and, you know, not look like a bank robber at all. this cute blonde girl is the last thing you would ever -- >> no. >> you'd ever look for. >> reporter: but that's exactly who police were looking for. and after getting a call from her dad, abby drove herself in to talk to investigators, same room, six hours later. >> well, i just felt like, you know, i needed to do what i did to, you know, protect them. >> reporter: abby admitted driving the getaway car, but said it was out of blind loyalt whose writing was still there on the wall. >> my mother died when i was 2. and a lot of it has to do with, you know, i've always trusted my dad. it's not okay, obviously. i'm not stupid. but when it's your dad, it's almost like it is.
>> i convinced her of it. she trusts me completely because she doesn't have anybody else to trust. >> reporter: but according to texas law, it was a little too late to take the blame now. david ryan is abby's lawyer. >> abigail catt was facing five to 99 or life in prison for aggravated robbery even though she didn't put a gun in anyone's face, because, under texas law, just being involved in the crime itself was enough to make her as culpable as he father and brother. >> reporter: by the end of his 2 1/2-hour confession, it was clear scott catt wouldn't be winning dad of the year any time soon. >> so that's where we're at today. >> reporter: and after a decade of robbing banks, what did he have to show for it besides two kids on the fast track to becoming felons? >> about all i got in my wallet, maybe whatever hayden has in his wallet. that's about it. >> reporter: hayden had counted his -- just 30 bucks.
>> for as disciplined scott especially was in actually carrying out at least most of the robberies, that's how undisciplined he was in managing the money. when we come back -- how could he ask even more from his kids? evidence "20/20" obtained, a letter asking them to take longer sentences so he could serve less time. >> where did you get this? >> it's your handwriting, isn't it? >> yeah, definitely is. >> you're even trying to manipulate them from behind bars. and us. >> what do you want me to say to that? >> what do you want me to say to that? >> coming up on "20/20." but i think women would rather ite boo. curl up with their favorite man. but here's the thing: about half of men over 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction. well, viagra helps guys with ed get and keep an erection. and remember, you only take it when you need it. ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain; it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure.
side effects include headache, flushing, upset stomach and abnormal vision. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. stop taking viagra and call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. ask your doctor about viagra. with intuitive front and rear park assist. pretty wild, right? my credit score for free, right? and then you're gonna ask me for my credit card so you can charge me on the down low two weeks later. look, credit karma - oh, are you talking to websites again? it's sayin' 'free credit score.' credit karma? yeah, it's actually free. look, you don't have to put in your credit card information. credit karma. really free credit scores. really. free.
house, behind the bars of the ft. bend county jail in texas. the family had been held in separate cell blocks and hadn't seen each other in over a year jailhouse life had taken its toll. scott said there wasn't enough food, and he'd lost more than 70 pounds, almost unrecognizable to his own mother when we showed her footage from our interview. >> he's an old man. he doesn't look the same. oh, i miss him. he's old. i don't want to see anymore. >> reporter: she's heartbroken by what her son did to the grandchildren she'd help care for after their mother died. >> it's so hard. i wish i knew why he did this. i will never know. >> reporter: when we sat down with scott, he wanted us to believe he was a changed man, a father who would do anything for his kids.
if you were offered a deal where you had to spend 25, 30, 40 years in prison in exchange for both of your kids going free, would you take it? >> for them going free? absolutely. >> reporter: what about life in prison? >> sure. >> scott catt is a manipulator. he is a terrible excuse for a father. and no one would be here today except for the fact that scott catt decided a life of crime was easier than actually going to work every day and raising his children. >> reporter: would you have said you're a good father? >> i thought i was. >> reporter: do you think you are now? >> i have serious doubts. i mean, i think that we're all sitting in here right now because of my inability to be a parent. >> reporter: what would beth say, your first wife? what would she say about you dragging your kids into -- >> i can't even imagine. can't even imagine. i'm just -- i'm really ashamed.
>> my mommy. that's when he cries is, about my mom. >> reporter: he didn't cry about his kids, but he cried about his wife. >> yeah. >> reporter: in fact, as we would learn, he would put in pen and ink how little he cared. abby's lawyer gave us letters from their dad in which he encouraged them to do hard time so that he could do less of it. with this new information, we went back just last week to confront scott, this time face to face. this is your letter to abby, by the way. >> where did you get this? >> reporter: it's your handwriting, isn't it? >> yeah, definitely is. >> reporter: and it's your letter. >> yes. >> reporter: you told me recently that you would be willing to spend life in prison in order that your kids do not spend time in prison. >> i would. i would. >> reporter: but here you are, essentially asking her to do time for you. >> yeah, i was trying to manipulate. i'm trying to get something for -- >> reporter: who are you manipulating? >> i'm trying to get everybody something that they could live
with. >> reporter: everybody? you got your kids involved in this, and you're asking them to do time for you. it says it right here. "i do believe that you doing prison time will be good for me. and i know that wasn't an easy choice for you." >> and that's what she said to me in the previous letter, that she was willing to do that. >> reporter: wouldn't most parents say, try to dissuade their children? say, "please, don't admit to anything. i will take the entire blame here." >> i would love to, but they have so much evidence on everybody that -- what -- what are we supposed to do? >> reporter: what's interesting is that you can't even leave them alone. it seems that you caused so much havoc in their life beforehand that you're even trying to manipulate them from behind bars and us. >> what do you want me to say to that? >> reporter: in another letter, scott encourages abby and hayden to exaggerate his addiction in their interviews with us, all so that his story would appear more sympathetic. >> "tell them i led a dual life involving drugs, alcohol and women.
we can "f" with them a little, ha ha." >> reporter: you clearly told your kids to manipulate us just like you were manipulating them. >> i wanted to get some sort of -- wow -- some sort of movement on my case, something. it was a joke. i was joking around. that's the "ha ha" part. >> reporter: i don't understand the humor. >> well, that's the humor of somebody that's done a lot of drugs and alcohol. >> he has done research on what would make them have a better story. so, being a drug addict, being an alcoholic, your audience would look at that and excuse it and maybe feel sorry for him. >> i did everything wrong. i wish i could take it back. but i can't. there's so many regrets about it. >> reporter: your father says he blames himself. he says he's lied to you for many years. >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: do you believe him now?
>> am i just supposed to believe him all of a sudden? i want to. and i've always wanted to. i believe he feels remorse. but i also believe that he still didn't have my best interests through all of this, through all the court stuff. >> reporter: does it make you angry? make you sad? >> mainly sad that a situation like that was put in front of my face. from the person that is supposed to keep me away from things like that, and that's been the hardest to deal with, because that doesn't happen to everybody. and i feel like now i've lost my mom and now i've lost my dad. >> reporter: when we told scott his kids thought he failed as a father, he was dumbfounded. >> did they forget about other times, the happy times?
they don't remember the trip to disneyland? i wish i could have made those memories a little more lasting for them. >> reporter: and unbelievably, despite everything, abby and hayden say they forgive their father. >> i've forgiven him. >> reporter: you've forgiven him? >> because i have to, for myself, or i probably wouldn't be able to sleep at night. and so, i can start to live a normal life. i don't want hate, anger and any of that in my heart. >> reporter: if your father were right here, hayden, what would you say to him? >> you know, i'd tell him that i forgive him and that i don't want him to carry this burden around with him for the rest of his life. >> reporter: when we come back, an extraordinary television moment. >> hey, abby. >> reporter: abby and hayden unite. and you won't believe what our mikes picked up.
>> that moment is really something. coming up here, a judge decides the fate of the catt family. what do you think the father should serve, and what about the children? >> should abby and hayden have to serve the same amount of time as their father? let us know on twitter using #abc2020. ♪ ♪ my baby drove up in a brand new cadillac ♪ ♪ ♪ look here daddy, i'm never coming back ♪ ♪ discover the new spirit of cadillac and the best offers of the season. lease this 2015 standard collection srx for around $359 a month. hurry in. offer ends soon.
>> the serial bank robber who disturbingly recruited his own son and daughter to help him during a string of holdups has learned his fate. >> how do you plea to the offense? >> guilty. >> are you pleading guilty freely and voluntarily? >> yes, sir. >> reporter: scott catt's 15 minutes of infamy would stretch into 24 years of prison. >> i mean, i'm 51 years old, so, i mean, to me, that is life. you know, if i don't have the opportunity to get out and see parole and make amends to my family and friends and repair some of those relationships, then it might as well be life. >> reporter: texas penitentiaries are some of the toughest in the world, where prisoners have allegedly died from a soaring heat index of up to 130 degrees. hayden accepted a deal of ten years, a sizzling cell in texas, a world removed from his suburban childhood in oregon. what do you expect prison life
to be like? >> hell. as close to hell on earth as you can get. >> how do you plea to the offense? >> guilty. >> reporter: abby pled guilty and was given a five-year sentence. sheriff troy nehls was so disturbed by scott's manipulation of his kids that he's decided to help abby. instead of shipping her off to prison for five years, he's decided to keep her here at the jail where we found her stitching patches onto police uniforms. >> i just feel that she's more of a victim in this. so, my goal is to try too educate her, get her where she can get her g.e.d., to try to teach her some type of a skill set here, so when she gets out, she can lead a productive life. >> reporter: for abby, all she has left is her brother, hayden. why does that make you sad now? >> because i miss him. and i think we both hate to see each other in this situation. and there's just nothing we can do for each other.
you know, i feel like i can't help him, i can't comfort him and that makes me sad. >> reporter: making an unprecedented gesture, sheriff troy nehls allowed us to bring them together one last time before they serve their sentences. brother and sister haven't seen each other in a year since the day of their arrest. hayden is brought in shackled, hand and foot. and the jailhouse rules were strict. no touching. the soul mate siblings couldn't seem to help reaching out. >> hey, abby. >> reporter: breaking one last rule. >> are you doing okay? >> yes. >> okay. >> i'm just happy to see you. >> yeah, me too. abby, i'm sorry, okay? >> i don't blame you for anything, hayden. just know that i love you forever. >> i love you, too. >> i don't blame you for anything. nothing. >> it's going to be a long time until i see you. >> i know. i love you.
>> i love you, too. >> can i give him a hug? >> no, i can't hug you. >> no? >> no. >> reporter: and on the spur of the moment, we asked the sheriff for one more act of kindness. if you guys want to give each other a hug, the sheriff says it's okay. >> really? >> oh. >> reporter: it could be ten years before abby and hayden could embrace again. [ crying ] listen closely. our mikes picking up abby's heart pounding. >> it's going to be okay. >> i know. >> it's just going to be a couple years until i can see you. >> i love you. >> and i love you, too. >> i know.
i don't want you to go. >> i know. >> reporter: and gushing out came the grief and the regret and the anger. >> thank you for the hug. i needed it. >> i know. >> i love you. >> i love you, too, okay? >> okay. >> and if you ever start to feel down or anything, just start to think about all those good times we had, okay? >> okay. >> that will get you through. >> okay. >> all right. >> i love you. >> abby, i love you, too. i'll see you soon, okay? >> okay, bye. >> reporter: and after ten minutes of comfort, shackled again. the siblings' love for one another, the one thing their fool-hearted father couldn't destroy. >> those heartbreaking tears between brother and sister and since our story first ran, abby tells us that she's stayed in touch with her brother and even from the county jake has earned her high school diploma. with her clean record, she'll most likely be paroled this spring.
the jeep cherokee, ♪ with forward collision warning, helps you brake suddenly, safely. stop, and think about that. ♪ rma. checking your credit score is for chumps. i have great credit. how do you know? duh. you know those change, right? tattoos don't change. try credit karma. it's free and you can see what your score is right now. aren't you a little bit curious? i just got my free credit score! credit karma. really free credit scores. really free. i have got to update my ink. it's the purple pill, the #1 prescribed acid blocking brand, available without a prescription for frequent heartburn. get complete protection. nexium level protection™
for my skin. lease on life new l'oreal age perfect cell renewal. surface skin renewal is accelerated. millions of new cells surface every day. i can feel it working. skin looks fresher, full of life. new l'oreal age perfect cell renewal. only abreva can heal it in as few as two and a half days when used at the first sign. it penetrates deep and starts to work immediately to block the virus and protect healthy cells.. don't tough it out, knock it out, fast. abreva. we're back and robin roberts has her exciting look back at 2014. and to tell us about the makeups, the breakups and those viral videos you couldn't stop watching. >> what a year.
incredible highs. shocking lows. incredible highs. shocking lows. and just plain williams tony wroteton on the basket. tieing at 46 right now sixers down 4 in the third >> time for a final check of the accuweather forecast. >> walter as we walk out the door tomorrow morning lots of clouds move in as we look at the day planner. mostly cloudy. 10 a.m., 47. as we get into 1:00 in the afternoon temperatures will be in the upper 40s. and we are tracking light rain showers on and off throughout the day. nothing major. but it will change our weather as we get into the second half of next week. >> duelly noted. >> thank you melissa. >> best of "action news" team will be on 6abc tomorrow morning. if you're in the mood for something sweet check out academy of natural sciences in center city. a look at the new chocolate exhibit and more starting at 6 a look at the new chocolate exhibit and more starting at 6 tomorrow morning on 6abc. p p >> thank you so much for watching. i'm elizabeth vargas. >> what a year it was. >> what a year. >> i'm david muir. for all of us here at "20/20," have a great night and a great rest of your weekend. a youngstl firefighters for going above and beyond the call of duty to save