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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  May 13, 2018 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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to make some better memories. matt livers and nick sampson are file lawsuits against douglas and cass countys and the state of nebraska claiming efland was fabricated and withheld. without admitting wrongdoing the this is dateline. >> i couldn't live with that. >> i said -- >> i'm the only other person that knows the truth. i had to do something. >> he swept her right off her feet. >> i was drawn to him right away. >> a dreamy single dad and wealthy, charming, smitten. >> i had never been spoiled like that. i remember thinking i was, lookic julia roberts in "pretty
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woman." >> he had been through so much. a midwest earus accident at sea. zr. >> it was a heart breaking scenario. while the two drp. >> no one knows exactly what happened. >> accident? a disappearance. >> i thought, what, she had faked her death? >> or her murder? >> there's no way. absolutely no way. >> i felt like the police were just trying to frame an innocent man. zoo no >> now, she would be the one to unralts did a unrattle it all. >> my heart beat was going so fast. you need to tell me the truth.
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>> dateline hoodlam and an ek panding family and business. when he risked her away, disaster struck, and peggy was gone. was it an accident or was it perhaps something nor sinister? here's josh with troubled waters. >> if you prayed for money or fame, maybe even become one of them, you will find your way to sunny california. it's where everything is possible, or seems to be. st st this is the story of two women, drawn for different reasons to the sun and the light brights to the blue water wrsht both chaced that program of success. both saw what can go wrong.
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>> reporter: it was a delicious summer day. they came across something unexpected. the captain radioed the coast guard that a small speed boat was circling out of control in the water nearby. there was a man holding on to the body board. the man was trfrantic. his name is eric beckler. his wife was candy. she was nowhere to be found. >> what's he doing up here? >> just kind of --
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>> it was a stun end to what began as a perfect ending. they were celebrating their wedding appear versery, and peggy, just become -- >> her her birthday. you know? she was in good spirits. >> amanda was one of the friends that he had invited toy abig party a couple of days ago. >> sheeg talking about how good life is. >> and life was good. her story begins in a small town, new mexico, memorial memorial. this is where peggy made her entrance. >> she was born winking at the doctor and swinging on the chandeli
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chandelier. >> she was a fourth kpooild child, and june wsz she was going places we shent. >> she dance, sang, and played sports, and it seems, nothing would hold her back. skoelosiss. zbloog there's a trurd burt, about but it ep u7d motivating her. >> figury's daughter talked with her about a career in fert prarp she voefrd and loved it. sthoob she made p hufr mind right there that she wanted to be a physical sthatherapist. she wanted to move to california and be a beautiful blonde, so she did. >> so peggy left the small town of dexter for sunny california and settleed in newport beach. that's where she met -- who was also from new mexico and they immediately hit it off wrrn. >> peggy was gregarious.
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she was always smiling and upbeat. >> and she was drawn to establish herself as a successful physical therapist. she had almost everything she wanted. >> she did want to find a gi. >> and the clock was ticking a little bit? >> and it was. z >> then one day on the beach you found somebody for her. >> we did. one afternoon on a weekend -- she called and said what are you doing? i said i'm going to watch dave play volleyball on the beach. >> dave was linda's husband. >> i asked linda. she immediately spotted eric and said who is that? >> thern in his early 20s, was commercial commercial for the california beach life. >> i'm guess when she notices a guy playing beach volleyball, he is good-looking and in good shape. >> indeed ethe was.
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he was eight years younger. >> was a problem for either one of them in. >> it wasn't. peggy, when she sets her sight on something, she's going to make it happen. >> she had her own computer therapy business, and she managed the technical side of their venture, which quickly became very profitable. >> she was happily married. >> and a happy couple was also happily spending a lot of money on a german sports car. italian clothing, and a spectacular bluff-side home in newport beach. >> she lived a it is dream story. beautiful girl. good-looking guy. drive nice cars. beautiful children. >> until that summer day in 1997
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when the unimaginable happened. >> male distraught. >> it was a boating accident, said eric. the coast guard agreed. soon secrets emerged that would make some people wonder. >> where was it? what went wrong on that boat? coming up, it would be the scenic cluster to come. >> you thought peggy faked her death? >> when "dateline" continues. . ♪ protect your pets from fleas and ticks with frontline plus for dogs and frontline plus for cats. its two killer ingredients work fast and keep working all month long preventing new flea infestations on your pet.
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frontline plus. the number 1 name in flea and tick protection. with the right steps, 80%of recurrent ischemicide. strokes could be prevented. a bayer aspirin regimen is one step to help prevent another stroke. so, i'm doing all i can to stay in his life. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. it's just my eczema again,. but it's fine. yeah, it's fine. you okay? eczema. it's fine.
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hey! hi! aren't you hot? eczema again? it's fine. i saw something the other day. myeczemaexposed.com. your eczema could be something called atopic dermatitis, which can be caused by inflammation under your skin. maybe you should ask your doctor? go to myeczemaexposed.com to learn more. whimper yap yap yap yip is your dog trying to tell you something? licking, scratching, scooting, and rubbing may be signs of allergic itch, a medical condition that may require treatment. that's why there's prescription apoquel: the revolutionary medicine that's giving millions of dogs the relief they deserve. apoquel goes to the source of the itch to provide relief in as little as 4 hours.
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but what a powerful life lesson. and don't worry i have everything handled. i already spoke to our allstate agent, and i know that we have accident forgiveness. which is so smart on your guy's part. like fact that they'll just... forgive you... four weeks without the car. okay, yup. good night. with accident forgiveness your rates won't go up just because of an accident. switching to allstate is worth it. >> it said there's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline. this was supposed to be something like that. a romantic outing.
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an anniversary and birthday gift eric becker planned for his wife, peggy, but it turned into something else, and now peggy was gone. >> a life preserver fell off the boat. >> the coast guard immediately launched a search, but by nightfall no sign of peggy alive or otherwise. >> peggy's mom. he. >> he said we can't find peggy. >> he said peggy was driving the boat, and all of a sudden a wave wiped him out on a body board. he came up from under the water, he said, and he could no longer see peggy inside the boat. >> we thought they should be finding her because we were really just thought she would swim out of it.
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>> growing up it was the only time peggy could not a back brace. she became an accomplished swimm swimmer. >> the next morning june and glen marshall were on the first flight out to california. feg peggy had been missing almost 24 hours. >> of course, the ocean is just bigger, bigger than you think about if you are in new mexico. >> peggy's friend, glenda, tried to stay optimistic. >> i absolutely thought they would find her. >> maybe alive? >> i did. because she was a fabulous swimmer. >> glenda went to the becker's house to see eric. >> how did he look? >> hysterical, a little bit. he had been crying, and, you know, his face is red and, u know, all of those things. he looked -- he looked upset.
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adds he should be. one would expect. >> this video from local news shows a devastated eric. >> it was now day two of the search for peggy, and still nothing. the next day the coast guard interviewed eric. eric beckler could barely speak. >> where did you take her? >> we a couple of bags -- wanted to see if we could see catalina, but it was so hazy. i told peggy it was too hazy. >> eric told the coast guard he tried to body board on the way out and said there was a pretty good swim in the ocean.
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>> he said they stopped to enjoy manager litas peggy had made and then -- peggy was driving. eric was being ouldpulled on th board. >> all of a sudden it was just -- i gave up. peggy would be right there. i couldn't see her. >> i didn't see anyone stand tlg he it wheat. the boat went farther and farther away. i couldn't see any other boats. >> and so peggy beckler was simply gone. maybe even within sight of the same beach that had spawned her marriage. eric seemed devastated fearing
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his wife and business partner was dead. but eric's mother, linda, saw things quite differently. >> i was sure that they would find her. that it would all turn out well. >> not just because peggy was a strong swimmer. everyone knew that. linda knew more. a secret about her daughter-in-law. >> and you thought, what, peggy faked her death? disappeared deliberately. >> she stopped me on the stairway and said i have to talk to you. >> when "dateline" continues. mr. elliot, what's your wifi password?
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>> a brilliant sunset closed out day three for the search for peggy, and even though her family and friends tried to remain hopeful, reality was slowly starting to set in. and it was painful. >> you didn't think she was still alive. >> could she for that length of time? >> unless, of course, what appeared to be an accident was not. the coast guard kukconducted a reenactment at sea to determine how peggy could have fallen off the boat and they couldn't do
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it. >> he says his marriage was good. there was no problems with it. >> you took his word for it? >> we don't take anyone's word for it. we look into it, and that's what we did. >> they met with the improbably named kobe laker, eric's best friend and kobe backed up eric. >> they had a terrific major. there was no problems whatsoever. >> if the marriage seemed solid, there were questions about
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beckler, linda's mother. she said she told her something if dfs. >> she stopped me on the stairway as he was leaving and said i have to talk to you. she said i'm afraid i'm going to jail. >> according to court documents, the couple sold their physical therapy businesses to another company. they stayed on as employees. then just four months before peggy vanished the becklers were fired amid allegations this he had overbilled medicare for more than $ 1 million when linda heard peggy had vanished. >> i started thinking about how disturbed she was about going to jail. >> and she wondered if peggy had somehow stabled her own disappearance. peggy's friend glenda said no way. >> was peggy beckler capable of committing white collar crime? medicare overbill? >> in my opinion no.
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>> if you are wrong about that in, then maybe the idea that she faked her beth to escape possible prosecution of that, maybe that's a little bit moore plausible? >> but white collar crime and faking your death and leaving your children and your family are two separate issues. >> glenda said peggy adored her children and would never abandon them. snoo i will say people who have never been in the inside of a courtroom or inside a jail cell sometimes do pretty crazy things when they realize that might happen to them. >> i believe that. but not peggy. >> glenda did tell the detectives that peggy and eric were having some issues, like how peggy was busy with issues and kids while eric seemed occupied on the volleyball court. >> she said they were having football troubles. he had a pretty high lifestyle
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to keep up with. >> glenda said eric and peggy seemed determined to work everything out, but now peggy was gone, and eric was a sickle dad with three kids under the age of 4. and a new player was about to enter the story. >> you were drawn to eric right away? >> yes. >> like countless young women before her, she knew she had drop dead looks and home wood dreams. she had done some bikini modelling and had a small part on the tv show bay watch nights. >> he went down right there. >> that turned out to be the peak of her career. soon tina found herself slipping into the darker side of show biz. she started doing drugs and lost custody of her two young children because of it. and fell for a succession of guys who did not treated her kindly. >> i had an ex put a gun to my head. i was held over the balcony by
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my neck. >> tina who was broke and near rock bottom was desperate. >> i said i'll dolg whatever you want, lord. just help my. i can't do this anymore. i need you to show ple a sign. >> the universe sent you eric. >> the next day i met limb, and all my problems were gone. >> he sh had taken a modelling gig, eye candy, at a trade show. eric was there promoting his new business. it was three months to the day since peggy had disappeared. >> i just thought he was really handsome. >> so there was some serious chemistry from the beginning? >> yes. >> we went out that night, actually. he asked me out that night, and then i moved in the next day. really fast. >> you don't wait, do you? >> no. not then. >> eric lived in a giant house and drove a porsche, and he was a gentleman in her life after a long string of men who were not gentle. >> i had never been spoiled like that, i remember thinking i was like julia roberts in "pretty
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woman." >> she was moved by aishlg's story where. >> he said they were never able to find her. >> she couldn't help noticing how great he was with his kids. >> he would sit on the floor and play with them, and i thought he was a great dad. >> she was eager to help, taking care of the kids while aik went as usual to the beach. >> i thought they lost their mom. she need someone to step in and not be their mom, but do things their mom would do for them zbloosh wh zbloo. >> there was a lot of animosity towards me. >> they saw this hot young woman who had been brought in to he replace their missing daughter. >> exactly three months to the day. i can't even imagine what they were thinking. >> detective sean murphy had also noticed the new woman in eric beckler's life. >> she was just you a hot number, as this say, and she was cohas been taking with him after
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this horrible boating accident with his wife. >> so murphy arranged bump into tina where are. >> i said, hey, if you have any information about this boelgt accident involving eric, your boy friend, just give us a call. >> nothing came of it. tina didn't call. but someone else did. >> coming up, the best friend has second thoughts. and goes under cover. >> i protectsed you. i made you look like a saint. >> when "dateline" continues. stm show me minivans with no reported accidents. boom. love it. [struggles] show me the carfax. start your used car search at the all-new carfax.com. happiness is powerful flea and tick protection from nexgard. nexgard kills fleas and ticks all month long. and it comes in an easy-to-give tasty chew. and that makes dogs and owners happy.
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two people are dead following a stabbing in paris's opera district. the attacker is among the dead. four others were also hurt. right now the investigation is still ongoing. north korea has announced that they will dismantle their knew test site.
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the white house thanked north korea calling it a gracious gesture. that did not sit well with quite a few people. essential not with the police or peggy's family. but eric's best friend, what exactly did he know, and how far would he go to get proof? let's return to josh with "troubled waters." >> to detective sean murphy it sounded more than suspicious. eric beckler taking up with a gorgeous red head just three months after his wife was lost at sea. but murphy didn't have much more than a gnawing in his gut until his phone range. >> he with got a call from kobe's lawyer that said he wanted to arrange an interview again with kobe.
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>> kobe laker, eric's best friend and volleyball buddy. he told sheriff's detectives the beckler marriage was greats. now he had a different story. >> eric told me on several occasions that he is sick and stierd tired of his wife. he could tell me he just couldn't take it anymore. he was tired of it. >> about seven months before peggy vanished kobe says he and eric had a conversation that kobe described as haunting him err sin ever since. >> eric asked me about what he thought -- what i thought about him killing his wife. i was shocked. i didn't know what to say. he told me that he was thinking of taking her out to the ocean and dumping her in a barrel. >> said that when he saw that there was a boating accident and eric's wife chts missing, he knew right then and there he saw it on tv, he knew that he had killed lits wife.
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he lied to us. he said, it was because he was panicked and afraid, and he didn't know what to do. >> detectives convinced kobe do wear a wire and to meet eric at a restaurant in orange county. eric had no idea that police were listening in. even so, he stouk stuck to his story that figury's death of a tash terrible accident. zblie was ther zbl >> i was there. i know what happened. >> i made you look like a saint in the interview i had with the detectives. >> a dead end, but detective were now convinced that eric killed his wife. >> that conversation with kobe, that got you from
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knowing. >> it moved it all the way over. he with knew we had a homicide. >> knowing it and proving it were two very different things. >> you didn't get the process that is a crime scene for almost a week. >> right. that wasn't good. that hindered the investigation. >> the boat, said detective murphy, was pretty clean. crime scene did find blood. just one drop you should one of the cushions, but not enough to determine whether it was human blood. it could have come from a fish. not enough evidence to arrest eric for murder or even prove that a murder occurred. peggy's close friend, glenda, didn't believe eric was a killer. >> there's no way that eric would have done that. you know, i mean, there's just absolutely no way. it was unfathomable to me. >> tina felt the same way. >> i felt like the police were framing an nbt man. >> tina noticed that eric kept
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notices of peggy in every room of the house. she could not imagine that a man who had killed his wife would want to see her face everywhere. >> eric was really the answer to all your problems for a while, wasn't he? >> yeah, he was. >> so you weren't too anxious to question him? >> no. i believed him. >> and after about six months -- >> says will you marry me? >> yes. zploob and you say? >> yes. >> you don't say no a lot. >> i mean, he treated me so good. >> they had been a couple for two years. still not married but living together off and on. one night teen yafs showing aircraft some of her old modelling shots and tv appear yang appearances. >> i put the videotape in, and
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i'm fast-forwarding it, and it just stops. >> purely by chance, tina accidentally recorded a news report about peggy's disappearance. >> the whole screen was just a pictures of her face, and i said, oh, my gosh, what is this? >> then she turned to eric. >> i looked at him. his face turned white, like he literally lost the color in his face, and he said to me how did you get that? i said i don't know. >> his reaction troubled her. she hit play, and it just got worse. the news report did not match the story eric had told her about peggy's disappearance zbloo. >> he told me there was three to four foot waves, and it was really choppy out there. >> on the day peggy went missing, there were only two foot waves, they said, and the weather was described as ideal. >> he lied. he lied all this time to me. you know, he was just really quiet. >> he is sitting right next to you. >> sitting right flex to me. >> how does he look that the
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point? >> fshed and stressed. i yelled at him and said why is this different than what you told me? he just was really quiet. >> then, she says, eric beckler told her a new version of what happened when peggy g fell off boat. >> he thinks she hit a wake and fell off. he said and i didn't get to her. i said you didn't get to her, or you didn't want to get to her? he said the first he said he told me that he didn't get to her, and then later he said i could have helped her, but i didn't. zoo that's completely different from what he told police. >> right. >> chilling that is sounded, tina feared it still wasn't the whole story. de she was determined to get the rest. like a career in show biz, you have to be careful what you wish for. coming up -- >> i'm afraid of you. >> nobody knows anything but you. >> from model and actress to under cover agent.
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a secret operation to learn the truth. >> this is where it gets really ska sca scary. >> when "dateline" continues. protect your pets from fleas and ticks with frontline plus for dogs and frontline plus for cats. its two killer ingredients work fast and keep working all month long preventing new flea infestations on your pet. frontline plus. the number 1 name in flea and tick protection.
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not yet. i just felt like he wasn't telling the truth all the way, and i was really afrads because he was always with me. >> afraid, yet they continued to see each other. sleep together. and party together. about two weeks after eric changed his story, he and tina went to a club and took the drug ecstacy. >> we get home and walk inside the house, and we're laying on the bed staring straight up at the crying together. all of a sudden it just came to me, and i said to him, oh, my god, you hit her over the head. he goes how did you know that? >> the fact is she hadn't known. call it intuition or the effects of the drug or a random guess. it was an opening, and tina barrelled through. >> he is calmly talking to me, he said i'm going to tell you truth. we had this huge party so everybody could see how happy we
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were together. >> all their friends were there, and then eric told her he took peggy out too sea on that rented boat and although peggy didn't know it, he took along some weights. i hit her so hard she didn't feel a thing. what do you mean you hit her so hard? he said he hit her with a weight. >> he said there was blood everywhere. then tina says eric beckler told her how he got rid of his wife. >> he just didn't -- he did her wrists and her ankles together so she was completely bent in half. he said he took the two trash bags that he had and put her body in it, and then he said he put the weights and tied it down to the rope and threw her in. >> a stunning confession two years later. >> you go to sleech nep next to man. zhoo then actually we have sex. i felt like i had to could it
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because i think that made him feel like i was going to be quiet and, you know, that he was, i don't know , dealing the deal with me or something. >> the case was still open, and defectives had been keeping ab eye on eric and tina all along. they knew the relationship was growing volatile. >> we were excited about it in a morbid kind of way because we knew it was going to go sideways. >> because that's when people start talking. >> that's right. >> that's what happened. a neighbor called 911 after hearing yelling coming from teen ya -- tina's apartment. she still had the business card detective murphy had given her almost two years earlier. >> i grabbed my partner. we went out there in the middle of the night, and we met up with tina. >> she told detective murphy ask his partner, gary jones, what eric had said.
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a big break, yes, but not nearly enough for an arrest. remember, teen yafs pretty far from an ideal witness. detectives knew they would need more than her word against eric's. so they asked tina -- >> are you willing to wear wire? i said, yes, that's the only way you'll get him. >> why would you turn down a guy that had bakley taken you from a terrible life and given you a great life? >> because i couldn't live with myself. i mean, no way. >> sheriff's homicide detectives -- this dinner date, tina told eric, was to get their story straight in case the cops questioned her again. tina wired up, picked up eric from his home, and drove to a restaurant called eltorido where.
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>> are you worried about this? >> i was more worried i wasn't going to get him to confess it again. >> i have two stories in my head. i don't want to screw up at all. >> what's the story to tell? it was an accident. >> once inside the restaurant tina tried to get eric to repeat the details of peggy's death. eric wouldn't go there. >> so tina tried to get him to say why he did it. >>. >> i mean, how do i -- >> why did you do that? >> i don't know. >> it's on no confession, but it's not a denial either. >> are you thinking to yourself that's it. eye g i got him? >> i still thought that wasn't enough. >> remember, peggy had a life insurance policy worth more than
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$2 million. >> again, she tried to get him to give her a reason. >> what was it about her that made you want to -- >> i was backed into a corner like she was going to steal the kids and i would never see them again. >> eric reassured tina. >> never ever do anything to you. >> she was good. she was really good. >> the drama wasn't over. tina left the restaurant with eric still wired up. so this is where it gets really scare where i. >> we're walking out to the car, and he says let me drive. >> that was not part of the plan. >> we lose sight of them. >> in a movie this is where you hear the sound of gunshots. >> that would not have been good. >> in the car with eric now behind the wheel tina cranked up her acting skills and the tension. >> i can't live with a lie. >> i hadn't talked about it for over a year and a half, and you don't remember the details. >> you are making me lie, and it's not easy.
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>> i'm not making you do anything. you can turn me in if you want to. >> what? >> whatever you [ bleep ] weapons inspector want. >> now tina tried to get eric out of the car. >> pull the car over. now. i don't trust you. i'm afraid of you now. >> all i'm asking -- you don't have to -- nobody knows anything but you. you tonight have to tell anybody anything. >> eric pulled over and got out, and tina hopped in the driver's seat. >> i'm at my house. that's where i'm going to be. >> tina drove away from her old life. >> in the end you got enough. >> oh, absolutely, yeah. >> you understand you're under arrest arrest. >> eric was arrested and charged with peggy's murder. >> wlafs it like to get the call that eric had been arrested? >> well, i just trembled all over. i konts really -- couldn't really believe it. >> but two weeks after eric's
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arrest made headlines, ta mad some headlines of her own that put the whole case in jeopardy. >> coming up -- >> knocking at this crime. >> eric beckler on trial, and tina's credibility, that's on trial too. >> did you think anybody would believe you? >> no. >> without that statement, they don't have anything that makes this a homicide. this a homicide. >> when "dateline" continues. your eczema could be something called atopic dermatitis, which can be caused by inflammation under your skin. maybe you should ask your doctor? go to myeczemaexposed.com to learn more.
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so allstate is giving us money back on our bill. well, that seems fair. we didn't use it. wish we got money back on gym memberships. get money back hilarious. with claim-free rewards. mr. elliot, what'sstate your wiwifi?ssword? wifi's ordinary. basic. do i look basic? nope! which is why i have xfinity xfi.
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it's super fast and you can control every device in the house. [ child offscreen ] hey! let's basement. and thanks to these xfi pods, the signal reaches down here, too. so sophie, i have an xfi password, and it's "daditude". simple. easy. awesome. xfinity. the future of awesome. welcome back to "dateline". when eric bechler confessed to his girlfriend that he tossed his wife into the ocean, he may have sunk himself. as the trial moved, his determination wavered. would she take the stand? here's josh mankiewicz with the conclusion of troubled waters. >> beach volleyball is a kid's game played by grownups. murder for profit is played only
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by adults and it's for keeps. prosecutors believed eric bechler was trying to be successful at both. detectives had put him in jail. but then two weeks after eric's arrest came this head line in the local paper. witness in murder case doubts suspect's guilt. tina, who had worn a wire and helped police nail eric now said maybe he didn't kill her. >> i knew the kids had lost their mom and now going to probably lose their dad for a very long time. so i felt guilty. >> guilty that she had helped jail man she once thought she'd marry. >> he called me from the jail and told me he had tried to hang himself with his sheets. >> it was eric's frantic behavior from the lock-up, that was enough to make you think twice. >> i didn't want him to die. >> you felt guilty? >> i felt guilty. >> you tried to roll the whole thing back? >> yeah, i did. >> but she says she always felt he was guilty and in the winter
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of 2000, eric bechler went on trial. the star witness, tina, a witness was, to be fair, compromised, not just by her waffling by eric's guilt and her own checkered past but the one detail and story tina says eric told her something the defense attorney says is critical. >> you'd expect, if pegye's head was caved in by 35 pound dumb bells, there'd be blood. >> quite a lot of it. >> everywhere. and there wasn't. >> on the stand, tina tried to defend herself. >> i'm a horrible witness when it comes to looking at me on paper? do you think anybody would believe you? >> no. i knew that i told exactly what he had said to me. and i knew that i was doing the right thing. i honestly didn't care what anybody thought. >> then there was the conversation she had recorded at
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el tore ito, eric owes own words. the jury heard all of them. >> and offering eric's own explanation. >> i argued the reason was the shut her up, calm her down. >> in any event, eric never said on tape he hit pegye. the only person who had said that was the only person with a drug conviction on her record. >> without that statement they have a lot of what ifs, but they don't have anything that makes this a homicide. >> the defense offered another theory about pegye. >> she was under a great deal of pressure and could be distracted and in combination with alcohol she rarely drank she did on that day, could con tibt to a lack of care in driving the boat. >> you don't think pegye bechler faked her death, you think she's dead? >> no, i don't think she did.
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>> you think she died accidently and her body still hasn't been found. >> yes. >> the prosecutor argued her death was eric's doing. >> he had about 3.5 million reasons to gain and what he would gain if he had gotten away with it. >> reporter: the evidence was substantial and eric had a weight at home and the prosecutor argued eric used to weight to kill pegye and sink her body. what about the blood? a luminol test conducted on the boat indicated there might have been a lot of blood in the boat but then cleaned up matching tina's testimony about blood everywhere. then there was tina herself. >> despite her past and her criminal record and her drug use, she rang true to you? >> yes. absolutely. >> who would the jury believe and would tina's past make a difference? >> it doesn't matter what i did
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before or after i met him, you know, what i did with myself has nothing to do with what he did. >> after seven days, the verdict. guilty of first-degree murder. >> you're thrilled that the man who did it is behind bars, but nobody wins in this situation, nobody. the children now have no mother and no father. >> the jury did not believe eric killed pegye for the money. he was found not guilty of murder for financial gain. at his sentencing, he addressed the judge, again, denying he killed her. >> the accident was a horrible tragedy for both of our families as much as the marshals are hurting, my family is also hurting because i did not commit this crime. >> the judge sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole. eric's mother, linda, thinks the verdict was wrong. >> is it possible you don't know your son as well as you think you do? >> oh, baloney.
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i know that kid like the back of my hand. >> i can understand a mother not wanting to believe her son committed a crime. >> listen, if my kid was a druggie, doper, nair too well, thief, rapist -- >> murderer. >> well, yeah. but he isn't. he isn't. >> pegye bechler's body has never been found. >> you want to know what happened but you still don't want to hear murder. >> but at least now you know. >> that's pretty hard to take. and even with all this information, we don't have a body. >> you all right? >> yeah. >> you discover you're stronger than you thought you were? >> oh, yeah. >> pegye's mother and sister ended up raising her kids. one more person who was stronger than she thought, tina. >> you're living a different life these days? >> completely different. >> she gave up drugs, married a nice guy and now she's a
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stay-at-home mom with five kids. a hollywood happy ending? no. sometimes real life is better. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." charlie has epilepsy and the one thing that seemed to help was an oil made from something you might not expect, marijuana. >> nothing had ever done this. nothing had ever touched her seizures. >> the oil is legal where charlie lives, but not where these families lived. >> i looked to see if my daughter's lips are blue. i watch when she sleeps. i look for the rise and fall of her chest at 14. >> now, these parents are

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