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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  March 9, 2019 12:00am-1:01am PST

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of all ages, and maybe a few men, too. cynthia mcfadden, nbc news, new york. >> and that is our broadcast for this friday. this international women's day. and for this week. thank you so very much for being here with us. have a good weekend and good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. she was receiving long, rambling emails threatening her life saying that her husband is cheating on her. she's telling her to watch her back. she better get out of the picture. >> menacing e-mails sent to a newlywed. >> the new wife went to authorities and said that she was being harassed. >> that's kind of when all the fireworks started happening. >> obviously this has to stop. >> what arrived next was far worse. >> strange men appeared at her door and tried to attack her.
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>> somebody was posting ads online saying they wanted to fulfill this rape fantasy. >> everything pointed to her husband's ex. >> they said "we're gonna have to take you into custody." >> you're incarcerated. >> potentially for the rest of my life. >> but hiding behind the threats was a cyber-secret. >> evil. it's something the devil might do. >> so who was the real devil? >> the d.a. in this case would use the word, diabolical. >> i think he's close to the mark.
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here's dennis murphy with "diabolical." >> reporter: locked in a cage -- the shrieks of women howling in the night. >> this isn't real. this is like something you would see in a movie. this doesn't happen in real life. >> reporter: how did a self-described goody two-shoes, a disney princess, get swept away in a conspiracy so convoluted, so twisted? >> this is one of the most well thought out, well executed plans. and it's scary. >> diabolical -- >> absolutely. >> reporter: a tangled web? you bet. an altogether bizarre plot. >> complicated scheme. >> very complicated. very creative. >> this is the most shocking form of love rivalry that i've ever seen. >> reporter: there would be allegations of harassment. cyber stalking. assault and attempted rape. someone was going to get hurt -- someone was going to jail. and at the end of the nightmare? well, no one saw that coming. you decide whether it was a love
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rivalry, but in the beginning it was clearly a boy meets girl love story. >> it was a very intense period of my life in the sense of just a very kind of whirlwind type of romance. >> reporter: august 2013. twenty-something michelle hadley met a u.s. marshal named ian diaz over a cup of coffee. things moved fast. >> he told you that he loved you, or you were beautiful? >> yes. >> he sorta hit you with a thunderbolt, huh? >> yeah, kind of early on, actually. yeah, about -- the second date he was telling me he loved me. >> you think s -- slow down buddy, here, [ laugh ] or -- or -- what -- wh -- did you welcome it? >> well, i think-- you know, i think when [ laugh ] you're a young girl who's kind of been raised on the fairytale princess dream. it's very exciting and flattering. >> reporter: could this be her prince charming she was meeting over a cappuccino. the man she had dreamed of since she was a little girl? >> she was very imaginative, very intelligent, and she just -- loved to play and create. >> reporter: michelle's mother
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suzanne and father michael raised her and her younger sister in this modest home in ontario, california. she was a cross country runner. good student. >> i was an overachiever. >> you were the kid who ruined the curve for everybody else, huh? >> yeah, actually sometimes. >> reporter: michelle was offered a scholarship to attend dickinson, a well-regarded liberal arts college back east in pennsylvania. >> you must've both been very proud of how your child was working out. >> oh, yeah. >> very proud. >> reporter: after graduation, she tried various careers before eventually landing a marketing job at disney. and now she had met this man -- ian diaz, the u.s. marshal, her very own prince charming. in december 2014, for her 28th birthday, he whisked her off to new york. he took her to the sweeping vistas atop rockefeller center -- and proposed. >> and you said? >> i said yes. yeah. i said yes. >> reporter: it was time to find a starter castle to complete the fairytale. just minutes from her job at disney, they bought into a new
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condo development in anaheim. she would be able to watch the disneyland fireworks from the roof. >> i put the whole down payment down. >> you paid the whole down? >> i paid the whole down payment, yes. >> reporter: they waited for the condo to be finished and in june, they moved in. but, michelle said, that's when the relationship changed. fell apart, actually. two-months later, she packed her jetta with whatever stuff she could fit in and left. showed up at her parent's doorstep. >> surprised? tell me about that night. >> well, i had gotten a text from her saying, "can i come home?" and i said, "you don't even need to ask." >> why were you not suited for him, in your opinion? >> i didn't feel that the relationship was healthy for me. >> not nurturing for you, or-- >> not nurturing for me, yeah. >> were there tempers? were there -- >> let's just say that i'm not a strong personality. and so, you know, i have to be very careful the kinds of people i surround myself with. it's almost better for me not to be in a relationship than to be in a bad one. >> reporter: but there were still ties that bound the former
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couple -- a mortgage, the deed to that condo in anaheim -- which became a source of tension. both hired lawyers. but it got personal. michelle claimed ian was unfaithful -- even abusive. and she sent him a strange email, the language laced with religiosity and references to the bible, satan, and a mythical demon called lilith. "please explain to your real estate attorney that god's law is above all laws, including the law of man. lilith, you may try to hide behind the law of man, but it is a weak shield that will bend and crack against the sword of god." ian denied her allegations and said he was so alarmed by michelle's email that he applied for a restraining order against her. he accused her of infidelity and wrote, "because of her emotional instability, history of fits of rage -- i fear for my safety." the request for the restraining order was dismissed a few weeks later, and the law of man prevailed --
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or so it seemed. the lawyers hashed out a compromise. >> we actually ended up getting a settlement agreement. >> reporter: ian and michelle signed it in november 2015. the deal allowed ian to stay in the condo, but he had six months to get his own mortgage. failing that, he'd have to sell the condo and split any profits with michelle. michelle stood to lose most of her down payment -- about $10,000. but she said it was worth it. >> i moved on with my life completely -- 100% completely. um, i actually had started dating again. >> so you had this toothache of a problem with the condo, but that was not a major part of your life. >> well, and once the settlement agreement was signed, it was just a waiting game. >> reporter: she went back to school. started an mba program at chapman university. ian too moved on quickly, married a woman named angela. but the nagging condo issue still wasn't resolved, and the six-month deadline was approaching. >> and that's, kind of, when all the fireworks started happening.
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>> soon, more e-mails, really frightening ones, aimed at a new target. >> angela was claiming she was receiving long, rambling e-mails, saying that her husband, ian, doesn't love her, and that she better get out of the picture soon before he hurts her. >> and not long after the e-mails arrive, so do police. >> i said, "what's going on out here?" and the guy said, "we just arrested michelle." you're made of trillions of cells.
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>> reporter: by june 1st, 2016, tension over the anaheim condo michelle hadley and ian diaz had shared was once again starting to peak. the deadline was fast approaching. ian needed to take over the mortgage or sell the condo. and that's when some odd events began to unfold. michelle's father michael was at work. his youngest daughter was at their home in ontario. >> i get a phone call from my youngest daughter saying, "hey. somebody's knoc -- beating on the door." and i said, "look outside. is there police cars?" she says, "yeah. there's two of them." i said, "well, then open the door," 'cause it scared her, i guess. >> reporter: yeah. >> and so a woman throws down a restraining order. >> reporter: here. you've been served, kind of thing? >> yeah. here, you've been served. with the police. two officers there. and it was from angela diaz. >> reporter: the restraining
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order was for michelle who was still living at her parents' home. it came from angela diaz, ian's wife of three months. who had recently announced she was pregnant. >> angela came into the picture not long after ian and michelle had actually broken up. >> reporter: reporter kate briquelet covered this story for the daily beast. she spent hours digging through the curious emails michelle sent ian during the condo dispute. >> one minute she's very polite and thanking him for reminders on her car insurance. the next minute, you know, she's saying that he's satan and the anti-christ. >> reporter: even after they signed the agreement on the condo the emails kept coming. ian got this one on may 22. "you told me i was your first love, but you did not treat me like the precious, perfect treasure i am. you have sinned against god, and i want my power back because it belongs to us, the daughters of god." then, something new and strange started happening.
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angela began receiving emails, too. >> long, rambling emails saying that, you know, her husband ian doesn't love her, that michelle is, you know, his one true love and that ian is cheating on her. he manipulates women. she better get out of the picture soon before he hurts her. >> reporter: these new emails to angela sounded like michelle's emails to ian, complete with biblical imagery. but they came from multiple email addresses and were signed, "jason ray." >> telling angela that she would always be eve and that michelle was ian's lilith, his truth, and that angela would never be his one true love. >> reporter: then another email to angela appeared. the subject line: "die." the message, "i hope you are scared of death tomorrow. be prepared. don't sleep, be watchful of the daughters of god," the email
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continued. "we will steal your child and we will watch as it dies." angela said when she looked to see who sent this email it was from, michelle hadley. >> reporter: you can understand from angela's point of view why she'd be so rattled. >> right. >> reporter: a barrage of emails arrived on may 31, 2016. "be warned: angela, you've lost. i am going to end you. you will suffer. i will pray for you." the next morning, june 1, angela filed for that restraining order. the one police served at the hadley's home. it read in part: "ms. hadley has been emailing me for over one week, repeatedly threatening my life, my marriage, my safety, slandering my husband." >> reporter: the rhetorical language you used in your email to your ex. >> yeah. >> reporter: had a kind of biblical, old testament veracity to it. they said, "this is the same person." >> well, no comment on that. but, you know -- >> reporter: but to your ears it was not at all? >> no. no. >> reporter: michelle admits she
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did send fire and brimstone emails to ian. although she was reluctant to discuss them on camera. she later told us, "it was a symptom of post traumatic stress disorder," which she blamed on her volatile relationship with her ex. but, she told us, she never sent any emails to angela. in fact, michelle says she didn't even know her. >> i've never heard of her, i've never communicated with her. >> reporter: couldn't say where she lived or pick her out of a lineup. >> exactly. i mean, i'm assuming she lives in the condo with him. but aside from that, that's the extent of what i know about her. i don't know what her job is. i don't know where she works. i know nothing about her background. >> reporter: or so she said. police thought otherwise. >> there was very compelling evidence. >> reporter: sgt daron wyatt is the public information officer for the anaheim police department. >> reporter: there was some very vivid religious, ferocious imagery that was clearly written by michelle to her ex that seems to be the same kind of emails that are coming to angela. did that drive some of your theory about the case?
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>> i can't talk about specifics, but there was clear and convincing evidence to believe that michelle hadley was the person who was sending the emails. >> reporter: a judge ordered michelle to cease all contact with angela and ian. but the emails continued. june 6th: "you will pay for this. i hope to god you are ready for the pain i will show you." then this: "burn in the fiery pits of hell tonight, as by god's law. you will be hurt." three weeks after the restraining order was filed, police returned to michelle's parents' house. >> they have a search warrant for my devices. and so i hand all my devices over, i give them all the pass codes. and he opens up my cell phone. >> reporter: the officer looked through her email account. checked the activity there. then arrested michelle for violating the restraining order. >> i heard doors slamming out in front. and i went out in the front and i said, "what's going on out here?" and the guy said, "we just arrested michelle." >> reporter: arrested your michelle? >> yes. >> reporter: she was placed in a holding cell.
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her parents posted a bond to get her out and after a very long night, they picked her up from the anaheim police department. >> there she was sitting on the steps out in front. >> reporter: it's one of the stranger days of your life. >> the strangest. >> reporter: but strange days were only beginning. >> coming up - from daggers by e-mail to danger at the front door. >> somebody was posting ads online through craigslist saying that they wanted to fulfill this rape fantasy. >> when "dateline" continues.
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>> reporter: june, 2016. michelle hadley was out on bail living with her parents. anaheim police suspected michelle had sent threatening emails to her ex-boyfriend, ian, and his pregnant wife, angela. even though on its face it didn't make much sense. >> reporter: a young woman who lived an exemplary life, good student, she's trying to get an mba, and -- >> well, there's two sides to every person, and all we're seeing is the evidence that looks very clear that everything is -- is originating from michelle hadley. >> reporter: but the case against michelle went way beyond threatening emails. police had evidence she was up to something much more sinister, something stomach-churning. it began in early june about the same time as the deadline on the condo was approaching.
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>> somebody was posting ads online through craigslist saying that they wanted to fulfill this rape fantasy. >> reporter: rape fantasy as a genre? i don't think i've ever heard of this. >> i had never heard of it either, until this particular case. but apparently yes, there's a market for it. >> reporter: it's a type of personal ad you can find them on craigslist and elsewhere online. men seeking women who want to meet and act out a rape. a woman responded to the ad: "i have been dying to have a rape fantasy occur. if you can fulfill this tonight, please let me know. i am 30, tall, gorgeous and ready. i have a yorkie i walk every night. come find me." the email gave an address, the condo in anaheim where angela and ian lived. on june 13, angela and ian told police a man showed up at their door expecting to have violent sex with angela. they told police they sent him away, but other men followed all invited by email responses to "rape fantasy" ads.
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>> it escalates again, now to the point that angela diaz calls the police department, reports that another person had shown up and had actually tried to rape her. >> reporter: police officers responded to angela's 9-1-1 call. >> reporter: what do they encounter? >> they encounter a very distraught angela diaz who says that another person has shown up, and -- and -- >> reporter: and she's got abrasions, "look here," right? >> correct, on her neck. and her shirt is torn. >> reporter: this is way beyond internet misdemeanor mischief, this is a criminal act in your city -- >> oh, mo -- most definitely a criminal act. >> reporter: who was inviting men to rape angela? police believed there was no question it was michelle hadley. that's what led them to arrest michelle outside her parents' home. angela reported that during the night michelle spent in jail. she received no threatening emails. but then michelle made bail. she was out. >> and almost immediately the emails start again. >> reporter: so is there kind of a feel here, "look, we warned you about this activity." >> correct. >> reporter: and it's continuing. >> correct. >> reporter: this is a very
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complicated scheme, kate. >> yes. >> reporter: daily beast reporter kate briquelet tried to unravel the story from her office in new york city. angela diaz appeared to be the victim at the center of an increasingly dangerous game. >> she was afraid for her life. she was afraid to go anywhere. she felt that she had to uproot her whole life, take down her online profiles, and hide. >> reporter: july 11, two weeks after michelle bailed out of jail. a new "rape fantasy" ad appeared on craigslist and a response. once again, the email directed the man who placed the ad to the home of angela diaz. >> reporter: and what would michelle's motivation be in doing this campaign? >> it's interesting. i mean, there's th -- fact that there's some sort of a love triangle going on, right? there's two women, one guy. and there's also the unsold condominium. >> reporter: the condo was still a factor in the story. the bank had not approved ian and angela for a mortgage.
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so, it was time to sell, as agreed to. but that wasn't going to happen, according to michelle's father. the ex-boyfriend was digging in his heels. >> he's not gonna sell the condo. he does not want to move out. period. he made that clear. >> reporter: on july 12, 2016 even as she remained under investigation for cyber-stalking and worse, michelle filed a breach of contract lawsuit against ian over the condo. the next day angela called police. another man was outside her condo. anaheim detectives found a 17-year-old in the courtyard. he told police he was responding to a craigslist ad. orange county district attorney tony rackauckas. >> we gotta get her off the street. it's hazardous to angela at this point. >> reporter: michelle looked like a loose cannon out there. >> she did. >> reporter: capable of harm. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> reporter: police got a warrant, and once again arrested michelle hadley. >> it's very hard to see your daughter being placed in handcuffs.
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and i just kept saying to him, "no. no, i can't believe it." >> reporter: this time it was much more serious. michelle was charged with stalking, making criminal threats and six counts of attempted rape for directing those men to angela diaz's door. michelle's second arrest got the attention of reporters both in orange county and across the country. >> the headline seemed too kooky and convoluted to even be true. >> reporter: bail this time was $1 million. michelle faced life in prison. >> reporter: this rock bottom moment for you, michelle? >> absolutely. it's the scariest moment of my life. this is charlie not coughing because he took delsym 12-hour. and this is charlie still not coughing while trying his hardest not to wake zeus. delsym 12-hour. nothing lasts longer for powerful cough relief. show your gut some love.
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>> reporter: the charges, and the headlines, were devastating. in an article in her hometown paper, the shorthand was that michelle hadley was the psycho ex-girlfriend from hell, the mover behind a lurid and devious plot. her parents, michael and suzanne, couldn't, wouldn't believe it. >> there's nothing in character with the michelle that you've raised here? >> not at all. >> it's actually 180 degrees so out of sync with her behavior. >> reporter: they went to see michelle on her first day in jail after being charged. >> is this gonna be a conversation with phones through glass? >> yes. >> yes. >> there's cells without cages, but she's in a caged one. you know, i don't know why she always has to be in a caged one, but she does. >> reporter: michelle's bail was set at a million dollars. to get her out, mike and suzanne would have to come up with about 10 percent of that. that's $100,000 cash. they told their daughter they had enough to do that, or to hire a good lawyer, but not both.
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>> bottom line is we're just gonna have to fight this, and there's no bail, and that's it. >> how tough is that, suzanne? you -- you had the money. you could've had her home for dinner. >> yeah, it was pretty tough. >> i told my dad i was scared to death. i didn't know what was gonna happen in jail. but i told my dad, i was like, "i can handle it. don't worry about me. go get a good attorney." >> and you're incarcerated. >> yup, for potentially the rest of my life. >> reporter: the girl who loved disneyland, fairy tale princesses, and her morning starbucks', said she'd stay behind bars and tough it out. jailhouse denims were her new black. >> well, i stood out like a sore thumb. >> what is your cell like? >> tiny. they have two bunk beds, a table and two chairs, and then your toilet is actually attached to your sink. and so everyone can kind of see in. so you never get any privacy. >> what is the day in jail? >> it -- they wake you up at 4:30 a.m. then they bring you your breakfast. >> which is what?
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>> it's usually some sort of gruel looking potato mash. i don't even know how to describe it. >> and i'm guessing not a foamy starbucks. >> no starbucks. >> while we're talking about food, what's lunch? >> bologna sandwich, and really, really nasty bologna. i almost didn't eat for the first, you know, three or four days. >> michelle, the sounds of the jailhouse. >> yeah, good luck sleeping in jail. the door slamming, it's very loud. and the women at night sometimes scream like banshees. so you'll hear it echoing throughout the jail. >> reporter: the population of street hardened prisoners took a close look at the petite young woman from the good home now living in their cell block, checked her out especially after that story about her in the local paper got passed around. >> after that article, i had women coming up to my cell door harassing me about it. i got a death threat letter at one point slipped under my cell door.
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what if one of the girls goes after me? what happens then? >> one of the women who took you under your wing said, "you gotta toughen up, girl." >> yeah. she did -- >> talking to you. >> yeah. >> yeah, well, apparently i walk like a church mouse and that's not cool. and she said, "you're gonna get hurt in here because you look weak when you walk." >> you need to become scarface, huh? >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> reporter: of course, to the outside world, she already was scarface. kate briquelet of "the daily beast" reported on the case. >> these were incredibly serious charges that michelle was facing, felony charges that included attempted forcible rape. >> reporter: meanwhile, michelle's parents were in crisis mode looking for an attorney. >> you don't have criminal defense attorneys on your speed dial, i'm guessing. >> correct, we do not. >> reporter: mike and suzanne wanted the right lawyer to deal with a cyber crime. they also wanted to start working on michelle's defense right away. their daughter was in trouble, so they started their own investigation. >> was it clear to you, mike,
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that if you're gonna claw your way out of this thing, you've gotta understand the story told by the computers? >> correct. >> the forensics of this case. >> absolutely. >> so you've gotta learn a whole bunch of jargon here. >> i know ip addresses and all the other stuff. >> reporter: an ip address is a numeric code that identifies a computer network or an individual device. mike had copies of all the incriminating emails from the evidence filed with that restraining order. he started going through them with software that traces ip addresses. >> this investigative software that you used to become your own detective, is that something you gotta go to cal tech to get a copy of? is this, nsa material? >> oh, gosh, no. it's the -- the 15-year-old kid material. >> reporter: as mike got results, suzanne would organize them. >> he would print out on yellow pads of legal paper, all the ip addresses and then i would take all of them and i'd put them on a spreadsheet and then we highlighted where certain ip addresses were the same. >> the idea being that this ip
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address is gonna go back to a physical location. >> yes. >> reporter: if they could trace an email sent from one location and prove michelle was somewhere else at the same time, it could be an alibi. but to d.a. tony rackauckas, it looked like a bad set of facts for michelle hadley. >> looking at the emails and the -- and the pictures and the ads looked like michelle hadley was just doing this, this terrible thing, stalking and victimizing of -- of angela. >> reporter: the wheels of justice were grinding slowly, and the lives of two young women were hanging in the balance. bottom line is, moms love that land o' frost premium sliced meats have no by-products. [conference phone] baloney! [conference phone] has joined the call. hey baloney here. i thought this was a no by-products call? land o' frost premium. a slice above. i thought this was a no by-products call? what sore muscles? what with advpounding head? .. advil is... relief that's fast. strength that lasts.
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>> reporter: each day in jail was a struggle for michelle hadley. not just the daily grind, but the death threats, the fear, living in legal limbo. she took comfort writing long letters to her family. trying to convince them, and maybe herself, that she was okay. >> july 21st, 2016. dear ma, daddy and rebecca, my commissary order finally arrived today. so i have paper and decent pencils among other goodies. >> writing has always relaxed me and since i'm pretty sure this ordeal is the most stressful of my life to date, you can expect to get letters from me. i wanted to send you one positive thing and one thing i want to do when i'm free as much for my mood and sanity as for yours. one positive thing, i haven't had this much time to read in a long time.
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>> wish list, a gourmet burger and a glass of red wine. all my love, michelle. >> reporter: i hear a lot of you reassuring them in that. >> that was exactly what was happening. i didn't want them to worry too much. i didn't want them to be afraid. they were already fighting so much on the outside and doing so much work. and i wanted them to be proud of what a brave girl they had raised. >> reporter: but as the weeks turned into months, her brave front started to crack. >> there were mornings when i would wake up and i would open my eyes and i would see the white jail cell wall and i would think, okay, i'm gonna wake up a second time. this is just a nightmare. and it wasn't. it was for real. i was starting to feel like i was slipping away. >> reporter: you felt your humanity slipping away? >> yeah. >> she looked absolutely not even close to a criminal.
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>> reporter: that you're gut talking, right? >> my gut's pretty good. >> reporter: michelle's parents hired defense attorney michael guisti to defend their daughter. guisti felt an instant connection to the hadleys. >> i looked at michelle's family and to a large extent i saw my family. i saw -- i saw a working class family who fiercely defended their child. she was a young, ambitious mba student who was nothing but bright-eyed and optimistic. >> reporter: and who was facing life in prison. >> for no reason. no reason. >> reporter: so this is, kind of, the case you go to law school for. >> this is the reason you become a lawyer.
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michael hadley was convinced they'd found something crucial. >> reporter: why are michelle's digital fingerprints on this thing? >> they're not. there's no digital fingerprints whatsoever. >> reporter: it looks like it's coming from michelle. >> it looks like somebody's trying to make it look like it's coming from michelle. that's for sure. >> reporter: the hadleys' spreadsheet showed some of the incriminating emails were sent when michelle could prove she was in a classroom at chapman university. >> here's michelle at school. she's at chapman and here's emails coming. and she's in class. >> she was in class doing her final course presentation. there's no way she's gonna be sending this email. >> reporter: the hadleys and defense attorney guisti thought they had it, proof that michelle was innocent. but they knew it would be tougher to convince prosecutors. >> a district attorney is never gonna buy my evidence. a district attorney is gonna have to convince themselves that they have evidence which might accidentally coincide with what i have.
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>> reporter: in fact, police and prosecutors were still doing everything they could to link those emails to michelle. >> we have a very skilled detective that was working on the case and he was in constant communications with the district attorney's office and trying to piece it together, to help prove a case and solidify it for court. >> reporter: problem was -- >> it just -- it wasn't coming together. these electronic messages were coming from -- from a different place. and we couldn't verify that it was coming from michelle hadley's device. >> reporter: it was a blow to the prosecution's case, but there was more evidence than just ip addresses. there was the bad blood between michelle and ian, the restraining orders, those harrowing attempted rapes of ian's new wife, angela. and that fire and brimstone language of the threatening emails, so distinctive and seemingly in michelle's voice. >> reporter: so that language of religious retribution -- >> made it appear to be michelle. >> reporter: you stand before god on this thing and -- >> that's right. and that caused the police and -- and our investigators as
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well to look at it and say, "well, this is michelle writing this." >> reporter: one thing was clear, though. the computer forensics had blown a sizable hole in the prosecution's case. guisti seized the moment and worked out a deal. the da would release michelle from jail. but he would not drop the charges against her. and the investigation would continue. after 88 days, michelle walked out of jail. >> on the outside, basically my parents. they were there waiting for me and got my coffee. got my -- >> reporter: famous coffee. the good cup of coffee, huh? >> yeah. the good cup of coffee which oh man i had been dreaming about that for so long. >> reporter: it was an incredible moment for the hadleys. a legal victory, but not the end of the road. >> she's still in jeopardy. she's still charged with the same crimes. >> reporter: and she's got an ankle bracelet on. >> she had an ankle bracelet on. >> i already felt like i was so scarred from jail. and wearing that device, you
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kind of still feel like you're an animal. and i just remember thinking, "how did i get here? i didn't do anything." >> coming up - if michelle wasn't sending the e-mails, who was? and why? the d.a. has a word for it. >> diabolical. how did that word come to you? >> diabolical is something evil. i'with uncontrollederson who moderate-to-severe eczema, . or atopic dermatitis... feel like you're itching all the time. and you never know how your skin will look. because deep within your skin... overly sensitive immune system... ...could be the cause. so help heal your skin from within. with dupixent. dupixent is not a steroid,... ...and it continuously treats your eczema... ...even when you can't see it. at 16 weeks, nearly four times more patients taking dupixent saw clear or almost clear skin
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>> reporter: with every thump of her heart, michelle felt she was losing a little part of herself. out of jail. but not out of jeopardy. free to go to a high end coffee shop. but not allowed to remove the ankle bracelet tracking her. >> i had wrapped it with this sports bandage because i was so embarrassed to be wearing it, you know? >> reporter: but everything was about to change. after a thorough search of michelle's digital devices, investigators concluded the damning emails did not come from them. >> we actually have a lab -- our
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own computer forensics lab, and then we have people that are very well-trained, and -- and that's really how this came to fruition that we were able to -- to determine that michelle hadley wasn't the suspect. >> reporter: this was momentous. after months in jail. after the ankle bracelet. michelle hadley was cleared. >> you're happy, but your emotions are all over the place 'cause you're kind of coming out of this fog. i'm very lucky that my parents were there to take care of me 'cause it's a rocky transition. >> reporter: now police faced a daunting new investigation. the suspect could be literally anybody with a cell phone or access to the internet. >> we can't show where it was coming from without the service of a search warrant, and then getting the information from the -- internet service provider. and it took months. >> reporter: police needed critical data from internet providers to confirm the precise times and locations of the cyber attacks against angela. they executed more than 50 search warrants and court orders during their investigation. >> there's very few cases where
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we've had to write that many search warrants just to get to the bottom line, to get to the truth. >> reporter: and when they finally started getting the information they needed, the results were stunning. the ugly trail of ones and zeroes seemed to show that at least some of the hateful emails were coming from the condo in anaheim. the one ian and michelle had been to court over. the one ian and angela were now living in. the condo -- suddenly looking like the scene of the crime and the motive, all in one. >> this is where angela and ian lived. and i don't think they wanted to leave. >> if the ex-girlfriend -- crazy, psycho ex-girlfriend in the public eye is incarcerated and away, that resolves some of these financial issues? >> right. they'll have complete control over their residence. >> reporter: and now both of them were suspects: ian, the us marshal and angela, the pregnant newlywed. >> in a way it makes more sense if you're looking at conventional motivation that it would be the ex-boyfriend, diaz -- >> right -- >> rather than the woman he married. >> right, exactly.
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>> reporter: but the deeper they looked, the more police zeroed in on the woman ian married, and all the bizarre goings on swirling around her. one that stood out was angela's report that someone tried to rape her in the garage of the condo. >> you have to go to an alley to get to the garage and the garage doesn't have an address on it. >> ah, so you're wondering how this alleged -- >> so -- >> assailant actually found her. >> that gets to be a question but then also there was some surveillance cameras that were in the area. >> and presumably would have shown someone tryin' to enter -- and you didn't have that. >> we didn't have that. >> what about the scene itself? >> when you start questioning whether or not this could have happened, and her story about how she fought the guy off and compare that to the rather light injuries that she was showing it all started looking a little bit sketchy. >> reporter: investigators uncovered more sketchy behavior. angela seemed to have a troubling history. >> we started seeing -- some of the -- fraudulent things that she's -- you know, that she's been involved in. >> some bad checks. >> bad checks. >> faking a cancer episode. >> faking a cancer episode. things like that. >> reporter: the da says angela
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lied about something else too. she was not pregnant with ian's child. but it wasn't the trail of lies that really mattered, it was the trail of emails that ultimately cracked the case. it turned out the emails sent from the condo didn't come from a computer at all. but, says the da, from a cell phone. angela's cell phone. in an already beyond strange case. this turned things up to 11. >> their original victim ended up being their number one suspect. >> how's that for whiplash? >> i don't think anyone could believe it. >> reporter: it was time. six months after michelle hadley was first charged, angela diaz was arrested and jailed. >> good morning and thank you all for coming. >> reporter: da tony rackauckas held a press conference and delivered the stunning news. >> i am here to announce the filing of a felony complaint against angela marie diaz by the orange county district attorney's office. >> reporter: there were no charges against ian, the man in the middle.
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the da said angela diaz was the mastermind and sole actor in an elaborate scheme to portray herself as a victim. she had quite simply framed michelle hadley. >> michelle is accused of being angela who turned out to be angela pretending to be michelle pretending to be angela. >> reporter: the charges were just that convoluted. angela accused of sending herself threatening emails. inviting men to her own home to rape her. inflicting injuries on herself. and all to put her husband's ex-girlfriend behind bars. what's more at least for a few months, authorities say, she succeeded. >> when someone who is innocent gets arrested and charged with a crime, that's not just a bad day, it's a nightmare. it needs to be made clear in the media and in cyberspace, ms. hadley is an innocent victim of a diabolical scheme. >> how did that word come to you? and what do you mean now about diabolical in this scheme? >> diabolical is something evil. it's something that the devil
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might do. >> not to be too glib. your theory was wrong, but you untangled it. is that what happened here? >> well, that is right. >> you're sorry that the first theory was wrong? >> absolutely. you know, it's a terrible thing to -- accuse an innocent person. >> were the apologies enough? your county authorities doing in effect a walk of shame. saying, "we got this terribly wrong." >> i appreciate the apologies. but the apologies don't rebuild your life and the apologies don't undo what's been done. i'll carry this around for the rest of my life and there's michelle's lawyer michael guisti has already filed paperwork against the city of anaheim.
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>> reporter: angela is facing a slew of felony charges,
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we reached out to ian hoping to speak to him, but got no response. >> is he in on this thing? michelle's personal struggle is just starting too. a struggle to rekindle the
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spirit of an innocent young woman whose life was changed forever by something. well, something diabolical. >> i don't think there's anything more evil than finding a girl who believes in the best in humanity, and who loves other people deeply, and making her question who she is. making her question her faith in humanity. >> that's all for this edition we'll see you again sunday at 7:00, 6:00 central. and of course, i'll see you each i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." he had deeper feelings for me than just friends. he managed to get me to care about him. he had my whole life wrapped up. >> she's at the center of a riveting courtroom drama. the wife whose entrepreneur husband was found murdered one cold autumn morning. >> our whole family has lost its brightest light, and we don't know why. >> he's the one accused of the crime. so why is she under the microscope?


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