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tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  March 30, 2019 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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sunny hosten ain. you can find out more about it at the 92nd street y. we'd love to see you there april 8th. get more information at do you have one that got away? >> he's just my first love. >> except in her case, he really disappeared. >> he's going to call me in a couple of days. he never called. >> his family in agony. >> i sent his letters to oprah winfrey, to "america's most wanted". >> a rookie detective finally broke the case. >> i said, oh, my gosh, i think i've hit pay dirt. >> a strange phone call revealed a secret.
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>> david needed to be gotten rid of. >> then we got the real story. >> a bombshell revelation. was she really a bereaved ex -- >> i always loved david. >> -- or just maybe a black widow? >> barbara britton is in the middle. >> "buried clues." hello and welcome to "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. the case sat cold for more than a decade, and then rookie detective donna velasquez got the file and turned up the heat. she'd been given the basics. 24-year-old divorced dad david jackson had vanished without a trace. digging into david's past, she uncovered a twisted tale of love gone bad and a chilling family secret. but to learn the full truth behind david's disappearance, the detective would have to sort the players from those getting played. here's keith morrison. >> it's a strange thing that happens among the bogs and marshes, the soft soil here in
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coastal florida. things have a way of coming up. things buried in the ground in the past, or both. it was july 2003, beaches quiet, snowbirds back up north. so no one noticed at first what was starting inland, a little, in a town called pembroke pines, where donna velasquez, just three months a detective, a rookie, really, had just been assigned to a brand-new cold case unit. >> the sergeant came into the office and dropped a box of papers right on my desk and said, here, see what you can do with this. and i began to wonder, mm, is this a test to see, can she really do this? >> that the case was a challenge was an understatement. a now all-but-forgotten mystery, a disappearance 15 years earlier
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of a young man named david jackson. and the file offered no hints, no pointers, nothing, really, beyond the basic bio. to unearth the truth, even the rookie cop knew she'd have to learn about the victim. and so she began with something easy. she found david jackson's mother, judy carlson. she found judy's son, actually, who called his mom. >> and he said, are you sitting? and i said, yes, and they said, they reopened david's case. >> the detective and the mother talked about david for hours. it wasn't a problem for judy, she loves talking about her boy, even now, to us. >> david was my first child. he was just -- loved everything and everyone. ♪ happy birthday to you >> david jackson was the eldest of judy's three children. and mark jackson idolized his older brother. >> he looked out for me. he was that way with his friends, with everybody. >> bill brown was one of those friends. in 1982 after high school, brown
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and david jackson worked together at a burger king, where david became a manager. brown also had a front row seat to the budding romance between jackson and a pretty 16-year-old coworker named barbara britton. >> they were together, and that's awesome. i mean, if you can find love, that's what we all want. >> and so all of these years later, detective velasquez paid a visit to the woman who had been the girl that had fallen in love with david jackson. happy to help, she told the detective. same thing when we called on her to talk about the david she knew. >> he was a very good-looking man. you know, we just had an attraction for each other and started talking. sweet, nice, kind, swept me off my feet. >> and as she talked, it became clear, deep emotions would not stay underneath the surface. >> i was young, i was still going to school. this was my first love. >> two youngsters in love. and then, well, things happen, don't they. >> mom, i got something to tell you. i said what?
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he said, barbara's practice. >> judy was surprised, a little worried, maybe. but nowhere near as worried as barbara's parents, particularly her dad, an ex-marine who was not very impressed with young mr. jackson, or so judy heard. >> mr. britton did not like him. i don't know why. >> still, david said his mother was walking on air. so the pretty girl and the handsome boy got married. big wedding, too. even though they were just kids. and very soon parents, also, to a son, john jackson. and they fought, made up, fought again, babies having babies is not easy thing. >> we were just too young. and to have a baby all the time, you know, he was -- it was difficult for him. and it was difficult for me. >> so who was the first person to say, you ought to get a divorce? >> my dad. >> how did david take it?
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>> he was just kind of like, okay, let's just -- >> get i over with? >> some lawyers and see what we have to do. and that was it. >> the two divorced in 1985. david arranged weekend visits with john. >> how were they together? >> oh, wonderful. johnny just clung to him. they loved each other. >> and they all moved on. a couple of years later, barbara married again, michael wolff, an ex-military man like her dad, about the same age as her dad, too. >> your dad and your new husband probably saw eye-to-eye a lot. >> they sure did. they had a lot in common. they would talk a lot. >> wolff took barbara and john to live with him in arizona, but david wanted to be a part of his son's life, so he traveled out west to see the boy. >> he went up there with a friend of his and they saw johnny for three days. i got pictures of johnny in like the old western town and
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everything. >> and maybe it was something about the distance, said barbara. >> david and i became very good friends when i was out in arizona and we used to talk a lot. >> in fact, what she felt deep in her heart never did go away. >> i'll always love david. >> and then, it was june 25th, 1988, david's brother, mark, was flying into town to visit the family. david was to pick him up at the airport. but when mark arrived, he waited and waited. no david. and mark jackson had a terrible feeling. >> no matter what, he'd have been there for me. i knew something was wrong. i knew something bad happened. >> oh, yes, very bad. and as the rookie detective donna velasquez poked around deep in the path, that something was reaching up through the mud to tell her its long-neglected story. >> the case was both cold and baffling. but maybe mother nature in south florida could help the investigation. coming up -- >> with the crazy weather and
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like never before store. the xfinity store is here. and it's simple, easy, awesome. welcome back. for 15 years, judy carlson has been haunted by the disappearance of her son, david. now, detective donna velasquez was reaching deep into the past for clues. there she found the tale of two love-struck teenagers who married, had a baby, and divorced in quick secession. common sense and an exhaustive internet search were about to lead the investigator to a stunning discovery. here again is keith morrison. >> it was june 25th, 1988, ft. lauderdale, the day the mystery began. when a young man named david jackson failed to meet his brother, mark, at the airport.
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>> it was a gut feeling something was wrong. and i knew it. >> 15 years later, detective donna velasquez relived that puzzling time. david's ex-wife, barbara, by then remarried and living in arizona, as she told detective velazquez, got a call from david's worried mother. barbara said she wasn't worried, not then. >> i thought, okay, he was was with one of his girlfriends. and she was like, no, we're doing a missing person report. and i said, no, he's going to call me in a couple of days, i know he is. he's going to call me in a couple of days. and he never called. he never called. >> one day turned into the next. police, family, everybody tried to find him. couldn't. >> started look, searching. looking through pipes, on little dirt roads, anywhere. if you see a car that looked like his go by, you'd do a u-turn and chase it.
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>> how long did that go on? >> that went on until they found his car. >> which more than three months later turned out to be at the airport. so did he just take off? his close friend didn't think so. >> maybe he got on a plane and maybe he wanted to do something different. and then i was like, no, he wouldn't do that. >> for one thing, david had been preparing for the arrival in two weeks of his 5-year-old son, john. this was a big one, a month-long summer visit. >> he was preparing for this visit? >> oh, yeah, for johnny, wanted everything perfect. >> and right in the middle of preparations, he vanished? didn't make sense. but the days turned into weeks, months, years. not a sign of david. the police went on to newer cases, but his mother never let up. phoning, nagging, writing. she knew david was out there, somewhere. >> i wrote letters to oprah winfrey, i wrote them to "america's most wanted." and then i thought, maybe i can have the semis put a picture of him on the back of the big
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semis, so i got all the numbers and wrote letters, but it took me a long time to write a letter about him, because i didn't want the ending to be like i thought it was. >> it was a horrible limbo, a little piece of her still hoping for a piece of good news, the rest mourning a loss. >> i found a therapist that said, take 20 minutes out of every day and either scream and cry in the morning or scream and cry at night. >> can anybody that's never been in your shoes know what it's like for a mother? >> no. >> now years later, the investigation was back in high gear. judy told detective velasquez in some corner of her heart, she still hoped that david just might turn up safely, some way. but the detective was not inclined to false hope. she did not for a minute think he was still alive. had he died accidentally, surely a sign of him would have approved. no, she believes when bodies aren't found, it's because
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someone has intentionally hidden them. but david jackson might show up, just not alive. >> and my wheels started turning, and i started thinking, you know, we live in florida. with the crazy weather that we have and the water table that we have, if he were ever buried anywhere, somewhere along the line, you're going to pop up. >> maybe, the detective thought, remains had popped up. after all, it had been a decade and a half since he disappeared. and so she googled unidentified remains. it led her down an endless internet trail. >> and it's probably going on 10:00, 11:00 and i'm sure my husband's going, where the heck is that old girl? >> one site after another, dead end. until she got to one created by a florida medical examiner. promising, but exhausting. >> i'm there typing away, and typing and typing and it pops up about a hundred matches. >> but she was determined.
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she finally whittled it down to a possible three. >> one of them really stands out for me. it says, white male, and it says, over 6 foot. david's a tall guy and he's a white male. possibly. >> those particular bones, just a few, a partial skeleton, turned up during construction of a walmart parking lot not far from the place where david lived. surfaced just a year after david died, had been gathering dust in storage for 15 years. the detective went to see a forensic anthropologist. but when the doctor measured the bones. >> she comes out and she says, no, she said, it's looking like he's only about 5'9". >> but still, velasquez had a hunch that she had finally found david jackson, and she wasn't the sort of person to give up on a hunch. >> and i said, can we please do this one more time. and she comes back and she goes,
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honey, i was wrong the first time, she says, this person is anywhere between 5'9" and 6'1". i said, oh, my gosh, i think i've hit paydirt. >> she dot dna from david's mother, waited for a lab to compare the samples. and ten days later, detective velasquez called the testing facility. >> she comes to the phone and she says, i hope you're sitting down. and i said, why? you've got a 100% match. oh, my gosh?! i said, what? because i'm not believing that i'm hearing what i'm hearing. >> 15 years after he disappeared, david jackson had finally been found. question now was, what happened to him? how did he end up here? coming up, a strange coincidence or was it? >> it's an eerie feeling, you know, that he was in that area that i didn't even know about. >> when "buried clues" continues.
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david's bones had been recovered from a construction site just a year after he vanished. but how? and why did his body end up there? turns out that location had significance to someone, a woman, who was about to make some alarming claims about the young dad. once again, here's keith morrison. >> it was good detective work that identified david jackson's earthly remains. what was left of them, but pure chance that the partial skeleton was found at all, as david's brother, mark, found out. >> they were getting ready to build a walmart and a construction worker came across some bones. reported it, they went out and dug up a bunch of bones. and they sat in a morgue for 15 years. >> sat there all those years, even as those who loved david
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held out a shred of hope that he was alive, somewhere. >> as far as i know, he was disappeared. he was missing. >> but now detective velasquez had a hard truth to tell. david jackson was dead. not missing. and the way he had been hidden made it perfectly clear he had been murdered all those years ago. most likely before his friends or family even noticed he was gone. which have put a final period on his mother's lingering hope for his return. and apparently an ex-wife's what ifs. were you seriously thinking, you know, maybe some day i'll get back together with him? >> when it's your first love,
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you're always think, you know, wow, you know, could it work? what if? >> strange how things turn out. barbara had moved back to florida, remarried, again, had a daughter, took a job at walmart, but still held a candle for david, even as he lay under the ground practically next door to the very walmart where she worked. what did that do to you? >> it's an eerie feeling. it's, you know, that he was in that area, that i didn't even know about. >> such an odd coincidence. too odd, maybe? time for a chat. detective velasquez called barbara, got herself invited over to barbara's house. barbara seemed to have no problem talking about david. she said she cared about him a lot. and i say, well, how is david as a father? well, david became abusive towards johnny physically and emotionally, verbally. >> wait a minute. this was a whole new wrinkle. up until now, everybody about david's history has been squeak y clean. >> as an investigator and as a mom, i begin to say, did you ever call the police?
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she said, oh, no, i -- i never called the police, she says, i just thought he would change. she proceeds to tell me that i documented the injuries with photographs. never produced any photographs for me. >> for us, by the way, barbara changed her story. said it was really her father, not her, who accused david of abusing his son. >> my dad was looking into counselors and having him, you know, evaluated and stuff like that, because i would just be like, this is david, you know, what are you talking about? >> but, of course, the detective couldn't talk to barbara's father about abuse or murder or anything else. harry britton had been dead for years, but barbara had more information for the detective. she recalled a troubling conversation she'd had with david. at the time, said barbara, david was working for coca-cola, delivering the product. >> he told me that someone was placing drugs on his coca-cola truck and through his route, they were being taken off of the truck. i said, wow. i said, that's pretty serious. and she says, yeah.
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>> interesting. >> very. >> to detective velasquez, that sounded like a made-up story, almost as if she was trying to divert suspicion away from someone. an ex-wife would qualify, of course, as a person of interest in this kind of case, but as velasquez and we learned, barbara had an alibi. she wasn't anywhere near florida, she said, when david disappeared. >> i was not in florida. i was in arizona, in the apartment. i was nowhere around here. >> and lacking any further evidence, detective velasquez was stalled, dead in the water. unless, maybe the man barbara was married to at the time knew something, michael wolfe. a little checking revealed wolf had been married seven times. number six, a woman named nancy graham, lived in alabama. velasquez called her.
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>> i told her, i'm investigating the disappearance to have david jackson. and she said to me, how much evidence do you have against him? and i said, i can't discuss the evidence with you, but i can tell you that it's enough for me to put him away right now. i was just totally bluffing. i had really, nothing. i'm just throwing it out there, you know, fishing that long line and if something bites, i'm reeling it in. and she says, honey, she says, let me call you back. >> the minutes ticked by, velasquez waited by the phone. and when nancy called back, what she said blew the case wide open. >> she started telling me about who was involved, how it happened, where it happened, what they did, how they did it, how they planned it. >> they? why, yes, they. and by the way, beware the sting of an ex-wife's tale.
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welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. detective donna velasquez was laser focused on finding david jackson's killer, working around the clock, the relentless investigator had tracked down a woman who had claimed david's killer had confessed to her in horrifying detail. the 15-year-old cold case was now red hot and there was about to be an astonishing new wrinkle. was david's murder a family affair? once again, here's keith morrison. >> david jackson was murdered the in 1988 in florida. that much detective donna velasquez could say for certain. but the rest? after more than a year of phone calls and late nights, all velasquez had come up with an increasingly complicated web of stories and relationships. david jackson was married to barbara britton, her father, harry, disliked david. barbara went on to become the fifth wife of a man named michael wolfe. they divorced and he later
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married two more times. >> that we needed to talk. >> but now, finally, one of wolf's ex-wives, a woman named nancy, was sitting with detective velasquez, telling police that she knew everything about what happened to david. >> can you tell me again? >> because i know how he was killed and what they did with him. >> how did she know? according to the ex, michael drank, a lot. >> every night he would almost down a whole bottle of scotch. and i guess he just needed to talk. >> and the story wolf told, according to the ex, implicated more than just himself. here's what happened as nancy heard it. wolf and harry britton, barbara's father, rented a hotel room on that long-ago july night and invited david to a meeting there. >> and when he gets to the hotel, they have a very small conversation and michael shot david in the head. >> he told me he had to get so
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drunk to do it, and that the first shot didn't kill him, he had to shoot him again. >> after which, as nancy relayed the story -- >> they did take his car to the airport and left it there. then they took him over to -- i mean, there was an empty lot there, and that's where he buried him. >> he did not spare the detail, said nancy. >> and he did tell me he poured some corrosive, and i think it was lye, is what he said over the body. >> and sure enough, i mean, that was consistent with the investigation. >> along with that story came what sounded like a motive. david disappeared, remember, as he was preparing for a visit from his 5-year-old son, john. >> they decided that david needed to be gotten rid of, because they never wanted david to be in johnny's life. >> david was murdered in cold blood, just to keep him out of his son's life. >> and boom, it clicked for me, all of a sudden. i said, wow. i said, that's over child custody. that's why he's not here today.
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>> that was the motive? >> that was the motive. >> but was wolf's confession to an ex-wife a true story or just alcohol-fueled bravado? there was no way to know, for sure. but it was enough to at least bring about the rest. in october 2004 of michael wolfe, now living in ohio. but an arrest does not a conviction make. and as michael wolfe cooled his heels in an ohio jail, he professed his innocence to anyone who would listen, including the local police, to whom wolfe sent a letter in which he claimed all he knew of a crime centered on a conversation with his ex-wife barbara's father, harry, a few months before the murder. stephen kamp was a motor with the new palm times and read his letter. all he would admit to was meeting harry at a park, a place where david's bones would later come out of the ground. >> he said, he pointed over to
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that plot of land and said, if you needed to bury a body, that would be a good place to do it. and he concluded this letter with, and i don't know if he had listened or not. >> apparently he did. >> if michael wolfe had really not known anything beyond that point, it would get him off the hook and leave it all in the hands of harry britton. >> so michael was pinning the murder on no one but harry, who have safely dead and could tell no tales. but now detective velasquez believed she had enough evidence to bring michael wolfe back to florida to stand trial for the murder of david jackson. >> we did the arrest warrant and within a couple of days we were flying out to kettering, ohio, to extradite michael wolfe back to florida. >> how did he react? >> he said some pretty harsh words. it's not very ladylike if i said it, though. >> you can say it. >> he said, i'm [ bleep ]. >> this was it.
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velasquez had her momentum. finally, after 15 years, she had made sure that someone was going to be held accountable for the death of david jackson. >> it was the culmination of 16 months of such a long, grueling, up and down is tiresome investigation, of nights of not sleeping, of days of going to work and living off of coffee, and i thought, you know what, this is what it's all about. >> it was november of 2007 when michael wolfe went on trial for murder. after so many years, any physical evidence that might have tied him to the crime was long gone. but what prosecutors did have was the verbal confession, the drunken story his ex-wife said he had told her. >> i'm sure he told me -- >> and then, checkmate. another ex-wife told police virtually the same story. >> he told me he'd shot him in the head. and he -- he told me that he had a silencer on the gun. >> now she, too, was called to the stand. that was enough. it will jury was out less than an hour.
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the verdict was guilty. at the sentencing, life in prison, david jackson's family confronted michael wolfe. not just to condemn him, but to ask a question because there was still a piece missing. something that still didn't make sense. what was david doing in that motel room the night they killed him? why did he walk into that trap? >> why would he go to a motel to meet mr. britton when mr. britton was ten minutes down the road? i mean, david is not a stupid child at 24. why would mr. britton want to see him in a motel? >> tell them what you know, they demanded. there would be no justice, they told wolfe, unless everyone involved was held accountable. outside the courtroom, david's brother encountered the state's attorney and said -- >> he's going to tell you, and he said, he's not going to tell me anything. i saw it in his eyes, he'll tell you. and then we got the real story. >> in fact, it was just two days later when wolfe finally confessed the true measure of his guilt and gave police firsthand his unedited version of events the night he said they buried david jackson in the shifting florida clay.
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was someone else involved? oh, yes, said michael wolfe. she certainly was. coming up, what made david go to that motel? >> it was a woman who was on the phone. david takes the phone, comes out a little highly later, he's all spruced up, ready to go out. >> when "buried clues" continues. -♪ just like any other family ♪ the house, kids, they're living the dream ♪ ♪ and here comes the wacky new maid ♪ -maid? uh, i'm not the... -♪ is she an alien, is she a spy? ♪ ♪ she's always here, someone tell us why ♪ -♪ why, oh, why -♪ she's not the maid we wanted ♪ -because i'm not the maid! -♪ but she's the maid we got -again, i'm not the maid. i protect your home and auto. -hey, campbells. who's your new maid? i protect your home and auto.
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welcome back to "dateline extra." nearly two decades after david jackson vanished, michael wolfe was convicted of his murder. it should have been justice for david's family, but they were still tormented by a question. why, they wondered, had david gone to the motel the night he was killed and then a twist no one could have imagined. the convicted killer was about to reveal everything, including
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the accomplice he said led david straight into the ambush. here again is keith morrison. >> in november of 2007, the man who shot david jackson to death was found guilty of the crime and sent to prison for the rest of his life. but a couple of days after he was sentenced, wolfe sent out word that he was ready to tell the rest of the story. sure, he said, he was the trigger man and yes, his father-in-law was determined to get rid of david permanently. but to set their trap, to lure david to the kill site, the motel, they needed bait. and that bait, said wolfe, was barbara. barbara who did not require persuasion. quite the contrary, said mr. wolfe. >> barbara britton is in the middle. from what i was able to learn about david, he would have never gone to that hotel room to meet
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harry britton. he would have never gone to that hotel room to meet michael wolfe. he agreed to come meet barbara. >> the woman who wept tears of love for her long-loved david, who professed to have held a torch all of those years, was the very same woman who called david on the phone and enticed him to go to that hotel room to be killed. >> they needed to use barbara as the lure, because david still had feelings for barbara. >> evidence? david had a roommate, reported journalist stefan kamp and that roommate heard david take a phone call just before he went out that night. >> he was pretty sure it was a woman who was on the phone. david takes the phone, goes into his room, comes out a little while later, he's all spruced up, ready to go out, he's got a smile on his face, he's combing his hair, he's putting on his cologne and david jackson left the apartment at that point. that was the last that any of his friends saw him at that point. >> what really happened in the motel? wolfe said he hid in the bathroom when david arrived. >> barbara answered and he was glad to see her.
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he said, they walked in, sat down on the edge of the bed, and barbara had a stun gun. and barbara hit david with the stun gun. >> but the stun gun malfunctioned. so wolfe stepped out of the bathroom with his gun. >> he said, so i had the gun wrapped in a towel, and he showed me like this, i picked the gun up and fired one shot, and about that time, harry britton came into the room and said, he's not dead yet, he's still breathing, shoot him again, so he said, i shot him again and that shot killed him and they put david's body in the back of harry's vw and transported it to the site where they had already pre-dug the grave so all they had to do was lay his body in there and cover him up. >> but that wasn't the end of wolfe's tale. a year after the murder, they got a call from harry britton. >> he had learned that they were going to build a new wal-mart there at the corner of -- >> where the bones were. >> where the bones were. and harry told him, you have to come back down here and move the
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bones, almost as an order. >> wolfe came back to florida. >> he said he went out there in the middle of the night, collected what he could find, put them in a trash bag, and went back to barbara britton's family's house and put the bones out for the trash in a plastic bag. >> michael wolfe's story seemed to tell it all and to cast barbara britton in a leading role. and once she heard that story, detective velasquez was convinced, barbara, determined to keep david away from their son, was a full partner in his murder. >> what are the chances that either michael wolfe or harry britton forced her to take part in this scheme? >> forced? >> yeah. >> you don't have to force a willing participant. >> and you believe she was willing? >> yes. >> the detective couldn't help remembering she said what barbara told her when she heard that david's bones had been identified.
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>> strangely enough, the first thing she said to me was, how many bones do you have? >> come on! >> she had participated in retrieving those bones. and they thought they had gotten them all! when they had left about 50% behind. >> all this time, said the detective, she just knew barbara had been lying. and now she had the goods. we asked barbara about all of this, of course, about her ex-husband's allegations that she was deeply involved in the murder. and she denied it. >> and you had no part in killing david? >> no, i did not. i had no knowledge and i had no part. and you know, little lies here and there that mike keeps changing his story. i think it's just psychotic. i think it's just psychotic for the things that he has said. i was 21 back then. i was very, like -- i don't think i could plan much, you know? i mean, i'm not stupid, but i'm not that smart, you know? >> no, said barbara, it was all
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ex-husband michael wolfe's doing. his guilt, she said, make sense of his strange behavior during their time in arizona, particularly the weekend david disappeared. a weekend when, barbara says, that her ex-husband was not with her at home. >> he would always go on business trips and every time i asked, he would tell me, don't worry about it, it's -- you know, i got business to take care of. >> but she knew nothing at all about the murder, she insisted, until the penny dropped during a conversation years later with her father. >> i'm like, i wonder what he's doing or i wonder if he's coming back, you know, i wonder where he's at or what happened. and he would just be like, you don't have to worry, you know, he's not around to bother you. >> what was that like to deal with? >> very, very rough. you know, it's like, it's my dad. i couldn't accept it. and what satisfaction did it get, you know? did it satisfy him? because it sure didn't satisfy me?
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>> still, in december of 2007, it was detective velasquez who got what she wanted. she had worked hard to prove what she believed to be true, that barbara was an integral part of the plot to kill david jackson. and finally, now, barbara britton was arrested and charged with murder. now, perhaps, a jury could answer the question. do you believe this woman? a woman whose hands literally shook, whose tears flowed at the mere mention of her departed ex-husband. do you believe the things she said? >> all the time we thought he was -- it's always been -- he's missing. >> "buried clues" returns after the break. so, we re-imagined the razor with the new gillette skinguard. it has a unique guard between the blades. that's designed to reduce irritation during the shave.
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welcome back. barbara brittto was charge would the murder of her first husband, david jackson, a man she claimed to still love. in a jail house confession barbara's second husband,
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convicted killer, said barbara had led him into a deadly trap. but there was one more surprise in store. here with the conclusion of our story is keith morrison. >> barbara britton, the woman who sobbed at the mere mention of jackson's name was now in jail for killing him. she made it happen, she was the instigator as well as being the one in the middle? >> i had no doubt in my mind that she was the catalyst. >> barbara meanwhile maintains her innocence, claims there was a certain reason michael wolf lied about her that way. it was pay back, she said, for
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something that happened when they were married. and here came another one of those odd stories. earlier there was the one suggesting drug running on david's delivery truck. now a story about michael and gun running. >> i was putting away laundry one day and i saw a bulge in a dress shirt pocket, and there was quite a bit of money there. and when he got home from work that night i confronted him on it, and he told me that he was doing gun runs. >> barbara said she told police about wolf's alleged gun running. >> and he got mad and he even told a cellmate of his, that's it. >> interesting wolf hasn't commented, but keith celtzer, barbara's defense attorney suggested barbara had a much more practical motive. >> he was offered a 15-year plea bargain.
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to take 15 years and tensify whoever his accomplices might be. there was an option at that point to maybe get that 15 years back. >> in other words, wolf would sellout barbara any way he could to get a reduced sentence. of course, there's the uncomfortable fact that the two unprompted confessions he'd made to his ex-wives, confessions in which he'd portrayed barbara as a sort of black widow intent on having david killed. >> well, there are two versions that he gave to each of those ex-wives. >> the stories were not entirely consistent, he said. besides, he said, barbara was at home in arizona during the night of the murder. how does he know that? >> a phone bill from her mother's home placing calls to arizona that night. >> what's a phone bill of that age doing lying around somewhere where you could grab for evidence by the defendant?
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>> her father was a meticulous record keeper. >> what's to say it wasn't an answering service that picked it up. >> they testified there was no answering machine. >> something changed in december 2010. >> there was new evidence discovered. >> the prosecutor who inherited the case. >> and that new evidence was what we consider a jail house snitch. and he came forward and stated that michael wolf told him he had fabricated the entire story about barbara participating in the murder of david jackson. >> a particular jail house snitch who's well-known, the da, said mostly for the false information he provided. still, after three years in jail it was enough to get barbara released and placed on house arrest pending trial. and then prosecutor met michael wolf to ask about testifying about against barbara. it didn't go well. >> the blow came to me when he
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said what am i getting in return, what will my sentence be reduced to. >> thou, the state reassessed its options. >> i think with any case you're taking a 50/50 chance. it's the lack of forensics, the lack of physical evidence that the jury wants to see, but most importantly again the fact you have a codefendant who's giving the testimony which was the foundation of this precaution cushion who wanted something in return. >> the people who conducted the investigation, you know, deep down in your guts are sure that she was at the center of it. did you think so too? >> what i think as a person and what i think as a prosecutor i have to keep them separate. and while i may have believed that barbara was a full participant in this, what i can prove is totally different. >> so you made an offer? >> we made an offer. >> barbara was offered two more years of house arrest and eight years of probation. she would avoid trial, but she
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had to plead guilty to accessory after the fact in david's murder. meaning she acknowledged knowing about the crime but only after it occurred, something she'd always denied. >> you've got to remember i had the option to go to trial and take it. it's just taking a chance for 12 to 14 -- >> other jurors who would hear a story about a control freak who very cleverly manipulated men to it get them to do this awful thing. >> right. they already know what you're there for, so they're already going to have some opinion. >> even though she accepted the deal barbara was not happy. true, there was no prison time but she was a felon now. >> you have a title over your head. it's life changing.
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it's very life changing. >> do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? >> yes, i do. >> detective vulasquez joined barbara's family. >> for the record david's mother would like to speak. >> david's mother read a victims impact statement. >> i've cried endlessly for 24 years. i wanted to die myself to be with david. >> her gaze fixed on the woman her son once loved. >> your father's where he should be, and you will join him one day because that is where you should be. in hell. >> david's brother, mark, was not at all sure that justice was
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served. >> if you lose in trial, that's god's work. you can't control that. but i think it should have gone to trial. i think society in two years when she comes off house arrest needs to worry. >> but his mother -- >> there is justice. yes, and she's a felon now for life. she's got to live with all that. i don't. every time i get out of bed in the morning one leg says guilty and the other one says felon. >> and as for the detective who so doggedly pursued the case who now thinks a murderer got away. >> at fist i was disappointed, so i had to make peace with it. and when i put my head down on the pillow at night at the end of the day she's a felon. mentally when you're in prison here, do you ever escape that? >> as for barbara she spent the remainder of house arrest in her father's home. that old vw, the one that allegedly carried's david's body the night he was killed still parked outside. >> thank you for watching.
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so many young women missing. only one detective to find them. >> for me, there was always a story to them. >> there's a story to her, too. she's a young woman luck countr lucky to be alive. >> for a lot of people that would be the end of police work. >> i wasn't done. >> so she searched as the numbers grew -- >> another one there, another there. >> -- and families hurt. >> she says, i have some bad news for you. >> while under a desert sky a secret waited. >> the reality of, kind of like this isn't happening. >> missing women forgotten by almost everyone but her. >> i've just always felt that they were going to be together. if you find one you're going to


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