tv Dateline Extra MSNBC April 28, 2019 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
this a government that truly is once again a government that works not just for a thin slice at the top, a government that works for all its people. i had to grow up without one. in an instant she was gone and it changed everything. >> she dreamed of a career solving crimes, but crime claimed her first. >> gut wrenching pain. >> my daughter, please, please don't let this be true. >> home alone on a sunny afternoon she vanished. >> earrings in the carpet,
ribbons on the ground, tire tracks on the lawn. >> there was evidence of a violent struggle. >> what had happened and who was behind it? >> everything was a mystery. was she still alive? >> it tore us apart. >> for years they demanded answers. a struggle each day. then came the cold case squad with a new bag of tricks. >> i always felt that this was a case that could be solved. >> they wanted justice as bad as we did. >> as a mother she fought and fought and fought. >> we just never gave up. >> don't mess with a mother bear. >> the knock at the door. hello and welcome to date line extra. tara was the oldest daughter in a tight knit family of five. the whole crew had recently moved to florida where the 19 year old planned to start
college. then tara was snatched from the safety of her own home. it would take years and a team of cold case detectives to uncover the clue and the story that would blow this case wide open. ♪ >> it was a monday afternoon, a baking sun, a school bus made its way among the residential states, stopped and started and stopped again. it was inland now, miles from the harbor, the center of town. the bus stopped is in the middle of a quiet neighborhood. driver opened the door. it was 3:45 p.m. >> we got off the bus and walked home. >> we means veronica and her younger brother, paul. >> i remember half way down the road remembering i forgot my
key. closer we got to the house i seen my sister's car. i said cool. i don't need the key. she's home. >> then she noticed the door wasn't quite closed. >> it was closed. it wasn't latched. i remember walking in and oprah was on the tv. >> what did you assume when you saw the door open and the tv on? >> i thought maybe she left in a hurry or went with a friend and didn't close the door all the way. >> she was tara, veronica's older sister, not quite 20 then. veronica called out, no answer. she walked through the house. bathroom light was on. >> i went and looked in the bathroom and bedroom and i seen her purse on top of the dresser. then i'm like where would she be without her purse. i called keith. >>. keith was her mom's fiance.
he was just leaving work and told veronica he was thinking of stopping for coffee. veronica told him about tara, that her purse was home but she wasn't. >> what did you think when she told you that? >> something wasn't right. if tara was going to go somewhere i knew she wouldn't leave her stuff or car. >> keith cancelled the coffee plan, drove straight home. >> as soon as i got home it didn't look right tlmpt were tracks on the floor. i said what are these marks on the floor. >> tracks? >> muddy footprints. >> muddy footprints in the living room and master bedroom. and something else, something only those who live there would know. >> in the bedroom if you turn a certain way -- when i looked in it was straight. and then i noticed like stuff missing off the dresser. jewelry and money.
>> what was going on in your head? >> i kbuz something was bad. >> and it was. what happened to that grownup girl in this modest house in the little city by the sea on the 1st of october, 2001? >> she was such a sweet, loving, kind, caring, full of life. >> tara's mother -- >> she had dreams and ambitions. she was a cheerleader, a catcher for softball. she loved art. most of all, we were a family. she loved her family and we loved her right back. >> they were new to the area and moved from scranton, pennsylvania. tara, almost grown up, told them
she would stay behind and mike her own life. >> she don't want to come down. i'm sure it's a change especially when you are older. we had a bet going on how long it would be before she got here because we are so close. we had a bet going. i think she lasted three weeks. >> she got a job, made plans to start college, had already decided that she wanted to be a crime scene investigator. >> she had her books and everything? >> yeah. >> sharon's then fiance wasn't tara's step dad, they had a father/daughter relationship. >> we were very close. we always hung out together. she would make our famous peanut butter and jelly triple decker sandwiches. she would make them all. she was my buddy. >> now he didn't know where she was. right away keith called sharon just finishing her work day.
>> i will never forget that call. >> i remember saying i have to leave now. it was a 40-minute ride. i cried that whole way home to please don't let nothing be wrong. please, please. i remember my mother pulling up. >> how did she look? >> panicked. >> keith had called 911 as sharon rushed home. an officer was there. >> you need to do something. my daughter is not here. i just knew. coming up -- what had happened to tara? earrings in the carpet, ribbons on the ground, tire tracks on the lawn. >> it was obvious that we had a serious problem. >> when the knock at the door continues. >> when the knock at the door continues. that's not a bug, that's not a bug! (burke) hit and drone. seen it, covered it. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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voting for your favorite has never been easier. just say "vote for world of dance" into your xfinity v-mo. um jennifer, it's called a voice remote, not a v-mo. yeah, i just think v-mo has a nicer ring to it. so, just say "vote for world of dance" into your xfinity v-mo to choose your xfinity fan favorite to join the world of dance experience on my "it's my party" summer tour. cast your vote by saying "vote for world of dance" into your xfinity x1 voice remote. or as j-lo likes to call it, your v-mo. welcome back. tara had vanished. her little brother and sister
came home to find her car and purse, but no sign of tara. later their mom's fiance noticed muddy footprints tracked through the house and cash and jewelry missing. the moment tara's mother got the call, her intuition told her tara was in trouble. could she convince the police? here is cheeth morrison. >> so there they are pacing around the little house, frantic about tara. what happened? where was she? >> it was getting late. >> the policeman who came to help them only seemed concerned about the jewelry and cash that appeared to be taken, not sharon's missing daughter. >> they were concentrating on the burglary. >> they didn't seem to understand her panic. >> they weren't getting us what was going on. they are trying to say maybe she is at a football game. and then it went through her
friends. and then actually they called one friend and this person was dating a tara. >> sharon almost shouted it wasn't her tara. the officer tried a different tactic. >> we'll put a bolo out, be on the lookout. >> tara's family knew if she had gone anywhere she would have told them. deputies said since tara was an adult, they would wait 24 hours before calling her a missing person. maybe she just left on her own. >> if my daughter was a run away or a troubled child or whatever the case may have been, i would have told you that. i know my child. >> how frustrated were you? >> so very frustrated. >> veronica, not quite 14, remember, was terrified. >> why wasn't anybody taking action and figuring out where
she was? >> keith and sharon called everybody they knew in town. their best friends offered moral support, came to the house and one of them noticed something on the floor. >> we said oh my god. she was bending over o, pulling it out of the carpet. it was embedded in the karccarp she said sharon, isn't this one of her earrings? she said yeah. >> so then? >> then we found another one. and then the third one. >> ground into the carpet. >> they also noticed a small palm tree in their front yard had been damaged along with a decorative bricks around it. >> there were tire tracks. >> how close do the tracks come to the house? >> it wasn't a big yard. they went up to the door. >> they found two ribbons, the
kind tara wore in her hair outside their front door and scuff marks on the bedroom dresser. >> what did the scuff marks look like? like somebody moved it or run something against it? >> if you took your shoe and kicked something and left a mark. it was on the dresser drawers. >> one of the missing pieces of jewelry was a ring tara had given to keith. >> my dad ring she bought me. i didn't care about anything else but that. >> the officers left the house with nothing learned, nothing resolved and still no tara. sharon and keith didn't sleep, not a wink that night. >> what goes on in here? >> gut wrenching pain. >> big hole. >> praying that please, please don't let ethis be true. >> before the sun came up, sharon called 911 again and a
new officer arrived. >> a woman deputy. i'll never forget that. i remember saying to her, please help me. and she did. she got the ball rolling. she listened to me. >> the deputy called in crime scene investigators. >> i remember my mother waking me and my brother up. we -- i remember seeing so many people there. and the crime scene van outside. >> now deputies were taking tara's disappearance seriously. mike gandy was a captain of the sheriff's office back then. >> sometimes you respond to a call where someone is missing and you can tell from the family interaction that it's not a big deal. this was not the case with tara's mom. it was obvious that we had a serious problem. >> first thing, find out the last time anyone had seen or spoken with tara. they knew by the time veronica got home tara was gone.
thigh learned that her last phone call began at 11:49 a.m. and ended at 12:05. she talked to a colleague at the mall jewelry kiosk and said she would pick up her paycheck and go shopping, but first their landlord had arranged for a septic repair company to stop by the house. so did tara stay and wait? maybe the owner of the repair company knew something. >> one of our criminal investigation division sergeants stopped by and asked had he been to tara's home? had he seen tara? yes he had contact with a female there. >> he said she was perfectly fine when he left the house early that afternoon. so assuming that was true, who else came to that little house on the afternoon of october 1st? and took away their tara? and took away their tara a methodical police investigation was now underway. could they bring tara home
before it was too late? as the days tick by, tara's anxious mother hatched her own plan to find the missing teenager. coming up -- >> something needed to happen. >> a frustrated family reaches out to someone new. >> if you met sharon you wouldn't tell her no. i looked her in the eye and told her i would do everything i possibly could to try and help them. >> a turn in the case was f was coming when the knock at the door continues. s coming when the knock at the door continues. work? every day you're nearly fried to a crisp, professionally! can someone turn on the ac?! no? oh right... ...'cause there isn't any. here- (vo) automatically sort your expenses and save over 40 hours a month. without you, we wouldn't have electricity. our hobby would be going to bed early. (vo) you earned it, we're here to make sure you get it. (danny) it's time to get yours! (vo) quickbooks. backing you.
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that puts you in charge. that handles anything. that protects what's important. and reaches everywhere. this is beyond wifi. this is xfi. simple, easy, awesome. welcome back. where was tara ord? police now believe she was a victim of foul may. investigators were questioning anyone who had seen the teenager that afternoon. soon they would launch a massive search through the woods and open fields, but first, detectives man to take a hard hook closer to home at tara's family. here again is keith morrison. >> how to smexplain how a mothe feels when her child has vanished and all signs point to
something bad? what did this do to you? >> tore us apart. >> the family appeared to be very close and loving, investigators believe they still needed to be looked at as possible suspects. >> you know, it's a cruel reality that they start close and widen out. and they always start with members of the family to eliminate them. it winds of being someone close to them. >> i also asked did you check us out? >> they said they did. >> sharon and keith pushed through their fear and anxiety. >> we looked in garbage bags. >> anywhere, everywhere, in the woods, dumpsteres. >> really? >> i would do it every day. >> we didn't know where we came out half the time. we didn't know where we were. >> the investigators searched for tara, as well. >> the investigation shifted
this morning with deputies searching 500 acres of pasture. >> if someone said we saw a suspicious vehicle or buzzards we would go and search. we did have a couple of different times where we used cadaver dogs in certain areas. >> four weeks after tara vanished, she turned 20 and they tried to stay positive. >> you had a birthday party? >> had to. and we had the -- i went to the open one. my son said you are not opening that. he said she is coming back. and i didn't open it. >> months went by. they couldn't accept what their heads kept telling them that tara had been snatched away and murdered. nobody was telling them anything. the investigation seemed to have
stalled. >> something needed to happen. >> and didn't feel like it was happening? >> exactly. not at all. >> so out of sheer desperation, about six months after tara vanished, they hired a civil attorney, a woman named amanda downing. what did they want you to do? >> they wanted anyone's help, the lawyer's help, media's help, anybody's help in finding their daughter. and i think by hiring a lawyer they believed that i could somehow assist them in fact finding, finding their daughter, searching for anything they were grasping. >> what did you tell them? >> i looked her in the eye and i told them i would do everything i possibly could to try to help them. >> you know you would have been perfectly within your rights to say i'm sorry, but that's not what i do. >> if you met sharon you wouldn't tell her no. >> did they want you to sue
somebody or just get information? >> i don't think that their goal was to sue anyone. i think their goal was to find tara. >> and then nine months after tara disappeared, a man traveling on a desolate road pulled over for a pit stop, walked into the woods and saw, not a girl, bones. >> we actually sat on the steps of the crime scene van while they were out there. >> yes, we did. >> you want to find her. >> but not like this. >> you don't want it to be like this. you just hope sdp pray every day that she is alive. >> it was her. it was tara. >> there to make a positive identification. >> sharon and keith were at home waiting for the results.
detective gandy went to tell them. that's never easy. >> hardest thing you ever have to do. >> and then when they come to your door, with clergy. >> you see them coming? >> yeah. and then reality, that's it. you're never going to see her again. it's so devastating. it's the worst pain ever. she didn't belong out there. >> 284 days after tara vanished, they knew finally she was never coming back, but they were no closer to knowing how she wound up out there in the woods. coming up -- >> now, find the killers and make them pay for the crime. >> new leads at last. >> isn't that your connection? >> there was a great connection.
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here is what is happening. the funeral is tomorrow for a woman killed in a mass shooting at a synagogue in california. flood waters continue to rise, emergency personnel urged hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes in the western suburbs of montreal. these warnings come one day after a broken dike forced 5,000 people to nee the arflee the ar now back to date hine. >> welcome back. tara ord's family was desperate to find her. it had been nine months since she went missing and then she was found, but it was not the news they wanted to hear, not at all. the grim discovery with an
investigator leading them to anything to heed them to tara's killer. then an intriguing clue, a previously overlooked witness statement about a stolen bracelet and ring. could it point detectives to a suspect? >> in the end, bones and a few teeth were all they found. there was every reason to think tara was murdered and dumped in the woods. murdered how and whom. sharon's attorney called her as soon as she heard the news. >> she was obviously distraught, hysterical, crying. now find out the killers and make them pay for the crime. >> prosecutor got the autopsy results. they were not helpful. >> only half of the bones in her body were recovered. and some of the more important bones which would show whether or not there would have been a
choking or strangulation was not recovered. >> the medical examiner found evidence that four of tara's ribs were fractured. >> so there is a big slam into her ribs somehow. >> medical examiner clearly found evidence of a violent struggle. there was evident of blunt force trauma and that would contribute to her death. >> detectives scoured the woods looking for anything that might tell them something. they found a belly button ring near the bones, the kind tara wore. and the remnants of only one piece of clothing that belonged to her, a pair of panties, but no hair, no fiber, no dna of any kiepd at the scene that would help them i.d. a killer. >> it was frustrating for the family. it was frustrating for the detectives. it was frustrating for the prosecutors that worked on the case including myself. >> so detectives went back to
the beginning and reviewed all the witness statements they had taken over the course of the nine months tara had been missing. and there was a note about a man who turned in some jewelry thee days after tara went missing, a ring and a bracelet which turned out to belong to tara's family. >> it would have been in the possession of glen st. john. took a couple pieces of jewelry to his probation officer. >> he went by pewee. he was on probation for felony burglary. so did he kill tara? he insisted no and he didn't take the jewelry, either. he said somebody gave it to him. >> told him that he received that jewelry from a missing girl's home. >> phil barr. he was the owner of the septic repair business that had been at tara's house the day she went missing. was he telling the truth? would he ever tell the truth? >> he told multiple different
stories. >> what did he say? >> he said a little more each time he was interviewed and he would change his story to the point where it made him an uncredible witness. he admitted that he had seen the body at some point. it was interesting in that area was within a couple hundred yards of one of phis favorite fishing spots. >> he was a very incredible witness. >> no jewelry from tara's home was found in the possession of phil bar. >> and anyway bar told investigators tara was fine when he and his helper left her house that afternoon. questions went on and on and phil bar who had a business to run didn't appreciate that kind of attention. he complamained to a local repor about it.
>> it was very stressful. i realize the police are doing their job and looking into things. i feel like i have been harassed. >> several times he himself confronted the detectives, insisted he was innocent. all the talk was unfair. >> i have nothing to do with this girl's disappearance. >> it was a problem. detectives certainly had their suspicions, but evidence, there was none. most everyone they questioned who knew bar was a bit shady, hard to believe. prosecutor concluded he didn't have enough to make a charge. >> dna evidence in this case that was collected from the residence either came back to the family or was not relevant to this case. there was no indication that the perpetrators had left blood or body fluid at the home.
>> so -- >> cases typically go cold when you run out of leads and information and ideas. >> tara's mother, sharon, again and again demanded to know what, if anything, was going on. prosecutor fineburg had no choice, he said. he couldn't tell her. >> the frustration was clear. you could see it in her face and hear it in her voice. the family was devastated and they wanted answers. and i can understand that. you can't as a prosecutor and a detective give all those answers. you can't put that information out there. >> still sharon continued to fair it out. >> we never gave up. there was no stopping. >> as did her attorney. >> she would hear a piece of information from a neighbor or a news source or a detective that wasn't supposed to tell her and then confirm it. she fought and fought and fought
for justice, just frs tara. as sharon would say, my tara. she always said, my tara. >> none of these efforts turned up anything useful and the sheriff's case wasn't going anywhere either. there was no getting around it. justice for tara was not happening. in fact, the case was growing cold, stone cold. eventually mike gandy retired as did these two cops way up north, retired and moved to sunny florida. and -- >> got very bored. >> turns out the three ex-cops were not quite ready to hand in their badges. within extraordinary dedication to detail, they were about to reignite the investigation and give a heart broken family new hope. coming up -- >> i always felt that this was a case that could be solved. >> the cold case squad unearths an intriguing clue.
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tara's family struggled. as time went on without answers and without their tara -- >> it was hard. i had to grow up without my sister. >> in 2003 after six years together, sharon and keith finally got married. >> when i was getting ready to walk down the aisle, it was very sad, because my baby girl wasn't going to be in that wedding party, but she was there. we made sure she was there. >> we had a big picture made up of her. >> but the anger remained. and intense frustration as year
after year sharon demanded answers and didn't get them. in 2008, almost seven years after tara's murder, sharon appeared in a crime stoppers video and spoke directly to the killers, whoever they were. >> i want to know how they wake up in the morning. how do they go on with their life, knowing that they did this to a person. don't think for a minute that you got away with this because one day there is going to be a knock at that door, and they are going to be in cuffs. that's what i want. >> nothing came of it. the whole world had moved on, forgotten, apparently. but then a year hater, 2009, a new sheriff. he thought some of the unsolved cases in town needed a new look and called upon the retired detective mike gandy, and these two who had been detectives up north before they retired and moved. mike vogual and curt mail.
>> i moved to florida and came down here to hupt and fish and play golf and go boating and go to the beach and just relax. and that lasted a couple months, got very bored. >> so three bored ex-detectives put on badges again to form the sheriff's first official cold case unit and decided early on they work on tara's case. prosecutor fineburg was optimistic sort of. >> i always felt that this was a case that could be solved if it had a new set of eyes, somebody that could put the case together, connect all of the dots. >> what requests did you make of them? >> we wanted to know more about every piece of evidence. we have to rule out every piece of dna in that house. it was closing doors, exchuding other people. >> you are going to learn from looking in the files.
>> that's what these three did. again, there was no dna to help them. all they had really were lingering suspicions about the work men who went to tara's house the day she vanished. phil bar, his helper that day dave mcmanus and their buddy. nothing in this huge trove of investigative material proved anything. >> he organized it in such a way that it was easier to understand. >> what had been difficult to understand? >> it was confusing to the point where you didn't know what we would be able to get into court. >> the context was in there but couldn't figure it out because it was a mess. >> we had to try to do the analysis on it and that is what took so long. >> an awful amount of detective work reading thousands of pages of reports all followed up. detective mayo chased down a
2001 wal-mart receipt. the time stamp on the receipt casts serious doubt on the alibi. didn't -- caught him in a significant lie. >> that's how detailed we were getting. >> then they just happened to run into a guy who said he knew the three. >> he overheard them talking about killing this girl. he heard david mcmanus say we shouldn't have done that girl that way. if i don't get out of town. philip bar said something similar because peewee is talking about i only seen the body. bar tells him shutup. we are all going to end up in prison. >> somebody with credibility. >> better than what we had before. >> overall, a key problem remained. >> terrible witnesses. >> meaning detectives spoke with other people who heard the men talk about the murder, but they were not the type a jury would
likely believe. much of what they would say soupded hike drug and booze soaked gossip. thought the prosecutor, maybe he could find a way to go after bar and mcmanus. bring key witnesses before a grand jury. >> i have prosecuted over 100 homicide cases. and the complexity and amount of information that we have to review to determine if we can prosecute this case was the most i had ever seen. >> the idea worked. the grand jury indicted both phil bar and dave mcmanus for tara's murder. they were arrested in late 2012, 11 years after tara vanished from her home. dave mcmanus was arrested in maryland where he grew up. u.s. marshals mounted a man hunt
for phil bar. >> we were able to locate phil in the vermont area very close to the canadian border where we think had fled. >> the case against the men needed more, so the cold case team kept investigating. and in 2014, one of them came across a name buried deep in an old file. the next door neighbor told investigators she saw bar and another man at tar aetara's hou that went nowhere then except the neighbor happened to mention that her sister-in-law had been visiting that day. no one had ever interviewed her. >> curt i think found her name. mike said i know someone by that name. so mike then went out and located her and spoke to her. >> what did she have to say? >> she floored me.
>> why? that visitor was not blocked by the fence like her relatives were. she had been sitting in full view not more than 15 yard and she saw a lot. >> she did see the vehicle pull in a couple different times and then the second time she saw the vehicle it was backed up to the front door and the two guys opened the tailgate and were walking back and forth inside the front door. >> how important was that? >> extremely important. she identified david mcmanus as being at the house with bar. she identified him there at the time when the pickup truck was backed up to the front door. what other reason was that pickup truck backed up other than to take tara out of that house. >> we went out to the house to get a better idea of where this woman was sitting and what she could have seen. >> she is sitting right here. >> that's one, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, maybe a dozen steps away where this truck is parked. >> yes. >> that's close. >> it's very close. >> so if the back of the truck, it would have been how far from the door? >> that's correct. in this general area on the outside track, tire track was found the hair ribbons. >> way out here. >> so suggesting that they put her into the back of the truck and the hair ribbons came loose as they were driving away. >> gnat would be a pretty good explanation. >> well, well, well. this makes it all the more real when you see how close this must have been. >> the woman said she didn't actually see what the men were doing because the cab of the truck blocked her view, but still this was way more than they had before.
finally, 14 years after tara vanished bar and mcmanus were going on trial for her murder. what 45happened inside that hou? a jury finally hears the story. >> a mother's perseverance had brought the case this far. >> she fought and fought and fought. >> would a verdict bring justice at last? when the knock at the door continues. last? when the knock at the door continues. every curve, every innovation, every feeling. a product of mastery. lease the 2019 es 350 for $389 a month for 36 months. experience amazing at your lexus dealer. itso chantix can help you quit "slow turkey." along with support, chantix is proven to help you quit. with chantix you can keep smoking at first and ease into quitting. chantix reduces the urge so when the day arrives, you'll be more ready to kiss cigarettes goodbye.
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the information that they need. the number one rule is do no harm, and this is harm. we must act now. learn more. text titlex to 22422 welcome back. fill barr and david mcmanus were both headed to trial. with no forensic evidence linking either man to the crime, prosecutors worried making their case would be difficult. but now they have an eyewitness. someone cold case detectives had only recently discovered. she was about to tell about what
happened the day tara supposedly disappear. here is keith morris. >> it was october 2015 when the trials began. dan feinberg was joined by a co-prosecutor named jennifer garczewski, 14 years -- almost to the day -- since tara's life ended. >> she's only a year younger than me. so when i think back to where i was in 2001, i was just finishing college and obviously that was a goal of hers. so i did feel a connection to her, thinking about her and where she would've been at my age now. >> and the defendants now on trial? phil barr owned a septic tank repair business, dave mcmannis was his helper the day tara disappeared. the detectives had learned that barr used his business as a cover for stealing from the homes of unsuspecting customers. and here's what happened, said the state, that first of october, 2001: tara's landlord asked barr for a repair estimate.
barr and his helper, mcmannis, began their work-day by smoking crack. around noon, four hours before veronica arrived home from school, the men most likely knocked on the door and tara let them in, unaware they had robbery not work on their minds. >> dave mcmannis was taking the property while barr was distracting her in the bathroom. we believe she found out. she heard something or saw something that mr. mcmannis was doing, where he was in a place he shouldn't have been and she confronted him. and two people with impaired minds do things that normal people wouldn't do. and their solution to that was to kill her. >> the woman who'd been sitting out in the front yard told the jury how the two men had been laughing and joking when they arrived, but later when she saw them backing their truck up to tara's front door breaking that small palm tree in the process. >> it was almost like they had a mission, that they had a plan. and one went straight to the
tailgate and put the tailgate down out the truck and the other went -- went straight to the front door. >> all business? >> all business. >> that, said the prosecutor, is when they cleaned up and took tara's body in a bed sheet, loaded it into the truck, and waited for dark when one or both of them dumped her body in the woods. but to tell that story took two long trials, each peopled by witnesses the jury might not think were very credible. people who supposedly heard barr and mcmanus say things like -- >> "we raped and killed the girl." >> "they're not gonna find her." >> "i'm going to kill you like i killed the girl in florida." "the girl i killed was 20." >> one witness testified about overhearing a conversation between barr and mcmannis. >> phillip barr was saying to david mcmannis, "i didn't want to kill her." and she overheard david mcmannis respond, "she had to die." >> not very believable, said the defense attorneys.
just people making things up, said barr's lawyer, mark de sisto. >> we contended that those conversations never took place. >> some of those witnesses were inmates, too, snitches. >> i never met a confidential informant that's gonna inform just 'cause he wants to be a nice guy or a good citizen. there's always something in it for him. >> that woman, the star witness found by the cold case team, who said she saw the two men coming and going from tara's house? >> could it be she made herself believe this over so much of a time to make sure the bad guy goes away? >> dave mcmannis's attorney, michael bross, said his view those detectives focused on the wrong man. said phil barr's accomplice must have been peewee st. john, the man who'd turned in jewelry three days after tara went missing. >> there's enough circumstantial evidence to believe that he was involved if not in the murder, but definitely in the complicity to cover it up. >> the only thing that dave mcmannis was guilty of, said bross was being a sarcastic guy.
>> the majority of the statements that were made were sarcasm at best. so if he's guilty -- >> it's a claim. yeah. and that's kind of an easy out for saying terrible things, isn't it? >> well, it was inappropriate statements, if said at all. david is known to be a jokester and sarcastic. even during the course of the trial, he would say things that were sarcastic. >> the trials, two of them, dragged on for more than 15 months with delay after delay in a case that had taken more than 15 years to get to this point. sharon and keith's marriage didn't make it that long. but they attended both trials together. >> we started this together, we're gonna finish it together, no matter what. >> and after all that time? in each case, deliberations took less than 90 minutes. the verdicts: guilty. both men were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
mcmannis has filed an appeal; barr lost his. >> i think everybody would agree that but for sharon, neither trial would've taken place. she fought and fought and fought for justice. >> tara's little sister veronica has two children of her own now. when we last spoke with her, she told us tara is a strong presence in their lives. >> they know tara. they have necklaces with pictures of her on it. my daughter, you would think that she had met her. she dreams about her. >> never met her, but they love her. that warms my heart. >> a few weeks after the trials were over, the prosecutors, detectives and their spouses got together for dinner with sharon, keith and veronica. detective mehl made a presentation. >> she was a fighter and she
kept us fighting for her, for you and your family. >> they've had the picture hanging in their office for a very long time. and they -- they passed it onto me. i could look at it now and go, "we did it. we did it." >> you've given us a new chapter in our life. >> the family gave the cold case detectives and prosecutors gifts as well. each was engraved: "justice for tara." >> here's to tara. >> cheers. >> they put in so much hard work and time and respect, compassion. so we wanna give them a little token of our appreciation and love for everything they've done. they gave tara peace and justice. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline."
i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. there's probably four or five names in the prison system that you just automatically hear of, hope for. jimmy maxwell's one of them. >> after a daring prison escape, an infamous inmate is booked into jail. >> i was not going back. i promise you that. jimmy was not turning himself in. >> james steven maxwell, he