tv Dateline Extra MSNBC January 8, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PST
i told myself, the worst part about dying is being afraid of dying. if i'm not afraid, it won't be so bad. i just couldn't believe this was the way it was going to happen. >> she was a college student found on a lonely road in texas. >> we figured she had been sexually assaulted and dumped here. >> tough questions for her boyfriend. >> where was i the night before? what had i been doing? when had i last seen her? >> i really thought he could be our killer.
>> but while police try to prove it, another attack. >> he's got me by the throat and he's shaking me and yelling at me telling me not to say a word. >> you're a prisoner in this apartment now. >> yes. >> her body had kind of been propped up on to the bed. >> even law enforcement, they thought, what do we have on our hands here? >> there's growing danger because police are looking in the wrong place. >> i lived to tell, and nobody believed me. >> this monster is walking free while they're wasting their time on me. >> can the killer be caught before he kills again? >> it makes you realize how fragile your life is. and that anybody can take it. welcome to "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. a killer was on the loose in a texas college town, leaving students and their parents terrified. with the shocking discovery of jamie hart's body, investigators were desperately trying to piece together clues. was the young woman connected to
her killer? or did police have an active predator on their hands, stalking women in the college community? here's andrea canning with "the face of evil." >> looking back now, this almost woman didn't make it. >> i said, if you keep doing this, you're going to kill me. he just said, do you think i actually care about that? >> is that when you feel like you're looking in the face of evil? >> i knew then completely in that moment that he intended on killing me. >> little did she know that in this college town, she wasn't the only one. >> he said that he would go to jail for murder before he'd ever go to jail for rape. >> what is going through your mind? >> i wish i told all the people that i loved that i loved them. >> but was their private horror connected to a very public mystery? >> everyone is saying, what is going on in this community? it had people asking what's going to happen next. >> more women connected by tragedy and by questions. could a killer have been stopped sooner? >> i was so angry that two
people had to die in order for someone to believe me. >> the story begins in a small texas town. but it's not just any town. this is college station, home to texas a&m. and in 1999, home to 21-year-old student jamie hart. >> i was immediately struck with her beauty. >> chuck cruz was her boyfriend at the time. he says jamie was the light of his life. he remembers when he first laid eyes on her. >> i could barely speak when i saw her, she was so pretty. it was like when the color came on in "the wizard of oz." i had been living in a dark world, and she showed me a world full of color. >> and she was a loyal friend. funny. outspoken. >> she would tell you exactly what was on her mind at all times. >> it was early one morning in may. jamie's roommates couldn't find
her. they called chuck. >> i got a call asking me if i knew where she was, and i said no, she didn't come over here last night. i don't know where she is. i hadn't talked to her the night before. and i went to work. >> that same morning, detective kenny elliot of the brazos county sheriff's office was summoned to the scene of a disturbing discovery. >> there was a young female, appeared to be in her early 20s. she was nude, she had extensive road crash on her entire body. and she was obviously deceased. >> a jogger spotted the victim in a ditch nine feet from the side of the road. >> i arrived, there was probably half a dozen officers here and they had taped off the area, blocked traffic. at that point, we started conducting a search of the area. we figured that she had been sexually assaulted and dumped here. >> less than a mile away, deputies discovered what was presumed to be the woman's clothing, strewn across the entrance to an oil field.
another nine miles from there, an abandoned vehicle. its engine still running. >> there was blood on the car, and that raised suspicion. we sent a team over there to process the car. >> and inside the car, a driver's license that belonged to jamie hart. when detectives showed up at chuck's workplace that afternoon, he says his heart sank. >> when they told me that she had been found dead, it felt like i had been hit by a truck. >> wow. so your sense of dread was -- >> right. >> coming true? >> fully realized. >> did fear spread throughout the campus? >> oh, yes. it was front page news. >> kristen lancaster was a 19-year-old freshman. >> my brother actually worked with jamie at the time. i'll never forget him coming home, devastated. >> a killer in a college town is terrifying.
>> very much so, yes. >> this is something that happens in chicago. it's something that happens in houston. it's not something that happens in college station, in aggie land. >> kelly brown is the editor of "the eagle," the local newspaper. >> i think at the time, people are hoping this is a drifter that just kept on going. because the location of her body. >> sheriff's deputies canvassed the crime scene, searched jamie's car, and looked for eyewitnesss. >> talked to several hundred people, and no one's seen anything. >> turns out, there were no fingerprints inside the car. but during an autopsy, the medical examiner did recover dna from jamie's body. dna which likely came from her rapist and killer. did you put the dna into a database? >> we put it in codus. >> any hits? >> none. >> no eyewitnesss. no fingerprints. no dna matches. the investigation wasn't off to a good start. >> that's when we started contacting people at her place of employment, friends,
roommates. >> did she have any enemies? >> everybody seemed to love her. >> detective elliot began to retrace jamie's steps on the night of the murder. jamie was taking time off from her studies at texas a&m and was working at a pizza parlor. her shift had ended around midnight. >> we contacted everybody that she delivered pizzas to, and nothing out of the ordinary. >> after work, she had headed over to a friend's house. >> he said they were there watching movies and she left his house around 4:30 in the morning. >> and what time did you think that she was killed? >> we got the call at 7:15 a.m. so between 4:30 a.m. and 7:00. >> the male friend, a college student, was the last known person to see jamie alive. the detective paid him a visit. >> he was upset. obviously. they were friends. and had been for some time. >> the friend's grief seemed genuine, but something was peculiar. when investigators asked for a dna sample -- >> he said no. >> no?
>> of course, we wanted to know why. was he the killer or was he not? >> the detective was determined to answer that question. so, he put the young man under surveillance, followed him to a local restaurant. >> and are you hidden somewhere in the restaurant? >> i'm kind of back in a corner, yeah. >> he watched the student have a few drinks, and when he left, the detective snagged the dirty beer mugs and sent them out for dna testing. the results would take weeks, leaving a town full of young people on edge. >> dads and moms were telling their college age kids, be alert everywhere you go. go with people when you go out. don't be alone. and that's a frightening order to give anybody. >> frightening, but sound advice, because in this case, connecting the dots wouldn't be so easy. coming up, detectives have a second possible suspect in their sights. jamie's boyfriend is invited to sit down for a polygraph test. >> failed the test.
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welcome back. continuing our story, a college campus was rocked by the rape and murder of a promising young woman. police quickly honed in on the last person known to have seen jamie hart alive. but he refused to provide a dna sample. suspicious? investigators thought so. but this case was far from being solved. it was time to start looking at other possible suspects. returning to "the face of evil," here's andrea canning. >> 21-year-old jamie hart had been sexually assaulted and left to die on the side of a busy roadway. >> i could barely function. all i could think about was loss, that she's gone from my life forever.
>> jamie's boyfriend, chuck cruz, then 24, says right after the murder, he took off to bay town, texas, jamie's hometown. >> about the only thing that i remember her father asking me is, when are you coming down? so i got some stuff together and drove down as soon as i could, and i spent most of the next week with them, mourning with the family, and then acting as a pallbearer for her funeral. >> back in college station, detective kenny elliot was working the case. >> any time you have a killer out on the run, it's frustrating. you want to catch the person responsible. >> one possible suspect, that male friend jamie visited the night of her murder. he had refused to give police a dna sample for testing. >> that's kind of odd, if he had nothing to hide.
>> a lot of people will not give up dna. too much tv. >> but the detective had snatched a sample from a beer mug. and when the dna finally came back, he was not a match. you felt confident that you could rule him out based on the dna not matching? >> yes. >> but even before the dna test cleared jamie's friend, the detective was already looking for other suspects, and his attention quickly landed on someone very close to the victim -- her boyfriend. >> the questions that they asked focused on where was i the night before, what had i been doing. >> looking at you as a possible suspect? >> it didn't really occur to me that that was what they were doing. i just thought they were asking for information. >> chuck told the detective that before jamie was killed, he hadn't seen her for two days. on the night of the murder, he said he was at home. >> i was playing computer games like a good nerd. >> did you have anyone there to
corroborate your alibi? >> i think my roommates were there, but they were both asleep. i had nobody right there sitting there with me. >> so the boyfriend's alibi wasn't solid. and as they spoke, the detective was looking carefully for signs he might be hiding something. >> he was cooperative. apprehensive. he said everything was fine in their relationship. >> the detective asked chuck for dna, and he said yes. and when they asked him for a polygraph, he agreed to that, too. but here's the thing with that last part, the polygraph. >> failed the test. >> that's a bad sign for you, right? >> it's a bad sign for him, yes. didn't tell you that he's guilty, but he was a very strong person of interest. >> and what's more, the detective had been speaking with jamie's friends who said the relationship wasn't fine. in fact, the couple had a fight and were on the verge of a breakup. all of which just led to more questions.
>> basically, went over every aspect of the relationship. just questioned him on his whereabouts. tried to get him to confess. >> and if a failed polygraph wasn't suspicious enough, then listen to what the detective says chuck told him next. >> he said he had done some bad things and wouldn't tell us what. >> did you look him in the eyes and say is one of those bad things killing jamie hart? >> i did. he denied it. at that point in time, i really thought he could be our killer. >> and the more you started to think he was the killer, how does he react to that? >> he was very nervous. he just acted like he was guilty. >> chuck was free to go. but as authorities waited for his dna to be processed, the detective developed a theory of the crime that made sense to him. >> he was in love with her, he didn't want to lose her, and they were having some issues in their relationship. >> so the boyfriend, a likely suspect, was in the crosshairs, but when the dna results came
back -- >> the dna was not a match. >> so were you able to rule out chuck cruz then once you got that dna check? >> i didn't rule him out completely, no. >> that was enough for you with the friend, who she was with the night before. you ruled him out after you got the dna, correct? >> i did. the other guy wasn't her boyfriend. he hadn't flunked polygraphs. he wasn't in a bad relationship with her. chuck was. >> but they didn't arrest chuck. months went by. and the detective kept investigating him. authorities seized his computer, searched his car. all the while, chuck was saying they were looking at the wrong guy. >> there's a lot of people that won't confess to a murder for obvious reasons. at that point, he was a person of -- a strong person of interest, but i still didn't know if he was my killer, so we continued the search. >> the investigation dragged on. life for the students on campus began to go back to normal. parties every weekend. but when police were called to the scene of one house party, it
wasn't because of noise or underaged drinking. another woman was in a fight for her life. coming up, a student at a party ends up a prisoner in a stranger's apartment. >> i screamed as long as i can, and immediately he grabs me and starts choking me again. >> when "dateline extra" continues. it's about moving forward not back. it's looking up not down. it's feeling up thinking up living up. it's being in motion... in body in spirit in the now. boost. it's not just nutrition. it's intelligent nutrition. with 26 vitamins and minerals and 10 grams of protein. all in 3 delicious flavors. it's choosing to go in one direction... up. boost. be up for it.
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welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. as the investigation into jamie hart's murder continued, detectives were still suspicious of her boyfriend, chuck cruz, even though his dna wasn't a match to samples taken from the victim. cruz maintained his innocence, and weeks turned into months with no new developments. then, another attack and another young woman in a desperate fight for her life. returning to "the face of evil," here's andrea canning. >> when chuck cruz's girlfriend was murdered, he was immediately considered a person of interest. they said that you were acting nervous. that you were acting like you
had something to hide. >> they interpreted all these things as signs of my guilt, rather than a distraught boyfriend. at the time, i had long hair, and this was a cowboy town. that was considered to be weird and unusual. >> as for those bad things he told the detective he had done, he explained to us he was referring to a petty argument they had had just days before jamie's murder and the guilt he felt from not being with her the day she died. >> do you remember what you were arguing about? >> a loaf of bread. the grocery sacker had put a cantaloupe on a loaf of bread. and she was upset that the sacker had squished the bread. and i told her it wasn't that big of a deal. and we had picked our sides. and we argued about something as stupid as a loaf of bread. >> and now he says he could
hardly grieve with police breathing down his neck. >> what's it like waking up every morning and knowing that you're under a cloud of suspicion? >> incredibly depressing. >> he left college station and moved home. he spent money to hire a defense attorney. >> the biggest thing that was going through our mind the whole time was that i didn't do it. they don't know who did it. and the guy who did it is out walking around and likely to prey on more victims. this monster is walking free while they're wasting their time on me. >> kelly brown of "the eagle" newspaper was writing front page stories about the unsolved crime in the college town. >> and it really shook the community, because this is an area that isn't used to seeing this type of crime. >> and kelly was hearing talk that the police had a suspect. >> but there was no arrest, and that's what kept everybody saying well, then, okay, was it the boyfriend?
was it, you know, someone that's still out there? is he going to strike again? >> it was scary, of course, and students like kristen lancaster followed the investigation. did people change their behavior patterns because of this crime? >> to a certain degree, but i think it was short lived. i mean, people went back to their classes and their business. you start rationalizing, maybe she trusted the wrong person. >> this doesn't happen to you. >> exactly, yeah. >> and then, it was late october, half a year since the murder of jamie hart. kristen didn't know it yet, but she was about to become part of a chain of events that only deepened the mystery. >> i think maybe i went to classes that day. i'm not exactly sure. i know that the evening time rolled around. i think, was it a friday? >> a friend invited kristen to a party. >> she said well, you know, i'm having a little get-together at my house. why don't you come by? >> kristen drove over to the apartment complex in bryan, texas. that's the town next to college station.
>> the door is open. there's a few people inside. there's some music playing and people having some drinks. >> she struck up a conversation with her friend's upstairs neighbor. he was 24, hadn't been to college, but mixed in easily with the students. was he kind of a likable guy? >> he seemed very likable. yeah. he was very personable. seemed very nice. >> in fact, he had no problem sharing intimate details with kristen about his personal life. >> he had been married, and somehow the conversation, you know, goes into him telling me how he had found god. i made a lot of mistakes. i wasn't a great husband. >> you guys got into quite the personal conversation for having just met. >> oh, yeah. well, i was young, and i think that was normal. and he was drunk. >> not long after the party started, it abruptly ended. kristen's friend, hosting the party, got into a fight with her boyfriend. >> there was alcohol involved. it was a worry that it would get out of hand. >> everyone left, but not kristen. she was concerned about her friend and stuck around, talking to the upstairs neighbor.
>> so you were feeling protective? >> yeah. he said, are you worried about your friend? i said yes. he said you can go to my apartment and you can be close for your friend to call. >> she and the neighbor walked up the staircase to his apartment. >> it's directly above her apartment. and he opens the door, and i was barely a step into the door, and he just sort of pushes me and slams the door shut. he locks the door. and immediately grabs a remote that was right there, and turns the stereo up to this deafening volume. just deafening. >> kristen reached for the door to leave. >> and he pushes me back. that's when he starts making some demands. all of a sudden, it's very serious and aggressive. and almost to the point that i thought he was joking. >> but he was serious. demanded she undress. >> i kept saying, i'm not going to do that. he says you're going to do it. that's when he grabs me by the throat. he's choking me and choking me. in the second he lets up, i scream as long as i can. immediately he grabs me and
starts choking me again. and this time, he picks me up almost by the throat and sort of pulls me back into the bedroom that's in the back. >> you're a prisoner in this apartment now? >> yes. and he puts me on the mattress. and this is the first time i black out. i wondered if for a second this was it. >> i could die? >> yeah. he has his hand still on my throat and he's shake meeg. >> kristen couldn't fight him off physically, so she tried to talk her way out of a sexual assault. >> i said, you don't want to do this. and he stops. and he looks at me and he says why don't i want to do this? and i say, well, because i have hiv. and you can tell he's thinking about it for a second. and he says to me, well, guess what, so do i. >> the lie didn't work. she tried something else. >> i was like, well, what about finding god and trying to work on yourself? i actually was able to stall him for quite some time. i must have gotten off the bed and we were standing, talking. and i remember that's when i started to stomp my foot.
and i was sort of, like, trying to make it look like i was making a point and stomping my foot. and he grew angry again. >> he threw her back on the bed. his grip on her neck tighter as he sexually assaulted her. >> he's squeezing so hard at this point in time that it felt like the bones in my throat were cracking. i said, if you keep doing this, you're going to kill me. and he sort of looked at me, and it was this half smile, and he looked at me for a second, and he just said, do you think i actually care about that? >> is that when you feel like you're looking in the face of evil? >> i mean he -- i knew then completely in that moment that he intended on killing me. coming up, a knock at the door. >> this is, like, a miracle. >> and doubt. >> i just couldn't believe nobody believed me. >> when "dateline extra" continues. per roll more "doing chores for dad" per roll more "earning something you love" per roll
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lauderdale airport. you see it there. he killed five people, wounding six others. in that video, you see the suspect pulling the handgun from his waistband and start shooting. esteban santiago faces his first court appearance tomorrow. thnchts, video from jerusalem. shows a palestinian attacker ramming his truck into a group of israeli soldiers, killing four of them there. for now, back to "dateline extra." welcome back. six months after one woman was raped and killed in a texas college town, a second woman was attacked in the neighboring community. held prisoner in a stranger's apartment and choked repeatedly. kristen lancaster was certain the man meant to kill her. but what seemed like an end turned out to be the beginning of a fierce fight for the truth. back with "the face of evil," here's andrea canning. >> 19-year-old kristen lancaster
was preparing to die. >> when you're possibly in the last moments of your life, when you think that someone is going to kill you, what is going through your mind? >> i had a moment where i thought about, i wish i told all the people that i loved that i loved them. >> she was in a stranger's apartment being sexually assaulted, drifting in and out of consciousness. >> i black out. but then i start to come to again. and it's -- you know the scenes in the movies where the bombs explode and everything's really fuzzy. you can't hear. everything's coming through this fog. >> suddenly, the man stood up and left the room. ordered her to remain quiet. >> and i scream as loud as i can, "call the police, call the police." >> turns out, the bryan police were at the door. >> so my friend had heard me screaming and stomping and had called the police. >> this is like a miracle.
>> it was, yeah. >> in the nick of time, the police show up. that only happens on tv. >> i know. believe me, i know. they ran in. i was curled in a fetal position on the floor. just shaking uncontrollably. and i remember them asking me what happened. and i just -- the words were just coming out so fast. >> the cops took the man away in handcuffs and kristen slept on her friend's house that night. the friend called police to see what would happen next. >> she found out they didn't book him for sexual assault charges. >> in fact, kristen's attacker, the man she said almost killed her, had been released. that must have been a tough pill to swallow. >> it was terrifying. i thought he was going to come and find me and kill me. >> down at the police station, the man had given a wildly different version of events.
eric buskey is the current police chief. he wasn't with the department back then, but says the suspect told investigators that he and kristen had a fight over drugs. >> she got angry when he substituted aspirin for cocaine, and she went off in a rage when that occurred. >> i think he told them some story about how it had been the drug deal that had gone bad, and so i was crying rape. >> after the attack, police charged him with unlawful restraint, a misdemeanor. the next day, kristen and her dad went to the bryan police department to find out why her attacker wasn't charged with something more serious. >> i was furious. because i had thought in this moment that i survived, i survived. this is it. this guy is going down. >> she met with a detective who asked her questions. lots of them. >> i had bruises all up and down my throat. i couldn't swallow. and then at one point in time, the detective asked me to place my hands on my own throat.
which even psychologically, that was traumatizing. >> why would he want you to do that? >> because he looks at me and says, well, those could have been self-inflicted. >> what did you say to the detective who's coming up with these theory? >> i was hysterically crying and telling him, this man tried to kill me. you know? and he would say, that's not what he says. i'm like, of course that's not what he says. >> kristen says that despite her bruises, police treated it like a he said/she said story. >> how angry were you getting? >> i was furious. i just couldn't believe, like nobody believed me. >> chief buske maintains the detective was just doing a thorough investigation. >> everything i've read indicated that detectives didn't believe her. sometimes when you're conducting an investigation, your job is to get to the truth as a detective, and you're going to have to ask some hard questions. >> they interviewed her attacker again, and a few months later, did charge him with sexual assault. >> the unlawful restraint was still in place, and we booked him on first degree sexual assault.
>> the case went to a grand jury, but it decided not to indict him. >> so the sexual assault charges were dropped. because they felt that there was insufficient evidence. >> that must have been tough to hear that. >> it was very tough to hear that. and it was at a point in time when i found that out, i just -- i didn't feel like i had any recourse. >> she did talk about the case later with reporter kelly brown. >> it bothered me at the time because i wondered, why didn't the grand jury indict him for at least attempted sexual assault? but it seemed a little troubling to me that, what were we missing? what part of the story did we not have? did the detective say something that made them think maybe it was consensual? >> he was still facing the misdemeanor charge of unlawful restraint, scheduled to go to court down the road. in the meantime, he was a free man. >> he's out walking around. >> he's out walking around. >> in the next town over, detectives at the brazos county sheriff's office were still working the jamie hart murder case.
in addition to keeping an eye on jamie's boyfriend chuck, they say they followed up on hundreds of other leads and tips. but no one in that department looked at kristen's case for a possible connection. >> you were sexually assaulted. jamie hart was sexually assaulted. did you start to think that these could be connected? >> i didn't think they were connected. and that was primarily because with jamie, was that there was a boyfriend that may have been involved. and it was a romantic relationship that went wrong. it wasn't some random occurrence by a stranger. >> kristen was now living with overwhelming anxiety and dread, which she says manifested into dangerous behavior. >> instead of being afraid of everything, i became afraid of nothing. you know, i just became completely risk-seeking. >> what kind of things would you do? >> i think i started drinking heavily. for a while after that. i'd hop on the back of a stranger's motorcycle after he had had three beers. and it took a long time to really get out of that hole. >> just as kristen was starting
to turn a corner, her attacker was due in court on that misdemeanor charge. but nothing came of it. he didn't even show up. >> i had done what i needed to do. and part of me just wanted to forget it ever happened. >> but she couldn't. kristen was about to walk right into another crime scene in college station. coming up -- >> even law enforcement, i thought, what do we have on our hands here? >> a shocking new brutal murder and the suspect makes a mistake. >> the clothing that he was actually wearing was different than what he had just told us. . but every one of those businesses will need legal help as they age and grow. whether it be with customer contracts, agreements to lease a space or protecting your work. legalzoom's network of attorneys can help you, every step of the way. so you can focus on what you do and we'll handle the legal stuff that comes up along the way. legalzoom. legal help is here.
welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. one year later, detectives were still on the hunt for a killer in a college town. but was there a suspect hiding in plain sight? unfortunately, it would take another gruesome crime for all the facts to start lining up. here's andrea canning with more of our story, "the face of
evil." it was may of 2000, six months since kristen had been assaulted. her attacker had failed to show up in court and seemed to have just disappeared. >> didn't show up? >> didn't show up. >> in the next town over, detective kenny elliot continued to work the jamie hart murder case. he had spent the last year casting a wide net for possible suspects. you took dna from 70 people? >> i think so 77. mainly people that were being booked into jail for violent crimes. anyone that was in the area that just didn't want to talk. we took dna from everybody that would give it, practically. >> he also had never taken his eye off her body, chuck cruz. there was just something that was bothering you about chuck cruz. >> there was a lot bothering me about chuck cruz. >> so the brazos county sheriff's office kept investigating chuck, even
communicated with the d.a. about possibly convening a grand jury. chuck and his lawyer spoke to the detective on many occasions, and the detective continued to think chuck's behavior was suspicious and that he still seemed nervous. >> did you ever think that maybe the reason that chuck cruz was acting this way was that you guys were coming down pretty hard on him, and he's lost his girlfriend. i mean, is there a way to act? >> i don't know, but he had several things going against him, and we just couldn't walk away from him. we either had to prove that he did it or prove that he didn't do it. >> but chuck says he should have been cleared almost right away. so even though the dna didn't match -- >> there was no match but they insisted on targeting me as the prime suspect. they were trying to build a case that wasn't there. >> while chuck's life had been
on hold for a year, kristen was starting to feel like her old self again. in the six months since her attack, she had taken up running, had a new boyfriend, and though kristen hoped the pain of that horrible night was behind her for good, it wasn't. >> there's police tape everywhere. >> may 28th, 2000. kristen had just arrived to visit friends at an apartment complex. there was no reason, not then anyway, to think her case was connected to the scene unfolding there. >> police cars and ambulances and all kinds of vehicles, emergency response vehicles everywhere. >> and now the site of police tape sent memories rushing back. >> it was just, you know, fear. >> firefighter leon moore had arrived at the apartment complex early that morning after a neighbor reported smoke in one of the units. >> the bedroom door was open, and we could see some flames that were on the carpet. so we had a water extinguisher that we used and put the small fire out. >> there on the floor, a body. >> we backed out and made sure
that we preserved as much evidence as we could. >> he sensed foul play, not just a fire, and called for detective jeff capps of the college station police department. >> it looked like her body had been kind of propped up on to the bed. she was nude from the waist down. >> this is really disturbing. >> it was. >> the victim was 21-year-old carolyn casey, a daycare worker. her parents, anita and larry, so proud of their eldest daughter. >> she was wonderful with kids. all the kids loved her. everyone loved her. >> never could they have prepared themselves for the dreadful phone call they received. >> is your daughter carolyn casey? i said yes. and i think he said, well, there's been an accident, and your daughter is dead. a fire. >> when carolyn's younger sister amanda learned the news, she collapsed with grief. >> i just -- i screamed really loud.
made my ears ring from my screaming. >> they've got this wrong? >> yeah. something's wrong. she didn't die. i said no, she's not dead. >> what was the turning point? >> i called her apartment. she didn't answer. detective capps did say it was homicide. >> i think we had a strong feeling that possibly there was some type of sexual assault that occurred, and somebody was trying to cover up some evidence. >> kelly brown of "the eagle" newspaper had another story to write. this is a community that's not used to a lot of murders. it's not used to violent crimes like this, and it certainly wasn't used to having a murder victim be set on fire. even law enforcement, they thought, what do we have on our hands here? >> on the night of carolyn's murder, there had been a small party in one of the apartments. and now the detective was canvassing the complex, looking
for leads. so you're literally knocking on doors? >> yes. >> in one unit, two men answered. one of them had been to the party. his name was ynobe matthews. >> he mentioned that he did attend this party. she was there. >> like many people who had attended, ynobe agreed to an interview, his down at the police department. he was friendly and cooperative. said carolyn had left the party before he had. >> he later left the party. went with another female that was at the party over to a convenience store that was close by and bought some cigarettes. >> ynobe gave the detective a dna sample and supplied the clothes he had been wearing. to verify his alibi, the detective pulled surveillance video from the convenience store, and noticed something. >> the clothing that he was actually wearing was different than what he had just told us. why is he not telling us the truth? >> ynobe claimed he had simply forgotten, and then handed the detective the proper clothing. no forensic evidence found on
the clothes connected him to the crime scene. so this wasn't your big moment. >> no, it wasn't. >> the big moment did come, though. just a few nights later when the pieces of this puzzle finally came together. coming up, an arrest of a familiar suspect. >> i was certain that he had done this before. but at the same time, i didn't think he would do it again. >> when "dateline extra" continues. i can stay. i'm good. i won't be late hey mom. yeah. no kissing on the first date, alright? life doesn't always stick to a plan, but with our investment expertise we'll help you handle what's next. financial guidance while you're mastering life. from chase. so you can.
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welcome back to "dateline extra," as carolyn casey's family grieved their loss, detectives struggled to make sense of the crime scene as they canvassed the area looking for leads, a possible suspect emerged. and it was someone police had met before. could her killer have been stopped sooner? here's andrea canning with the final chapter of "the face of evil." >> it was two nights after the
murder and fire. detective capps made a discovery, one that would finally connect the dots in this series of crimes that had terrorized this college town. >> i spent that evening basically reading through all these reports. >> the detective had ordered background checks on some of the people who attended the party in carolyn's apartment complex, including ynobe matthews. it turns out there were several police reports in the file accusing ynobe of a number of crimes. >> mr. matthews had a tendency to try to sexually assault females, and in the process of that, he would choke them if they were not willing to have sex with him. >> how did carolyn die? >> her death was ruled a strangulation, so things were starting to match up. >> ynobe had never been convicted of sexual assault, but in the files, he read the account of one particularly brutal attack. the case ended up being charged
as a misdemeanor, unlawful restraint. it was kristen's. ynobe was the man she says almost killed her. >> i was certain that he had done this before. but at the same time, i didn't think he would do it again. >> the detective called ynobe matthews back down to the station for another interview and decided to pull a fast one with his suspect. telling him he was about to get dna results from the crime scene. were you really about to get it that quickly? >> we weren't going to get it that quickly that day. but trying to get him to believe that we had that information, that we had everything that we needed. i had contacted my supervisor earlier. i told him if he would page me, just say -- type in the words that says his dna matches. >> and right on cue, the detective's pager went off. >> and i showed it to mr. matthews and asked him to read it. it said dna matches. >> so what's his face like when he looks at that match? >> he became pretty emotional.
and he said, it was an accident, but he had killed her. >> the detective called carolyn's parents and gave them the news of the confession. >> they said, i think we got him. i said well, how sure? he said, i'll bet the farm on it. >> it was the next morning when kristen lancaster opened up the newspaper and learned her attacker had been charged with murder. >> i felt overwhelming guilt. just overwhelming guilt knowing that he had killed someone, and that, you know, perhaps i hadn't tried hard enough to make people believe me. >> did you feel like a life could have been saved if you had been taken more seriously? >> oh, yes. carolyn would still be here. i mean, there's no doubt. >> and what about the woman at the start of our story? jamie hart's case had been handled by the brazos county sheriff's office. but after ynobe was arrested, it didn't take long for the college station police department and the sheriff's office to compare
the dna. what they found, ynobe was also jamie's killer. what's that moment like? >> i remember the feeling of wanting to feel relieved, but all i could think was, this is exactly what i knew was going to happen. he struck again. another girl is dead. and another family has lost their precious daughter. >> chuck says to this day he misses jamie and has never gotten over being viewed as a suspect. >> having to spend such a long time under investigation for the death of a loved one, it hurts. it hurts a lot. >> it's like a scar. >> very much so. very much so. >> do you feel bad about that at all, that he was put through that? >> i'm sorry that he had to go through that, yes. but if i had to do the investigation over, i wouldn't change anything.
i'm sorry he lost the love of his life. but we had a job to do, and we had to either arrest him for murder, or clear him. we cleared him. >> but, before jamie, before kristen, before carolyn, there was another victim who soon learned she was also connected to this horrifying series of events. her name is misty johnson. >> if i didn't let him rape me, he would have killed me. >> like kristen, misty reported her attack to the bryan police department. but ynobe denied it, claiming it was consensual, and misty was too traumatized to help police in the investigation. >> probably within a week, i quit my job and left town. i was scared. >> she now regrets that decision. her attack happened first, months before jamie was murdered. >> i feel like if i would have stayed and fought him through the police department, that
possibly he wouldn't have been able to go on to hurt anyone else. >> and kristen is left with the memory of an assault that, according to the law, never really happened. >> i was so angry that two people had to die in order for someone to believe me. >> did the system fail? >> it failed me. it failed carolyn. it failed jamie. >> do you think about them a lot? they were total strangers to you. >> but they're my alternative future. i mean, they're what could have happened to me. i mean, they're what could have happened to any of us. >> a jury convicted ynobe matthews of carolyn's murder and sentenced him to death. he also pleaded guilty to jamie's murder. kristen faced him in court during the penalty face. >> it was terrifying. and i had to testify. and i met carolyn's family. and jamie's family. they all came out afterwards and gave me a hug. it helped me realize that their families didn't hold any grudge against me.
>> it's not her fault that my sister died. and kristen should have no guilt over that. >> with the casey family as witnesses, ynobe matthews was executed three years later. if there is a lesson to take from this story, it is one that comes directly from a survivor herself. someone who has learned the hard way to cherish life's moments, each and every one. >> it makes you realize how fragile your life is, and that anybody can take it in a moment's notice. the story for them, that's it. that's their life's story. the final chapter has been written. but for me, i get to keep going on. >> what would you call yourself? >> i mean, people have called me a survivor. i would call myself lucky. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. thank you for watching.