this is "nightline." >> tonight, the monster in her mind. a teenage girl attacked and beaten to near death. her memory of the assault and the suspect lost. until one detective's radical idea. >> she said, how about she undergoes hypnotherapy? >> hypnotized to relive the moment. a memory unearthed. is it the key to the crime or a push down the wrong path? a barstool has arrived! >> meet the team behind barstool sports, a media group as controversial as it is popular. >> a guy may be interested. girls, entertainment, pop culture, sports. >> the female ceo steering the ship. >> we know who we are, we know
what we do, we stand by that. >> could the brand's locker room lingo cause more trouble than it's worth? first the "nightline 5." this father's day at jcpenney, shop for great gifts that bring the family together. earn bonus bucks while you shop. spend $50, earn $10 in bonus bucks. earn today, spend today. jcpenney, style and value for all. at pro plan we believe nutrition is full of possibilities to improve your pet's life. we're redefining what nutrition can do because the possibility of a longer life and a better life is the greatest possibility of all. purina pro plan. nutrition that performs. >> number one in just 60 seconds.
so badly she lost her memory. it seemed her case would never be solved. unable to describe the perpetrator for years, with the physical evidence turning up no leads, until an unusual strategy changed everything. using hypnosis to unearth hidden memories. here's abc's matt gutman. >> reporter: it's been said that our lives are built one memory at a time. but at the center of this story is a memory that was lost. was it scary not being able to remember anything? >> it was scary after they told me what had happened. >> reporter: here in albuquerque, new mexico, in 2008, life for 17-year-old britney marcel was as carefree as the sky over the city's annual hot air balloon fiesta. she lived in this house with her single mother, diane. one of seven siblings. >> it was joyful. a beautiful family. a lovely life. i couldn't have asked for anything better. >> reporter: on september 11th,
2008, the unfathomable happened. it was a thursday. britney would be out of school early. >> she said, do you want to meet for lunch? i said, sure. she said, let's just meet at home. >> reporter: minutes later, diane pulls into her driveway and walks into a terrifying scene. >> i unlock the door. i see this guy with a shovel. and she's bleeding. i thought really she was dead. >> reporter: her daughter lying on the floor, beaten and bloodied. she was hit on the head by a man wielding a shovel. diane runs frantically from the house screaming and dials 911. >> is your daughter breathing right now? >> she's breathing but moaning, she's going to lose consciousness, please, there's blood everywhere! >> reporter: britney is whisked away in an ambulance. investigators assess the scene, trying to determine what actually happened. >> the suspect actually went through a large living room glass door.ad of exiting out of he cut himself, leaving his
blood. >> reporter: they find one perfectly round drop of blood. a calling card inadvertently left behind by whoever did this. britney marcel is now 27 years old and says when she came to at the hospital, she had no memory of that terrifying day. >> i thought, you know, i was in a bad car accident. they're like, that's far from what happened to you. >> reporter: meanwhile, detectives still have that single drop of blood. they run it through the national dna database, hoping for a match. but no luck. >> it was pretty obvious that unless britney marcel recovered memories of the attackers, that the one and only piece of evidence was a single blood drop. >> reporter: five years go by. and still no arrests. so now a frustrated diane marcel calls the sergeant in charge at the albuquerque police department pleading for a fresh set of eyes. >> she said, let me think about it. then she called.
said i got somebody for you. >> reporter: detective jody gaunterman has a reputation for being relentless. right off the bat she has an unusual suggestion. >> i wasn't so convinced that her loss of memory was due to brain damage. i thought it could have been that she was suppressing the traumatic memories. >> reporter: enter forensic psychologist dr. leon morris. he use s hypnosis to help patients unlock repressed traumatic memories. this is the moment britney relives the attack. you can see her shaking. >> he's -- he's -- hurting me. >> the doctor told me she's going to probably start remembering now. >> reporter: that's exactly what happened. >> he was a tall guy. >> reporter: detective gaunterman decides to try something else with that drop of blood. a cutting-edge dna test. >> they would take a dna profile and give us hair color, eye color, ancestry. then they do a 3d
computer-generated image what was your suspect's going to look like. >> reporter: then she gets a call from britney. >> she said, jody, i remember the name, justin hansen. i remember working at the kiosk at the cottonwood mall and he would come by and visit me. >> reporter: but that's it. no memories specifically linking justin hansen to the attack. she says she met him years earlier. do you remember any of the conversations that you had with justin? >> hey, how's your day, how was school? >> reporter: that dna-generated picture comes back and it's a bombshell. >> i thought, wow. it looks so much like him. >> and they indicated a high likelihood that the suspect would have either green or hazel eyes. fairly unique eye color. >> reporter: a unique eye color that just happens to match justin hansen's. >> so at that point, justin hansen did jump to the top of the list. >> i'm investigating a case, an older case -- >> reporter: this video from a police body camera. justin hansen is at home with
his wife and three small children when detective gaunterman shows up unannounced. >> what did you hear that happened to britney? >> i heard that somebody attacked her and she was -- could have been raped or something, i don't know much, though. >> when i asked justin, had you ever been over to that house, is there any reason your dna or blood would be in that house? he said no. >> reporter: the detective asks justin to provide a sample of his dna. he says he wants to get back to her about that. which he never does. >> we had to find it. so i met with some undercover detectives. and i asked them, can you follow this guy, get his dna? >> he was at a fast food restaurant. drinking from a cup. he threw that cup into the trash can. those undercover officers then obtained that trash, including that cup. took it to the crime lab where it was analyzed. >> reporter: after one agonizing month, detective gaunterman walked into a meeting with the crime lab analyst. >> she handed me a folder.
i hope opened it up. it was justin hansen's photo. and she put "match" on it. >> reporter: detectives now have enough evidence to arrest justin. detective gaunterman is at the station to meet hansen. she tells him he's facing a laundry list of charges, including attempted first-degree murder. and he's looking at the possibility of more than 50 years behind bars. and she has something else to say. >> you did this to her. >> i didn't do it. >> you did this to her. >> i didn't do that. >> you can deny it all you want, i know it's you now. >> reporter: what eludes prosecutors is a clear motive. the closest they could come up with is that justin's number was found stored on britney's phone. >> even though there weren't any recent calls or texts or anything like that, the theory would have been that justin hansen was essentially stalking britney, even if nobody really knew it. >> reporter: there's no actual evidence to support that theory. justin's mother, doreen
shoemaker, is adamant that her son is innocent. what do you make of that one drop of blood? how did it get there? >> i don't know. i do know that they also had dna in the house on both weapons, and it doesn't match justin. >> reporter: she believes additional testing on those weapons could exonerate her son. but that can never be done. because back in 2015, a clerical error led to the destruction of almost all the evidence in the case. prosecutor waymyer believes the drop of blood is enough to convict. >> there is no explanation for that that can be reasonably offered, other than the fact that that was left at the time of the attack by the perpetrator himself as he broke that window and fled. >> reporter: hansen pleads no contest to attempted murder and aggravated burglary. >> the way my lawyer explained, no contest isn't a guilty plea, it's just basically saying that you understand that there is a chance if you took it to trial
that you could be found guilty. >> but afterwards, once you get out of prison, you can be a felon. you're going to be a felon which means essentially it's a guilty plea. but you don't believe that you are guilty? >> i know i'm not guilty. >> reporter: he says rolling the dice on up to 50 years behind bars, away from his children, is a gamble he just wasn't willing to take. >> i'm most concerned about not being there for my kids. i love them to death. >> reporter: as part of his plea, hansen now faces up to 18 years in prison. a judge will make the final decision next month. as for britney, she's ready to move on. to people watching this, what message do you want them to come away with? >> they can survive. i think if you have a strong mindset into your next goal, i think you can get through it. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm matt gutman in albuquerque, new mexico. next, behind the bro culture
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>> reporter: it's been called the bible of bro culture. >> hear ye, hear ye, barstool hath arrived! >> reporter: barstool sports, the often controversial media brand that's wildly popular with men 18 to 34 years old. with its podcasts, videos, and blogs, barstool attracts 12 million followers who call themselves stoollies. drawn to the big personalities that have become an essential part of its dna. like kevin clancy, aka kfc. >> i talk about what i want to talk about, joke how i want to joke. >> reporter: keith markovich, or k-marko. >> there's not much method to the madness. >> reporter: and the man who started it all, dave portnoy, known as el presidente. >> wonder if barstool knows the rules. >> reporter: 15 years in, cot has attracted big-name investors
and is valued at $100 million. but while its no holds barred sense of humor -- >> see if we can duct tape hank to the wall. >> reporter: has won the company a fervent following, it has also invited backlash. >> we've got 3,000 here! >> reporter: five years ago barstool's infamous blackout tour sparked protests. they've also been criticized for sometimes misogynist posts. and last year espn, which like abc news is owned by disney, dropped a partnership with barstool after just one episode of a new show. espn's president at the time releasing a statement following the incident. while we had approval on the content of the show, i erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the barstool site and its content. portnoy responded in an eight-minute video post on twitter. >> you hire barstool, the deal was with barstool, the reason you needed us is because we're
barstool. we try to be funny. a few times in the span of 15 years, i would say, very few times, i've said something that rubs people the wrong way. i would argue it's always trying to be funny and not everything lands. >> reporter: what might come as the biggest surprise about barstool sports is its ceo. >> erika nardini, ceo, barstool. >> reporter: erika nardini. >> i was the last candidate to come along. there were over 70 were men. i think there was something that clicked with me and barstool. i saw what barstool could do, just how big this brand has the potential to be, just how powerful its audience is. >> you were the second woman to work here? >> second woman ever. >> what did friends and family say? >> i had friends who were huge fans of barstool and were excited and really behind it. i had colleagues who thought this was career suicide. barstool is very polarizing. the decision was very polarizing. >> there are people who believe,
at least some of the content on barstool is sexist. what do you say to that? >> we're not a sexist company. i think most people who criticize barstool don't actually read barstool sports or listen to our podcasts or watch our videos. >> have you ever been offended by any of the content? >> i'm not easily offended. and no, i haven't been offended. >> reporter: since joining the company in the summer of 2016, the former aol executive has helped barstool increase revenue by eight times, sent brand advertising soaring 700%, and commerce by 300%. >> i brought to barstool what i knew how to do, which is to scale, to monetize, to create a platform, to build systems, to think about the brand and brands that we could build underneath barstool. >> reporter: the demo spends an average of 45 million minutes a month consuming barstool sports content. >> you have a lot of guys that are adulting. they're learning how to be
adults. they don't have the adult commitments, yet they have disposable income. they can buy lots of toys. >> i think the most elusive consumer that anyone has is a 19-year-old. they're not watching television. they are not buying the things that they used to. they're not going to retail stores. they are different. and we are a company that understands them. >> reporter: portnoy quit his desk job to start the company in 2003. >> the early days content was all fantasy football, poker, gambling. that was 95% of it. >> reporter: at first a niche newspaper, barstool grew into a website. >> it moved away from the gambling roots to a lifestyle magazine, newspaper, whatever you want to call it. we talk about anything where a guy might be interested. >> reporter: attracting big-time football players manziel. >> it's putting a microphone, sitting in front of your friends, talking about sports.
what's so different here than at networks, i can walk into our ceo's office and talk to erika about any concern. other networks you can't get to those people. >> reporter: smith left her job as an anchor for nbc sports boston to join barstool. >> when i was presented the opportunity to come where you can be whoever you want to be, say whatever you want to say, for better or worse. it was an opportunity i couldn't pass up. >> reporter: the barstool community has also rallied around important causes. giving back to victims of the boston marathon bombing. >> hopefully it helps. >> reporter: fund-raising for firefighters. supporting veterans. >> i've been following barstool since i was literally a kid. >> reporter: it's the brand's unwavering identity that keeps stoollies coming back for more. >> people are tired of boring, safe content. >> what has dealing with all of these controversies taught you about the right way to handle them? >> i think you have to lean into controversy. i don't think you can back away
from who you are and what you stand for. it's a brand that's unafraid. and it's a brand that's very loyal to its audience. and in return its audience is very loyal to it. >> how difficult is it to maintain that brand identity? >> i don't think that maintaining and a brand in this day and age is difficult. what i do find is that the walls are closing in and the definition of what's okay and not okay is polarizing. i ultimately think that's very good for barstool sports because war stool is barstool. and we know who we are. and we know what we do and we stand by that. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm rebecca jarvis in new york. next, a legendary astrophysicist given a sendoff fit for a star. hear that sizzle? yeah. red lobster's lobster & shrimp summerfest is back!
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today. three months after his death, the ashes of groundbreaking physicist stephen hawking were laid to rest under a plaque with one of his equations on it. between the graves of sir charles darwin and sir isaac newton. at the same time the european space agency beamed hawkings' voice to the nearest black hole with a message of peace and hope. on that note we say good-bye. thank you for watching "nightline." as always we are online on our