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tv   2020  ABC  August 30, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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youtube channel. thanks for watching. "20/20" starts right now. blood on the steps. there's blood all over. >> okay, where is she at? >> oh. >> now there's a brand new twist in a case that started like this. >> face plant right in the wall. this room is clear. >> there was a hole in the stairwell. she fought to the end. >> kelly is dead. i couldn't make sense of it. >> and worse, her own 7-year-old daughter witnessed it all. >> she told me a man was hurting mommy. >> this guy came and started hitting my mom with this pipe thingy. she was sort of suffering.
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>> mom was yelling, run, charlie, run. >> what did the robber look like? >> he looked like my dad. >> but she said, it couldn't have been daddy. who would take care of me. >> it was shocking. >> there was a lot more to this story. >> he was going to set the house on fire with kelly and the children in the house? >> that's correct. a cold-blooded killer. >> a bizarre scenario about what really happened. >> she fought to her last breath to save their life. >> reporter: the finger lakes region of new york state, known for its breathtaking scenery, lush wineries, and brilliant fall colors. >> it's just a nice, laid-back community. very easy-going, a nice place to
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raise kids. >> reporter: 19 years ago, a new game skated into town. the elmira jackals, a minor league hockey team. >> yeah, hannah! >> reporter: bringing a fury of energy and excitement to the area. >> when the jackals arrived, it really gave the community, the town, something to rally around on those winter friday nights and saturday nights. suddenly you had 4,000 people kind of going downtown. a lot of them maybe grab a drink afterwards. >> jackals forward tom clayton knows how to get under his opponents' skin. >> reporter: one of the big stars, number 18, thomas clayton. >> he's looking to take his game to the next level. >> if you can get one of their top guys off the ice for two minutes, five minutes, you know, it gets that job done. >> tom was chippy, aggressive. his job was to go out there and instigate trouble. he would slash other players, he would just try to get them agitated to the point where they would draw a penalty. >> he was an instigator on the ice. >> and now we've got a fight behind the play. it looks like -- >> he would start fights. >> reporter: here he is scrapping it up with a rival player. >> clayton coming back at him. >> what do you want to do? you want to fight someone. just like when you're a little
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kid and you just get so mad you want to fight, you know? >> reporter: cocky, animated and intimidating -- >> clayton helps to keep things in perspective. >> reporter: -- the hockey sensation would soon meet his match in kelley stage. >> kelley was definitely outgoing, spontaneous. she cared about everybody. fashionable. crazy at times. loyal. sassy. definitely sassy. didn't put up with anything. >> reporter: a local girl, she spotted tom from the stands, says sister kim bourgeois. >> at a game is when she first saw thomas clayton. and she thought he was cute. she went out that night to a bar after the game with her best friend. >> he was sitting at the bar, and i asked him, "do you have a girlfriend?" and he said, "who are you asking for?" i said, "not me." he said, "the blonde? she's unbelievable." >> reporter: were they smitten with each other? >> yes. very. very. he was known as a bad boy. he would have a harem of girls following him.
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>> reporter: what was it about him that attracted such attention? >> tom was very good-looking. he was smooth. he'd try to make you feel like you were the most beautiful girl in the room. >> reporter: the relationship grows serious quickly, and they marry in 2006. the following year, tom's hockey career crashes when he injures his leg. >> he was looking to really try to put that behind and move on and start a family in the area. >> reporter: first with baby girl charlie. >> hi. you gonna give a smile? >> reporter: and three years later, son cullen follows. were they happy? >> she was very happy. as far as i knew, he was happy, too. she loved him. i know that my sister truly, truly loved him. >> reporter: and kelley, as a mom, was she having a great time as a young mom? >> she was a great mom. very involved in both of their lives.
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>> reporter: tom is a successful businessman, owning rental properties and heading up a local servpro franchise. >> they do cleanup in homes and businesses after fires and floods. he was a fairly high-ranking operations manager. >> reporter: were they doing well financially as a family? >> they started doing extremely well. he was obsessed with money, with gambling. >> they had purchased a home that kelley loved. she was so excited. life appeared to be wonderful for kelley, tom, charlie, and cullen. >> reporter: that is, until one autumn night, after a night of poker, tom clayton finds something sinister has happened in his home. >> 911. >> help me, help me. my wife, she's dead.
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>> okay, just stay on the line with me. how long has she been down? >> i don't know. i don't know. >> sir, you need to calm down so i can help you. is she beyond cpr? >> yes. >> sir, why do you think she is beyond cpr? >> just trust >> i was on duty, on patrol here in the east corning area at the time when the call came in. >> reporter: what do you hear? >> the call came in as a woman down, a medical situation. >> reporter: steuben county sheriff's deputy dean swan gets the call that night. he drives me along the route to the family home in caton, new york. >> caton is quiet. it's very rural. it's extremely dark. lots of back roads, open fields. you really can't see much when you're driving there. >> reporter: what were you thinking? >> en route up there, something was wrong. i just had a gut feeling something was wrong. >> reporter: as he approaches the home, deputy swan switches on his new body camera. what you're about to see is realtime footage of the scene
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that night. >> let's turn our red lights off. we're close enough. when i pulled up to the scene, i saw a gentleman at the front door. i just started asking questions about what's going on. >> how are you doing? >> i'm okay. >> what's going on? >> tom just came -- i'm the neighbor. tom just came and got me out of bed. >> reporter: he was pretty frantic? >> yes. he was visibly shaken, very flustered, and he couldn't get much out. >> okay, what happened, though? >> his wife -- his wife is in there. >> okay. >> reporter: the deputy, a 20-year veteran, enters the house looking for tom. >> anybody else in the house, tom? just you? >> i got the kids out. they're at the neighbor's house. >> reporter: completely unprepared for what he is about to see. >> okay, where's she at? >> whoa. whoa. okay. i knew at that point some sort of blunt force trauma had occurred. i want you to have a seat. you don't need to see that anymore, okay?
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there was blood all around her body. she was bludgeoned to death. there was blood splatter on the ceiling, on the walls. yeah, there's blood all over. she's been dragged. this was a homicide. that's when i started to interview tom clayton. tom, where were you when this all went down? >> playing poker with my buddies. i came home and my daughter said there was a robber in the house and she saw them. >> yeah, you got to chill out there, man. let me see your hands real quick, man. you ain't hurt or anything? okay, good. okay. >> reporter: tom, visibly shaking, is checked for weapons and bloodstains, and directed to the back seat of the squad car. >> take it easy. you're not in trouble. just sit right there. i'm going to leave the door open. just sit right there. relax. we've got a crime scene. we have a possible homicide. nobody's going in right now. we've got to clear this house. >> reporter: deputy swan inspects the rest of the house. the intruder and possible killer could still be inside. >> i was afraid the robber could possibly be in the house. i wanted to secure the scene. he said there was a robber in the house.
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ives i was calling on the radio for backup. just cover me. i'm gonna go upstairs. i gotta go up and clear it. that's when i searched the home to make sure in was nobody there. i've gotta clear over here. the kids' rooms are over here. there's blood in the kids' room. okay, kids' rooms, this one's clear. >> reporter: as they search the home, guns drawn -- >> there's blood all over up here. >> reporter: -- the trail of evidence begins to tell a twisted story of its own. >> i'm trying not to step on anything. okay, clear. let's get the hell off this. house is clear. >> reporter: when we come back, an all-out manhunt for a killer. >> they're looking at footprints and tire prints. >> we had a dog that had tracked something out to the pond. >> reporter: next. ♪ ♪ the best lunch option is more options from all time classics to brand new favorites there are over 100 ways to enjoy lunch at olive garden
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i got a female, mid-30s, early 40s. her face is completely beaten in. husband's story right now, kids are home with mom. husband is claiming he was out playing poker. came home. kids said, "daddy, there was a robbery." >> reporter: 35-year-old mom of two kelley clayton has been found bludgeoned to death in her own home in the secluded, picturesque community of caton, new york. >> there's blood all over. >> reporter: it's a grisly scene. deputy dean swan is the first to arrive. >> blood on the wall. looks like a face plant in the wall. pictures had been knocked off the wall. it appeared it started in the bedroom, came down the stairs.
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i believe it was an extreme struggle. she fought to the end. we're going to need all investigators. homicide. >> reporter: awaiting backup, he's got a hunch. he's convinced this was no robbery. >> i just want to make sure there is no forced entry anywhere else. i didn't see any. did you see any? i didn't see any when i was in there. no marks on the door. there was no robbery. everything was in place. it was a typical home, nothing was out of place, nothing rummaged through. in the office, a typical desk with paperwork on it. nothing on the floor, nothing like that. there was nothing. >> reporter: the deputy's gut instinct tells him this is a domestic incident gone bad. >> i'm wondering if he got domestic with her. she face planted. boom. then he puts her out in the kitchen. in her face, you can see how her face is beat in. >> is there a suspect? >> husband. >> that was the only one at the
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time who could be a suspect. i thought he was lying to us. i was not buying his story at all. >> reporter: he quickly begins questioning the clayton's neighbor, derek almy. >> okay, you don't know of any troubles between anybody here, him and her, or somebody else and them or anything? >> not really, no. >> no domestics you know of in the past? >> not anything. >> was he upset? >> oh, my gosh, indescribably. he said it's gruesome in there. >> did he have any blood on him when he came over? did he change his clothes ever? >> here? no. >> no, okay. >> reporter: almy doesn't know it yet, but deputy swan is taking a hard look at his neighbor, tom clayton. fidgety, anxious and muttering after the discovery of his wife's body. >> i'm gonna [ bleep ] pass out. >> well, sit down then. come over here and sit down. you want to sit down somewhere. sit down. >> i keep sitting down and getting back up. my daughter saw it. my daughter saw my wife.
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>> okay. >> reporter: clayton has also called his sister-in-law kim to break the news. >> my phone rang at 12:49. "kim. kim. kelley's dead." i said, "what?" "kelley's dead." and i just remember pacing back and forth. pacing, like, "what?" i just couldn't make sense of it. and i remember getting clothes on, and i remember it was raining and it was cold. >> reporter: soon, relatives and friends are all alerted to the tragedy. >> i get up to her street, on her road, and i don't see any -- it's pitch black. country road, pitch black. no lights. go over a hill, still black. go over another hill and it's lit up like christmas. just tons of lights. >> family coming. you're going to have to stop them. >> and i just remember hearing kim screaming.
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>> oh, god! where's my sister? >> i remember running to the ambulance expecting to find them working on my sister. and i am like, "is my sister in there? where is my sister? where is my sister?" >> where's my sister? >> reporter: was tom distraught when you saw him? how did he appear? >> all i remember is that his head was down in his hands. i couldn't hear him. i also couldn't get near him. >> reporter: that's because thomas clayton, the once minor league hockey player who was used to instigate fights on the ice, is now headed to a different kind of penalty box. a police interrogation room. >> something i'll never forget. i'm backing out of the driveway, trying to avoid all of the emergency vehicles. clayton just kind of out of the blue says, "well, you'll know where i was, because my truck ""
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flag.i didn't ask you where you yet. but he made sure he threw that out there. >> reporter: clayton makes a statement declaring, "i did not hurt or kill kelley," then requests an attorney. was he wondering who could do this? why somebody would do this? >> no, he wasn't. that was another thing that struck me as odd, is that he wasn't really concerned. he could mention not one suspect or possible suspect of who might want to harm his wife or his family. not one person that he could think of that would want to do harm to them. >> reporter: meanwhile, an all-out investigation is under way. >> you can see a very heavy police presence was there early in the day. >> reporter: police on the hunt for clues. tire tracks, footprints, anything that might lead to the killer. >> we knew that someone had went out the back of the house towards the pond. we had a dog that had tracked something out to the pond. we eventually drained that pond looking for evidence. >> reporter: next, police get the ultimate lead -- an
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eyewitness. the claytons' 7-year-old daughter. she had seen her mother killed? >> she described kelley's last breaths. she was able to describe the weapon. >> can you tell me what he looked like? >> he was wearing jeans, a black long-sleeved shirt, and a mask. >> reporter: but who will she say is the killer? stay with us. apple card is here. and here. it's a new kind of credit card. created by apple, not a bank. with a better way to track where you spend. daily cash you get back every day. and a new level of privacy and security. nice. ♪ ♪ is changing every day ♪ nice.
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>> reporter: monday night in corning, new york, is poker night. greg and lucky miller host a high stakes game every week. complete with dinner, drinks, and dead presidents. >> this is where we play poker on monday evenings. every monday at 7:00. >> reporter: among the regular players, thomas clayton, also known as hockey puck. where did tom sit? >> tom sat here the last night that he played. and i would be the bank over here. >> was he good at poker?
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>> he was very good at poker. he was very lucky in the beginning at my house, for many, many months. finally, it kind of evened out after a while. >> reporter: still a good and aggressive player, but not on that night. >> he was not playing as many hands. he wasn't spunky that night. usually he jokes around. there was none of that. >> reporter: the game shuts down relatively early, about midnight. and the millers go to bed. at what point did you hear that there had been a tragedy at the clayton home? >> the next morning in the 6:00 range, there's someone knocking at the door. >> reporter: it's an investigator with the sheriff's office. >> he says, "you were at a poker game last night?" i say, "yes." he says, "a guy that you know as hockey puck was here? tom clayton." i go, "yes, he was." then he says, "tom went home last night and found his wife murdered." it was like, "whew." >> reporter: what were you thinking? you hear that kelley was killed? >> i was numb.
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i think he talked to us and i didn't even know what they said. >> they started asking all kinds of questions about the poker game, and what time it ended, what time it starts, and what his mood was, what was he wearing? >> reporter: the millers corroborate their friend tom clayton's alibi, that he was at their home around the time of the murder. >> i said, "there's no way. there's no way could tom could do anything like this." i said, "there's no possible way." i said, "you're looking at the wrong guy." >> reporter: did you think the same thing as your husband? "no way?" >> absolutely. >> reporter: but then police hit pay dirt when they find an eyewitness. tom and kelley clayton's 7-year-old daughter, charlie. >> she told me that "a man was hurting mommy." then she kept saying, "he did this and he did that." so finally i said, "how do you know it's a he?" and she said, "because his eyes look just like daddy's." and that was a chilling moment for me. >> reporter: a few hours later, sheriff jim allard brings charlie here. you are looking at different
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kind of interrogation room. still small, but soft seating. and on the table, toys. >> well, charlie, do you know why brought you here today? okay. we're gonna have to talk a little bit about last night, okay? >> reporter: in this video, obtained from authorities after it was played in open court, charlie describes to investigators what she saw. >> you know what a truth and a lie is? what's a truth? >> it means it really happened and a lie is that it didn't happen. >> right. right, very good. so what happens if you tell a lie? >> you can get in trouble. >> establishing that the child knows right from wrong, knows the difference between a truth and a lie, knows that there's consequences to not telling the truth. >> reporter: then, in a matter-of-fact manner, still unaware her mom has died, she offers details of the attack. >> in the middle of the night, this guy came and started hitting my mom with this pipe thingy.
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>> can you tell me more about that? >> there was blood everywhere. on my door, on the floor. not on the carpet though. >> what did you hear? >> like, my mom ran to the door screaming, "charlie, charlie, charlie, charlie." >> "run, charlie, run." those were the last words she heard from her mother. one of the most haunting things i've ever heard from a parent to a child. >> i saw the robber, like, hitting her until she was on the ground. she was sort of suffering. like, captured with a hockey stick. then i hugged her leg. >> reporter: charlie says after she saw the robber leave through the garage, she ran to her little brother's room to protect him. but most interesting to investigators is her physical description of the intruder. >> can you tell me what he looked like? >> like, he was wearing jeans, a black long-sleeved shirt, and a mask. >> okay.
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what did the robber look like? >> he looked like my dad. >> and why do you say that? how did he look like your dad? >> the mask and his jeans. >> she said that he had on a mask like what daddy wears when he's hunting. >> how about the size of him? was he a big, big guy or was he a little guy? >> the size of my dad. >> i said, "well, is he fat like me, or is he thin?" and she said, "he's just like daddy." everything was just like daddy. every question i asked her related back to daddy. and then she looks at me. she goes, "but it couldn't have been daddy, because then who would take care of us?" >> did the robber say anything? >> he probably didn't say anything 'cause what if it was my daddy? we could recognize his voice. >> i observed no deceit in the statements she gave. i believe it was true in her mind when she told it. it was chilling. there was no emotions. i don't know if it was she was still in shock. it was just breaking my heart the entire time.
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>> reporter: the 7-year-old then turns the table on police, asking them a question. >> it's about my mom, but, like, where is she at? >> you know, we, you know, we need to find that out for you. >> that was not the time or place for her to learn that. she needed to be with family. >> reporter: it appears to police that charlie is pointing the finger at her own dad. but how could he be in two places at the same time? next, a new lead takes police in another direction. >> tom had to fire a couple guys from his work, from his job. >> reporter: a new man emerges. >> someone had an ax to grind with him. >> reporter: and a surveillance camera captures a glimpse of kelley clayton's killer. >> there was a lot more to this story. >> reporter: stay with us.
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>> reporter: small town corning, new york, is in disbelief when just 24 hours after kelley clayton is found murdered, her husband is arrested, in part because of the statement given by the only eyewitness to the crime, his young daughter. >> more tonight on the murder in caton. tom clayton is in jail, accused of killing his wife. >> when tom was arrested, i was in shock, definitely, like everybody. >> reporter: had she ever confided any problems with you? had she ever indicated any aggression from him? >> never. >> people always think, we make an arrest, that's the end of the case. but the investigation continued. it was determined shortly after tom was arrested that there was a lot more to this story. >> reporter: kelley's family can't believe her husband could have done it. they point police to michael beard, clayton's longtime employee. >> if tom didn't have any work
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through servpro, he always had him up at the house doing stuff. cutting down wood or whatever. >> reporter: beard had recently been fired. could he be holding a grudge? >> there was an initial check at his residence just as a follow-up. he didn't know anything about anything and indicated that he had nothing to do with any part of this. >> reporter: investigators are stalled until they get a lucky break. remember lucky miller, who with her husband greg hosted that infamous poker game the night kelley was killed? she now recalls a strange request tom made that night. >> wait a minute, he asked to use my phone. and i look at the phone, i'm looking to see the past when he called and there's nothing. >> reporter: no evidence of a phone call? >> nothing. >> she's yelling at me and she's shaking like this. and i go, "then he deleted them." and she goes, "you can delete phone numbers?" >> who hides evidence? you only do it if you really have something to hide. >> reporter: the millers pull up their phone bill online.
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and, sure enough, at 10:53 p.m., a pair of calls to an unfamiliar number. >> lo and behold, that phone number comes back to michael beard. >> reporter: they talk to beard again, this time bringing him here, the state police barracks, and put him in this hot seat. polygraph chair? >> polygraph chair. that's the same chair he was sitting in. >> reporter: how did he handle the polygraph? >> he denies all involvement in it. and he was deceitful. >> reporter: while michael beard, the hard-working handyman, is failing the polygraph test miserably, his live-in girlfriend holly barrett is speaking her truth. >> holly tells investigators that tom had offered michael $10,000 to basically burn his house down. >> my boss came into the interrogation with that information. said, "michael, we know about the $10,000." >> beard looks down and then he looks up, and he finally gives up the whole story as to what had happened, placing himself at the crime scene.
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he did it at the direction and request of thomas clayton. >> reporter: it is a surprising twist for investigators. beard making a full confession to murdering kelley clayton as another job for his boss. >> he didn't even get any money upfront. i mean, he was going to go do this on the promise from tom clayton that he'd be paid $10,000. >> reporter: in a transcript of his confession, beard reveals details of the plan, saying, "he wanted me to go to the house, kill kelley, then light the house on fire. he said the kids would be at her sister's house. there was also gas in the garage. he wanted the cars to burn also so that he could collect insurance money." when asked why, beard said, i needed the money. he was supposed to set the house on fire. why didn't he do that? >> i think the homicide itself was more brutal than he
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anticipa anticipated. he said in his words that he got scared. >> reporter: stunningly, it appears to police that clayton had a secret plan he didn't reveal to beard. he was going to set the house on fire with kelley and the children in the house? >> that's correct. this is a cold-blooded attempt to remove your own wife and children from this earth. >> reporter: beard agrees to show police where he got rid of the murder weapon. >> he's driving 225 south, and throws it out the window. >> reporter: when day breaks, search teams find this in a wooded area. what appears to be a yellow stick, but it's actually the handle of a sledgehammer. >> there was a piece in the house that matched the handle found on the side of the road. >> reporter: so you knew that was the murder weapon. >> correct. >> reporter: it seems like michael beard left a lot of bread crumbs around town. police are also able to locate
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keys to the clayton home tossed into this creek. and they recover michael beard's clothes from the night of the murder, dumped in this swampland. bloody clothes? >> yeah. they had blood on them. her blood. >> beard was then arrested for murder, and now the focus shifted from thomas clayton doing the crime himself. now it became a murder for hire. >> beard confesses to the murder, tells them where the murder weapon is, tells them where the bloody clothes are buried, but adds the critical detail, the reason he did it was because tom clayton offered him $10,000 to kill his wife. >> it was shocking to hear that there was another person involved in the murder of kelley clayton. we weren't expecting it at all. >> reporter: so your sister has been brutally murdered, and now your brother-in-law is being charged. how did you even begin to fathom this? >> you can't. so this person who you stood up cied andarry your sister, is, mo
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calculated this entire plot to have my sister killed made it 100 times worse. >> reporter: next, thomas clayton and his handyman face off in court. then one makes a stunning move that threatens to derail the entire case. >> this case really became all circumstantial. >> and now they have a mess. >> reporter: stay with us. flings odors onto your soft surfaces? then they get released back into the air so you smell them later. ew. right? that's why febreze created new small spaces. [clicking sound] press firmly and watch it get to work... [popping sounds] unlike the leading cone, small spaces continuously eliminates odors in the air and on surfaces [popping sounds] so they don't come back for 45 days. now that's one flushin' fresh bathroom. ♪breathe happy febreze... ♪la la la la la.
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>> reporter: there is a new color taking center stage in kelley clayton's home town. purple ribbons now dotting the community, a poignant reminder of the young woman's murder. >> the purple ribbon represents domestic violence awareness. so the more and more we saw that around town, the more and more we thought that this was a case of domestic violence. >> you want me to walk with you? >> they will see purple ribbons, and they'll say, "oh, purple for mama, purple for mama." everywhere we go, "look, that's for mama." >> reporter: but no ribbon more prominent than this one, on the arena marquee of thomas clayton's former hockey team. only one man in town seems upset at the outpouring of support -- thomas clayton, now out on bail. >> he calls me. he did not mention losing his wife and the situation with his children. what he had mentioned to me was that jail sucks, and how can we put that ribbon up on our building?
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at no point did he seem like a grieving husband. >> reporter: especially since he continues his now all too familiar trips to area casinos. >> that's where he spent the entire time he was out on bail, was going from casino to casino. >> reporter: and who does he run into -- his former poker friends greg and lucky miller. >> he was, like, screaming, "lucky!" and i turned around and he was, like, arms out. i'm, like -- >> reporter: what did you do? >> i'm like, "hi." and he's, like, "hi, lucky. i'm so sorry. i'm so sorry." he goes, "i didn't do it." >> reporter: were you frightened at all? >> i was terrified. here, i thought i was getting away, out of town. >> reporter: more than a year after kelley clayton's murder, her accused killer, michael beard, is finally on trial. >> opening statements began in the murder trial of michael beard. >> reporter: in a shocking about-face, he takes the stand >> michael beard recants his
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confession and offers up a bizarre scenario about what he says really happened. that, yes, he was at the scene, but he was there to burn down the house for insurance money, and that the killer, the real killer, was actually there, and he saw him. >> reporter: beard now makes an outlandish claim -- that kelley is already dead when he walks in the house. and
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