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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  November 24, 2019 10:00pm-12:00am PST

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i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> the neighborhood had everything a burglar wanted to find. private yards, wealthy homes. >> and she had the worst of possible luck in that he picked her. >> yes. >> i'd like to report an attempted break-in. >> a mother home alone. cops raced to her front door as she walks into an ambush in her back yard. >> how does somebody die within a matter of seconds with officers all around her home? >> surreal. it was awful. it really just all came crashing down. >> your first thought at that time. >> it's a burglary gone awry. >> but the killer, caught
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red-handed, starts pointing fingers. >> this is a guy who aspired to be a hit man. >> she was a sitting target. >> it doesn't mean that you can go out and charge them all with murders. >> i have no facts. >> so detectives lay a trap. >> trying to play cat and mouse. >> already paranoid about being set up. >> a little note that says are you wired. >> will they catch their prey? >> you hold your breath. the world kind of stops. you never think it's going to be you. >> oh, no. no, no, no. >> no. the young man is right. in fact, this is the kind of thing that just doesn't happen to anyone. >> no. never. never would have thought i would have ever seen anything like this. >> no, not here. not in this neighborhood. in this house.
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but certainly not, surely not, at the very moment when at least three policemen were just outside the front door and just over the back yard wall, not more than 30 feet away. >> we had to be told a few times just to get it in our heads what happened. >> what happened here in broad daylight under the very noses of the cops? was murder. long beach, california. a town that may have been cheated a little in the city pride department. >> a lot of people assume it's like l.a., but it's not. it's different. it has its own identity. >> you think it's different culturally or just -- >> i think so. i think long beach is sort of its own beast. >> sure. >> it's a little more working class. >> yes, and it's one of those 50 suburbs in search of a city that everybody calls l.a.
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but long beach is a brawny city unto itself. half a million people, 52 square miles, a busy airport, a big university, an ocean front, a long beach. and its share of wealth and poverty and of course crime. lots of scope for a person who is -- >> no shortage of work for -- yeah, if you cover crime. >> tracy manzer covered the police beat of the local paper, the "long beach press telegram." she was fair to the cops. they trusted her. so maybe that's why one november morning -- >> a contact in the police department came over to me in the midst of this sort of press conference and said you need to go to bixby now. and i was a little taken aback. >> taken aback because bixby was not a name you heard on the crime beat. >> so it was very clear to me something major was going on. packed up my stuff, ran out the door, and got to the scene.
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>> the scene was in bixby nolls, leave it to beaver homes on carefully tended streets. violent crime is unheard.95 bixby knolls. which is just the way they like it here. which is why if they grew up here or moved here they'd rarely leave. like rachel kerns. >> everybody's very friendly, always waving. you don't get that a lot in southern california. >> rachel still lives in the house she grew up in. >> we were able to play as kids at all hours of the day. we didn't have to worry about anyone ever hurting us or coming after us. it was a really safe neighborhood. >> but then came that november morning when tracy manzer roared over there in her car. >> i had no idea what i was going to, what i was going to find. but i knew based on how i was told about it that it was going to be something, you know, very
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bad. >> oh, and it was. >> i was barely out of my car before i saw the homicide lieutenant, the homicide sergeant, two commanders, and obviously a bank of black and whites. so my first thought was there was an officer-involved shooting, either an officer had been shot and killed or an officer had shot someone. >> but no. not that. no. what really happened was far stranger than that. >> long beach police department. >> yes. i'd like to report, i believe we have an attempted break-in going on at the time. >> it was a neighbor who saw it. like the start of some dreadful shock movie rolling out in slow motion. it was 11:03 a.m. >> my neighbors, which is the house just to the west of me. >> okay. one just west to you? >> yes. it's the shockner residence. >> the caller's next-door neighbors. several cops responded, were
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there within minutes. and as they heard to the 911 caller they heard and saw a little white dog barking incessantly from a window at schockners' house. >> it was a little eskimo or -- >> yeah. not a very large dog. kind of a fluffy, yappy dog. >> the petite framed woman came to the window to see what her dog was barking at. an officer gestured to her, come outside. clearly bewildered, she finally opened the door. >> so he's telling her that they got a call from the neighbor that they saw a prowler and would it be okay if they looked in her back yard and looked around the house. and she had said that that was fine. >> but hold on, the woman said to the police, let me grab the key. the gate is locked. >> so she closes the front door, walks through the house, and walks out the back door. >> three cops waited outside the front door. two more cops pulled in right here in the alley behind the house. and then to their great surprise
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the prowler jumped over the back yard wall, practically into their arms. they searched him, found jewelry in his pocket and a taser and a cell phone and a knife with blood on it. the cops out front waited for the woman to return. she didn't. ten seconds, 20 seconds. would a minute go by? they decided to go in. they opened the door, looked through the house. and what they saw was not just terrible but a riddle. a deception. a piece of pure evil. coming up -- what could have happened in that house while it was surrounded by police officers? >> i didn't believe it. i thought it was a joke. >> until your father arrived with tears in his eyes. >> that was when i knew something was wrong. >> when "dateline" continues. so the whole world looks different. the unbeatable strength and speed of advil liqui-gels.
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particular november 8th. california weather, not quite noon. and as usual, it was quiet in bixby knolls here in long beach. quiet and in that quiet more menacing than anybody understood. as police responding to a call about a prowler waited outside the front door, neither they nor the half-awake homeowner sensed the jeopardy as she closed the door in their faces and went in search of a key for the gate to the yard. seconds tick by. the dog barked. the woman didn't return. so the cops, still not getting it, went in. too late. >> she was attacked and she was killed right then while the officer was on her front porch. >> just extraordinary. >> yeah. >> the victim's name was lynn schockner. she was 50 years old. when they found her lying quite dead just outside her own back door, they could clearly see the bright red gash across her throat. how was it possible? the policemen were just outside
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her front door. and more cops were in alert mode out in the alley. but the only apparent witness to the silent murder of lynn schockner was lynn's little dog, zoe. horrified officers found her lying by lynn's side, her white coat spattered red. back at police headquarters long beach cops like undercover man chris nelson heard the chatter. >> we were sitting in the office. and we used to have a police radio on in the office listening to what's going on in the street. >> this was bad. >> we were right down the hall from homicide, and you know, knew right away that this turned into a call-out where somebody got killed. >> now crisis mode. detective richard birdsaw took the call, get down there fast. >> your first thought at that time, do you remember what it was? >> it's a burglary gone awry. >> did you have at the same time a sense of how the hell could we screw up like that? >> like anybody else, you're
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trying to discern why she did what she did and what did the officers say, what was the conversation. >> oh, yes, there were lots of questions. this would be ugly. why did she go back in the house? why did the cops let her? why didn't they move in faster? how could they let the murder happen right under their noses? >> that was really disturbing. and you know, you hate to second-judge another cop, but there were mistakes made. >> after all, a neighbor reported a prowler in the back alley, a prowler who may have sneaked into her house. but she, the victim, didn't seem to believe that. >> she had a little eskimo dog that barked at butterflies and there's nobody in the back yard, this dog would have alerted me to anybody. but she -- >> she was wrong. >> she was wrong. >> lynn's son, charlie, was a freshman in high school then. he was sitting in math class. somebody told him he was wanted in the principal's office. on the way there he thought he
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was in trouble. and then when they told him -- >> i didn't believe it. i thought it was a joke. >> until your father arrived with tears in his eyes. >> that was when i knew something was wrong. >> his father manfred, or fred as most people called him, came to take charlie home. >> how was your father? >> upset. i mean, he was definitely -- he was crying. he couldn't drive. you know, i didn't really have eyes for him in that moment. >> you were just a mess. >> yeah. >> and charlie still could not believe what he was hearing. >> it really didn't set in really until i actually saw the house and then it really just all came crashing down. >> his home was a crime scene. >> the house was taped off and there's people going in and out of the house. a lot of neighbors around. like everything you see on tv. >> you never think it's going to be you. >> oh, no. no, no, no.
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it's surreal. very much so. >> what does that loss feel like? >> yeah. i can't put it into words. it was tremendous. it was awful. i immediately called mark and then -- i'm babbling on the phone. i can't even speak. >> mark gica is charlie's uncle, lynn's brother. >> after the initial shock there's disbelief. i didn't burst into tears right away. i didn't start screaming. i was just stunned. >> lynn grew up in ohio. she was the baby of the family, the only girl. here she is with her two older brothers, john and mark. but lynn was not like them. >> she was a tentative girl, whereas my brother and i were very outgoing. >> their father died young. lynn often fought with her mother. >> co-dependent, love-hate, call
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it what you want. >> she got married, moved to california with a brand new husband. it didn't work out. ended pretty quickly. but then one day she went to a ball game, dodgers versus somebody. who knows? and she found him. the right guy. her guy. fred schockner. he was almost 14 years older than she was, but it didn't seem to matter. didn't hurt either that fred was a very successful man. anyway, this time it clicked. they had an intimate wedding on a boat off the california coast. the captain did the honors. and they lived alone together in that house in bixby knolls. until finally, after 11 years, they had a son who grew up to be charlie. as parents they encouraged him to try new things. >> it was the olympics and we were watching gymnastics and i turn around to my parents and go i'm going to do that. and i think like a month later i
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enrolled in gymnastics. so it was very much a supportive environment. >> and lynn doted on her only son. >> it might be trite to say this, but she loved him more than life itself. he was the center of her universe. >> so after what happened mark flew out to california right away to comfort charlie and fred and to make funeral arrangements for his only sister, lynn. and at the very same time, as if in another world altogether, a world devoted to the minutia of violent crime, detective richard birdsol poked around the entrails of this burglary gone bad. he could perhaps write up a report, be done with it, make the growing bad press go away. but no, richard birdsall was a troubled man. >> we know something's wrong. my partner and i just feel something's wrong. but we don't know yet. >> wrong? well, of course it was.
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but the wrong the detective had in mind was not the grief or the loss or the vitriol thrown at the place. no. it was almost like a smell, the kind that sticks in your nose. something off. coming up -- one of the strangest things of all was the alleged killer himself. not your typical burglar. >> in his words he always wanted to be a cop. >> and this wasn't your typical burglary. >> i worked burglary division for four years, but i've never had one come with a device that's used simply for killing. >> when "dateline" continues. crest gum detoxify, voted product of the year. it works below the gum line to neutralize harmful plaque bacteria and help reverse early gum damage. gum detoxify, from crest.
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young charlie was a lucky kid to grow up in a place like bixby knolls. >> tree-lined street, beautiful neighborhood. it's a wonderful place to grow up. would ride my skateboard all around the block, take my dog with me. >> reporter: he was lucky, too, to have lynn for a mother. how did she make you feel? >> i guess how a parent should. >> reporter: safe. >> safe, happy, welcome, loving. just good. >> reporter: but now lynn schockner was gone. killed in a burglary. and charlie, just 14 and grief stricken, was so angry at the police. >> well, you didn't do your job. how could -- how could that happen with you being right there? that's just negligence. >> reporter: charlie was far from the only one. this was a broad daylight
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murder. police officers just outside the front door when it happened. i can imagine that people would be kind of upset in the neighborhood. a burglar had been there. >> yes. >> reporter: had robbed a house and killed a woman and the cops couldn't prevent it. >> right. i think the majority of the neighborhood was just stunned and shocked by the violence. you know, how does somebody who's in her own home die within a matter of seconds with officers all around her home? >> reporter: tracy's paper, "the long beach press telegram," was reporting on the community backlash. there was fear and, of course, anger. cops often tend to pull together in the face of a thing like that, but in private, harsh judgments, said the undercover cop, kris nelson. >> i'm sorry. you just don't let her go back into a situation like that. it's police 101. >> reporter: what -- >> at the very minimum, you go with her. >> reporter: so what was the feeling and the talk around the department when this happened? >> they [ bleep ] up.
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>> reporter: detective richard birdsall, used to asking tough questions, suddenly found himself answering them. i've got to think that the department would adopt a bit of a defensive stance at that point because you know the public's going to say, what the hell was going on here? why did you guys let that happen, right? >> yeah, they did, you know, because they're trying to defend the officers. and they didn't do anything wrong. you were waiting for someone to bring you the key. they waited a short period of time, within a minute. you know, they're yelling for her, ma'am, can you come back? hello? where are you? >> reporter: just a minute or so. enough for lynn to surprise the burglar, who stabbed her in the neck and grabbed some jewelry and ran into the arms of the police. the detective prowled around the crime scene. >> we see that there's the bedroom drawers were being opened, jewelry. things are thrown around. so it looked like a lot of things in disarray.
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>> reporter: looked like a standard daytime burglary gone horribly bad, of course, when lynn encountered the robber. but one thing stood out like -- well, like a bloody knife. >> i worked burglary division for four years. but i've never had one come with a device that's used simply for killing. >> reporter: so time to focus on that so-called burglar caught with a bloody knife in his pocket. his name was nicholas harvey. he was 22 years old. and this was unusual. >> he didn't have a criminal background. he'd never been in trouble with the law before. >> reporter: seemed like a reasonably nice young man? >> yeah, very personable. i mean, he came across that way. he wanted to ingratiate himself with us as law enforcement. and you know, in his words, he always wanted to be a cop sometime in his life. >> reporter: and here, he's robbing and killing a woman. >> correct. >> reporter: he'd been an athlete in high school, still worked out a lot. was a personal trainer at his local gym. he was a big muscle-bound sort of character? >> correct. >> reporter: from port hueneme? >> port hueneme.
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>> reporter: but that's way up the coast. >> that's up by -- yeah, by ventura. >> reporter: in other words, about 70 miles from the crime scene. but why would he commit a robbery so far away from home? >> that's one of the flags that immediately came up. >> reporter: when detective birdsall and his partner first asked him, nick gave them an answer that, frankly, still didn't make sense. >> we came at him. and you know, his initial story was, oh, i heard this was a good area. >> reporter: really? there wasn't a good area closer to home? well then nick gave them another answer. >> he wanted to get out of his area. and he worked at a local gym up there where he's a gym rat and worked out with police officers and did martial arts with police officers. he felt they would recognize him. >> reporter: when he said that, did it seem plausible? >> no. it wasn't plausible at all. >> reporter: and one other thing. remember how, when police arrested him, they found jewelry in his pocket? turned out it was fake. even though lynn had lots of real diamonds right there to be taken along with other valuable
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items. >> if you're going to do a daytime burglary and you just killed somebody, you're going to make the effort to get the good stuff. but he didn't. >> reporter: so either nick harvey was the world's worst burglar or burglary wasn't the point of his visit. the detectives pushed him hard. but -- >> he didn't want to change his story. we went at him for hours, and we walked out of there going this is not what it seems to be. >> reporter: just a hunch, of course. no way to prove it. until, 70 miles up the coast, a man picked up the phone to call the police. coming up -- a family feud. >> i wrote that letter. i signed the letter. i handed it to my sister. and i dared her to give it to him. >> what's that all about? when "dateline" continues. s. the only one to combine a safe sleep aid. and the 12-hour pain relieving strength of aleve.
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i'm dara brown with the
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hour's top stories. defense secretary mark esper fired navy secretary richard spencer on sunday for allegedly seeking a secret agreement with the white house in the case of navy s.e.a.l. eddie gallagher. in his letter of resignation spencer indicated he no longer shared the same understanding of good order and discipline as the president. the pro-democracy candidates in hong kong secured major victories in local elections on sunday. record turnout leading to control of at least 216 of 452 seats. now back to "dateline." detective richard birdsall didn't believe for a moment that he was investigating a burglary gone bad. for one thing, a guy doesn't travel 70 miles just to break into a house. but for all his suspicions, birdsall couldn't prove a thing. that is, until a man who knew nick harvey called the police and said -- >> nick harvey came to him and offered him some money, several hundred dollars to say can you drive me down to long beach?
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>> reporter: he agreed. they met at a park and ride parking lot, and he drove nick's car. the driver also said nick told him why he needed to go to long beach. >> nick harvey said he was an enforcer for the local drug dealers up there. so he thought he was coming down here just for that one reason. >> reporter: honestly, he had no idea the agenda included murder, said the driver. >> he never knew that he was going to come down to take someone's life. >> reporter: of course, the guy was probably lying. so they put him under arrest. anyway, his claim that he thought he was driving a drug enforcer didn't make a lick of sense. the notion that suburban housewife lynn schockner was somehow tangled up with drug dealers and had been targeted for execution was frankly preposterous. lynn had been living a quiet life for 25 years, married to a man with a lot going for him. >> he was a wealthy man. >> reporter: for years, fred earned top dollar in the aerospace industry.
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not to mention all the family money he inherited. >> they were able to afford things that none of us growing up could possibly afford. we were blue collar working class people, and we didn't know many millionaires growing up. >> reporter: he bought her things, jewelry and that sort of thing? >> well, right out of the gate they bought a very nice home in an exclusive suburb of long beach, bixby knolls. so that was a big step up. >> reporter: mark remembers flying out to see lynn after she got married. >> she was dying to show off her home, show off her new life. >> reporter: lynn seemed happy, said mark. >> she set out i think with special determination, having had her first marriage not last, to make this one work and function. >> reporter: to make a complete
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family, a desire that only intensified once charlie came along. >> she wanted her son to be the best person he could be and would stop at nothing to make sure that he got that. >> reporter: around bixby knolls the schockners were considered a perfectly normal, if upscale, family. certainly not the kind of people who would be targeted by drug dealers. of course, members of the family had a slightly more intimate perspective. mark, for example, loved his sister but found fred a little obnoxious. >> he wasn't shy about dropping hints about the extent of his holdings. >> reporter: mark didn't see them very often. he lived way across the country in georgia. but when he did come to visit in long beach and they went out for dinner, fred always managed to monopolize the conversation then somehow stick mark with the bill.
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>> cheap. totally opinionated. absolutely self-involved. >> reporter: so when he invited lynn and charlie to visit him in georgia -- >> i basically told my sister not to bother to bring him. stay as long as she wanted. leave her old man at home. >> reporter: and on one of those visits, mark told lynn exactly how he felt. >> i said, how can you let someone run your life and forget about yourself? >> reporter: afterward, he sat down and wrote many of the same things in a harshly worded letter to fred. >> i wrote that letter. i signed the letter. i handed it to my sister, and i dared her to give it to him. >> reporter: did you think she actually would? >> i didn't know. but she did. >> reporter: that took guts. >> it did. it did. >> reporter: and frankly, mark was pleased when, a few years later, after a quarter century of marriage, lynn told him they
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were splitting, and fred moved out of the house in bixby knolls. she changed somehow after your father left? >> she seemed freer, seemed happier, more able to get excited, just really interested in everything and very lighthearted. >> reporter: but her happiness was short-lived. and when mark first heard she was murdered, his mind went to a very dark place. could fred have had something to do with it? but as much as he disliked fred, he just couldn't see it. >> there were no connections in their personal life to this person that committed the crime. >> reporter: no, it seemed pretty clear, fred had nothing to do with lynn's murder. besides, lynn changed the locks on the house after fred moved out. could it be someone she hired to install some protection actually came back to rob her and wound
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up killing her? after all, such a person would have seen that lynn had valuable things around her house in this very nice neighborhood. >> the neighborhood had everything a burglar wanted to find. private yards. >> reporter: sure. >> wealthy homes. >> reporter: and she had the worst of possible luck in that he picked her. >> yes. >> reporter: and now, the family came together in grief. and when he saw fred -- >> we hugged, traded condolences. within five or ten minutes, he mentioned the letter. he said, do you still believe that? i said, no, that's water over the bridge. we need to get on with our family. we need to stick together. >> reporter: fred moved back into the family home. he and charlie and the rest of the family leaned on each other. while around the neighborhood
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people absorbed the news that police had the driver, a possible accomplice, in custody, neighbors wondered were more people involved? >> there was concern that there were others that might come back to more houses and more homes and that they were violent. >> reporter: but that fear soon turned to anger when another bit of news swept through bixby knolls. the police let the driver go. coming up -- detectives were convinced nick harvey didn't have a motive to commit murder, but just maybe someone else did. >> my partner discovered that there was a person that he talked to multiple times right before the murder. >> when "dateline" continues. phones down. we need a solution. introducing... smartdogs. the first dogs trained to train humans. stopping drivers from: liking. selfie-ing. and whatever this is.
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ever since lynn schockner was murdered in her own home as police stood outside, criticism of the long beach police department had been intense. emotions raw. >> the officers were extremely upset. my understanding was one of the officers who was on the call had had a nervous breakdown or, you know, an episode like that afterward because it was just too much for him. >> reporter: detective richard birdsall knew, even as he investigated lynn's murder, that her family was angry with the police. >> yeah, they were. they were upset like anybody would be.
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like the press. i mean, everybody else was upset with us, that we didn't do our job to protect someone's life. because that's ultimately what we're supposed to do. >> reporter: lynn's husband, fred, even threatened to sue the long beach pd for not protecting his wife. and so detective birdsall knew he'd take even more heat when the news leaked out that police had arrested an alleged accomplice of the suspected killer and then, just as quickly, released him. but that's exactly what birdsall did, release the man who admitted he'd driven the killer to the crime scene, but the detective had a plan. >> we actually put an active feed on his phone. we want to find out who he's talking to. we have the driver. we have the killer. now we want to find out if there's more people involved. >> reporter: detective birdsall didn't believe nick harvey was a drug enforcer. just didn't buy it. so he hoped that by releasing the driver and tapping his phone he could uncover what was really going on. there was just one problem. after he was let go, the driver
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didn't reach out to anyone. >> the only person he ever spoke to was nick harvey. >> reporter: no, the driver was not part of a larger web. he had nothing whatever to do with lynn's murder. so he was telling the truth. >> it turned out, yes. >> reporter: dead end. so they kept on digging into nick's background. and remember, this was a guy with a clean record. he came off like a perfectly ordinary young man. >> we talked to the family. i mean, they were all incredulous that he would ever do something like that. >> reporter: nick's family. >> nick's family, correct. >> reporter: incredulous? >> it didn't fit him. didn't fit his persona. never thought he would be capable of doing something like this. >> reporter: so when you asked his family about him, how did they characterize him? >> at that time he worked out a lot. he was doing steroids but just didn't really have a focus in life. he actually was a trainer for the local gym up there. and that's all he did. i mean, he worked -- did a bouncer at a bar. not in trouble with the law.
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he wasn't someone that attracted trouble to himself. >> reporter: but somehow he'd found plenty of trouble. police started to figure out how when they subpoenaed his phone records. >> my partner discovered that there was a person that he had talked to, frank jaramillo, and multiple times right before the murder. >> reporter: frank jaramillo? >> correct. >> reporter: frank jaramillo, aka el cubano, once managed the gym where nick trained. odd person to call just before committing a murder, unless, of course, he was in on it. how to find out? step one, said kris nelson, go back to nick harvey. lean on him a little bit. >> you got to talk to this guy before he gets arraigned. because once he's arraigned, you're screwed. he's going to get an attorney. >> reporter: sure. >> and his attorney's going to tell him to shut up. >> reporter: just what birdsall and his partner were thinking. so they confronted nick again. now two days after lynn's murder. >> you need to be fully truthful
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with my partner and i right now because it's only going to, you know, benefit you to tell the truth. this is getting uglier and uglier. >> we went at him one last time. tell us your story. he reiterates almost exactly what he said before. >> reporter: which was that he killed lynn schockner because the burglary he tried to carry out went bad. the cops still didn't buy it. >> him and i been doing this a long time, nick. you need to take nick and your responsibility now. take care of nick now, please. be truthful with us because we're not going to stop, nick. him and i, that's our job. >> reporter: and that's when nick's story started to change. >> i might as well break it down for you guys. i was hired to hit the house. i don't know why. i didn't ask. >> reporter: that is, said nick, he was hired to commit a burglary. one that, depending on what he
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could steal, might prove very profitable. >> what's the amount you were promised? >> what was in the house plus 2500. >> reporter: b.s., said the cops. he was hired to kill, and they knew it. because those phone records told a very different story than he did. and finally, nick harvey cracked. >> and i remember nick harvey's words like, yeah, you guys are good. you got me. >> reporter: just like that? >> just like that. and then he cops out. >> reporter: yes, he said. frank jaramillo, the guy they called el cubano, hired him to kill lynn schockner. gave him $2,500 up front, promised $2,500 more when the job was done. why a guy would commit murder for a measly five grand was one question, but a more urgent one was this. who was this el cubano, really? and why would he pay a guy to kill a housewife in long beach? coming up -- it's always the husband, right? but in this case police didn't seem to think so. >> the detective was very quick to assure me that they had no
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the plan had been as simple as it was ugly. nick harvey, in exchange for just $5,000, was to kill a long beach housewife named lynn schockner, stage it like a burglary and get away clean. instead, nick was in jail facing murder charges and detectives were prying apart a conspiracy. nick had already told them he'd been hired by a man named frank jaramillo, who went by "el cubano." >> he wanted the job done, wanted the burglary staged. >> reporter: nick met el cubano at an el torito restaurant, he said, where he was paid half up front. >> what did you do with that money? >> i moved. so i had to buy a bunch of new bedroom stuff. >> reporter: he'd spent the $2,500 on new furniture from a
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store called the couch potato. but when the time came to earn the rest of his money, to kill lynn, he said, for a moment he got cold feet. >> truth be told, when i got there, i didn't want to do it at all. in fact, when i was sitting there, i was sitting actually back by the back of the door and i was -- [ bleep ] part is i actually thought about leaving right when she came up walking. >> reporter: that's when he went into something like fight or flight mode, he said, and he killed her. and then he quickly ran into the house, pulled out some drawers, grabbed some jewels to make it look like a burglary. but then when he tried to escape, he discovered to his horror that the cops were, or appeared to be, waiting for him. so then, listen to this. harvey had a question for the detectives. >> can i ask you a question? i don't know if you guys can answer this.
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how'd you get there so fast? neighbor. there's people in the neighborhood. someone saw you get out of the car. >> did you know the cops were even out there? >> not until i got back over the wall and i saw the van. and when i saw the van that's when i said, this has got to be a setup. >> reporter: that is, he thought he was being double-crossed by his friend frank, aka el cubano. that's why he decided to stick to the botched burglary story, he said. maybe he'd just get second degree murder. and once he got out of prison, he was going to find frank and -- >> take care of him myself. >> reporter: the detectives played along, of course. let nick dream up whatever conspiracy theory made him happy. but meanwhile, they requisitioned el cubano's phone records, and they found something quite surprising. >> not only had frank jaramillo been talking with nick harvey, but he also had talked to the husband. >> reporter: fred schockner.
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>> fred schockner. >> reporter: fred schockner, lynn's husband of 25 years. on the surface it didn't make much sense. after all, fred had been cooperative with detectives from day one. and yes, he had moved out of the family house, but he told them the break was amicable. she was my best friend, he said. and yet, not long after the murder, young charlie sought out detective birdsall and whispered an awful question. >> did my dad have something to do with this? >> reporter: charlie remembers what they told him. >> the detective was very quick to assure me that they had no suspicions of that. they don't think that would be something that was happening. and if they had thought that, that they would already have looked into it and not to worry about that. >> reporter: is that what detectives really believed? well, no. >> we had to sit there and look at him in the eye and say, we'll catch everybody who was involved. >> reporter: but not say we suspect him? >> exactly. >> reporter: they believed they simply couldn't tell charlie or
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the rest of the family what they were discovering. afraid that fred would find out and stop talking to them. so charlie stayed at home with his father. his uncle mark was allowed, even encouraged, to believe that fred was not involved, even as the detectives were getting the real story from the hit man, nick harvey. cubano? >> so doesn't that mean you can go out andth arrest him and fre charge them all with murder right then? >> we wish. remember it's a coconspirator statement. i have no facts. >>em that person nick harvey wa an admitted killer and demonstrated liar. and with the police department under so much scrutiny they didn't dare arrest anybody without solid proof. just think of the scandal if on
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top of everything else the prosecution o failed. they did find fred's business card in harvey's wallet, but that wasn't enough either. meanwhile theou public and lynn family would be encouraged to believe it was a simple case of apl burglary gone bad, a murder the cops should have prevented. >> i couldn't go out there and defend that apartment asre muchs i wanted to. >> youwa couldn't say anything. >> and i can't tell the press because the suspects are persons of interests are the ones we're looking at. we don't wante to alert them. we a don't want them to get lawyers. and my department was quick to resolve because we have a black eye. the press was just beating us up daily. >> so the clock was ticking. detectives need to prove the murder for hire plot, and they needed to do it fast. >> so that was the whole game trying to play cat and mouse, trying to get more. we want to get them to talk, we
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want to get them to communicate. >> but wasn't going to happen bo the look of it even though they kept talking to fred. playing dumb of course but hoping he'd o panic and call el cabano. >> to the point we were calling him every day but trying to give a reason so he wouldn't become more suspicious than what he was. >> just one more question, sir. >>n, exactly. >> this was a game of course but deadly consequences. death also has a way of bringing people together. lynn was a private woman, had very few friends beyond her son, charlie. and yes. >> we had a big service for her. it was amazing how many people came out. it was nice. i just remember how i -- at that point i couldn't even cry. it was just still -- still depressed and shocked.
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and i felt bad for that for a long time but -- >> well, that's pretty normal. >>pr yeah. >> do the tears come? >> yeah. itme took a while but they did. >> meanwhile the detective was chipping await at the case but far too slowly for the likes of his bosses and beleaguered long beach police department. the detectives had found some connection among the three suspected ngconspirators but no nearly enough to go to court. >> you have a murder for hire. now you've got to go -- i've got to prove more. >> and youve couldn't even say that either oneou of those peop was a suspect. >> correct. i was 6'2" when i started and 5'2" when i finished because there was so much pressure on me to do it.
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>> coming up fred and frank finally start talking. >> we had like 60 plus phone conversations between them. >> how are you doing, bud? >> it has been a rotten, rotten time. >> but will it help detectives catch a killer? when dateline continues. er when dateline continues. with the best prices of the year on appliances to help you handle anything and everything. tthe bad news? our so will this new depend® fit-flex underwear offers your best comfort and protection guaranteed. because, perfect or not, life's better when you're in it. be there with depend®.
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police suspected that fred was the mastermind behind the murder for hire plot for estranged wife lynn. but they still didn't have the evidence to make an arrest. so the detectives kept dropping in on fred, all very nonthreatening. and then finally they asked him if he happened to know anyone in the area where the hitman harvey lived. and fled said, yes he did. the man he knew he said was
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frank, just a guy he met when frank managed gym in long beach. in fact said, fred, he'd bought a used bmw from frank and frank was going to deliver the car when he returned from an overseas business trip in new delhi. the cops new perfectly well that frank aka el cubano was home. he loaned frank which made sense. >> he had a fetish for watches and living the lifestyle of the rich and famous and he really didn't have any full time job. >> but if frank thought he was taking any advantage of fred, the detectives believed it was just the opposite. >> y i think fred wanted to own
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fred in some way. >> so frank already had the $100,000, so now he's on the hook big time to fred. and fred says to get off the hook you've got to make this happen. >> correct. >> then slate's wiped clean. >> yes. solution of all debt. >> fred was the mastermind using his financial leverage to manipulate frank who in turn hired nick for a bargain basement price. but fred didn't know the cops even suspected him, didn't have any idea, for example, that they were tapping his phone. so when fred actually began calling the cops to play mr. cooperative, they recorded every word. >> hello, mr. officer. this is fred shockner. >> how are you doing? >> there has never been anything as bad as this in my life and i hope there never will be. >> i don't blame you. >> but you asked me a couple of
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questions and let me give you some information. >> okay. >> the check that i wrote to frank was cashed on october 29th. >> that was $5,000. that was for the bmw. >> that was the bmw. >> and look at this. on the check there's a note that indicates the bmw would be delivered between 11/7 and 8. lynn was murdered on the 8th of november. >> i called them today and asked them about the status on the voice mail. >> does this sound like fred is having fun toying with the cops? >> any other questions you have for us at this time? >> happy fishing. why is it going so long that's a good question because the fishing isn't answering, right? >> well, like i said i toll you from the beginning it's a pretty
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simple case -- >> hold on a second the line is ringing. >> in the middle of the conversation fred got another call from frank. fred puts him on hold, continues to speak with the detective, even offering a theory about the killer nick harvey. >> you know, the kid may have been someone associated with the lock change. it may have been someone associated with someone she met and tried to help. >> exactly. >> fred hung up with the detective and picked up his cellphone to talk. that call was also recorded. >> hello. did you hear a lot of that? >> kind of. >> okay. good. i don't need to talk about it. >> okay. >> how are you doing, bud? >> it has been a rotten, rotten time. all the -- there's so much sympathy and so much activity surrounding it, it's unbelievable.
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>> so just as the cops had been hoping fred and frank talked, but not a word from either one to establish they were involved in a murder. >> we had like 60 plus phone conversations between them. >> and you're tapping them all. >> and we're tapping them all. >> but they just didn't slip-up. so it was time, the detchbs decided to launch the under cover squad led by chris nelson. >> nick harvey told the homicide guys what's up, nick told me. so now if you're frank and fred, your biggest concern is that nick's caught. >> of course. and you want to make sure he's not going to say anything. first detective nelson decided he'd go for broke by phoning fred shockner himself and claiming to be the hired killer, nick harvey. so how did you go about doing this? >> i used one of inmate phones
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because i wanted the recording that says you're receiving a call from county institution blah-blah blah. and he hung up on me i think the first time there's a pause and he said no, click. and i waited about five minutes and i called him again. >> and this time fred took the call. >> and i said i'm the guy that did that work at your house for you. and i said well i'm going to need my other half, i'm going to need my money, you know, for an attorney. and he says well you already have it. and i said no. and he said well you need to talk to your guy. >> your guy. he could only mean frank, but he didn't say the words, didn't say anything incriminating. and so now he tries something different, much riskier. time to get uncle john involved. coming up -- >> hey, frank? >> yes. >> frank, my name's john.
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>> detectives set a trap. >> i'm the one that can keep nick quiet. you're going to give me money. >> but will frank walk into it? >> i really don't have money to help him out. >> when "dateline" continues. ot >> when "dateline" continues pen. aleve it. with aleve pm. the only one to combine a safe sleep aid. and the 12-hour pain relieving strength of aleve. so...magic mornings happen. there's a better choice. aleve pm. of a lifetime. it's "progressive on ice." everything you love about car insurance -- the discounts... the rate comparisons... and flo in a boat. ♪ insurance adventure awaits at "progressive on ice." tickets not available now or ever. at "progressive on ice."
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after days of repeated calls and interviews with fred shockner detectives had elicited some tantalizing detail but not enough evidence to arrest him for lynn's murder, so they decided to focus on suspected middle man, el cubano. he set a trap to make him believe he was about to be fingered by the middle man nick harvey. so he phoned frank and portrayed himself as -- >> relative of next with a past of my own. not particularly liking cops, you know, i'm the one that can
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keep nick quiet. and what are you going to give me in exchange for that? you're going to give me money. >> afraid frank would recognize the trap and hang up on him detective nelson elected to make up a very unthreatening persona. >> i thought, well, i'll be uncle john, you know, that his mother sent down from the bay area to see what's really going on and what's harvey got himself into. >> so uncle john places a call to el cubano. >> hey, frank? >> yes. >> frank, my name's john. >> now to set the trap. he'd say nick needs money for a lawyer. >> he seems to think you or fred will help him out. he didn't want a [ bleep ] public defender. >> okay. >> frank tells uncle john he knows nick but -- >> i really don't have money to help him out. >> at first frank doesn't seem to take the bait. >> if i can help him in any way
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i would but i'm sorry i apologize i can't. >> but then carefully uncle john reels him in. >> you seem to think that somebody didn't reach out to him -- he told me not so much you but he told me to have you tell fred that if he didn't get some help pretty soon, he was going to go to the cops. >> okay. give me a call tomorrow and i'll see what i can do to help you. >> but after all that frank did not make the incriminating call to fred asking for money. so the very next day uncle john tried again. >> hey, did you get a hold of fred? >> no, between you and i i don't mind taking care of him. >> frank asked the time and agreed to meet uncle john in person to hand over some money. >> thousand oaks mall. >> it's on lynn road.
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>> lynn? >> yes, off 101. >> lynn road, the irany was apparently lost on frank. it was mid-morning late november, detective nelson was worried. would he show up? >> you sit in a parking lot by yourself and you kind of go over -- sure your heart races a little bit. i mean it's crunch time and you feel like everybody's kind of depending on you to get this done. and you want it to go well. >> so the idea is you're reeling him in like a fisherman but there are times you don't always know what's going to happen. >> right. could have a fray in the line, have it break. i've had that happen a few times. >> but not this time. there was frank in a brand new lexus suv. >> referring to a less expensive car he'd be driving.
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money from fred shockner is what the cop meant. frank did not take that bait. >> i got to get going. >> hard to tell from the video but frank coughs up the money. >> are they looking at you? >> the detective was inside a van listening to the whole thing go down. >> that was the nail in his coffin. >> so the instant he offered that thousand dollars you knew i got him? >> yeah, i got him. he locked himself into the it. >> and a couple of days later detective birdsall and his partner paid him a visit. >> they basically ask him who's this guy john, i understand you gave him some money and he's like i don't know what you're
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talking about. i come into the room a few minutes later and -- >> whoops. >> yeah, it was like the old look of the century. >> then he realized you were a cop. >> yeah. he just hung his head and he looked -- he looked sick. i think the whole world came crashing down at that point. >> you can see the look in his eyes, like a deer in headlights and he started giving it all up. >> coming up -- >> he would want you to hit with a belt and she would prevent it. >> behind closed doors. you thought all families were like that? >> yeah. it was always just -- that's what families did. >> when "dateline" continues. ws with pronamel repair toothpaste, we can help actively repair enamel in its weakened state. it's innovative. with pronamel repair, more minerals are able to enter deep into the enamel's surface.
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cars, trucks and suvs than any other brand over the last four years. so on behalf of chevrolet, i want to say "thank you, real people." you're welcome. we're gonna need a bigger room. i'm dara brown with hours top stories. mark esper has fired his secretary of navy over a
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controversy. esper said he had lost trust and confidence in navy secretary richard spencer over his lack of candor about conversations with the white house. and michael bloomberg made it official. announcing his run for the white house. now back to "dateline." nearly a month after lynn was cut down at her own back door, her killer was behind bars, but her husband, fred, was still a free man and back in the family home with charlie. the press was in the dark. no one seriously believed that the police now firmly believed that fred shockner ordered and paid for his own wife's murder. as charlie's uncle mark said -- >> never in my wildest dreams even after she was killed because the circumstances --
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nothing pointed at fred. and the police did not point at fred. >> they had their reasons. >> we used them in a lot of respects, and you feel guilty because they're beating their chests and they're upset and they had no idea that the father of charlie is the one that set the whole thing up. >> well, remember maybe some idea. >> i always had nigh suspicions. >> in spite of the fact it was a burglar and the police said it was a burglar, you still suspected your father? >> i didn't want to put it past him as much as like as a kid you don't want to suspect someone of that. it just seemed false. there's little ticks, stuff that just seemed wrong. >> it started the day his mother was murdered, when he and his dad surveyed the house ransacked during the burglary. >> he had me go back and cleanup
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all the jewelry that had been overturned and spilled out. >> what does that do to your mind? >> made me very numb, very numb. i just -- it was a task and i did it, and then i went to bed. >> and your dad went to bed in the house with you? charlie understood his father intimately of course and he alone knew the secret. understood his father in a way that had been hidden from the outside world for years. charlie may have looked like any other happy suburban kid but at home he said he understood normal life to be the constant expectation of moments of terror. frequent unpredictable rages, abuse, a mother desperately trying to protect him. and he would want to beat you with a belt and she would prevent and that would produce an argument between them. >> and then he would beat her.
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often enough as a child i knew what was going on. but then it was normal so i didn't know it was wrong. >> you thought all families were like that? >> i will i had friends come over and they noticed stuff and it was weird for them to notice things and to comment on it. but, yeah, it was always just that's what families did. >> year after year it went on, said charlie, until his mother came to whisper her own secret. she was finally going to leave fred. >> my tucking me in the night when i was 12 or so and just talking about how she was thinking about doing this and that she was so nervous about doing it. and didn't know if it was the right choice or what to do about it. >> what'd you think? >> my first thought was very excited because it was just great to be able to think of getting away from him. >> and then finally more than a
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year later lynn hired family law attorney lisa brandon. what did she tell you she wanted from you? >> she wanted a fair division of the property. >> but said, lisa, fred controlled all the finances. so she didn't know how much money they had as a family? >> no. >> how much money did they have as a family? >> well, including the equity in the home, probably 6 to $7 million. >> which in a legal separation by california law would be split down the middle. lynn also told her about fred's physical abuse, and so with the pending separation lisa worried about lynn and charlie's safety. >> i wanted her to move out of the home with charlie. she wouldn't do it. she wouldn't leave her home. she wouldn't disrupt charlie. he was just starting high school. they'd lived in the neighborhood forever. so she was a sitting target. >> did she understand that it
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was dangerous for her? >> yes. yes. >> and yet she went and did it anyway. >> that's how important getting out of that relationship was to her. she was willing to risk her life, and she told me that. >> lisa told lynn she should at least get a restraining order against fred. >> it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. >> that's what she told you? >> if he's going to kill me, he'll kill me. restraining orders won't stop him. >> too late now, of course. but what about charlie? the detectives worried about his safety, called lynn's brother, mark. he'd gone back across the country to georgia and urged him to invite charlie for an extended visit with he and his wife susan, even though they did not tell mark about their suspicion. >> i was surprised and am still to this day that fred allowed that to happen, but he did.
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>> perhaps fred had more pressing things to think about that. for whatever reason he put charlie on a plane just in time for the murder investigation. telling police he took money from lynn's husband, a lot of it and used a little of it to hire the killer, nick harvey. and then with a little polite arm twisting frank agreed to help set a trap for the suspected mastermind, fred shockner. but wait a minute did you promise him something in exchange? >> didn't promise him anything. >> so why would he do it? >> i think in his mind because we got him on everything else he was trying to dig himself out of a hole. >> maybe frank didn't understand how deep the hole was. as undercover cop chris nelson prepared frank for his big meeting with frank el cubano got
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a call from his wife. >> he actually believes he was going home. he even tells me i didn't kill her. i almost wanted to slap him and said you got someone else to. we used to laugh like is this guy for real? >> frank set it up. called fred's land line, got the answering machine. still lynn's voice. >> it's frank. appreciate it. i'm going to try you on your cell. >> fred picked up the phone. >> you there? >> what's going on bud? >> nothing much. >> and they agreed to meet 7:30 in the evening at a local restaurant. >> i'll try to be there on time. >> okay 7:30, bud. okay, bye.
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>> less than two hours later frank wearing the same hidden camera detectives used to catch him walked into the restaurant to meet fred shockner. >> i set him up with the camera and audio and we got a table, couple tables away three of us to make sure he didn't run. yeah, we wanted to see everybody's reaction. and we had of course audio, we have the surveillance team outside listening to everything. >> coming up -- one problem. 7:30 came and went. minutes ticked by. no fred. >> he was already really paranoid about being setup. >> would he show, and what if he didn't? when dateline continues. show, ae didn't when dateline continues. it takes a village to raise a child.
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face-to-face meeting between the murder middleman and the suspected mastermind, lynn's husband, fred. except fred was late. had he finally realized they were laying a trap? 7:30, 7:33, 7:35. nothing. if he didn't show this would all fall apart. then a signal from the surveillance van. there he was. >> they saw him outside casing the place -- he was already really paranoid about being setup. >> clearly. >> came in with his notepad. >> hey, old man. how you feeling? >> now all eyes were on frank and fred. >> and they both at this point look like they'd been rode hard and put away wet.
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he's tired looking and you can imagine the amount of stress that must be going through him. and the old man didn't like he was doing particularly well either. >> did he look frightened or something? >> yeah, they both looked scared. they looked like trapped rats on a burning ship. >> and as they feared fred was suspicious, he sat down, said not a word but he'd written something on his notepad. >> and at that point he looked at the note that says are you wired. >> i'm not. >> i thought he was going to lie. i thought this guy's going to come to his senses and realize -- >> stand up and turn out and walk out the restaurant. >> but he didn't. >> he stayed, and they talked. frank tried to get fred to admit his role, fred deflecting his attempts. >> you know you and i would not be sitting here if you didn't want them killed. you know that. >> but frank kept going at him,
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and fred finally let something slip. >> i'm scared, fred. i understand you're scared, too. you have to understand we would not be in this if it wasn't for her. >> fred referring to nick harvey, the hired killer. for the first time connecting himself to lynn's murder. but frank kept going after him as if he knew they needed more. >> we wouldn't be her if it wasn't for you. we wouldn't be here. we wouldn't. it's not a question of being [ bleep ] up. what's done is done. he's doing you a favor, not me. he was doing you a favor. if he got caught, that's him.
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he's the one that turned to you. >> it's like watching two old married couples arguing whose fault it was that the dinner was called cold or something. >> but this argument was deadly serious. >> this is your problem. okay? you have to understand this is -- >> no, it's not my problem. it's our problem. isn't it? >> i would have to say it's more your problem. >> fred was still very suspicious of frank, asked a few more times if he was wired. and frank frustrated now tried to goad him. >> i killed lynn, you're saying i killed lynn? >> nope. >> who wanted her dead? who benefitted from it, fred? >> nobody did. >> frank argued like a man who wasn't acting. maybe he wasn't.
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>> oh, really? who wanted her dead? me? >> the tension between the two seemed to reach a breaking point. >> that's why i'm here. >> no, what you're here is trying to incite -- >> why don't you just go home? thank you very much and i'll tell nick the same. have a good evening, fred. why don't you leave, bud? have a good evening. thank you for everything. whatever money i owe you, i'll [ bleep ] pay you back. get the [ bleep ] out of my face. and don't worry about me no more because i asked you a simple [ bleep ] question and you cannot answer it. >> and just as fred was walking away frank gave it one last
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sho shot. >> why don't you [ bleep ] admit what you did wrong? >> you haven't done anything either, have you? that's what you told me on the phone. >> and that was it. maybe not exactly the words the detective hoped to hear but after weeks of dead ends and intense pressure getting fred on tape saying those things finally made his case. what was the mood in the van you were sitting in? >> it was elation. we got him now. >> finally enough evidence to arrest him. but they didn't. they let him go home just to see what he'd do. >> now he's scared.
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>> back at the restaurant frank waited for an all-clear signal from the detectives and the waiter who frequently served the shockner family stopped by to reminisce about lynn. putting frank in a very uncomfortable spot. he wasn't able to complete his thought, and soon fred would be having a very different kind of conversation with the police. coming up -- what a mess. and fred forgot to cleanup. he didn't throw out his trash in time. >> no. >> when dateline continues. no. >> when dateline continues come. ...gently and beautifully. and now with air wick, you can experience nature's scents in your home. with kits starting at just ten dollars... it transforms natural essential oils into a fragrant mist. simply adjust your setting for the perfect balance.
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before he got mixed up with fred, frank, aka el cubano had
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so many possibilities. he'd just recently married a wonderful woman, a schoolteacher who had no idea what her husband had done or what he was facing. but it was too late for that. frank did not go home to his wife that evening. he submitted to a pair of handcuffs and was carted off to jail. and fred did go hominid the watchful eye of the undercover cops whoologist conducted a thorough search of the restaurant for those notes fred wrote. they found nothing. nor did fred contact anyone else that evening. and so the next morning. >> we just showed up at 9:00 in the morning and he had on his pajamas and you could tell he hadn't slept a lot that night. very shocked and very upset while we were there.
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and our response was we're here to arrest you. >> they took him away and when they searched his house, they found one last piece of evidence in a trash can. one of those notes fred scribbled in the restaurant. sloppy nick, he said. he didn't throw out his trash in time. >> no. >> across the country in georgia, charlie got the news. >> yeah, that was -- >> that's quite a place to get to in life when you're happy that your father's been arrested for murder. the murder of your mother, mind you. >> yeah, it's -- i mean, no one would want to actually say, gosh, yeah, that's a good thing. but after everything growing up with him in the house, i'm -- seems like a little bit of justice. almost three years after lynn's
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death the three men charged with her murder finally went on trial and the-dive and the undercover cop both retired now were there. >> it's always nice to see a case through and in my opinion see people -- >> did they give you a special weird look? >> you know when they walked into court the only one that looked good that day like rested and fine was nick harvey. you could tell he'd come to terms with what he'd done. he knew he was never going to see the light of day again. the other two were really struggling with it. they looked really beat. >> they were so different the three of them. they were a very unlikely trio of criminals. >> wendy thomas russell a reporter for the long beach press telegram at the time covered all three trials. nick harvey's was first. >> i would have to say he was
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more brawn than brain. he -- and i don't mean that to be insensitive, but he -- this is guy who took the witness stand in his own defense and he said that he aspired to be a hitman -- >> he said that on the witness stand? >> yes. >> what did you think? >> i thought you're not the brightest on the marquee. and he said that he toyed around with being a hitman, that he had idolized the hulk as a child, the incredible hulk, and he said that he'd taken steroids just to get bigger and, you know, stronger. and it was very hard for the jury to have sympathy for him. and they didn't. the jury found him guilty in about 35 minutes. first degree murder and burglary. next was frank.
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>> he said he wouldn't have done it had shockner not threatened his wife and his in-laws. >> he did it out of fear then? >> literally he said on the stand he had sacrificed his life for his family when we all know he had sacrificed lynn shockner's life for his pocketbook. >> but that was his defense. >> that was his defense. >> the verdict guilty of first degree murder, and now it was fred's turn. >> and the man had aged at least ten years. he looked so frail. >> but this wasn't over just yet. when fred shockner took the witness stand he told the jury he could explain everything. do tell. coming up -- >> he was very defiant and completely maintained his innocence. >> will a jury believe him? >> i had a moment of just
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sitting there and just started crying. hugged my family. >> when dateline continues. ed my >> when dateline continues
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you hold your breath. the world kind of stops. >> a hushed courtroom in long beach, california. fred shauockner caught on tape blaming a sloppy hitman took the stand in his defense. >> he was very defiant and completely maintained his innocence until the end. i mean in the face of this overwhelming evidence he maintained his innocence. >> it was all a tragic misunderstanding, said fred. he didn't pay for murder, just for a used bmw. and all those calls to his alleged coconspirator el cubano
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fred said they were, wait for it, pocket calls and they proved nothing. the jury had a consider all possibilities naturally and there were no shortage of nerves among members of lynn's family. charlie just 17 years old that day watched the jury file back in. >> it's law and order and everything right there. you sit there and everyone comes in, and you hold your breath. the world kind of stops. you don't -- you don't know what the outcome is because they have all the power. whatever they is either the truth or what is going to be the truth. >> a lot of butterflies in your tummy. >> oh, god, yeah. >> he looked at their faces for some sign, waited nervously for justice for his mother. what was it like to hear the words? >> emancipating? it was just unbelievable. >> the verdict, guilty of first degree murder. >> i had a moment of just
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sitting there, and i just started crying. i hugged my family. >> you know, it's interesting you say hugged my family because somebody who doesn't know the whole story might say you just lost your family. but they don't know the whole story. >> yeah, no. they were having my mother's side of the family with me, it was amazing. it's what families should be. they were all there for me. >> the judge allowed charlie to address his father in court. >> i had this whole like speech prepared of this is like vindication of everything but i was so angry just shaking and not really able to get my words out. but i managed to say like i'm no longer your son, i can't believe you would do this. and just you're going to where you belong. >> that would be a pretty scary
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moment, i mean a nervous making moment. >> it was terrifying to know that it actually was going to happen, that this was the culmination of everything. it was a lot of emotion. >> also your way of saying good-bye to him. >> yeah. yeah. >> through all of this fred shockner maintained his innocence. in fact even before his trial began fred did carry out a threat he added right after the murder. he launched a lawsuit against the long beach police department for not protecting his wife lynn. >> he went to the city and filed a claim which is precursor to a lawsuit against the city of long beach. blaming the long beach police department for not preventing the murder of his wife because they had not, you know, followed through -- followed proper
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procedure. >> wait a minute, it's their fault because they didn't prevent me from killing my wife? >> that's right. exactly. >> the claim was rejected. but now on the day of his sentencing he tried to same argument again. >> yes, that was the judge's response, too. he called it -- and he called him a disgusting human being and he did not mince words. >> fred was sentenced to life without parole, they all were. and in a few sentences what did you think the motif of this murder was? >> money. >> in one word apparently. >> for whatever reason 3 or 4 million was not enough. he wanted 6 or 8. >> even from prison fred shockner fought to keep it all for himself, fought his own son, his own blood. tried to prevent charlie from getting a share of the shockner
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estate. and though charlie was eventually granted some of the money, fred kept millions for himself. though how he'd manage to spend it in prison was unclear. we wrote letters to all of them asking to hear from them what happened. fred wrote back and said he was convicted on highly skeptical circumstantial evidence and that there should have been more enough to prove my innocence. nick, now in his 30s called us. he has matured in prison, he said. was mad at the world back then but has found god now. but listen to this, though he takes full responsibility for what he did, he's also been nursing a strange and very lonely conspiracy theory. >> i've always believed police were involved. >> you mean they intentionally sent her back there to be killed? >> yes. >> you don't still believe that,
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though? >> well, i'm not a big believer in coincidence especially in situations like this. >> lots of time to think in prison about things like that. but also about charlie. >> oh, charlie. he -- what i did to charlie is -- it haunts me every day. >> yeah. >> you know i took so much from him. >> but whether nick knew it or not charlie was in the very capable hands of his uncle mark who received a commission from his worried sister lynn before she was murdered. >> if anything happens to me, take care of my son. >> and he did. how do you feel about that boy? >> love. yeah. this one's going to be tough. i always look back at that
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moment as the greatest gift i ever received from the man who i still hate more than any person i've ever known. and my wife and i didn't have children of our own, and now i've got the best son in the world. >> well, it's been great. mark and susan, they're just -- they're great. i love them so much. >> and so in a sad, strange way out of unimaginable evil and loss came love. a real family, an unexpected blessing. what's he done for you personally? having him in your life? >> it's like getting another life. like somebody opened a door and said here's a second chance. >> got a reason to get up in the
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morning. >> damn straight. a reason to live. >> mark and susan are now his mom and dad. he has taken their last name. and charlie has more than survived. he is thriving. >> i'm going somewhere and i'm going fast. >> he got his masters and landed his dream job in theme park design. and he has learned in spite of everything that rarest of lessons, to accept and move on. >> i mean, i know it happened and i know it's influencing me, but it's not defining me. >> but there is one thing that defines him. his mother's character. and that follows him everywhere. >> my mother was just ethereal. she holds a very special place. she's just everything that you think of as good, everything that you think of kind, everything that is just great
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about people. that's what he embodied. and i carry that with me. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. he told me he loved me. i told him i loved him. he said he would be right back. i could hear a commotion of some sort and then i remember hearing gunshots. >> to see him lying there, it was bad. >> it's the website where lovers go to meet. and cheat. >> this was someone looking to have an affair. >> but this affair was about so much more than deceit. >> you couldn't write this as a movie. you couldn't write this as


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