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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  May 9, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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with two of the most precious people on the planet. >> that is all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin, thank you for watching. u fo watching i'm craig melvin. >> and i am natalie morales. >> and this, is dateline. >> her name is pepper. i >> lived a secret life. >> she was kidnapped at age four >> we got in the car, and we never went back. >> she spent decades trying to find her way home again, and she finally made it. or, so she thought. >> i said, i think that i am rhonda patricia christine. i said, do you know her? and there was a long pause. >> her story had many ups and
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downs. >> when i looked at the email, i just could not even believe it. >> but after so many tears, so many years and so many turns in her story. >> i was like, wow. >> there are still more stunning twists to be revealed. >> it is amazing, the best gift ever. >> ♪ ♪ ♪ >> welcome to dateline. a four year old girl was adopted and raised by her kidnappers. for decades, she searched for her family, and her identity. her story has an extraordinary ending, but as it turns out, that ending was just the beginning. here is keith morrison. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> our story begins with this much mother of a teenage daughter.
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a woman who had spent much of her life trying to figure out who she was. what was her name? where did she come from? we will tell you about her long search, hurt discovery, finally of what's felt like truth. but as you will soon see, real truth can be elusive. it can hide. let's begin at the beginning. but at the beginning, all she had was a memory. >> a twin canopy bed, with pink ruffles around it. it kind of waived, over the top of it. >> really, it was dream like. and for years, it was all that felt real in her upside down life. >> and it was all pink and white. everything matched! >> the closet, full of dresses. the dolls, the teddy bears. >> actually, there was a little old-fashioned where he would
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put the baby in the wagon. >> and the reason for those tormenting memories? >> it is a lot of hurt and sadness. sadness for the little girl who did not have a life. >> for most of her, life apart after that little girl's bedroom, she has been pepper, and the baffling terrifying story of what happened to her, kidnapped, held captive for years, is the reason why she gripped that life preserver of a memory. shocking where that memory will lead by the end of this hour. she was, and she was certain of this, an only child, and spoiled most likely, showered with attention, toys and addresses, by parents whose faces she can't quite pull into focus. they are in a little apartment. was it perhaps, san diego? >> it looks like a very happy childhood. like, love was there. >> she knows there were two parents, blonde beehive on her mother, but her name was now lost. there was a nickname, bobby.
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and in those early years, she was always, always there. her father on the other hand, was absent mostly. long stretches away, punctuated by glorious reunions. when she would be bundled up like some china doll and bustled off to the harbor where the navy ships come in. >> we would go see him, because he was coming in from the navy. so, it was an exciting moment. and she would get us all dressed up, and it was, the anticipation of going to the shipyard, having a lot of attention, i think, as a child. >> the memories of how she survived it all of course, all of the trouble. >> holding my mom's hand, having fun with my mom. being in the moment of joy, i don't have bad memories. >> oh, yes. the bad memories. the day everything good went away. it was 1973, though she and her happy little childhood bubble had no idea what year it was. she knows she was not yet five, but it was autumn, someone came to the door with a plan.
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>> i remember a woman coming over, knocking on the door. >> her name was surely. she was a friend of her mothers, she said. she said hey little girls about with her was renée, and that rene was six. a little older, did not matter. they dashed off to her bedroom to play. this is rene now, that room is stuck in her memory as well. thher room was gorgeous, and i sized room for a little kid. she had a cat bed. she had tons of dresses, toys galore. >> and you had none of that? >> no, and i said wow, this is nice! >> an alien world to rene, the most wonderful thing she had ever seen. and while the little girls played in the bedroom, surely was with bobby in the living room, talking. and then she read rene. >> it was time to leave, i did not need to go. i said, can we stay longer? no, but your new friend is coming with, us said is surely. >> i said oh, okay. so you know, she came, and that is how everything started. >> so it did.
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it was to be an overnight, the girls were told. a little fun. they would stay with surely in her los angeles motel room, returned the next morning. that was the plan, said surely. but surely lied. >> we got in the car, and we waited for her to get back. and my life completely changed from that point on. completely >> this woman took you away? >> yes. bizarre. >> and you are not to be taken home again? >> no, i never went back again. >> remember that feeling? >> yes, it was, i wanted to go home. >> she had been kidnapped, must have been. there was no other girl overnight in shirley's hotel room. they only stop there to pack belongings, hit the road, and a blissful childhood enter the fall of history, the memory of a beautiful bedroom. all she had to confront the nightmare, just beginning. >> coming up -- on the road with her kidnappers. >> i knew that everything that was happening to us was
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completely wrong, that was very on edge. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues trelegy for copd. ♪ birds flyin' high, you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ breeze drifting on by you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ it's a new dawn... ♪ if you've been taking copd sitting down,
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the story you will lives in the vivid hear now lives, so really in the vivid, you can touch the but you can protect the memories, up to frighten memory of girls. it two frightening girls. began in it began in a down a down market motel, market motel, whose l.a. neighborhood whose l.a. was most neighborhood was decidedly not decidedly not child friendly. child friendly. it was to it was to be a one night be a one night sleep over with new sleep over with new friend, friends rene. rene. instead the woman instead, the woman name named shirley simply did shirley simply not take her home didn't take her home again. again. instead she instead, she packed some pack some belongings, belongings, but the girls in her car, put the girls in her and hit the road. car and hit the where did they go? road. where did they go? the little girl the little had no idea. girl had no but she did idea, but know that from now she did know that from now on she had on, she had a new name. a new name they called her.
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they pepper called her pepper, pepper smith, pepper smith. she. she was not was not yet five years yet five years old. >> old. >> we lived in cars. we lived in motels. cars, and motels. going from state to and we went from state to state, state, staying at staying at salvation army's to get salvation army's to get a meal here and there. a meal here and there. >> what's it like to live in >> what is it a car? >> like to live in a car? horrible. it's embarrassing. >> horrible. it is embarrassing. >> >> she was she was of course, confused, of course, and confused and terribly fight and at terribly frightened at first. she begged, take me home. shirley ignored her. she imagined running away. >> i have nowhere to go. and i was too scared. >> then as the weeks and months, and then years went by, as her powers of reasoning grew, the question grew, to. did her mother bobby actually give her away? shirley told pepper that rene was her sister. the two girls listened wide eye as shirley as shirley explained explain to to strangers that strangers that she was their grandmother. that their parents had been killed in a car accident. >> i knew that everything that
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was happening to us was completely wrong, at a very, very young age. >> why had she been taken? she didn't know. not for money, certainly. there were no ransom demands. and without peppers burst certificate, shirley couldn't use her to score public assistance. though she did use rene that way. frightened, compliant rene. eager for a mother's love. even if that mother figure was shirley. i >> never wanted to do anything wrong. i felt like if i did something wrong she wouldn't love me. she would give me away. >> wouldn't love me? shirley told her that she was brought into a parsed to drug addict named jerry. that surely save baby renee, race or as a doctor. but kept renee in line by threatening to abandon her. >> did she ever threaten -- >> yes, many times you would do something wrong and she would say, you stop doing that or i'm
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going to send you off to jerry's house. >> and so they lived a life of packing up and fleeing state to say, one flip houston and next, searching for the cheapest place to stay. hunger constant. medical care, nonexistent. when money ran out, as it often did, shirley drove to the nearest truck stop. the girls would bend down in the car and watch shirley sneak off to do -- well they didn't know. and alone and frightened, they held on to each other and watched the shadows of strains men passed by the car. until the night when, terrified and unable to sleep, renee followed shirley. >> she's taking a long time and i was a little scared because i was thinking she left. or she's died or something. so i would go into where they worked on the cars. she's on the side over here. and he's on top of her. and i didn't know what was
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going on. i got scared and then she saw me, as she yelled at me said, get out of here? go? >> at least then that they had a bit of money. but always, pepper was afraid. a free to ask for help. a free to ask why she had been taken. afraid of key shirley threats. >> she would scare us to believe that we were in a better place. she was doing something good for us. >> did you ever understand why she wouldn't take you back home? >> her personality was very up-and-down. very angry. so if i asked questions she would say stuff like, if you want to find your mom, she's on the street. >> tirades were frequent. neglect, part of life. verbal and physical abuse, irregular occurrence. >> she would with us with a belt. slap us. verbally costs at us. verbally abuse us. >> and threatened to send your
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way? >> right. >> i just to the belt. because if you take it -- it's hard to explain. if you just take it, she gets out of the ridge faster, so to speak. >> they went to school when they could. they made very few friends and lost the ones they did make. struggle to be ordinary kids, and then normal teenagers. >> all i wanted to be is loved. that's it. and i never got any kind of love. that i wanted. >> instead, they were trapped. truck stop nomads in the care of women who had seen kidnapped if not one if not both of them. and the death drifted one dumped another, across any number of state lines for years. and then, sometime in the early eighties, they settle down. here. shirley pulled up to this motel in los angeles county, and took a job as the motels cleaning woman, and exchange for free room. and if it wasn't much, at least
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give them some measure of stability. and they signed up at a little school school, junior high for pepper. high school for renee. much to shirley have's disapproval. >> i shirley will tell us, girls don't go to school, they get married. why do you want to go to school? i don't like being the to school. i did like been absent all the time. >> they got themselves up every morning and went to school. and kept going. and then -- pepper was 12, eight of those years with surely when she saw her chance to escape. and seized it. she made herself useful as a babysitter to the couple next door in room 1:09. and when the family moved out of the motel, pepper went with them. but it didn't last long. pepper's new household call in his own spiral of alcoholism and dysfunction, was just troubled and messi as her own life was. she swallowed her pride and moved back to room 1:10, colonial motel.
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even though by then, says pepper, shirley didn't seem to care much what she did. >> i remember when i was trying to soak all, runaway, plant my skin. before it went into action, i was in my mind going, i'm going to show her. she'll care. i remember thinking that. but she didn't care. she didn't come to get me. >> still, having tasted freedom once, pepper was determined to get away from her kidnappers for good. a second time she took the chance. moved out with a family but then a second time had to return. then finally, by the time to turn 16, pepper left for good. but that man she left renee behind, to. rene who so needed pepper and was a little now with shirley. she was my best >> she was my best friend growing up. that was my best. rain we did everything together. we fight like sisters. we did everything together. >> renee was feeling abandoned. >> i was telling her, don't go. stay here. i need you.
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you're my sister. so she went, she did her thing. and i was upset and i was out. >> by 1986, and on her own now. pepper had all but given up hope that she would ever find her real parents. but now she began to encounter a more immediate problem, the inevitable trouble that comes with having no legal name. number certificate. no i.d.. though she was enrolled at school under the name rhonda smith, she had no way to prove this was her legal name. and without some cooperation from surely, her search for such documents seemed hopeless. and then -- >> how did you find out that she was sick? >> she turned completely yellow. they diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. and she died after. that with >> with shirley on her deathbed, pepper try to act like her dutiful. doctor wait to see her regularly, try to make or comfortable. but there was another terribly important reason to see her than. maybe the most important.
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one last opportunity to find out who she was. >> as she was dying, did you try to find -- maybe should make a deathbed confession and say, here are what your parents names are and how to find them. and if that happen? did you ask? >> oh yes. >> and shirley had a response for the girl she rename pepper. the question was, what could she do with that answer? >> coming up. >> if jay-z douglas could be found after 18 years, surely there must be hope for pepper. >> it triggered a lot of my own personal memories. how come i didn't get found? and if felt this still missing? >> but would she be missing much longer? when dateline continues.
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smith for the deathbed of the woman who still in her, with questions burning in her brain. she had to know, who was she? where did she come from? who were her parents? what was your true identity? and at the very least, where could she find the documents that could give her a real life? she took a roundabout route, and asked the question indirectly. >> i took drivers ed, just like any 16-year-old who wants to get their license, wants to be free, to work, and be free from all of this -- have a plan, you know?
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i asked her, i said i need my birth certificate, i need this and that. she told me, they changed the laws. you can't get your drivers license until you are 18 years old. yes, and i was supposed to believe this. as i sit in a classroom, where i have friends who are getting their permits. >> of course. >> she took the lives with her, she was not going to tell. >> what about the birth certificer. the lies stayed with her. >> shirley of course knew the answers, knew the whole bizarre story, but she looked pepper in the, i threw her obvious pain, and told her nothing. she left the lies behind and took the truth through her grave. on july 29th, 1986, at the age of 63, she was buried here, in this cemetery, in an unmarked grave. rene, now at 19, got on with life, moved in with her boyfriend. soon, pepper showed up at their
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apartment, homeless and nowhere else to turn to. and everywhere pepper went from then, on shirley its poison gift followed, because of that women, and what she did, pepper was officially at least a non-person. so it took a little while for determination to come back. she was in her mid twenties, a single mother by then. if only she could find her birth certificate, that could lead her to her parents. anyways, she needed documents to live. she needed a passport, so she contacted state officers, their departments of vital records with perhaps, predictable results. >> tell me what it feels like, when you know that you have to go to an official and ask for something, you really, really, really need, and you kind of know, you think you know how it will go. >> usually, i get emotional. i usually cry. it just brings me to a sad place. >> you'd be sitting across a
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desk from somebody, crying? >> absolutely. >> and they would say, i cannot do that for you, probably? >> you would need this document, this is what you need to provide. >> sorry? >> i have no way to get this document, because i do not know my parents name. i do not know my real name, pepper. >> and once again, pepper felt perhaps, understandably like giving up. but by then, she was living with her daughter south lake tahoe, working as a waitress. and what do you know? hometown girl j c two guard, kidnapped years and years earlier was found. >> the community was just buzzing, all over the place with joy. and i was happy for her, but it triggered a lot of my own personal memories, like how come i did not get found? and i felt still missing. >> so once again, charged up with determination, she launched a fresh attempt. turned out, there is such a thing as adult adoption. find someone to adopt her, and
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even if she could not find her parents, at least she could get an official identity and a birth certificate, and thus, a passport. her friend offered to adopt her, so pepper and her friend applied, and waited. and something quite amazing happened. someone in that great california bureaucracy did some research, and apparently, actually talked to pepper, ask your questions, pulled out records not readily available online. all pepper could offer where the names, bob, bobby and the date of her birth, and somehow, buried amongst all of those files, in all of their hundreds of names, a match. and there it was, it came in the mail after all of these years, a copy of her actual birth certificate. the key to unlock her past, though she had no idea then, looking at that birth certificate, but the appropriate question should have been this: was this her real past? >> coming up, a journey, ending?
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>> but was it, you know? i was like, wow! >> or was it just beginning? when dateline continues. e continues. trength you get fast, 24-hour relief in one drop. make it a pataday with the drop that's right for you. now without a prescription. everywhere. (man) eye contact. elbow pump. very nice, andrew. very nice. good job. next, apparently carvana doesn't have any "bogus" fees. bogus?! now we work hard for those fees. no hundred-dollar fuel fee? pumping gas makes me woozy. thank you. no $600 doc fee? ugh, the printing, the organizing. no $200 cleaning fees. microfiber, that chaps my hands. you know, we should go over there right now and show 'em how fees are done. (vo) never pay a dealer fee. with carvana.
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here's what's happening. idaho could lead to the killing of 90% of the states rules. lawmakers in favor of the bill says it will reduce attacks on livestock, and increased aaron elk herds. the move was heavily criticized by the environmental activists. three people were injured in a shooting in new york's times square. according to the nypd, one was a four-year-old girl who was troy shopping. injuries were not life-threatening. she had to undergo surgery. now back to dateline. >> welcome back to dateline. i'm craig melvin. the woman known as pepper finally has the papers she's waited for most of her life to
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find. her birth certificate. but, where would that little piece of paper lead? here again is keith morrison. >> a 37 years she'd been searching for her parents, her life, her name. and now, just as she had given up every finding the answer, here it was. a copy of her birth certificate. with her real name. in black and white. rhonda patricia christie. and there were the names of her parents, to. robert and barbara christie. >> is it, it oh. i was like whoa, they are my parents. bobby and bob. they were my parents. >> with their names and social security numbers, rhonda and her friend struck down a phone number in ohio. she dal the number. a man answered. it was june 5th, 2010. >> i said, are you robert dean kristie. >> he said yes. i said are you married to a rubber barbara blackwell.
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or or were you married, because i did. no he said yes. i said, i think i'm rhonda christie. or do you know rhonda crisper trisha christie? and then there was a long pause. >> this is who she was talking to. his name is bob christie. >> i almost dropped the phone. she knew i hesitated and she said this is your daughter rhonda. and there was something that clicked in my mind, that i recognize the voice. the rang a bell. >> he called to my mom, barbara, to pick up the phone. he said rhonda's on the phone. she picked up the phone and the first thing out of her mouth was, shirley stole. you >> pepper was shaking inside and out. >> i went into the most emotions i think i've ever had in my entire life. ever. >> the memories were true, or so it certainly seemed. she got on a plane for ohio. they were all of course, 37 years older, and in a way, strangers now.
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but here they were. all the images she had dreamed about. for those 37 long years. >> there you are in your bath. all those roles, to. >> used to be a chubby little baby. look at you, just learning to walk. and smiling in the old way. you had a good life, honey. >> i know. >> so it was happy, and said. comforting. but also deeply strange. because sitting on this couch, pepper heard some stunning revelations. such as -- these were not her birth parents. she had been adopted. and the arrangement was mysterious. and now it was barber's turn to tell the story. shirley had been her friend, she said. had told her about a woman working in the sex trade named jeri smith, who didn't want her babies. and one day shirley showed up
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at barbara's house with a baby she called rhonda patricia smith. barbara could see it was a little iffy. but she wanted that baby so badly. and so, she said, she ignored the red flags. >> no, didn't care. did it really clear. >> she was going to see which she said, that rhonda was loved and cared for by the best parents she could ever possibly have. bob and barbara legally adopted their little princess four years later. in the fall of 1973. and it was shortly after that, said barbara, when shirley and renee showed up at her door. >> and the kids play together. and we visited together. as she asked if rhonda could come spend the night with her with rene. and it took me a while to give an answer to that. i really had to think about that hard. i'm one of these tenderhearted people, and they said well, i
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want her to know her sister. >> sister? why yes. barbara told rhonda she and renee were half sisters. barr daughters of the same mother, who work the streets. barbara said that by then, she didn't trust shirley with rhonda. but -- >> i want rhonda to know her sister. i wanted her to have family. i asked bob and he said no, she couldn't at first. and he relented, let her go. and next morning we went to get her, and they were gone. >> and they didn't come back. bob i'm barbara call the police right away of course. but here's what they said they were told. that the police could do nothing for them. since they had allowed rhonda to leave with shirley, they were on their own. and so, desperate they said, they started their own search. this coverage shirley had taken the girls to relative house,
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several states away. but when they got there, it was too late. all that remained sitting on the porch where the little red shoes rhonda wore the day she was kidnapped. it was hopeless. they returned to their childless home. nothing left but the photographs of the little girl who stopped a growing up for, them. at four. but now, out of the blue had a phone call. and here she was. >> how are you? . >> i'm good. >> it's definitely a gift. >> not only do we get a daughter, we got a granddaughter. >> just in time. barbara had terminal cancer i would die a year later. still, back then kill, they celebrated will renee join the four rounders birthday. and the christie's 30th when anniversary. and then amazing reunion. of course dateline was happy to broadcast all around the country. on march 25th, 2011. we had no idea that something quite unbelievable would happen. because one of the people who
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tuned in that night was a woman named jeri. and oh what a story she had to tell. >> it was a story to sisters had waited a very long time to hear. coming up. >> 99.99%. matt just confirmed. >> when dateline continues. advanced non-small cell lung cancer can change everything. but your first treatment could be a chemo-free combination of two immunotherapies that works differently. it could mean a chance to live longer. opdivo plus yervoy is for adults newly diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, tests positive for pd-l1 and does not have an abnormal egfr or alk gene. opdivo plus yervoy is the only fda-approved combination of two immunotherapies
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story about pepper smith, her lifelong journey to find your family, identity, it was a friday night in march, 2011. the following monday morning -- >> my office received a call. and then i received an email. >> this attorney found ourselves looking at a remarkable message. she had been helping the two sisters deal with their new identity issues. and there it was, the paying of a message on her blackberry. >> when i look at the email, i just could not even believe it. i looked at it for about three times. am i really seeing this? >> it was a woman, claiming to be the biological mother of both pepper and rene, claiming to be the woman who, according
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to shirley and barbara, was a child abandoning, drug adult prostitute, probably dead. could this woman really be their mother? hardly a claim she could take on simple faith. >> i asked her to come in to see me the very next day, which she was very anxious and happy to do. i asked her to bring whatever evidence she had. >> and in that meeting, the woman presented her evidence. >> she brought some photos that she had. photos of pepper and rene, when they were very little. >> she told her she had been a waitress when the girls were little, had a photo of that as well, and a picture of shirley, and also a photo of a man she said was the girl's father, long since dead. she said her name was jeri. >> i asked her immediately, jeri, would you be willing to do a dna test? she said, i will take the dna test, but these are not my children -- i know it.
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>> she put the dna test on a fast track and waited, and within a week, called pepper and running to her office, to here in person, the results of the test. >> 99.99% probability. >> confirmed? >> that means it is confirmed. >> wow, i cannot believe this is actually happening, i can't. >> how soon could they meet jeri, the sisters wanted to know. what was she like? how did she know shirley? we arranged a reunion for the next day. jeri arrived first and told us how she saw her long lost girls on our program. >> i saw the picture of shirley, and went crazy, hysterical. because i knew that who she was. and then i saw the girls. i knew that they were mine. >> after all of those years? >> all of those years, and there they are. >> what did that feel like? >> it felt great. i was hoping that would find my
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children before i died, it because i was getting old, and it was just like a miracle. >> jerry's story? that who shirley who took the girls, have been her friend, turned roommate, turned babysitter. >> she said, i will babysit for, you take care of her while you work. i said, that is great because i really thought that i was blessed. >> first it was renée she looked after, then rene and pepper. then two years later, little brother, raymond leonard smith junior -- wait, brother? it was not just the two girls. there was a younger brother that the girls never knew they had. the father was not around very much, jeri supported them all with what she could make as a waitress. then shirley made a change, a positive one it seemed, at least financially. >> she got this job, at the motel. she got it managing, which was further from where i worked, so i arranged with her to watch
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the kids while i worked. >> it was a godsend, really, sense jeri had to be hospitalized for weeks after raymond was born, and then get back to work, and then find a new home to take the kids to. >> i will come out there on my days off, stay with the kids, spend some time with them. so then, i called her and told her i was going to get the kids. the next day, i went out there, and -- gone. >> not a sign of them. no kids, no shirley. frantic, she went to the police. >> what did you tell them, your children have been kidnapped? >> yes, they took the report, that was the last i heard. >> did you go back, talk to them again? >> i went down the two or three times, they said the same thing, they have not found anything. >> jeri says she did not know who else to talk to, so she looked on her own, and found a year after year, nothing. she had no idea, she said, that shirley had left pepper with
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barbara, who had persuaded the court that she had been abandoned, and thus, could be adopted. or that shirley stole her back again. and then, there they were, telling their story on dateline. telling how shirley and barbara had described her. >> yes, i heard with a said about me. i was not a street walker, i was a waitress, all of my life. >> they also said that you did not really watch your children, you were happy to abandon them. >> i never abandoned my children, never. never ever. i would never, ever do that. >> and she was not a drug addict either, she says. she has not had a smooth or easy life, and for much of, it she has missed her children, and blamed herself for what happened. >> trusting shirley, and for not having those kids under your wing all of the time? >> that is right. >> tell me about that. >> to me, i feel like it was my fault because i put them in the hands of this monster.
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>> ♪ ♪ ♪ we are in a hotel room, in los angeles. jeri is eager, anxious, terrified. visibly shaking. and then, they come around the corner. their first meeting in 37 years. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> it's been a lifetime that we missed. >> oh my goodness, i feel like i am dreaming. i'm really getting it. >> i can't even -- >> can i just stare at you for a minute? >> you can do anything, honey. >> i don't have a memory. >> it is sad, i was there with you guys. >> you are my mom? >> yes, you are my babies. you are my babies, i spent 37 years -- >> and just about here, as they
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clean and cry, something rather magical happens. the center of gravity shifts. >> what happened? >> what happened? >> it is rene who wants the answers. now >> what happened? >> you will know, you will know, i promise you. you were kidnapped. you were illegally adopted. >> but what happened to me? she was adopted, but what happened to me? i could never find you, ever. >> i could not find you either. i searched, and i searched, and i searched. i had no money for a journey, and when i turn dateline on and sought you girls, come on, honey. come on. ♪ ♪ ♪ it is okay. >> i thought you did not care about me. >> no, i loved both of you. a good never not love you, i had to. >> i was so mad at you. i was so mad at you.
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>> honey, i understand. >> i thought that you gave me away, and did not love me. >> they spent hours together here, talking about their pasts, their likes, their dislikes. they're amazing similarities. we gave them a few weeks to get to know each other, then sat down again with pepper and rene. >> so there it is. you have your mother, but what now? were you in a relationship with her? >> well, we are going to move her in with me. >> move into your house? >> yes, yes. once she gets all of her affairs in order. we are going to move her in. >> why? >> because i want her, my husband wants her as well, there. i want to have a relationship with my mom. like i was telling you earlier, i want to go shopping, i want to have lunch. i want to go by stuff. i want to have christmas, thanksgiving, her there with me. >> and pepper? well, for one thing, pepper has
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adopted her real birth name, the one her parents gave her before it was lost in the abductions, the adoptions. it is ronique, ronique smith. >> i feel very content that everything has worked out, finding my identity, my biological father, seeing a picture of him. all of these exciting things going on. but i think that it is not over yet, i do not feel like the journey is quite over yet. it is just starting, this part of it is just starting. >> so it is, because of course, one of them is still missing. >> coming up -- >> my brother raymond is still missing. >> we know that he is out there somewhere. >> when dateline continues. n dateline continues
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began. pepper, now officially ronique, set out to find a burst difficult. and discovered a past richer and more complex than even she dreamed possible. to find first, the mother of her memory. and then her long lost birth mother, to discover that renee was her actual sister. and now to learn she had a brother. raymond leonard smith junior is what jerry called him before he too was snatched away.
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abducted by the babysitter, shirley. where was he now? jeri gave us a copy of his birth certificate. he'd be just about 40. now and our chances of finding, it seemed frankly, slim. we called 40 year old race smic all over the country. there was a race mid in colorado, race with a maryland, in new jersey, and kansas. but did he go by the name race smith? and then, a coal back. it was the race mid from colorado. we had the right name, the right age, place of birth. had grown up without knowing anything any blood relatives. all this re-smith knew was his mother's name. according to his versatile catholic it was, jeri. he was starting to sound a lot like our rig. asked if he would submit to a dna test. he agreed and there was no doubt, we'd found him.
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we bought ray and his fiancée to los angeles hotel and showed him the story of his sisters. in a way, history to. >> i thought that the story itself was said. it sounds like they had a rough life. and it was really similar to mine. >> so it was, and it began the same way, to. when shirley took him from jeri. except ray was turned over to a woman name anime. brown who named him jim. around the only name he knew grown-up. >> she told me he adopted me. and i was also shipped around a lot. from home to home because she had a lot of health problems, from what i was told. >> he was neglected, he said. and often abused. most around for years. until anna brown shipped him off to a colorado couple when he was 14. and that's when he found his birth certificate. started calling himself ray
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smith and began puzzling over the apparently unanswerable questions of his life. >> why did and lynn name me jim brown if, my name is really ray. how can i never knew about jeri, things like that. and i wondered, you know, was i kidnapped? >> no answers from anna brown. who died soon after that. and as for life in colorado, by the time he was 16, -- >> things were getting a little rough. maybe because of my past, i wasn't a very easy kid. so i was put in took foster care. >> and then, he graduated from high school. he got a job, moved in with some friends. and started his own rock band. this youtube video shows him singing lead. and for all he has wondered about his past, he'd comfort to believe he would go to his blood grave without ever meeting a blood relative.
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until now. >> wow! they are actually in the same building i'm in right now. that's amazing to me. >> and here they were. >> oh, my baby. >> hello. >> oh, it's been forever. >> it's great to see you. >> meeting family for the first time. >> you kind of look like me. [laughs] >> after so many years. >> this is the first time meeting my blood. >> i know, a stew. >> it's great. it's so great. >> and this is hope peppers desperate search for a low war memory of a long lost childhood she imagined. for a better. >> it's good to see you, mom. >> oh, good to see you too. >> the family that was stolen, found. >> amazing, it's the best thing ever. >> they sat here for hours, share their photos, got to know
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each other. and need plans, like families do. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. u for watching breaking news right now on msnbc, china says debris from the rocket that you see there has plunged back to earth, into the indian ocean. spring major cities but sparking sharp criticism from the u.s.. >> a historic cyberattack shutting down the largest fuel supply in the u.s.. and it's raising big concerns about our national security and prices of the. pump plus, people now see the department fully expose. it has declared its unrequited


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