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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  April 3, 2022 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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thanks to a young woman, and a little dog who fought for her life, and won. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline". >> marie was a very loving person. she had a heart of gold. what happened to this woman? my job is to be a truth teller and seek out the truth. i wanted to solve it. >> her case was a mystery for years. the mom with a tender heart and tough as nails career. >> she was part of the sheriff 's department. her ultimate goal was to try to get into the fbi. >> she found a new sense of
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purpose in the church. her pastor and his wife, like family. >> they had taken her in. they were helping her out. >> it's like, i'm proud of you. you're finding god. >> then, one baffling text and she was gone. >> i go, i know, i probably watch a lot of "law & order", but i have this really gut feeling. >> because i was a mom, i just knew she didn't leave on her own. there was no way she left that baby. >> two moms at opposite ends of a mystery. could one get justice for the other? >> this case for sure was an investigator's worst nightmare. >> soon, clues to a hidden life. >> a very amorous, romantic, wild relationship. >> it was lustful. oh, my goodness. >> there were secrets here. deadly once. >> it hit me hard. i'm like, no, no, no. >> come to jesus moment? >> it was, yes. >> i was scared.
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>> hello and welcome to "dateline". marie carlson was a force of nature. enthusiastic, spirited, beautiful. but behind the radiant glow, she hid a darkness. for a while, marie drifted and then a pastor and his wife welcomed her into their life. it was a spiritual awakening which made marie's sudden disappearance all the more mysterious. it would take a detective with a special bond and some divine intervention to find out what happened to marie. here's keith morrison with "secrets on the emerald coast". >> how do you catch a dancing sprite? you put her in a bottle? can you package the joy she brings? can you keep it when she goes? >> she was like a gravitational pull. >> her name was marie. marie carlson.
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>> she was magnetic. >> when she was happy, she could make the hold world sing. >> lifted life to the fullest, is what marie would tell me. you know, you might not have tomorrow. >> and so, she offered herself, her goodness. gave her vulnerable heart and stored her secrets until -- what happened? but she was always that way. from the time of the very first secret in her life. she was born in the philippines to a single mother. then taken in by the family of an american serviceman. and it was really years later when she learned that kind serviceman was actually her father. which meant that esta bridges, the bright's best friend she grew up with, was also her sister. what was that like to find that out that she is -- actually your sister? >> i was happy. i was really happy. because i always thought she was since we were little girls. >> when they got older, esta moved to florida and lived together. the location, ideal. >> we chose an apartment that
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was behind me karaoke club. so that we could just go there all the time. we were stars. >> and she wore pink. always pink. >> it was her personality. it's full of life. >> and always trying to perk up everyone else with her favorite word, beautiful. >> my gosh, she so beautiful. you know, i want to be like her. but she always used to tell me no, you are beautiful. >> she loved that word. >> kay barber was like a mother to marie. her's the second family to take marie in when she was 18. >> marie's nickname that i gave her was rosy. because she was always just peachy and rosy and happy. >> but she was when she met jeff carlson. and he fell hard. >> and it was like, instant. >> so, they married. and then they had a daughter named paris. and they thought their life together would be grand. marie got a college degree in
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criminal justice. became deputy sheriff. >> her ultimate goal was to try to get into the fbi. >> but then for all the love between them, there were issues. jeff learned there were more secrets. that as a girl, had marie been sexually assaulted. and sometimes her love and joy were chased into a darker place. >> the biggest issue was she didn't love herself. >> they tried, but the marriage didn't last. and after that, marie drifted a little. jobs fell through. she had to move frequently. jeff suggested paris, then three, would have a more stable life with him. >> she fought it initially, but she agreed that it was probably for the best. so, paris was with me. >> though she saw paris often, and called all the time. and then, marie finally found what her vulnerable, loving soul seemed to need. >> i was actually happy for her, because she found god.
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>> marie had found a spiritual home at the calvary emerald coast church. it was hardly a fancy cathedral. the place was in a strip mall. but fancy wasn't the point, salvation was. here, finally, marie felt right. >> jesus is saying, you know what? you are missing out. >> the pastor was a charismatic man named james flanders, who preached the bible four square. preached in jeans, sneakers. lived streamed and youtubed his sermons. >> it was a very happening place. >> jason anderson was the youth pastor. >> i fell asleep listening to his sermons. [laughs] >> but more than that, the pastor and his wife, james and tanya flanders were known for their big hearts, their charity. and thats when for a third time, a family took in marie. >> she saying that she was there until she got on her feet. >> but a whole year went by. and then, what was coming couldn't be hidden. the story floating around?
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there had been an abusive boyfriend who abandoned her and left her pregnant. and in july, 2011, marie gave birth to a baby girl and named her grace. the pastor and his wife took care of both of them. >> it was explained to me that they were helping her out. that she was down on her luck. >> she was by all appearances, saved. spiritually by faith, and practically by the pastor and his wife. so, imagine the surprise, when a strange group text message popped up on the phones of her family and friends. do you still remember the words of that mass text? >> she said that yesterday she left for long beach to do something that she always wanted to do. she didn't want us to try to stop her. her last words were i love and appreciate you all. >> but the biggest surprise?
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marie did not take her three month old baby. she left grace behind with the pastor and his wife. and right away, her sister esta sensed that something wasn't right. she called her family. >> i go, i know i probably watch a lot of "law & order", but can you find out what is going on? because i have this really gut feeling -- she said oh, you watched too many of those kind of shows. i'm like, no, this is different. >> it was the fall of 2011. the very same time that a detective named nesli suhi-moore became a mother. a fact, which as you will see, may have made all the difference. >> you get a better understanding of what it's like to love somebody to the end of the world and back. >> it was almost like fate intended to tie these two together. in the mystery of love and lies and loss. >> where had met marie carlson gone? the detective who had just become a new mom felt a special
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connection to the case. coming up -- >> the investigator said, we're going to open a case. which surprised me. >> the antenna must have gone up? >> it did go up. >> i just knew that she didn't leave on her own. there was no way she left that baby. >> when "dateline" continues. get pataday once daily relief extra strength. the first and only 24-hour eye allergy itch relief drop without a prescription. a single drop of pataday once daily relief extra strength works on the cells that make your eyes itch. fast. in minutes you get relief that lasts 24 hours. that's a full day and night in one drop. available everywhere my a1c stayed here, it needed to be here. ruby's a1c is down with rybelsus®. my a1c wasn't at goal, now i'm down with rybelsus®. mom's a1c is down with rybelsus®. (♪ ♪) in a clinical study, once-daily rybelsus®
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without talking to your doctor. when you help heal your skin from within, you can change how your skin looks and feels. and that's the kind of change you notice. talk to your eczema specialist about dupixent, a breakthrough eczema treatment. >> marie carlson had notified family and friends she was leaving for fort walton beach and nobody could figure out why or where she went. and this was very strange.
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she left her three month old baby in the care of her pastor, james flanders and his wife, tanya, and not her family. not the woman she looked to as a mother figure, kay barber. >> it was heartbreaking. it was heartbreaking. >> marie's ex-husband, jeff carlson, got the text, too. didn't make sense to him that she would leave without calling her seven-year-old daughter, paris. kay called jeff and said she he should file a report. >> she said, i don't know what's going on but i think something happen. and i said, yeah i agree with you. >> and then just called the okaloosa county sheriff's office to report marie missing. >> the investigator said, we're going to open a case and investigation on this, which surprised me because she's an adult. she could've just left. >> because marie was very adventurous, she liked to travel. and when the mood struck her, sometimes she just took off for a few days on some women. but some things seem to different this time. >> she would've never have left
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without talking to me about it and talking to paris. >> she'd been gone a week when the sheriff asked detectives keith matz to look into it. that takes a message, something off, said her family. >> this doesn't sound like marie. >> so when you got that one, the antenna must have gone up? >> the antennas did go up. >> detective nesli suhi-moore didn't hear about the case then. because -- on maternity leave. >> correct. and i came back two weeks after she was initially reported missing. >> and that's when nesli heard from other detectives about the case keith was working on. >> poor keith. had no idea that i was going to come bully my way into the investigation. >> and why did you want to bully your way into the investigation? >> i think the connection of just having a child. i just knew that she didn't leave on her own. >> so here they were, partners. the young detective who happen to be a brand-new mother, and
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the veteran who had seen just about everything. and who soon learned from friends and family that marie was deeply attached to both her daughters. >> she had a heart of gold and loved her paris more than anything in the world. >> but what happened in her life? and how did she end up with another baby? >> from esta, the detectives learned about the divorce and how marie had loved her lost her job. and how the pastor and his wife offered her a place to stay. but the questions about baby grace? said esta her relationship with marie was always supportive but not judgmental and when marie didn't tell her who the father was, she didn't push the subject. >> i never questioned her because will marie tell me in her own time. if she wants to tell me. i've learned with my sister, i never pry. >> but that was the job of the detectives, nesli and keith to pry. hopefully to find marie. one of their first calls was on her church pastor, james flanders and his wife.
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impressive guy, they discovered. james flanders. what was he like? >> very charismatic. i would say he was good at his job. >> i wonder what it would be like to live listen to a preacher? >> you can youtube him. >> yes, you can. >> we all at times forget the promises of god's word. >> the pastor grew there calvary emerald coast church from scratch. spread it through youtube. and by the time marie began attended tending, every service filled up. >> they were a tight-knit family, that church. >> but now with marie gone they were caring for little grease. so, did the flanders have any idea what happened to marie? perhaps they knew who the father was. and where that abusive boyfriend might be found. and oh, yes, there was a story all right. >> coming up -- questions mount and leads are running out.
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it was time running out, too? >> he searched it but there was nothing to search. it was clean. this case for sure, was an investigator's worst nightmare. >> when "dateline" continues.
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church in fort walton beach florida was much more than a place to gather on sunday morning's.
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led by -- this place was a beacon of charity to. the pastor and his church sacrifice their own needs to send money to the victims of katrina. and when marie carlson needed help, they took her into. >> that's what pastors do for the congregation. >> but now? -- >> i'm left with a missing person who's vanished off the surf. >> a week and a half after murray vanished, or drove away, or whatever she did. the detectives went calling on the flanders, who said that they fully expected that marie would return soon. at this was not the first time that she took spur of the moment trips. >> not to the point where she would be reported to law enforcement as missing though. she would come. back >> although they told detectives they were quite worried about marie's state of mind. >> they said that it was a down ward that spiral. >> they said that she was depressed? >> yes. >> what marie could have wild
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mood swings, they knew that she had a diagnosed mood disorder. did they tell you that she was bipolar? >> yes, that was bipolar, that she was taking medication that she was overmedication probably because of her giving birth of the child. >> but there was another prescription bottle to well >> and they also showed us a bottle that was empty, that was linked to the fact that she had taken that medication and this would use it to hurt herself. >> the day she left, james told detectives he was so worried about her state state of mind, he stayed at home. >> james said that she was acting up and he didn't -- >> he was afraid the baby would -- >> yes. >> then, late that afternoon, said pastor, james marie said she was tired, went to lie down. tanya took the baby out shopping so marie could rest. the pastor said he waited around for a bit.
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talk to her briefly when she woke up and went out for a run. and when he returned, marie and her white mazda pick up truck were gone. strangely, the flanders said, marie had packed her bags but didn't take them. >> why would she take off and not take her bags with her? >> anyway, said the flanders, when she did not come back that day or the next, they drove around town looking for her. went to the airport. maybe she parked her car there? and flown away? but did they find? it >> they did. james said that he found it in a long term parking. >> at least, part of the mystery was solved, said the pastor. she must of flown off to visit someone. they took her pick up home. so, the mazda but -- what did you do about that car when you got your hands on it? >> we searched it but there was nothing to search. it was clean. >> they went to the airport. >> we check the airlines, there was nothing.
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she didn't fly out. >> so, why would marie one's car be at the airport if she didn't fly out of there? of course, she could be trying to hide her tracks from snooty friends and family. or, what if someone else took the car to the airport. someone who wanted to make it look like she'd left town. rather fishy. then the detectives had an idea. you know the machine that spits out tickets when you enter an airport parking lot? that very take it was goes back to the toll booth when you leave. >> keith and i went to the little toll booth where you give them your take it. >> maybe, thought the detectives, the parking ticket for must us -- marries mazda's would be there. but a more important question would be by whom. >> we were thinking it we would get a thumbprint, or a fingerprint, and we went through every single one of them until we found the one marie that's car had received.
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>> and yes, they got a print. but no, it was not clear enough to tell who's it was. then, another thought. >> hey, let's go pull up the surveillance video. and of course -- >> you looked at all of it. >> know the video was not working during the time that we needed it. this case, for sure, was an investigator's worst nightmare. >> deadens everywhere. >> yes. >> and weeks went by. no sign of marie anywhere. time to embrace the thought that they had all along. and it was not a good one. >> keith and i both know we have a missing person. but we believed that we were dealing with a homicide investigation. but this is the hardest homicide investigation you can be given, one without a body, and we didn't even have marie. >> coming up, the startling secret that marie kept from just about everyone. >> i went up and i put my hand on her stomach and i asked, what's going on with this?
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-- sarah palin says she's running for congress. her announcement, quote, -- empty shelves and gas prices and vowed to, quote, combat the left socialist, america last agenda. palin is seeking to fill the seat held by don young for almost 50 years, before he died last month. now, back to dateline. >> marie carlson disappeared without a trace. she did take her clothes or her baby. adding to the mystery marie's car was at the airport, but you never got on the plane. was she depressed, that's what the pastor and his wife thought.
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short on clues, the detectives thought they knew one thing, did marie not just vanish, and this missing persons case turned into a murder investigation. here is keith morrison with "secrets on the emerald coast". >> what does nest of puzzles. what happened to marie carlson? where did she go? did you go anywhere? and what about grace, the baby she left behind, who, for example, was the father? churches tend to be behaves of gossip so the detectives asked around. >> she had a boyfriend, was involved in an abusive relationship. she was beat. up >> this is a member of the calgary emerald coast church. >> she did want to go back to the guy. they did want to keep the child. >> in other words, she was gonna have an abortion. but pastor flanders and his wife had strong views about abortion, and when they discovered her situation, they
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offered to help solve her dilemma. >> they were going to adopt the baby. >> the flanders had an older daughter, who always wanted an older child, but one miscarriage after the other -- and, so as this church elder tell the detectives, the pastor and his wife came to an arrangement with marie. >> she would stay three months to nurse the baby and then she would leave. that was my understanding from before the baby was born. >> with the baby? >> no, the baby was a gift for the flanders. >> a gift? maybe. it was just like marie to be generous to ward the couple who were so generous to her. but to skeptical detectives, especially this brand-new mother, something about this story did not sound quite right. the father, for example, the fact that the alleged abuse of guy didn't seem to exist. but then they talk to ex husband jeff and the story he heard, completely different.
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and he came directly from marie when she went to visit jeff shortly after getting pregnant. >> i put my head on her stomach and i said, what's going on with this? and she wasn't really showing. and her story at that time was, while i'm just being assertive -- so we did a type of artificial insemination. >> well, well, well. the pastor was the sperm donor. in this new story, marie's gift was to be the pastors artificially's surrogate. but why the conflict of stories? to find, out the detectives consulted three special church ladies. tanya flanders closest confidence. >> we call them the inner circle. >> and the inner circle said, yes, tanya told them. but swore them to secrecy. but then, tanya gave up a little more. the method was really homemade. >> i remember them saying, oh
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it was with the turkey thing me. >> now she's got a secret. >> yeah at that point. >> at that point? the, yes that because tanya could not just leave it there. the next time, she admitted something very, very shocking. >> and tanya said, well we did it the old-fashioned way. >> james and marie had sex which, told tanya told the ladies, was okay with her. and as months passed and marie started showing, there was a baby shower. but not for marie, this baby shower it was for tanya. she put a balloon under her shirt as a funny photo with marie. but if the story came out, it could threaten everything that she had built in the past. and as i got more, and more, and more into weird stuff. it was just that the stakes got higher?
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>> right. imagine the secrecy that the inner circle, that tanya told the truth, to that it's james's baby. >> but not a lot of secrets -- the detectives invited james and tanya to voluntarily come in for a chat. but only tanya showed up. and here in this little room in the sheriff's office, she let it all come out. about that night of sake and sex, when grace was conceived. >> yeah he had a little bit too. i was the only one that was. but yes, i was there. >> yes, in the room. but of course she was, said tanya. and almost casually. she revealed the heresy that, should it ever become public it should ruin. >> was marie going to move in and she would be number two. >> for a? wife or whatever you call them. >> sister wife. >> it was, in short, polygamy,
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or their homegrown version of it. tanya told detectives she understood the bargain very well. >> i've always seen a relationship as -- sex is not a relationship. a relationship is to people coming together. and sex is just a bonus. >> a very secret bonus, of course. kept from almost everyone. but inside the bubble of their relationship, tanya said, they were happy. >> she goes, you know what? i am so glad that you are going to be raising grace. she said, i'm so glad that i'm gonna be able to do that with you. and i thought, you know, how cool is that? >> but then. then marie gave birth, and it wasn't cool for marie, not anymore. and certainly not adoption. >> every time we started to broach the subject with her, she did get withdrawn. >> so, maybe tanya would not get baby grace?
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maybe marie wanted it all, the baby and james, all for herself. that's what this member of the inner circle believed. >> but i -- did i hear that from marie, that moore marie wanted. james >> did tanya strike back somehow, fight for her marriage by getting rid of marie? >> listen to how church members quote tanya's words. >> she's basically like, james would never -- that was kind -- of >> shockers? >> i told her, you are not capable of killing. her but tanya leans over and goes, he couldn't, but i could. >> so wouldn't that lead you like a bloodhound to? tanya she would have a motive? >> she. but >> tanya, now the only mother figure in grace's life, did she know more than she was saying? did she do something? >> did someone in the church have a confession to make? coming up, a confrontation in
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the congregation. >> this is a, forgive my saying, come to jesus moment. >> it was the hardest thing i had ever had to do. >> and divine intervention. a sudden earth shaking tip. >> i remember getting that tip and thinking, no way. >> when dateline continues. for adventure. your home... for romance. your home for big savings. [ laughs ] hey, mom, have you seen m-- ew. because when you bundle home and auto with progressive, your home is a savings paradise. bundles progressive. your home for savings.
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think different. >> an attentive church goer might have noticed the intuition of an idea and the pastor when -- he mentioned a couple of races in the old testament that seem to approve, somehow, of a polygamy. >> he wanted to justify his relationship to everybody else, through a biblical sense. >> so he went to the old testament and pulled up those few lines that suggested polygamy? >> that's correct. >> we if it was -- one and the very practical polygamy and the home of the pastor was carefully under wraps. so did tanya worry about what might happen? >> that's what she was covering up. she had to protect james and protect their world. >> did she do something to marie to protect james? two months after marie she disappeared, the detectives got permission to look at the cell phone records of all three of them. would they prove tanya was with marie when she vanished and,
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thus, did something to? her >> cell phone tower information from the area -- >> no. nowhere near marie. so, they check the cell towers for james's phone, and where do you know? when marie sent that last text message saying she was leaving town. both her phone and the pastures pinging off at the same cell tower two blocks from his house. and when marie's was drop mazda was dropped at the airport -- >> we had james's phone touching near the airport. why would his phone be near the airport? >> well either james innocently drove marie to the airport, or he drove her car there to cover up a crime. no way to prove it either way, so they were stuck again. which is when jason, the youth pastor, remember him? out of the blue, jason came to call. he had something the detectives
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needed to hear, he said. it takes a certain amount of courage. >> absolutely. we would have never known had jason never come forward. >> known what? the secret incident that got junior pastor jason involved. it happens shortly after marie disappeared. will it happen after james activist church elder for help. >> i said what's going on? does this have to do with marie what? >> he said i can't tell. you he never once had anything to me else but, it's bad. >> james seemed suicidal, said the elder. so he called a doctor friend, and the doctor committed the preacher to a psychiatric ward. for ten days. during which time, jason took over preacher duties. but then, jason hurd things, not about what happened to marie, but about the polygamy. another church leaders confronted him and tanya.
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this was a come to jesus moment. >> this was the hardest thing i ever had to do was to confront my pastor -- >> your mentor? >> sure. >> and james admitted it. he had been sleeping with two women in the same house. and then, youth pastor jason told the detectives, in that cloistered setting, james kept talking. and told a terrible story. >> him and marie have had a physical or to caution before she went missing. and she had scratched him on his arms. >> james insisted marie was still alive the last time he saw her. >> i was in shock of everything. >> that was it. he could not continue his posturing, james would have to resign. he announced that he and tanya were leaving town. >> they were supposed to leave the following morning to say goodbye to some church members and lo and behold around 12:00 12:30, they got in that truck
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and went to arizona. >> they fled. >> like thieves in the night, with baby grace. it was a few days after they left when jason went to the police to tell his disturbing story. >> they had a physical run in, the day that she went missing. >> then a piece of luck. before they left, what marie's friend k asked if they gave her was marie's computer. the bad news was that it had been erased. but -- >> i brought it to the sheriff 's department for them to take a look. >> we had our forensic tech reanalyze the computer. and it gave us a beautiful copy of her phone download that she had done when she backed her phone up. >> but maybe it was not so lucky. there were thousands of text messages, but they were on unreadable jumble of symbols and words. >> this particular coin -- >> though, look at this? marie shot this video that did
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survive, showing the pastor talking golden silver online. apparently while running the church. >> over $500. let me tell, you that's exciting stuff. >> was james just a pastor or a part-time flim-flam man? >> so this is where things stood when an omnibus tip came in. startling, if true, it would solve the case. >> and in the tip it says that james buried her in the backyard. >> that's some tip, what >> i remember getting that have been thinking, no way. who would kill someone and bury them in their own backyard? >> it could be bogus of course, just another false lead. but they were hopeful. >> we brought cadaver dogs and we didn't find anything. >> nothing. >> no. >> nobody. so, what happened to marie one?
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>> more months went by, police kept trying to speak to james but got no response. >> hello, this is -- james >> and after a whole year, they tried again and he picked up. >> i had been asked by our attorney not to talk to anyone without him there. >> and he did talk, he talked for two hours in fact from his car. making it sound like he was the victim. >> what emotions have i felt over the past year and a month, you know? anger at marie four going and not letting us know what's going on. and then back to anger at myself for not making a phone call to get her help. and anger at myself forever letting the relationship became when it came. >> the pastor said that he knew he was the prime suspect. >> i am terrified of the prospect of marie taking her own life. and if she did -- and i pray she didn't -- i hope she did it very, very, very, very, very, very, very far away.
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because if they find one little bone that somehow could be connected with her and it's my fault. insurance the way that they would look at it -- >> you know where marie it is? >> no. >> did you kill marie carlson? >> no. >> and that was that. they were stalled. was marie missing. and the case was getting very cold. >> coming up -- new revelations from the pastor. >> they were sending pornographic photos, back and forth. from the church. who and an answer at last to the biggest mystery above all, where was marie? >> they passed me a note saying i miss her. >> i was devastated. the guilt, the feeling that i could've found her. six months after she was reported missing. >> when dateline continues.
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case doesn't get better with each. it just gets colder. when state attorney bill eddins was an optimistic it was ever would ever be solved. what chance did he have? >> i really felt it was about a 50 50 chance of it been solved. >> eddins decided one of his most experience prosecutors, angela mason to work on, it. >> she was an optimistic either.
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>> i was certain leave foldable in that i didn't have a body. i was also vulnerable with the tanya element. that people thought she could be a suspect. >> and then, three years after marie disappeared, the most amazing thing happened. marie's computer yielded to a new forensics program. and outs filled with blushing clarity text messages between marie and james. >> i love you. i love you so much. and getting graphic details of what he wants to do with her. >> kind of prone to graphic? >> pornographic even to the point they were sending pornographic photos. >> with each other? >> from the church. >> some things are hard to see. oh, and, most important -- everything stopped the day she disappeared. >> no credit cards, no phones. i thought that was strong evidence that she was infected and not in fact missing. >> and her last conversation with a family member was -- >> she went out of the circumstances she was in. but she wasn't really behind it.
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>> and then, there was this. >> one of those sermons posted on youtube just a month before marie vanished. and now in the evidence file. >> whenever someone is backstabbing me, lying about me, gasping about me, trying to tear me down or whatever -- you know what i want to do? my feeling say choke the life out of them. [laughs] >> is that what the pastor did too marie? >> the detective spelled out their case. circumstantial, difficult. but the prosecutors bought it. and james was flanders charged with second degree murder. persistence paid off. >> we were four and a half years in. most people would've given up by now. >> but as the pastor waited in jail for his trial, his attorney and former church member glenn swiatek was optimistic. >> what did you think your chances were if you went to trial? >> i do believe they would have second degree murder.
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they didn't have anybody. >> maybe not. that as the pastor and his attorney looked at the evidence that might put him in prison for life, just before the trial, they made a deal. the state reduced is charged from second degree murder to manslaughter. and james agreed to tell them what he did to marie and where he put her. marie's family grudgingly agreed. >> that was the hardest thing. but i wanted to know where my sister was. i didn't want to go years and years and years and not know. >> as much as i just absolutely heated to agree to it, i knew i was that was probably the only way. >> first, was as part of the deal, the pastor told the story of marie. of the polygamy arrangement. >> it was as if she was another wife. okay? although we never had a ceremony, or anything like that. >> he said marie even had a name for their relationship. >> marie called it a throuple.
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>> throuple. then the pastor offered his version of that last awful night. he claimed that marie was in a downward spiral, mentally, and erupted after he told her she should be hospitalized for depression. >> she hit me in the chest and i grabbed ahold of her. and just hugged as tight as i could. in the scuffle, we filled down on the floor. when we hit the floor, we hit it hard. when i realized something was a right, i rolled hero for end -- she wasn't breathing. >> a fatal bear hug? not possible. thought nesli. and then she breezed for the answer she'd waited five years to hear. >> did you bury marie in the backyard? >> i'll tell you exactly where it's at. >> is that where you buried her? >> yes. >> and at that point, the detective got up and left the room. >> nesli past me a note that
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said i mr.. >> i was pretty devastated. i was in that backyard in 2012. >> not like you didn't look. >> yeah, but, you know human nature. you still have the guilt. the feeling of i could've found her. six months after she was reported missing. >> the pastor insisted that tanya was around. we shopping. knew nothing. >> did you ever get her buried before tanya came back? >> oh, yeah. yeah. >> do you wonder whether tanya had more to do with this? >> i think that will always be in the back of our minds. that, you know. i think she may have known more than she wants to see. >> but tanya was never charged at her defense attorney said she was truly shocked by james 's confession. >> i can tell you as a matter of fact, i'm having to tell her what happened, she did not know. >> later that afternoon, nesli escorted james flanders into
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his former backyard, where he marked with a little flags, the spot where he buried marie carlson five years earlier. and then he fell on the ground, crying. and told her, i'm sorry. what an act, thought nesli. it took hours, but finally, almost five feet deep, wrapped in a blanket, they found what was left of marie. >> i was shaking. i was crying so much. i don't think i've ever cried so loud. >> nesli and prosecutor angela mason went, to. >> it's my fault. >> back in court that afternoon, was james flanders sentenced to 15 years. with good behavior, he'll be out in 11. free to join in tanya arizona and grace, whose mother he killed. >> he's going to get to have a life after he's done. it's marie gone forever. she doesn't get a life.
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especially with her kids. which is for most mothers, the world. >> jeff carlson had to tell his daughter, paris, her mom was not coming back. >> it was easy. what do you say? you don't know how to prepare them for the future of living with this. he deprived her of her mother. >> later, marie's family and many others, gathered for a celebration of marie's life. they did her favorite thing. the saying karaoke and nowadays, when marie's daughter, paris, comes to visit her cousin's daughter. it to sit down at the piano amply. make music, just like their mothers, years ago. and grace? >> i want to tell her all about her mom. it's one of those where i just -- i want to show her your mother
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really did love you. >> maybe someday she'll know about that uncontained-able woman, who will she stayed, brought joy, marie. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline". i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. >> i'm craig melvin. i'm natalie morales, this is dateline. >> is it tied my arms and sit tight my legs, stuck tape my legs, are no words. i'm sitting there hysterical, it's terrifying. >> she thought he was mr. right, confident search until the good doctor seemed to turn sinister. >> he put his hands over my face and said go ahead and leave.


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