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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  March 10, 2017 9:00pm-10:59pm EST

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wouldn't even be a question. >> reporter: her name was sarah. a sweet single mom, the baby in a big-hearted family. >> we tried to protect her in any way that we could. >> reporter: a family turned army when she vanished. >> this is how many people we have right now. >> we just started searching. >> they just wanted to find her. that kind of emotion really drives you. >> reporter: where was she? >> was someone following her? did someone attack her?
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>> reporter: under scrutiny, the ex-boyfriend. >> people were pointing fingers at him. >> reporter: and three others she encountered that night! >> i was scared. >> reporter: how many times did they talk to you? >> 30 plus! >> reporter: two tantalizing clues. a handprint. >> the subject had blood on their hand. >> reporter: and a trail on twitter. >> incredibly powerful. you can almost see this happening in real time. >> reporter: could she help solve her own mystery? >> she's fighting him off. >> it was so emotional. >> i wanted to jump out of my seat. never in a million years would you expect something like that. >> i'm lester holt and this is dateline. here's andrea canning with "finding sarah goode." >> reporter: on long island, about 10 miles down the shoreline from the mansions, the fancy cars, and the elites of the hamptons, is a blue collar beach town some call 'the poor
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man's paradise.' but life was rich for these brothers and sisters in mastic, ny filled with the love of a large tight-knit family. all that was taken away one warm evening when evil rolled in with the summer tide. their youngest sister was missing. >> we just want you to come home safely. >> reporter: and for better or worse, this family would go to extraordinary lengths to find her. >> we're going to scour those woods right now. >> we were our own investigators. >> here's me and five of the biggest guys you could probably imagine, knocking on your door. we're wanting answers. >> if you do not have a group, one right here. >> reporter: you ever seen so many people so involved in a case before, non-law enforcement? >> gratefully, no. missing person cases, especially missing girls, they always get everybody's emotion, you know, because it's just so horrible. >> i always tell her i'm sorry
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that it happened to her. >> reporter: 21-year old sarah goode was the little one with the big personality. her older sisters, samantha, lizzy, tabitha, and jennifer, say even though sarah could take care of herself, they still saw themselves as her protectors. >> was everyone kinda looking out for her, her being the baby? >> always. yeah. >> how many children in your family? >> well there's nine of us. >> nine siblings? >> nine siblings. >> 20 grandchildren. >> 20? >> yes. >> oh, my goodness. how does your mom keep up? >> i don't think any of us keep up. every day there's somebody asking, "how many of us are there again?" >> reporter: seven sisters and two brothers. jennifer, who was 12 when sarah was born, fondly recalls that day. >> i just remember going to the
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and mom let me change her first poopie diaper. >> so she was, like, your little baby, too, it sounds like. >> she was. i would wake up with her in the middle of the night and feed her. >> that is a sign of a big family when big sister is feeding the baby in the middle of the night. >> yeah. and she screamed until you stuffed the bottle in her mouth. >> reporter: as sarah grew older and her siblings started to marry, her sisters' husbands also looked out for her. her brother-in-law, nick giannetto, appointed himself chief protector. he met sarah when she was just 3-years-old. >> vefs very outgoing and talkative and very fun to be around. whenever i cooked something, she was right next to me and wanting to learn how to do it, or -- or taste it. >> you two really bonded? >> oh, yeah, absolutely. i was always there for her, and if someone bothered sarah, sarah would definitely come to me and -- and let me know. >> i heard a little story about you.
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sarah's -- >> oh, sarah's nails -- >> fingernails? >> yes, yes, yes. >> where does that come from -- >> it was just you know some of the sisters would always be painting their nails. and, you know, me owning a hardwood floor business, being very particular in how i laid my finish out and how nice and neat everything had to be, i said, you know what, how hard could it be to paint a fingernail, you know. >> reporter: it was just another way nick took care of sarah. but even under watchful eyes, the unexpected can happen. and it did. after a long romance with her high school sweetheart, at 17, sarah got pregnant. >> was she excited to be a mom? >> yeah, she was. a little nervous, but everybody's nervous the first time they're a mom. but she had so much experience. you know, her sisters and brothers having so many kids. she was always babysitter number one. >> reporter: allaura cicero and sarah grew up in the same neighborhood and quickly became best friends. allaura says she was especially happy to hear sarah was having a
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girl. >> i was like, "oh, you're going to have a little sarah. like, she's going to be just like you. and turns out that's what happened. she always put jocelyn first. everything was always about jocelyn, as it should be. >> reporter: jocelyn's dad couldn't be there when she was born. he had joined the army and was deployed overseas. when he returned home, it became clear his relationship with sarah wouldn't survive the challenges of grown up life. >> i'm not really sure what happened there. i guess they grew apart. >> reporter: sarah was now a single mom raising a baby girl on her own with the help of her family of course. >> she was like a natural mother. you know, she knew what to do and how to take care of her and love her up every second. and that's what she did. >> it had to be easier for her, too, with all of you? >> oh, yeah. >> uh-huh. >> and then all this family -- >> she had built-in babysitters. >> sarah didn't let teenage-motherhood stop her from following her dreams. >> s
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school. and then she went to college and graduated from there. >> reporter: she landed a job as a medical technician and still managed to be a hands on mom to her now 4-year-old daughter. ♪ happy birthday dear jocelyn >> describe sarah when she would see jocelyn. >> her eyes would light up. even for not seeing her for an hour, like when she, like, held jocelyn and kissed her on the cheek and stuff, you felt it in your own heart. it was amazing. >> sarah was a great mother. you know, she really stepped up to the plate for jocelyn. >> reporter: so did nick, who was jocelyn's godfather. he was there for her first halloween. >> look at big uncle nick, you know, carrying jocelyn to her first house, you know, getting candy. >> reporter: and he helped in other ways. like when sarah decided she needed to buy a car. >> okay. what kind of car you want? i want a bmw. i want a bmw. >> reporter: it just so happened, one of his friends was selling a 1999 bmw. >> we go over there and look at it.
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you know, she loves the car. and i'm like, you know, let -- let's just sit back, you know, a day or two. think about it, you know. because they break down. it's expensive to fix. >> no. i don't see her sitting around, thinking about it. >> no, not at that age. she comes over, like, two days later she's like, "you're coming with me to get this car right now. i want that car." >> reporter: and so she got it. >> did she post her brand-new bmw -- >> oh my god -- >> all over social media? >> all over social media. >> was that how you could tell sarah was happy? by looking at her instagram, twitter, or facebook? >> yes. besides that, she was just so happy all the time. you know, to get her to be mad was very hard. >> reporter: and on the night of friday, june 6, 2014, nick says sarah was happy. she had recently broken up with a boy she'd been dating for two years and was looking forward to a night out with friends. nick had agreed to babysit jocelyn and nothing seemed out of the ordinary when sarah came by his house to drop off her daughter. >> i had came home from work. and she's like, "paint my
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and i was like, "ah, leave me alone. i'm -- i'm tired. i'm going in the shower. she was like, "no, i want you to paint them now." so i was like, "all right, come on." we laughed and we talked and, you know, she was going out for the first time in a long time. >> reporter: before she left, sarah posted on instagram a smiling selfie showing off her freshly painted nails. >> did she have any parting words when she left the house? >> i'll see you guys tomorrow. i love you. kiss, kiss, kiss. jocelyn, kiss. and very happy. got in the car and left. >> reporter: but nick didn't see sarah the next day. no one did. she was supposed to pick up her daughter at a family birthday party, but she never showed. and all calls and texts to her phone went unanswered. that's got to be an awful feeling. >> yes. in your mind and in your heart
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yourself, this is not normal, you know, this is not sarah. >> when we come back -- >> i need to report her now. >> the first clues to the mystery. her car near the woods. >> what was it like seeing her car there? >> it was scary. >> it was hard and scary. >> her messages on social media. >> is someone following her? did someone attack her? >> very creepy what she posted. >> very creepy, yes. very creepy.
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on saturday, june 7, 2014, single mom, sarah goode, didn't show up to a family birthday party where she was supposed to pick up her 34-year-old daughter jocelyn. no one in the family could reach her all day. her sister lizzy says she knew something was terribly wrong when sarah didn't respond to messages that her daughter was asking for her. >> jocelyn's like, "oh, i miss my mom." i said, "oh we'll call her." and we called her and it went to voice mail. that's when i -- i just thought something was not right because she would always answer, especially if you mentioned jocelyn. >> it's heartbreaking when you think that a little girl wants to talk to her mom and you can't find her? >> uh-huh.
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hadn't appeared by sunday afternoon, lizzy went to the police station to report her missing. >> i said, "i need to report her now." >> reporter: that report set things in motion. prosecutor janet albertson, who was brought on to this missing person's case from the beginning, learned that on the day sarah was a no-show at the party, a woman had spotted a blue bmw abandoned next to a wooded lot. >> a police officer had responded to that location, thinking that maybe this is a stolen car, the plates were -- were bent. >> reporter: albertson says the bmw was found less than a mile from sarah's mother's house where sarah and jocelyn also lived. >> when the officer, ran the plate number, it came back to sarah goode with an address. and after that, he went to sarah's home and there was nobody there because as we would later learn, they were at the birthday party. >> reporter: around the same time lizzy was at the police station, that officer noticed the abandoned car was still in the same spot. >> theff
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again. and at this point now, sarah's family had reported her missing. >> so things were really clicking now. >> exactly. and once it came back as a missing person, well now they've got a reason to really pay attention. >> reporter: and her beloved car was the biggest clue. detectives needed the spare key, so they headed over to sarah's house. her sister jennifer was there and she desperately wanted to know, "where was the car?" >> i just remember overhearing one detective tell the other detective that the car is in eagle estates. and then i was on the phone with nick. and that's when i told him like -- >> he said the eagle estates. >> then we all followed them. >> you went straight there to where the car was? >> right. >> they told us not to go follow them and i said "i don't care if you have to arrest me. i'm following you." >> reporter: eagle estates was a place they knew well because it was so close by. a large entourage of sarah's family headed over there and tried to approach her bmw, but police wouldn't let them get too
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>> what was that like, seeing her car there? what did that -- >> it was scary. >> tell you? >> it was hard and scary. they wouldn't let us go to it. >> they would not let us near it. >> reporter: the police had a job to do, so things got heated. sarah's sisters say they shouted at detectives and detectives shouted back. >> we were yelling at them. i was like, "open the trunk." >> yeah, we were yelling -- >> they were like, "we're not touching it." >> "is she in there?" >> "we're not doing anything until you leave." >> they were yelling at us, "you guys have to leave." >> but did you say, "no, i'm not leaving?" or did you leave? >> yeah. >> we did, but then they threatened they would arrest us. so obviously we don't want to be arrested. so we -- we did leave. and -- >> we kind of left. >> kind of -- >> because we kept on circling around in our cars instead of our feet. but i wasn't going to leave her if she was in there. >> reporter: later that night, the family finally got some answers. detectives told them, sarah was not in the car. >> were you trying to hold onto hope? >> yeah. >> trying to, yeah. >> reporter: hope turned to action, and the family got organized in a big way.
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and then we -- we just started searching, just anywhere we thought to even just go, we just went. >> how many search volunteers are we talking about? >> there was at least 200 the first day. >> pretty humbling because you can see how many people that she touched and -- >> cared about her. >> yeah. >> we just put it together in an hour on, you know, social media and this is how many, how many people we have right now. but there's more people on the way and there's already people searching. >> reporter: beyond searching, this large family started its own investigation, making calls and combing through social media. >> checking facebooks, make sure she didn't update anything. >> reporter: the professional detectives were also looking at sarah's online life, piecing together clues from the friday night she went missing. they started with that picture she posted on instagram of her freshly painted nails. they learned she was at nick's house around 6:00pm. and from the picture, they could
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>> she had on tank tops and this very unique tank top over it with an owl face and her little headband. >> reporter: police then confirmed that after sarah kissed her daughter goodbye and left her brother-in-law's house, she drove to a friend's place. >> she hooked up with a -- a friend of hers, a childhood friend by the name of jason flores. >> reporter: a timeline was coming together. she picked up jason in her bmw. >> she and jason had referred to each other as cousins because they had been neighbors growing up when they were younger, but they had drifted apart. she had really just kind of connected with jason about two weeks before. >> reporter: at 6:51 pm, a second selfie. >> jason took a selfie of the two of them where you can see sarah driving. and she's so happy. i mean, she was just beaming, you know. she just looked like a happy kid, like, for her first night out in a while. >> reporter: they picked up brandon allen, a good friend of jason's and a new friend of
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small gathering, a dozen or so young people hanging out in this front yard. investigators estimate they stayed there about 40 minutes. before they left, they took this group shot at 10:18 pm. that's sarah in the pink sweatshirt next to jason. >> where does she go? does she go home? >> no. at that point, she and jason are going to go back to brandon's house. and he lives on -- only around the corner. so, sarah drove jason and brandon back to brandon's house, where they watched "the hobbit," a movie. >> reporter: around 1:00 in the morning, jason, sarah's childhood friend, wanted to leave. sarah agreed to drive him home. after she dropped him off, he sent her a text at 1:17 am. >> basically saying, "are -- are you home okay?" and she responds, "yes." and we know that's on jason's phone, jason's phone, because the police have taken his phone to -- to download the information. >> reporter: all this seemed routine, then something ominous. on sarah's twitter feed, her
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days before sarah went missing she had tweeted, "so, you know i live on a dead end. i see you creepin.'" and a second one, "getting threatened for days now. is that the new thing to do?" >> that end part really is the one that -- that got to me. like, was someone following her? did she get to the house and someone attack her? it's a dark, dead end, very dark where she parks. >> they're very creepy, what she posted -- >> very creepy, yes. very creepy. >> reporter: no one had any idea who or what she was referring to. there were so many questions, and sarah's brother-in-law wanted answers. with the help of some large friends, nick went looking for anyone who was with sarah the night she vanished. he sounded more like a detective than a floor refinisher. >> who was she talking to, who'd you see her talking to, who'd you see her last leave with at the party, who she -- who she was socializing with. >> i mean, you're big, strong nick. did you want to be like, "you
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know what? i want to put this to use and go find out some information here?" >> i did. we're wanting answers, you know, and here's me and five of the biggest guys you could probably imagine, knocking on your door. >> was anybody getting you really hot under the collar? >> no, no. i wasn't getting nothing from anybody. >> so that's got to be frustrating in itself. >> yes. >> that nobody's standing out. >> nobody's standing out. everybody was really, sincerely telling the truth. >> reporter: but there was someone in particular nick wanted to question, sarah's ex-boyfriend. their two-year relationship had just ended, and sarah's family was getting suspicious. >> no one can say what was really going on between them, why they split. but we thought we knew him well enough to -- you know, we ought he was a great guy, and she loved him. >> you don't know everybody. you don't know exactly what someone is capable of doing. >> you don't. it's not easy to just trust people that way. >> and he didn't show up to work the day after? >> yeah. >> she went missing?
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>> uhh, hmmm. >> coming up -- new questions about the ex. >> reporter: dj had left a ire there were rumors going around about dj and his family. >> the mother had threatened her. >> the detective did say, "nick, you really can't trust nobody at this point." why are you deleting these photos? because my teeth are yellow. why don't you use a whitening toothpaste? i'm afraid it's bad for my teeth. try crest 3d white. crest 3d white diamond strong toothpaste and rinse... ...gently whiten... ...and fortify weak spots.
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if you do not have a group -- >> reporter: three days after single mom sarah goode disappeared from her home on the south shore of long island, scores of searchers continued to comb the woods, post signs and follow leads hoping to locate her. >> your baby girl can't wait to give you that great big hug when you come home. >> reporter: so far detectives were revealing only one clue to the public. >> the fact that her car was found unoccupied, she loves this car, something is suspicious here and we want to find this girl. >> reporter: nicole allegrezza, a reporter for "the advance," a local long island newspaper was
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assigned to the story. >> it was the biggest story that i had gotten yet. and it also hit home because she was about the same age as me, a little bit younger. >> did the story just start to take on a life of its own? >> yes, it did, because of her age and because of how many friends and how big her family was. a lot of it took to social media really quickly and blew up from there. >> what was going on social media? what were people saying? >> well, there were hashtags created almost immediately. #sarahgoode. #findsarahgoode. >> reporter: and on instagram her friends were getting worried. "i pray n hope they find u soon sarah n u come home to your family n daughter." "i really hope she's okay." "come home baby girl." >> there were postings on where they were going for searches, who was going for searches, how many people were searching. everybody was looking for sarah. >> reporter: and nicole says during the searches, the gossip mill was buzzing with rumors about sarah's recent breakup with her long-term boyfriend. his name was dj. >> there were a whole bunch of rumors going around about dj and
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and that things were not going well in their relationship and that they had just broken up, i think, ten days they said before she went missing. >> reporter: so nicole was a bit taken aback when she spotted the ex-boyfriend while she was out covering the story. she saw him in a crowd of searchers. >> as a reporter, i felt like i had to talk to him once i knew who he was. but i also was a little cautious to go near him because i was, like, "what if he actually had an involvement in this?" >> reporter: investigators, who were working around the clock in hopes of finding sarah alive, heard about the ex-boyfriend. >> did he need to be looked at? >> i think everybody should be looked at. because when you don't know what happened, you can't exclude anybody. >> reporter: there was an anonymous call on the crime stoppers tipline. detectives learned a strange and disturbing story about the ex-boyfriend, dj, and his mother.
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>> dj had left a threatening a voicemail. >> uh-huh, yes. the message that dj left in the voicemail wasn't physically threatening bodily harm to sarah. it was more, "take that post down, bitch." >> reporter: that post, albertson says, was a message sarah put on her facebook page insulting dj and a member of his family. she says the message upset dj's mother so much that the mother called sarah and threatened to kill her. so sarah called 911. >> what is her complaint in the call? what -- or what is her concern? >> i think her concern in the call was just to make a report. and really, the report she was looking to make was that the mother had threatened her about this post. >> reporter: the prosecutor thought this might explain one of sarah's strange tweets. the one she posted just four days before she went missing. "getting threatened for days now. is that the new thing to do?" >> the tweet was clearly associated with the phone call from the ex- boyfriend about, "take the post down," and
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put the post up. >> reporter: but she wasn't sure what to make of the other one. "sooo, you know i live on a dead end. i see you creepin.'" >> obviously her and dj had broken up. i don't really know what the tweet was about. >> reporter: detectives questioned the ex-boyfriend dj and took his prints. and continued their investigation. >> all right. let's go. >> reporter: sarah's family also kept digging. at first, her brother-in-law nick didn't think dj had anything to do with sarah's disappearance. after all he was one of the first people to volunteer in the search. >> he was there from day one when sarah went missing. i mean, immediately came to my house. i was getting a bunch of friends together and we were going to go ow looking for sarah. >> reporter: that was until. nick heard about dj's angry words on sarah's voicemail. >> once we found out, he kinda stood away. the detectives really didn't want us talking to him
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information? >> at that point i really couldn't rule out dj. the detective did say to me, nick, you really can't trust nobody at this point right now. so maybe you want to just leave him alone. >> what did you think when he said that to you? >> you know, a lot of things. you know? a lot of bad things, i guess you could say. you know, hurting him-wise. >> reporter: but he followed the detectives request and stayed away from the ex-boyfriend, for the time being. nick and the rest of sarah's family had others to question. anyone who was with sarah the night she disappeared was on their radar. >> they threw me up against the car and started screaming at me and all that. >> really? >> yeah. they were blaming anybody who was there that night. >> coming up -- >> tears were rolling down my eyes. i says, if i find the person who hurt her, i will bring him to you. >> pain and rage, a family hellbent
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sarah goode had now been missing for four days and her family was doing everything possible to find her and then some. >> we just stayed up all night going over the same things over and over again. talking amongst ourselves. >> like, what can we do tomorrow. >> you guys are all in the dark, right, about this investigation? >> that's why we had to do everything ourselves. >> that's why you decided to start investigating? >> right. yeah. >> reporter: and as for sarah's brother-in-law nick, police were worried he might be taking things too far. >> i get called back into the precinct. they tell me, you got to calm down. you're going to hurt somebody. >> reporter: but nick wasn't ready to back down. >> as tears were rolling down my eyes, i said, you know, if i find the person that hurt her or harmed her in any which way, i will bring him to you. >> almost like nick the bounty hunter. >> yeah. yes, yes. and they knew i wasn't playing. they knew i was really serious at that point. >> think you could've brought that person in alive? >> i don't. at that time? no.
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>> reporter: he was determined to get answers. his mission was to find anyone who might know where to find sarah. that included sarah's childhood friend jason flores and her new friend, brandon allen. all three of them had been at brandon's house watching a movie the night she disappeared. luckily for brandon, the police got to him first. detectives called him in the middle of the night. >> he came down to the police station voluntarily, i think on that sunday night. brandon, was questioned by the police for hours. >> any red flags with him? >> i don't think so, really early on. i mean, he -- he didn't have that much contact with sarah. he didn't have that deeper relationship with her. >> reporter: brandon shared his story with us. he says all he wanted to do was help find sarah. >> at that point i'm thinking, all right. there's something wrong here. we got to go and help as much as we can just figure out where she is. >> what kinda questions where they asking you? >> when's the last time you seen sarah? when's the last time you talked to her?
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>> and what were you telling them? >> whatever they wanted to know. >> what's their tone? >> aggressive. >> did you start to get a little worried? like do they think i know where she is? >> yeah. at some point i did feel like i had to convince them. >> reporter: detectives also asked him to give a dna sample and something else he didn't understand at the time, handprints. he agreed to both. >> did you have anything to do with sarah's disappearance? >> no. >> reporter: brandon says he had only met sarah a few weeks earlier. he did know her ex-boyfriend dj though, and had heard about the breakup. he and dj had gone to high school together. >>: were you friends? >> we were acquaintances. i would see him around school and outside of school and stuff. he was all right. >> was he, kind of known around the school because of -- >> yeah -- >> his athletics? >> yeah. i would say so. >> did sarah ever talk about him? >> no. she didn't really mention him because i'm pretty sure when she started hanging out with us that's when they first broke up. >> reporter: a b
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her ex-boyfriend or anyone else that night. instead she looked happy and carefree as she left his house around 1:00 a.m. >> she goes on home. and that's it? >> that was the last time i've ever seen her. >> reporter: the police let brandon go but told him to stay in the area. he left the precinct, he says, and joined the search for sarah. >> why did you feel the need to be there? >> just because i felt like i had an obligation. >> reporter: he had no idea his presence would cause such a stir with some members of sarah's family who were also out looking for her. >> you know, they threw me up against the car and started screaming at me and all that. they didn't know who to blame. so they were blaming anybody who was there that night. >> they knew that you had been with sarah that night. >> yeah. >> what did you say to them? >> at that point i was just, like, begging for my life. like, i'm sorry. like, i -- please don't hurt me. i don't know where she is. you know? like, let me go. >> did you really think they were going to hurt you? >> yeah. they were telling me if i didn't tell them where she was they were gonna kill me. >> wow. >> and there were witnesses there who i was with who can back that up. >> were you really afraid? >> uh-huh. i re
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traumatized. >> reporter: but while brandon was saying he had nothing to do with sarah's disappearance, police received puzzling information on the crimestoppers tipline. they heard about brandon's brother posting this picture on social media. and the brother also mentioned in another post that sarah had been at their house the night she went missing. >> so brandon's brother had posted his bloody knuckles on facebook and said that sarah had been there? >> well -- >> is that odd? >> there were -- there were two different posts on two different days. >> reporter: the posts, she says, were not related. the picture of the knuckles had nothing to do with sarah. >> he was not there the night that this occurred. he's not at the party with these kids. and he wasn't at the house with them watching "the hobbit." >> reporter: detectives chased down more tips and questioned more people. but so far nothing was bringing them closer to finding sarah. so they pressed on. along with her ex-boyfd
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her new friend brandon, detectives were looking at someone else. they asked him to come to the station. >> he goes from mr. nice guy to "we know you know where she is." smacking me, choking me, spitting on me. >> coming up -- the last known person with sarah that night. in jail. >> i was crying myself to sleep. >> did you feel like you were enemy number one? >> most definitely. with sprint's unlimited plan and my amazing iphone 7
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as one day passed, then two, then three, four and five -- still no sign of sarah. for her family, the not knowing was unbearable. >> i think deep down, you hope, like, if you found her, like, maybe she was still alive. and she was breathing, you might be able to help her. >> reporter: each night, sarah's sisters, brothers, cousins, her entire extended family piled into one house, comforted by the closeness. >> we all stayed at my mom's house every single night on the floor, couches, kitchen, rooms. we were -- everybody was there. >> we didn't en
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you heard the helicopters. we went back out to search. >> oh, yeah, we were out. we were out all hours of the night. if we heard a helicopter, we all jumped in our car to follow it. or if we heard a police car, we were going. we were going to find it. >> reporter: they were relentless. using the hashtag #findsarahgoode, they organized a massive search effort covering miles and miles. >> how grueling was the search? >> it was horrible. >> it was bad. it was raining. some days it was steaming hot. >> even it was hot, you were still in layers because you were in woods and you didn't want the ticks all over you. >> and every day, no answers? >> no sarah. >> reporter: family and friends searched places like the smith point county park sarah loved. and the tick infested woods near where her car had been found. for three of her six sisters -- jennifer, tabitha, and samantha -- the search was especially difficult. >> all three of you were pregnant during the search? that must have just added to how hard it was?
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>> probably worse because i know by the end of the day my feet were so swollen, i didn't even want to move off of the couch but i knew i had to because i wanted to find her. you feel sick to your stomach, but you couldn't tell if it was sickness from pregnancy or sickness because you're afraid you're going to find her and she's going to be dead. >> reporter: besides having to battle the elements and nagging desperation, they couldn't shake another feeling. paranoia. >> i didn't know who did it. so even when we were searching i was like, "maybe that kid did it," you know, i don't know. and then -- >> it could have been somebody right under your nose? >> yeah, exactly. >> i was afraid they were searching with us and that, you know, we're staring down people and then even going in the store you're staring at people because you don't know. maybe you did it. maybe you took my sister. where did you put her? >> reporter: and they weren't about to sit back and wait for police to find sarah. in what seemed like parallel investigations, everyone
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detectives talked to, the family tried to talk to, as well. one person her sisters hadn't been able to reach was sarah's childhood friend, jason flores. he was the one sarah dropped off before going home that night. since he was the last person known to be with her before she vanished, they called his cell phone. >> we tried to, but no one ever answered. >> did anyone worry that he could've been involved or know something? >> yeah. >> we don't know how or why but we just thought he was there with her. we just speculated that he had to have something to do with it. >> reporter: not about to sit around and wait for jason's call, sarah's brother-in-law nick and his large posse went out looking for him. >> you couldn't find him? >> no. >> do you think that was on purpose, on jason's part? >> i think at that point, the word was out that, you know, we were out looking and we were going to do whatever it had to take to get answers. so
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hiding pretty good. >> do you think jason was nervous, worried that you were out looking for him? >> i would -- yes, yes. absolutely. >> because he wasn't making himself readily available, did that say anything to you? >> you have to say to yourself, does he know something? obviously she was with him. he's got to know something. >> reporter: what nick didn't know was the real reason jason was mia. he was behind bars. detectives had brought him in for questioning and discovered he had an unrelated harassment warrant, so they were able to detain him. >> two days jason was with investigators? >> yes. he spent a significant amount of time with 6th precinct detectives. >> did they feel, like, "hey, if you know -- we have to find sarah -- >> uh-huh. >> "if you know something, tell us." >> oh, absolutely. he's the last person that she drops off. so, you know, at this point, you have to look at these people very seriously. and you have to make sure that they're telling you the truth. >> reporter: prosecutor
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albertson says jason's story was consistent, and he was adamant that he had no idea where sarah was. >> did they take his dna as well? >> they did. he consented. and he gave them his handprints. >> reporter: again handprints, not your typical police request in a missing person's case. the reason police were collecting them would soon become clear. jason also agreed to turn over the clothes he was wearing the night sarah went missing. his encounter with police all seemed very cooperative. >> everything is not what it seems. >> reporter: but when jason flores sat down to speak to us, he says his visit with detectives at the 6th precinct was like a scene out of a bad cop film. >> the detectives call me. and i willingly went there, obviously. because how would i not go? you know what i mean? >> to the police department? >> yeah. so we get there, this and that. he goes from -- mr. nice guy to "we know you know where she is." smacking me. choking me. spitting on me. >> wow. >> and, i was scared.
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anything, they still had me, like thinking in my head, like, what the [ bleep ] is going on right now? i didn't get no phone call, no one read me my rights. >> what were they asking you? what kind of questions? >> it went from how do you know sarah to where the [ bleep ] is she? you [ bleep ] little [ bleep ]. we know you know where she is. yeah, you were in eagle estates? where the [ bleep ] were last night? like just ripping my mind apart. >> reporter: and he says it didn't get easier when he was left alone in the jail cell. >> make me go crazy and cry in the cell all night. >> you actually were crying? >> yeah. i was crying myself to sleep. on a roll of toilet paper that was my pillow. >> what were you thinking about, as far as sarah? >> i was worried. i was concerned. because she had a lot to lose. beautiful baby, beautiful family. nice job.
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good career going for herself. >> did you have anything to do with sarah's disappearance? >> not one bit. >> reporter: after two days they let him go but warned him to stay close. >> did you feel like when you were walking out of that police department that they weren't done with you? that they still felt like -- >> oh, i knew. i knew they weren't. >> how many times did they come and talk to you -- >> 30 plus. >> reporter: the police declined to comment on jason's claims of how he was treated by detectives. as for sarah's family, they had their own suspicions. >> her family was convinced it was me. >> they were? >> yeah. >> how did you know that? >> the cops made it seem like that. >> did you feel like you were enemy number one? >> most definitely. i felt so targeted. and it wasn't a good feeling. >> reporter: sarah's family and friends were becoming more and more desperate. they didn't know who was behind her disappearance, so they kept digging and finally hit a solid lead. >> coming up --
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i just had to find stuff out. >> a best friend's hunch and an eagle eyed neighbor. >> i was wondering what is he doing? >> helped put someone new on the ray -- >> you actually followed him? >> i really, really thought he would lead us to sarah.
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sarah's family had made it clear they weren't going to be spectators in the search for their sister. >> that's where her car was found and that's -- >> reporter: they were actively investigating her disappearance. and so were her friends. >> you decided to play detective a little bit. >> yeah, i guess. >> reporter: sarah had left a trail of cyber clues. and her best friend allaura cicero was determined to follow them. >> what was it that made you decide i need to do something more here than just search? >> there were so many
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like, i felt like i just had to find stuff out. >> reporter: and she had an idea of where to start. turns out sarah was on allaura's family cell phone plan. that meant allaura had access to sarah's phone records. so she pulled them up on her cell. >> what did you find? anything that jumped out at you? >> just random numbers that i've never seen before the same numbers over and over again. like, back and forth. >> did you start calling any of the numbers? >> i did. >> and? what kind of response were you getting when you would call? >> "last we seen her was at the party." that's about it. nobody knew anything. >> reporter: as allaura scrolled through sarah's call log, there was one number that caught her attention. >> it was a number that kept reoccurring. so we wanted to figure out who it was, you know. so we called and then -- >> who answered? >> dante. just the same response as everyone else. i don't know where she is. haven't seen her. >> reporter: dante taylor was a friend of jason flores' and was part of the group sarah was hanging out with that friday night. his name wasn't familiar to her, but alluara's boyfriend had heard of him. >> my boyfriend was like, "oh, i think that'she
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block." so that's when we realized that that was the neighbor. >> did your boyfriend's family want to keep an eye on dante? >> i guess we were looking out for him. looking out for everyone, you know. it's just like, when you're in a situation like that, every little thing that happens, you're paying extra attention to at this point. >> reporter: her boyfriend's mother, dehlia mckernan, heard about sarah's connection to dante, so she decided to pay extra attention to him. he lived with his mom, a few houses away. >> what kind of things were you seeing? anything suspicious? >> you know, at the time, i wouldn't know if it was suspicious. >> reporter: like when she says she thought she saw dante cleaning out his car. >> yeah, on two different occasions i noticed that he had all of the -- he had the car doors open, the trunk open. he was in and out of the vehicle -- just unusual behavior. you know just wondering, i was wondering what is he doing. >> d y
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tell sarah's family what i'm seeing? >> oh, well, i was always in contact with them. >> reporter: not content to sit back and just watch delia became dante's part-time shadow. >> you actually followed him? >> i actually -- >> on occasion? >> i did. i actually did. because, honestly, i really, really thought he would lead us to sarah. >> weren't you nervous? i mean, if he really did have something to do with her disappearance, then that would make him very dangerous. >> ah, yes. and you know, sometimes you think with your heart. and you really hope for the best. and you think that this -- if this could lead you to sarah, then yeah. >> you're following him where, then? so what kind of places are you ending up? >> he went to an auto parts store on one occasion. he stopped at a hero shop. he stopped in the parking lot of a shopping center. i just kept thinking, okay. sooner or later, he's going to make his way back to sarah. >> did you feel at all like kind of an amateur private detective? >> i felt like a mom.
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and it was extremely personal because of the connection and the history that we have with sarah's family. >> reporter: delia had known sarah since she was a little girl. >> who was the sarah you knew as a child? and beyond? >> feisty. independent. loving. she had a beautiful smile. she was very family-oriented. she loved, adored her daughter. >> reporter: when nick, who was running out of patience, heard about dante's number showing up on sarah's call log, he started following him. nick had heard the police wanted to talk to dante, so when he spotted him outside his house, nick called 911. >> this is about the sarah case, the girl that's been missing. >> okay. >> and that kid dante is on the corner, sitting in his car. >> reporter: but nick didn't wait for police to arrive. he went right up to dante and confronted him. >> i'm like, "get against the
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car, you --" blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, every curse word. he seemed pretty -- like, confident. like. >> you must've wanted so badly to get this man to tell you where she was. >> yes. >> but the police show up? >> and there was nothing i could do. >> reporter: as the detectives approached dante, nick continued yelling. >> i'm just cursing at him and, you know vocally, being nasty to him. he wasn't saying nothing back to me. >> reporter: by this time a whole entourage of sarah's family had shown up. >> the police respond, more family came down and it got chaotic. >> reporter: prosecutor albertson says the family's presence wasn't helping matters. with nick and the rest of sarah's family now shouting at dante, the police worried about his safety. >> mr. taylor was ultimately transported to the local precinct. and then subsequently he was interviewed by detectives. >> was dante taylor giving them anything? was he helping?
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>> he provided the police >> he provided the police with his palmprints, his fingerprints. he provided them with a buccal swab. he gave a consent to search his phone. >> reporter: and when detectives confronted dante with phone records showing he had been talking to sarah the night she went missing, he had an explanation. >> he was calling, not to speak to sarah, but to speak to jason and that sarah picked up. >> reporter: and they confirmed dante was telling the truth. sarah's childhood friend jason had been using sarah's phone that night to communicate with dante because his own phone didn't have cell service. >> mr. taylor was released and he was free to go home while the investigation continued. >> did that say something, that he willingly gave his prints and was talking to police? >> sure. it's always interesting when somebody gives you their samples. >> reporter: and he had even been supporting the search. posting this on twitter. it was a real whodunnit. did anyone questioned so far know where to find sarah? her family and friends were about to make a discovery that would finally lead to some
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ugh. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ and your soul, you're saying to yourself this is not normal. >> her family wanted answers. >> we just started searching. >> we were our own investigators. >> under scrutiny, her
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she was with that night. >> did you feel like you were enemy number one? >> most definitely. >> where was she? a break in the case was coming. >> you can't ask for better evidence than your bad guy's print in blood. >> you just wanted to rip his heart out of him. >> here again is andrea. >> six days and still no sign of sarah goode. her brother-in law nick had run out of people to question. so he did what many others do when they start to lose hope. he went to church. >> i get on my hands and knees and i say, "you know what, lord? you could not give me anything else in this lifetime. let me bring her home, you know. i want to find her." >> reporter: later that day, nick met up with a search party. by now he and the rest of the family had exhausted every
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possible lead. so they decided to retrace their steps and went back to the woods not far from where sarah's car had been found. >> i park. i get about a half-a-block over. i get a phone call. they think they see a body in the woods. so we all start running and now there's -- i couldn't tell you maybe 15, 20, 30 people at the end of the woods. and the smell was really bad. then you knew it was a body. >> reporter: nick and sarah's brother frankie took a closer look. >> you know everybody's screaming and yelling and crying on the floor. >> was something telling you it was her? >> the sweater, it was a total indication. so me and frankie look at each other and say, "we're going to tell them it's not her." >> why? >> we still wanted hope that she was alive. >> nick and frankie left the woods. and later ran into one of
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sarah's sisters. >> and i just remember screaming at him like, like, you have to tell me if it's her or not. and i just remember my brother was like, "it's not her." and he just kept walking. like, they just didn't want to talk about it. >> did you believe him? >> i didn't believe him. i know it was her. >> reporter: sarah's family and friends had never stopped looking. their tireless efforts had finally paid off. they had found sarah's body. any last bits of hope were gone. one of the searchers called 911. when sarah's sister tabitha heard the sirens it became all too real. >> there was like a white noise, like, you just felt go through your body, that you knew something -- whether it was sarah or something of sarah's, it was found. >> how do you get that official confirmation that it really was her? >> they made us all go back to my mom's house because it was around the block. he just stood us all in a circle and just said that they believe it was sarah. >> b t
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>> yeah. >> they wouldn't say it really was her. >> reporter: as chief of the homicide unit for the suffolk county d.a.'s office, janet albertson headed straight to the scene. >> unfortunately, you know her body had decomposed a significant amount in that short six-day period. it's just sad. you know you're just standing over this -- what was clearly six days before, a beautiful, young girl. and what you had left was a horror. >> reporter: albertson says she didn't need to wait for test results. she knew it was sarah. she recognized her clothes from these pictures. >> did the shirt match the photos? >> yeah. and when the medical examiner removed the garments and she laid them out on the gurney to be photographed, you could visualize each of the tank tops including the owl shirt and the pink sweatshirt. >> reporter: the same crowds o
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family and friends who had searched for sarah had now come to say farewell. nick was back at church. this time for sarah's funeral. >> how is everyone handling the news that this part of everything has now very tragically and sadly come to an end? >> it just really -- you know, a punch in the face. it's just -- you're mad almost. you're mad at yourself almost, you know? because you couldn't do -- like, you felt helpless. >> and you've always been sarah's protector. >> yes. that's how i felt. like i failed. >> and you were the last member of her family to say goodbye. >> yes. it's a big pill to swallow >> you helped her get ready. >> for her night out. and i painted her nails. yes. >> yev
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you should always tell your loved ones you love them. you really don't know. >> reporter: his deep sorrow was clouded by anger and suspicion. now that the search for sarah was over, it was time to find her killer. so far detectives had made no arrests, but nick had his eye on someone. >> he was the only one. that i just wanted to rip his heart out of him. >> coming up -- >> that's a big deal? >> tremendous deal. >> a telltale piece of evidence. >> it's almost like it was the killer's calling card. >> it was his signature. ting at. at olive garden. so you can enjoy family time one more time come on in for new grilled chicken, tossed in a creamy alfredo sauce plus all the salad and breadsticks you want and leave with a great meal too buy one take one. starting at $12.99
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sarah goode's family and friends walked the beach in mastic, new york, to say their final goodbyes at a place that had always brought her such joy. but as they tossed flowers into the ocean they felt no peace. weeks had gone by with no word on who killed sarah. >> you're trying to grieve the loss of your sister and there's a realization that there's a killer on the loose? >> we weren't told anything, basically. we were just told that they were looking into people and they have people in mind. >> yeah, i think we called
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found somebody or if they were questioning more people and we just got the runaround. >> that's got to put the whole community on edge? >> uh-huh. >> reporter: what the family didn't know was police were getting closer to finding her killer. and now sarah's body gave investigators more clues. they could tell it was a brutal murder. she had been stabbed more than 40 times. >> this young lady has six sharp force injuries to her forehead, a broken nose, a -- a stab wound that went through and through the front to the back of her shoulder. she's a got -- a stab wound into the clavicle. she's got two stab wounds to her lower leg. >> reporter: the prosecutor had a theory as to what started this vicious attack. >> the killer wanted something from her she didn't want to give hup. and he was pulling her towards him. >> reporter: albertson believes sarah had resisted a sexual advance, so her attacker raped her before stabbing her to death. >> it's very clear when you looked at it that he landed on her from behind, pinned her down, and inflicted those injuries. because she had bruising on her
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legs, front and back, inside the right and left thigh that were inflicted while she was alive. >> reporter: semen was found in sarah's body and leaves and twigs had been stuffed between her legs in an attempt, the prosecutor surmised, to cover up dna. >> this is brute force. this is an animal. >> reporter: and when they looked at the forensic evidence, the prosecutor says it was clear the struggle began inside sarah's bmw. >> there was a significant amount of blood and a large clump of her hair in the doorjam. >> it's a frightening discovery, finding hair and blood. >> it is. and the amount of hair that was out -- hanging out of that door jam was significant. >> reporter: sarah's bmw had been towed to the police department's impound yard where forensic experts went to work. >> they spent quite a long amount of time going over that car. >> reporter: besides blood and hair, something else caught their attention. >> they noticed, almost immediately on the hood of her bmw was red-brown staining
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>> reporter: karen oswald, a fingerprint expert, worked the case. she says once investigators visually inspected the staining on the hood, they dusted it for prints. >> there were a few handprints that were developed on the hood. >> and were you able to get prints off of them was it? was it usable handprint? >> they weren't usable the way they were with just the white fingerprint powder. there weren't enough characteristics to compare it to somebody else. >> reporter: then they did a second test using a chemical called amido black. and this time, there was enough detail. one of the handprints was useable for comparison. and the test told them something else. >> so if there's blood on this palm print it's going to now show up with this chemical? >> hopefully, yes. >> and what happened when you put the chemical on it? >> it did develop. >> so the palm print turned blue? >> yes. blue. >> which means that there was very likely blood in that palm print. >> correct. >> and that's a big deal. >> it's a tremendous deal. >> reporter: while oswald and her team examined the prints, other investigators tested the
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>> the blood came back to sarah goode. >> reporter: oswald believed the killer had attacked sarah, got her blood on his hands and then carelessly left his prints. so that's why detectives had been gathering handprints from every potential suspect. the prosecutor says they knew if they could find a match, they could likely solve this crime. >> it's almost like it was the killer's calling card. >> it was his signature. >> reporter: the print specialist was able to compare that bloody signature with those of potential suspects detectives sent her way. >> you don't always know homicide's level of interest in somebody. you're going to compare these prints to anybody they ask. >> reporter: and one by one she checked for possible matches helping police cross names of their list, like sarah's ex-boyfriend, dj. his prints did not match. neither did brandon allen's. it was his house sarah had been at that night. he says once he was cleared,
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differently. >> they just wanted to know what we knew. >> you could feel that. >> yeah. >> they're not really looking at me. they just want me to help. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: and someone police had kept in jail for two days, the last known person to see sarah alive, jason flores was also cleared by his palm print. >> and they come to my house and tell me. >> who came? the detectives? >> yeah, because they new what i went through and they knew -- like, i mean, this wasn't easy for anyone to gohrough. especially someone you're accusing of it. i just thinking, like, wow, i just really feel sarah, like, with me right now. >> reporter: as oswald cross-checked palm prints, delia mckernan had been keeping a close eye on her neighbor dante taylor. remember, he'd been with the group sarah was hanging out with that fateful night and his cell number showed up on sarah's phone records. >> were you glued to your window? >> absolutely. as crazy as that might sound, yes. >> reporter: even though dante had been questioned by detectives and let go,
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continued to watch him. using her high powered binoculars, she kept an eye on his house. >> were you looking for every little -- >> everything. >> anything you could see? >> everything. even if it was an article of sarah's clothing, or, perhaps -- a woman's bag, or something that was out of character for him. >> reporter: and sure enough one thing caught her attention. she watched as dante tried to hide his car, at least that's what it looked like to her. >> at one point, he actually put garbage pails behind his vehicle and kind of thought that that would help conceal it. >> reporter: and then one night, coming home from dinner, delia says her street was blocked off a police flatbed was towing away dante's car. >> we were unable to access my street because the tow truck had -- was blocking it. and also, the officers were not allowing anyone. even if you lived here, they weren't allowing anyone down the street. we thought, at that point, okay. this is really serious. like, this is -- this could be it. >> reporter: but weeks passed
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police didn't arrest anyone. meanwhile, from the time sarah had gone missing, dante had been hanging out with brandon and jason. they'd all been friends for years. >> what kind of guy was he? >> he was definitely a ladies man. he was very jealous. he was a jealous type of man. >> did the ladies like him? >> yeah. i guess it was his eyes. that's what i always heard, was that they liked his eyes. >> and did he like the attention from women? >> yeah. he liked to be the center of attention all the time. anywhere we were he would try to be on the spotlight. >> reporter: and brandon says dante was trying to make something of his life. >> why did he want to go into the marines? >> i don't know. probably just like anybody else though. serve their country. >> reporter: but dante dropped out not long after basic training and had recently returned home. and while sarah was missing, brandon says dante seemed off. >> it's hard to explain. you know, you would have to see for yourself.
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you know? like, being around him and getting vibes. it just wasn't right. something wasn't right. >> talk about those vibes. >> creepy. like, like, he'll just stand there and just stare at you. >> did that make you uncomfortable? >> i would just look away. >> but yet you all kept hanging out with him? >> yeah. >> reporter: and jason thought maybe dante's short stint in the marines had changed him. >> we were actually good friends at one point. and then he went away. came back and then he was just weird. >> reporter: jason remembers a weird incident one day when they were at a barbecue not long after sarah went missing. dante got into an argument with another one of their friends and pulled out a shotgun. >> so dante popped his truck and started pointing the gun at him. and then brandon ran up to dante and pushed him back with the gun. and dante put the gun back in his trunk and that was that like. >> what did you think when he pulled out a gun? >> i was just on the roof, like, i'm staying over here. i'm not going near that gun.
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>> yes. >> reporter: to his friends, dante's behavior seemed erratic, but there was something else to consider. just as jason, brandon and the ex-boyfriend had done, dante willingly gave his handprints. if his prints had matched wouldn't police have arrested him? there was more to this story, so much more. >> coming up -- >> if you follow it, it's amazing. >> a deep dive into sarah's cell phone records reveals an early-morning rendezvous. >> you see sarah is home and all hell breaks loose from there. >> when "dateline" continues. bu.
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on the night sarah goode was murdered, detectives already knew she had dropped off her friend j a
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him that she had made it home safely. but it wasn't until they combed through sarah's phone records and checked cell tower data that they started to figure out what happened next. those cell phone records were really telling you a story. >> it's incredibly powerful. if you follow it, it's amazing. you see sarah is home. >> reporter: lawrence opisso, an assistant district attorney with the suffolk county d.a.'s office, worked the case. >> and jason texts her, "are you home? are you home safe?" and she says, "yes." and all hell broke loose from there. >> reporter: he says after that text, sarah got a call from someone else. >> somebody is speaking to her and there's conversations going back and forth. >> reporter: when detectives tracked the cell phone movements, they could see whoever was talking to sarah started off in mastic, new york. then traveled about ten miles north to where sarah was living near eagle estates. >> she's home. but we see this phone number, this cell instrument with this phone number move very deliberately right up to sarah goode's home, where the phones come together. >> reporter: once the cell phone pinged near sarah's house all
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phone communication stopped. prosecutors believe that's when sarah and her caller started communicating in person. >> she receives a call from a young man and at 1:30 in the morning, you know, she went out to meet him. >> reporter: albertson theorized sarah, who was 21 and a single mom, wanted to make the most of this rare night out. so when she got an offer to keep the party going, she took it. >> i think her decision was just kind of naive and foolish. and unfortunately, you know, it turned out to be fatal. >> reporter: so who was this person sarah met up with on the night she was murdered? police traced the number. >> it ultimately was identified to dante taylor. >> reporter: 19-year-old dante taylor, the handsome marine corps drop-out. when police had questioned him, back when sarah was missing, he told them he and sarah never got together after the group split up that night. >> he maintained that he asked her to hang out and that she said, "no," she wasn't going to hang out. and he was confronted with phone records and cell tower
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information that said otherwise. and, you know, he basically said those records must be wrong. so the records are not wrong. you know, people are liars. records aren't. >> reporter: and even though sarah and dante were part of the group hanging out together the night she went missing, their mutual friend jason flores says the two barely interacted. he didn't make any comment, "oh, she's cute," or any -- >> he came up to her car and we were sitting in her car. >> reporter: he says the three of them had a short conversation. >> and then he walked away. and that was the only thing. >> reporter: the family had also been suspicious of dante. when they called him while looking for sarah. >> we talked to him twice. once at night, when we first started. and then in the morning. i think he just switched that either he did or didn't see her. i don't remember. >> reporter: he might not have gotten his story straight? >> yeah. >> reporter: police already had cell records linking dante to sarah. so what about his palm print? karen oswald remembers when dante came in to give his prints.
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>> he was a regular guy. he was polite, helpful. he was a nice guy. >> when someone acts like that do you think, "oh, it probably wasn't him." >> i don't make a determination on whether i think it was them or not. i've seen enough people who have done really bad things, and to your face they're nice, they're polite, they're respectful. but demeanors change. >> reporter: oswald carefully compared the ridges from the bloody palm print to dante's. finally a hit. >> it matched to dante taylor. >> reporter: how did that feel to make that match? that now you've potentially caught the killer. >> in one instance it feels great because you always want to be part of that team that gives the evidence that catches somebody who's done something this awful. but the reality is you never actually want to work a case like this. you never want to hear the story of what happened to sarah. you immediately think, you know, she met this guy at a party. that could have been me or any
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of my friends or my sister. >> reporter: but even with the palm print and the cell phone records all pointing to dante as sarah's killer police didn't arrest him. there was a problem and a brand new lead. >> coming up -- >> we received information that there might be another victim out there. >> another victim? >> he had a knife and he had it at my throat. he just kept saying "i'll kill you." difference in network reliability. can you hear that? (vo) get unlimited! plus get hd video and 10 gb's of mobile hotspot. $22.50 per line for four lines. that's 50% off for people with hearing loss, verizon and at&t rates. visit get $10 off your purchase's of $25 or more!
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as detectives built their hood of sarah's car. she wasn't sure she'd be able to use it in court. remember when police brought dante in for questioning back when sarah was still missing? >> you have all the family members screaming and yelling and the potential for a weapon. >> reporter: that was the time when nick had called police, and when they showed up, they handcuffed dante, brought him to the precinct, questioned him for hours, and got his handprint, but they never read him his rights.
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him that he was not under arrest, that he was, in fact, free to go. >> reporter: but albertson knew there was a strong possibility a judge might not see it that way and could supress dante's palm print, meaning the most damning piece of evidence linking him to sarah's murder would be thrown out. because police never read him his rights, for now, dante walked free. his neighbor delia continued to spy on him, and one day as a car drove past her, she saw something alarming. >> he was hiding crouched down in the backseat, and so, i made it a point to slow my vehicle as i passed, and i looked into the vehicle, and that's when i saw dante hiding in the backseat. >> what did you think of that? >> i thought, wow, he's going to get away. he's going to go on the run. he's going to leave. >> did you tell someone immediately? >> i did. >> reporter: that's how albertson learned dante was leaving for florida on a one-way ticket. >> we were grateful for the observations that she made because that's what led us to
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the one way ticket. >> reporter: since detectives weren't ready to charge him with murder, they couldn't stop him from leaving town. instead they kept working the case hoping for a plan "b," and then -- >> we received information that there might be another victim out there. >> reporter: the information came from sarah's friend jason flores. during one of his many interviews with police, jason told them about another girl who said dante had attacked her. >> this girl, she messaged me, like, a couple months after me and dante hung out with her. she was like, oh, how can you let him do that to me? i was like, what are you talking about? she's like, he put a knife to my throat and tried to rape me in the room. >> you tell the police about that? >> yeah, i showed them the messages. i printed them out for them. >> reporter: the girl was nicole lukas. >> he just kept saying i'll kill you. don't [bleep] with me. >> reporter: the incident happened about two years earlier in dante's house. jason says she told him she was so afraid of dante, she never reported it to police.
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now the police went looking for her and what she told them sounded like an eerie echo of what they believed happened to sarah. >> he kept trying to touch my body, and he opened the zipper to my shorts, and then he had a knife above his bed, and he had it at my throat. he was like waving it around. >> reporter: nicole shared her story on video with a reporter from "newsday," a long island newpaper. >> and he said that he would kill me, and he said are you scared, and i said no cause i was just trying to like -- i didn't want to show him fear. and then he got -- he actually touched my throat with the knife. >> reporter: nicole says they struggled, he punched her several times and then she panicked and hit him in the face. >> that was my chance to run cause he was like -- he was like on his side. he was just in shock that i
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smacked him. >> reporter: she escaped and for years tried to forget it ever happened. >> i didn't want to talk about it. i just wanted it to be left alone, but what happened to sarah goode, i wanted to help them in a way. >> reporter: nicole was now willing to press charges and detectives hoped her case might give them a second shot at dante taylor. if they could get a warrant to arrest him for attempted rape, they would be able to take his palm prints again. this palmprint could hold the key to this whole case. >> correct. >> reporter: so detectives tracked down people who corroborated nicole's story, and this, the prosecutor says, gave police what they needed. >> was this kind of like a do-over? >> in a way yes. >> reporter: now they could arrest dante on the attempted rape charge and use his new palm prints in sarah's case. >> it helped protect case. it helped protect the integrity of the evidence. >> how you doi
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>> why did you do it, dante? >> reporter: so more than a month after sarah had been brutally murdered, detectives flew down to florida armed with a warrant and brought her suspected killer back to new york where he was charged with rape and first-degree murder. >> why'd you kill her? why'd you do it dante? >> reporter: sarah's brother-in-law nick heard about the arrest from police. >> the detectives called at night, very late, and said that they were bringing dante taylor back. he was the one who murdered sarah. >> what was it like to hear that? >> a lot of emotions. just want to get a hold of him really. you know? just give him to me. don't even, you know, worry about anything else. >> the court of nick? >> yeah. yeah. >> reporter: he wasn't surprised to hear who it was. >> he was the only one -- the
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to him, face to face, like me and you, i felt something that i just wanted to rip his heart out of him. it was just real bad. >> reporter: sarah's sister lizzy will never forget hearing the news. >> the detective called me and said that, we arrested him, and then my body just -- i guess it went into shock, cause just felt like the blood drained out of my body. i don't know why i was freezing cold and then i was sweating, and i didn't know what to do. >> reporter: the family's rage against dante taylor would slowly simmer during the two years before his trial. and when they finally entered the courtroom, it would take all their strength to keep their anger from boiling over. >> you had to hold yourself in the seat cause he was right there. if you just picked up your hand -- >> every time he walked in, the smirk he had on his face. want to jump over and deck him. >>om
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claim in court. >> from the very beginning, you can't trust the police or the district attorney in this case. >> and one haunting detail her family never heard. >> i wanted to jump out of my seat. >> what will the jury's verdict be? when "dateline" continues. we do wad to get clean. mmm, cushiony...and we can use less. charmin ultra soft gets you clean without the wasteful wadding. it has comfort cushions you can see that are softer... ...and more absorbent, and you can use up to 4 times less. remember, that's charmin in there... no wasteful wadding! we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin. lergies with nasal congestion? find fast relief behind the counter with claritin-d. [ upbeat music ] strut past that aisle for the allergy relief that starts working in as little as 30 minutes and contains the best oral decongestant. live claritin clear, with claritin-d.
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say cheese. >> just shy of two years after sarah goode was murdered, the case against dante taylor went before a jury in riverhead, new york. he had pleaded not guilty. on may 11, 2016, sarah's family and friends packed the courtroom. and continued to fill the seats everyday during the five week trial. >> you had t-shirts made up, "justice for sarah." the judge told you to tone it down a little bit? >> a little bit? all the way. >> whatever signs that we had hanging around the neighborhoods, we had outside of our houses, on the main roads, on the cars. the judge obviously said that was not allowed. you know? >> because of jurors? was that the idea? >> he didn't want the influence. >> yeah, he didn't want them to influence the jurors in case they saw it. >> reporter: her family complied with the judge's order. they sat quietly in the courtroom while the prosecution laut
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>> no. you never say it's going to be a slam dunk. >> reporter: prosecutors took the jurors through the timeline of the night of the murder. no detail was too small. they began with sarah's selfie showing off her red nails. >> it's amazing if you look at the social media in this case and the instagram and the twitter, you can almost see this happening in realtime. >> reporter: to further bolster the timeline, prosecutor lawrence opisso also showed the jury sarah's cell phone records and cell tower data. they illustrated that not only was dante taylor the last person to be with sarah. he had also returned to the scene of the crime. >> the records tell really a story of a killer who went from his home to her home, and returned there several times in the course of the next few days almost to see what was happening, and how the investigation was developing. >> reporter: their theory, after dante taylor lured sarah out of
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into the woods, raped her and stabbed her more than 40 times. the jury saw photos of the blood and hair found in sarah's bmw. and to support the theory of rape, a crime lab expert testified that dante's dna sample was a perfect match to the semen found in sarah's body. >> this was about complete domination of that young lady because she ends up in the woods face down, the way the jury saw her, with her legs slightly splayed out. she's naked from the waist down. her upper garments are on but pushed up. and her little black sandals are zippered and strapped to her feet still. >> reporter: the prosecution painted a portrait of a brutal killer who had carelessly left his calling card. albertson showed the jury dante's handprint covered in sarah's blood. and there was something else investigators had discovered that albertson also believed was irrefutable evidence.
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>> one small blood stain. that bloodstain came back to sarah goode. >> reporter: a fact janet albertson ended with in her closing argument. >> one bloodstain from a dead girl is one bloodstain too many. >> reporter: nick listened to the testimony. and there was something he found especially hard to hear. he was the one who had lovingly painted sarah's nails right before she went out that night. >> when janet said to the jury, we have no more of her fingers no more, but we have her fingernails that were painted. and i wanted to jump out of my seat and strangle him. >> reporter: but according to defense attorneys john lewis and debra buxbaum, nick's rage was misplaced. they claimed dante taylor was innocent. >> there's no direct evidence that links dante taylor to this crime. >> i felt like this really was a case of classic tunnel vision where from the get go this seemed to be targeted at d
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dante taylor. and any information that they came across or that they uncovered during their investigation that didn't point to dante taylor basically got swept aside or kept -- or got ignored. >> reporter: his attorneys acknowledged to the jury that sarah and dante did meet. but they said it was simply a sexual encounter between two consenting adults and dante left her unharmed. they called a former medical examiner to the stand who testified there was no physical evidence on sarah's body that proved she had been raped. >> there is no evidence that that semen was placed there as part of a forcible compulsion. >> reporter: and then an explosive claim. lewis told jurors not only had detectives botched the investigation, but he believed they were unethical. >> you think the police made mistakes from the very beginning. >> mistake is being generous. it was no mistake. it was intentional. >> you believe he was framed b
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detectives? >> i believe that the evidence, okay, is questionable. and that's the issue. the issue is i don't know what the truth is. and if you don't know what the truth is, then that's problematic, don't you think? >> reporter: the defense accused the police and prosecution of withholding information for a year and a half about other possible suspects. like the crimestoppers tip about sarah's ex-boyfriend's angry words. >> why do you think they were withholding all this information from you? >> because that's the way they operate. >> reporter: as for the drop of sarah's blood found in dante's car, lewis questioned how it got there in the first place. >> i don't think that was competent evidence to begin with based upon fact that four detectives searched that car for over an hour before releasing it back to dante taylor and never fo
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>> reporter: he says it wasn't until ten days later, when police searched the car again that they found the blood. and that bloody palm print on sarah's car? the defense didn't deny it was dante's print. instead they disputed whether or not it was actually a bloody print. there were discrepancies in the testing. the first sample from the print came back positive for blood. the second, done more than a year later after the print had been chemically processed, came back negative. >> reporter: but wasn't it red? or brown? >> i don't believe that that's the case. >> it's going to be hard for the viewers to understand, like, what else could it be? >> okay. so nobody -- nobody owns photoshop? none of your viewers know what photoshop is? >> well -- but now you're accusing the police of changing the color of the photo -- of the -- of the -- >> i'm -- i'm saying from the very beginning, you can't trust the police or the district attorney in this case. >> thes
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print. i mean, these are just allegations by you. >> i'm not saying they did or they didn't. i'm saying i'll never know whether they did or they didn't. and that's the scary part. >> reporter: police and the prosecution unequivocally deny photoshopping or planting evidence. they say this was all part of the defense's smokescreen. and as for withholding evidence, they say they turned over everything in plenty of time for trial. >> the defense attorney just kept saying, "you can't trust the police. you can't trust the prosecutor." and it's really the only argument he made. >> reporter: after more than four weeks of testimony, the case went to the jury. >> there was not a seat in the courtroom for deliberation. there were lines of people outside. the family's getting more and more, you know, upset, and anxiety ridden. so it's really nerve-wracking. >> reporter: three days went by before the jury reached a verdict. dante taylor was found guilty of rape and first-degree murder.
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>> i felt like sarah was just right here and i could see her and picture her saying, "we got this piece of [ bleep ]. >> is this closure? i mean what's the emotion? >> i wouldn't say closure. she's not coming back. >> it's never going to bring her back so -- >> but we got him. >> reporter: family and friends poured out of the courtroom and gathered outside to show jurors their gratitude. then they visited sarah's grave as if to let her know justice had finally been served. >> the ways of truth and love have always won. >> stand up. >> reporter: a month later, in front of a packed courtroom, dante went before the judge to hear his sentence. >> dante taylor, for your conviction for murder in the first degree on count one your sentence is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
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your punishment will be the maximum, the only appropriate punishment for the evil man that did this. you may make chalk marks on the cell block and your walls in the cage in which you live, and they will have no significance. you may circle dates on the calendar but they will mean nothing because there is no date for you to get out. >> reporter: dante is appealing his conviction. since dante received the maximum sentence, the d.a.'s office decided to drop the attempted rape charge. for sarah's family, the judge's words were exactly what they wanted to hear. >> it was nice to know that he's on our side. he wasn't on his side. >> and he was emotional, too. you could -- when he started reading what he was going to say, he was trying to hold back tears. you could tell. >> reporter: sarah's family is grateful her killer received the maximum penalty. but his punishment is only a small comfort. sarah's death has left a giant hole in the fabric of this tight knit family, one they say that
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>> i would trade places with her in a heartbeat if it meant that she could come back. >> we were supposed to be her protector. >> i always said that the older ones were supposed to go first, not the younger ones. >> what you just said is something that a parent would say. >> she was like our baby. she was our baby sister. >> cause i was older than her you know, try to protect her anyway that we could. you know all, everybody. do it for each other. >> reporter: and now they've focused their attention on sarah's baby. her daughter jocelyn is being raised by their mother, but like everything else, it's really a family affair. >> we find comfort going to mom's house when jocelyn is there and, you know, her spirit is just like sarah's. so it's like sarah growing up
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i believe sarah, you know. left us this gift. she's our other little angel that was given to us from sarah so her spirit can live on. >> give me a kiss. thank you. can i have another kiss? thank you. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll see you again next friday at 9:00 and of course i'll see you each night for "nbc nightly news." i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good night.
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