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tv   Buried Secrets  MSNBC  July 16, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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i'm al roker. 911 emergency. >> he was my good friend one day and gone the next. >> it was a high school of rich kids, fast times. except for one boy lost in the crowd. a shy, young student who one day just vanished. >> i absolutely to my gut knew that something bad had happened to this boy. >> in this circle of classmates somebody knew the truth.
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a chilling story kept secret for many years until a discovery that shattered the silence. a belt buckle, a boy's boots, and human bone. >> i knew right away, oh my god, all this was real. >> what really happened that day on this lonely hiking trail? >> this body's been there for 13 years. >> could police uncover a crime concealed for so long? in this hour, "buried secrets." >> i never heard a teacher or anybody ask a question about what happened to this boy. not one mention as to where this boy has gone. >> this boy, he had a name of course. russell jordan. but most people didn't seem to know who he was. seemed to ignore him. hardly noticed he was gone so long ago. but sally did. >> he was my good friend one day and gone the next. >> for 20 years she wondered, carried around the faded
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photographs, never dreaming how bizarre the story would be. though back then, just weeks before high school graduation when russell jordan simply vanished, nobody seemed to care. how was the news received in school? >> there was no mention of it. no police officers came to the school saying, you know, have you seen this boy? >> there wasn't any, like, flirs or anything. >> even though they were classmates, jeff taten says he has no memory of russell's disappearance. >> no cops ever came to the school. it's like he was never really missed. >> i bet you if one of the football players or cheerleaders or one of the kids with their new cars disappeared, it would have been treated differently. he was just a quiet boy who took ceramics. >> a shy young man who seemed to have faded into the woodwork, as far as most of the student body was concerned. so the reaction of the kids in the school was simply -- >> russell who? >> russell who?
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>> yeah, yeah. >> it was 1982. reagan was president. ♪ i love rock n' roll ♪ >> "i love rock 'n' roll" was topping the charts. >> hey, dude, i know that song. >> and the sleeper hit movie "fast times at ridgemont high" gave the country a new way to look at teens. in the spring of '82 sally upton and russell jordan were classmates here at los gatos high school. which could very well have been the subject of that movie. this up-market bedroom community south of san francisco is the heart of what would soon be famous as silicon valley. one of the wealthiest little towns anywhere. a block away from the high school, a bentley dealership. >> i mean, there was kids that would totally be, like, blow you away because they would be driving, you know, bmws and mercedes, you know? and they were only freshmen and sophomores in high school. >> los gatos has too much money and too many bored teenagers.
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>> that was true in the early 1980s? >> that was really bad in the 1980s. a lot of very spoiled kids around. >> but there is something else about los gatos, which was not so well known. >> there were the rich kids and there were the mountain kids. >> so how were the mountain kids viewed by the city kids? >> they were the poor mountain kid, you know, the hicks. >> sally upton was city. russell jordan, mountain. his house was up here back then, a shack at the end of a dirt road. yet russell and sally became a pair. neither one popular, nor wealthy in a school culture that taten says prized both. >> it was a pretty high pressure school to fit in. >> by his own admission, taten was a loopy kid. easygoing, lots of friends, just not a serious student. >> sorry i'm late. it's just like this new
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schedule's totally confusing. >> the jeff spicoli, you might say, of los gatos high. even though he was a classmate, taten draws a blank when it comes to russell jordan. >> i can't remember meeting him himself. >> but taten certainly remembers sean viehweg. two years older, boisterous, outgoing. viehweg was a pack leader who, nevertheless, found the time to befriend the timid russell jordan. >> definitely the opposite of russell jordan. russell jordan didn't seem he left an impression on anybody. and then sean left an impression on almost everybody he met. >> it's still true today. many of the people who went to school here back in 1982 say they remember sean viehweg, but bring up russell jordan's name and you're greeted with a blank stare. he was here at los gatos high the invisible kid. little about russell stood out. nothing unusual about the boy. until you took a look at his home life. >> at that time i was working in conjunction with the fbi. >> russell's father, gilbert, is a scientist with a brilliant
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mind and a strange past. in the '70s he says he was immersed in secret projects for the u.s. military. remember, this was still the cold war. scientists, says gilbert, were under intense pressure to keep ahead of the soviets. you worked for the government in a variety of places and doing a number of things. how much can you tell me about that? >> well, 90% of it's classified. >> back then russell was a little boy, and gilbert was working, he tells us, on classified projects at edwards air force base in california when, he says, he was approached by soviet spies. >> members of the kgb at that time came to me and said, tell us about the research you're doing. and i said to him, go to hell. and he said, well, if you don't cooperate with us, we'll take it out on your family. >> and soon, says gilbert, he was on the run from kgb spies, who at one point had tried to kill him. >> they decided they were going to eliminate me. >> was it real or a fantasy?
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whichever it was, gilbert decided to escape. took russell and russell's stepmother up here to what amounted to a hideout in the mountains above los gatos, where this shy boy faced an uphill battle to make any friends at all at his fancy new school, the place russell met sally. >> russell was a very nice, gentle person with a great sense of humor. >> they were very close, says sally, in a way. >> were you boyfriend and girlfriend? >> no, but apparently everybody thought so. >> she asked russell to the sadie hawkins dance, fake marriage and all, and neither had any idea, as their picture was taken, that the days were ticking down to something awful. though she did know that dangerous forces seemed to be at work. did he get along with his parents? >> i don't think so. but in the '80s none of us got along with our parents. >> i really loved him just like a son. if i had anything that i needed to have done and i would mention it to him, he wasn't one to say
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oh, no, or, you know, i can't or i won't. he was really a sweet guy. >> but life in blended families can be complicated. and russell's stepmother, christy, says she and russell did have their squabbles. >> oh, i'm no angel. i'm not perfect. i'm sure there were times that russell found that i was difficult. >> but according to police, russell's problems at home may have been more than routine. >> there was an altercation at his home. >> on the 2nd of april, 1982, captain duino giordano was called to los gatos high to examine suspicious cuts and bruises on russell jordan's face and neck. >> he sustained some minor bruising and some marks on his face. >> as if he'd been, what, hit or scratched? >> yes. he said a plate was thrown at him. and he had signs that he was injured. so we went in and did an intervention process, brought in some counselors. got a place for him to stay overnight just to kind of settle things down. >> but something else happened then, too.
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around the end of april. police knew nothing about it. it happened here in this gated neighborhood, a party at sean viehweg's house. russell left early, claiming the party was out of control. taten says he was there that night, too. >> you would have been drinking? >> yeah. drinking. >> and trying out a few drugs? >> yeah, doing a little refer, something like that. >> lsd being passed around and there was marijuana being passed around. >> angry, and seeing the older viehweg as a corrupting influence on his son, gilbert says he went to the viehweg home the next day to confront sean's dad. >> look, mr. viehweg, i said, i don't like my son coming over here. he said, "get off my property." i said, okay, i'm going to get off your property with my wife peaceably, but don't threaten me. and i said, "as far as i'm concerned, you're breaking the law, and i don't want my son
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ever to come back over here and have anything to do with sean viehweg." >> it was about then that russell's troubles seemed to compound. it was late may. hitchhiking home from school, sally says, russell took a ride from a man who came on to him, sexually. russell told sally he pulled a pocket knife, fought off the attacker and jumped from the moving car. sally remembers worrying that the man might go after russell again and could be dangerous. and there was more. around the 24th, 25th of may, just before he disappeared -- >> he discovered a marijuana field up near his house. >> he came and told you about that? >> oh, yeah. big debate on whether he should go to the police and tell them about it. it was apparently a large field, and it just really made him nervous. >> was he afraid if he found out they knew they would harm him? >> yeah. >> russell's father and stepmother tell a similar story. >> they were growing it down near where we had a spring, which was way down the hill. and it was a danger to even go down there.
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>> they had it booby-trapped. >> booby-trapped? >> oh, yes. >> did russell know about these places? >> oh, absolutely. >> russell was going to go ahead and let the truth be known. >> instead, on thursday, may 27th, 1982, russell jordan, having attended the first three classes of his school day, simply disappeared. two weeks before the end of his sophomore year. it was as if he had ceased to exist. >> well, normally he would be home by around 5:00. and i was getting uneasy. i was getting nervous. but as soon as gil got home, i told him, "russell isn't here and i'm concerned." and we both said, "well, maybe we'd better call the police." >> where was russell jordan? the boy who'd had a public run-in with his family, who'd fought off a sexual advance by a strange man, who'd stumbled on a secret marijuana field, and who, according to his father, might well have been a target for the kgb. vanished, though the secret
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would not keep forever. coming up -- a discovery near los gatos high. >> i saw something gleaming in the sun like gold. and when i pulled on it, went to pick it up, it was a belt buckle. >> would it hold the key to the mystery? when "buried secrets" continues. she's had these shoes a long time. they're kind of my thing. and they were looking... nasty. vile. but i used tide and tide booster, and look at them now! now they can be my thing forever. yay. that's my tide. what's yours? i use ti de sport because it helps get odors out of athletic clothes. i mean, i wear my yoga pants for everything. hiking, biking, pilates... [ woman ] brooke... okay. i wear yoga pants because i am too lazy for real pants. that's my tide. what's yours? this past year alone there was a 93% increase in cyber attacks.
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russell jordan had simply vanished right in the middle of a school day. left one class but never made it to the next. at first, investigators decided there was nothing mysterious about this. that it must be a simple case of a runaway teen. then, russell's father told them stories about pot farms and secret agents and assassination attempts.
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>> i said, look, this -- this is a -- definitely should be looked into as a murder. i knew about the communists and what they were doing. you know what i mean? >> you felt very much like you were a threatened person and that your son was already dealt with? >> yeah. >> some people listening to these stories are apt to say, oh, please. it's made up. >> i went to a psychiatrist. my diagnosis is i happen to be compulsive, obsessive disorder. which is -- many scientists have it. but my psychiatrist says i have no delusionary characteristics at this time. >> investigators began to wonder, did gilbert and christy have something to do with russell's disappearance? suspicion actually was directed toward you two. >> yes, there was. there was a concern about
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possibly, if i had something to do with it. >> why would they think such a thing? >> i wish i knew. >> those stories about secret agents and bizarre murder plots, they were strange of course. but something more mundane aroused suspicion about this family. that family squabble that had scratched up russell a few weeks earlier. >> the family is somebody that you want to key on because you're able to get a lot of information from them. >> sergeant tim morgan is a homicide detective with the los gatos police department. >> and of course, they check into the family to see if they were concerned about any issues with the family that may have been involved in his disappearance. >> this incident would have come up, obviously. >> oh, absolutely. >> and then, a few days later, the whole business seemed to reveal itself as something quite common. somebody called police to report that russell had been seen at school a day or two after he disappeared. here's the police report. the caller said russell had been removing items from his locker.
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it now seemed clear that russell had simply run away. as police dug into the case, they discovered that russell had in fact run away before from his father's house up here in the mountains. once to his mother's home in southern california. another time he made it all the way to utah in a desperate attempt to live with his grandparents. >> the word around school was that he was a runaway, and that's pretty much where it ended up being left at. we don't quite have the systems in place back then that we do now. >> so things went nowhere? >> well, i wouldn't say they went nowhere. i'd say that people looked into it and thought that, based on all the information from the high school, speaking with some of the students that russell had just ran away, and that was it. >> remember, it would be years before the creation of the amber alert system that can mobilize the entire country if a young person just disappears. >> a lot of times back then we
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didn't even write reports on missing people until after 24 or 48 hours, because people would just come back, and it was viewed back then as a waste of law enforcement time. where now, we take a report immediately. we don't wait 24 hours. we take a report the minute they come in. we put them into the missing persons system that's done nationally. >> the search for russell jordan remained a very local effort. >> our principal came up one lunch and was asking some of the kids if anybody had seen russell jordan. i said, i don't know, i never really have met the guy myself, you know. >> but russell's family was convinced. russell hadn't run this time. they began their own investigation, calling russell's friends, searching for any clues to his disappearance. >> we called a number of people that would have known about russell. and they all acted like they had no idea. >> maybe two weeks after he disappeared, his father called me and asked if i knew where he was.
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and i seem to remember telling him i don't know, but he didn't run away. he told me, never let me worry like this. >> sally upton had a sickening gut feeling that something awful had happened to her dear friend. though she never told anybody in authority. >> i thought he'd either been picked up by a hitchhiker, you know picked up again by somebody and that he didn't get wale, or that he had gone back to that marijuana field and they had found him. >> and sally upton had a new boyfriend. russell's other school friend, sean viehweg. and he told her she should keep her suspicions to herself. >> saying, you know, don't go to the police or get yourself involved. they'll think you did something. >> three weeks after russell's disappearance, sally upton graduated from los gatos high and got on with her life. she eventually married and moved to colorado. but forget about russell? not at all. did you ever find yourself wondering what had become of him? >> yeah, i would say that he's
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been prominently on my mind always. i've even gone so far as if you see someone on the street and he looks sort of like -- oh, wow, you kind of look and go, no, he's not. >> trying to keep a step ahead of the communist agents he believed were out to kill him, gilbert and his wife, christi, relocated to the ozark mountains. >> my life could be, i hope not, in danger for what i'd said even. i'm not saying i'm paranoid. >> jeff taten took a different path in the years after los gatos high. he retreated to santa cruz, where he still refuses to own a car, preferring his bike instead. he let that big group of high school friends go out into the world without him. friend sean viehweg joined the army and served in kuwait during the gulf war. and as the years blew by, as children were born and hair turned gray, russell jordan became a distant and fading memory to all but a very few
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until a warm spring day in 1995, when victor seckeler walked into a scene right out of a hitchcock film. >> my dog starts digging in the ground. >> seckeler was hunting for old western artifacts along this old creekside trail less than a mile from los gatos high school. >> you know, it was sunny. i saw something gleaning in the sun like gold. and when i pulled on it, i went to pick it up, it was a belt buckle but it wasn't alone. it was attached to a belt, pants, the whole shot. it was in a pelvic bone and a femur bone fell out of the pants. coming up, would this gruesome discovery provide clues to the mysterious disappearance of russell jordan 13 years earlier? >> i knew right away that this was just something that, you know, i knew everything about. and just thinking, oh my god, all this was real. >> when "buried secrets" continues.
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13 years after russell jordan's mystery disappearance from a school in a town where he barely seemed to be notice and after league after intriguing lead turned up dry, investigators had no choice but to think this was case where a boy had simply run away. but there was one friend who was not convinced that's what happened. and then came this discovery in a hiking trail not far from the high school where russell was last seen alive. >> that he could be there and nobody would notice it for so long, we all were in shock over that. >> the coroner determined the victim was a teenaged boy who died in the early '80s. detectives started combing through cold cases, and the name russell jordan emerged from a yellowing police file. the buckle, belt, and boots were identical to the ones described by the jordans in russell's original missing persons report.
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the parents sent police a copy of russell's dental record to make a final positive identification. >> so it didn't take very long to figure out that this must be russell jordan? >> well, it sure looked very promising that it was. >> but the remains were so old, the medical examiner was unable to recover any soft tissue for a cellular dna test. meaning, he could not say for certain that this was indeed russell jordan. >> you have to remember, this body's been there for 13 years until it was discovered. that creek has been overflowed many times. >> and we've treated it as a homicide, investigated as a homicide, but could not determine for sure or prove in a court of law that it was actually our victim who was reported missing. >> why couldn't you use dental records? isn't that the way that you identify skeletons? >> part of the skull was actually recovered. >> there were other bones
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missing as well. >> no hands were there, but you see, when you look at the mafia or criminal-type killing, you know, no fingerprints. you know, didn't have the dna tests. and dental records. no skull. >> investigators were left with a growing list of questions. was this in fact russell jordan? if so, was his body intentionally mutilated to prevent identification? was this person even murdered, or did he die of natural causes? coming up -- a crime uncovered, a suspect discovered. >> i don't remember, ma'am. >> who killed this shy, young boy, and why had his schoolmates kept silent? "buried secrets" continues after this.
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hello. i'm milissa rehberger. media mogul rupert murdoch is apologizing for phone hacking by one of his tabloids in full-page ads across britain. british police are facing growing pressure over links between senior officers and murdoch executives. right now traffic in the los angeles area is moving smoothly several hours after so-called carmageddon when authorities shut down a ten-mile stretch of one of the nation's busiest freeways. crew are widening a chronically gridlocked section of road. now back to "buried secrets." it was a mystery that had confounded police for years. russell jordan, a quiet high school sophomore, disappeared without a trace in los gatos, california in 1982. 13 years later, a grisly discovery of bones on a hiking trail. >> the county crime lab here tried to abstract dna and they were unable to do so because they had been there so long.
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>> and so in place of a burial the remains were sealed in a brown cardboard box and placed on a storage shelf in the santa clara county coroner's office. officially, at least, unidentified. and more years slipped away. until the remarkable science of dna detection advanced again. and suddenly revealed the answer everybody had been looking for. a new procedure called mitochondrial dna, no longer having to rely on soft tissue to test, found the genetic code locked inside that hardened bone. >> we ended up sending the three or four bones to quantico through the fbi in -- i think it was 1999. and we had obtained blood from irene flowers, who is the mother. and they were able to match up the mitochondrial dna from russell jordan to irene, and
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that's basically how i identified who he was. but that took almost four years. >> for 13 years, his body lay beside a trail less than a mile from the high school where anyone could have found it, were someone actually looking. and for eight more his bones sat unidentified in a cardboard box, anonymous in life and death. but now that his body was identified, he was finally going to get some long overdue attention. so once you got the identification that this was russell jordan, what could you do about it? >> we announced it in the press, and we also put a picture along with it. what he looked like when he was missing. >> but investigators still didn't know how he died. did someone kill him? and if so, why? now that the body had been identified as russell jordan's, sally upton, the one friend who always wondered every day what happened, was certain that russell had been murdered all
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those years ago. so now all the strange events just before he vanished began to play back in her mind. remember, she said, he discovered a large marijuana field near his house. >> and i thought that he had gone back to that marijuana field and they had found him. >> you thought he'd been killed and buried? >> yeah. >> that's what russell's father, gilbert, thought too. for years he'd been trying to persuade police that russell had been killed by some kind of marijuana mafia, maybe with kgb involvement, and maybe masterminded by one of russell's friends. and russell was going to expose them? >> right. >> and so he had to be killed? >> absolutely. >> you believe that? >> i know it. >> but gilbert had proposed strange theories for a great many things over the years. and anyway, russell's body was found ten long miles from the marijuana field he'd supposedly discovered. there was also the public run-in with his own family and a sexual advance by a strange man that
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russell fought off. what investigators did not know was that across the mountains from los gatos, in the town of santa cruz, there was a man who could answer all these questions. though he lived but 20 miles away, this key witness didn't hear a word about the discovery of the mysterious bones. until the day jeff taten saw an article in the paper. >> it was a story of russell jordan's bones in the newspaper. >> after 21 years, it was like a punch in the chest. jeff taten, the old classmate, the man who barely remembered russell existed, saw his face and suddenly knew who had killed him. >> and i knew right away that this was just something that, you know, i knew everything about. and just thinking, oh, my god, all this was real. >> because taten had been haunted by a high school story that was so chilling, so gruesome, he just couldn't accept that it was true.
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>> he had told me approximately three times that he had killed russell jordan. >> for more than two decades, jeff taten was tormented by the question. and his own response to it. a good friend had made a chilling boast. was it true? >> do you remember where you were and how it came up when he said that he'd killed somebody? >> probably the first time he said that, we were probably just hanging out after school. >> what did he say? >> he just said, "i killed russell jordan." >> as simple as that, "i killed russell jordan"? >> yeah, that's what he said. >> did you think it was true? >> i didn't think it was true. because -- >> kids don't go around killing kids. >> right. and that's what i was thinking. you know, i mean, it seemed like at our school, you know, it seemed like kids didn't do that. >> didn't you think, i have to go tell the cops?
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>> i mean, i didn't have any evidence. and i wasn't -- i probably figured i'd be grasping at air, or something like that, trying to pull something out of nowhere because they would ask me questions that i wouldn't know how to answer. >> remember, taten was only 15 at the time. like many teenagers, he says, he was conflicted about such things as loyalty, friendship, and justice. he says he couldn't have betrayed a friendship based on a tale that sounded like a wild, drug-induced horror fantasy. but confused and plagued by doubts, taten says he promised himself this. >> and if i could ever, you know, put this together as some way that it was reality, that you know, that i'm going to have to do something about it. >> so now, finally and obviously, he knew that his friend's boast about what happened out here in the woods that day had been true. the one buddy he'd always looked up to, the guy who had affected the dangerous attitude was truly
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a killer. who was it? it was sally's ex-boyfriend and russell's old pal sean viehweg. jeff taten finally put together what viehweg had said to him many years ago. so he picked up the phone. >> within a matter of days we received a call. >> i was pretty shocked that all of a sudden information that we thought a case was going to go nowhere for so many years, all of a sudden we have some substantial leads and the ability maybe to even solve it. >> things began to happen very quickly at that point? >> very quickly. >> sean viehweg, morgan soon discovered, was living in klamath falls, oregon, with a wife and daughter. time has not been kind. nor life for him successful. viehweg did serve in the u.s. military. went to the gulf war. but his two previous marriages failed. his dead-end jobs here petered out.
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and now it's an out of work, paunchy, balding viehweg who agrees to talk to police. >> then the story begins to unravel. >> yo if you know me you know i'm not some kind of freaky, weird guy. >> haltingly, bit by bit, viehweg admits to one detail after another. confesses that he and russell were alone on a trail together. >> russell said, "let's go for a walk." >> they played a game, he says, squeezing each other to see if they could make themselves pass out. >> i did it to him and he did it to me. >> but the ritual became too rough or too intimate when viehweg claims his young friend suddenly overreacted and pulled
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a knife. >> and here's this kid you know, trying to kill me with a knife, i mean i just got done choking him, my heart's jumping out of my chest and i grabbed it and threw it and he goes down and i grabbed him and dragged him off the trail a little bit. >> his story of what happened that day amounts to a confession. of murder? make it self-defense. viehweg insists he had to kill russell jordan or risk being killed himself. >> i didn't do that, man. i just whammed into the bushes and i got the hell out of there. >> finally, vindication of a sort for gilbert jordan. russell's dad, who'd been telling police for years he thought sean viehweg was a suspicious character. you'd been saying that for 20 years? >> yeah. >> and people thought you were crazy? >> yeah. >> and now? >> i rest my case. >> but jordan believed the killing was part of a drug-related conspiracy. viehweg, on the other hand,
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never implicated anyone else. he stuck to his story it was self-defense, a panicked teenager too afraid to go to police. >> it's a self-serving statement. so i don't buy into that. >> not buying it because morgan believed viehweg's confession was full of holes. >> why did he pull a knife on him then if he was choking him? he said that after they struggled and he struck him, russell was on the ground, he picks up this large basketball-sized boulder -- this is 25 pounds, it's like a sack of cement -- and caves his skull in. when that knife's on the ground, he's no longer a threat. why didn't he take off running? >> morgan was convinced that viehweg was lying. but the only solid piece of evidence authorities had was the confession claiming self-defense. and so prosecutors felt they had no choice. they let viehweg plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter. he was given a six-year sentence. >> thinking about it later, i'm guessing sean was probably the
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one telling me not to go to the police. i mean, why else would anybody else be saying don't? >> end of story? well, not quite. remember when viehweg told that story to police? it was not for the first time. he had told at least one classmate back in high school. >> the thing that i can remember him saying about it was that he had a hard time dying. >> nor is his the only disturbing tale. >> he's just creepy. >> she was terrified. >> i could have easily been killed. >> what did sean viehweg do? and why? coming up -- more startling confessions, but not just from the killer. >> you could almost see the color come out of his face. >> when "buried secrets" continues. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
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i got the hell out of there. >> in his videotaped confession taken 22 years after russell jordan died, sean viehweg insisted he had no choice, he was forced to kill russell, he said, when his friend viciously attacked him. >> he grabbed me by the throat really, really hard and i broke free and he pulled out a pocket knife and lunged at me. >> but what do viehweg's friends say about his story? >> the story he has told i'm pretty sure is garbage. >> sally upton knew both boys quite well. remember, she dated sean and considered russell her best friend. >> i do not think it was in russell's nature to attack somebody unprovoked. >> why do you say that? >> i mean, he was only a few inches taller than i was, and i wasn't even five feet in high school. and very slim build. >> sally remembers that story russell told her years ago, when he pulled a knife on someone just weeks before his disappearance to fend off an unwanted sexual advance.
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>> he was hitching a ride home and got picked up by a creepy guy. and the guy tried to make a pass at him. and russell jumped out of the moving car to get away from him. he said that he hit the guy in the leg with the knife. >> and then rolled out the car? >> and then rolled out of the car. >> no one disputes that on this trail sean viehweg killed russell jordan. what was left of him, his skeleton, was found right over there, not six feet off the path. but there are so many unanswered questions. why were they here in the first place? it was the middle of a school day, a 30-minute hike from campus. did they really come all this way just to play some sort of childish squeezing game? >> why do you think he did it? >> it's probably the ultimate thing that a human can do to another person, is to kill somebody. i mean once you kill somebody, that's like the most ultimate thing, rush, you can get. >> taten recalls that viehweg also had a disturbing reputation for sadistic behavior.
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>> he used to put cats in the microwave. >> cats in the microwave? >> yeah. i mean, i thought it was one of the most strangest things i had ever heard. >> would he kill them? >> no, he wouldn't kill them. he liked to watch them walk around, i guess. >> torturing them? >> tortured, i guess. basically, so they weren't able to stand up straight. >> sometimes he'd microwave them. sometimes he shot them with bb guns or something. >> and then there was this woman, who had heard things too and who discovered very personally what sean viehweg was capable of. >> he's just creepy. sean was someone to be fearful of. >> she's nervous still, has asked that her name not be revealed. she says she had a run-in with viehweg during his high school days when she was baby-sitting for a family whose son was viehweg's friend. she says one day when viehweg was visiting, he became very belligerent with her. so she asked him to go home. and the next day viehweg would retaliate.
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>> a lady was watching the house he got angry with because he wasn't allowed to go into the house. and so he had cut the brake lines of the car. >> and i'm backing out of the driveway, which is on a hill, and i don't have any brakes. so i'm pressing all the pedals and trying to, you know, look behind me which way to go, and i don't know, something somehow made me think to pull the emergency brake. thank god. >> a tip led police to sean viehweg. he pleaded no contest for cutting the brakes. he was sentenced to community service. do you think sean viehweg was trying to kill you or just frighten you? >> i could have easily been killed. >> and the tipster who fingered viehweg back then? jeff taten. you spent a lot of your life worrying about this guy. >> i probably did. i probably did. >> and yet, says jeff, he was not the only one who knew those stories about the cats, the brake lines, about russell jordan's killing. >> we had a big group of friends, and i know i wasn't the
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only person that he ever mentioned this to. >> taten told police this boy, chris fisher, another young kid that viehweg took in during high school, may have even more information about the killing. >> so we wanted to talk to chris fisher, find out what his involvement is. i explained to him that we're here to speak to him about the murder of russell jordan. you could almost see the color come out of his face. his shoulders hunched a little forward. and right then, we knew we were on the right track. >> then fisher would make a startling confession. coming up -- a 23-year-old secret is finally brought to life. >> he's never told anybody, not any of his friends, not his girlfriends or wives. nothing.
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chris fisher, the longtime high school buddy of sean viehweg, who we now know murdered classmate russell jordan, had been carrying a secret around for over two decades. >> sean had told him that he had killed russell and wanted to show him where. and as they got there, chris said he could see some boots sticking out of the shrubs that were placed on top of russell. and then sean asked chris to hand him some brush to cover up the boots. >> how much of a burden do you think that was for him? >> i think it was huge. he made several comments about he was very afraid that sean would kill him if he ever said anything. >> so chris fisher kept quiet. >> he was not involved in the direct killing of russell. he covered it up, had knowledge of it, and kept it secret for 21 years or 22 years. he's never told anybody. not any of his friends, not his girlfriends or wife, nothing. he's never said a word.
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>> but viehweg never told fisher how or why he killed russell jordan. >> he said that russell was -- took a long time for him to stop breathing, or making gurgling noises. >> he did, however, describe the killing graphically to taten. >> what did he tell you he did? >> he told me that he just kept on stabbing him and he wouldn't stop. i guess he kept on stabbing him so much, hoping that it would stop him from making any noises, or whatever. and i guess he just kept on getting worse or he kept on staying at the same thing, staying at the same breathing rate or his blood was still pumping at the same rate that it was no matter what he was doing. so i guess he was starting to panic or something to that nature. >> so did sean take some other action? >> yeah, he started to throw dirt on him. i guess trying to cover him up, leaves and stuff of that nature. and trying to stop him from making the noises. i mean, he told me that he just wouldn't be quiet.
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and he kept on throwing rocks and stuff on him to stop him and he just wouldn't stop. >> do you worry that sean viehweg may come after you for the fact that you told the truth? >> i just hope i did the right thing, but i mean, i just hope he sees it that way, too. >> it was odd, this part of our conversation. taten, the whistle-blower, told us about an erratic, bullying boy he remembered from high school. and here he was hoping the man he turned in wouldn't be too mad at him. >> do you ever feel almost guilty for having turned in an ex-friend? >> yeah. i feel guilty about that. there's like the loyalty. >> why do you think he did it? >> i asked him, well, why did do you it? and then he said, "because he was a loser." >> small, shy, alone, russell jordan became a victim. >> he never had the chance to grow up to be a man. >> and who thought about him, even once? his family, of course. and sally.
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>> this is sean and jeff taten. and russell jordan. >> leafing through her yearbook, sally upton realizes none of her friends wrote a single departing word about russell jordan. >> nobody ever mentioned him to in the yearbook. >> there were, however, two pages devoted to a fictitious killing. the school play that year was "a murder arranged." and in her mind now, says sally, it's clear why sean viehweg suddenly took such an interest in her shortly after russell's killing. >> the los gatos police's theory was that he was probably keeping close tabs on me. i was probably his biggest threat at the time. i should have made a stink. i don't remember sean before russell and yet he kept a pretty close eye on me afterwards. kind of a creepy thought. >> so why is it important now? >> somebody needs to say russell was a nice person. >> taten still has only the
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vaguest memories of russell but wishes now to claim the timid boy as a friend. all these years later, that's still torturing you, isn't it? >> i mean, i feel like i know russell jordan more now than anybody ever has even when he was -- you know, ever been alive. at least he's got some kind of ending to his story now. >> sean viehweg served 2 1/2 years of his six-year sentence and was paroled in july of 2006. sergeant tim morgan and jeffrey taten each received a commendation from the town of los gatos for their efforts in solving the case. but will russell jordan ever really rest in peace? in 2005, russell's family sued santa clara county after the coroner's office discovered it had lost most of russell's remains. the family settled the lawsuit. the case was closed. but it does mean that over two decades after his death, russell jordan once again is missing


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