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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  November 29, 2020 11:00pm-1:00am PST

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child? the ripples keep on spreading to this day. in a place where nothing bad was supposed to happen. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. the meanest, cruelest, most heinous crime. i don't know that i'll ever get over it. >> they seemed like the ultimate power couple. >> she told me she would be traveling on secret missions. >> he had all the medals, silver star, purple heart. >> glamorous military careers. but was it all camouflage? >> the b.s. alarms are going off in my head like you wouldn't believe. >> did they have something to hide? >> we started doing surveillance. >> maybe you've got a crime here. >> yes. >> i'm thinking to myself, this can't be true. >> we're just like in disbelief.
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>> what happened to her last husband? >> whoever did this was very evil. >> the hurt, the anger. it makes you question everybody. ♪ it seems alive somehow, here in the foothills of tennessee's appalachians. the creeping tendrils of mountain mist that snake and swirl, like lies. there's gold in there somewhere. so they say. the sort of place where you could strike it rich or maybe get away with murder. >> very scary.
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>> shocking. and devastating. >> so after that mysterious death here who could anyone trust? dearest friends? >> the word betrayal come to mind? >> oh, absolutely. >> brothers in arms? >> it's beyond disturbing. >> closest family? >> she looked at me as if she wished i was dead. >> maybe no one. >> we were always looking over our shoulder. >> might still be had it not been for him. >> pretty shocking stuff. >> i don't think i'll work anything like this again in my career just because of the different twists and turns. >> yes. in that toxic swamp of secret identities, of heroes and villains. driven by greed and lust. and power. >> whoever set this up and whoever did this was very evil. >> oh, so many lies.
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>> everything that you were taught as a kid was a lie. >> this place, where the story begins, seems created not for lies but for love. the tranquil waters and soft sunsets of bradenton, florida. and though the local sheriff's office may seem an unlikely place to find love, here's where it struck a county detective named bob mcclancy. >> do you have anything to say, bobby? >> i have a lot to say. how many hours do we have left on the tape? >> a funny man. >> welcome to pasquale's kitchen. >> and very kind, said his nieces. not just to people. >> he'd be so excited to go over there to see like what new animal he got, or he'd be like oh, i got a new bird, come over and see it. >> give me a kiss. >> he had got us little turtles as kids. >> he was a real animal guy. >> he was. >> loved animals.
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>> say hi, kristen. >> loved his nieces too. >> he used to take us out on the boat. he just always took care of us. >> just like he took care of his sister kathy when they were kids. >> it was always like the two of us doing everything. >> causing havoc. >> as a sheriff's deputy, said his sister kathy, he once faced down a violent gang. >> they had knocked him to the ground and took his gun and everything and beat him up. as a matter of fact, i believe that they fired a shot. but it missed. >> so he barely made it through that one. >> yeah. >> his marriage couldn't take it. and bob mcclancy sought love elsewhere. and then a southern belle at the sheriff's department, an aloof secretary known as the office wiz, caught his eye. her name was martha ann. >> was he crazy about martha ann? >> yes, he was. >> he was really smitten? >> yeah. >> how close were the two of them? could you tell that? >> very. >> they seemed very close. >> very much in love. >> as much as we knew them, they
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were -- they always looked out for each other. >> it was a real love match. >> yes. >> martha ann had two sons. >> i always respected my mom. >> she was very charming. highly intelligent. >> shawn was adopted as a baby, met jen as a teenager, and she became his wife. where shawn was from was not discussed at home. but then he had martha ann, the only mother he'd ever known. >> a mother is the sun and the moon and the stars to a little kid. did it feel like she was? >> i was always told since a young age that the only people you can trust completely are your parents. >> in the mid 90s shawn's mom, martha ann, was going through a painful divorce. and then fell for the detective, bob. >> bob was very down to earth, and he taught me a lot of things. >> like what? >> how to be a man.
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how to be a real person. >> it sounds like you liked bob. >> i liked bob a lot. >> in 1995 bob and martha ann got married. and on holidays bob's sister kathy got closer to martha ann. >> we'd go out shopping. that was our big thanksgiving. you know, bobby would stay home and the girls would just take off and go shopping. >> bob and martha ann retired in the late '90s, left florida, and bought a big secluded hillside cabin in coker creek, eastern tennessee, in the shadow of the smoky mountains, not far from where martha ann grew up. a place where a man could forget about being a cop and all that violence. by then shawn and jen had their own family and visited from time to time. >> bob especially would -- >> oh, yeah. >> -- treat our kids great. >> he was fond of them. >> he was the real deal. >> martha ann went back to work, accounting job.
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she loved numbers. and they made time for friends too like debbie hartman. >> we met in church. bob and martha ann just became very dear friends. >> ain martha ann debbie found her soulmate. >> she was what i would refer to as the quintessential southern lady. she was like a sister to me. we had the same type of upbringing, the same type of morals. we had fun together. we enjoyed sharing recipes together. she had two boys. i had two girls. we'd talk about our children. we just were very, very close. >> over the years they shared cookouts, road trips, church events. >> just like two peas from the same pod. >> and you could just see, said debbie, how much bob and martha ann loved each other. >> never once did i hear them argue or have a sour word against one another. never. just very loving. the perfect couple.
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>> and then, may 2006, when martha ann was at work a family friend stopped by to see bob at home. and in front of him, well, he called 911. >> 911 what is your emergency? >> he appears to be cold to the touch. >> martha ann got home, then called for her friend, debbie. >> and she's screaming and she's saying bob's dead. and i'm like, bob's dead? >> coming up -- what happened to bob mcclancy? >> i cried for ten hours. i couldn't believe we lost such a great man. >> shocking. >> the two of us just cried our eyes out. next thing you know the sheriff comes out. and i'm like what in the world's going on? and she's like, i don't know. >> when "dateline" continues. tis another bundle in the books. got to hand it to you, jamie. your knowledge of victorian architecture really paid off this time. nah, just got lucky.
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2006. coker creek, eastern tennessee. 5:00 p.m. >> 911, where is your emergency? >> i just walked into the residence. it's the mcclancy residence. the -- mr. mcclancy appears to be expired. >> bob mcclancy, 56 years old, was lying in his favorite recliner. the caller, a family friend, said the body was already cold. >> we're on the way out there. okay? >> thanks. >> the friend hung up and waited for first responders. >> i was a detective, had been a detective for almost a year. >> travis jones, then a detective with the monroe county sheriff's department, was one of the first to go into the house. >> what did you see when you got there? >> i found robert mcclancy in a recliner. had a pistol in one hand, empty bottle of pills in the other hand. >> have you ever seen such a thing before? >> no. >> the gun hadn't been fired.
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but there were pills strewn all over bob mcclancy's body. a white foam around his mouth. pointed to an overdose. and a do not resuscitate order signed by bob mcclancy and left in the kitchen said he wanted to die. >> did you see this not resuscitate order? >> i did. >> it looked like suicide. and martha ann had to spread the dreadful news to bob's sister and nieces in florida. >> when you got the call, what does it do to you to hear that about somebody you're so close to? >> we're just like in disbelief. >> it's like a nightmare. >> yeah. >> shocking. >> can't imagine. >> when she told me he took an overdose and killed himself. >> do you still remember that moment? >> yes, i do. it affected me quite a while. >> shawn too was grief-stricken when he heard about his stepdad's death. must have come as a shock. >> i think i cried for ten hours driving from florida to
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tennessee. i couldn't believe we lost such a great man. >> but shocking as it was, to those who knew bob intimately it was not a complete surprise. why? four letters. ptsd. post-traumatic stress disorder. back when the vietnam war was sinking into its bloody depths bob volunteered to go as a marine. it took its toll. as did life-threatening incidents during his police career. bob had been on heavy medications but still suffered flashbacks, nightmares, depression. >> he said to me one day, "i'm kind of having a rough time at the moment. i've not been sleeping real well." and he said so i'll give up and sit in the chair in the hallway. and what worries me is if i fall asleep in the chair and maybe martha ann will get up to go to the restroom maybe i'll attack her. he said, you know, "i'm having
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issues." and he said "it kind of worries me." >> martha ann told debbie she was very troubled. >> she said i'm trying but when i'm at work he'll get into spells. she said bob is abusing it. >> bob's sister kathy had also seen warning signs. how did you become aware that ptsd was really beginning to become a factor in his life that had to be dealt with? >> we had been up for thanksgiving and he had explained to me that right after the holidays that there was a program and he was going to enter it. >> when that came up that he was going to enter that program i found it shocking. >> shocking? >> yeah. he never -- >> because he never seemed like that at all. >> he never seemed like that. he never seemed like anything bothered him. >> bob's new year resolution for 2006 was to finally beat ptsd. and in january he set off to nashville for an intensive six-week program run by the v.a.
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soon after he got there he called his sister kathy with hope in his voice. he'd made a new friend. his roommate, charles kizmarzik. went by chuck. >> he had told me that he finally found somebody to talk to that understood what he went through in vietnam because chuck was there. >> yeah, you kind of need somebody who's been through the same thing i guess. >> yeah, right. so he was happy. >> bob's new veteran friend chuck was no average grunt. he was the very model of a war hero. special forces air man. citations for valor. earned in the most daring operations. and such a big shot he was invited to the presidential inauguration. >> do solemnly swear. >> chuck was a sort of tonic bob seemed to need. >> this relationship continued after the program was over, right? >> yes. >> after they got out of the program in february, bob spent most of his time with chuck. he lived not far away in knoxville. as they did handyman jobs at
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each other's homes. >> bob had kind of replaced everybody else with chuck. you know, chuck was everything. >> but bob's ptsd persisted. martha ann did what she could to pick up bob's spirits, though that seemed to backfire when she got a makeover. >> she had had her hair cut short and blond. >> big change. >> big change. and i'm like oh, my god, you look beautiful. and she says, well, i'm certainly glad you like it. she said, because bob doesn't like it at all. he had a fit that i cut my hair off. i said, but a lot of men like ladies with long hair, so you know, give him time, he'll come around. >> when martha ann was at work, chuck kept an eye on bob. >> chuck was right there. >> but bob was in a downward spiral. martha ann complained that bob was abusing his anti-depressants. and martha ann and chuck found themselves managing one painful
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scare after another. in one episode they rushed bob to the va hospital more than three hours away passed out in the car. >> out of it. out of it. i understand they had to stop the car because they thought they were going to have to do cpr on him. >> bob was stabilized and after he was deemed well enough sent home. two days later on that monday in may martha ann got up early and went to work as usual. she'd arranged for chuck to check in on bob that afternoon. it was he who found bob and called 911. debbie arrived later to find police cars and ambulances and a frantic martha ann. >> and so the two of us just sat there and just hugged each other and bawled. and you know, just cried our eyes out. it was horrible. bob was dead. next thing you know, the sheriff comes out with chuck in a z
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shirt. and i'm like what in the world's going on? and she's like, i don't know. so they drove off with chuck. >> coming up -- police have some questions for chuck. >> to come in, find your friend dead. >> he wasn't rushing around at all upset? >> no. he was calm. which was kind of suspicious. >> maybe you've got a crime here. >> yes. >> when "dateline" continues. ys >> when "dateline" continues ♪ [ sneeze ] skip to cold relief fast with alka seltzer plus severe powerfast fizz. dissolves quickly. instantly ready to start working. ♪ oh, what a relief it is! so fast!
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martha ann was a mess. her husband, bob, dead of an overdeas of ptsd medications. and she couldn't even get back into her own house. so her best friend debbie and her husband took her in. >> and you know, the three of us just -- you know, why? what happened? you know, crying. all night long. just sobbing and in disbelief that bob was gone. >> to be there for my mom i left immediately and drove through the night. >> and shawn was filled with a flood of sorrow and guilt that he hadn't been there for his stepdad bob as bob had been there for him. >> bob took care of me every day. >> that will make you feel close to a person. >> it did.
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>> debbie dried in vain to ease martha ann's grief. >> i would bring up, you know, fun things that we had done with bob. >> have a cry about it. >> it would be like, and now we're not going to have that anymore. you know, and then i'd start bawling. and of course she'd start bawling with me. >> and to make it even worse, bob's best friend chuck had been taken away by sheriff's deputies. and so debbie watched as martha ann tried to cope with her own sorrow. as she planned her husband's funeral. anxious at the same time for her friend, that those small town cops had the wrong idea about chuck. >> and i thought okay, this was bob's best buddy now. you know, you're grieving for bob and now you've got to take care of chuck. >> tough situation for her. >> tough situation. >> which was about to get tougher. courtesy of that smalltown sheriff's deputy travis jones. something strange here, he thought. he and the other detectives.
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>> so they held chuck for questioning. for one thing, why was he so cool? his best buddy was lying there dead. >> he wasn't kind of rushing around at all upset or anything like that? >> no. >> calm? >> he was calm. which was kind of suspicious in itself. to come in, find your friend dead and he was calm. >> as he had been calm and kind of strange on the 911 call. >> mr. mcclancy appears to be expired. >> the operator suggested chuck might try to revive bob. >> if you want to try to do some type of cpr on him i can give you instructions -- >> i'm cpr qualified -- we do have a do not resuscitate order on him. >> chuck didn't seem to want to save his own best friend. and to the detective that do not resuscitate order seemed maybe just a little too convenient. >> maybe you've got a crime here. >> yes. >> travis jones wasn't alone. bob's sister kathy had her doubts too. kathy knew bob suffered from
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ptsd and took medication. but she refused to believe her brother would kill himself. >> he could have part of his finger hanging off, he would duct tape it up and keep going. you know. >> that's the kind of guy you saw too? >> yeah. >> so a pill-popping brother didn't make any sense to you. >> no. did not. >> suspicions deepened. a week later when they traveled to bob's funeral in eastern tennessee. deep in their grief, they met the friend who'd reported bob's death to the police. and who was back in the community. as police continued to look into him. his name was chuck kazmarzik. >> how would you describe the guy is this. >> he was very creepy. there was just something about him like when he looked at you it was almost like he could just stare through you. >> shawn and jen saw the same. >> he seemed like a tough military guy. >> there was a look about him. >> the cold stare. >> yeah.
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>> then kathy got a copy of the 911 call. and what she heard sounded like the verbal equivalent of a thousand-yard stare. >> mr. mcclancy appears to be expired. >> and i played the tape. i played it over and over and wrote it word for word, what was in the tape. and it didn't make sense, a couple of things. first he said he didn't touch the body. then he told the 911 operator when he asked about cpr, he said he didn't need it, he was already gone. now, if he didn't touch the body, how would you know he was gone? >> how do you go on after that when you're full of these doubts and suspicions? >> you go on. you don't have a choice. you know. but i knew i would not let it drop. >> but in the end even though chuck was questioned at length everything he did put under a microscope, the suspicion appeared to be unfounded. >> the coroner actually ruled it a suicide. >> and then in the weeks and
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months after bob's death as suspicions dissipated like the mist on the surrounding hills, chuck could once again walk with his head held high. >> when we did the veterans parade in knoxville they put him on the top because he was the most highly decorated. >> after the awful tragedy of bob's death chuck got on with his life again, said good-bye to his dear friend, and comforted bob's widow, martha ann. oh, boy. coming up -- >> he's lost his best friend. she's lost her husband. >> two grieving friends with growing feelings. >> it was like somebody just dropped a bomb on my head. >> a cruise ship courtship? >> i looked at her and i said, are you and chuck together? >> when "dateline" continues. ins did you know that 70% of your immune system
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likely need a walking boot after fracturing his foot while playing with his dog. officials initially believed he twisted his ankle but a ct scan revealed otherwise. biden will receive his first presidential daily briefing on monday. and biden has also named his white house senior communications staff, choosing an all-woman team led by jen psaki as his first press secretary. she worked as communications director under president obama. now back to "dateline." in the wake of bob's death in may 2006 it was only natural, said debbie, that martha ann stayed in touch with chuck. they shared a tremendous loss. >> he's lost his best friend. she's lost her husband. >> they're commiserating. >> they're commiserating. they're helping each other through this grief. >> and there was something else. >> chuck said that martha ann was not feeling good, she was having issues with her back. >> so it made sense martha ann would reduce her chores at home.
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bob, remember, loved animals, but the menagerie was too much for martha ann. so her son shawn helped her downsize. >> bob had an animal rescue that he ran out of his home. >> right there. >> he had seven dogs and he had a couple cats and chickens and some goats and she started to get rid of all these animals as soon as he had passed away. >> then there were other changes. weeks after bob's death martha ann invited debbie and her husband to celebrate chuck's birthday. dinner at chuck's place. >> when we got there, martha ann's dining room set was in chuck's dining room. >> what did you think when you saw that? >> i said, your furniture's up here. and she said, well, it certainly suits his house a whole lot better than mine. >> but they're just friends. >> they're friends. they're friends. >> still, how close were they getting? >> i called her one day, and i
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said, jim and i are going to take a cruise. >> debbie and her husband had gotten an incredible deal from a friend on a week-long caribbean cruise. >> and she said, well, do you think chuck and i could go on that cruise? and it was like somebody had just dropped a bomb on my head. >> chuck and i? >> and i said, if there's still spaces available i'm sure she'll be glad to accommodate you. >> it turned out there was still space. and martha ann and chuck shared a cabin. >> and so we're on this cruise ship and every event, you know, they're all dressed matchy matchy. >> and now at meal times when the waiter took orders chuck spoke for martha ann. >> chuck would speak up and say, "the lady will have," and then he would order for her. >> when guests around the table rolled their eyes, said debbie, martha ann stiffened. >> she said, "my mother taught
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etiquette, and a waiter would never have the nerve to speak to a lady." >> oh, my goodness. >> we were just all speechless. we were like, hello. do you know what century we're living in? have you heard of women's lib? we're allowed to order for ourselves. i was just absolutely floored that she would make a statement like that. you know, a waiter would never have the nerve to speak to a lady. >> wow. >> and i thought, well, number one, that is not chuck. i mean, he wouldn't know what right fork to use. excuse me. >> debbie at last confronted her good friend. and that's when the other shoe dropped. >> and i looked at her, and i said, "are you and chuck together?" and she said, "yeah." and i said, "are you going to get married?" and she goes, "oh, heavens, no." >> though she was surprised,
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debbie wanted her good friend to be happy and when the ship docked in cozumel, mexico the group disembarked, went shopping and then returned to the liner and compared their treasures. >> i said what did you guys get? and martha ann's like, "you'll just have to wait and see." very mysterious. and it was kind of fun. >> a few weeks after the cruise and months after bob's death, martha ann invited debbie and her husband to lunch. >> she said, "i have something to show you." and i said to her, is this our cozumel surprise? and she pulls out a ring box that has the most gorgeous wedding set you'd ever want to lay eyes on. it was breathtaking. >> rings? >> and i'm like, oh, my god, i can't believe this. >> they weren't getting married immediately. but when that time came, martha ann assured debbie she would
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play the supporting role. >> she said, i want you to be my maid of honor. and i'm like oh, yeah, i'm excited. absolutely. i would love to be. you know, and i'm ecstatic for you. and i would be very honored to be your maid of honor. >> big deal to be asked. >> big deal. >> so in spite of the apparent sneaking around, thought debbie, there was something almost poetic about the romance between martha ann and chuck. and maybe dear old bob would approve. >> i'm just so happy that the two of you, you know, have found one another. you know, i know we've lost somebody dear to us, but something good has come out of this. so congratulations. >> and besides romance, there was so much more to celebrate. martha ann and chuck were going places. they were about to be transformed from local tennessee romantic partners into a sophisticated washington, d.c. power couple. only in america.
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coming up -- >> she met a man from the fbi, and she would be traveling on secret missions. >> flying on air force two or something. >> right. with the vice president. >> martha ann's secret sudden change of fortune. >> sitting in front of my house is this gorgeous $350,000 motor home bus. >> wow. >> and it was to die for. >> when "dateline" continues. nus what about rob's dry cough? works on that too, and lasts 12 hours. 12 hours?! who studies that long? mucinex dm relieves wet and dry coughs. olay regenerist faced 131 premium products, is skincare from around the world better than olay? from 12 countries, over 10 years. olay's hydration was unbeaten every time. face anything. find out more at olay.com
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it was five months or so after bob's death, late 2006. martha ann and chuck were about to move up in the world. martha ann broke the news to bob's sister, kathy. she had parlayed her office wizardry into a big new high-profile adventure with the federal government, would be spending time in washington, d.c. >> she told me one day that she met a man from the fbi and he offered her a job as his secretary. she was getting a security clearance and she would be traveling out of country on secret missions. >> as a secretary? >> yeah. >> it wasn't long before martha ann was promoted, as she told kathy. she was transferred to the state department. very hush-hush. she had a limo at her disposal.
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two passports. and with a government pension would never have any money worries again. her schedule filled up fast. she was apparently moving in the very highest circles. >> she was already working for -- or flying on air force two. >> right. with the vice president. >> including travel to undisclosed locations. >> she's kind of hard to get hold of. >> oh, there was no way of getting hold of her. >> shawn, though he moved to tennessee with jen and the kids and became a bridge inspector, couldn't reach his mom either. >> i would call my mom to check in on her, and she would go missing for a month at a time. two months at a time. and you couldn't reach her by cell phone or home phone and as we find out she's out traveling the country. >> and though she was clearly very busy, martha ann along with
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chuck carved out time to give back. to volunteer. together they traveled the country, visiting military facilities. they presided over dedications and ceremonies honoring troops. and chuck handed flags to war widows at cemeteries. >> chuck would go out with all these medals. and he'd go to the local high school and to veterans' parades. >> he also reconnected with the guys he'd served with way back when. they recalled old times. >> when i first met chuck, he had just started his training. he just fit in like all the other guys. he was just one of us. >> he seemed to be a nice guy. >> bill walter and p.j. cook are combat veterans who with chuck were gunners on some of the most powerful gun ships in the u.s. arsenal back in vietnam. they lost touch. easy to do in such a sprawling military. but decades later p.j. ran into chuck at a reunion of his gunship unit called the specter
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association. >> so it was kind of just good to see the guy because he was just a guy we served with. i just assumed he completed his career like i did. and i served 22 years. bill served 30. we gave our whole life to this unit. >> back in the old days, said bill, chuck's nickname was kaz. but now kaz had come up in the world, from the lowest ranks to the highest. >> so i go up there and i talk to him and i said hey, kaz, what's up, man? how you been doing? he says, "oh, i retired here a couple years ago." really? wow. and i said, well, what was your rank? "i retired as a chief." i'm like, really? >> as the former airmen caught up on more than 25 years, chuck flashed his medals. >> and chuck says, "you guys should check your classified records. the va checked my classified records and i found out i got a whole bunch of really high medals from my operations in
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vietnam." >> chuck invited p.j. to his home in knoxville, tennessee. >> and i personally saw these awards on the wall in his house up in tennessee. >> what did you think when you saw them? >> oh, i was floored. and i said oh, well, that's really great. you got this. he goes yeah, they finally released these from classification and here they are. >> and chuck had an idea. he figured the specter association could benefit from martha ann's high-wattage political and business savvy. >> hey, anybody that volunteers to help is great. >> and as the months went by martha ann carved out time from her schedule to become association secretary. >> she was our recorder. yes. she was really good at taking down notes and making paper and so forth. >> association members were so impressed with the couple that chuck was promoted to the board. he and martha ann traveled internationally, representing specter, carrying the unit's
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mascot. and there was time for fun too. they reveled in their newfound happiness, enjoyed their new responsibilities of course but also decided to live a little. >> just out of nowhere they said that boy, we'd certainly like to have an rv. and my wife says, well, you know, my boss is selling a beautiful rv. well, of course they went and looked at the rv and liked it a lot. so they made him an offer. >> right next to the rv, chuck noticed a garaged anniversary edition corvette. tempting. even though he already had a mercedes convertible. >> he said, well, i like corvettes too. show me that. next thing you know, they bought the corvette too. >> and pretty soon they were parading their new toys for their old friend debbie. >> i hear a knock on the front door and i open the door and sitting in the front of my house is this gorgeous like $350,000 motor home bus. >> wow. >> and it was to die for.
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this is what the wealthiest of the wealthiest drive. it had been custom made. >> to debbie and others martha ann and chuck had made it. they put bob's painful death behind them and were now a high-powered couple doing good things and living well. the sort of success a person wants to share. in early 2008 chuck relished the opportunity to share with a group of young people stories about his many combat exploits. and what do you know? when he made his speech, there was a reporter in the room writing it all down for the local paper. oops. coming up -- >> she said, oh, there's more to this story. >> new lies that seemed like a dream. but dhuk achuck and martha ann n for a very rude awakening. >> the b.s. alarms are going off in my head like you wouldn't believe. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues this week on "the upper hands"...
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amazing, isn't it? how life can change on a dime. in the spring of 2006 martha ann was burying her husband and great love, bob mcclancy. but by the end of the year she had rebuilt her life and had a new partner, chuck. in the meantime bob's sister kathy had questions for martha ann about chuck but couldn't reach her. what with the state department travel schedule and air force two duties. >> i wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but at that time when i told my older sister what was going on she said, oh, there's more to this story. >> kathy still wanted answers about her brother's death, but you know how people can start to sound like broken records? >> i think my family, friends, probably everybody was tired of listening to me saying this isn't right, i know something
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had to have happened. >> when martha ann found the time to respond to kathy she told her she was imagining things. >> did she accuse you of meddling? >> yeah. she said your brother always said you that always had to get in people's business, you could never just let things -- let things lie. and i guess that was true. i don't stop till i find out. >> then she said martha ann got even more snippy. >> she literally told me that i needed psychiatric help, i need to get over the fact that my brother killed himself. and i said i will never, i will never believe that. >> but kathy wasn't the only one getting the brush-off from martha ann. remember how martha ann promised that when she eventually got married her best friend debbie would be maid of honor? at the monthly meeting of the corvette club in knoxville debbie got a surprise when the chairperson asked new members to
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stand. and -- >> all of a sudden i hear this "hi, my name's chuck kaczmarczyk and this is any wife martha ann and we've bought an anniversary edition corvette." >> just a second. when he got up at the back of the room that day and said i'm chuck and this is my wife, this is the first you knew they were married? >> this is how i found out. sxl y >> you must have been asleep that day when you were maid of honor. >> i guess i must have been. sa so i said actually i was kind of hurt. >> i'm not surprised sxwlp and i said when did you all get married? >> oh, we went on a cruise and got married on the beach down in some island. and i said, wow, you know, i'm happy for you. i'm happy for you. >> rude awakening. but nothing compared to the morning early in 2008 soon after chuck gave his speech to a group of students eager to hear about his many and heroic combat exploits. and a story about chuck's talk
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appeared in the newspaper. vets who read it reacted with outrage. at the same time bill walter was hearing about chuck from another veterans group. >> he was telling all of his war stories to them, and these guys were like, we never even heard about you before. we've had these reunions for 30-some-odd years and this is the first one? your name isn't anywhere on here. >> special forces guys like bill and p.j. didn't brag about their service. >> i'm like, it's just some guy spouting off, talking trash, trying to impress his buddies. >> people wouldn't to aggrandize their service, right? >> yeah? guys do, but it's very rare around our people to do that, especially when they're doing it in front of our own people. >> the veterans called chuck out. >> well, chuck went home all mad because they challenged him. doggone it, they cannot challenge me. >> no. and chuck sent the group his official military records. just to prove he was telling the truth. he also told them due to an
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emergency he'd be dropping out of circulation for a while, wouldn't be able to attend any more reunions anytime soon. >> and the b.s. alarms are going off in my head like you wouldn't believe. >> bill and the others informed the air force, and then the air force contacted the veterans administration, asked them to check this guy out. the job fell to former marine and investigator for the v.a.'s office of inspector general in nashville, special agent nate lamcammer. >> this is definitely the case of a career. i don't think i'll work anything like this again. just because of the different twists and turns. >> twists and turns that would end up leading to a chilling conclusion. and right away here's what nate heard. >> the people who had served with him were very emphatic that he had not participated in these missions. he specifically talked about the iran hostage rescue, being a part of that. being at the fall of saigon in vietnam. >> he said he was there for all the big -- the big stuff. >> yes. >> naturally, nate's first step was to check chuck's service
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records. so he went back to the air force and was surprised by what he found in chuck's file. not what he expected. >> his records did contain items substantia substantiating significant combat service in vietnam and after vietnam. >> did he have a silver star -- >> purple heart. the distinguished flying cross. some very, very high -- >> this is big deal stuff. >> very high awards. and they were substantiated by names and socials and names of missions and dates that these missions took place. >> so as far as the air force knew, he was on the up and up. >> yes. >> which presented a dilemma for the va investigator. >> so you got really good-looking documents but you're sitting in somebody's living room and he's saying to you that's all b.s. >> yes. from the air force service members that i talked to that served with him every one of them was emphatic that he did not participate in any combat. >> at all. >> at all. >> so nate went back to the air force.
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asked them to double-check. >> the air force really started poring over these documents of the missions and the order numbers and rather quickly determined that these were all forged documents, they were not legitimate. >> yes, chuck had been in the air force. but no act of heroism. chuck had doctored old mission records, inserting his name and some official-looking stamps, all of it convincing enough he was able to get the forged documents entered into his own air force record. >> so he'd gone to an awful lot of trouble to lie about his service. >> yes, he did. >> and if he'd lie about his service, nate wondered what else the phony war hero might be hiding. so he kept digging. because down deep, where it really gets mucky, evil lives. and quite possibly evidence of an unimaginable crime. coming up -- nate lancammer would launch a special operation to learn the truth. >> we started doing surveillance
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on charles and martha ann. >> chuck in a wheelchair? exactly what were they up to? a crime far darker than anything investigators imagined. >> it just really, really gave you the sense of whoever did this was very evil. >> when "dateline" continues. vicks vapopatch. easy to wear with soothing vicks vapors for her, for you, for the whole family. trusted soothing vapors, from vicks my job is to help new homeowners who have turned into their parents. i'm having a big lunch and then just a snack for dinner. so we're using a speakerphone in the store. is that a good idea? one of the ways i do that is to get them out of the home.
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chuck kaczmarczyk didn't know it, but he was under investigation. while his military record engraved him into the pages of american history, borne out by a chest full of ribbons, the combat veterans who knew him were saying this guy was a fake. after a close inspection air force officials were inclined to agree. they determined the documents chronicling chuck's heroics were forgeries. and that was no joke to v.a. investigator and former marine nate landkammer. >> it's very offensive. very offensive to me.
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>> personally. >> yes. >> wasn't he like appearing at arlington cemetery to give flags to widows and so on? >> he was appearing at funerals wearing his purple heart and comforting widows of servicemen who had died in combat. >> oh, but it got worse. as nate kept digging, he discovered something about martha ann. martha ann, who'd never donned a military uniform in her life, showed up at a veterans retreat and claimed that she too had rank and medals and combat experience. she showed off a purple heart. >> several of the attendees at this retreat specifically remember her talking all about and working at the pentagon, being at the pentagon during the 9/11 attacks. and charles was also telling people that yeah, she's a full bird colonel in the marine corps retired. >> and nobody questioned her then?
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>> no. they believed her. >> but nate discovered that military glory, that big-time government career didn't exist. any of it. there was no high-profile state department job in washington, d.c. no travel aboard air force two with the vice president. no undisclosed locations. they were all the fantastic stories of two sophisticated con artists. a con that wasn't just about social prestige either. it was about cash. chuck and his documents? >> i knew we had a very substantial fraud case because those documents in particular were used to get benefit money from the va and social security as source documents that gave a legitimacy to his claim. >> chuck was claiming thousands of dollars a month in disability payments. and then look at this. looked like martha ann was helping chuck. for example, on statements she
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signed supporting chuck's claim for 100% disability. >> she claimed that he was homebound and he could not take care of himself. he would not be able to feed himself. he wouldn't bathe, he would just be wandering around the house aimlessly. >> the guy's in bad shape. >> really bad shape. he should be getting more money from the va than what they're paying him. >> it looked to nate like he'd uncovered a major scam. and if chuck was scamming the va, what was martha ann up to? nate ran her name. and what do you know? martha ann was getting social security disability payments herself. >> because of? >> she claimed to have back issues where she couldn't walk, she was wheelchair-bound. >> and he found out that while martha ann was entitled to some of her dead husband's benefits she was claiming a lot more. together martha ann and chuck were bilking the government for about $10 n10,000 a month. nate wanted martha ann and
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chuck, or charles as his name appeared in the records, to be charged with fraud. but first he needed proof they were lying about being disabled. so -- >> we started doing surveillance on charles and martha ann. >> nate and fellow investigators got into the back of a surveillance van with their video camera. and they waited. >> we had several agents all participating in surveillance. >> and it wasn't long before martha ann and chuck appeared outside their home. here they are supposedly disabled people but by the look of it perfectly fit. >> we'd observed them doing hours and hours of yard work outside their home. >> strenuous stuff. >> yes, very strenuous stuff for hours at a time. at their knoxville house. watched them pressure-washing their driveway and their house and clearing brush. >> bending over. no sign of back trouble. lifting heavy objects. but look at this.
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here they are arriving at the va for one of chuck's regular assessments. >> you assumed their demeanor was going to change anyway. >> well, we quickly found out that that was the case. >> martha ann lifts a heavy wheelchair out of the car. chuck gets in. she wheels him into the va center. a picture that might wring pity from even the hardest heart. sometimes when they followed martha ann -- >> she was moving out pretty good to where you would almost break a sweat trying to keep up with her. >> and when martha ann had her appointments? she and chuck would switch positions. >> it actually got to be kind of humorous. >> but the couple had only one wheelchair. so nate got to thinking. and -- >> here's how dr. seuss would write it. and then nate got an idea. a wonderful, devious idea. but it's true in a way, isn't it? >> yes. >> what if nate arranged the schedules so that martha ann and chuck had their appointments at the very same time?
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who would get in the wheelchair then, he wondered. what happened? >> coming up -- a conniving couple caught in a trap. >> this can't be true. >> when "dateline" continues. thn we come together and make our own holiday magic. because a gift for home brings joy to all. find holiday decorations, gifts and great deals at lowes.com. alice loves the scent of gain so much, she wished there was a way to make it last longer. say hello to your fairy godmother alice. and long-lasting gain scent beads. part of the irresistible scent collection from gain!
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va investigator nate land skamer had set a trap. he knew martha ann and chuck had just one wheelchair as they faked disability. so he set up appointments for them at the social security facility at the same time. >> so they arrived at the facility and then as we suspected they only had one wheelchair. so charles instead of using a wheelchair, he had a walker and a cane. >> a walker and a cane? >> a walker and a cane both. >> and a knee brace. >> stilt leg. >> stilt-legged.
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and then he was toting an oxygen tank as well. >> as chuck fumbled his way inside, nate and his agents were waiting. busted. >> i interviewed charles. we pulled him into an office. and then martha ann was being questioned by another va oig agent in the social security administration, oig agent. >> martha ann and chuck kaczmarczyk had been found out. chuck was no decorated hero. he'd never once seen combat. no silver stars. no purple hearts. those ribbons, all fake. and martha ann had never walked the hallways of the pentagon as a marine colonel, much less been in the 9/11 attack or flown on air force two. confronted with the evidence, they confessed to perpetuating a complex and massive fraud and fake disability claims. >> had you or your partners in the investigation ever encountered people who were so complexly fraudulent? >> i don't think i'll work
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another case like this in my career. >> but the really sinister stuff was yet to unfold. because family and friends were only just finding out about the fraud. in the summer of 2012 over early morning coffee martha ann's best friend debbie hartman was reading her newspaper. >> and i'm thinking to myself, this can't be true. this can't be true. so i start yelling at the top of my lungs, "jim, get up. you've got to come see this." >> debbie's husband, jim, is a marine veteran. neither he nor debbie could believe what they were reading. >> fooled the federal government. stole money from our veterans. >> is it the money that mattered or the -- >> oh, no. it was the fact that they took it out of veterans' pockets that need it. that's -- that just sticks in my craw. that hurts. >> it must be something to know that this woman who was your
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best friend hid herself from you and conned you all these years. >> absolutely. took me for a complete sucker. >> chuck too. >> he would go and present the flags to a widow of a veteran that lost his life. that's cruel. the people that he took in under that don't deserve that. >> and it wasn't long before sean and jen were reading online in disbelief about sean's own mother martha ann caught in an outrageous fraud with chuck. >> and we found out that they were arrested on eight federal indictments. >> that's how you found out? >> that is how we found out. we had no idea. >> made your heart stop. heart-wrenching. >> very overwhelming. >> martha ann stole her dead husband's valor. >> my mom never served a single day in any armed services unit. she assumed bob's purple heart and told these veterans groups
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that that was her purple heart that she received in the 9/11 pentagon attack. >> by early 2013 martha ann and chuck were sentenced. >> charles got 30 months federal and then martha ann got 20. >> they'd spent most of their ill-gotten gains of course. so before she began her prison sentence martha ann prepared to sell the house for restitution. >> she started, you know, boxing up all of her belongings and selling things and closing up the house. >> but martha ann was a notorious pack rat. she had kept everything. trunks full of clothes. thousands of pages of receipts, contracts, documents. so what did she do? she gave them to her son sean and his wife, jen, for safekeeping. >> if she asked me to do something, i will do it. >> well, and in a way i suppose if she gave things to you then
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the feds or the other investigative agencies maybe wouldn't have access to them. >> well, yes. >> right. >> but when those boxes of records arrived, sean and jen dived in ravenously to see what they could uncover. >> who keeps all those documents? >> 30,000. >> 30,000 documents? >> 30,000. >> that must have been some job going through all this stuff. >> it was overwhelming. it was. >> i did feel conflicted about digging into my mom's affairs. but i had to know the truth. >> then sean turned on one of the computers his mom had sent for safekeeping. he intended their kids to use it. so he wanted to be sure it was clean. he checked the trash bin and couldn't believe what he saw. >> and there were photos of my stepdad, bob, deceased. >> dead. >> dead. there were many photos in there. >> they were photos of bob mcclancy lying dead in his
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recliner in 2006. >> what was it like to see those pictures? >> disturbing. >> here were the pictures that told an entirely different story to what sean and jen knew. >> and one picture bob would have a pistol in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other. in another picture bob would just have a bottle of pills. and nothing in the other hand. >> and it was odd the way he was in the chair. the way his leg was placed, looking back at that i think you could tell that was body manipulation. >> the pictures didn't appear to be police photos because they were all apparently taken before any police arrived on the scene. >> so you called the cops? >> right away. >> sean, conflicted, was suddenly faced with the prospect he may be implicating his own mom. and so torn, he called nate the va investigator and began to tell him all about bob mcclancy's death in 2006. >> he said i just want to talk to you guys about this and get it off my chest because it's
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really been bothering me and if there's nothing to it great but if there is i think it needs to be investigated. >> like pulling a string, isn't it? >> yes. >> and now the string led back in time. six years back. so that dismal afternoon in the tennessee hills when chuck called 911 to report a suicide. >> it was just part of a very complex, evil scheme. you know, that was the sense that i got when i first saw the photographs. >> so maybe this wasn't after all just a fraud case. maybe, he thought, someone had gotten away with murder. coming up -- the old suspicions about chuck. what had happened to the investigation all those years ago? >> it was devastating. i felt guilty about it. >> like you'd blown it. >> yes. >> when "dateline" continues. claim, all on the geico app. it's not just easy. it's giving-your-dog -your-fitness-tracker easy.
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president trump is planning to visit georgia next saturday to campaign for republican senate candidates locked in a critical runoff race. the elections will determine which party controls the senate. millions of americans are heading home traveling back from thanksgiving amid surging coronavirus case numbers. health experts fear that we're now headed into the worst phase of the pandemic with the u.s. now topping 13 million cases total. now back to "dateline." e. va special agent nate landkammer had martha ann mcclancy and chuck kaczmarczyk for fraud. but his investigation was about to take a sudden turn. to evil. he had learned about the suspicious photos sean and jen found in the compurity martha ann had given them. pictures of bob lying dead. >> sean had contacted the u.s. attorney and said i have some information you might want to know that might be helpful to
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the investigation. >> there were a lot of phone conversations between sean and nate and nate and i. >> nate learned there had been an investigation into bob mcclancy's death six years earlier in 2006. remember, detective travis jones had been called to the house after a 911 call placed by chuck. >> i just walked into the residence. it's the mcclancy residence. the -- mr. mcclancy appears to be expired. >> back then the detective thought chuck was asking way too calm. was avoiding cpr on his best friend. and was staging that perhaps too convenient do not resuscitate order. and it turned out the detective had good reason to want to question chuck. after he discovered a digital camera inside a backpack. >> who found the camera? >> i did. >> did you assume anything about its ownership or anything like that? >> no, i just assumed it belonged to the residence there, mr. mcclancy. >> did you think as you're opening it up hey, wait a
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minute, maybe i shouldn't be doing this? or -- >> no, it never crossed my mind at the time because that was standard practice. >> hmm. on the assumption that what? there's no need to get a search warrant for a dead guy's camera. >> right. >> on the camera were pictures of the deceased bob mcclancy, his body positioned differently than the way the police found him. they were the same pictures sean later found on the compurity, some showing bob mcclancy holding a revolver, others the revolver and the pill bottle. >> what did you think when you saw that? >> that we have a staged scene. >> and tough a staged scene maybe you've got a crime here. >> yes. >> that's when the detective decided to question chuck. >> we took him down to the sheriff's office. >> the sheriff's offense confronted with the photo evidence chuck's story changed dramatically. his first statement to the police had been he arrived at the house after bob died and
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called 911. now he was telling them that when he arrived bob wasn't quite dead but was taking his last gasps. >> he had come home, found mr. mcclancy, said he was still alive, and he was barely breathing. >> chuck said he was the one who staged the scene and took the photos because he didn't know bob was going to die. and hoped that photos of his friend suffering might help bob leverage more benefits from the va. >> did you suspect that he killed his friend bob? >> that was a possibility. >> at the time detective jones believed he had at least a case of negligence. >> his negligence caused his death. that was the evidence we had at the time. >> if he had moved quicker or called 911 sooner or tried to do cpr or something, his friend would still be alive? >> he let him die before he called 911. >> chuck was charged with tampering with evidence and criminal negligence.
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so it must have seemed like you kind of had him on that. >> that's what we thought. >> but that's not what happened. before the case could go to trial, a judge ruled the photos taken by chuck were not admissible in a court of law. why? the camera belonged to chuck, not bob, and detective jones had gathered the photos without a search warrant. in the courtroom that was it. the case against chuck kaczmarczyk collapsed. >> go back to that time. when you got that ruling and it was basically thrown out and you weren't going to get the case at all, what was that like for you? >> it was devastating. >> did you feel as if you were responsible -- >> i did. i felt guilty about it. >> like you'd blown it. >> yes. >> six years later, in 2012, chuck was a convicted con man and investigator nate landkammer was looking at the very same images on the computer. >> and i knew that the local sheriff's department had some
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suspicions that chuck had done something but really weren't able to substantiate anything through, you know, charges being able to stick. >> but to nate maybe chuck was up to his lying eyeballs in bob mcclancy's death. >> it just really, really gave you the sense of, you know, whoever set this up and whoever did this and whoever took these pictures was very evil. >> chuck had taken the pictures. but what were they doing on the computer sean got from his mother, martha ann? then nate and the state investigators who joined him came up with a plan. they'd put sean and jen on the spot. that g they'd get sean to spy on his mom. sean was about to become an undercover agent. coming up -- >> what's it like to phone your mother knowing that you're going to be putting her on tape? >> it had to be done.
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i asked her why the pictures were there. >> and she said, "photos of bob?" >> when "dateline" continues. e. you have to wash on cold, because it saves energy. the secret is, tide pods work no matter how you wash. so, everyone is right. it's got to be tide. try garnier micellar water rose. with rose water and micelles that work like a magnet to gently cleanse and remove oils and makeup. and now, even hydrates skin. it's cleansing, reinvented. micellar waters by garnier, naturally.
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it should be noted that sean's relationship with his mother, martha ann, was never particularly warm. martha ann wasn't exactly the cuddly, protective type. >> i think i was more scared of my mom, looking back. >> remember, sean had been adopted as an infant by martha ann and her first husband in florida. he said his mom was strict and quick to punish if sean crossed her red lines. >> you knew that was -- your life was not going to be as pleasant for a period of time. >> what did you think when you saw her treating sean that way? >> it made me angry. >> even so, sean tried to stay
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loyal to his mom. but now he was about to go against her in a way he never could have imagined. he'd seen the photos of bob's dead body, contacted the investigator nate landkammer, and now he and jen were turning up more evidence for nate's investigation. >> we were coming across all of these -- what we would call crazy documents. we couldn't wrap our brain around them. >> and one of those mind-boggling documents was bob mcclancy's will. bob had been married before he met martha ann and had a daughter. the daughter hadn't seen bob in years. and she was cut out of bob's will. >> he wanted nothing to do with her, and i don't want you to know about my death and i'm leaving you $1 of my estate. >> the wording seemed especially harsh. >> i didn't know bob mcclancy. most fathers would not write something this cruel to their only daughter. i just realized that this is just not adding up.
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and it just was very, very suspicious. >> bob's sister, kathy, thought it was fishy too. >> i knew this wasn't bobby's will. i even said that to my daughters unks' uncle bobby would have never put this in here. >> no. never. >> nalt concluded that martha ann, the sole beneficiary, had forged the will. >> came from martha ann. >> came from martha ann. and the will in particular ended up being a major part of the investigation. >> then nate discovered a curious date, or dates. martha ann's wedding to chuck. >> if you wait until after you turn 57 and remarry then, you can keep the benefits for the rest of your life. and she ended up marrying chuck in las vegas, nevada one day after her 57th birthday. which allowed her to keep the va benefits associated with bob for the rest of her life. >> martha ann used the same formula to claim her husband's
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social security disability benefits. >> there was a stipulation under her social security benefits that she could not remarry prior to her 60th birthday. sovg -- >> a little dancing. >> yeah. they then got married again three years to the date after their first marriage. so yeah, they had essentially two marriage dates. >> with so much compelling evidence against martha ann and chuck, nate figured it was more than a coincidence that martha ann had married the man who was last known to be with her husband, bob. if chuck had murdered bob, then martha ann, who'd married chuck just five months after bob's death, must have known something. >> we really never believed that she could be capable of killing bob. >> just who would do such a thing. >> well, and we knew that chuck was the last person with bob. so we really didn't think martha was the one that had killed bob. i think we both believed that it
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was chuck. >> but they wanted to be sure. if there was a murder conspiracy. maybe a son could find out from his mother. they decided to recruit sean, get him to wear a wire and place a call to his mom, martha ann, and ask her what she knew about the photos. sean agreed. >> so he was willing to make the phone call, and we gave him a recording device. >> what's it like to phone your mother knowing that you're going to be putting her on the spot that way on tape with somebody listening? >> well, had to be done. >> are you nervous? >> i was nervous. but at the same time -- >> you've got to know. >> you have to know. >> nate and sean's wife, jen, were listening as the call began. [ phone ringing ] >> we talked for about 45 minutes to an hour. >> he was like, hey, mom, the
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kids were on the computer over the weekend and when i got in the trash i found like over 100 photographs in there of bob dead. >> i asked her why the pictures were there. >> and she said, photos of bob? >> she started saying, i think those are police photos, sean. and he was like, mom, these photographs are not police photos. >> and then he said he has a pill bottle and a pistol and then he doesn't. and he's dead. why are these pictures in here? >> her spontaneous reaction to this being posed to her was for god's sake, sean, delete those photographs. you know. and that was kind of what we were looking for. >> what did you think when you got off that phone call? did you think this woman was part of it? >> i really started thinking that she's guilty. she has more of a role in bob's death than she put on. >> nate agreed. with the suspicious will the wedding dates and the photos of bob's death scene nate and his investigators believed they were dealing with a murder
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conspiracy, that bob had not killed himself with an overdose of anti-depressants but had been deliberately poisoned. and as they confronted their two suspects, one of them was about to sing like a canary. coming up -- >> it was chuck's idea, and he did it. >> a dramatic courtroom showdown. chuck versus martha ann. >> did you kill your husband? >> no, sir, i did not. >> when "dateline" continues. >>s don't worry, julie...
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it was a cold night. december 2012. va special agent nate landkammer waited outside a jail cell in tennessee, nervous, uncertain. inside investigators were trying to persuade chuck kaczmarczyk to reveal finally the real story of that deadly monday in 2006, who
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did what and why. and then out came the investigators. smiles on their faces. chuck talked. >> that was kind of like the culmination of everything, knowing that what we had suspected was correct. >> nate understood full well, the stage was set for an epic he said/she said battle between two major league con artists. he couldn't know whose story would win. but nate was pretty sure the one finally telling the truth was chuck. >> we didn't suspect it anymore. now we know. >> in november 2015 in madisonville, tennessee martha ann mcclancy went on trial. >> she was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. >> attorney matthew rogers was appointed to defend martha ann, accused of poisoning bob with his ptsd medications and conspiring with her lover, chuck, to make bob's death look
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like a suicide. and then stealing bob's assets and benefits. a guilty verdict could mean the death penalty. but martha ann was fully ready to defend herself with an absolute blanket denial. >> she maintained her innocence from the very beginning. she made it very clear that she wanted to speak with the jury and to tell her side of the story. >> there were no cameras in the courtroom. but microphones were allowed. >> bob was the love of my life. i couldn't have imagined losing him. and i didn't want to lose him. i didn't want to be without him. >> and besides, she testified, she didn't need to kill her husband. >> there's these allegations that you and chuck were in this for some financial reason. what do you say about that? >> no, sir. absolutely not. i had my own money. i had my own funds. >> to this day would you be
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better off had bob mcclancy remained alive? >> oh, absolutely. >> martha ann did not benefit from the death of bob mcclancy. she would have received benefits through the government for his military service whether he had remained alive or whether he had passed. >> chuck was the villain, said attorney rogers. chuck played martha ann like a fiddle. >> mrs. mcclancy was snowed by mr. kaczmarczyk's cons and manipulations just as the government had been on numerous occasions in the past. mrs. mcclancy was another victim of mr. kaczmarczyk. >> he had never, ever indicated to me in any way that he had lied about what he had done in the military, about what he had received. i thought that he had all these awards. >> lying chuck, said attorney rogers, would say anything to avoid the blame. >> what did chuck not lie about? he's a habitual liar.
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and that's proven and documented. i was in a position to attack his credibility, and that wasn't very hard. >> it was chuck who forged bob's-l said martha ann. and she went along with it because the content of the will was what bob wanted. >> that was initially chuck's idea? >> it was chuck's idea and he did it. >> to your knowledge you went along with that? >> i did go along with that. >> she had no idea, she said, that chuck was planning to take those awful pictures. and when questioned about the flashy government job she told bob's sister kathy about in washington, d.c., martha ann simply scoffed, said it was a joke. >> i mean, it was just a hoax. that's all in the world it was, was a hoax to more or less get her to stop bugging me. >> attorney rogers took martha ann back to the day bob died. a normal day, she said. >> you went to work that day?
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>> why is. i we . >> yes, sir. i went to work that day. >> and she didn't have a clue anything was wrong, she testified, until she arrived home after 6:00 p.m. >> a young detective came out and took hold of my hands and he said, "this is going to be the most difficult thing that you ever hear." and he said, "your husband has passed away." >> conspiracy with chuck? of course not, she said. >> did you and chuck ever have a conversation about getting rid of your husband? >> no. no, we did not. i don't know where he has come up with this. >> first time she heard about a murder conspiracy, she said, was after she told chuck she wanted to divorce him. in 2012. >> i didn't know about it until much later on when this wild concocted story of my having murdered my husband was told for the first time. it was told by chuck kaczmarczyk. >> did you kill your husband?
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>> no, sir. i did not. i did not kill bob mcclancy. i did not have anything to do with killing bob mcclancy. i cannot tell you anything more than what i know, that he died of a drug overdose. >> and that was martha ann's story. every word of it was true, she swore. >> if martha ann believes that her husband, bob mcclancy, was murdered, she would say that it was chuck kaczmarczyk. he was there with bob mcclancy when he died by admission. he was the one that took photographs of mr. mcclancy and manipulated the scene of the death, whether it was a crime scene or not. >> but the battle of the con artists was just getting started. and the prosecutors believed they had a strong case. >> what was the most important piece of evidence in your view? >> the most important piece of evidence, of course, was the confession taken for chuck kaczmarczyk.
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>> and what a dark and devious story of murder chuck was about to tell. coming up -- >> keep it simple. make it look as natural as possible. >> powerful testimony from the star witness. and from a reluctant son. >> she looked at me as if she wished i was dead. >> when "dateline" continues. robinhood believes now is the time to do money. without the commission fees. so, you can start investing today wherever you are - even hanging with your dog. so, what are you waiting for? download now and get your first stock on us. robinhood.
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the climax was at hand. the years of fraud, the money and position and goodwill stolen from honest veterans were only background now. martha ann mcclancy, charged with premeditated first-degree murder faced the death penalty. >> a lot of work went into this case. 12,000 pages of documents. >> cindy shemel and matt mccoin, then assistant district
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attorneys, took on the hugely important task of boiling down a story every bit as convoluted as it was devious. >> and to be able to tell it in such a simple story so 12 people off the street understand it. >> that's really complicated to do. >> that's the hard thing. >> they would prosecute what was clearly a complex case. using a well-tested strategy. >> the old kiss method. >> kiss? >> kiss. keep it simple, stupid. >> they presented the evidence of bob mcclancy's forged will and the wedding dates. but not chuck's photos, which had collapsed the case in 2006. instead they showed the jury police photos while sean described the photos he found. all as he faced his own mother. >> she looked at me as if she wished i was dead. she looked at me with the most hate i've ever seen from anyone.
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>> when bob's sister kathy testified? >> i wanted to jump over the bench and choke her. but i thought, well, that won't get me anyplace. but she just sat there. she showed no emotion. just cold. cold-hearted person. >> at last martha ann's fate rested in the hands of the state's star witness, her lying husband chuck, now on the stand. chuck began at the beginning, when he met bob at that ptsd clinic in 2006. >> did he ever express any suicidal thoughts to you? >> no. >> then bob introduced him to martha ann, said chuck, and they began an affair and she began scheming to do away with bob. >> she had mentioned on several occasions that she'd like to get rid of him. and if he went away that we could be together. >> she made all the decisions, said chuck. investigator nate landkammer agreed. >> i think the investigation
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clearly showed that she was the mastermind. >> and who was in charge of his medication? >> martha. >> turns out before he died that martha ann was put in charge of all of his meds, that bob was not to have any access to his own medications whatsoever. >> for days before bob died, said chuck, martha ann ground up the pills into something she called magic dust. >> she had fixed his favorite meal for him and then afterwards remarked that she had used magic dust on it. >> the doses got bigger, and bob more disoriented. it was martha ann's idea, said chuck, to rush bob to the va hospital suffering apparent overdoses to reinforce the impression that bob was suicidal. and then two days after his last trip to the va hospital -- >> i was pretty sure that she was going to give him a lethal dose of the drugs because she was so specific about me being
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there at a certain period of the day on that day. >> she told him specifically i'm going to load him up with some magic dust before i leave for work. she said you come over and find him, he should be dead by then, i'll be at work, i'll have an alibi. >> that if i found him dead just to make it simple, keep it simple to make it look as natural as possible or to make it look like a suicide. >> then chuck confessed he staged the scene. >> i took some photos. there was also a bottle of pills that i put in his hand, and i also put a gun. >> those foeltos intended as leverage to try to squeeze more money out of the va. and the gun? chuck claimed it was to honor the wishes of a former detective to die with a gun in his hand. >> you thought that was an honorable thing to do for bob while you were killing him and sleeping with his wife. >> i wasn't killing him. >> you weren't killing him. while you were letting him be killed and sleeping with his
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wife. >> yes. >> i think they were evil but the root of their evil was their greed. >> there it was. martha ann poisoned bob, and chuck was her willing servant. >> match made in hell quite frankly. >> the motive? chuck and martha ann wanted to be together and they wanted money. >> how much money altogether? >> i'd say close to a million dollars. >> close to a million dollars. >> the prosecution rested, with a scathing indictment of martha ann. >> to have your husband die in stages thinking he's losing his mind because you keep overdosing him with these drugs until you get to that fatal dose is hard to comprehend how some people can be that evil. >> but how would the jury judge martha ann? the jury was out for quite a while, wasn't it? >> yes. it scared us badly. we didn't know whether we'd won or lost. >> sean and debbie and kathy were all in court, nervous,
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hearts racing. >> i'd waited ten years. i was just trying to hold myself together, you know. >> and then it came. >> we the jury find the defendant, martha ann mcclancy, aka martha ann kaczmarczyk, not guilty of the offense of first-degree murder. >> not guilty. a wave of disappointment washed through the room. >> i wished she would have gotten the death penalty. >> both her and chuck. >> but the jury wasn't finished. >> we the jury -- >> martha ann was found guilty of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. >> it wasn't really a happy feeling. i'm glad justice was served, but i still thought, why did you have to kill him? >> do you think they got it right, that she was the one primarily responsible? >> yes. she was a real conniver. >> chuck had already made his deal. he'd already pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy.
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got 25 years in prison. >> does chuck's sentence make sense to you? >> he did conspire and assist her in this. he was necessary to be able to prove the case against her. so when you look at that, it makes sense. >> in june 2016, when it was martha ann's turn to receive her sentence, she clung to a walker. faking disability again? that's what the prosecutors believed. and then the judge tore into her. >> the slow poisoning and slipping of life from an individual is exceptionally heinous. >> he gave her the max. 50 years. and although that was halved on appeal, martha ann may serve the rest of her life in prison. >> i'm a firm believer that karma will get you. and i think it's got her. >> ex-best friend debbie was relieved. >> absolutely the epitome of
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evil. she was the meanest, cruelest, and she didn't get away with it. that made me feel a little bit better about it. >> and for the detective who believed nearly ten years earlier that chuck was guilty it was vindication. the fact of the matter is if you had not looked at that camera, if you had not opened up those photographs, we wouldn't be sitting here talking today. >> no. and justice would have never gotten served for the mcclancy family. >> so it came out all right after all. >> it did. it took a while. but it did. >> yes, it did. no small thanks to martha ann's son, sean. >> no child should ever have to testify against their parent. >> that was the hardest thing you ever did? >> that was the hardest. >> and he hasn't been the same since finding out about his mom's monstrous crimes. >> i think he had a lot of trouble wrapping his head around it and believing that she was
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capable of this. bob was a man of right. he was a detective. he was a marine. and he would fight for justice for strangers. and there was no way that he was going to go down like that and be silenced that way. >> but there was one more piece of unfinished business. sean, remember, was adopted. >> i had always been told that i would never find out where i was actually from. or who my birth parents would be. >> so here's -- >> even after a florida court denied him access to his adoption records he was determined to find his birth parents. he ended up getting in touch with ancestry dna. and what do you know? >> i mean, we basically hit the bullseye immediately. >> wow. >> that's just crazy. >> they found his birth father, living in maine. >> that feels amazing. overwhelming. >> not long after first speaking with his birth father sean traveled to meet him.
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and they now chat regularly on the phone. and as they plan to see each other more often sean is discovering a whole new life. a whole new future. this sunday, the growing covid crisis. >> covid is out there. you just have to be cautious on how you deal with it. >> with a million people a day taking holiday flights. >> i really want to see my family. my dad is really sick, so it just needed to happen. >> and tens of millions on the road. new fears of a deepening covid pandemic. >> this is clearly a superspreading event, and we can see a surge of cases on top of the current surge in a couple weeks. >> health care workers overworked, understaffed, and frustrated. >> -- without breaking down for an hour, or every hour. >> we have 20 to 3

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