Dateline   |  February 03, 2012

Suspicion, Part 1

A loft apartment building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, is home to an eclectic group of residents. When a wealthy businessman starts working with two of them, a chain of events is set in motion that leaves one of them dead, another arrested for murder. Dateline's Keith Morrison reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> for joining us. i'm lester holt . a lot of us complain about our neighbors, but the residents in this building of this story often hung out, partied and did business together. they seemed to see one another as friends until the terrible day when some began to wonder if one neighbor was actually a mastermind who saw the rest of them as pawns. here's keith morrison .

>> reporter: 7:00 a.m ., november 15th , 2007 . dawn in salt lake city , utah . he restaurant parking lot , turned off his engine. the sky beginning to brighten, sun not quite up. and then there they were. the voices, the terror. the nightmare beginning.

>> i immediately ducked down in my car after first shot was fired. i laid there thinking, okay, this is how it's going to end for me.

>> 911. what is your emergency?

>> somebody just shot a man ont of the village inn . stands in stark contrast to much of the rest of this old chocolate factory , this grand stage for our story. it was converted to loft apartments in those boom years before the bust. and the style of living and location drew a distinct crowd. outliars of a sort, iconoclasts to the mormon city.

>> i loved this building.

>> reporter: bianca pearman-brooks, born into privilege, raised in africa. she came here in 2006 to visit a friend.

>> i came on holiday and i miss christopher and we hit it off.

>> reporter: christopher wright , a real estate developer lived in the same loft building as bianca's friend. there was a party in the building, bianca was invited. in one night you knew?

>> yeah. yeah.

>> reporter: to anyone watching, it was an obvious perfect match. friends and loft neighbors dave and lisa mccammon.

>> b's so lovely and kind of quirky. she brought that playfulness out in chris .

>> he was a positive guy before. he was ecstatic after.

>> reporter: though it was threw, blind, passionate love that drove bianca to give up her in england to move here to utah to be with chris , where six months after that first moment they laid eyes on each other, they were married.

>> he felt very safe.

>> reporter: his protector and incurable romantic.

>> this is a guy who cries always through romantic movies. he cries like a baby from the start to the finish of that movie. anything romantic -- really? are you serious? didn't take long for bianca to become firmly entrenched in loft living .

>> academics, airline pilots, fgtss, documentary filmmaker, olympic speed skater, mortgage broker , socialites.

>> john fife , an advertising copy writer was one of the first to buy in the building.

>> reporter: this building was a fantastic collection of interesting people.

>> none more so than perhaps the building's most gregarious and outsized personality -- david novak .

>> reporter: he was so nice and entertaining and funny and charming. this building is for the people who just really liked him. and i would count myself completely as one of them.

>> it's impossible not to be charmed by david. i adore the man.

>> we were, i would say, basically best friends here in utah .

>> david's huge person tail fit his apparently oversized professional accomplishments. investor, restaurateur, owner of an extremely unusual consulting firm whose sole specialty was preparing wealthy clients for, of all thing, prison.

>> reporter: he was hired to help put their affairs into order before they went to prison, help educate the family on what was going to happen, get the best sentencing for him.

>> that business grew out of personal experience. he himself was a felon. served a year in federal prison for mail fraud.

>> reporter: but he was the type of guy that could take bad luck and turn it into fortune.

>> so most everyone in the building seemed to be living large in those good old premeltdown days when into the mix was introduced a new ingredient. a businessman with real money . it was noefb ak, said bianca, oductions.

>> reporter: christopher had an office about two or three blocks from here. and there was a starbucks i had always went to. and he went over there and novak was there with ken dolezsar and em.

>> ken dolezsar lived in a wealthy enclave just south of salt lake city . a very nice guy by all accounts with a big extended family and money to invest. truckloads of money. he'd already loaned novak 1.85 million to make a movie about his prison consulting business. and soon ken and chris began working on a real estate deal.

>> reporter: they spoke sometimes and they had contacts back and forth. i'm really -- i'm a girl.

>> and you weren't interested. so dull.

>> reporter: fall came to salt lake city . leaves yellowed and fell. the economic crisis started toward them like a low black cloud . as a businessman ken zoel czar, chris wright and novak began their hustle and flow. but the storm bearing down on them was loaded not with economic ruin but something else entirely.

>> reporter: i couldn't believe it. no one -- everyone, all of our friends. we sat there. we couldn't move. it was like -- it was just unbelievable.

>> what was so unbelievable? coming up -- a crime that would rock the loft to its foundation.

>> the hand came up, out came a gun and pointed at the other man right in the face and pulled the trigger. oh it's clearance