Dateline   |  September 14, 2012

The Inside Man, Part 2

In 1993, Jessi Roach and Tricia Reitler suddenly disappeared, six months apart and on separate occasions. Investigators began to wonder: were the two crimes connected by a serial killer?

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

>>> several years before jimmy keene's arrest and conviction, his drug business was booming and his personal life as he tells it was nonstop fun and games . there are a lot of hot clubs here in the '90s. this is a place you were doing business as well?

>> worked and played, yes. it was a good time.

>> back then, he had no idea about the danger lurking 150 miles south and a life style away that would change his life forever. rural, tranquil illinois is where they were raising their 15-year-old daughter jessie and two other children, far removed from big city crime.

>> everybody knew who everybody was, so they were more conscious of what was going on usually. you could count on somebody to get after your kids if they needed it.

>> in 1993 , jessie was a high school sophomore devoted to home and family.

>> jessie was really very much of a home body. so one bike ride up the road and back, she was done. then she would be watching "gone with the wind."

>> one monday in september, jessie went out for a bike ride. but just minutes later, her sister noticed jessie 's beloved bike down on its side in the middle of the road .

>> not on the side of the road , middle of the road . she would put the kick stand up, never lay it down. immediately went down there, there's the bicycle. it is like i knew something was wrong.

>> deputy sheriff gary miller was dispatched to the scene.

>> the more we learned about the family and the girl's background, we just didn't feel she was staying away by choice.

>> the haunting image of a bike tipped over and abandoned terrified all of the investigators and of course jessie 's family.

>> i mean, you never lose hope for them not to come in. you still hope, but we knew she wasn't just going to walk away .

>> after six weeks, jessie 's parents' worst fears were realized. her body, beaten and sexually violated, was discovered in a corn field.

>> it can never be easy telling a parent their child is dead.

>> no, it wasn't, but at least we were able to tell them this is her, she's gone. we were able to erase all doubts.

>> gary miller had a murder case to solve and it was now a federal case involving prosecutor larry beaumont as well, since jessie 's body had been found across the illinois state line. for the next year, miller did lots of leg work, but to no avail.

>> every day you get up, are you thinking about this case?

>> oh, every day.

>> what have i missed?

>> exactly. i know this case shook him from the beginning. he would check all leads that would involve all girls and run them down.

>> then in late 1994 , miller's persistence finally paid off. a man in a van had been reported chasing two teenager girls ingei in jessie 's hometown of georgetown . he traced that to larry hall from wabash , indiana , a three hour drive from georgetown .

>> heartbeat picking up?

>> thinking yeah, this has to be checked out.

>> he learned hall was a gung ho union reenactor that liked to fight fantasy battles. he immediately drove to wabash to interview hall who wasn't saying much. miller showed him a photo of jessie roach.

>> when i put the picture down, he flinched, raised his arm up, turned in his chair and refused to look at the picture.

>> convinced larry hall was hiding something, miller became obsessed with making a case against him. days later, back in illinois, miller turned up a huge lead. he found witnesses who vividly remember hall from a revolutionary war re-enactment in the georgetown area the very weekend before jessie was abducted. to them, hall stood out for his bushy muttonchops side burns, but also for playing a soldier who was fighting the wrong war.

>> he was wearing a civil war uniform and he had a civil war hat.

>> at a revolutionary war re-enactment.

>> exactly.

>> armed with this new information, deputy miller returned to wabash for a second crack at hall. this time, he pressed his suspect harder, stressing that hall's fellow reenactors had seen him near georgetown .

>> he came along to the point he said well, i go to so many re-enactments, i could have been there and don't remember because i go to a lot of them.

>> he was giving more ground.

>> right, yeah.

>> miller sees the opening and kept at it. finally he said hall came clean and confessed that he abducted, sexually violated, and strangled jessie roach to death.

>> how much detail did he give you about the killing of jessica roach?

>> very good detail, what he actually did and what took place.

>> not only that, miller says larry hall confessed to other killings, including a co-ed from indiana wesleyan university .

>> he did say he was there.

>> deputy miller didn't know much about trisha , he called on the local indiana police handling that case. but when marion detective jay kay and other indiana cops arrived, hall was suddenly telling a much different story. he denied confessing to any killing, including jessie 's and trisha 's. what's more, he claimed it was all a misunderstanding about disturbing dreams he had.

>> he takes me to a location in my dreams i strangled her and left her here. we searched the woods and area and never found anything.

>> the indiana cops familiar with hall were not at all surprised by his actions. some of them like jay kay thought hall might be a wannabe, a pretender that gets his kicks confessing to crimes he didn't commit.

>> is it possible he's simply obsessed with these cases but not involved?

>> there's no doubt in my mind he does follow these cases, that he does read and is attracted to cases all over the country, you know, so the question does come is he a wannabe?

>> deputy sheriff miller and prosecutor beaumont , however, felt certain they had a real killer on their hands, a serial killer with a unique m.o. he would prey on young women and kill for real.

>> the fbi were discovering girls missing at these various areas at the time larry hall would have been there.

>> but the only case for which prosecutors had sufficient evidence was jessie roach's. larry hall was arrested in connection with her death, even though he denied making that confession to miller. hall went on trial in 1995 .

>> as a prosecutor, what's the best card you're holding?

>> we had a statement, his confession, said he did it.

>> beaumont called deputy sheriff miller to the stand to testify that hall had indeed admitted that he abducted and killed jessie after he spotted her with her bicycle.

>> she was walking her bike at that point.

>> miller testified that in his confession, hall gave him a detail that only the killer would know, that jessie was not riding her bike but walking it, a safety precaution the roaches insisted she follow on their narrow road.

>> that was never in the press that she was walking her bike that day.

>> right.

>> when you heard that, did that give more credence to the story?

>> oh, yeah, that just sealed it for me, i knew, i knew that he was the one.

>> a jury unanimously agreed. it took just three hours to convict larry hall . but prosecutor beaumont believed this was just the tip of the iceberg . he felt certain hall was a serial killer and now he had to find a way to prove it. so he began investigating trisha whiteler's abduction, a case that wasn't his for a family he didn't know.

>> i can't imagine sending my daughter to school and never seeing her again.

>> and he came up with an outside the box scheme to get hall, which would risk the life of that charismatic convict he had just put away for dealing drugs. jimmy keene.

>> what happens when i have to deal with crazy killers and stuff, what if i get shanked, what if i get killed, am i going to survive this. coming up, a get out of jail free card with a price.

>> they had your back.

>> they had my back.

>> least that's what you thought.

>> that's what i thought.

>> when "dateline" continues. [ male