Dateline | January 11, 2013
>>> all saints catholic church in hayward , california. hardly the sort of place a detective would expect to get a hot tip in a murder case, but that's exactly what happened. it was the priest who called the police and wound up talking to inspector richey and told him a story about an odd encounter with a young woman who came to see him seeking solace of some kind.
>> it was actually outside of an office in a patio area and he asked her several times do you want to go into confessional, she said no, so that's why he was able to talk to us about it and he said that she was wearing a medical-type scrubs, same physical build, characteristics of giselle , and she was asking for forgiveness for something that she had not yet done.
>> wait a minute, she asked for something -- a sin she hadn't committed that was the interpretation the priest got and that was roughly at 3:00 the afternoon the day michelle went missing.
>> so was prosecutor butch ford, but they didn't know how she did it or when she did it or where she did it. or more important, what she did with the body.
>> if you don't have a body it makes the case more difficult.
>> and so richey and the other investigators at the hayward p.d. continued the tedious work of building a murder case without a body. they ran fingerprints. they sent dna out for testing and interviewed witnesses all quietly, out of sight of the family and press. they tested a strand of hair found in michelle 's car that turned out to be michelle 's. some of her touch on the steering handle as well. since the two knew each other that wasn't enough to make an arrest. they checked gisele's cell phone records, found that her phone, like michelle 's left a trail in the hours after michelle vanished and what do you know?
>> the looks that michelle 's phone went, giselle 's phone went.
>> as though they were traveling together.
>> the eavesdropping electronics was closing in. here is giselle trying to access the nursing school 's computers the night before giselle 's disappearance, and here, the scene at the apple store the night michelle vanished. esteban getting michelle 's iphone unlocked and later using it at the chuck e. cheese , but still, it wasn't enough until the lab result finally came back from evidence seized that very first night in giselle esteban 's apartment, specifically from her shoes. those tests uncovered a trace amount of blood, blood that belonged to michelle . only one explanation for that. and so on september 7th , 104 days after michelle le's disappearance, inspector richey went to giselle 's esteban 's house for a final visit.
>> we waited for her to come out of her house, and i pulled up in front with two other investigators and we got out of the car and she looked at me very nonshal chalantnonchalantly, dismiss ive. what now? you're under arrest. not for what or anything, it was just like a matter of fact, she was waiting for it. it wasn't -- there was no sign of guilt. there was no sign of remorse. nothing. she was just -- okay.
>> and when the news was announced michelle 's family knew giselle , and knew her as one of michelle 's closest friends and they were stunned.
>> i never suspected her and thought the worst until we knew for sure.
>> i didn't think it was her. when michelle was having problems giselle would go with her and all because she felt it was her friend and that was her last text to her, no matter what, you'll always be my friend.
>> the le family found themselves in a strange paradox, glad someone would be held accountable for michelle 's disappearance, yet refusing to accept she was dead. to them, the fact that no body had been found, meant there was still hope, however slim that they might find her alive.
>> i was still hoping that without finding my sister's remains, i was still holding out hope until it was definitive, we were going to fight for her.
>> and so on september 17th , 113 days after michelle disappeared. ten days after the arrest, the family mounted yet another search. this time they were joined by carrie mcgonigle whose daughter amber dubois had been kidnapped and murdered in san diego two years earlier and like mark klaas before her, carrie formed an organization to help find the missing. she brought her new search dog with her. a search dog in training.
>> she was acting weird. she was jumping all over the place and she was barking and wanted to get away from me is and as i buckled her up she took off and ran and i started running after her and she came back and jumps up on me and takes off again and i followed her and she was just standing there and i reached down to put her leash on, and i noticed some 29 rope sticking out of the ground and then some bones next to it.
>> it was the skeletal remains of a young woman , unidentified. michelle 's cousin krystine was back at the command center .
>> remember search director brad dennis took a break and he looked at me and said hey, babe, we'll be right back and he never leaves the search center. so he left and i was, like, something happened. they must have found something. i'm taking a break and i'm going out there and looking, you know, some random evidence they found.
>> but then her phone rang. a reporter with a tip from someone in the search party.
>> and he told me, oh, i heard they found michelle 's body, can you comment on that? and i -- i started shaking. i told them, we haven't found her. but i knew that they did when i got that call from the reporter, i knew.
>> there wasn't confirmation, not yet. the medical examiner still had to match up dental records and that, the family was told, could take a few days.
>> it might sound really dumb now, but i still -- i -- i was still really stubborn about it. i just didn't -- there was nothing that could tell me that michelle was dead. but we all stayed in a hotel room because we were just hiding, i think. no one knew where we were, we were in a hotel room for the next few days and then i think about four days later the hayward police came to our hotel and they told us that she had been confirmed to be found through her dental records .
>> at that point you couldn't pretend anymore.
>> after four months, the family's long and determined search to find michelle was over, but their goal, no matter how remote, was always to bring her home alive , but she was found dead was a blow that took them to their knees.
>> that was one of the few times i really let myself cry. part of me was relieved that it's over. that we had found her and that we'd brought her home and a majority of me was very angry. um, and -- it just -- it just felt hollow.
>> now there was one thing left to do. make sure michelle got justice, but that, it turned out, was not going to be so easy.
>>> coming up, giselle on trial and her defense strategy surprises everyone.
>> you have to find a better way to vilify the