Dateline   |  February 11, 2013

'Fallen', Part 3

The pastor’s wife dies and he gives his account of the accident.

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

>>> death of the pastor's wife in a car wondered why her mother was spending so much time with her boss, the reverend a.b. schirmer? what in the world was going on?

>> things like --

>> i love you. i can't wait to see you. you looked really nice today, and i'm sorry, that isn't normal.

>> even at 16, samantha knew it wasn't right for her mother to be trading flirtatious texts with the recently widowed pastor. samantha became little miss fix-it. she decided to set things right in her family by confronting her pastor in a roundabout way. using a fake email address , she wrote one of those i know who you are and know what you're doing kind of messages.

>> basically, you know, just said that someone knew about what was going on and he was going to -- he should stop or i was going take it to the church, and at that point i didn't want to expose anybody. i didn't want to cause an uproar. i wanted my family back.

>> it didn't take the pastor long to figure out that his assistant cindy 's daughter was behind the threat. samantha was summoned to a meeting in the pastor's office, her, the pastor.

>> how difficult was that?

>> as a child i had to say yes, ma'am, no ma'am.

>> two authority figures were they saying you misinterpreted.

>> yes. we're just friends, how dare you? samantha didn't believe a word, and she didn't know where to turn with the suspicions of her affair.

>> is your dad is in the dark and he knew and he doesn't.

>> at that point i didn't have a choice. i wasn't going tell my dad. i couldn't, at that point. i didn't have the nerve to break his heart.

>> but she could only protect her dad for so long. when cindy and a.b. went on a day trip together, joe mustante got wind of it.

>> he called me and he said what's going on? what's going on with a.b. and your mother? very, you know, very -- what do i say? at that point he's, like, he said is she in love with him? i said, i think so.

>> joe waited in the driveway for them to return and confronted both his wife and a.b. samantha 's mother came clean, telling her husband while she felt an emotional attachment to the pastor, the relationship had not yet turned physical.

>> she said, all right. yeah. i'll end the affair, and you know, i'll try and work on things. my dad was trying his hardest to work on things and, you know, get the marriage back on track.

>> but joe no longer trusted his wife of 18 years. his sister rose found out later that he was monitoring cindy 's every move.

>> he was tracking cindy 's telephone messages. how long she was talking and what numbers she was talking to.

>> and joe didn't like what he saw.

>> even though she told him and you that she was going --

>> yeah.

>> put an end to this, there she was calling him.

>> yeah. joe drove his daughter out to the horse barn for a talk.

>> he was having panic attacks . he said i just don't know what to do, and i was young. i didn't know what to tell him. at that point he knew that -- i think he knew that things just weren't going to work out.

>> for a man who had struggled with depression all his life the world was becoming an even darker place.

>> i think at that point for my dad, family was very important and my belief is that he thought my mom was going leave him. his kids were going get taken away and i think without his family he wouldn't have had any reason to live .

>> the next afternoon samantha says her mother called her in a panic. the pastor reportedly told cindy joe had called him threatening to kill not only hipmself, but maybe samantha and her brother, too.

>> she told me that my dad had gotten a gun out of his dresser and taken it to work.

>> samantha says cindy instructed her not to go home that night that she may number mortal danger . the 16-year-old didn't know what to think. she had always been a daddy's girl and loved him beyond measure, but she was frightened and so she obeyed her mom and took refuge at an aunt's house.

>> joe gets home that night and the kids are gone and cindy 's gone. so he keeps calling cindy and begging her. you know i would never hurt you or the kids. you know that, cindy .

>> we can only imagine the storms that were thrashing joe 's mind on the night of october 28, 2008 , alone, brooding. he drove to reeders united methodist church . he smashed a rock into the glass panel into the rear door of the church. then he sat down in the reverend's chair and took out his gun.

>> sat right at the desk that he'd made.

>> that he made. yeah.

>> is it possible, rose, he was going kill the pastor?

>> yes, or at least threaten him.

>> but the pastor wasn't coming. cindy had reportedly phoned a.b. to warn him that joe was armed and on the move. a.b. left town.

>> and so then he went to a motel.

>> because he thought the angry husband was coming to look for him with a loaded gun.

>> right.

>> who knows how long joe mustante sat in the pastor's chair before he pulled the trigger, but they found him the next morning slumped. the bullet had gone through his skull and deflected off the upper part of a window frame. joe 's sister knew something terrible had happened when her husband walked into her office that morning.

>> he said joe killed himself . what? how could that happen? it was like someone just put a hole right through your heart and you just -- and i just couldn't believe that anything like that could happen.

>> cindy broke the news to samantha and her brother.

>> she said your dad decided that he didn't want to be here anymore and my brother said where did he go? um -- it didn't sink in. and then i said -- wait, what? and she said, you know, your father took his life.

>> at the office in the church.

>> yes. in the pastor's office.

>> what a dramatic statement that is.

>> yeah. definitely the biggest statement he could have made.

>> samantha would learn later her father in his last hours was on the verge of submitting a formal complaint with the church that could get a.b. schirmer fired. joe mustante didn't leave behind a suicide note , but there was something he wanted people to know especially his daughter.

>> he put his briefcase with all of the cell phone records, the contact for the bishop of the church and his cell phone , his camera under my bed.

>> so kind of his case he was building against the pastor, huh?

>> yeah. i definitely took it as a sign, you know? figure this out.

>> rose didn't need to see inside joe 's briefcase to understand what had happened. she says cindy shamelessly told her about the love triangle the night before joe 's funeral.

>> i watched her face, and i felt like she was a woman that was awakened in some way that had not felt that ever before in her life. she evidently loved this guy.

>> rose could not believe it.

>> this is a pastor. he can't step back and let the two of them work it out? he can't help himself? i mean, how could he do this? what's wrong with this guy?

>> the pastor was about to face more than a crime of the heart.

>> i was afraid for other parishioners. they should investigate him to find out if he's done this to other people.

>> rose was about to take up her brother's dying wishes and set in motion an investigation that could not only get a.b. bounced from the parsonage, but could potentially put the hymn-singing preacher away for a very long time. had he broken not only the seventh commandment, the one about adultery, but the sixth commandment, as well? the one forbidding murder?

>>> coming up -- rose starts digging into the pastor's past and is stunned by what she discovers.

>> there were these things that make the hair on the back of your neck stand