Dateline   |  February 11, 2013

'Fallen', Part 4

The pastor faces questions about his conduct.

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

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>>> cindy mustante seemed to be moving on very quickly after the suicide of her husband joe in late october of 2008 . weeks before she'd packed up his belongings and taken them to the salvation army .

>> she must have in her mind her boss, the reverend a.b. schirmer. he'd been a widower since losing his wife in the car wreck that summer. cindy 's daughter samantha says her mom and a.b. picked up together just days after her dad's suicide.

>> my mom went away the next weekend to go see him so it was very difficult to be hurting and have just lost your father and have your mom go off visiting her lover, i guess.

>> it's healing the wounds pretty quickly.

>> yeah. very.

>> joe 's sister rose , a one-time counselor tried not to judge her sister-in-law, but she was obviously head over heels for the pastor. still, she thought the pastor had a lot of explaining to do, basic things like why hadn't he called the police when joe mustante had threatened to kill himself and possibly even his family.

>> any time you threaten somebody's life or you threaten your own you're supposed to call the authorities.

>> you've been a counselor.

>> for a pastor, he didn't even do that.

>> instead, rose says he left the desperate husband to spiral out of control. rose was haunted by thoughts of her brother's final hours.

>> he folded. he couldn't stand the pressure, and i felt really bad that he sat in that room by himself, you know, because i knew how much his guts were turned inside out.

>> rose was determined to give her dead brother a voice. seven days after joe 's suicide, she drafted a letter of complaint to the bishop. he had violated his pledge to be a man of god, she wrote and asked that the reverend be held accountable for negligence.

>> it was never a witch hunt or we're out to get you. my aunt simply wanted it investigated. you know, there's something fishy when a pastor of a church has an affair with one of the parishioners, there's something wrong.

>> a week later a.b. was summoned for a meeting with the bishop. rose says he didn't even try to defend himself, he resigned.

>> he hung his head and was a broken man when he left her office.

>> he had to surrender his license and he had to get out of the parsonage and he wasn't supposed to talk to any of the parishioners and he wasn't supposed to make contact with them or anything. he was just supposed to leave and that was it. joo but there was one church goer he couldn't stay away from, samantha 's mother. months after withdrawing from the pulpit, the one-time reverend schirmer was dropping by cindy 's house for dinner.

>> she said, oh, a.b.'s going come over for dinner. i think i have to work that night.

>> you didn't like schirmer?

>> i had a lot of feelings. i felt like my family was invaded.

>> before samantha knew it, dinners were turning into overnight stays.

>> he started bringing overnight bags and the overnight bags didn't leave, you know? that's when panic really set in for me.

>> samantha 's aunt rose would later view a.b. with disgust for spending more and more time with her dead brother's family, seemingly without a thought about the man who had committed suicide at his desk.

>> i think he has no conscience, you know? he doesn't care about anything but his own self.

>> but what a.b. didn't know is that rose hadn't just ratted him out to the church. a few days after she'd mailed that letter to the bishop she'd made a call to the police. she had a hunch, she told investigators, not about her brother joe 's suicide, but about that car accident that killed the pastor's wife betty.

>> people had filed that away, hadn't they?

>> yeah.

>> the reverend lost his wife in a car wreck .

>> yeah.

>> rose says it was cindy who had originally told her about the accident that killed betty, the pastor's wife.

>> he was taking her to the hospital earlier in the morning and a deer ran out and he swerved and i said -- did the deer hit the car? and she said, no. i said oh. the story of the car accident that killed betty struck her as odd and the more she uncovered, the more suspicious she became.

>> there was these things that were really disturbing and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

>> one of the cops to receive rose's call was detective james wagner of the pocono township police department who was assigned to investigate.

>> i immediately thought that i needed to look at this to see if there were any signs of foul play.

>> the patrolman's report seemed cut and dry. betty had died after hitting her head in the car wreck , but the key witness had been betty's husband, reverend a.b. shifrm, the man the detective was told to take a look at. at the hospital the pastor had given a vivid account of the crash to the deputy corn oner.

>> that she went flying because she was an unrestrained passenger.

>> anyone who drives those roads can see it as a plausible story. a deer, and you lose it and a god awful thing happens.

>> for a coroner who is located 45 minutes away that doesn't know anything about the accident scene itself that would seem normal.

>> and he's taking down the account of the methodist minister.

>> that's correct.

>> wagner kept digging and discovered in the department's archives a cache of photos from the crash site. when he punched them up on his computer the detective immediately noticed they didn't match the story told by the pastor. the car was only minimally banged up. the air bags hadn't even deployed. it turned out the officer who had written up the original accident report got that important detail wrong and the detective wondered why he saw no tire marks on the road.

>> there were no signs or evidence of evasive maneuvers at all.

>> should have been and there weren't.

>> there were not.

>> to his eyes there was zero evidence indicating a high-speed collision had ever occurred and yet betty's injury his been simply horrific. she suffered multiple skull fractures and it just didn't fit for the detective.

>> there was no way a conscious person would have sustained the head trauma that she did?

>> did you say this thing stinks?

>> yes, it did.

>> coming up, investigators noticed something else odd about the quarters in the change holder.

>> they didn't go flying out all over the place.

>> so they were just where they'd been.

>> correct.

>> when "dateline" continues. [ male