Dateline   |  February 11, 2013

'Fallen', Part 6

Investigators search the home where the pastor had lived with his wife.

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

>>> hymn-sing pastor who preached from the pulpit about good and evil. now investigators wondered if he was the hypocrite of all hypocrites.

>> it's hard to believe that somebody in that position would commit violent crimes such as this.

>> in december 2008 , about a month after investigators began reviewing betty 's death they asked the husband a.b. schirmer to meet with them at the state police barracks. he thought he was going to answer questions about the suicide in his church office just two months before. investigators had other ideas.

>> there are two operations going on. you're bringing schirmer in for a sitdown.

>> correct. meanwhile you'll go in a crime tech kind of way to look at the pars parsonage.

>> while he was in an interrogation room, technicians swept into reeders united methodist church . video cameras rolling, and they were looking for evidence that betty had been attacked before she got into the car. they were concerned he could still get access to the parson age. they cased the kitchen, the bedrooms and scoured every itch of the parson age basement and found nothing incriminating, but what they discovered in the garage, they say, was jaw-dropping.

>> i walked in the back door of that garage. it was unlocked and i immediately noticed it had blood drops on the post right above the stairwell and i was shocked. i could not believe it.

>> and not just one or two blood drops . wagner could see clusters of blood , visible to the naked eye and it looked to him as though someone had been trying to clean it up.

>> i could see evidence of washed blood .

>> how did it show itself?

>> it looked diluted. it looked, you know, faded from water or clean up efforts.

>> investigators sprayed the garage with luminol, a chemical that glows when it interacts with blood . they said a ghostly trail of blood appeared leading from the back door to where the car would have been parked. detective wagner could also see the crime happening in front of him.

>> you could see betty already injured being brought in through that garage door .

>> being brought in that garage door and physically loaded and put into that passenger seat.

>> just because there was blood on the garage floor didn't mean it was necessarily betty 's. state trooper phil barleta was at the scene.

>> now you have to find out whose blood it is. it was documented and collected for dna testing .

>> and it comes back from the lab as --

>> betty schirmer 's. it's all her blood .

>> even before they had the lab confirmation the investigators at the parsonage called the troopers interviewing schirmer , to tell them.

>> as he's sitting across from detectives you phone in saying there's blood out here.

>> he denies that betty ever bled anywhere in the parsonage, but when confronted about this blood in the garage he comes up with a story about how she cut herself moving wood.

>> schirmer told police betty had helped him move a pile of firewood out of the garage. he said the stack collapsed and they both scraped themselves, betty so badly that she needed a bandage and sure enough, the investigators did, in fact, find a pile of wood outside on church grounds.

>> forensic troopers are meticulously going through it looking for potential blood evidence. what they find at the bottom of the pile is the stack of newspapers and the newspapers were dated september 2008 .

>> so help me with that. why is that newspaper important?

>> betty died july 15, 2008 and it's impossible for betty to have helped him move this firewood. betty was dead at the time the wood was deposited in that location.

>> investigators believed they had caught the pastor in an outright lie. there was one more incriminating statement a.b. made during the interrogation according to the detective, something so small schirmer possibly didn't even notice it.

>> he subconsciously threw out the statement of putting her in the car. he used that term, i put her in the car which is what i believe he did. he put her bleeding body into that car.

>> investigators told schirmer he was free to go. they were done with him for now. after seven hours of interrogation, the by then former pastor was apparently rattled. he tried to get betty sister's tina and sand owe the phone to alert them that the police would be calling.

>> the call to sandy went to voicemail.

>> this is a.b. please give me a call. it's very important. it's very important that you call me, please. thank you. bye.

>> we called him back and we said a.b., you can't leave a message like this, for heaven's sakes. you've got to meet us.

>> they met with a.b. the same day.

>> did you ask him then, did you kill our sister.

>> he asked if he wanted coffee and anything and he said sandy, i did not kill your sister.

>> detective wagner called betty 's sister the day after the interrogation and was surprised to find out a.b. had already contacted them.

>> i just thought that was interesting that he was already playing that manipulation game and beating us to the punch, so to speak.

>> a.b. thought the detective was certainly acting as though he had something to hide, as convinced that a.b. had staged the car accident to cover up the real cause of betty 's death there were still huge holes in their case.

>> now you have a theory that betty was killed here on the grounds of the church. did you have a weapon? did you know where?

>> we did not. i had no idea where it took place or what instrument may have been utilized to cause those injuries.

>> and there was a huge setback when investigators brought betty 's hospital records to a medical examiner for review.

>> the forensic pathologist said betty 's injuries were what he would expect to see in a motorcycle collision.

>> a motorcycle accident just as the pastor said. an investigative stumbling block , but there was another lead for the detective still to explore and to do that they'd have to go back in time, back to another woman in another parsonage, another wife of a.b. schirmer . it was eerie what they would find.

>> turns out the pastor's first wife also died in a suspicious accident.

>> there were rumors, all kinds of rumors about her death.

>> when "dateline" continues. but sometimes...depression