Dateline   |  February 11, 2013

'Fallen', Part 9

Detectives look at the pastor’s computer.

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

>>> he stood before his congregation as a man of the cloth and betty 's devoted husband, but behind closed parsonage doors authorities keeping some dark and tawdry secrets.

>> for more than a year, a team of investigators had been working to build a case against the former pastor a.b. schirmer . darryl cox was still singing with the reverend out on the gospel circuit and said his friend didn't understand why his friend was being targeted by investigators.

>> a.b. told me they're investigating betty 's death. he told me he didn't know why. they won't find anything. there's nothing to find.

>> investigators thought they were finding plenty. by now they were trying to connect the dots between the death of his second wife betty and his first wife jewel and zeroing in on a motive for murder after they examined the hard drive on the reverend's computer.

>> obsessed with sex. obsessed with it. thousands of porn sites .

>> more than playmate nudie pictures.

>> ran the gamut of other perverse behavior.

>> seasoned investigator trooper phil barleto says the sheer volume of a.b.'s searches was telling.

>> he was addicted to pornography as evident by his computers. addicted to the chase of sexuality.

>> and as they dug deeper, they found emails indicating to them that a.b.'s sexual targets were not virtual, but sometimes very real female church members. kathy seacrest would tell investigators about a.b.'s suspected affairs during his first marriage to jewel and detective wagner says it was proof a.b. had run around on betty , too.

>> he was counseling women who were very vulnerable for many different reasons, maybe troubled marriage, alcohol abuse , something of that nature, and he would basically counsel his way right into their bedrooms.

>> investigator wendy says she could see the trail of women extending back for decades.

>> there was never a period in this man's life where he's not got some woman on the hook. we looked back into the '70s and into the '80s and it's a constant. you can see the pattern repeating itself over and over again.

>> but even if the pastor was a chronic philanderer as investigators thought, why was that a reason for killing his wives? it seems to them he'd been cheating on them for years, why resort to murder? investigators speculated something must have changed. whatever it was there was a sense betty was a troubled woman just before the car accident .

>> a month or two before her death there was a noticeable lack of outgoingness with the church that they took note of.

>> and remember this post-it note the pastor had attached to betty 's last birthday card , the one her son nate had come upon as he looked through a box of keepsakes, the one that said he was sorry for all of the pain he'd caused her, but soon she could soar free.

>> how do you read that?

>> it could only read in the context that there was an understanding that the marriage was at an end. that was dateable to her last birthday which was the end of june 2008 and she was ashes by july 17th .

>> but still they had to wonder if they believed the pastor had staged a car crash on a dark, rural road and by now they did, then why? maybe, they theorize, the timing had to do with cindy . was betty on to her husband's interest to his assistant? what if he was in the path of an oncoming divorce?

>> he's wrapped up in the pulpit. he's a man of the cloth and he doesn't want to jeopardize it and the break up of a marriage, a divorce, anything nasty, affairwise, he didn't want to tolerate that.

>> and the prosecutor thought cindy 's affects for the pastor were becoming dangerously apparent.

>> she was infatuated with the reverend. just mentioning his name, a big smile would come across her face.

>> and two days after betty 's car accident in the summer of 2008 cindy sent her condolences to the pastor signing her email, love you, the mushy cd. a.b., replied love you, too. prosecutor mancuso was also struck by this photo of schirmer he says was taken the weekend of betty 's memorial service .

>> you don't see a man who is distraught and devastated, lost and alone. he's smiling. there's one photo in particular where he was cooking up a load of scrabble and he has a self-assured look on his face, relaxed and at ease.

>> a few months later things would get complicated on that night when cindy 's husband joe shot himself heart broken that his wife was involved with the reverend. his swies ied allowed them to finally be free together. by going through the records, she tracked the steamy relationship following joe 's death.

>> it seemed to me too sudden. i don't understand how you -- where was your grief? where was your grieving time?

>> she said their credit card receipts revealed rendezvouses in local hotels.

>> they're having an intimate relationship . we also see there are hotel stays, overnight hotel stays and things like that.

>> there were also smolderring emails to each other. cindy wrote, unimaginable is the only word that even comes close to describing last night. i have occupied this body for 40 something years and trust me, this is not normal for me. and a.b. wrote, am very hungry for you. your body is fantastic. schirmer even confided in cindy how happy he was now with her. he said his relationship with betty had been missing something. for the last two years we did not have sex, he wrote.

>> betty is menopausal, not interested in sex. they were not intimate.

>> he was tired of her.

>> she was no good anymore.

>> so good-bye betty , hello, cynthia.

>> that would be the timing, yes.

>> and it was not only hello sind, but hello samantha and her little brother . the children came, too. more than a year after joe 's suicide, samantha remembers the pastor being there almost all of the time.

>> what was he like around the house?

>> very moody. very -- kept to himself. didn't want to, you know, really be bothered with my brother or i.

>> rose, samantha 's aunt watching from afar was distressed by the thought of the pastor living with her dead brother's wife and children.

>> he has my brother's house and he can be with his son and he can sleep in his bed. the decisions he's making and his behaviors don't add up because you just don't do that.

>> but the new couple was making big plans. later that sumner august 2010 cindy and a.b. announced their engagement. daughter samantha was terrified. she called the police frantic that her mother would become the third late mrs. a.b. schirmer . investigators agreed and decided they couldn't wait any longer to arrest the former pastor. with what they saw as another potential woman at risk, they decided to make their move. on september 13, 2010 , deathive wagner knocked on the front door of cindy 's house.

>> cindy 's son came to the door and i asked him where mr. schirmer was and he said he was in the kitchen and as i started to approach into the kitchen area he went out the back door and ran right into trooper maynard.

>> he was trying to make a getaway, huh?

>> it appears so. a.b. schirmer did not resist. he was cuffed and read his rights. charged with the murder of his second wife betty . the deepest secrets of reverend schirmer were about to be revealed to all. he would stand trial in a town that would leave a small pennsylvania town abuzz with its ungodly charges.

>>> coming up, prosecutors seemed to have a strong case, but don't underestimate the defense.

>> he did a lot of things that were inappropriate in the case. it doesn't make him a murderer. [ male