Dateline   |  March 01, 2013

Along Came Jodi, Part 1

Two young, attractive people come together, and it’s no match made in heaven. Dateline NBC’s Josh Mankiewicz reports.

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

>> the country. love.

>> we hang out. we have sex.

>> and death caught on camera.

>> the camera actually took a couple of photos by accident during the time that he was being killed.

>> really?

>> jodi arias charged with killing her lover. at first, she said she wasn't there until this picture turned up.

>> then another story, intruders killed him.

>> think i got knocked out.

>> finally her new defense, self-defense.

>> you're the one that did this, right?

>> yes.

>> tonight, the stories you haven't heard from her friends.

>> that's not the jodi that i know.

>> and his.

>> he would joke about it. if i ever show up dead, you know why.

>> i'm lester holt and this is "dateline." here's josh mankiewicz with "along came jodi ." oh, holy night , the stars are brightly shining

>> a beautiful woman singing a beautiful song. about sin and salvation .

>> at one time she said she woulded to dedicate her life to god. she met a man who wanted to live without sin and she believed he alone held all of the salvation she needed. this story is about sin, about god, about love, about truth, and about lies. it doesn't lead to happily ever after. not even close.

>> something terrible must have happened. it was horrible. i thought she would have reached out before all of this happened.

>> it's the story of jodi arias and travis alexander and how they were drawn to one another.

>> jodi just has a glow to her.

>> patty was jodi 's childhood friend .

>> people were very drawn to jodi , not only because she was beautiful, i mean, because she's a great -- she's a great girl.

>> jodi grew up in small towns in california , landing in yreka in high school where her family owned a diner. when it came to men, patty thought jodi often chose wrong.

>> as beautiful as jodi is, she always went for -- it seemed like she lowered her standards for some reason.

>> with guys.

>> yeah. i don't know why.

>> after high school jodi drifted up and down the california coast, in and out of waitress jobs. in 2006 she joined a company called pre-paid legal which sells insurance to cover legal costs and at the annual convention she met the man who would change her life, travis alexander . travis ' friend dave hall was there.

>> you see sparks fly at that point?

>> i saw it on travis ' face.

>> this was all first-impression.

>> he probably figured, game on.

>> mr. travis alexander !

>> at 29, travis was already a heavy hitter with the company and a big personality.

>> did you think she was impressed with sort of who travis was?

>> think she was a little bit swept off her feet.

>> travis had grown up poor, one of seven children of parents who had serious addiction issues. eventually he moved in with his grandmother and discovered the church of latter-day saints. friend and fellow mormon david said it fueled his desire to achieve.

>> that was the theme he lived on. everything from your background doesn't have to define your future.

>> with his humble beginnings behind him, travis used his money to enjoy life.

>> mr. travis alexander is back with us.

>> travis was cool, attractive, even magnetic. a guy people wanted to be friends with and travis alexander very much enjoyed being friends with them especially if they were women.

>> it's well reported that travis was a flirt and he loved the game of dating. it was almost like a sport to him.

>> and men who like women really tended to like jodi arias, sexy, curvy, smolderring.

>> he used the words he was twitterpated and was very into the idea of her.

>> very quickly jodi and travis were going places in every sense. they bought a book, " 1,000 places to see before you die " and because she was living in california and he was in arizona they regularly met up in one of those great places. the balloon fiesta in albuquerque, the red rocks of sedona , even the lovers' destination of niagara falls .

>> as far as i can remember she either had a wind-up camera, a disposable camera or the professional camera. she was always snapping pictures, loved pictures.

>> the result was that much of their life together was captured digitally, and as it turns out photographs would document not just the start of this relationship, but also the end of it.

>> that part of the story comes later. back in 2006 their romance was new and exciting, usually a time when couples can't keep their hands off each other, but travis was mormon .

>> i don't want to make mormons sound like prudes, but everyone who is a real true to the faith mormon does take a vow or in their hearts, at least, to be chaste in their pre-marital relationship.

>> and travis was no different.

>> yeah. travis was no different. i mean, he definitely believed in the faith and really wanted to strive to keep true to his vows.

>> and then along came jodi .

>> and then along came jodi .

>> and what was important to travis was therefore important to her.

>> she said she was dabbling in mormonism and that was a term i thought was interesting.

>> abe met jodi arias through pre-paid legal.

>> i said dabbling? what do you mean? i said who's the person.

>> perhaps a ruthless jodi was searching for a path. this seemed to involve more man than god. jodi 's decision to convert took less than six weeks. she posted this photo of the day she became a mormon . dave hall recalls being a little skeptical.

>> in your opinion, was jodi interested in the church for its own sake or was this another way to sort of snare travis ?

>> in the bible we read that by their fruits you shall know them. based on the fruits that jodi has brought forward, i don't think being a member of our church was ever something she truly wanted to do.

>> but now jodi and travis were both mormon . they were expected to abide by the church's very strict rules on dating and all of that chemistry would prove combustible. a formula for drama and a lot more.

>> the red-hot romance between jodi arias and travis alexander was about to take a turn and no one could have predicted where it would lead except perhaps travis .