Dateline   |  May 10, 2013

Obsession, Part 1

By the time Jodi Arias was convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, her case had become one of the most notorious in years.  But when Jodi and Travis first met, there was no hint of what was coming.

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

>> would be you that did it, correct?

>> yes.

>> the jodi arias trial never played as a murder mystery . jodi , after all, had admitted to 12 jurors in open court and a few million viewers on tv that she was the one who shot, stabbed and then stabbed some more her former boyfriend and secret sex partner.

>> as to count one first-degree murder guilty.

>> why then did so many millions of trial followers stick around for the final act? and why did so many leave home and work to gather on the courthouse steps to await the final verdict?

>> justice for travis !

>> tonight with new information and new interviews, we will take an in depth look at the case in to why jodi arias became so obsessed with travis alexander and why so many of you became obsessed with this trial.

>> hello.

>> we start with this home video played for the jury. it shows travis holding court amid a circle of friends . look a little closer and you'll see a blond tenderly nestled in his lap. that's jodi in much happier times when she and travis first started dating. no hint then of what was coming.

>> we were excited for travis finding somebody he was interested in.

>> chris hughes was travis ' mentor at work. that's him on the couch with travis and jodi . chris and his wife sky were there when the two met.

>> when we met her that first night, we liked her.

>> yeah.

>> right off the bat, thought she was someone that would be a good match for travis .

>> reporter: aaron dewey was a roommate of travis '.

>> aside from the kmem industry there was emotional chemistry as well.

>> jodi arias has been described as sexy, sultry and travis alexander when they first met probably felt he was every bit her counterpart. he was a success insurance salesman, handsome, charismatic. dave hall worked with travis and was close to him.

>> good friend, close end.

>> very good friend.

>> best friend ?

>> i have seen recently people come forward and say he was my best friend and that's the type of guy travis was. he made everybody feel like you were his best friend .

>> reporter: according to his friends, travis was more than a bit of a ladies' man but this time travis was out of his league.

>> jodi became travis ' drug. he was able to get something from her that he couldn't get anywhere else with the good, wholesome mormon girls that he typically dated here in arizona .

>> which was what, not just sex but crazy sex or --

>> yeah.

>> sex --

>> over the top , over-the-top stuff.

>> at first she tried to be this good girl with morals and values and then that didn't work and then she turned on the sex.

>> reporter: than had travis , a devout mormon , tied up in knots, breaking the church's law of chastity, that is having sex before marriage is serious stuff. mormons believe the sinner risks an eternity in hell if he or she fails to repent before death. the result seems to have been that travis kept his relationship with jodi in the closet.

>> he wanted people to believe, especially the girls that he was dating that he was still a virgin. that he was still worthy to have a healthy long-term marriage with a good mormon girl.

>> this was a guy leading a double life ?

>> yeah.

>> jodi tried to resolve that conflict by converting to mormonism, only to find it wasn't good enough for travis . he summoned his will and broke it off with her. the moral equation may have been cruel, but to travis it was undeniable. jodi 's lust, her willingness to have sex in all sorts of ways before marriage might have made her the perfect secret girlfriend, but it simultaneously disqualified her as a wife.

>> she was not going to be the one that he was going to spend the rest of his life with and he communicated that to her.

>> that would make anybody feel pretty bad, pretty hurt.

>> i think he way he put it is we are going to be friends but we both agree it is time to start seeing other people.

>> what travis kept secret from his friends is that he and jodi were still having sex . what he didn't keep secret is his concerns that jodi was stalking him.

>> he was disturbed by her behavior but every time he tried to break things off with jodi she would threaten to kill herself.

>> reporter: clearly jodi wasn't serious about suicide. we know that now because at the time she was making those threats she was prowling sales conventions and on the phone at night flirting with a guy named ryan burns.

>> she seemed like a cool girl. we exchanged numbers. two or three weeks after that, we started to talk on the phone. four, five times a week.

>> reporter: during one of those calls, jodi promised to visit ryan and one morning in june of 2008 she came knocking at his door. he had no idea what had just happened at travis ' house in arizona . and he didn't know jodied a been there just one day before? .

>> how did she look?

>> fine.

>> did you see any cuts on her?

>> tiny, little cuts. she had a couple of little bandages on her hands. there wasn't a moment where i thought, are you okay, is anything wrong? we were laughing about simple little things . she seemed totally in to the moment.

>> reporter: back in arizona , travis ' friends found him dead. his home a bloody crime scene. in the washing machine, police found a water logged camera that would come to mean everything in this case. some of travis ' friends like chris and sky hughes suspected jodi from the start.

>> i knew in that very moment that jodi arias did it.

>> he turned to me and said jodi did this.

>> reporter: ryan burns thought he knew jodi and the girl he knew was no killer.

>> i honestly and genuinely didn't believe she could have had anything to do with it. i thought there is no way. this girl wouldn't let me kill a spider on the wall because she didn't want to hurt god's creature.

>> then you started to hear from other friends of yours and people that were friends of travis they suspected her.

>> people told me not to take her calls or talk to her. but at that point she had become either a good friend, that this is a horrible time to turn a back on her or a situation where am i really talking to a murderer?

>> reporter: aaron wasn't sure what to believe. jodi he said played the role of the innocent perfectly. 13 days after travis ' murder she volunteered to talk to the mesa police. asking dewey for a ride to the station. tell me what happened in the car that day?

>> ironically nothing out of the ordinary. she was acting like nothing was going on. she came out and said, what, everything's fine.

>> we're good. let's go home.

>> reporter: what else did she say about travis ' murder?

>> she claimed to know nothing about it. she was saying she wasn't there. she hadn't seen him in months.

>> reporter: that's the story that jodi told police, as well, and the one she stuck with for weeks up until the day police took her away in handcuffs. and that's when jodi 's story started changing.