Dateline   |  June 14, 2013

Deception, Part 8

Denis Ratte arrives at a moment of truth in meeting “Mr. Big”, the man he believed to be an all-powerful crime boss but was really all part of an undercover operation.

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

>> the moment of truth . he was meeting mr. big, the man he believed to be an all-powerful crime boss . his audition, he believed, for membership, for trust, for help from mr. big. the royal canadian mounted police disguised the undercover identities and voices on the video.

>> i'm going to help you or i'm not going to help you, okay? right now we're going to see who are you as a person.

>> first, mr. big told denis he'd have to come clean about his past. especially about the mystery of his wife's disappearance. that is, of course, if he knew anything about it. the undercover canadian investigator posing as the crime boss wanted denis to feel comfortable, so he spoke french, denis ' mother tongue . we have translated and dubbed over the conversation in english.

>> there are three things i want -- loyalty, truth, honesty.

>> translator: the last one, i didn't --

>> translator: honesty. being honest.

>> translator: honesty, honesty, okay.

>> then a knock on the door. it was one of the crime boss ' alleged cronies with an internal police memorandum. "read it," said mr. big, as denis listened.

>> our primary suspect and only suspect, husband denis ratte, had just about finished their investigation. they're waiting for satellite results from the u.s.

>> satellite results?

>> that was a lie, of course. there had been no satellite watching denis on that august day back in 1997 .

>> they're 100% sure he's the one who did it.

>> for last 11 years, denis had insisted he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance. now suddenly for a man he believed to be a crime boss , he changed his story.

>> translator: okay, man. what do you have to say?

>> translator: i'm going to tell you. i'm going to tell you. i'm going to tell you honestly what happened. the honest truth. i never told it in my life. i ability happy about it, but i did it. yeah. okay? not happy i did it, but i still did it. everything worked perfect. with a rifle, one shot, you know, nice and easy.

>> you shot her where?

>> translator: in the head.

>> translator: where?

>> translator: in the back of the head. i was nervous. i guess, around here.

>> he shot wendy , denis told mr. big, that morning at their house in prince george . she was feeding the ducks, her back to him, when he took aim with a .22-caliber rifle.

>> translator: right or left side?

>> translator: i got to put myself back there.

>> eerie. seeing a husband trying to relive the moment when he said he murdered his wife.

>> translator: okay, you -- you move over there like that. yeah. yeah. cuz i remember turning. yeah. and that's your left side, right?

>> translator: that -- that's my left side.

>> denis said it was just one shot, not a lot of blood. after wendy fell to the ground, he said, he quickly wrapped her body in a black tarp. and that's when he noticed she was still moving.

>> translator: i took a bumper jack, right? those old jacks you used to put under a vehicle.

>> translator: yeah, okay, okay, yeah.

>> translator: there was a big thing with a cover on. i didn't want to leave a mark, right? i finished her off with that.

>> translator: okay, where?

>> translator lranslator: in the face.

>> he put the body in the plymouth voyager , made a left turn on highway 16 , the highway of tears, and drove to an abandoned loggers' road 1.5 hours away. there was a swamp there.

>> translator: i made sure, you know, the body --

>> translator: what did you put on it? what did you put on top?

>> translator: there was mud, right? and there was a stick.

>> translator: okay.

>> translator: you know, i stirred it around, and it slipped. oops.

>> denis told mr. big he drove back to prince george , got rid of the gun and his wife's i.d. along the way, and left the van in this grocery store parking lot . then he wandered around for a bit before he called anna to report her mom was missing. later that night, he came back with anna to the coffee shop so that she would discover the van.

>> the house is right there --

>> the day after his meeting with mr. big, denis took two other undercover officers to the scene of the crime . of course, he believed he was talking to fellow gang members.

>> after you shot her, what happened then?

>> i brought her more behind the garage.

>> you just shot the once, right?

>> once. i don't believe in twice.

>> then denis ' criminal friends asked him to take them to where he dumped wendy 's body. they told him they needed to make sure there was no evidence left. they took a while to find the place. he hadn't been back in 11 years. finally, he was sure.

>> i walk there, right in there. everything makes sense.

>> and as they continued searching the area --

>> oh, my gosh.

>> what?

>> i'm putting my gloves -- it's black -- that's the tarp. that's a piece of the tarp.

>> a couple of days later, anna got a call. it was the police asking her to come downtown.

>> and they sat me down and said, "we've just arrested your father for the murder of your mother."

>> what was it like to hear that?

>> shattering. i broke down. but at the same time, it's like i knew. i just didn't want to believe it. the signs were all there. he changed so much. and just hearing it made it kind of official that the person i held so dear wasn't there anymore.

>> not a big surprise really. anna had doubts about her father all along. but her brother, gabriel? well, that was a different story altogether.

>> i can't imagine how it -- anyone would say it's 100% certain that my dad did it.