Dateline   |  June 14, 2013

Deception, Part 9

Gabriel decides to confront his father Denis in jail, who makes a startling confession.

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

>>> gabriel was at work when the call came. the police. they said they needed to see him right away.

>> it was a big mystery until they brought me in. they put me in a room with a camera, and that's when they broke it to me. they told me that they know it that my father did it and they are 100% certain of it.

>> and your very first reaction was what?

>> it felt like my world came unhinged. like it was a dream. like reality had ceased to be.

>> and right then and there, the police asked gabriel to record a message to his father. and so, of course, he did.

>> i spoke to him in french about how i loved him, first of all. and i told him, you know, if this happened, i just want to know more. so please be honest. please know that i'm here for you.

>> then with a heavy heart, gabriel called wendy 's family in the states. but instead of anger he was surprised to encounter skepticism.

>> i didn't believe it. all of us, i think, saw him as sun who would die to protect his family. that was what he was. that was his source of pride. and at that point, it was the only sense of pride he had left.

>> the only way gabriel thought he could make sense of it all was to confront his father in jail.

>> and i told him right away, "i want the truth, whatever it is. i want you to tell me the truth." he told me, "no, no, no. there's no way. i didn't do it."

>> so gabriel wondered what hard evidence had police found that proved his father was guilty of murder. it turned out they hadn't found anything.

>> oh, my gosh! that's a piece of the tarp.

>> no --

>> a day after denis led undercover detectives to the scene of his alleged crime, they returned to pick up that piece of tarp and sent it to the lab for analysis. but the results were inconclusive. they also searched the area for a body, of course, but found nothing at all. not so much as a bone.

>> it's not unusual for us to over that kind of time frame because of animal activity and things of that nature not to find either any remains or very few remains.

>> but the gun barrel, the bits and pieces of things, the stash places, the driver's license and so on. none of that showed up.

>> because it had been over ten yea years. i think it's reasonable to expect that a lot of those items would have just disappeared.

>> you didn't have the physical evidence that would back up his confession in the undercover operation .

>> it wasn't physical evidence , correct, yeah.

>> yeah.

>> and i'm going, wait a minute. they found absolutely nothing to corroborate his story.

>> it was painful for diane to watch the video of the confession in the pretrial hearing. she was shocked to learn that the confession was the only thing the cops had to convict her brother of killing his wife. that's when she became convinced. denis lied to mr. big. his confession was false.

>> oops.

>> the proof -- first, she says, the chilling details of his alleged cold-blooded murder. they just didn't make any sense.

>> i cannot see him the way he left her doing that. and not -- especially not with his kids in the house. there's no way he would have taken that kind of chance. i asked, you know, do you hear gunshots all the time. he said, "no, and especially not first thing in the morning outside my window." there was no gunshot.

>> he said he did it between the house and the garage.

>> you would have heard that surely.

>> i definitely would have heard it.

>> then there were the clothes denis said wendy wore. a little sweater and jogging pants.

>> couldn't be true because of my recollection of the morning, he said that she was wearing totally different clothes than i saw her leave with.

>> and something else bothered him. something that he told his crime bud wles they asked whether he was capable of murder.

>> earlier on in the mr. big sting, he confessed to killing a man with rat poison . and it turned out that he died of natural causes .

>> so it was --

>> never happened.

>> it was a fake confession.

>> it was.

>> why lie? gabriel said denis was desperate to be accepted by his new tough guy friends. and if he lied about one murder, why not lie about killing wendy , too? especially when what was at stake was his acceptance in the gang and his new job which he loved, as mr. big's loyal foot soldier.

>> all i remember is the glint in his eye when he told me he was working again and how proud he looked. perhaps a regular crime organization wouldn't have even brought him in, you know. they might not have looked at him twice.

>> probably.

>> but there crime organization was designed for him.

>> he made a lot of money, first of all. he had more money than he'd made in a long, long time. he had found a newfound family that respected him, that thought he was intelligent. he didn't want to lose that.

>> but perhaps the most convincing argument diane heard was from denis himself when she went to see him in jail. for all those years he told her, the police just wouldn't leave him alone. and his meeting with the crime boss , he said, was a chance to finally make the investigation stop.

>> translator: we're going to talk to each other, and we're going to work out these problems. we're going to fix them, okay?

>> okay.

>> translator: that's what we're going to do. we're going to fix them.

>> he said, "i couldn't just tell them i did nothing. then they can't help me." so he says, "i made up a story, and -- that i thought they would find me some kind of an alibi or something," he says, they'll fix it so the cops would get off my case. he had such a miserable, lonely life that i believe he -- at that point would have said almost anything.

>> rumors of suspects nabbed by a mr. big sting had every right to cry foul said criminologist cory keenyan.

>> while it's capable of exposing the guilty, it can induce innocent suspects to falsely confess to a crime they didn't commit. so the litmus test to me is corroboration. without it, there's no way to tell whether the suspect is telling the truth or is lying.

>> but anna watched the tapes, too, and she said she could tell.

>> i know my father. i know my father's mannerisms. i know when he's hiding something, when he's not being truthful about something.

>> and unlike diane and gabriel , unlike her mom's family in the states, anna was convinced her father was guilty as charged .

>> i knew when he was talking about mom's murder that it was true. that's what he had done.

>> just about finished their investigation, and they're waiting for satellite results from the u.s.

>> satellite results?

>> that's when he folded. and i saw the look in his eye. i'm caught. i saw the "i'm caught" look in his eye.

>> the gunshot, the top, the carjack, her brother gabriel said it was all a lie. but anna had another word for it --

>> that's cold. that's cold to talk about let alone cold to do. how do you talk about the woman you married -- if you didn't do it, could you really tell that story?

>> or could he, would he