Dateline | July 06, 2013
>>> headline so far. they had a hit-and-run accident that looked nothing like a hit-and-run.
>> none of it made sense. it didn't look legitimate.
>> so the red flags go off by what you're not seeing?
>> it looked like a staged failed attempt to make it look like a hit-and-run.
>> not a standing person hit by a vehicle?
>> not at all.
>> so if what occurred was staged, why go through all of the trouble? even eric knew in an unnatural death like this one the spouse can be the number one suspect. that's "law & order" 101.
>> always question the husband.
>> but he was talking to the police and with his help they would build a timeline of the day for both him and justine . justine , as usual, had shown up that morning in her classroom but her teacher friends were struck by how troubled she appeared on the last day of her life. kathleen whitley knew something was wrong the moment she went to see kathleen the moment school started that day.
>> i could see her sitting in the classroom with her back to the door when she was on the phone. and i went to open the door and it was locked.
>> at recess, justine stayed inside.
>> she didn't come outside that day. so i didn't see her again until lunchtime. when i saw her at lunchtime, she had been visibly crying. her eyes were just red and puffy and her face was blotchy.
>> any idea what was going on with her that day, what had caused it?
>> she had told everybody that she was sick, that she had allergies. but i didn't buy it.
>> she had been crying?
>> she had been crying. she had been crying uncontrollably.
>> pat hammond was taken aback when she saw justine as they walked the children to the bus at the end of the day .
>> i turned to say something to her and looked at her and her eyes were so incredibly swollen that they looked like little slits.
>> before leaving, justine told the principal she'd be out sick the next day. but still, she went to the after-school graduate class she was taking with kathleen . they were both working on their master's degrees.
>> she came into the class upset still, wearing sunglasses, carrying a box of tissues. she cried a little bit here and there through the class.
>> kathleen made a point to catch up with her during the break.
>> she had said something that made me wonder what was going on with her. she had told me, if i'm not at school, if i'm not here, this is where you can find my lesson plans.
>> this sounds like more than, i'm just not going to be in tomorrow.
>> it sounded like she was going to be gone for a while.
>> when class ended at 7:00, justine hurried out.
>> we said our good-byes in the parking lot .
>> is that the last time you saw her?
>> it was.
>> as for the husband's day, eric told investigators that after a routine workday doing construction, he had taken his kids to the mall after school and then in the early evening stopped by the hospital to visit his terminably ill mother and then was called back to the hospital where his mother was in rapid decline. eric recounted the final part of his night for investigators.
>> after i left my mom i went and got my motorcycle out. i don't remember exactly what time it was.
>> surveillance footage from the storage facility shows what investigators believe is him getting his bike at 12:04 a.m . following his motorcycle ride, eric says he got home not too long afterwards.
>> you know, i didn't look at the clock. i know it was late.
>> was your wife here?
>> yes. i didn't want to talk to her about my mom and she started saying that i'm emotionally unattached and i told her, i don't want to talk about it. i want to be left alone .
>> that's when eric says justine got ticked at him.
>> saying maybe i need some time by myself and i said, maybe you do. that's when she got in her car.
>> and records do show justine 's cell phone calling eric 's at 1:19 a.m ., he says the come get me call. but the cell phone records also showed investigators something else. even though on a typical day he made a lot of calls, his phone calls go completely silent at two points on the night that justine is killed.
>> we have two extensive blackout periods, from 10:04 to 11:00 p.m . until justine 's call for help .
>> interesting gaps for you.
>> during those blackout periods, we weren't having any activity.
>> eric tells investigators he's not sure when he left the hospital the second time.
>> i want to say it's around 10:30 or 11:00 , give or take. it very well may be later. i don't know. i wasn't watching, you know.
>> but investigators say his cell phone was pinging off towers north of the hospital starting a little after 9:30 that night.
>> the phone information and his story just don't go together?
>> correct. it just --
>> he says i'm in charlottesville and he the phone says, no, you're not. you're half an hour north?
>> correct. we're not connecting the dots.
>> but air eric 's cousin tracy would come forward to say she was certain she was at the hospital with eric late into the night .
>> what time do you think you would have left the hospital ?
>> i think i left around 11:30 .
>> and eric was still there at that point?
>> i found him and i said good-bye to him?
>> at 11:30 at night at the hospital ?
>> it was around 11:30 .
>> that would make it difficult for eric to pull off a time-consuming elaborately staged hit-and-run if that's what investigators were starting to theorize. essentially, he'd have to be in two places at one time for that to work easily and there was another reason eric didn't drop in neatly as a suspect in his wife's death. the cousin said eric had a grave family responsibility that night. the authority to say yes or no to a do not resuscitate order to his mother. he was basically on call.
>> why would you choose the night your mother is dying to set up this plan in action when you could be called back at the hospital at any minute. they didn't clear you and say she'll be good for a week or two.
>> eric himself gave perhaps the best reason he shouldn't be regarded as a suspect. he loved his wife. they got along great.
>> you can speak to anybody that's ever seen us and i bet you in five years we would have had ten arguments. if there was, like i said, the definition of nice was her.
>> yet soon the investigators would start to hear stories disputing eric 's sunny take on his relationship with justine . it would turn out that almost everyone around her had been keeping her secrets, scary secrets.