Dateline   |  July 12, 2013

'A Cold December Morning,' Part 2

Friends and family react to the murder of Chanin Starbuck.  How could someone be so cruel to a woman so beloved?

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

>> narrator: flashing lights, squad cars violated the peaceful neighborhood in deer park , washington. something big going down at shannon starbuck's house.

>> there's a bunch of crime scene tape and a bunch of detectives outside her house.

>> narrator: when shannon 's son blake drove up to the street where his mother lives, he stopped cold.

>> it was obvious something bad had happened because the whole yard was blocked off.

>> narrator: the awful news was beginning to spread beyond the now crowded streets. shannon 's friend janet stark said, what about those kids.

>> i'm like oh, no, they just lost their mother, they just lost their mom.

>> narrator: and thousands of miles away in florida, shannon 's brother steven heard the news first and called his sister amy.

>> i called amy and said you need to meet me at mom's and she could tell that something was wrong and she started crying immediately. so i hightailed it to mom's, we walked in together.

>> and he broke the news.

>> i looked at mom and told her she was gone.

>> and i just backed up. and i screamed, no. no. it can't be true. but she was, she was gone.

>> narrator: the detectives did not provide the ugly details, didn't tell anybody about that, at first. that shannon had been left mostly naked on her bed, posed pornographically, with a sex toy . and before she took her last breath, the police detectives knew she suffered.

>> i believe she was strangled. she was beat badly.

>> narrator: why would anyone do such a thing and why her when she was just starting over in life? after her and clay called it quits the second time, he went back to school to become a dental assistant.

>> she was very modest.

>> she was sort of a cross between a den mother and a beautiful big sister .

>> her big beautiful teeth and her magnanimous smile. and her laugh. i can just hear her laugh. i love it.

>> very approachable.

>> and busy as she was, said her school friends . she always seemed to have time for, well, anyone who needed her.

>> that is a very hard program. with a family to attend to. and she was top of the class. what did she graduate with honors or something?

>> narrator: yes, she did. an excellent student with some prospects of her own. her ex, clay said that he was happy about that.

>> we were looking forward to our independence. we both were.

>> shannon was in some sort of crisis in the days before her death.

>> she didn't want her business known everywhere.

>> there aren't that many of those people left these days.

>> but we would come into cool and come into class in the morning and we would see her crying.

>> narrator: was it her ex-husband? her kids? or maybe her new man. there were one or two, new men that is.

>> a couple of times she said she was dating, she showed me a picture of this one guy, a friend that they would chat.

>> met them online. summer starks was the one that encouraged her to get out there, get dating again.

>> i tried to set her up, but it didn't work out. i said why didn't you go date, just go out?

>> narrator: nothing serious though, not yet. maybe she was finally having some fun.

>> i thought it was be great if she would focus on a little portion of herself. and learn a little bit. she deserved that.

>> narrator: of course she did. and her love live wouldn't have been anybody else's business, if it hadn't been for what happened. but now, detectives went digging into hidden places . people she saw in private, things she did she might not want the world to know. if there were secrets, and oh, there were, they were about to be exposed.