Dateline   |  July 12, 2013

'A Cold December Morning,' Part 4

Messages on Chanin's phone reveal two mysterious strangers who were trying to reach Chanin the day she died.

Share This:

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

>> narrator: strange the small things that can offer comfort in the midst of horror. once before her death, shannon told her mother how she wanted he funeral to be. morbid talk back then, now a blessing in the midst of so much grief.

>> now she was able to give shannon what she wanted for her funeral. which is what you real live want.

>> all her classmates went to her funeral, and brought along the candy they used to share studying with friends.

>> i brougfelt strange bringing candy. but someone else had brought chocolate up there and set it up there.

>> the children were allowed to sigh her and i remember one of them saying, he was looking at her and he said it doesn't look like mom and i don't think he even recognized her.

>> narrator: that's how badly she had been beaten. it made her family furious that someone did that to her. so in the days that followed, they seethed. quite unaware that investigators thought they had a huge break in the hunt for her killer. lead detective mike rickets.

>> they moved into more sexually explicit sex message.

>> at the top of the list was that gentleman who sent her that suggestive text asking her to pose a certain way, take a picture and send it to him.

>> it was alarming because the text mimicked somewhat what we found at the crime scene as far as shannon being posed.

>> narrator: shannon did not take or send the picture, but the request, that wasn't just a red flag to investigators, that was a cannon shot. within a matter of hours, the detective had that man on the phone. after all, his number was right there in shannon 's cell.

>> i told him who i was and asked him if i could come and speak with him and he stated yes.

>> narrator: he was a car salesman from spokeman named tom walker and in his recorded interview with sheriff's detectives, he told them he had nothing to hide.

>> i texted her at 8:06 and said good morning sexy. she texted me back 15 minutes later and said good morning sexy.

>> he admitted texting her that morning, but denied he was anywhere near her house. he was at a funeral that day.

>> were you at work all that day?

>> except for the funeral.

>> except for the funeral.

>> narrator: the problem was, they still weren't exactly sure when shannon was killed. besides, they still had lots of other people to interview, that's what happens in a murder investigation. everybody gets pulled in. especially those closest to the victim. detectives even called shannon 's eldest son austin in for questioning.

>> they asked me a little more how our relationship was.

>> austin lived with his father and told the police that yes, he was closer to his dad since his parents split up. if the question seemed cruel, the adult son had to be looked at and i lieliminated if possible.

>> was it weird being put in a position like that?

>> he was leaning on mon, did you do it, did you do? it was not like i know you did it. i worked at a glass company and i actually cut glass and i had some older cuts on my hands and he said where did you get that from.

>> they spoke to blake, then 18 and of course the ex-husband clay. what was he doing on the day shannon went missing, the day she likely died?

>> he told me that his car had broken down on high desert park in deer park .

>> narrator: so who if anyone was shannon with that day? as detectives continue to dig, they found what might be an answer right there in shannon 's phone. a message from a different man, one named john wilson .

>> this is john wilson .

>> narrator: mr. wilson seemed to be texting shannon under another name, 06.

>> it appeared they were trying to meet, set up a date, or they were going to meet on december 1, 2011 .

>> narrator: the very day detectives believe shannon was murdered. but when they traced that phone number from which this john wilson called, they found themselves looking at a public pay phone . but if they googled john wilson , on just googled 06. they quickly realized that this manage wasn't who he appeared to be.

>> it was a pretty minimal site.

>> the site showing this john wilson ?

>> and we found that he had actually stolen it from a doctor in new york city .

>> so now you know that john wilson is not the person you see on the screen?

>> correct.

>> narrator: a phony picture, a phantom, who was clearly interested in keeping his real identity a secret. but why? exactly who was this latest mystery man?