Dateline   |  July 12, 2013

'A Cold December Morning,' Part 6

Investigators discover a crucial piece of evidence - a 911 call made from Chanin's phone that could help them pinpoint the time of her death and narrow their search for her killer.

Share This:

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

>> was dating, one -- racy text message that almost mimicked the crime scene. they offered alibis of course. but since the detectives didn't know exactly when shannon died, they couldn't check them out. funny, though one little break can make all the difference.

>> it hit me, really hard. it was like a rock in my stomach.

>> narrator: detective mike rickets wasn't expecting it all, that little piece of evidence that sfa surfaced weeks into the case. a call dialed from shannon 's phone, there it was, staring back at him.

>> the records that we get from the phone company reflect a 911 call.

>> narrator: a 911 call. 9:17 a.m ., december 1, not long after shannon dropped the kids off at school. the 911 operator failed to properly file the call with the sheriff's department. and you may not know this, some cell phones don't store 911 calls on their store list, an effort to protects callers in dangerous situations, somebody had been kidnapped, say. so in trying to solve a murder, detectives had no idea shannon called 911 until they got the records from her wireless carrier .

>> were you able to find out how long the call lasted? when it came?

>> they were able to based on date and time find the recording of that call.

>> narrator: it was just 28 seconds long. it started with a noise. could you hear it? you could?

>> and unfortunately, for the 911 call operator, i believe he talked over it and he didn't hear it.

>> 911 what are you reporting?

>> narrator: so brief, so garbled. but listening to it now, they became convinced, this must have been shannon as he was being attacked. 9:17 a.m .

>> 911, what are you reporting? hello?

>> what us sounded like is if somebody was struggling over the phone and you could definitely hear a female's voice going ugh, and that's all it amounted to.

>> who was it, the car salesman ? the teacher or something else? now the detectives had to go back over those alibis to identify the 911 call. they started with the salesman.

>> you were at work all day that day?

>> except for the funeral.

>> he's at work on december 1, he attends a funeral. we confirm that.

>> narrator: the salesman, the guy who sent that racy request for a photo was in the clear. that left the schoolteacher, john kenline, he admitted he was actually outside the deer park house that morning at 10:30 , but in the hour before that, when shannon was being attacked according to the 911 call, he said he was not at shannon 's house, but at a starbuck's getting coffee. a specific frappuccino that the store had a record of selling.

>> there was a great to do about whether he ordered some very specific and unusual drink?

>> yes, that is the case.

>> he purchased coffee at about the same time that the 911 call had come in. there was just a little variation in time, but well within the time frame , that he couldn't have been at starbuck's and he couldn't have been in deer park at the same time.

>> narrator: so the man once looked so suspicious, convinced detectives he was telling the truth.

>> they look at him every which way you could be looked at, they check out every part of his story and every single fact, everything that he told them checked out, 100%.

>> narrator: now he just had to deal with his wife. and detectives, they went back through the list of possible suspects. shannon 's killer was still out there. a killer who, judging from the story shannon 's friends were telling, might have been building up to an attack. during the last six months of shannon 's life, said summer stark, her friend was convinced somebody was out to get her.

>> shannon 's house had been broke into quite a few times, just minor things would be missing. or the barbecue would be messed up, knocked over, lights would be unscrewed, you could tell somebody had been in, but things weren't missing sometimes. just odd things that you would notice just weren't right when you would come home.

>> narrator: shannon filed police reports, the incidents were investigated. but never solved. shannon had been accusing clay.

>> shannon thought clay was behind everything that was happening, that he was either trying to scare her, or trying to assess a way into her home.

>> narrator: but the police didn't find any evidence of that and clay said the idea was ridiculous. besides, he said, he was in alaska when at least one of those strange disturbances supposedly happened.

>> it was like, no way i didn't do that. and then the date hits me, well for sure i didn't do that, because i wasn't here.

>> narrator: in fact he and shannon got along better than most divorced couple.

>> we would text and say, i know this weekend is my weekend, but can you take them that weekend?

>> narrator: but now that shank shannon was dead, detectives had to rethink their position. shannon 's siblings for example said that shannon accused clay of cheating on her, claimed that was the reason for both divorces. and the last breakup was so nasty, they said, that in the months before shannon died, clay stopped paying child support .

>> we were paying her rent, we were providing food for her children.

>> she was going to the food bank for food.

>> my mother was paying for her school and her computers.

>> narrator: fascinating how the issues of a divorce can seem to change depending on who's doing the looking. now the detectives were. and they were right back where they started.