Dateline   |  August 23, 2013

In the Middle of the Night, Part 4

Detectives arrest a suspect in the murder of Scott Pierce, and hear his version of events the night Pierce was killed.

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

>>> albuquerque police were moving full force in the first 48 hours after the murder of scott pierce . scott's widow katherine returned to the house they had shared to find more than a piece of her heart was missing. quite a bit had been stolen now by that shadowy figure with a shotgun. it wasn't just the life of the man she married less than a week before. it was also the future they had planned together. but gone, too, was katherine 's camera, a gift from her husband who had so loved photography.

>> of all the things he could have taken, that was actually the best thing because it still had all my wedding pictures on it. i hope he saw the pictures. i hope it sunk in what he just did.

>> who had killed scott pierce was still an open question . but police thought they were zeroing in. because remember, katherine said the shadowy figure who had come into the house in the middle of the night was looking for a man named manny who lived in the house previously. when detectives found manny , he said a co-worker named jason skaggs was the likely killer. when questioned, skaggs denied any role in the murder and said he and his wife had been camping april couple of hours from albuquerque on the night scott pierce was killed. but detective mike fox soon broke down that alibi and so in the police interview room, he went after skaggs with a new tactic.

>> i mean, you're thinking at that point that that was skaggs saying where is manny ?

>> yeah, i'm saying whatever part you played in this, a good guy was killed. and you got to feel bad about that. i mean, i got into that they had been married a week, they just moved into the house . if you're a good person, that has to weigh on you.

>> whether skaggs was a good person is debatable. whether he cracked under the pressure is not. soon he was singing like akah nary.

>> i wanted manny to get hurt and i wanted him arms, legs, things to be hurt or take him a while to recover.

>> skaggs said he wanted manny hurt because manny had slept with his wife. skaggs admitted the home invasion was all about jealousy but said he never wanted anyone dead. but jason skaggs also had a surprise for detectives.

>> i said, you went in there with a shotgun. he said no i didn't go in there. i had someone else go in there for me. and we're like, what?

>> who did skaggs say was his accomplice?

>> he said clifton bloom field .

>> that name mean anything to you?

>> no, the name didn't ring a bell at all.

>> but it didn't take you long before you knew a lot about him?

>>> correct. this was a serious guy.

>> serious and scary. clifton bloomfield was 39, an ex-con who had done prison time for robbery, kidnapping and assault in arizona. after his release, he had moved to new mexico, where he dabbled in acting. here playing a prison inmate in the val kilmer movie felon.

>> but bloomfield 's new c'eira parentally wasn't working as well as his old one. he was soon arrested and pleaded no contest to a home invasion robbery. bloomfield was now on probation for that crime released from jail less than a year earlier. he had been set free into the custody of a co-worker at a roofing company. a man named, you guessed it, jason skaggs .

>>> clifton bloomfield , he was the kind of guy you would send into somebody's house to either beat them up or kill them?

>> yes. he physically met the description. he was also tall and slender.

>> when police searched bloomfield 's home, they found a black duffel bag containing a shotgun, bulletproof vest and a mask. also latex gloves used as police soon learned, by the killer who had dumped out katherine pierce's purs to try to make this murder look like a botched burglary. detectives now believed jason skaggs was telling the truth. it had been bloomfield behind the shotgun. his criminal history fit the crime. he had been convicted of a violent home invasion robbery before. it wasn't long before police tracked down bloomfield and arrested him.

>> this is a guy who has done prison time. i would think he's not going to talk.

>> i didn't think he would.

>> but maybe bloomfield had seen those wedding pictures of scott and katherine on the camera he had stolen. had he also picked up a conscience somewhere on his journey because the hardened con surprised detectives by opening up.

>> i was a little shocked. but pleasantly shocked.

>> as police would soon learn, clifton bloomfield 's version of the truth changed with the new mexico wind. but among the several statements bloomfield gave was an explanation for his mission that night. looking for man any.

>> the plan was to kill him.

>> if you're going to kill him, does skaggs want to talk to him first or take him somewhere?

>> no. he just had one message for me. he said [ bleep ]. tie him up and give him the -- and put a round in him.

>> but in the house that night, bloomfield said he realized that the manny he knew from work, bore no resemblance to the 6'8" hulk bearing down him in the dark.

>> it wasn't manny ?

>> . [ whispering ]

>> did you intentionally fire or accidentally?

>> i don't know.

>> he says he was about to leave when scott pierce charged him. true or not, the result was that bloomfield put himself behind a murder as a favor to a friend. except he killed the wrong man.

>> this was all just spectacular bad luck . if you had moved into that house a month later, your life would be different.

>> it would be very different.

>> if your husband were a sounder sleeper, hadn't woken up.

>> things could have been different.

>> if the guy with the gun had left when he realized manny didn't live in the house anymore.

>> yeah. so many things, wrong place at the wrong time.

>> bloomfield and skaggs were charged with murder. for detective mike fox and his colleagues, it was a job well done. a case quickly solved.

>> scott pierce is murdered early on a saturday morning and less than 48 hours later, you have all the suspects in custody and confessions.

>> yes.

>> good job.

>> came together pretty well.

>> case closed?

>> that's what we thought.

>> they were wrong. katherine pierce was about to learn that the shadowy figure she had confronted that night was one of the most cold-blooded killers her part of the world had ever seen. and her involvement with him wasn't over.