Dateline   |  October 04, 2013

'Deadly Intent' part 1

A car bomb explodes in front of a suburban San Diego day care home. The driver? Connie Hoagland, a married, mother of three.

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

>> you're looking at the life of the hoagland family of san diego played out in brief. moments stretching across the years from the prosaic to the profound. that's the mom, connie . just after she gave birth to son jonathan .

>> look over here, guy, one, two, three.

>> reporter: here he is six years later after losing a tooth.

>> hey, jonathan , that's a great smile you have there.

>> reporter: this is oldest daughter jill learning to play golf.

>> that's a nice one, jill .

>> reporter: and this is her little sister jaclyn. today the kids are grown. jill has a child of her own. jaclyn is married and jonathan has graduated high school . and looking back, the childhood they describe is one of stability and routine.

>> just normal happy family , i say it would be.

>> mm-hmm. we go to church on sundays. we'd have movie nights or family vacation that we had taken, usually disneyland, which is our favorite. everything was just as a family. everything was perfect.

>> reporter: they loved each other and they had a good marriage.

>> exactly.

>> reporter: the patriarch of the hoagland family, larry, was a leader in their church and a professional photographer who can be heard off camera gently directing his children through these precious kodak moments.

>> dad!

>> that's good. keep going.

>> i always remember getting sick of it because i just wanted to have fun and we always had to pause and take a picture, which kind of got annoy pg after a while, but looking back, nice to see the picture, i guess.

>> reporter: mom connie loved being with her kids so much that, as they grew older, she found a job taking care of toddlers at this day care home. but on september the 23rd, 2010 , as connie was leaving her job for the day, her life and family were quite literally blown apart.

>> a thunderous explosion rocks an east county neighborhood.

>> the first thing i said to myself when i heard the explosion was oh, my goodness, what was that?

>> reporter: teddy williams is the owner of the day care home.

>> so i ran out the gate. i come to this point and i thought, because connie 's car is rolling at full speed and smacked into my van. i ran around her truck, and this is where i found connie , right here, on her side in the street.

>> reporter: connie hoagland was her best friend.

>> connie was laying on her side curled up in a ball. i rolled her over. there was glass, there was shrapnel, there was shards of metal everywhere. everywhere.

>> reporter: teddy knew all the hoagland family's cell phone numbers and she was the one who broke the news.

>> i was driving, and she said that there was an explosion and my mom's truck blew up. so i immediately pulled over , stopped, and called my dad, asked him what's going on. what do we do?

>> reporter: what did he say?

>> he said, i just heard, too. i don't really know all the details.

>> reporter: the hoagland family gathered at uc san diego medical center where connie had been taken for emergency surgery .

>> we got to quickly see her rushed from the hallway into surgery. it was probably ten seconds. and i just remember telling her, i love you, and her being awake but kind of being out of it. and then that was it.

>> seeing her like that and all the wires coming out of her and the bags hanging and the blood and all that, it was very, very shocking, taken back, i almost felt sick.

>> reporter: what did you think had happened?

>> i thought her truck malfunctioned. we didn't know was it an accident, was it the gas tank , what's going on? i didn't know what exactly had happened.

>> reporter: by now, though, investigators knew this explosion was no accident because they found bomb fragments embedded inside connie 's truck making it clear this was an intentional act, a car bomb , which got investigators wondering if it was the work of terrorists.

>> almost immediately when we came on scene, we made a plan of how we wanted to sweep the area. and what we were doing was looking for secondary devices so we didn't walk into an area and actually get hit by another device of some sort.

>> reporter: robert luke of the san diego county sheriff's bomb squad and atf agent matt beals were the lead investigators. they quickly learned that something about the day care may have made it a target.

>> on that particular day care center , we were aware that there were other law enforcement officials who had their children in that particular home during the day.

>> reporter: was it possible someone was out to kill cops and their kids? if so, connie , who always parked in front of the day care home, could have been the perfect yet unwitting delivery system for the bomb.

>> they weren't looking for any known or suspected domestic terrorists or possible watchlist type people that may be in the area.

>> reporter: no question that this was an ied, an improvised explosive device ?

>> no.

>> reporter: and suddenly, they had more questions after they ran connie 's address and discovered that, in her neighborhood, two weeks earlier, police had found another bomb.