Dateline   |  October 25, 2013

'Under a Halloween Moon' part 1

A couple in love – and a party bus clash during a pre-Halloween celebration. Who killed the “Hockey Player?

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

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>> narrator: it's the one time when everyone pretends to be someone else . when being two faced is part of the deal. when there's a feeling when the rules don't apply. and during those moonlight hours, which all have license to eat, drink and be scary. it's a coast to coast alcohol fueled party. and nowhere is that more true than in the rough rider state of north dakota . but in october of 2007 , several lives would collide under that halloween moon. and at least one person may have used a costume to try to hide his true identity , a murder. that weekend before halloween heather and joel were putting on costumes getting ready to go out. he dressed up as a hockey fan, wearing his favorite green jersey .

>> i dressed in a mechanic's outfit. a friend of mine texted me and said meet us at the broken drum .

>> the broken drum , half casino, half bar. heather and joel had a lot to celebrate, she had just moved here from texas after dating long distance. it was nearly love at first sight . how long did you go out with joel before you realized this is the guy?

>> a week.

>> that's it?

>> yeah. he was taken aback when i told him, i said, i'm going to marry you, that's what's going to happen here. and he wasn't really ready for me to say something like that to him, but i was ready, that's how sure i was.

>> a divorced man who loved golf and fishing with his friends, would soon be ready for marriage too. just 10 months after they met, this smart, hospital computer it tech proposed to this 31-year-old elementary schoolteacher.

>> he proposed on a dance floor in front of about 200 texas dance hall two steppers.

>> narrator: they were to be married the following year. but that evening, inside the broken drum , they were completely unprepared for the most frightening night of their lives. it all started with a bus packed with party goers arrived at the bar. heather watched as they started piling into the broken drum . the partyiers were mostly well oiled 20-somethings and they had been fueled by an estimated by 325 jell-o shots that were on board that bus. heather and joel were suddenly in the midst of people in halloween costumes . as this security video shows, there was a clown with a bright rainbow colored head of hair. there was also a cowboy, a hunter, a lion, a gangster, and a woman who went as paris hilton . joel in his green hockey jersey was enjoying a rare cigar. and playing blackjack next to a man dressed as the penguin. how was the night going?

>> it was fine. at one point he had to take a call that was too loud inside so he had gone outside to take the call.

>> narrator: while joel was outside on the phone, that party bus was getting ready to go on to the next bar. but suddenly, someone from that bus needed help.

>> joel came back in the front door and said, somebody got left by the bus, i'm going to go check on them. he missed me and went outside.

>> within a few minutes, someone else would come into the broken drum yelling to call 911.

>> 911 enermergency.

>> narrator: in 911 call wasn't for the person joel went to help, it was for joel .

>> i went to the back and around some cars and found him on the ground. joel was laying there with blood all over the cement near his head.

>> could you tell what happened to him?

>> no. no.

>> narrator: heather says that when she got outside, she didn't see the party bus or any of the people in costumes. but joel , the good samaritan who had gone to help a stranger, had himself been the victim of a savage beating.

>> i just remember hearing the ambulances coming and the cops coming, their sirens.

>> joel loveling was rushed to the hospital and treated.

>> they said they did everything they could, but joel was gone.

>> narrator: 800 miles away in indiana, joel 's parents heard the most terrible news that parents can hear.

>> you raise your children and you do what you can to protect them. and somebody within one minute, has stolen my child.

>> narrator: joel just 38, had left behind not only a fiance, but a daughter, alexa from a previous marriage.

>> i went to the hospital thinking he's hurt, not dead.

>> narrator: later, joel 's stepdad learned more about the horrible details.

>> the grand forks police department called us and they determined it was a murder.

>> who would want to hurt him?

>> i don't know anybody who had that much hate in their heart to commit a crime like that.

>> so it was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

>> yeah.

>> trying to help the wrong person?

>> yeah, evil exists. evil dwells in people. when it comes out and things like this happen.

>> narrator: what evil had killed joel luveling. there was a long list of potential systems and maybe one of them had left a calling card, something found at the scene. a bloody piece of a halloween costume . police thought it might be the key to unmasking a killer.