Dateline   |  October 25, 2013

'Under a Halloween Moon' part 2

A crying “Clown”, a “Cowboy” and a clue: a costumed bird's foot.

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

>> narrator: a night of halloween drinking in grand forks , north dakota that somehow ended with joel loveling's death. police were investigating who would want to beat joel in the parking lot of a bar, in an attack that apparently nobody witnessed. inconceivable that he picked a fight with somebody else?

>> oh, of course, totally inconceivable. he's not a fighter.

>> what would he do if somebody wanted to fight with him?

>> he would back away and use logic. he didn't play into anger the way some people do. the cause of death , joel choked on his own blood. it was now up to police to find the killer or killers of joel loveling loveling. the chief of police , john packet.

>> this was one of the more challenging cases that we have ever had, cause of the alcohol involved, large crowd, people in costume.

>> the night of joel 's murder, the police interviewed about 80 people. the party bus went downtown after it left the broken drum and police heard descriptions of some costumed people last seen near a either joel or that bus. a clown , a cowboy, a penguin, a gangster and a construction worker. and while searching for people in costumes sounds almost comical, it actually helped police identify some persons of interest. if the cops could locate them before they took off those costumes. so you're going to find the penguin and the joker, you've got to find them pretty quick.

>> narrator: there was also some interesting evidence left behind at the murder scene. police thought it was a bird's foot from someone's costume and it had blood on it. grand forks police sergeant , bill mackey .

>> narrator: could be the penguin.

>> we definitely didn't know how the foot played into it or not.

>> was it webbed?

>> i don't recall if it was webbed or not.

>> y but the thinking was this actually came from somebody who had done the beating or at least somebody who was there during the night?

>> that was the thinking.

>> police swarmed downtown grand forks at another bar, they found one of the costumed characters they were looking for.

>> narrator: that same night we found the clown .

>> and clown was crying?

>> yes, he was.

>> what was he crying about?

>> initially, that's something that made us wonder, why is? guy crying?

>> the tears of a clown , it made police suspicious. one officer reported the clown 's hands were shaking, from the cold orsome something else?

>> october 28, 2007 .

>> by the time the clown was brought to the police station , he had dried his tears, but he was not cooperative.

>> narrator: what's the big deal ?

>> listen to me, someone's dead. your name particularly has come up.

>> the clown told police he had nothing to do with any murder and was crying because of a domestic argument.

>> that night he explained to us that he had had a bad argument with his girlfriend. it's not real clear and convincing to us.

>> police say the clown then asked for a lawyer. but police just let him go.

>> narrator: you got the clown who's crying, who is belligerent who asked for a lawyer. it cou

>> it's a challenge to determine if those are tears of remorse, or maybe tears of fear or maybe they had onions for lunch.

>> that same night police also found the cowboy, but the cowboy gave a fake name and a fake birthday and became physically aggressive. police placed him in hadn't cuffs even though he wasn't arrested.

>> narrator: what did the cowboy say?

>> the cowboy is very difficult to deal with. he doesn't want anything to do with us, he doesn't want to cooperate with us.

>> there is no record of his interview, but investigators said the cowboy asked a very interesting question, if the victim was wearing a green shirt, with the initials und on it.

>> narrator: who was wearing a university of north dakota sweatshirt that night?

>> joel loveling the victim.

>> police also let the cowboy go, but soon after, they got the break they needed. the owner of that bird's foot would come forward. police believed it would lead them straight to the murder.

>> narrator: