Dateline   |  November 20, 2013

'Secrets in Seattle' part 3

Nicole's husband David Pietz tells detectives about her troubled past. Does it have any connection to her untimely death?

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

>>> with a great many bad days , one of the worst ones had to be the day she was found.

>> oh. i'll never forget thats long as i live.

>> found strangled.

>> it came over the it tv that a body had been found and we just knew that it had to be her.

>> had to be your nici .

>> yeah.

>> nicole pietz, strangled to death. her nude body left for a week beneath some blackberry bushes by the airport. the killer unknown. her gray jetta still missing. her family's deep sorrow, now hardened into resolve to get justice for her.

>> find out who did it, and punish him. punish him.

>> to begin, the lead detective now assigned to king county 's newest murder case, jesse anderson , set out to learn more about the victim. he paid a visit to her husband, david pietz, at the condo he and nici shared.

>> how long have you been married?

>> almost four years.

>> david agreed to be audio taped and told detectives that nici had struggled with chemical dependency in the past. he then revealed something disturbing. recently, nici had again started taking prescription pills.

>> is nici still struggling?

>> she wasn't. but she hurt her back right before thanksgiving. she split the disk.

>> because of a severe painful back injury, david explained, nici had reluctantly agreed to let her doctor put her on a carefully monitored prescription for perkocet, a potentially addictive narcotic drug .

>> at first, she had me keeping the pills and giving them to her.

>> investigators wondered, had nici 's old demons pulled her down again? they delved into nici 's last known movements.

>> when is the last time you saw nici ?

>> friday night when i got home to work. she was asleep in bed.

>> david pietz told detectives that nici was sleeping when he arrived home late friday night. and by the morning, she was already gone. off to her special aa celebration, he assumed.

>> i just remember thinking that must be where she must be when i woke up.

>> when she didn't show up at the dinner party that night, he returned to their condo to look for her. he described how her purse, car keys and gray jetta were gone. but he said something else caught his eye and it would turn out to be a big clue for detectives. nici 's vial of perkocet was sitting out on the counter. the bottle was empty. the prescription filled just two days before, gone.

>> i found the pill bottle and i freaked out. it was a little scary to think she relapsed. that's a lot of pills. i thought maybe she oded or something.

>> as detectives wrapped up the interview with the husband, a narrative was starting to come together about the victim, of a former addict, possibly readdicted.

>> how does that change the complexity of the investigation early on? the woman whose body has been found was a recovering addict and maybe fell off the wagon?

>> well, it makes it far more complex for us, because now we have to consider the possibility that she met up with the wrong person at the wrong time, and that somehow led to her demise. that this was somehow related to the people that she knew through her aa affiliation. which she was veryuch into, and regularly attended those meetings.

>> so doors are opening a possibility.

>> yes.

>> rather than closing.

>> yes, yes.

>> some old fashioned gum shoe investigative work would have to come next. tracking down phone records, credit card statements. anything to pinpoint where nici may have headed after leaving the condo saturday morning. only one more blip on nici 's time line surfaced. a single phone call made around noon on saturday from her cell phone to the gym's front desk while david pietz was working.

>> it's possible that she was driving, and hit one of the towers there, so we were considering that. we were also considering whoever killed her may have had her phone and was still using it.

>> as for that diamond tennis bracelet missing from nicole 's wrist when they found her body, the cops began checking pawn shop records, in case someone had tried to hok it. nothing.

>> a police officer spotted pietz's car overnight.

>> the last major piece of the puzzle turned up two weeks after nici disappeared. her car, a gray jetta , had been found abandonein a parking lot in seattle's university district . forensic technicians hungry for clues crawled through the car. they noticed the driver's seat had been pushed back, but it's what they didn't find inside it that intrigued investigators most.

>> what was found in the car was david 's dna, along with nicole 's dna. there is no indication that anyone else had been behind the wheel of nicole 's car.

>> detectives were now wondering, wondering about the husband.

>> coming up. he was definitely