Dateline   |  March 14, 2014

The House on Sumac Drive part 1

Betsy Faria, a beloved and gregarious woman with breast cancer, is found dead - but not from the cancer.

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

>> reporter: investigators?

>> in the 25 years i've been practicing law , i have never seen anything like it.

>> reporter: here's david morrison with the house on sumac drive.

>> reporter: in a small town not far from st. louis, missouri. the woman inside no longer felt the cold, she would never feel anything now. it was 9:40 p.m . all over but the call to 911.

>> narrator: what is the location of your emergency? i need you to take a couple of deep breaths so i can see what's going on.

>> i just got home from my friends' house and my wife is dead.

>> the man on the phone was hysterical.

>> narrator: what is her name?

>> her name is betsy .

>> betsy ?

>> yes.

>> betsy faria .

>> narrator: do you think she's beyond help right now?

>> she's dead. oh, god.

>> betsy faria was dead and gone at 42. and early death for betsy as you will hear, but not a surprise. that had been preordained, sad to say. no, it was how it happened, when it happened, why it happened. those were the mysteries burrowed down the rabbit hole , as you shall see. the first you need to know about betsy faria , she was one of four girls in her family, mary rogers and judy sweeney were older sisters.

>> narrator: betsy was the most outgoing and the most social.

>> kind of gleg gregarious?

>> gregarious is a great word. she could start up a party. she was in her element when she was out there. she could get anybody on the dance floor . whether they wanted to or not.

>> uh-huh.

>> betsy was a single mother of two daughters. leah and mariah when she met russ , and he seemed perfect for her, funny, outgoing, big heart. said russ 's cousin mary anderson .

>> narrator: she was a jokester, you never see him without him laughing.

>> and said russ , she was the perfect woman for him.

>> narrator: she encouraged me to go back to school and get my degree which led to a better job and more money, things like that.

>> yeah.

>> which i probably would not have done had she not done that.

>> we created a big bond and leah, you know, bonded with me as well.

>> betsy and russ got married in january of 2000 . and like many couples, they had good times and then less good times. for more than a year, they actually lived apart.

>> narrator: we argued a lot, you know, and it's always darkest before the dawn , they say.

>> and then betsy told him, she found a church that meant a lot to her. maybe he would like to come.

>> the first week we went they were starting a series on marriage, it kind of seemed like an omen.

>> that's when, russ said, they fell in love again.

>> but life will have its way with a person. like it or not. betsy found out she had breast cancer .

>> narrator: christmas of 2009 she told us that she thought she had it and it was diagnosed in january of 2010 . that's when she had a mastectomy.

>> went through a lot of crying, a lot of heart ache , you know, a lot of hard time , but we kept our faith and we kept praying.

>> and she handled it with such grace. she just amazed the millions of people that she knows. she was involved in tennis, she just continued playing tennis, you would never know she was going through chemo.

>> and maybe that helped her beat it. in winter of 2011 , betsy 's doctor told her her cancer was in remission. so they decided to celebrate, they organized a caribbean cruise and invited their friends and family to come along.

>> narrator: she thinks i'm free and clear, then this bomb gets dropped on her.

>> the cancer was back, had spread to her liver.

>> narrator: it was inoperable, it was too far in her liver that they couldn't take it out.

>> she had, with luck, three to five years, perhaps less. so what did russ and betsy do? they went on that cruise anyway, took their whole gang with them. betsy got to swim with the dolphins, a dream she had had for years.

>> narrator: just to see how happy she was made me happy.

>> she told everybody this was kind of like a second honeymoon. they had the best sex they could ever have while they were on this cruise.

>> but then a few weeks later, betsy was dead. but it certainly wasn't the cancer that killed her.

>> narrator: