Dateline   |  March 28, 2014

The Mystery on Bridle Path, part 5

As Carol Kennedy’s family and friends cope with her death, the medical examiner makes some important findings during her autopsy.

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

>> narrator: there is as captain morris can tell you, no good way to find out your close friend has been murdered, especially a friend as incandescent as carol kennedy.

>> it's the most profound loss in my life today, it's profound, it's piercing, it's constant.

>> she didn't have any enemies?

>> none. none.

>> narrator: catherine who at this time lived in atlanta, flew across country.

>> i needed to see it. i needed to be in her home where she last was.

>> narrator: she joined other members of carol 's familiedy at bridle path. the mess of what happened everywhere in that room.

>> you can't imagine, it was painful.

>> did it help?

>> it helped greatly to put it into perspective. of the absolute horrendous brutality, animalistic violence.

>> evidence of that was still in the room?

>> oh, yes.

>> narrator: steve wiz there, too. and she members him saying something that didn't make much sense.

>> he put his arm around me and said, you just want to think it was an accident, don't you? i said, no, what i'm looking at is not an didn't.

>> narrator: so soon after the murder, steve was the only real suspect under investigation. and in the following weeks, as friends and family mourned, detectives peeled back the layers of steve and carol 's relationship. and soon found evidence that their recent divorce was, well no divorce is pleasant, but --

>> we looked at e-mails and we learned that carol was very unhappy with the outcome of the divorce. they argued heavily back and forth, up until the day of her murder.

>> narrator: steve made good money as a financial advisor , and agreed to pay $6,000 a month in spousal support.

>> when you say somebody makes over $500,000, you would assume that a $6,000 monthly payment is not a big deal . but he was spending way more than he was making. he was having to borrow money from his parents almost monthly.

>> when he's making half a million a year?

>> that's correct. and the $6,000, he was going to be unable to sustain his lifestyle.

>> narrator: mind you, those numbers were for 2008 , a year when, like a lot of people, hemorrhaged money because of the financial crisis . still to the detective, that $6,000 a month sounded like -- which might explain why it --

>> that payment started june 1. the second payment was due july 1. she was murdered july 2nd and that payment was never made.

>> i wasn't there. i wouldn't do that.

>> narrator: again and again, he denied killing his ex-wife, said he was out mountain biking the evening she died. but look at this, along with shoe prints near carol 's house after the murder, police also found tire tracks. bike tires .

>> we then were able to see that the bike had been stashed and then the individual walked right to the back of her house.

>> narrator: they did not take direct impressions of those shoe and tire tracks as investigators frequently do. but they did take pictures of the tracks, looked a lot like the treads on steve 's tires, they felt. and while no matching shoes turned up, they found out that steve once bought a pair that might match. then there was the curious business of the murder weapon, or possible murder weapon. remember the coroner's report suggesting that carol may have been hit with a golf club ? when investigators learned that, something clicked in their memories from their first search through steve 's house.

>> there were golf clubs in his garage.

>> so let's go back and seize them, right?

>> yeah, seize them and examine them to see if we can determine if these golf clubs were used as the murder weapon.

>> it sounds like kind of an ah-ha moment.

>> it's one of those moments that you go, oh, my goodness, we may have overlooked something.

>> narrator: so they returned to steve 's condo, seized the golf clubs in the garage and tested them, but could find no evidence that any of them was the murder weapon. but there was something else. in the first search of the condo, a detective remembered seeing a golf club cover or golf sock on a shelf. they looked at the photos, there it was. but when they searched the garage a second time, it was gone.

>> and the shelf itself had been sort of rearranged.

>> narrator: was it possible that now missing golf sock belonged to a different golf club , one that was no longer around, one used to kill carol kennedy? did steve knowing he was a suspect get rid of that golf sock because it was incriminating evidence ? it seems like every investigative trail they followed led back to the same person they had suspected all along. carol 's friend catherine knew who that was.

>> i didn't believe that steve did it, but i couldn't think of anyone else that would possibly do any harm to carol .

>> narrator: and so, three months after carol was killed, they arrested steve democker on a charge of first-degree murder. steve 's sister, sharon.

>> i'm trying to imagine what it was like for the family this, amazing, accomplished, interesting, intelligence family when the leader child was charged with murdering his wife, a woman who you all loved?

>> it was a total shock. going, they don't understand. if they knew him, they would see how wrong and impossible this was.

>> narrator: even worse, prosecutors filed for the death penalty. any chance for bail for steve given the charge was remote. still, the whole democker family gatt ev gathered in court for the hearing, which coincidence had been scheduled for christmas eve 2008 . then it was delayed.

>> it was this crushing blow, seeing the wheels turn painfully slowly in this process. so we left and we're standing out in the corridor, then they were just starting to bring steve out. and we said, you know what? let's just sing him a christmas carol . so we started singing, "we wish you a merry christmas " and we could see that there were tears streaming down steve 's face.

>> narrator: steve 's family went too, they believed he was innocence, that someone else killed carol and their belief only grew stronger after --

>> 911 what is your emergency?

>> narrator: a 911 call, this time to the prescott police department .

>> the doors opened, it looked like a gunshot hole in the window and there's a shell casing inside and the bedroom door is closed. .