Dateline   |  April 07, 2014

The Girl With The Blue Mustang, Part 3

Michelle's dad recalls what Michelle said about the Park 'n' Ride where she was killed after taping a music video.

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

>>> they were dreadful dark hours middle of the night as the o'keefes absorbed the news, michelle murdered. of course, their minds went to that strange premonition. just months earlier she had actually predicted her own death, had fretted about that license number, 187, the police code for murder. and as he thought about that, michelle 's father's tortured mind suddenly flashed back to something else she once said, that time to allay her parents' concern for her safety, something about that park & ride lot.

>> she goes, oh, you don't have to worry about the park & ride , dad. they got a guard. so kind of implied, but almost -- the minute after police told us where she was killed, i said, wait a minute, they got a security guard there. didn't the guard see something? he said, no, he was on the other end of the parking lot .

>> reporter: in fact, here's the same guard a couple of nights later patrolling the park & ride just as he had that fatal evening when michelle was killed. lead detective richard longshore was eager to get his help.

>> the patrol officer said -- interviewed him briefly to find out what he saw, and also if there's any suspects that he could give a description of so we could get a broad cast out and try to apprehend him.

>> reporter: raymond lee jennings was cooperative and talk i have. he was an iraq war vet, a national guardsman, married with children . it was only his second night to the park & ride . assigned to the foot patrol roaming the lot till dawn.

>> he said that he had been walking his post and saw the mustang during the course of his duties as early as 9:00.

>> reporter: after all that bright blue car was so pretty, so attractive, it was something he would love to own himself one day. that's why he remembered so clearly seeing it, he said, during his rounds at 9 p.m . then he said he continued around the lot and returned to his post which was his own car up a slight hill overlooking the rest of the lot. it was just before 9:30, he said. he was about 350 feet from michelle 's mustang and a car alarm went off.

>> and he said that he recognized that as being a mustang alarm and he heard the engine racing and he walked back towards his car and heard a single gunshot. he took cover and looked up and saw the mustang rolling backwards with additional shots being fired until it came to a rest. at the top.

>> reporter: then what, did he rush down and see what happened?

>> no, he didn't. he said he called for help and expressed a fear that the shooter was still there and he was unarmed. he didn't have a firearm. it was an unarmed guard post.

>> reporter: a few minutes later help arrived. jennings ' supervisor who rushed to michelle 's car while jennings remained at his post. did he see anybody out there.

>> no, he didn't see anybody at all.

>> reporter: it was understandable certainly that jennings was concerned about approaching a scene with a gun going off especially since a weapon wasn't part of his uniform. eventually jennings did wander down to the crime scene to join his supervisor a few minutes before the cops arrived but at no time did he catch a glimpse of the killer so jennings wasn't much help. longshore sent him home.

>> i wanted to get him home, get rested and i can interview him again at another time.

>> reporter: as dawn approached most of the physical evidence was recovered. it wasn't much to go on.

>> we didn't really have any forensic evidence that said, you know, linked distinctively to a particular individual.

>> reporter: mark safarik is a former fbi profiler who consulted on the case.

>> we had forensic evidence . we had bloodstain analysis. we had bullets. we had shell casings , but we don't have a fingerprint that says this belongs to this guy or this person's dna is at the scene and that belongs to this guy. we don't have that in this case.

>> reporter: but there was somebody else to interview, the last person to see michelle alive, her best friend, jennifer peterson.

>> and when i talked to her the night of the murder and she was so distraught, i decided to delay the interview for a couple of days then drove her out to the scene and asked her to show us exactly where she had been, what she had done.

>> reporter: but when they got to the parking lot detective longshore was in for a surprise.

>> i said, okay, this is where michelle 's car. she said, no, it wasn't. i said, are you sure. she said, we parked under a light deliberately because she was concerned about her vehicle's safety.

>> that is when michelle parked her car in the afternoon, before heading to the kid rock shoot she made sure it was in a safe brightly lit spot. but that night when she was found dead in the car, it was in a different place altogether.

>> it was initially parked about 17 spaces down from where it was found because jennifer says when we came into the lot, we pulled up. this is where her car was, we dropped it off here.

>> reporter: that's when michelle got in her mustang right under that bright light post and started backing out and jennifer assuming michelle was right behind her drove away. but michelle didn't leave. instead apparently she moved to another space away from the lights. looking back jennifer now realized why michelle had not immediately left the lot.

>> michelle was pretty scantily clad in a tube top and a short skirt and she was going to class so she didn't want to go to class like that. she had brought a pair of jeans. she planned to change into and jennifer said, well, she probably pulled into a dark area so she could change.

>> reporter: that new space was between two other vehicles, a perfect place to discreetly change and quickly leave.

>> but michelle never got the chance to even start to change into her black jeans because she gets confronted by someone.

>> reporter: confronted by the shooter who fired off those four fatal rounds then managed to escape the parking lot and disappear into the desert without a soul seeing him or her. detectives were stumped. of course, they didn't know, not yet, that there was another witness in the park & ride that night. someone who would soon reveal the most unlikely of suspects. 3 f2 estaban