Dateline   |  April 07, 2014

The Girl With The Blue Mustang, Part 5

Jennings has a disturbying and bizarre theory about why Michelle might have been attacked: "She looked to be a prostitute," he says.

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

>>> i just want to know why, why they shot michelle . i just want to know the motive.

>> reporter: in the weeks after michelle o'keefe was murdered in this parking lot in southern california 's antelope valley , billboards sprang up along the highways that sliced through the high desert . the o'keefe family was hoping their daughter's image would spark a lead.

>> i think maybe just if anybody knew anything to get any information from anybody.

>> reporter: detective longshore meanwhile, was working the one slim lead he had, the security guard named raymond lee jennings , who was in the parking lot when michelle was murdered. something about jennings ' story wasn't quite adding up.

>> we were still looking at him as explain to us why you didn't see anything. not once did he vary much from his basic story about the patrol through the parking lot . why didn't you see this? you know, why didn't you see anybody? just incomprehensible.

>> reporter: and there was something about jennings ' story that didn't quite make sense either, when and where he first saw michelle 's mustang. just as that witness victoria richardson had placed him near the crime scene just moments before the murder, so did his own personal time frame of where he first spotted michelle 's bright blue car. fbi profiler mark safarik.

>> now, he said he likes mustangs, has an affinity for mustang so he noticed her car but when he reports seeing her car at 9:00 he reports it really in the location where it was actually found after the homicide.

>> reporter: but according to michelle 's friend jennifer at 9:00 the mustang wasn't there yet. michelle remember parked under a light almost a hundred feet away. why would he tell police he saw the mustang in a different place altogether, in fact, the final resting place a half an hour before it got there? if this was really where he saw michelle 's mustang could it mean he was also there around the time the shots were fired?

>> so his story starts to fall apart because as a witness, his story should be consistent with the whole crime scene .

>> reporter: sure.

>> it's not.

>> reporter: maybe jennings had forgotten something, gotten mixed up. perhaps his memory needed jogging. detectives had a plan. bring him in for a cognitive interview. and jennings again eager to help and happy to talk agreed to come to the sheriff's station. they asked jennings to visualize what he remembered about the moments when he heard those gunshots.

>> and i had still puzzles me to the day. why i didn't see anybody. who did the shooting and puzzles me to the day that i didn't see that the person actually firing the gun because of the close range they were at.

>> reporter: jennings did recall in vivid detail what he saw after the shooting when he saw michelle 's body in the mustang.

>> when i first seen her, the gunshot in her chest, that to me looked like the very first shot that was fired. it was close range. very close range.

>> reporter: detectives were astonished at how jennings standing in low light could make such an accurate analysis.

>> he knew, for example, about the sequence of the shots. that the first shot was point blank into her chest. that's exactly where it was.

>> reporter: as determined by the autopsy?

>> right, and we don't make those determinations before you go to an autopsy and for a layperson to come up with that, it just defied logic.

>> reporter: even former fbi profiler mark safarik who had studied crime scenes for years was impressed.

>> to opine when that shot was inflicted from basically a layperson, it's too much information. you know, the question is, how do you know that?

>> reporter: jennings told them he was merely speculating about the crime, tried to help solve it. the crime he felt bad about because it happened on his watch. he was after all supposed to provide security. but jennings was certain about something else he said he saw when he looked at michelle 's body.

>> and that it's like nerves still acting funny. like her hand was twitching like that, popping up and down and then like -- i seen a slight pulse in her neck, just a real, real light.

>> reporter: but hold on. that's a description of someone who is still alive and remember jennings did not rush to the crime scene after the shooting. he stayed at his post 100 yards away until long after she was dead. so how could he have seen twitching?

>> that's just not possible. she had been dead for probably minutes.

>> reporter: for two hours jennings provided a variety of opinions and observations, everything from the angle of the shot to the kind of gun used.

>> then he talked at one point about, well, i speculate she was trying to get away. that's why he had to shoot her. you know, he just knew way too much.

>> when you see this kind of proffer of information, you know, we've seen it in many times where you have cases where offenders leak information. they need to say something because they need to show you that they know that they're smart, right?

>> reporter: weird. they asked jennings if he'd take a polygraph test . he agreed. and as they were testing him he offered one more intriguing insight, a theory on why michelle o'keefe was attacked.

>> she looked to be a prostitute in my eye because of the way she was dressed. she had a short skirt on, tube top and her breasts were hanging out, so i thought it might have been a prostitution deal that went bad.

>> reporter: then the test result came in. jennings failed the polygraph. now detective longshore wanted one more crack at him alone.

>> i think that you saw the pulse, and i think that you saw the hand twitching, and the reason you knew -- you saw all that is 'cause you were there.

>> this part is all wrong. i swear to you, man, that i was not down there at that time.

>> why should i believe you, ray? what doesn't fit with my scenario?

>> i mean nothing. i mean everything fits.

>> everything fits. you told me.

>> i'm telling him this is what happened. i need to know when it happened. you're the murderer. now i need to know why. i want you to do two things, ray, i want you to either show me where i'm wrong or be a man and tell me what happened.

>> and yeah --

>> i don't think that you're a killer, and i deal with killers all the time.

>> you got it wrong though 'cause --

>> something went wrong that night. something went wrong.

>> there's nothing i can say to defend me. there's nothing.

>> reporter: jennings insisted over and over again that he did not do it, the killer was not him.

>> we kept him for about nine hours, and it got to the point where although we had given him breaks, i didn't want to jeopardize the information i had gotten because he was there voluntarily.

>> reporter: after that long day of questioning raymond lee jennings , the man who seemed to know too much was now officially a suspect in the murder of michelle o'keefe but jennings wasn't arrested.

>> reporter: he looked at the guard, the security guard , did they not feel he was responsible?

>> i asked. they said we need physical evidence.

>> reporter: without dna, fingerprints or the murder weapon, the chances of jennings being charged any time soon were unlikely if not impossible. and it certainly didn't help that raymond jennings hardly seemed like a cold-blooded killer. he had no criminal history. he was a father of five, a war vet, served his country honorably. maybe he shouldn't be charged. but what if raymond lee jennings was willing to talk again? coming