Dateline | April 19, 2014
>>> michelle, the youngest of six, had been gone for more than half a year.
>> she was just the pride and joy of our family. she was the baby. she was a beautiful, everyone loved her so much.
>> but convinced as the family was that she had been murdered by her boyfriend, their rage at the injustice of it all made it hard to step back and mourn for their lost one.
>> there's no healing. we haven't had time to heal . no time to have it set in. we've only had time to fight.
>> jeremy banks was in a fight, too. potentially in a courtroom and certainly in the court of public opinion over whether he had murdered his girlfriend.
>> jeremy , did you put your weapon in michelle 's mouth and fire it?
>> angry she was going to leave you, you couldn't take it, nobody leaves me?
>> no, sir.
>> you may wish you didn't, but arguments got ahead of you --
>> i did not.
>> it went down the way it went down.
>> i did not kill michelle .
>> he denies ever physically or verbally abusing michelle . but jeremy wasn't the only one in a battle. so, too, was his boss, sheriff shore. blogs were full of comments that the sheriff was protecting a deputy who had committed domestic violence against michelle and perhaps worse, was covering up a murder by one of his own.
>> oh, it's a cover-up. good 'ol boys. think about that. i'm going to sit back and go, okay, we're not going to investigate this case or say it's a suicide instead of it's really a homicide. we're going to say it's a suicide because i know that family a lot better than i know that family.
>> that's the argument.
>> it's insane. i've locked up police officers before. i locked up a police officer a year and a half ago who i have known personally for almost 30 years.
>> and the sheriff says he would lock up jeremy too if he ever thought he was a murderer. but shore felt from the beginning the evidence in this case always pointed to michelle taking her own life.
>> why are you so certain that this was a suicide rather than a homicide?
>> there are dozens of reasons why we think it's a sue -- we know it's a suicide and not a homicide. literally. listen, if you read her text messages in chronological order, it's almost a digital suicide note .
>> the text messages . remember michelle sent i'll be there soon. but that was one of the many text messages she sent from that concert the night she and jeremy were talking break-up. michelle tapped out a series of texts to her sister chrissy who was baby-sitting michelle 's daughter lexie .
>> michelle wrote, promise me one thing, lexie will be happy. she responded what, promise you what?
>> no matter what, lexie will always be safe and loved.
>> chrissy , are you okay?
>> michelle didn't respond.
>> chris sent another text using her nickname, mitch. mitch, what do you mean?
>> michelle responded at 9:34. make sure lexie is number one. not like us. what do you mean? i'm scared.
>> michelle didn't respond to
that question but at 9: a 5 p.m . she sent that message, i'll be there soon.
>> chrissy , the gist of the text messages to you are promise me you'll always take lexie as number one and you'll take care of her. what did that mean that night when you were getting that message?
>> that night i was confused by that message. i knew she was leaving jeremy and i thought, was she thinking something was going to happen? was she afraid of him?
>> are these texts from the concert a suicide note from your sister saying goodbye?
>> absolutely not. michelle was murdered.
>> at the end of the concert, scott saw his sister michelle . she seemed upset still. her last words to him, confusing.
>> the concert ends around 10:00 . michelle gives me a big bear hug and grabs my neck and she looks at it and says if anything ever happens, remember lexie comes first.
>> at 10:06 p.m ., michelle sent scott a message. lexie , never forget.
>> less than two hours later, she was declared dead.
>> please, my girlfriend, did --
>> while michelle 's brother still believed his sister was murdered, he also knew she had some issues.
>> is there anything that happened to michelle early on buy graphically that might explain the suicide?
>> i think there was a lot of combination of painful memories. there were many good things. but there was a history of pain too.
>> pain. like the absence of their father and scott says michelle suffered from low self-esteem. he adds she also had some trouble in her teen years.
>> i know that she would start to see a psychologist for issues and some anger. with that help, it subsided for a good period of time.
>> so she was in counseling and on some medications during at least part of her teen years, huh?
>> that's correct.
>> sierra, michelle 's friend.
>> i know that she had a little bit of depression in high school . but she was never that way around me.
>> as a teen, michelle also had a run-in with the law. at age 16 she was arrested and charged with felony assault for attacking her sisters with a frying pan . but sister chrissy says michelle had grown past the outbursts, her troubles. the devoted mom shouldn't be compared to the teen who lashed out.
>> that's why there are juvenile records. you make mistakes then, your brain is developing. she got on medicine, got counseling, got on with her life.
>> what makes sense to the sheriff, sadly, is that michelle 's troubled personality finally got the upper hand.
>> this is a woman that had a very troubled life. it wouldn't be shocking to realize that this is the way her life maybe have ended someday.
>> but the decision on whether michelle 's past had anything to do with her death or if all the seemingly damning evidence against jeremy banks added up to murder, that decision would be in the hand of a special prosecutor . and would that prosecutor side with the sheriff or case closed or would he respond to the family's cry to get the matter before a jury once and for all?