Dateline | April 21, 2014
>>> the ransom drop had been made. sheriff's investigators and fbi agents believed they might be on the verge of breaking the kidnapping case of quinn gray . undercover teams and an fbi plane were following several men in an suv who had just picked up the ransom money from a restaurant parking lot . investigators were hoping the men didn't notice the tracking device in the bag or that the bag only contained $10,000. fbi agent in charge, james casey.
>> the kidnappers asked for $50,000.
>> you didn't give them $50,000, you gave them ten.
>> we gave them less than $50,000.
>> and they said don't put a gps tracking device in.
>> and you did.
>> is that standard procedure to ignore kidnappers?
>> we're in charge of how this goes, not them. the idea was get the bag to them and find out where they are.
>> but then came something no one expected. quinn 's mom, gail sikes.
>> quinn called and said where's the money, they're going to kill me. where's the money.
>> and you said?
>> i dropped it, absolutely.
>> jesus, quinn , what kind of people are these? i told you, you go to the crab shack and there's a huge parking lot on your right.
>> listen to me, hello.
>> and for the first time, everyone heard the voice of one of the kidnappers.
>> was anybody following you?
>> no, i don't -- certainly not.
>> anybody follows you, you know what happens.
>> what? i'm sorry? hello?
>> when you hear that guy's voice on the phone, that changes everything.
>> absolutely. she said early on three albanians grabbed her over a loan shark . we've got a male there.
>> at last a solid lead. but everyone, including the fbi 's james casey, was perplexed over why the kidnappers were still asking for the money. didn't they have it?
>> they pulled into a gas station not far from joe's crab shack after they had done a little driving around. so as we're sitting there watching them, a jacksonville beach police cruiser pulls into the gas station and starts talking to these young men.
>> you're thinking what?
>> we had no idea what's going on.
>> trying to keep the kidnapping quiet, so as not to tip off the local media, the fbi and sheriff's department had not told the local police about the ransom drop. so a frantic call was made to the jacksonville beach police instructing officers to bring the suspects in. detective howard cole of the sheriff's office rushed to the scene.
>> immediately everybody, rightfully so, says these guys are involved, we need to interview these guys and we need to find out what the connection is.
>> one man told the detective he was german.
>> what's your address in germany ?
>> hamburg, germany .
>> even though they were from germany , could they have had some connection with the albanian men quinn mentioned in her first call to reid?
>> we walked back and forth in the parking lot and saw that blue bag . one of the guys was joking and said i bet there's money inside. that's a lot of money, what are we going to do with it?
>> but in an unbelievable stroke of bad luck , it turned out these men were not the kidnappers.
>> and it becomes pretty clear pretty quick that these guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
>> the men were actually college exchange students, two of them played on the same tennis team.
>> they looked at a bag and said, hey, wouldn't it be cool if there was money in that bag? it was really that simple, that coincidental, and couldn't make it up.
>> the college students stumbled on to the bag, picked it up and got scared when they saw cars following them. they then called 911.
>> we found a blue bag in a huge amount of money in there and we just want to give it to you guys.
>> they came down to jacksonville beach to have some fun.
>> and they wound up with more than they expected.
>> a lot more.
>> it was a chance encounter that had everyone on edge. all of the money drop attempts, butler boulevard , chick-fil-a and now joe's crab shack had ended in failure.
>> three attempts at a ransom drop. the money never actually changed hands.
>> the kidnappers never actually got the money.
>> no, no.
>> i turn to the fbi and said what's happening with the money? he said, well, we don't exactly know where the money is right now. i said great. you've gotten my daughter killed.
>> the real kidnappers were still looking for their money. and of course it wasn't at the drop location.
>> it's tense. and mom's a wreck. mom is getting upset because mom
>> everything went south at that ransom drop.
>> and we still didn't know who we were looking for. we were back to square one.
>> back to square one, again.
>> you were kind of at the end of your rope?
>> it's not like a tv show , is it?
>> it had been about 43 hours since quinn disappeared. as the fbi prepared yet another bag of money, the kidnappers called back. it was the same male voice from before, and he was angry about the lack of progress.
>> listen, i'm sick and tired of this [ bleep ], okay? i'm sick and tired of it. you've been giving me [ bleep ] left and right.
>> reid has been giving you [ bleep ]?
>> he's going to go to the bank, pick up $50,000 and we'll arrange somewhere else to meet.
>> more bad news for everyone, it was sunday of that labor day weekend . monday was a holiday. the banks would be closed, guaranteeing that this drama would last for at least another day and night .
>> we're all thrown for a loop when we hear this. we didn't want to string this out two more days.
>> not wanting to drag this out any longer, investigators decided to try a risky new strategy and told quinn 's mom to now take an aggressive approach whenever she talked with the kidnappers.
>> that's a big gamble.
>> we tried to take a little more control. it was still being cooperative, we were very clear that we were willing to pay the ransom.
>> i did not get the money, nobody has the money.
>> you know, i tell you seriously, i think you're lying to me.
>> i'm what?
>> i think you're lying to me. i think you got it.
>> but then something frightening happens. that aggressive approach might have back fired.
>> did you hear that?
>> did you hear that round?
>> the what?
>> did you hear the round i just fired?
>> no, my god, i didn't hear the round you just fired. no.
>> okay. well listen. your daughter is fine, she just talked to you. keep it up.
>> if i heard a round, you let me talk to her again.
>> it was completely unexpected. i was in a situation of hopelessness and i figured that i would never see her again and that was so sad because she would never be able to be a mother again and she would never see her children again.
>> was that a gunshot? investigators couldn't hear it. what did it mean? and, was quinn