Robert Dean is the producer of this Friday's episode with Andrea Canning, Deep in the Woods. He works out of the L.A. bureau, but we caught up with him at his temporary desk in New York to get the inside scoop. (Robert's responses have been edited for time and clarity.)
Dateline: We know you’re producing this Friday’s Dateline. We have a few questions.
Robert Dean, Producer: OK.
Dateline: How did you come across the case in this Friday’s report?
Robert: I got a tip from the district attorney down in Fayetteville, North Carolina, who has a lot of cases…. A lot of interesting things happen there. And he told us about this case and we checked it out. And it is a very interesting, unique story.
Dateline: How long ago was that?
Robert: I got the tip a couple years ago, and then we held off on the story. The crime happened in 2012 and adjudicated – it was finally adjudicated in 2014. So it was a few years ago.
Dateline: Without giving anything away, tell us a bit about the story.
Robert: Well it’s a very tragic, sad story about a young, attractive Army medic who goes missing in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And police cannot solve the case. They have a suspect, but they can’t crack him. And things drag out for about two years. It looks like all hope is lost until a very unusual character – a bounty hunter – comes out of the woodwork and helps solve the case.
Dateline: What was the most unusual location you filmed at for this episode?
Robert: We shot deep in the woods of North Carolina. Real wilderness area – very thick forest. You could get lost there very, very easily. We had to have guides and people to take us in and out of there. Very remote area.
Dateline: What is the one thing we should be on the lookout for?
Robert: Keep your eye on the dog. The dog is the key to the story. The search dog.
Dateline: What’s the best thing about working on a story with Andrea Canning?
Robert: Andrea brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the story, and she will go anywhere to get it. We did a lot of hiking. We were trapesing around deep into these forests. She was fully game to do it. She’s really enthusiastic and takes an effort – makes a great effort to understand the story and go where it happened.