IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Mystery at Bootleggers Cove

When a young woman disappeared in Alaska, police looked at two brothers as suspects. Could anyone breach their loyalty and find the truth?

Glen Klinkhart: I would tuck him into bed and he'd ask me every night. He'd say, you know, “Did you find Bethany?” And I’d say, “No, buddy, I didn't find her today. But I’m going to find her."

Little boys have a way of believing their fathers can do anything.

Of course, Glen Klinkhart's little boy had no idea how or why his question -- the question -- had come to torment his father.

The beginning of the whole strange business didn't seem so important that first night, May 4, 2003.

Glen Klinkhart: It was Sunday evening, sitting home with the family. I get the phone call. And it's my sergeant. And he basically says, "Oh, we've got a missing girl down at Bootlegger’s Cove." And I’m like, "OK."

Just about like any other missing person's report. And there are, God knows, lots of those in Anchorage, Alaska.

Glen Klinkhart: And told my wife, "I’ll be right back, -- she's probably just out with her friends."

Klinkhart is a police detective. Experience had long since taught him that most often people who are reported missing have chosen to disappear.

How could he know, driving through town to check on this missing young woman, that she was about to tear open an old wound, never fully healed even after 22 years.

Glen Klinkhart: That was something that I can't make any amends for. I can't fix. And yet, along comes Bethany.

Bethany Correira. That was her name, the missing woman.

She was 21-years-old. Bright, fun-loving, all-Alaskan.

They raise them tough here in the heart of Alaska; they have to. Winters are long, cold, dark. Many people here still subsist mostly on what they hunt or fish. Here is, or can be, a natural life.

Linda Correira: When we first got here, electricity and water was not a popular thing. So you were hauling water and chopping wood and kerosene lamps.

Billy and Linda Correira moved to the pioneer town of Talkeetna from Massachusetts in the '70s. They're among just 700 who live here, though the town bursts with cruisers and climbers in the summer months.

Talkeetna is the launching-off point to the one constant in life here: Mt. McKinley, the tallest peak in north America.

The Correiras raised two sons and two daughters in a log house Billy built with his own hands. And there by the pond, Linda home-schooled them all. She let them know they could do anything.

Havilah Correira: I don't think I realized it until I moved away from here and people would be like, “You can't do that. That's a guy's job." I think you learn to do a lot on your own.

Havilah Correira's big sister, Bethany, was a pistol.

Her father, Billy, remembers a story about that. He was showing his son, Jamin, how a mousetrap works -- by sticking his fingers in one. He didn't realize that a 6-year-old Bethany was watching from around the corner when he teased Jamin about giving it a try.

Bill Correira: Bethany comes running around the corner, says, "I will, I will." (laughter) And she sticks her finger right in there. And it slaps her finger. And Jamin looks at her and says, "Beth, does it hurt?" And she goes, “Mmmm, no." (laughter) Keith Morrison, Dateline NBC: Are you all like that? Do you all sort of stick your fingers into things? (laughter)Jamin Correira: No, not like that.

Bethany grew up fishing, kayaking, mountain climbing, and even played soccer and hockey on the boys' teams.

Linda Correira: It was tough sometimes, being her mom. (laughter) I mean, to see her playing hockey with the boys.Keith Morrison: Was she a tomboy?Havilah Correira: Oh, yeah. (laughter)

Locals joke that here in Alaska, the men are men -- and the women are, too.

But rugged self-sufficiency is a good thing here. People respected Bethany.

And then came that day, a day so momentous in the life of every parent, every child, when it was time in her case to leave this bit of cloistered paradise in the lee of Mt. McKinley and go off to college in Anchorage. And then what happened four days later... Well, as you will see, what happened four days later shook the earth around here.

In the spring of 2003, Bethany rented an apartment on M Street in Bootlegger’s Cove, a neighborhood right on the water in downtown Anchorage.

Linda Correira: It was really a nice place.

She had arranged her college classes; she was preparing to study medicine. She'd landed a part-time job cleaning apartments in the complex where she lived.

And thus the stage was set for all the days to follow.

It was four days after she moved in, a Saturday. Bethany failed to pick up her brother, Jamin, from the Anchorage airport -- even though she'd promised to be there.

Jamin Correira: That was odd. That was something that was unlike Bethany. Not to show up.

Linda told Jamin, don't worry. She and Bethany had made a plan to meet the next morning to shop for furniture.

On Sunday, Linda drove to Anchorage.

She knocked on Bethany’s door. No answer.

Linda Correira: The door was left unlocked, which kind of surprised me. Her bike was in the room, so I thought, well, then she must be jogging. So we waited around for awhile. And then I started getting a little nervous.

She tried to stay calm, went to the garage sale she and Bethany had planned to visit.

She couldn't focus. She went back to the apartment. Still no Bethany.

Linda Correira: And so I finally went to the police. And they told me that a missing person was usually at the bottom of the list. And that she's just probably just this and that. I said, "Well, I thought all that, too. But this is not like my daughter."

Linda called Billy, back in Talkeetna.

Bill Correira: And she said, "You need to come to Anchorage. Bethany's missing.” and I’m of course, I’m just in shock. “What do you mean?"

Detective Klinkhart arrived at Bethany’s apartment on Sunday evening.

He did not tell Linda that he was actually a member of the homicide unit.

Klinkhart went inside.

Glen Klinkhart: Her bed hadn't been made. There was a book that had been turned over. Her purse is still hanging in the closet. Her cell phone is sitting on the counter.Keith Morrison: Kids don't leave their cell phones.Glen Klinkhart: No. No. No. Everything told me that this was an apartment that she had been in and she just stepped out. And she had every intention of coming right back.

But outside was something truly odd.

The building right next door had been destroyed in a fire that very morning. It was ruled an accident, an electrical fire.

Glen Klinkhart: When I smell that smell, it definitely makes me suspicious, simply because of my history. That's a smell that you never, ever forget.

Because of my history, did he say? Yes, he did.

That smell, the look of that burned building, cut through his defenses. It opened up the old wound, the awful memory flooded his brain. That fire, years ago, that destroyed a part of him. His sister, so like Bethany, and where was he then, for her?

He shook it off. He went to double check the cause of the fire, got some experts in to take a look.

Glen Klinkhart: I said, "Well, what do you think?" And they looked at me and said, "This is an arson." The minute they said that, I mean, the hair on the back of my neck just stood up.

Arson? Klinkhart knew painfully well from personal experience that people trying to destroy evidence quite often burn things down.

What there was no evidence of, at all, was Bethany.

Glen Klinkhart: We had a burned out building where we didn't have forensics. I had her apartment, where I had no forensics. I had nothing.

And then, for some reason -- maybe the fresh turmoil over that old memory -- he went to Bethany’s parents and made a promise. He told them he would find her.

It was rash, perhaps, since already he sensed that the chances of finding her alive were slim.

Glen Klinkhart: They literally just said, “We're going to give you our daughter. Please find her.”

Havilah Correira was far away, in South Africa doing volunteer work, when her mother called.

Bethany? Missing? No, that couldn't be.

Havilah Correira: I don't think it even hit me. I didn't even come home right away. I just thought, "Oh, I’ll wait it out. She'll show up in a couple of weeks."

And when she returned, and Bethany was still missing? It made Havilah angry if anybody suggested her sister might not come back at all.

Havilah Correira: I just thought she has so much potential, so much life left, so much to offer to others, you know. It can't be over yet.

And, back in Anchorage, it was as if the whole city had decided that same thing.

They came in the hundreds, from the city, from Talkeetna especially, to search for Bethany.

It grew until it was the biggest missing person search ever in Anchorage.

(news report)Linda Correira: Every time I see a new face walk in this building, it kind of gives me hope and encouragement.

In Talkeenta, population 700, they helped raise $40,000 in reward money.

Glen Klinkhart: There were people who gave up their livelihood. It's a very seasonal economy up there. The people who make their entire year's salary in three or four month period.

Detective Klinkhart, meanwhile -- in his particular way -- was looking, too.

First, he had to eliminate those closest to Bethany, her boyfriend and her family.

Glen Klinkhart: We spent hours talking. I asked them for DNA swabs. There was no, “Well, why do you want that?” It was, “OK.” You know, I asked them for photographs. I asked them for cell phone records. Anything that I asked for, they provided.

They were all quickly ruled out as suspects.

But what about that fire next door? Was Bethany’s disappearance connected somehow?

Of course it was. What happened in his own life screamed that it had to be connected.

The burned building, it turned out, was part of the same complex as Bethany’s apartment.

And hadn't Bethany just been hired to clean -- and show -- apartments?

Glen Klinkhart: So immediately, the detective in me's going, “Showing apartments? Ooh. Well now we've got all kinds of potential suspects.”

Maybe the landlord -- Bethany’s new boss -- could help. Bethany, it turned out, had told her boyfriend that the man - his name was Mike Lawson -- called her shortly before she disappeared to set up a training session. So Klinkhart went to see Mr. Lawson, and recorded the conversation.

(police interview)Klinkhart: Hi, Mr. Lawson?Mike Lawson: Yep.Det. Klinkhart: Hi, I’m Detective Klinkhart, APD.Glen Klinkhart: He was very cool, very calm. He indicated that yes, he had talked to Bethany. That he had called her. It was about 8 o'clock Saturday morning.

Lawson told Klinkhart he had simply returned Bethany’s call, but he said he had not arranged to teach Bethany how to show apartments that day or any other.

(police interview)Klinkhart: There were no plans to meet Beth for any kind of reason?Mike Lawson: No. None at all.

In fact, Lawson told Klinkhart...

Glen Klinkhart: "She doesn't show apartments, I do. There's no plan. We weren't going to meet. It was about some keys. And she said she got them fixed."

Lawson's brother, Bob, lived with Mike. And he was there, too.

(police interview)Mike Lawson: This is my brother, Bob.Klinkhart: Hi, Bob.Glen Klinkhart: His brother, very quiet gentleman, but at one point I’m talking with Mike. And Bob kind of interrupts for a moment and kind of starts to say where he was.

Now that was curious.

The Lawson brothers told Det. Klinkhart they hadn't seen Bethany the day she disappeared.

But their manner seemed strained.

They had alibis, however. They said they had spent all day at home together watching Nascar on television, then went out drinking that night with friends.

And that was that.

And yet Klinkhart's antenna was picking up something.

He pressed Mike Lawson for more.

Glen Klinkhart: I wanted to know what he thought about her, not just what he saw. And he -- I’ll never forget. He said, “Nice girl. Very nice girl.”(police interview)Mike Lawson: Met her with her parents. God bless her. She's trying to go to college. Good girl.

Mike told Klinkhart he was a father himself, had two grown children.

So imagine what Klinkhart thought a few days later, when one of Mike's co-workers, a man named Franko, told Klinkhart he was disturbed by the way Mike talked about Bethany in the days after her disappearance.

Franko Besinaiz: His words, he said, "that f---ing b--ch is giving me so many problems." And I was just in disbelief. I couldn't believe he'd say something like that about somebody that has disappeared.

On top of that, said Franko, Mike's fourth wife had just left him, and he'd been talking openly about taking it out on other women.

Franko Besinaiz: He met some girl in a bar and he called her a "bar whore" and he told me that he had basically took his frustrations out on her. He took all his madness out on her. And I said what do you mean by that? And his response was basically “I did her at the same time I was beating her.”

In fact, it was because Franko found Mike's behavior so strange that he called Klinkhart, who showed up at their job site with more questions.

And while he was there, Klinkhart peered through windows into the dirty, messy interior of Mike Lawson’s car for any sign that Bethany had been inside. He needed a search warrant to do any more than that.

So Klinkhart left to get one. And what did Mike do then?

Franko Besinaiz: He was walking around his car, searching his own vehicle just like they did.

Franko said Mike told him he needed a couple of days off to find a lawyer, to take care of some things. And when he returned…

Franko Besinaiz: It was raining, pouring down rain. He pulled up on the job, which was all muddy, dirty, and it was completely detailed, spotless.Keith Morrison: His car.Franko Besinaiz: It looked brand new.Glen Klinkhart: It had been scrubbed.Keith Morrison: Anything that would have been there was gone?Glen Klinkhart: Completely gone. I got nothing out of that car.

Well now that was certainly suspicious.

Remember, Mike said he was home watching television the day Bethany disappeared. But was he?

Klinkhart looked up Lawson’s cell phone records. Which told him that just about the time Bethany is believed to have disappeared, there was a flurry of calls from Mike Lawson’s cell phone.

Glen Klinkhart: These calls were made from a cell phone to his own house.Keith Morrison: The house he said he was in all day.Glen Klinkhart: To the house he said he was in all day.

It seemed Mike was desperately trying to reach his brother Bob, at their house across town.

And where was Mike when he made those calls? Detective Klinkhart checked cell tower records.

Glen Klinkhart: His phone was down on M Street, making a flurry of calls back to the house.

M Street, where Bethany’s apartment is.

Glen Klinkhart: And there's a two minute conversation between Mike Lawson’s cell phone and his brother's cell phone down in south Anchorage. And that two minute conversation was the one thing I had that told me that there was something' going on and that these brothers --Keith Morrison: Both of them knew about it.Glen Klinkhart: They both knew. If I could figure out what that conversation was about, I could find Bethany.

The cell tower records told Klinkhart that Mike Lawson’s cell phone went back to the Lawsons' home for a while, and then traveled 45 miles north, and dropped off the radar for three hours.

Glen Klinkhart: Where did he go? Where can you go? This is Alaska. You drive two hours out and two hours back, you've covered a lot of ground.

Klinkhart's gut told him that wherever it was Mike had gone, Bob would have gone, too.

But it also told him that neither brother would ever tell on the other.

If no one talked, how would he ever find Bethany?

Glen Klinkhart: It became pretty clear by the fall that here we had these two guys right in our sights. But we had nowhere to go.

Three seasons came and went in Talkeetna, Alaska. Winter settled in.

But for all the looking, there was still no sign of Bethany Correira.

Her younger sister, Havilah, had kept the hope alive. But by that cold, dark winter, she'd lost it herself.

Havilah Correira: I remember the day it finally hit me. I just kind of woke up at like 6 in the morning. Couldn't sleep anymore and was cleaning the bathroom downstairs, and it just like I just broke into tears. I just knew she wasn't coming back.

Detective Klinkhart, meanwhile, was stuck. It had been 9 months, and still no sign of Bethany.

Glen Klinkhart: I don't have a homicide. I don't have a body. I don't have a crime scene.

But he couldn't just walk away. Wasn't that how he'd failed his own sister all those years before? Wasn't that why the guilt nagged him so?

And he winced when he overhead his little boy's unbounded confidence in him.

Glen Klinkhart: People would ask, "Well, what's your dad doing?" "Oh, he's looking for Bethany. He's going to find Bethany."

His investigation kept coming back to the Lawson brothers. Klinkhart knew Mike and Bob were exceptionally close, so close their relationship endured an affair between Bob and Mike's third wife.

When Bethany disappeared, Mike and Bob lived together, owned a business together.

Glen Klinkhart: Mike was the talker. He was the slick guy. But he wasn't a get-your-hands-dirty, get-in-the-trenches-and-work-hard. That was Bob. Bob was the guy that could get stuff done. They were kind of a ying to a yang.

Klinkhart was certain Mike and Bob Lawson knew something about Bethany’s disappearance.

But Mike quit talking to police altogether, so Klinkhart got Bob alone and asked him some questions -- on videotape.

(police interview)Klinkhart: Do you believe that your brother's involved in the arson or Bethany’s disappearance?Bob Lawson: I really don't. I just, gut, deep down, true blue, from my heart, I really don't think Mike's involved.

Really? Klinkhart felt sure Bob was lying to protect his brother. He continued to press Bob for more.

Klinkhart: Here's the other thing that we need to make sure, that you wouldn't get involved in this even for your brother.Bob Lawson: No way. If my brother came home and told me he did something like that, I’d tell you. I'm not going to jail for anybody. I'll tell you that flat out.

Again and again, Bob told Klinkhart he knew nothing about Bethany’s disappearance.

Bob Lawson: Like I said, I have nothing to hide. Klinkhart: OK.Bob Lawson: Um, I’ll be as cooperative as I can…. Um….  You know, I’d like to put this thing to rest, too.

How could he pry these two brothers apart?

And then he made a very useful discovery. Mike had a criminal record -- a fact the brothers had lied about when they applied for a business loan.

Klinkhart told the FBI, which was only too happy to file federal fraud charges. Both men were arrested and faced time in jail.

Would that encourage Bob to talk?

Glen Klinkhart: I got a missing girl. And I need Bob to start thinking that I’m serious. If he won't do the right thing, maybe I can make him do the right thing. So let's arrest him. Let's put him in jail. Which is exactly what we did.

Bob had a choice: Tell what he knew about Bethany’s disappearance and go free, or remain in jail on those federal charges.

His attorney, Sidney Billingslea, came to negotiate a deal and could see the toll this was taking on him.

Sidney Billingslea: He had aged by several years. I mean, he was a different man.Keith Morrison: Whatever this was had weighed heavily on him.Sidney Billingslea: It was. And he said that. I mean, it was killing him to do this, to cover up for his brother.

That's when Bob finally cracked and told detective Klinkhart he received a panicked phone call from his brother the morning Bethany disappeared 9 months earlier.

Bob Lawson: He said, “I’m in trouble.” I think I said, “What the hell” or whatever. And he said “I shot somebody.”

There's a stubborn streak that runs through the best -- and the worst -- who make Alaska home.

For 9 months, the Correira family waited patiently for police find Bethany. And for 9 long months, Bob Lawson denied he knew anything about the disappearance of Bethany Correira.

Until this...

(police interview)Klinkhart: Mike called you that morning ... And you said he woke you up...

But remember, Bob had made a deal. Tell Det. Klinkhart about that frantic two minute phone call from Mike the morning Beth disappeared, or join his brother Mike in prison on those fraud charges. And so now, finally, Bob started talking.

Bob Lawson: He said, "I need you to help me."

Klinkhart pressed for detail. And Bob told him Mike asked him to come to the duplex, and to bring plastic and duct tape. Bob knew then, he said, that whoever Mike shot was dead, and refused to help him.

Bob Lawson: I think I just was, over and over, "How the f--- could you, how the hell, what the hell, uh, I can't believe it." I think at some point he wound up saying, "Well, I’ll just take care of it."

Bob said Mike didn't go into detail, just said there was a struggle and the gun went off.

Bob Lawson: I remember drilling him over and over, like, you know, "What the hell's wrong with you?” Or “How could you, I can't believe this" and just--Det. Klinkhart: Well, what was his answer?Bob Lawson: He hated women; he was pissed at women.Det. Klinkhart: At what point did he confide in you as to what happened that day, as to what led up to the shooting?Bob Lawson: What caused the whole thing? You know, I don't really know that -- other than he's pissed at women. I mean, we never really discussed the events of the day or -- and I really didn't ever want to know.

Now Klinkhart asked the question that would cut through Bob's defenses. Bob said Mike told him he had left a body in the woods.

Det. Klinkhart: So you think that she was just left out there undressed?Bob Lawson: Yes ATF agent: Do you think he covered her up? Did he mention --Bob Lawson: I don't know....Det. Klinkhart: Did he --Bob Lawson: I think he said he put some leaves on her or something.Det. Klinkhart: And just left her out there.Bob Lawson: Yeah.Det. Klinkhart: Bob? Were you there?Bob: No.

But remember, Klinkhart believed, based on cell phone records, that the two men were together that day. And so he tried to tap into Bob's conscience.

Det. Klinkhart: I’m going to be talking to the family and I’d like to be able to help them.

And that's when Bob finally revealed he'd done much more than just talk with his brother that day.

Bob Lawson: I was there. Det. Klinkhart: OK. That's OK.

Bob, exhausted, agreed to come back in a few days. Klinkhart knew Bob had struggled with alcohol, drugs and depression, and that revealing his brother's secret would torment him.

Det. Klinkhart: I just want to know that you're going to be OK tonight?Bob Lawson: I’m fine. I need some sleep.

And five days later, Bob was back at the police station, teady to tell his whole story.

Bob Lawson: Some day when I’m eulogized, all I want somebody to say is I stood up and did the right thing. I always tried to do the right thing.

He said that awful day began with Mike's call for help. And when Bob arrived at the duplex, Mike appeared to be high on cocaine. And in the bedroom, slumped against a wall, Bob saw a girl.

Det. Klinkhart: Bob, is this the girl whose body was in the bedroom that day?Bob Lawson: Yes.Det. Klinkhart: OK.Bob Lawson: I’m sorry.Det. Klinkhart: No, no, no.Glen Klinkhart: It is the first information that I truly now know from somebody's mouth, from Bob, from somebody who was there, that Bethany is dead.Bob Lawson: And I just remember thinking “Jesus f----- Christ,” and I said something like, "What have you gotten me into here?" I said, "If I was smart I’d f----- walk right now." And I didn't --Det. Klinkhart: What did your brother say to that?Bob Lawson: Nothing.Det. Klinkhart: He didn't say anything?Bob Lawson: He said, at some point during this thing he said, "It's not your fault.” He said, "I did it.” And he said, "I’m sorry I got you into this."

Bob said there was a broken shell necklace on the floor. He and Mike rolled it up in plastic, along with Bethany’s body, and then put her in the back of Mike's SUV.

Bob cleaned up the scene, patched a hole in the wall where it looked like Bethany’s head had hit it. Then the two men drove toward Fairbanks, 360 miles north, Bob said, where Mike knew a good place to hide a body. But, by the time they passed Talkeetna, Bob was getting very nervous.

Bob Lawson: I’m thinking every minute we go with her in there is there's a chance of, and it's fluke s--- that happens, you have a flat tire, somebody hits you, I’m thinking let's just get rid of her somewhere.

So they pulled off at milepost 129 and dumped Bethany’s body in the woods, near a gravel pit.

Then the brothers returned to the duplex at night and...

Bob Lawson: Mike said we got to burn the place.

Bob told Klinkhart Mike drove, and Bob lit the fire. Then they met up with friends and spent the night drinking.

But the fire wasn't reported until morning, hours after it had been lit. Had it died out, and been re-started by someone else?

Bob Lawson: It would be just like Mike to go back there to make sure that thing was burning.Bob seemed relieved to have finally shared his secret.Det. Klinkhart: Do you think you made the right decision?Bob Lawson: Yeah.Det. Klinkhart: OK.Bob Lawson: It still hurts. I still kind of feel like a rat, um, why? Maybe because it's my, my brother.

So it was. They were brothers with a bond so strong Bob had once been forgiven for having an affair with Mike's third wife.

Det. Klinkhart: Did Mike, uh, treat you any differently because of that relationship?Bob Lawson: Actually, no. He even bought me a Bible, had my name on it, and he said, "'I forgive you."Det. Klinkhart: Yes.Bob Lawson: And, you know, "blood's thicker than water."

Klinkhart got on the phone to another family: Billy and Linda Correira.

Linda Correira: He said, "I think you need to stop by and talk to us." And I’m like, “Oh, what is it?” And he said, “Just stop by and -- want to say hello." And I knew right away. Even though we kind of expected it, you really don't expect it. And it was really hard. There's always a hope in a mom that there could be some kind of mistake.Glen Klinkhart: Of all the times I’ve had to tell people that their loved one is dead and not coming back, it was the one that was probably the hardest on me.Keith Morrison: Why that one?Glen Klinkhart: I got to know this family and I watched that hope. I watched them, you know, have that hope and that faith that she was going to come home and that I was going to bring her home. And that it was going to be OK because she was a fighter. She's a tough girl. She was going to make it. And I had to tell them that that hope was no more.

It was harder still because, with the investigation still open and Bethany out there – somewhere, the Correiras couldn't tell even their closest friends their daughter was dead. And Klinkhart couldn't tell them everything he knew, either.

Glen Klinkhart: They asked me, how do you know? And I just said, "I can't tell you." They said, "Do you know where she is?" And I said, "I can't tell you."

It was as well, perhaps, that Klinkart couldn't tell them Bethany’s killer had taken her body right past the family home, and dumped her off the highway not 40 miles from her house.

Part of Bob's deal was a promise to show investigators exactly where he and Mike put Bethany’s body. And, to be fair, he did try but…

Glen Klinkhart: It's February. This is mile 129 of the wilderness of Alaska. There's six feet of snow at this area.

So now they needed to wait until spring.

And Billy, deeply religious, struggled with rage against the man who had done this thing.

Bill Correira: I just wanted to just cut this guy up like I would try and kill a moose. And I’ve done enough of those.

Oh, but this wasn't over.

Even though detective Klinkhart believed Bob's story that Mike killed Bethany, he still didn't have hard evidence to back it up.

Bob would have to work harder to give up his brother.

But, of course, as everybody knows, a brother's betrayals don't tend to end well.

Jamin Correira: We didn't know where she was or what happened, why or how she was gone. That was something that chewed on me for a year.

A year had passed since Bethany Correira was murdered here in Anchorage, Alaska.

Bill Correira: It was one thing what he did to my daughter. But what it's doing to affect the rest of my children was something that was ongoing.

But because Det. Klinkhart’s evidence against Mike Lawson was not complete, and because he couldn't find Bethany’s body, her family, in their grief, could only guess.

May 1, 2004 was unusually hot here in Alaska, and Bethany’s parents, preoccupied by their year of troubles, were talked by their friends into a raft and went drifting down the river, dodging ice floes, feeling like kids again, for a little while. Life seemed almost good. And then two days later, there was news.

The date was May 3.

An anniversary. It was a year to the day since Bethany disappeared. Spring had arrived; the snow had all but melted away.

And that afternoon, Det. Klinkart set out for the gravel pit where Bob Lawson told him they'd find her.

Glen Klinkhart: We drove up and we went into that gravel pit. And I could see the snow. It was undisturbed. Nobody else had been there.Glen Klinkhart: My heart starts racing. I'm thinking to myself, my God, this is it. Bob was telling the truth. This is it. We are almost there.

At first there was nothing.

And then, he saw a flash of blue. A fleece jacket. And…

Glen Klinkhart: I find some puka shells.Keith Morrison: The necklace.Glen Klinkhart: The necklace. There's only one person who I’m looking for that has puka shells.

Hawaiian shells from a necklace Bethany was given three days before she disappeared, found here in the middle of the Alaskan woods.

There were bones, too, and clumps of hair; a year of exposure to weather and wild animals left little of Bethany to find.

And then Klinkhart got in his car and went to see Bethany’s parents.

Linda Correira: I find it a miracle that a year to the day they found Bethany.

For a year now, Klinkhart’s 5-year-old son had been asking about Bethany, too. Asking the way a boy asks, who thinks his father can do anything.

Klinkhart drove to his son's school playground and told him he'd found Bethany in the woods.

Glen Klinkhart: And he kind of thought for a minute, and I’m thinking “Uh, oh, here it comes.” And he said, “Was she cold?” And I looked at him and I shook my head and I said, “Not anymore, buddy.” And then he said, “Where is she?” And I said, “Well, I took her home to her mom and dad.” And he kind of looked at me and smiled. And he said, “Good job, dad.” That's all he needed. He just needed to know that I found her and brought her home to her mom and dad.Keith Morrison: There's a lot more in that for you, though.Glen Klinkhart: Oh yeah.Keith Morrison: That day you found her, it wasn't just the first anniversary of her death. It was another anniversary.Glen Klinkhart: Yeah, May 3. My sister's birthday.

His sister, Dawn. It was 1981. Glen had gone with his family to the Kenai Peninsula for Easter.

Dawn, 16-years-old, was granted permission to stay home alone.

She didn't tell her parents she'd planned a party.

Glen was 15 at the time. He could have said something, but he didn't.

Glen Klinkhart: I knew my sister was going to have a party … I was always the one to kind of hang around, make sure everybody got where they were going, make sure everybody got home OK.Keith Morrison: The grown-up for your big sister?Glen Klinkhart: Yeah.Keith Morrison: But you weren't there --Glen Klinkhart: I wasn't there.

It was Easter morning when the call came through to Kenai, where the family was.

Glen Klinkhart: There had been a fire at our house. And I later learned, unfortunately on the radio, that my sister was murdered and she was dead. And --Keith Morrison: You heard this on the radio?Glen Klinkhart: On the radio.

It was one of the partygoers. He'd returned after the others left.

He'd sexually assaulted Dawn, he'd tortured her, and then set her -- and the house -- on fire. He was arrested a few days later.

Glen Klinkhart: I spend a lot of time wondering, what if I’d been there? Could I have stopped him? Would he have even come back if he had known I was there? And so for a very long time, I kind of put that away. I put that in a box. I put her away. I put May 3 away. And I just kind of went on with my life.

And so, now, solving Bethany’s murder had become far more than just any other case.

If Klinkhart could bring Bethany’s killer to justice, maybe he'd also fix what was still broken in him.

But in spite of Bob Lawson’s statements, and having found Bethany’s remains, Klinkhart still didn't have enough evidence to charge his brother Mike with murder. He needed more -- and knew he could only get it with Bob's help. So he tried to convince Bob, said he had to do it to save himself. Why? Because in the end, said Klinkhart, Mike would point the finger at Bob and say he killed Bethany.

Glen Klinkhart: I told Bob, I said, “You know, you may not believe me right now, but I’ll tell you right now, when this all comes down, do you know who he's going to blame?” And he looked at me and he said, “No.” I said “He's going to blame you.” And you could just see the wheels were turning. He didn't want to believe that.

And that's when Bob finally agreed to cooperate fully, and help police gather the physical evidence they needed to charge Mike in Bethany’s murder.

Bob Lawson: I got to tell you, it's the hard-- Det. Klinkhart: Yes. And--Bob Lawson: -- the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Blood, as Bob Lawson’s brother Mike had amply demonstrated, is thicker than water. Mike had forgiven his brother for sleeping with his wife.

But then, Bob had certainly returned the favor, helping Mike dump the body of a young woman and covering up the crime.

Bob had guarded their secret for 9 long months before turning on his brother. It was a decision made even more difficult because he knew Mike was unstable and had attempted suicide.

Bob Lawson: I’m going to be honest with you. I said, "Mike, if you're going to do it, I’m going to do it, too." I said, "I’ll-- Det. Klinkhart: OK.Bob Lawson: “I’ll do it. If you go, I’m going to go."

In his suicide note, Mike told Bob he was "the best a brother one could want." And he wrote to Glen Klinkhart, the detective who had been after him from the start. He wrote: "I did nothing wrong, now find the real person who had something to do with Bethany -- to use my brother to get to me was about as low as one could go."

Was it? By the time detective Klinkhart went to see Mike in jail some months later, Bob had decided love for brother had its limits, and he'd given police enough evidence for an arrest.

Det. Klinkhart: well, I got some bad news for you. You're being charged. Let me be specific so you know, OK?Mike Lawson: What's it about?Det. Klinkhart: It's about Bethany.

And Mike's response was an admission, but also an apparent effort to minimize what he had done to Bethany Correira.

Mike Lawson: It was an accident.Det. Klinkhart: OK. OK. This is eating you up, isn't it? It's eating you up, I can tell. For the first time, I’m seeing another side of you. Mike Lawson: I don't want to put the Correira family through it.Det. Klinkhart: Oh, OK.Mike Lawson: I don't want that. I'm a father, Glen. Det. Klinkhart: I understand.Mike Lawson: I’m a father. I didn't do this to somebody!Det. Klinkhart: It was an accident?Mike Lawson: It was a -- well, yes.

Back at home in their shared house, Bob, the brother who'd turned on Mike, behaved as if a weight had been lifted.

Sidney Billingslea, attorney: Seemed relieved, focused, happy to be talking to a counselor, happy to be back with his friends, you know, having a somewhat normal life.

He wrote an apology. It was printed in the newspaper. He asked if he could meet Bethany’s family, in person.

Linda Correira: I wish we would have met with him. Because I think if we would have met with him, we have told him that we forgave him. And I think it would have been easier on him.

She wishes they had met him?

They were waiting. The trial was coming; Bob would be the key witness against his brother.

Bob Lawson: If that's what I got to do, somebody's got to tell the story. If that has to be me, I will.Det. Klinkhart: OK. Bob Lawson: If he can't be man enough to do it. (crying)

But as the trial drew closer, Bob began to brood about his betrayal and about what he'd helped his brother do.

And at the same time, prosecutor Sharon Marshall, who'd been on the case since the day Bethany disappeared, worried about her case.

Sharon Marshall: It was going to be extremely difficult. We were already getting indications from him that he didn't want to do this. This was way too hard for him. But I was confident we would get him on the stand.Glen Klinkhart: Bob was a man who had done a very bad thing for his brother, that tortured him. For the last 20 years, it was them, together, inseparable, brothers. He had basically turned his brother in for his own, you know, salvation. And those two things just bothered him.

It bothered him more than anyone knew, until the day Det. Klinkhart called Bob's attorney with stunning news.

Sidney Billingslea: He said, “bad news.” And my initial thought was, “What'd he do?” You know. Did he get drunk or, you know, get probation revoked. Or what did he do? And he said, “He killed himself." And I was like, “Oh.” Not the answer of “What did he do?” that I was expecting.

He left a suicide note, in which he apologized to his family and then wrote:

"Klinkhart, I am not going to testify against my brother."Glen Klinkhart: I just thought, "It's all just going to come apart. It's all game over."

For the prosecution, Bob's death was an absolute disaster.

The legal rule is crystal-clear. All that devastating material Klinkhart had recorded with Bob had suddenly become inadmissible in court.

Det. Klinkhart: Bob, Is this the girl whose body was in the bedroom that day?Bob Lawson: Yes.

Why? Well, if Bob couldn't be cross-examined, then the videotape could not be played for the jury. At all.

So now, the question was, without Bob to tell his story, did they have a case at all?

Sharon Marshall: I didn't sit down. I just started pacing. And I just thought, OK, how am I going to prove this without him?

There was one crucial piece of evidence Bob left behind, something that was now more important than ever.

Linda Correira: I really have hope that justice will be done. You know, and I pray that I can handle it if it's not.

Linda Correira had been waiting a long time for justice, as the system ground slowly toward trial.

More than four years had passed since Bethany went missing.

Mike Lawson, Bethany’s landlord, had been charged with kidnapping, murder, arson, and tampering with evidence.

But the key witness against him, his brother Bob, was dead.

And detective Klinkhart’s prediction, that Mike would turn on Bob, now seemed to be coming true.

Rex Butler: My client is innocent; he didn't do the murder. We know who did it; Bob Lawson did it.

Would Mike go to trial with that claim?

And, if he did, could the prosecution counter it? Without Bob to testify, the case against Mike was much weaker. It was up to prosecutor Sharon Marshall to make the best possible case with what she had left.

Sharon Marshall: Bethany Correira got exactly four days in that apartment because on May 3 of 2003, Michael Lawson, the manager of those apartments, murdered Bethany Correira.

Det. Klinkhart sat second chair at the prosecution table, ready to help the prosecutor tell the jury their version of what happened that Saturday morning: that Mike Lawson lured Bethany to a vacant apartment -- perhaps to sexually assault her -- then shot her as she fought to escape. Told them Mike dumped her body miles away with his brother's help, and then burned down the building where he killed her.

Bethany's father, Billy, came to court each day carrying Bethany’s backpack. He watched, silent.

Bethany's boyfriend testified about his last conversation with her the morning she disappeared.

Joseph Tamblyn: She said that Michael had called while she was asleep to arrange some work plans.Sharon Marshall: Did she tell you what time that was?Joseph Tamblyn: She said it was about 8:00.

There was some direct physical evidence of the way Bethany died.

A criminologist testified she was shot at close range -- less than a foot. The bullet went through her chest. Her clothes were on when she was shot; there was a hole in her fleece and her bra.

Was there a struggle? The criminologist couldn't say.

Bob Shem: If you cannot find a posture that would accommodate a relatively straight passage from shoulder through bra cup worn normally, you have to consider the possibility that the bra may have been pulled up.

As for that fire that started soon after?

Lance Hart: I determined that the fire was deliberately set by a human being; it wasn't an accident.

But who set the fire? Mike, or Bob? Remember, Bob said he lit the fire the night of Bethany’s murder, and was baffled that it wasn't reported until shortly before 7 o'clock the next morning. ATF special agent Lance Hart testified that he thinks the fire Bob set smoldered out, and someone came back and lit another fire not long before it was reported.

Remember, before the trial, Bob had said:

Bob Lawson: It would be just like Mike to go back there to make sure that thing was burning.

But because Bob was dead, the agent could not tell the jury any of what Bob had said -- only what the physical evidence showed.

Lance Hart: I believe that the fire was initiated sometime between an hour prior to discovery and possibly two hours.

A newspaper delivery person was passing by the building at 6:47 a.m., just as the fire blew out one of the windows.

(911 tape)The house is on fire. There's smoke billowing out of the windows; just started.

She said she saw a man in a white SUV driving slowly by.

Deborah Kaitchuk: Short brunette hair. Sunglasses is what I noticed.Sharon Marshall: And why did you notice that?Deborah Kaitchuk: Because it was still kind of dark out, dawn-like, I thought it was kind of early for sunglasses.

Mike owned a white SUV, and both Mike and Bob had short, dark hair.

But Bob, now dead, could not explain a thing.

Could the prosecution win the case without him?

Well, in fact, the prosecution, though badly damaged by Bob's suicide and the inadmissibility of this videotaped interview with Det. Klinkhart, still had -- and was about to use -- one remarkable piece of evidence. It would show that, in a way, Bob was still alive, could speak from the grave.

Glen Klinkhart: Would you be willing to talk to your brother, and if so, would you be willing to let us tape record that conversation?Bob Lawson: Sure.

Two years before Bob's death, Klinkhart had persuaded him to allow him to secretly record a telephone conversation between the two brothers.

And, unlike Bob's allegations in the videotaped interview, this was admissible, because the jury was about to hear Mike himself talk about what he did.

Bob Lawson: I want to be able to tell you I love you, Mike.Mike Lawson: I love you, too, Bob.

Before the call took place, Klinkhart had given Bob tips on how to draw out the most useful information from Mike.

And now, this recorded conversation was the only thing left of the prosecution's star witness.

Bob Lawson: This sh---- eating me up, Mike. You know, I’ve been drinking every night. I go to the bar, I add two shots of Crown to every beer.

The recorded conversation took place nearly a year after Bethany disappeared. By then, Mike knew his brother had spoken with police and was clearly suspicious.

(recording)Bob Lawson: You know, they just didn't go away. This whole thing isn’t going away, Mike. ... I just need to talk to you. I don’t know how we can talk about this but --Mike Lawson: I don't want to talk unless I could talk to you stark ass naked in a room where I know you're not wearing' a wire and nothing’s bugged. Bob Lawson: Well, I don't know how in the hell that would ever happen. ... You know, what do you want me to do? What am I supposed to do?Mike Lawson: Whatever you have to do, Bob.Mike, here, seemed agitated that Bob kept pressing him to talk about what happened.Mike Lawson: Don't you get it? You trying, you c---, you f-----, you're the f-----, you're the star witness. You're their pupil. You sunk me. Don't you f----- get it!Mike Lawson: You showed where the cat buried the kitty litter. You showed everything. You're their star f----- pupil.

The prosecutor explained that when Mike said “You told them what the cat buried in the kitty litter” he was referring to dumping Bethany’s body out in that gravel pit.

And using that tip from detective Klinkhart, Bob gave his brother an out by minimizing what he'd done, by calling it an accident. People are more likely to admit to a lesser offense.

And Bob did as he was instructed.

Bob Lawson: If something happened there and there was a g------ accident and, and that thing happened, that's a whole different f----- story; that might not be a life deal, Mike. Mike Lawson: When you --Bob Lawson: If that's what the f--- happened --Mike Lawson: Who in their f------ right mind's going to believe that story?Bob Lawson: Well, I do. Mike Lawson: Yes.Bob Lawson: You tell me that and I’ll f------ go to bat for you. Mike Lawson: Yep.Bob Lawson: You tell me that. Mike Lawson: I can't, Bob.

Bob continued to press, and though reluctant, Mike shared enough information to implicate himself in Bethany’s death.

Bob Lawson: Tell me it was an accident Mike and I’ll f----- back you any g------ way I can. Mike Lawson: You know it was an accident. I told you it was a f----- accident. … But there was something that happened before that, that you don't know about that I’m not going to go into ... Before she ever showed up.Bob Lawson: Just give me a name, Mike. Who was there?Mike Lawson: Me.Bob Lawson: And who else?Mike Lawson: Coca-Cola.

Prosecutor Marshall explained that in the drug world, "Coca-Cola" is often code for cocaine. Mike told Bob he feared he could get the death penalty if investigators knew Bethany was shot while Mike was in possession of illegal drugs.

Bob Lawson: Mike, I’m just trying to f----- understand. I haven't been able to talk to you. We never talked about it.Mike Lawson: Yes, we did. Yeah, we did. We were mum's the f----- word, put us in a grave. I was taking her to mine.

And then Bob asked a question that seemed to come from somewhere in their shared past. Remember, when Bob arrived at the crime scene, Bethany was naked.

Bob Lawson: Can I ask you one more question? Mike Lawson: Yes.Bob Lawson: Was there any sex involved?Mike Lawson: No.Bob Lawson: Well--Mike Lawson: Look, and that is on Michael and Lisa’s lives.

Mike swore on his children's lives he didn't sexually assault Bethany.

Bob Lawson: Alright. So I’m just trying to figure out why the no clothes.Mike Lawson: No running. Bob Lawson: No what?Mike Lawson: No running.Bob Lawson: No running?Mike Lawson: Get away.Bob Lawson: Oh.Mike Lawson: God, what are you doing this for?Bob Lawson: Well, Mike, I’m sorry, I just have to f----- understand. Mike Lawson: Bob, I swear to God I will hate you for the rest of your life if this is all being recorded. … Are you doing this for the police? Bob Lawson: No, I’m not!Mike Lawson: You swear on mom's grave?Bob Lawson: Yeah.Mike Lawson: Say that.Bob Lawson: I swear.Mike Lawson: On mother.Bob Lawson: I swear on mom's grave.

It was the final betrayal, the ultimate oath on Bob's road to suicide. But was the recording, Bob's only legacy, enough to convict?

Remember, before the trial, Mike's attorney tried to pin the murder on Bob.

But now, Mike had a new attorney, and a new strategy.

Mike Moberly: What happened is exactly what Mike Lawson spoke about in his repeated admissions.

In other words, it was an accident, said defense attorney Mike Moberly.

Mike Lawson had been cutting cocaine in an empty apartment when Bethany walked in. Moberly said Lawson was startled -- and accidentally shot her. He claimed the prosecution had no evidence to prove otherwise.

Mike Moberly: Is it safe to say the physical evidence had not panned out for you to form a cogent theory of what happened?Glen Klinkhart: That's correct.

But could it have been an accident?

In her rebuttal, prosecutor Marshall reminded the jury Lawson asked Bethany to meet him that morning for job training.

She couldn't develop her theory about sexual assault, because she didn't have enough evidence. And she had to keep secret something she knew of Mike's past. But, she could and did remind jurors that Mike's brother Bob arrived at the awful scene and found Bethany naked.

Sharon Marshall: When he comes in, she's naked. She's alive, according to Mike Lawson, because he took her clothes off so she won't run. So all this time you have her sitting there without her clothes on, alive with a bullet in her chest while you call your brother. This is an accident?

By the time Bob arrived, Bethany was dead. And the only person who knows for certain what happened inside that apartment before he arrived was Mike Lawson, and he wasn't talking.

So, what was it? If Mike Lawson intentionally killed Bethany, as the prosecution contended, it was first-degree murder. But if it was an accident, as the defense claimed, it could be manslaughter.

Mike Moberly: It's what happened under what circumstances, why, and that's something that the state's case hasn't offered, other than to make leaps of faith that just the evidence just does not support.

By now, as the case reached its climax, that backpack Billy had been bringing with him each day had migrated.

What was it doing up there, at the prosecution table?

No one seemed to notice.

Not the jurors, now off to deliberate, not the crowds who trooped in and out of the courtroom as the jury asked question after question, and days and days went by.

Bethany's father Billy passed the time sanding a sign for Bethany’s memorial garden back in Talkeetna.

The prosecutor looked grim.

Sharon Marshall: You just think, “How am I going to face this family if this jury comes back and says, 'not guilty'?”

Sharon Marshall: When one day goes into two days, goes into three days, then goes into four days, I probably lost four years of my life, but that's OK.

Time after time, the jury in the murder case against Mike Lawson came back to court with questions.

Judge John Suddock: I have a note from the foreman...

What was going on?

Keith Morrison: You kept people waiting for a while. They didn't know what to think out there.

Well, for one thing, though the jury believed Mike Lawson did kill Bethany Correira, they argued over whether it was intentional.

Shelly Niblett, juror: If it was an accident, then he should have acted like it was an accident. He should have responded like it was an accident, called 911,but he never did.Debbie Twitchell, juror: I think that if he deliberately shot her, I think he would have shot her in the head. I think with the gun going off where it did in her chest, I think maybe there was a struggle.

Thus went the argument.

They had trouble over some of the other questions, too.

Mike was charged with murder and kidnapping, but was Bethany held against her will? And who started the fire to destroy the evidence?

A witness had testified she saw a dark-haired man, wearing sunglasses, in a white SUV, cruising slowly by the fire.

The prosecution said that was obviously Mike, who owned a white SUV.

But was it Mike, the jury wondered? Or was it Bob? They looked again at the only photo they'd ever seen of Bob.

Dale Walther: As we glanced at that photograph, here was Robert wearing a pair of sunglasses in a photograph he had up above his head. So that raised a question, at least in my mind.

So many questions. Until finally, after 4 days, they had a verdict.

Judge John Suddock: Mr. Lawson, would you stand.Keith Morrison: What was it like coming in to deliver that verdict?Shelly Niblett: Nerve-wracking.Gary Tebbes: I was scared.Shelly Niblett: Debbie was shaking.Judge John Suddock: “We the jury find the defendant, Michael Lawson, guilty of murder in the second-degree..."

Second-degree murder. They found him guilty, alright -- but on some of the lesser charges.

It wasn’t first-degree murder. Not kidnapping. Not arson.

Many of the jurors watched Lawson’s reaction as the verdict was read.

Mark Sheets: When first-degree murder was not part of the equation, I saw a sigh of relief on him.Pat Godfrey: And he smiled. I wanted to get up off the chair and smack him.Gary Tebbes: I thought we let the family down.Woman: Right. Yeah.Man: We did.

And then, a surprise. The jurors were not finished.

Judge John Suddock: We're going to ask your forbearance for one more task...

There would be a mini-trial to address one more count -- being a felon in possession of a gun. The jury wasn't allowed to know anything about Mike Lawson’s previous convictions until now.

Sharon Marshall: And there's a reason for that. They have to convict him on the evidence that we have.

But now, prosecutor Sharon Marshall could finally reveal her secret to the jury -- and dropped a bombshell.

An ATF agent testified on Lawson’s felony record.

Sharon Marshall: In this particular case, was defendant found guilty?Rebecca Bobich: He was.Sharon Marshall: And what was he found guilty of?Rebecca Bobich: Two counts of aggravated sexual assault.

Lawson had been convicted of rape 18 years before. It was, for some members of the jury, deeply troubling.

Now, the idea that Bethany may well have been killed during an attempted sexual assault seemed obvious in a way it hadn't before.

Debbie Twitchell: When we stood up to walk out for deliberations again, I had tears in my eyes I was so angry.Shelly Niblett: Was very angry. Dianna Reeve: I was very distraught about the fact that we didn't know. But I feel he wouldn't have gotten as fair of a trial if we had known, as fair a trial as he did.

This time, it didn't take four days -- it was just five minutes to a verdict: Guilty.

And still, with all those people trooping in and out, almost no one noticed that beat-up backpack sitting third chair at the prosecution table.

Sharon Marshall: It's not until I saw pictures afterward I was like “Where did that come from?”Keith Morrison: Bill Correira gave you a backpack. Glen Klinkhart: Yeah. Yeah, he did. (laughter)

It was Bethany's backpack, covered with patches from the places she'd been. And inside?

Bill Correira: That was Beth’s favorite pack, day pack; she carried most places that she went. Right now it carries her remains. And we just thought it would be kind of appropriate that she kind of be here.

And the Correiras, toting that backpack with Bethany’s ashes, were back in the same courtroom six months later to find out what Mike Lawson’s future would hold.

Prosecutor Marshall read an entry from Bethany’s diary, written 12 days before she was murdered. Bethany had just found her new apartment, and that job working for Mike Lawson:

Sharon Marshall: “Drove around all day looking with mom for apartments. I found one downtown, right by the coastal trail. It has the most amazing view. I'm so in love with it … I had the perfect day. I think God really answered my prayers.”

The judge was allowed to consider evidence that had been kept from the jury, including Lawson’s disturbing history with women. In addition to his rape conviction, there was an unprosecuted alleged rape and another incident in which Lawson forced two women to their knees at gunpoint.

In the end, the judge said he believed Lawson planned to rape Bethany. And in spite of the fact that the jury agreed on second-degree murder and not first-degree...

Judge Suddock: It only makes sense to me that this was a first-degree murder. That there was an intent to kill Bethany. I reached that conclusion because there was no other logical outcome of the rape of Bethany; I mean, what was the gentleman going to do after raping Bethany, tell her “Put your clothes on, goodbye?” That was not going to happen.

As for the theory that it was an accident?

Judge John Suddock: If the coup de grace shot was an accident, and I don't really believe that, but if it was, it was only because he hadn't gotten around to doing it intentionally. He was going to do it.

But the judge had to sentence Mike Lawson only on the charges for which he was convicted.

Judge John Suddock: Mr. Lawson, I sentence you to 99 years...

It was the maximum allowed for second-degree murder -- which happened to be the same as the maximum for first-degree.

And thus were the Correiras saved, of course, the seemingly endless prospect of appeals. Finally finished.

He's an unusual man, is Billy Correira, the father who brought his daughter's ashes to court in a backpack.

It’s not just that he shares her mischievous sense of humor, but that he has long since decided to take very seriously his deeply-felt religious belief: He says he has forgiven the man who killed her.

Bill Correira: When I began to look at Mike Lawson as just a human being who made some really bad choices, in what thoughts he chose to entertain, then I was able to look at him as not my enemy.Keith Morrison: Are you fooling yourself?Bill Correira: I’ve asked myself the same question, you know, “Am I living in denial? How is it that I don't feel, you know, pain from the loss of my daughter?'Keith Morrison: And you don't feel pain?Bill Correira: I honestly don't.

He'll never see her again. Or walk with her down the aisle. Or play with her children. And yet.

Bill Correira: I've just got a lot of good memories of my daughter. So all I can say is that God really does heal the broken-hearted.

Perhaps so. Detective Klinkart, through Bethany, finally confronted his own demons, too.

Glen Klinkhart: Bethany was born in 1981. My sister died in 1981. You just can't help but think, you know, maybe sometimes things do come around and sometimes you're given another chance. And if you're given an opportunity, do you take it? Do you do the best you can? And I hope that when you ask the Correiras that -- it was good enough.

But then, we'd already met the Correiras. So we knew it was.

Linda Correira: We did find out what happened to her. And people say sometimes, “Well, how do you feel about that?” And I say I feel fortunate because people go years without ever knowing what happened to a missing child or adult.

There was a roll of film, still in the camera. Klinkhart found it in Bethany’s apartment that first awful day.

And on it were the last pictures ever taken of a girl so brave she once stuck her finger in a mousetrap just to see what would happen.

Bethany's case was Detective Klinkhart's last murder case - he is now assistant to the chief of police in Anchorage.