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Tonight, a young mother goes missing but leaves behind a very revealing diary.


As I saw for myself, David, in Florida, no shortage of leads or police interrogation tape. An all-new 2020 begins right now.


I don't even think you can make a movie script with what had happened. It was just so surreal.


What brought you here in the investigation? The disappearance beloved mother and Air Force veteran, Trisha Todd, is still unsolved with no leads. I love you. Everyone was going through the woods.


Everyone was going up and down every street. We had posters put up. We had flyers. It was a massive effort.


So all kinds of possibilities are on the table. Absolutely.


I feel like I'm living a TV drama right now.


Like, oh, the ex-husband comes to town, and all of a sudden, the ex-wife goes missing.


I'm like, Great. That's freaking awesome. We had investigated the ex-husband. We've investigated a pastor. I said, Lord, if you want me to speak to her, have her stop. And she did. She stopped. We've investigated a ventriloquist.


How are you doing, man?


She had dreams that she was going to marry him.


Whoa, didn't see that one coming.


As we started digging a little deeper, we went, We can see another side of Trisha that maybe she didn't exactly express to her family.


She liked to walk on the beach. She liked to go late at night. She said As soon as we're done with the paperwork, we could pray. Okay, go ahead and pray her, please. Help her, dealer, wherever she's at. If she's still alive, be with her.


Where do you go at that point? Hope Sound, Florida, just north of glamorous Palm Beach. Here, folks enjoy a quieter life. Good weather, a chance to put their feet in the sand of this local beach. But for one family, that tranquil life was interrupted in the worst possible way in the spring of 2016.


Hope Sound is not a place that we typically have murders or missing people. Generally speaking, it's an aberration.


We don't get high-level homicides.


It just It doesn't happen.


It's unheard of.


Hope Sound is a very quiet place. It's a small town, America. It's really centered around the Bible College there. People, for the most part, know who belongs, who doesn't belong. It's just a really wonderful place to live. There's still room to breathe. Police. On April 27th of 2016, the Sheriff's office here in Martin County, we got a call of a missing person. There was a woman named Trisha Todd who had gone missing.


Trisha Todd is a single mom who's recently been divorced. Her two-year-old daughter, Faith, had been left with her regular babysitter, Denise Tuffinello. Couldn't get in touch with her.


Couldn't get in touch with her.


Something's not right. The babysitter called me or Chastity, my wife, and just said, Hey, no one's come and got the child. I said, I have faith. I haven't been able to get in touch with your sister. I said, What do you want me to do? Trisha is just not answering her phone. I knew something was wrong right there because Trisha But wherever she was, if she had to crawl to get there, she would have picked up faith. So that's a major red flag for you. Oh, yeah.


We just stopped by the babysitter's house on the way home, picked up faith, had no idea what was going on. We were just in full speculation mode of What in the world could cause this? What's going on?


And then we called the police and told them she's a missing person.


Trisha's other brother, Joshua, found her car parked out in front of their shared residence down in Hope Sound, but it was parked in the wrong spot.


It was parked in Joshua's neighbor's spot, and I knew she would never do that and make trouble for her brother.


Went to open the door, and the door opened right up, and then there were keys in it. I was like, That's so weird. Missing from her purse was her wallet, and there was no cell the phone in the car, and that was very odd.


In her home, we noticed that her groceries had been left in the kitchen area.Not.


Put away.Not.


Put away. So it led us to believe that she left soon after coming off from a grocery store.


So Trisha grew up about a mile north of where I live in Hope Sound.


She has a large family.


She's the only daughter of multiple brothers. Tell me about Trisha. Well, when I had Trisha, I had to tell myself in the hospital, You have a girl. You have a girl.


We were raised in a family with seven boys and one girl, so we were really rough. She was pretty tough.


She was always up for adventure, and being the only girl with a bunch of boys, you pretty much had to be up for an adventure all the time. She would keep up with the boys.


When she got bigger, they had motor cycles?


Okay, she had a motorcycle.


Did she talk about her hopes and dreams in life? She wanted to be a nurse. I made her a nurse's outfit for Christmas, and she'd doctor the dog and doctor her dolls, and that was her dream. She came from a churchgoing family in a town where that's pretty common.


One of my favorite stories about Trisha. There was a man that pulled a gun on her, opened up her car door at the stoplight, and said, Get out, give me your car. And she said, You should be ashamed of yourself. And she said, I will pray for you. And he started crying. And he got in the car, and she drove him home.


What a sweet little story of her and the way she approaches life. Yes.


There was one Christian private school in that little area, Hope Sound Christian Academy, that my sister and I and several other of my siblings went to.


In that high school, she would meet another student by the name Stephen Williams. Tell me about Stephen.


He was one of the few African-American students in the school. He was super funny, always had a laugh, always had a smile on his face. He was super smart.


Stephen was raised by a single mom in nearby West Palm Beach. According to his mother, she moved him into Hobes Sound Christian Academy after a troubled stretch in public school.


Stephen was really just smooth and cool and collected, and I would always see his name on the honor roll as the as a straight A student.


What was the connection between Trisha and Steven, do you think?


He was a big personality. He seemed fun, and Trisha gravitated towards it like everybody else.


They started to get more serious right after high school.


They would walk around holding hands and laugh and flirt with each other, and I just like, Okay, they're together.


After high school, Steven would go on to join the Air Force.


He was working up presently at an Air Force base in North Carolina as a aircraft mechanic.


Then when Trisha graduated, she signed up, too.


It was a means to an end. She knew that she could get nurse training. Then I think it was also the adventure of joining the Air Force.


One of our mutual friends called me and said, You're not going to believe this. And he said that Steve and Trisha got married. Well, I immediately called Steve and said, Listen, you're not going to believe what the gossip train is saying now. And he just laughed and said, No, we got married.


And when you I heard that it was a sudden marriage, no big ceremony, did that strike you as odd?


She was always going to do what she wanted, and that just seemed very Trisha-like.Impulsive?Yeah..


He's black, she's white. Was that an issue for you or the family?


It wouldn't have been an issue for me if I would have been happy with him. But everything what's done is done, and I will learn to know him and hopefully like him. I think more the fact that he wasn't associated with the church that she was associated with. That was mostly the issue that came about, especially with her family.


Trisha went on to serve time in Iraq and then came home and began nursing school, where she graduated in 2011. That was a big moment for her.


She finally reached her dream. She's pinning.


Oh, sweet. That was the same way. She went from here to here. Yeah. She would go on missions trips to Haiti.


She loved helping ailing people, people that were suffering. She loved to bring relief.


She wanted to be a mom. Yes.


Yeah, that was the most important thing to her, along with becoming a nurse, was being a mom.


She ended up getting pregnant with Faith, and that was, for her, the best thing that ever could have possibly happened.


I mean, her world revolved around motherhood at that point.


She seemed over the moon. She was so thrilled. Every time Faith did something new, giggle or roll over or smile or anything, she would call me. They love you. Hello. And just oh and awe about how perfect Faith was.


So she seemed to be a good mom.


Very much so. How are you?


But by the time Faith was two, the marriage was over. Trisha took her daughter and moved out of their home in Raleigh, North Carolina.


In speaking with Trisha's family, it sounded like the divorce was fairly amicable.


She did not She didn't want any alimony, and she only wanted child support.


So she wanted to make a clean break? Yes. Other than visitation? Right.


She decided to move back down here to Hope Sound because her family and his family were still in the area.


How did she handle coming down here as a single mom with her daughter and starting over? She had a place to stay. She had a loving family that were very supportive of her. The first thing she was get a job with hospice, and she absolutely loved that job.


She had started a new job. She became a nurse. She was living with her brother at the time. She was happy.


But now the 30-year-old mom is suddenly missing. It made no sense that Trish just vanished in the thin air. And a massive search is now underway.


Is it an accident? Is she injured somewhere? Is it a foul plate?


People don't simply vanish. They are either removed or they remove themselves. They had to explore the possibility that she simply left on her own.


I was hoping and praying every day that she would just show up at somebody's door and say, Listen, there's a crazy adventure.


Deputies began to search area ponds like this one, looking for any evidence that can point one way or another if Todd disappeared on her own or because of someone's intended crime.


Everyone wanted to know, Where is Trisha? How did this girl just vanish in thin air from Hope Sound?


A full-scale search is now underway for Trisha Todd with dozens of local volunteers. But it won't be easy because this is an area that is filled with woods, wetlands, even alligator-infested swaps.


She She might be out there somewhere, not able to contact anyone. So time became of the essence. This was an all-hands-on deck operation.


Mothers pushing babies in strollers were handing out flyers. Hundreds of people were stepping up saying, We want to help. So we would put them to work. Hey, search this block of woods.


And you had the whole small town of Hope Sound coming together. That was a really encouraging thing for the family.


What's that search like for you? We were thinking to ourselves, Okay, Trisha, she's been in the military. She's been overseas, and she's tough.


She's a nurse.


If anybody could survive, she would survive. It turns out one of the last people to see Trisha the night she went missing was Chief Deputy John Budenseek. So I've known Trisha Todd since she was a baby. And I ran it to her in Publix as she was checking out. I exchanged pleasantries with her, Have a nice day, and she went her way.


So I relayed that to our detectives, and they started pooling videos. So we see the last image of her is checking out some groceries at the Publix. And it looked like nothing was out of the ordinary. It didn't look like she was in any distress.


Despite searching miles by foot and ATV, the disappearance of beloved mother and Air Force veteran, Trisha Todd, is still unsolved with no leads.


People don't simply banish. They are either removed or they remove themselves. This is not rocket science, what we do, okay? So they had to explore the possibility that she simply left on her own. You got to live, you got to eat, you got to have money. So are you drawing money out of your bank? Are you using a credit card? We check financials, we check phone records. We look to see, is there any abnormal activity, and we didn't really find anything. Time is 19:09, April 28. President is Detective Dulac, Detective Oliver, to interview the mother. We have to ask these types of things, but did you ever have any suspicions that it's Patricia was maybe thinking about hurting herself? Yeah, she's not. Okay. From what I understand, there's no drug abuse or anything like that.


No, there's drugs for about to one year, I think.


This is a young mom. She's got a two-year-old daughter. Did The idea that she just disappeared, strike you, is unusual for these parts?


Just talking to her family and her friends, this was absolutely out of the norm for her. There was theories that she had maybe at some point had snapped and maybe just left town.


But that seemed very unlikely to the family because she would have made arrangements for faith. She would not have just left her with Steven or the babysitter.


You know that she's been divorced. Do you begin to ask questions about her ex-husband?


Yes, immediately we focused on the ex-husband. He was the last one to see her alive.


And look, the primary person of interest is always going to be somebody who's close. I almost feel like that's a cliché. As far as what we knew about Steven Williams, we knew nothing. And so you really have a blank slate there.


Trisha His ex, Steven Williams, had been in Florida spending time with their daughter, Faith. By the time Trisha was reported missing, he'd already driven back to North Carolina. So you asked the Raleigh Police Department to question him? Yes.


I know it's not going in. He was cooperative with them.


He was kind. He was answering all their questions. So, yeah, I'm just going to come in here and do the right thing, and hopefully, he gets us closer to finding her because at the end of the day, I want my daughter to have her mother.


So he seemed genuinely concerned about her. Yes, he did. We've known each other for a long time.


And like I said, yeah, we were married for a good bit, and it didn't work that time. But in the end, I don't wish We weren't good together. Obviously, we got divorced, but it doesn't mean I want anything to happen to her. My mom never approved of us getting divorced. She always felt like I should stay and fight harder for it and things like that.


I'm like, No, I'm done. I'm not doing this. I tried.


We'd argue about everything. I'm like, I'm tired of arguing. I don't want to argue with you anymore. I don't want to fight with you anymore. I feel like I'm living a TV drama right now.


Like, oh, the ex-husband comes to town and all of a sudden, the ex-wife goes missing.


I'm like, great. That's freaking awesome. I'm not stupid.


I get it. But it's like, I don't wish the woman any ill will. She's the mother of our child, and my daughter needs her mother as far as I'm concerned.


Now, the most important thing is let's get a timeline. And so he gave us detailed events that transpired during the period of time that was here.


Steven's account of that night focused on his time at this rental house in Hope Sound. What did Steven tell you had happened? He had come here to stay to visit his daughter.


Steven brought his daughter here. He had picked this residence. It's only three miles from Trisha's house, and he brought her back here with him.


The night before Trisha went missing, he called her here?


About midnight, Steven texts Trisha and says, Faith is fussy, and asked her to come over to help.


She got more fussy because she's getting tired, but she won't let her sleep.


And she just really wants mommy.


She wants mommy. What father can deny his daughter to see his grandmother, right?


So I text her, and I know it's late, but if you're up thing, would you mind calming her or whatever?


And then she texted back on my way.


It was shortly after midnight where Trisha left her residence and came to meet Steven here.


From Steven's account, he stood by while Trisha helped Faith go to sleep. However, when she went to go leave, she didn't have any gas in her car. She was like, Yeah, I'll just pay some to do it. I really don't have any gas. I'm like, Okay, no gas in your car. Great. That really frustrates me. That's her thing. Her car never has gas in it. So what Steven did was he took his car to the gas station and filled up a small gas tank and brought the gas tank back, filled up Trisha's car, and then she left. Tell her, Good night, basically. I'll contact you tomorrow. You can call me or whatever. That's it. And so what they did is went out to local gas stations and looked for video. And sure enough, there he is showing up, and he buys a two-gallon can of gasoline and fills it up. And a part of Steven's statement to us initially was that he, the next morning, had taken faith to several different places. I take her to Walmart and buy her a couple of outfits and shoes. We pulled surveillance cameras, and we confirmed There he is at Walmart with faith.


Steven says his plan had been to drop faith off with Trisha, and then he would head back home.


But once I called and multiple times, this much straight divorce, and I was like, Well, that's odd. I did not like her. So I called Denise and say, Hey, can't I don't really get a hold of Trisha.


I'm not sure if she took another shift today or something. Denise is that babysitter who typically took care of faith while Trisha worked.


So everything he's told us in his statement is checking out. Everything lines up exactly with what he just told us. He spoke to law enforcement and freely, involuntarily gave a full statement and then authorizes the search of his possessions.Your cell phone?Yes. Would you give us permission to examine? Yeah. Can we look in your car? Yeah, sure. Just go in there and look, open the doors, look in, make sure.


And they didn't just check his car and his phone. Investigators also searched the Florida rental house. Nothing serious turned up.


You're just making everything a lot easier. I appreciate that. Well, yeah. I just wanted to help. And so you had somebody who was gainfully employed in the United States military. In my mind, that gave him a little bit of boost of credibility, and he hasn't lied to us. And so, yes, I wouldn't rule him out, but now you're going to start looking at alternative suspects.


So police ask Steven if he has any theories.


What do you think happened to her?


She likes to go on late night walks. I was like, Oh, my gosh, she's still doing those.


It's like at 2:00 in the morning, you're just going to be walking the neighborhood by yourself. You don't even have some pepper spray. You don't have your phone. You're just walking the neighborhood. That guy first is oblivious to that stuff. She's always had that God will protect me thing going on.


Nothing will happen to me. But it gets to a point where like, let's be reasonable here.


Good people still die every day. So the theory at this point in the investigation is that something happened to Trisha after she left Steven's home.


As we started digging a little deeper. There was when we can see another side of Trisha that maybe she didn't exactly express to her family.


Such as?


Going through her journals, we saw that she had an infatuation for someone in the community that she didn't really express to her family.


And This name came up, ventriloquus, as somebody that Trisha had taken an interest in. And we should talk to him because what is he? He's potentially a boyfriend.


Out of all the stories we've reported on for 2020, it's not often that you run across a ventriloquist as a person of interest.


Obviously, that made me very nervous to be a person of interest.


The search for Trisha continues, and the anxiety in town is soaring. We knew something was catastrophically wrong.


There's my filler.


I'm a ventriloquist and a singer-songwriter.


I started doing ventriloquism when I was just a kid.


Coming to life. Coming to life.


That's it. And it just stuck. How are you doing, man? Good. Trisha Todd has been missing for days, and investigators have just discovered that she was infatuated with a local performer named Brett Vernon. I just want to tell you all, and probably a lot of you know this, but Sam really is just a puppet, okay? And so I thought that briefly, Sam might be willing to show you some things.


It seemed like a Hope Sound celebrity.


When I went to Hope Sound Christian Academy, I would have him come in and make all the kids, including myself, just die laughing. Most of my presentations are in churches like this.


I've got an extensive Repetlar.


That's a fancy word, isn't it? Anytime I try to say that word, your mouth moves worse than it usually does.


In talking with Trisha's friends, we found out very quickly that she was enamored with Brett Vernon. And she even told some of her close friends that she had dreams that she was going to marry him.


We were just talking about the crush on this guy that she had, and then she thought it was going to be going somewhere soon.


She was excited that maybe things were going to finally start looking up because he was a really nice guy. She was absolutely in love with him, but there was concerns that he didn't feel the same about her.


Brent tells investigators that he had a passing acquaintance with Trisha, and that he'd recently bumped into her at one of his events. I had not seen Trisha for so long, and I was just really so happy to see her. It was just neat.


I was like, What are you doing?


And we chatted for a few minutes, and that was That was that. He says Trisha approached him again at another event, and then she followed up with a Facebook message that caught him off guard.


What she was telling me was that maybe God was bringing us together somehow in this mystical way.


And so she admitted that that was a lot to consume. And she's like, Sorry about that. Then several weeks after that message, he says he got an alarming call from a friend in the Sheriff's Department.


He said, Brent, Trisha thought very highly of you.


She's missing.


Do you know anything?


Are you suspicious that he could be involved?


We were initially suspicious.


Obviously, that made me very nervous.


To be, I guess, of a sort, a person of interest first was like, whoa, they didn't see that one coming.


We watched him for a couple of days. There was nothing concerning. He was extremely cooperative with our investigators.


Detectives are no longer suspicious of Brent and Trisha's appearance, but it turns out he's able to offer some help in their investigation. I was scheduled to share a presentation of it at a church in Stuart, Florida. Apparently, Trisha was planning to be there and was planning to surprise me. I guess she had gone out and got a dress.


So our hope was that she was going to try to disappear and then make some dramatic reentrance.


And in her mind, she he was going to wear this dress, walk in mid-song, and he was going to see her, and it was going to be like an aha moment.


And they just would lock eyes and fall in love and write off into the sunset together. Seems a little quirky. Yeah. Was that her style?


But Patricia. Yeah. He was actually performing that week.


Here at this location?


Performing here at Covenant Fellowship. At that point, she hadn't shown up to work, and she still hadn't called her family.


And your hope was that if she is alive, you might find her here.


Absolutely. That was our last lead. We were just happy that she was found. That's all we wanted, was for her to be found safe. So we had set up surveillance at the church, and came the night of the performance.


Some of the Todd family came that night and hoping That's just heartbreaking.


They were hoping that she would show.


We sat there, we were in plain clothes, we were in the back, and we watched the whole show. It was a pretty good show, actually. I was expecting Trisha at any moment to come through door wearing that blue dress. We had a detective out in the parking lot. We were looking for any sign of Trisha to show up. People would come and go, and the door would open, but Trisha never came through it.


We were here for a couple hours, and unfortunately, she did not She did not turn up.


So this was your last hope of finding her?


This was the last location, last tip that we had where she might actually show up.


We knew that Brent Vernon wasn't involved in her disappearance and that this lead was dried up. I knew that something very bad had to Trisha.


Now to the latest in that urgent search for a missing Florida mom, gone for more than a week now.


Time's ticking away. And time is your most valuable asset in a missing person's investigation. The longer it takes, the higher probability that this is going to have a bad outcome.


Now they need a new lead, and soon they get one. Remember those late night walks that Trisha liked to take? She likes to walk on beach and pray. And all of her brothers and I have gone after If she likes to walk on the beach by herself in the early morning, and we tell her she's insane, that's dangerous, that's stupid, she doesn't even like it.


She likes to go for hours sometimes, so there's the potential that something may have happened.


Well, it turns out she met somebody along the way, a man investigators now want to talk to.


And nobody seemed to know who this man was. It was a mystery man.


But he doesn't remain a mystery for long.


Where did you meet her? She was walking by herself. On the night she When you went missing, you were down at the beach, about 1:30 in the morning. What were you doing down there? When you travel, do concerns back home nag you? Like, did you lock up? Did you leave a window open? Did you close that door all the way? That's why investing in Simply Safe Home Security today is a great choice for award-winning security and peace of mind wherever your summer plans may take you. Simply Safe was named Best Home Security Systems 2024 by the US News & World Report and Newsweek ranked it Best Customer Service and Home Security. Simply Safe Home Security offers protection for your entire home with sensors to detect break-ins, fires, floods, and more, plus a variety of indoor and outdoor cameras. It's backed by 24/7 professional monitoring for less than a dollar a day. There are no contracts, and there's a 60-day money-back guarantee. Simply Safe offers real peace of mind. Get 20% off any new Simply Safe system when you sign up for fast protect monitoring. Just visit simplisave. Com/abc. That's simplisave. Com/abc. There's no safe like Simply Safe.


We've got the exclusive view, Behind the Table. Every day, right after the show, while the topics are still hot, the ladies go deeper into the moments that make The View, The View. The views, Behind the Table podcast. Listen wherever you Get your podcast. The intense search going on right now for a missing mom. Police are calling her disappearance suspicious.


Officers, even Marine units, are searching the woods where the young mother liked walk using dogs and heat-seeking cameras.


I was hoping and praying every day that she would just show up at somebody's door and say, Listen, this is what happened. It was a crazy adventure. But the longer it went, then it just didn't look good.


The whole county was on edge. People had legitimate fears that there was a killer on the loose, and we could not rebut that.


Then a tip comes in. A A woman has discovered what appears to be blood on the beach and in a parking lot nearby. Detectives secure the area, but upon closer inspection, they discover it isn't human blood.


There were so many leads. Every piece of trash, every piece of clothing, every time somebody came across a deceased animal out in the woods, we would get a call. We hoped that one of those leads would finally point us to where Trisha was. One of the leads that we had was that Trisha liked to go on walks. She liked to walk on the beach. She liked to go for hours sometimes. She liked to go late at night. The beach is about... From where we lived, I think you could walk there in about 15 minutes. She would process things, and she would do that by walking.


She would get alone with God, she would say, where she's able just to think and not have distractions. Some people would be like, You're a young, attractive woman walking alone at night in these places.


I know it's a small town, Hope Sound, but still, there might be danger there.


And those walks were something Trisha's ex husband, Steven, told detectives worried him, too. It would be like one in the morning or three in the morning, and she'd be like, Oh, I wanted to go for a walk.


You don't even have some pepper spray. You don't have your phone.


We had gotten a call that there was a man that would frequently walk Hope Sound Beach, and Trisha had confided one of her friends that she would stop and talk to him, and nobody seemed to know who this man was. It was a mystery man. We had gone to the beaches. We were watching surveillance cameras, and we came across Douglas Purchase.


A pastor?


Yes. He had actually stopped and asked one of the local police officers in that jurisdiction about Trisha. That's how we came into contact with Mr.


Purchase. We wanted him to come in and give us an account of where he was the night that Trisha went missing. Did he have any contact with her? And he agreed.


He was cooperative. He came in for an interview. He initially agreed to do a polygraph.


Is this a chair can be positioned where I have to sit like this? I was looking at you. The chair, I can do nothing about it. It's a $5,000 polygraph chair.


Douglas Purchase tells detectives that he met Trisha at the beach twice.


Where did you meet her? She was walking by herself at 6:00 in the morning at North Beach. I felt compelled to speak to her. I said, Lord, if you want me to speak to her, have her stop. And she did. She stopped. On the night she went missing, you were down at the beach about 1:30 in the morning. That was the night she was missing? What were you doing that week? I was having my devotions, and I got out of the car, and I was going to go out to the beach and walk down the beach for a while. His statement was that he did not see Trisha and had no involvement with her. Why 1:30 on this night? I don't know. I just felt restless that night. Had you traveled there before at 1:30 in the morning? No. I was the first time. The first time. We're not playing games here, Doug. I'm not going to play games because that's not my job. I'm not playing games. I realize that. But let me cut to the chase. 1:30 in the morning, that's about the time Trisha went missing. While the detective is doing the interview, he does make some concerning comments.


Let me ask you this on a personal level, on an intimate level, and we're men here. All right.


Were you attracted to her?


Maybe somewhat. Okay. He seemed to be indicating that he had some romantic interest in Trisha. For him to start saying those things about Trisha piqued our interest. Would you have liked to meet him with her again, Doug? I would have, if you heard what I just expect, no. Okay. No, not for sexual reasons. For the spiritual connection. To talk to her, sure, I would have.


So, Doug, we've got to talk about those things that you've not shared with detectives.


This is getting to the point where this is serious. And it's serious. It is. You get to the point where you're taking polygraphs. It's serious. It is.


With the pastor ready to be hooked up and polygraphed, suddenly there's an unexpected turn. The first test that you're going to take It's basically a pseudo test.


I want you to lie because what I'm doing is the machine now is going to calibrate itself. Wait a minute. Go ahead. Wait a minute. Go ahead. You're going to say, You're going to want me to lie. Under no circumstances will I lie for anybody or anything. He refused. He refused to do that, and that basically shut down the polygraph. Based on the Bible and the Commandments, I'm not supposed to lie to you. I'm not lying.


The sudden refusal to take a polygraph is another red flag for investigators, but the pastor says he's got an alibi. I just cleared out. Sir, I see that. Yet it does little to ease their suspicions.


It seemed odd, a little far-fetched.


Trisha Todd has been missing for nearly two weeks, and it's baffling for investigators in Hope Sound, Florida. But now they think they may have a lead involving a pastor she met on one of her beach walks.


We learned that Trisha had previous encounters with an individual named Douglas Purchase. You're Trisha? You had contact with her, correct? Yeah. I talked to her. Let me ask you a very poignant question. You understand what DNA is, right? Is there any reason at any point when her body has discovered that your DNA would be- Absolutely not. She said as soon as we're done the paperwork, we could pray.


Okay, go ahead and pray, sir, please.


We pray that would undertake for the Todd family. Help her, dear Lord, wherever she's at. If she's still alive, be with her.


The pastor tells detectives he was on this beach the very night Trisha disappeared. Now, they want to know just exactly what he was doing out here.


We were down at the beach about 1:30 in the morning. That was the night she was missing? Yeah. What were you doing that week? There was a turtle laying in eggs, and so all my concentration, everything was on the turtle. I didn't even know when that was the night she came up missing. And that seemed odd, a little far-fetched, but he was adamant that he did not see Trisha that night and that he had only been looking at the sea turtle. How long were you actually there? I stayed there all night. You stayed on the beach all night? Oh, yeah.


The pastor says he even called a police unit. I said, There's a big turtle out here laying eggs, and I just wanted to make sure that they got the location of this turtle. That must have sounded a little strange to you. Were you able to confirm that?


We were able to confirm that he was actually on the beach that morning through surveillance cameras.


We can see him pull in and that he was there all night watching sea turtles. At no point did we see Trisha pull in with her car or walk through the area or anything like that.


He let you search his home in his car?


Yes, and there was nothing that would have led us to believe that he had any involvement.


So the pastor is ruled out.


At this point in the investigation, we were starting to get a little frustrated because we had investigated the ex-husband, we've investigated a pastor, we've investigated a ventriloquist. There was all these different possibilities, but nothing was leading anywhere.


Where did you go at that point?


We already had a team of investigators out in the area getting surveillance footage from around where her residence was, where her vehicle was left, and just up and down Federal Highway, just to see if we can see her, if somebody was following her. We were extremely concerned that something really bad had happened to her.


Are you holding on to hope that you're going to find her alive?


At this point, there was concerned that she wasn't alive.


Detectives Cardew and Dulac were processing Trisha's car, combing it for fingerprints, hairs, fibers. Even bringing in a cadaver dog.


As of this moment, we have forensically examined Trisha's car.


We have forensically examined her home, and there is not one skin tell of evidence of a crime. None. Investigators now have to go back to the beginning, reexamining Trisha's last known steps and that story her ex, Steven Williams, told them.


Something happened to Trisha after she left Steven's home. The last account that we have is her getting in her car and driving away from the rental home that Steven and Faith were in.


In this video, Trisha's two-year-old daughter, Faith, is being interviewed by a child protection team to try to figure out if she might have seen anything happen to her mom. Did mommy hurt her arm? No.


Her mommy hurt her face.


Her face?


Oh, how did she do that? I don't know.


Nothing the two-year-old says gives him any reason to think that Steven was involved in Trisha's disappearance.


From the beginning, he was always very cooperative with us. There was nothing solid saying, Hey, this is your guy.


I remember coming to the Sheriff's office and telling them, Get on an airplane and fly to North Carolina and have a face-to-face with this guy yourself.


We sent a team up to go talk to Steven, and it was three of our investigators. Steven, again, was cooperative. I don't have anything to hide.


That's why I've done everything. If they want fingerprints, DNA, search, please do. Ask all the questions in the world. I cared about Trisha. I would never want anything to happen to the woman.


But unfortunately, something has.


He gives essentially the same account of Trisha coming over to the house and the car being out of gas. Put the gas in her car, put the gas in her trunk. Okay. And then give her her keys, obviously. I'm like, Well, good night, basically. After you put the gas in the car, did you hello? No, I just told her good night. I appreciate her coming over, and I know it was late. The whole story is exactly the same.


He was consistent with everything.


And while detectives are questioning Steven Williams, in the next room over, they brought in somebody else.


There was another person we wanted to interview, Steven's live-in girlfriend named Laura. Hey, Laura. I don't think we met up Detective Oliver. We were concerned that maybe Laura was somehow involved.


So I was not there. I have nothing to do with this, and now I feel like a suspect.


As they're digging, investigators are about to discover something unexpected, something that will break this case wide open.


The detectives going through video eventually see a shadowy figure walking up the street.


How big was that for you?


That was groundbreaking.


We had no idea what we were fixing and finding. We interrupt programming right now to bring you breaking news in the case of Trisha Todd.


I got sick to my stomach. I don't even think you can make a movie script with what had happened. It was just so surreal.


Have you ever encountered a case like this? Now to the latest in that urgent search for a missing Florida mom. My ex is unfortunately missing, and I can't explain any of that.


I don't know anything.


I'm stuck in this room, and I don't know anything.


We had investigated the ex-husband. We've investigated a pastor. We've investigated a ventriloquist, but nothing was leading anywhere.


How critical were these cameras along this way? They were key.


They are pretty much what broke the case.


Okay, that's a big deal. No one suspected anything like this. This was way beyond our wildest imagination.


The neighbor was here and saw all of this after midnight.


It was all designed not out of just some blind rage, but it was like, I want to get away with it. No idea that we were dealing with a sicko who had watched these shows about how to kill people. I just made a deal with the devil.


In the all-out search for a missing Florida mother, authorities tonight have now released this last known photo of 30-year-old Trisha Todd, a nurse and Air Force veteran.


Trisha Todd didn't show up to pick up her daughter, which was completely out of character for her.


She would not do that. That says something happened. The mystery disappearance of a mother in Florida.


An intense search underway.


I made a video.


Say goodbye to the video, Sassy Cat. Bye-bye, Abby, Abby.


Trisha has been missing for nearly two weeks. Her two-year-old daughter, Faith, is staying with Trisha's brother. It made no sense that Trish just vanished in the thin air.


We were just in full speculation mode of what in the world could cause this? What's going on? The last person to actually interact with Trisha was her ex-husband, Steven Williams.


Investigators here in Martin County, Florida, are running down every lead in the disappearance of Trisha Todd. Now, they've headed back to North Carolina to again question her ex-husband, Steven Williams. And this time, they're bringing in his current girlfriend, too.


Do you want anything to drink, ma'am?


I'm okay, thank you.


Water, coffee? Okay.


Laura has been waiting nearly five hours. Then, detectives finally step into the room. Hey, Laura. Hey. I don't think we met up Detective Oliver. We talked on the phone. While Laura is in one interview room, her boyfriend, Steven, is being questioned in another. There you go.


I'm getting that call. You want it just black or cream or a little bit of sugar?


Steven tells detectives that he met Laura while he was still married to Trisha. I messed up and I found someone else, and I was dating someone else because I mentally just checked out the relationship.


Did she find out about the other girl? Yes. And That was pretty much like the straw on the cattle's back. Is it a girlfriend you went there? Yes. Okay. Laura is definitely someone we needed to talk to.


We thought, Okay, did she come down here? Did she have any part in this?


You never took a trip down to Florida, never helped him with anything. I've never met the woman. I've never been to that part of Florida. Have you ever talked to her on a phone or anything like that? Trisha? Yeah.


I talked to her one time and one time only on the phone, and that was over a year and a half ago. I was not I'm not there. I have nothing to do with this, and I only came down here to help clear Steven's name, and now I feel like a suspect.


Steven was the last person to see Trisha, so detectives are curious about whether he said anything to Laura once he got home to North Carolina.


Mind if I say that? How old is Laura? 24. Okay. You love Steven? Yes, I do. I think he probably loves you, too. And if he did something horrible, generally, we do tell somebody close to us what we did.


Trust me, I would love for her to be found.


We both would love for her to be found. This is a nightmare in both of our accounts.


Did Steven tell you anything as far as he done? They got to a fight or anything like that? No, not at all. I don't care if you inspect my car. I don't care if you inspect my home. I don't care if you look through my phone and my emails or my I don't care. It's fine. Do that. If that helps, clear me, fine.


His demeanor stayed the same. He was always very calm, very cooperative. He wanted to help. He was trying to be helpful to us.


I cared about her, and I feel bad that I can't I can't do anything.


I can't be down there searching.


Laura seemed to be really on his side. You're asking me why he wouldn't do it?




I mean, honestly, he enjoys being a part-time dad.


He enjoys having to just Skype her 15, 20 minutes a day, going down there when he can.


Why would he get rid of his ex when now he has to get care of her full-time? I know he loves his daughter.


Don't get me wrong, he loves her, but he enjoys the lifestyle that he has up here. And he's always been more than willing to try to get her her checks and the money. He never complained about having to pay child support. No, he never complained. Laura is cooperating with police, even willingly turning over her cell phone.


I'm just trying to figure out also where I'm sitting in in this situation. Even if there's video of me working he was down there.


That would be great. It was time card of me working while he was down there. Would that be great? Laura tells the detective she has an alibi for the time Trisha went missing. She was working at a restaurant.


I was there a double Sunday, Monday night, Tuesday night.Not.


This week, last week? Yeah. Okay.


Very quickly, we were able to determine that Laura was never down in Florida during any of this time period, and it didn't seem that she had any involvement whatsoever in Trisha's disappearance. Laura is ruled out.


As for Steven, he's being asked if he'll take a polygraph.


Hey, Steven, we brought up our polygrapher, our polygraph guy. Oh.


Will you be willing to take one for us, nick?


I I really don't know. I really don't want to.


Because you consented last time when Raleigh talked to you.


To a polygraph? No. He wasn't too excited about the idea. I just don't like the idea of polygraphs. Why? They scared the hell out of me. Did it? Really? Yeah. A polygraph just scares me so much more than anything.


All right, let me let them know. Okay.


Anytime someone refuses or is hesitant to take a polygraph. It starts to raise some concerns. He asked a lot of questions about it, and he was not going to agree to do it.


Lieutenant Doherty explained to Steven, When we tell the family and the media that you refuse to take a polygraph, they're going to be at your Air Force base. They're going to be at your residence questioning you. And Steven didn't want that type of attention. He then agreed to take one.


How did he do?


He was very calm, and he answered all the questions. But unfortunately, the polygraph came back inconclusive.


It couldn't say if he was telling the truth or not. We couldn't really prove anything with that polygraph.


But his story stayed consistent as to his last sighting of her, his last conversation with her. But we had to keep looking. There was something we were missing.


The dogged persistence is about to pay off when detectives Cardew and Dulac get the big break they've been waiting for. How critical were these cameras along this way?


They were key. They are pretty much what broke the case. Hey, I'm Andy Mitchell, a New York Times bestselling author. And I'm Sabrina Kohlberg, a morning television producer. We're moms of toddlers and best friends of 20 years.


And we both love to talk about being parents, yes, but also pop culture.


So we're combining our two interests by talking to celebrities, writers, and fellow scholars of TV and movies. Cinema, really. About what we all can learn from the fictional moms we love to watch. From ABC Audio in Good Morning, America, pop Culture Moms is out now wherever you listen to podcasts.


The first ever criminal trial of a former President is underway in Manhattan. It's one of potentially four trials facing former President Trump as he makes his third bid for the White House. What do voters think about his culpability? And would a guilty verdict make a difference in the election? I'm Gaelen Druk, and every Monday Thursday on the 538 Politics podcast, we break down the latest news from the campaign trail. We sort through the noise and zoom in on what really matters using data and research as we go. That's 538 Politics every Monday and Thursday, wherever you at your podcasts.


Tonight, a community desperate to find a missing mother in Florida.


I would say this to anyone who is out there watching who knows where she is or has any type of clue to please come forward with the information. We went back through and followed up on interviews. And through that process, we started to find little bits of threads that we could pick up on. And the biggest one was a neighbor who was mentioned in Steven Williams' initial story.


So how did you wind up back here? What were you hoping to discover?


When we found out Trisha was missing, Steven had told us the address where he was actually staying. We found that it was a rental property. So the neighbor here next door happened to be outside. One of the times when Steven came out to the car.


The account that they gave us was that they saw Steven. The last time that he saw the white cars, that's the second time when the guy drove away.


Neighbors next to the rental property where Steven was staying say they saw him drive off in Trisha's car around 1:00 AM.


And that didn't make sense because Steven had told us Trisha had left in the white car.


And the neighbor was here and saw all of this.


Neighbor was standing in his front patio there smoking a cigarette.


After learning that Steven was the one who drove the car away, there was a lot of concern that something was left out of his story.


So that changed your theory altogether.


That changed it. And the time that the neighbor gave us, we were able to confirm with the surveillance footage outside the community here.


First, I just tracked the car coming and going. And then this is the last time that I can see the Dodge Neon leaving. I know it has to be the Dodge Neon because it's the only car that's leaving after the time frame that we know that they left the house.


No, it was Steven that left in that car. It wasn't Trisha.


Our thought process is that if Steven was the one who had put Trisha's car at the home in the wrong position, like we learned at the very beginning of this investigation, that he would have had to have gotten back to that rental home. If he was going to get back to that rental home, he would have to walk. There really was only one road that would take Steven from Trisha's home back to the neighborhood that he had rented a home in.


That stretch of road is about three miles long, so investigators scour it, searching for any business that might have a surveillance camera pointing toward the road. Now, where are we going?


We are going to one of the businesses where we obtain surveillance footage.


How did you wind up here? Did you just canvas this entire area?


We had teams dedicated to just hitting up all the businesses along Federal Highway, and we were able to come across some businesses that actually still had footage footage from the time frame we were looking at.


Surveillance cameras.


Surveillance cameras. This is this business, fortunately, was one of the ones that still had the footage.


Investigators soon find two more surveillance cameras.


We had collected video, and it was hours and hours and hours of video. Actually, one of the other detectives was just like, Hey, I got somebody walking on this camera. Here is somebody walking at 4:30 in the morning away from where Trisha's house is. So that was our first indication that maybe this was somebody that we need to look at. So we guessed how long it would take to walk from here to the next video source that we had, which was the trailer. And sure enough, we can see him continuing to walk by. Three different cameras capturing the same figure walking on that stretch of road.


And detectives are pretty sure they know who that man is. Grainy video, but enough to be able to tell that it was a male.


Grainy video, but still with all the footage we got, you could tell it was the same male walking from the area of Trisha's residence, back northbound. We could tell it's a male wearing a beanie cap and a military-style rucksack.


The camera caught him walking right here.


Walking on that sidewalk there up to the community.


At this point in the investigation, there was no doubt in my mind this had to be Steven Williams. Let's not lose sight of the fact that he is the last human being on the face of the Earth to have seen Trisha alive. Okay? That's a big deal.


But because of the lack of high quality of that video, they know that proving it is going to be a big challenge. Was that enough for you to make an arrest?


It was all circumstantial evidence. There was no jury in the world that would have bought that grainy footage as solid evidence, so we had to dig further.


And then an urgent phone call sends police scrambling in a race against the clock.


I remember eventually we got the call that we were dreading.


We were extremely concerned for Faith's well-being, for her safety. We had to ramp up and change our strategy.


Investigators have discovered a mysterious shadowy figure on three different surveillance cameras from the night Trisha Todd disappeared. And they think they know who it is. Even though you can't quite make out that person, you're convinced that it's her ex-husband, Steven.


We were convinced it was Steven. It was dark, not the best footage, but that's all we had. We had somebody walking from the area of Trisha's residence and back to where Steven was sitting.


They need more time and more solid evidence to build their case. But then there's an urgent phone call.


We had received a call from Jonathan Todd. He expressed major concern. They had heard from Steven.


We were in communication with Steven because we had his daughter taking care of her while he was making arrangements back in North Carolina to integrate her into his life, into his work schedule, into all that. We got the call, which was, Hey, I've made all the plans I need to make. I've got everything situated up here for Faith. I'm going to come get her from you guys.


And we were extremely concerned for Faith's well-being, for her safety. At that point, we had to ramp up and change our strategy. And that's when we had to go to North Carolina, beat him to his trip down here.


You want to somehow confront him, smoke him out.


So we had to, let's say, bluff him. We know something happened.


I'm going to show you the first place real quick that we got video.


And we explained to him, the witnesses saw you leaving at this hour with her vehicle. You didn't tell us that. So we just started presenting him with that evidence. We're doing more video and more video and more video and connecting all the dots.


It still comes back to you.


You're the The last person's here.


And how was he responding?


He was calm throughout the whole interview, and he tried to say, Well, that's when she left. Her car makes the U-turn right here. Okay?


And back.


And comes back. We see the car coming back in here.


So literally went towards her house, came back. Why is that?


Home and then didn't go home.


You said she never between then 9:00 and 2:00.


Not that I'm aware of, no. Like I said, I left to go get gas, and then I came back, and then she left.


That's all I know. There was no way we can show them the pictures. He would know immediately. They don't have anything on me. You can't tell that's me. But we also told him that there were surveillance cameras along the route. He became very nervous.


You know the cameras get footage of the sidewalk all the way up to US 1, and in the Pontsiana also. And people on foot also.


Pedestrian around four in the morning.


Have you ever driven up close enough so we could see the cameras up here? No, I know there's some business there.


I don't know what it is.


It's a computer place.


Okay. He's probably got one of the best camera systems in HD. You can almost see his heart pounding through his chest. That he started to beat up with sweat. So we knew at that point we got him.


Detective Cardew isn't about to let up. She takes the lead. You were taking a tact with him that was gentle. You were trying to almost soothe him a little bit. Okay. You're still in tension. Relax.




In order to be compassionate with him and empathize with him on that situation, I had to let him play the victim. We had to play that tactic where Trisha was the villain. I don't know her, but I could see her doing something to set somebody off. I think if I knew her, I'd probably lose my because she was just all sorts of crazy.


The tactic seems to work. I'm straight up asking, do you remember taking her car and leaving?


Is it yes or no? Yes.


And for the first time in the investigation, Detective Cardew gets Steven Williams to crack.


When I came back, she was lying on the floor, and she wasn't very responsive. And I got to freak out because I'm like, Oh, my God. Now she's lying on the floor.


She's not responsive, and this looks really bad because I can't explain this.


We kept pressing for a couple more hours, and I just kept telling him, This is her fault. Tell me what happened. We need to bring peace to her family. And I just kept saying, Do this for your daughter.


And what's his demeanor at this point?


He's crocodile tears. He's got his head down. He's acting like he's crying, but not one single tear came from that man's eye.


How long have you been going on at this point.


We had been going for several hours.


So I just put her in the car, I put the gas in, I leave, and I'm still freaking out because I don't know what to do.


And I'm just driving and thinking and driving and thinking. To her.


And you're telling me you left her lying somewhere out in the open? Yes.


I just let her lay there.


So you left her lying.


Was she close to the main road?


It didn't seem very far. Even though he's changed his story and we know he lied, it's still not enough to charge him with anything. He's not admitted to a crime. He's not admitted to hurting Trisha in any way. All he's admitted to is moving her, and he's even claiming she wasn't even deceased at that point.


I knew his intention was still to come back to Florida to get faith, so I offered him a free trip back to Florida to help us. We're inviting you back with us. We'll pay for your ticket. You show us where she's at. You didn't kill her. You said you didn't hurt her. She fell. And so he was going along with that. You ready?




Let's go.


Desperate to find Trisha They are hoping that her ex-husband, Steven Williams, will finally bring the search to an end.


The only reason that you would not take us to her is if something else happened in that house, and you're not telling me.


The lead investigators in the Trisha Todd case-Let's go.have talked Steven Williams into leaving North Carolina and coming back to Florida to help them locate his ex-wife.


I knew we needed some more time with him. I knew we needed to get him back here to Florida.


Williams' news story to police is that he found Trisha unresponsive. He panicked, then put her in the car and left her by the side of the road.


Take me to where she's at. You I don't know where she's at, Steven. I don't know.


I just don't know. You remember coming to a stop sign? I don't remember any of this.


None of this looks like anything I've ever seen.


We were driving in circles, and at this point, we knew he was toying with us. You got to take me to her.


This doesn't even look familiar. I don't know.


What would look familiar?


This is a long, dusty road that's very dark at night. What wouldn't look familiar about this road?


Because I don't recognize it. I don't recognize all I remember. It was just dark.


That's a pretty significant event in someone's life. How do you forget where you put your ex-wife, the mother of your child?


You look him in the eye at one point in the car and try to get him to come clean with you.


The only reason that you would not take us to her is if something else happened in that house, and you're not telling me. And I got out. I don't know. And I opened the front door, and I just kept begging him, This is for your daughter. Do you love your daughter?


Of course I do.


Of course I do. Okay. You need to give her mother back to her. I can't. Okay. I told you she's going to need some type of stability. I have no idea. You're all she's got.


The next step was to take him back to the house. We took him to the rental home.


Let's get out.


We asked him to do a walkthrough.


Where was she lying?


In there, just lying on the floor.


In the hallway here?


No. Where was she? She was in here, and she was laying this way because it was a few. She was lying on floor.


I didn't even touch her initially because I didn't even know what to do.


I just paced and tried to figure out what I was supposed to do. Detectives have had it with the cat and mouse game, but they know an arrest for Trisha's disappearance still won't stick, so they come up with something else to detain him. It's okay.


At this point, we were looking at the child neglect because he had already told us that he had left faith unattended while he went to go leave Trisha's body in the side of the road. So we get him back to the office, and I proceeded to interview him along with the prosecutor, Tom Backeadal.


Come on in.Thank you.


Please. Tom Bacadal. We have a man here. What's your name? Steven Williams. It's risky, number one, because now he's in custody. You have always present the fear that what he's going to do is invoke his constitutional rights. But he continued to talk.


I had no way to explain how I come back and she's on the floor other than them just assuming I did it. I would never do that to her. I would never hurt her.


It's just not me. Essentially, your story is complete BS. No jury in the world is ever going to believe it. It didn't get him to budge. He stuck to his story. We all know this is not a question of whether or not Trisha is dead. Trisha is dead, right? Trisha's dead. Yes? I don't know. You know.


Come on. I left her. It was just a matter of, I hope I'm wrong. Okay.


I hope that she's not. Now, though, 20 some odd, a month later, let's not break each other. She's dead. You know that, right? I know. We know that. I know she could have came, too, and wandered, for all I know. Everyone was sitting there talking, and they said, Look, we've had all of the detectives who were involved in the case. Everybody's talked to him. And so I raised my hand and said, I haven't talked to him yet. They looked at me and said, Why not? Hey, Steven. How are you? Good. You remember him talking to me earlier? Yes. I'm Dan. I tried to get him on almost a friendly level to see if he would then open up to me. I talked to you earlier. You're a nice guy. I'd like you. I think we could be friends in different circumstances. I started just pressing them on the details that didn't line up. You need to explain to us how it was she became injured. Because this whole thing where you came back from the gas station and you just found her like that, I know that's not true. I can prove that's not true.


The interview room is wired for sound and audio, and we're sitting in another room watching a screen.


So we're watching live. I need you to tell me the truth about what happened. I know you were there. I want to give you the opportunity to tell me what happened. During the interview, Steven became very emotional.


I know you didn't. Everybody just came quiet.


You could heard a pin drop in the room. And that's when he reported that they had gotten into an argument over money.


He had pushed her when she had gotten aggressive with him and got in his face.


It just escalated. And then I just moved her away, and then she slicked. And that's when she freaking fell. And I'm like, Oh, shit.


I asked her if she was okay.


It was like a weird sound. She didn't say anything, though.


And then I freaking panicked. I knew now we had them. Do you know what she hit her head on? Was it the floor? I I don't know. She just fell, and then she wasn't responsive after that.


I didn't know what the hell I did to her.


Because all I thought is, if I call the police now, I'm just going to say I'm freaking pushed her.


I'll be on a niche chat.


Now that I had a confession that he was involved in Trisha's murder, he was under arrest.


But without Trisha's body, prosecutors know that getting a jury to convict Steven Williams of murder is going to be a long shot. Then they get a shocking phone call.


Like a bolt out of the blue. Steven Williams will take us to the body of Trisha in exchange for a plea to the second-degree murder charge.


But investigators aren't prepared for what they are about to hear.


Our heart just sunk. We knew he had done something horrific.


I just made a deal with the devil. We got a call a couple of days after we filed the charges, said, Steven Williams, take you to the body, and then said he'll plea.


We met with the family, telling him, Look, we know he killed her. We're trying to bring closure.


Their ultimate goal was to get their daughter back. So two days after he's arrested, we're in court arranging a plea deal. That was unheard of.


He killed a second-degree murder, sentenced him for 35 years in the Department of Corrections.


As soon as the judge banged the gavel and accepted the plea, the defense attorney went out in the hall with Lieutenant Doherty and Carday. I remember then turning around and watching whoever it was from law enforcement walk into the room, and they were sheet white.


And when he said we were going to need a HAZMAT team, our heart just sunk. We knew he had done something horrific to her body.


He said, You will need a HAZMAT team to retrieve her body?


You will need a HAZMAT team to retrieve her body from the ground.


After a month of searching, a month of wondering, what happened to 30-year-old Trisha Todd, it It's time for Steven Williams to hold up his end of the deal.


Yes, sir. We're waiting at the entrance.


He took us to the area, which is called Hungary Land Preserve.


It's about 16,000 acres, and it's all woodlands, swamp.


There's not a lot of traffic in there. It's a secluded rural area.


It was actually one of the areas we had searched at the beginning.


One of those things that just gnaws at your soul is they were out there. Hundreds of hours of overtime was expended by the sheriff's office on air, on land, on sea, to include hungry land. We're here. You can just park here.


Can we get that?


When we get there, I need you to put this place where she's at so we have some separate markets. Okay? Okay.


Steven did not hesitate. He walked in a straight line directly to where the storage bin was buried. He had planned this out. He knew where it was.


So where you placed the flag is where?


And about how far back we're going?


It's not much off the surface. It's about two and a half feet down. Okay.


It's about two and a half feet down. Okay.


Yeah, it's going to be a plastic barrel.


Plastic barrel.




We videotaped the entire thing because we wanted it preserved. We didn't know what we were going to find when we actually dug up this storage bin.


The full reality of what Steven did to Trisha isn't clear until her remains are uncovered from that shallow grave. We had no idea that we were dealing with a sicko who had googled acid and how to get rid of a body.


And when they lifted it, all you can see was a portion of her torso. The rest of her was gone. Immediately, we thought, What did we do? How do I explain this to her family?


You get a call from Lieutenant Cardew. What did she tell you? I really appreciate her.


She called me and she said, I don't want you to hear this from the media, so I'm going to tell you this myself. And she told me what he did and how they found her. So I just, I can remember, I just froze.


Had we stumbled on that burial location in Hungary before this deal went down. This guy is on a one-way trip to death row without question in my mind. I just made a deal with the devil, and there's nothing I can do about Prosecutors may have one more play, a Halle Mary pass of sorts, one that they hope will keep Steven Williams from ever walking free again. Because Steven Williams was still active Air Force during the investigation, the Air Force OSI investigators were able to get involved. Steven Williams was an active duty military officer. They are responsible for him. They let him into my community where he committed the most horrendous murder. The way the laws work at the federal level for military court marshaling, they can potentially charge someone, even if they've already been charged at the local level. As soon as this deal got done, I called them and I said, Look, everybody is in agreement. Thirty-five years is not enough. You got to come in and prosecute him. And so not only did they look into it, they interviewed him, and he confirmed the full truth, finally.


Authorities say Air Force officials came to the prison where Williams was being held to speak with him alone. But this was one conversation that Martin County detectives were not about to miss.


I mean, it had to look like something out of a comic book. We were leaned up against the door listening to what we could hear through the crack, and I'm taking notes the whole time.


During that interview, Martin County investigators say they overhear graphic disturbing details.


The day prior to meeting up with Trisha and getting faith, he had left his hotel and went out to that area to site out where he was going to actually bury her. He did dig a hole, and he did this all in the middle of the night.


He drove all the way down here for 10 hours thinking about this with the equipment in hand. He'd gone online, he'd ordered the acid, he'd ordered the barrel, he'd ordered the bags. He had chopped her body up into small pieces and covered it in acid. No one suspected anything like this. This was way beyond our wildest imagination.


Williams had done his homework and realized that we do dental work to identify bodies.


So he had pulled all of her teeth out and then thrown them in the canal.


That created a whole different dynamic for us.


Now we're dealing with the Florida Alligators, which were there. So we had our SWAT guys standing there with rifles while we're now diving this out or retrieve a pair of pliers that he used to take her teeth out. It's the essence of cold calculated and premeditated. It almost belies explanation. That's actually completely consistent with how Steven would do it because it was meticulous, it was calculated. It was all designed not out of just some blind rage, but it was like, I want to get away with it.


I don't know who the person was that I was friends with. It's something I wonder every day. There were some issues with the marriage, domestic violence issues, verbal abuse. It was constant infidelity as well. Trisha had mentioned when they first were separated that he was a true sociopath. And then when everything came out, it clicked. She was right. She saw him for what he was.


The question so many are asking, why? Why would Steven Williams to commit such a grisly crime? As it turns out, he may have answered that question himself. She's just going on and on.


And now I owe her more money and back child support.


And now she's talking about how she's going to go to court and all this other stuff. And it's my fault. If money was a motive behind Trisha Todd's murder, will the Air Force step in now to keep Steven Williams behind bars?


I mean, let's bring the full weight of the federal government to bear on this guy.


It's been eight long years since Trisha Todd's death. Investigators who worked so hard to bring her home say they'll never forget this case. You've been at this a long time. Have you ever encountered a case like this?


Doing this for 22 years, I can say I never came across someone like him. It was very surreal. And I explained to him, I said, You had more hatred in your heart for Trisha than you did love for your daughter.


Really, looking back on it now, he would have tortured her forever. He would have tortured her with her daughter, which is the worst way you can torture a mom. Are you content with the time that he's going to serve?


Deep down, I don't think any of us that were involved in this case were content with 35 years. That's not enough time.


We got partial justice for her and partial justice for her family. We were sure the United States Air Force, it would come and take him and federally prosecute him. They were very engaged and very interested and willing to take the case. And then they simply called us back and said the decision has been no go.


We reached out to the Air Force about Steven Williams' case. They tell us while the Air Force has jurisdiction over any DAF member for crimes committed while on active duty, if crimes occur off base, then civil authorities can claim jurisdiction over the crime. As of now, the Air Force says it has no plans to prosecute Steven Williams.


That's a bad call. I'm sitting here on a national television saying, I take responsibility for what happened in this case. That sometimes you just eat it and do the right thing.


The murder of Trisha Todd had a ripple effect throughout the community of Hope, Sound, and beyond. Trisha's friend Marnie has a permanent reminder of their friendship.


The day that she went missing, there was a cardinal that kept pecking at the window. So I got the cardinal tattoo on me, and I have the wings open up. So she's flying, so she's free.


And Trisha's mom, Rebecca, says she draws strength from a particular song. One thing that really helped me a lot, Lauren Degas' song. I must have listened to it a thousand times.


What does this song say that gets to What it says is that I will trust you forever.




Yeah, that song makes me cry. Sorry.


Faith, now 10 years old, was adopted by Trisha's brother, Jonathan. He says Steven wrote him a letter asking if he'd bring Faith to visit him in prison.


It's just totally inappropriate, totally narcissistic that you're going to put that on a little child after what you've already done.


He's the one that threw his future of parenting Faith down the tubes.


He's the one that made all the choices. And then instead of being remorseful about it, it's, How can I still get what I want? Faith was already friends with her cousins. Now she went from being a cousin to a sibling.


Remarkably, the Todd family says that today they've found the grace to forgive Steven Williams. I can forgive him.


I don't have angry thoughts all the time.


I actually pray for him. You forgive him. But forgiveness does not include trust, necessarily.


I wouldn't trust him at all.


He doesn't ever need to get out.


We encourage faith to forgive, to not let that be something that she gets angry about, that she holds a grudge on. Then also we just tell her about what a great mom that Trisha was and how Trisha loved her so much. How are you?


They'll never forget, but they forgive him. They were very happy that Trisha left faith for them. Trisha lives through faith.


Faith, indeed, which has a double meaning, David, for this family. They're still hoping that the US Air Force will reconsider its decision not to prosecute Steven Williams.


By the way, he's scheduled to be released from prison in January of 2049 when he is 63. That's our program for tonight.


I'm David Muir. And I'm Deborah Roberts. From all of us here at ABC News and 2020, good night.