Transcribe your podcast

From the creator of Crime Town and The Jinx comes a new podcast, Morally Indefensible. In 1979, ex Green Beret doctor Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters. But the murder is just the beginning of this story. MacDonald befriended a famous writer by the name of Joe McGinniss, who agreed to write a book that would tell the truth about what happened. That book, Fatal Vision, became a best selling sensation. But the truth, Fatal Vision revealed, wasn't the truth Jeff expected.


What did Joe uncover that led him to believe that his friend had murdered his family? Was Jeffrey MacDonald really guilty of these murders? And who's the real bad guy here, the journalist or the murderer? Morally indefensible takes you through the many layers of the story and is packed with the trove of real audio between Joe and Jeff, much of which has never been heard before. Listen to Morally Indefensible on Apple podcast or ever you get your podcasts.


I'm Lester Holt. Tonight on Dateline, something new this summer, we asked our correspondents to look back on their most memorable stories tonight. It's Josh Mankiewicz's turn Josh Lester.


This is a case that stayed with me for years, the case of Maribel Ramos. He said your sister didn't come home. She just vanished. Yes, I was worried. Did you think they'd find her? Yes, I did. This was something I had never seen before. A person who was missing, making sure they were recorded in their own words. I always felt like crying because I was afraid something could happen to make her pretty scared.


Yes, she was in danger.


What was she so afraid of or who? You got a roommate who maybe has a crush on her. You got a boyfriend. You got an ex-boyfriend who suddenly back in her life, there were a number of potential suspects. Absolutely. The way the suspect was finally caught. Very smart detective work. He knew a lot more than he was telling us. Tonight, a new look at the mystery in Orange County. Orange County, California, on TV, it's a place of sun, fun and privilege.


It's where The Real Housewives first aired their dirty laundry.


Nothing's wrong with me. It's you around here. You get the sense that everyone's rich and white and lives in a mansion with a view of the Pacific.


But step back from the coast and you'll see the Orange County that isn't on TV, not as wealthy, not as white, full of those who came here from somewhere else chasing a better life and finding it in places like Santa Ana, a mostly working class immigrant community in the shadow of Disneyland.


It's the part of the U.S. where people know that to survive, they'll have to work hard.


There are a couple of things that made me want to return to this story. First, exactly what happened here was something investigators had to work at.


And second, the way the suspect was caught was something I'd never seen before or since.


Maribel Ramos arrived here as a baby, leaving Mexico behind. She would not only survive here, but thrive. To tell you the truth, this should be the story of a woman who worked hard to change her life and in doing so, carved a path for others to follow. Hello and goodbye. But this story is going to end differently.


I fly because I was raised.


There are some parts of life that hard work just can't fix. You're scared. Like calling for. You guys know that if something happened, I did it because I was trying to defend myself. Some things that are beyond our control. All I'm trying to say is that I'm warning. I'm honestly, I will fight for my life and I swear I will kill him.


All of this should have never reached that point of no return. So maybe it's a story of simple, bad luck of two lives that should never have come together. Tell me about growing up with Michael. Was she like a troublemaker, mom wanted her to stay in her home and she wanted to go play baseball and tomboy? Yes, yes.


Her sister Lucy says tomboy Maribel Ramos also had a spark and she'd come in and immediately introduce herself to everybody and make friends.


And people are drawn to her.


It's easy to talk to you even as a child. Maribelle figured out that a different world existed and she wanted to live there. Oh, she knew at a young age that there was a lot more to life than what we had around us. There's things you can do and go to school and have opportunities and live in a nicer house. She saw all of that? Yeah. Yeah, definitely.


Maribel Ramos knew she'd have to work hard to get what and where she wanted.


After high school, she worked in security at Kmart and hatched a long term plan to become a cop.


But she needed a college degree and that meant money.


So Maribel Ramos became private First Class Ramos. She joined the army hoping to use the GI Bill. Her first day was August 8th, 2001, and just 34 days later, the whole world changed. I turn on the TV and the towers are crumbling. The first thing I thought was, oh, my gosh, my sister's going to war. How do you wrap your mind around that?


Lucy worried. Their mother worried. But Maribel was like a rock what admirable say about going overseas.


She didn't express her feelings about it. She just said, well, this is what's happening, sister. We need to talk to mom.


Maribel went to war in Iraq. What was it like to see her in uniform?


It was it was pretty amazing.


Jazelle Sun House is Lucy's daughter, Maribel's niece.


I saw her. I was like a really brave, strong soldier. Sometimes I wouldn't even see her as my I was just like, well, you're going out there, like to save everybody. You're proud of her. Yeah.


Maribelle learned to jump out of airplanes and she manned the guns for armed convoys. She also made sergeant. She seemed fearless.


I'm sorry I never met the most important person in this story because it was difficult not to be impressed with Maribel Ramos and what a star she'd become.


She set very high standards for herself and others, and she had a really clear plan for the rest of her life. And all of it was admirable.


In 2009, after two tours in Iraq, Maribel left the army and set part two of her plan into action. Enrolling in college. But adjusting back to civilian life wasn't as easy as Maribel had expected. Like a lot of war veterans, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. She'd seen some terrible things. She ever talk about that?


Not with me.


Instead, she focused on school work and family, especially her niece. Jazelle, she kind of adopted you as this project.


Yeah. And why did she do that? I think it was because she wanted me to have the best.


As Jazelle grew older, the self-improvement message sometimes came complete with push ups. After all, Maribel was all over me when I would get in trouble.


She would make me do exercise in order to like work off the punishment.


And all this time Maribel was hammering away at Jazelle. You're going to finish school.


Oh yes. This is where you're going to do me her and she would tell him and coach as well. Yes.


The Maribelle got a dog and rented a two bedroom apartment in the city of Orange, which she shared with a roommate, a quiet chemist named Casey Joy, who also had a dog.


I thought it was a perfect match. He has a dog. She has a dog. He seems quiet. You know, he's not going to have all these people coming over.


By May 2013, everything seemed great. Maribel was leading by example, finishing up her degree in criminal justice at Cal State Fullerton.


Jazelle was following in her strong footsteps and she was dropping off money at my house because I had gotten good grades and she had just got her hair done, dyed and styled, because for her graduation she looked great.


Yeah, and she was happy.


Yeah, she was.


And that's why it made no sense when just days later, Maribel Ramos, soldier student loving and simply disappeared. What had happened to Maribel Ramos when we come back, I'm freaking out. The world is open. Lights are on. Her bed's undone. Everything was horrible and I felt it. The mystery was about to deepen. Nobody heard from her.




May 3rd, 2013, was a Friday, a day that should have been an easy day for Maribel Ramos, school was nearly over, graduation was so close, but that morning things weren't right.


I got a text from Casey at 10 a.m. and you said your sister didn't come home.


They'd been roommates for more than a year now. Casey felt protective of Maribel. He told Lucy he'd already called police to report her missing orange.


Police dispatcher called this not an emergency as possible unless just 36 years old. She didn't come home last night. So what I did is I texted her at 11 and I said, happy Friday because we usually text each other anyways. That was my way of connecting. And she didn't text me back. Unusual. Yes.


Lucy still wasn't worried. She knew her combat hardened sister could take care of herself. But then evening came. And for Maribelle, Friday night was softball night. She loved to play and never missed a game. But this Friday night she didn't show. Now Lucy's phone was ringing Maribel's teammates on the line.


They told me, go to the house. The police are there. Do not take Jizo. I'm freaking out and I walk in and my sister's not there. Her door is open. Her lights are on. Her bed's undone. My head started spinning, everything was horrible and I felt it. Detective Joey Ramirez with the Orange Police Department got the call that evening and he also had a bad feeling about everything.


The family and friends had expressed that she was very responsible and nobody had heard from her. Nobody.


So Ramirez and his team went into action. They quickly figured out that if she left on her own accord, it didn't look like Maribel had planned to be out long. She left her car and her car was there.


Her keys are gone. Her phone was gone, but her toothbrush was there. So it was her big purse she used when she had a lot to carry.


I woke up on Saturday and I thought, wow, this is seriously happening. So I posted a picture of her on Facebook and it was immediate. People went into action.


You might already know this if you watch a lot of Dateline, but missing adults usually don't receive the same kind of attention from law enforcement that missing children do, for example. And one of the things that makes a huge difference in cases like this is the involvement of family and friends. If you're on the phone a lot, if you're kind of banging on the door of law enforcement regularly, there's a better chance that they're going to move your case to the top of the list of things they're working on.


Friends from the university got together, family members, her roommate, lots of people who Maribel had touched wanted to help. They hung fliers in English and Spanish. They reached out to reporters.


It's very not like her after eight years of service in the army to just disappear.


Unusual thing. What's being next day? Friday morning, she was not here.


I helped my mom pass out fliers around school. Pretty much anything I could do. Did you think they'd find her?


Yes, I did.


Jazelle was 14 at the time, but Detective Ramirez, who'd been a cop for more years than Jazelle had been alive, was not as hopeful when you've picked up no trace of her after a couple of days, you still think you're looking for a living person.


The percentages are starting to drop, not in our favor, because by then you've called the Alliance Wittels. Oh, hospitals, jails. There's an alert out that any police officer, what in Southern California CS are correct in the media was also helping.


And nothing. Nothing, no.


Maribelle on security tape from any nearby store, police checked all of them. They found only this image from the security camera outside the manager's office for her apartment complex. It's Maribelle paying the rent. It's May 2nd at 818 p.m., the night before anyone realized she had disappeared. Maribel seems to be alone.


This was the thing nobody wanted to say out loud in those first couple of days that the longer somebody is gone without contacting anyone they know, the greater chance there is that it isn't going to end well.


And that meant police had to start doing what they would do in a murder, going through the missing person's inner circle of friends and contacting people who knew her, people who loved her. Turns out there were a lot of people they suddenly needed to get to know, including a current boyfriend, an ex-boyfriend and someone Maribel had just met, a guy she'd made a date with online, a guy whose name Maribel had apparently kept completely to herself. Coming up, the man in Maribel's life suddenly under scrutiny.


You know, you're not under arrest or anything like that. And that haunting phone call, I always and just like, let you guys know that if something happened, I did it because I was trying to defend myself. OK, this was something I'd never seen before when Dateline continues. Regan is an online relationship counseling platform designed for individuals or couples seeking help with their relationship or marital issues, they'll assess your needs and match you with a licensed and experienced professional counselor, and you can start communicating with them conveniently and discreetly in under 48 hours.


Here's how it works. This is really cool. You and your counselor will get a dedicated online room, which will be your private and secure place to communicate. Your partner will be invited to this room as well if you decide to try counseling together. Regan is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches, so they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed. It's more affordable than traditional offline marriage counseling and financial aid is available. Visit Regan U.S. datelined 10.


That's regained U.S. Dateline one zero and start repairing your relationship with the help of an experienced professional Dateline listeners get 10 percent off your first month at Regain U.S. Dateline 10. That's regained U.S. Dateline one zero.


If there is something interfering with your happiness, we're keeping you from achieving your goals. You're not alone. We all need a little help sometimes, and thanks to our sponsor, better help. It's easier than ever to get the support you need, better help you assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. It's not a crisis line. It's not self-help. It's professional counseling done securely online. Message your counselor whenever you need to. You'll get timely and thoughtful responses.


Plus you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions. If you don't click with your first counselor, that's OK. Better help is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches, so they make it easy and free to change if needed. Better help just wants you to start living a happier life today. Visit Better Health Outcomes DL NBC to get ten percent off your first month. Join over one million people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional at better HELOC dotcom slash DL NBC better help dot com slash DL NBC.


This is the city of Orange, California, in the county of Orange, California, much of it is a small town stuck in time.


There's a university, a zoo, cute local businesses and a police department that doesn't have to deal with a lot of violent crime after all. The happiest place on earth is just down the street.


But in May 2013, Detective Joey Ramirez was far from happy. He had a lot of ground to cover and a strong sense that time was against him as he tried to figure out what had happened to Maribel Ramos. She just vanished.


Yes, I often think anything happened and it doesn't happen often.


Now we search for and cover cases like this. But the truth is they're rare, whether it's in the city of Orange or where you live, people with families, people with jobs, people with classes to attend, and particularly people who are not involved in something criminal.


They don't just unexpectedly go off the grid.


Ramirez started by investigating the man in Maribel's life. It turned out there were a few of them.


Did you know she was doing all that online dating that you talk about? Yeah, she did. Miraval sometimes met guys through a website called Plenty of Fish. That's how she found Paul Lopez.


They'd been dating for a few months and Paul had even joined her weekly softball game. Lopez was the last person Maribel talked to on the phone. Now, police wanted to talk to him.


You know, you're not under arrest or anything like that. Ramirez sat across from Paul and asked about his relationship with Maribel. Nothing has been exclusive. It's just been, you know, dating. OK, you date other people to me, OK? You don't know if she dates other people or not.


I don't ask, don't tell.


And he asked Lopez where he was on the night Maribel disappeared. Did you come into orange at all on Thursday? No. Police also had to consider this. Maribel had told Lucy that things weren't working out with Juan Lopez. She wasn't a match with Paul.


So she was online talking to people.


It wasn't clear if Paul knew, even as they kept dating. Then Maribel was back on plenty of fish and had met a new man. He was a photographer who'd worked a lot with the military. It was a connection for both of them. How would you describe that guy?


She said that she said, oh, I met someone is very interesting. We have a lot in common.


And you thought what good? I thought great. They planned a date for Cinco de Mayo. But two days before that date was to happen, Maribel vanished. So police talk to that photographer and made a recording of the conversation. You're saying you never actually met her in person. So he said anyone there was also an ex-boyfriend who'd been calling police needed to check him out.


And there was this lead. There was a person at Cal State Fullerton that was in the Veterans Association with her that had given her a bad feeling.


He may have wanted to pursue some sort of dating relationship, but it gave her a bad feeling how she wasn't interested in and she didn't give him any attention yet and he didn't go away.


And by now, Detective Ramirez had learned something else. Just a little over a week before she vanished, Maribel Ramos had called nine one one.


I always play hi. It's an emergency. But I just if the recording is there, what is this conversation recording? Yes. And the conversation was recorded. Maribelle wanted it on the record. She wanted police to know that she was very afraid of someone like calling for you guys know that if something happened, I did it because I was trying to defend myself, OK?


That was something I'd never seen before. A person who was missing, a person who was potentially murdered, deliberately calling 911, one recording themselves in their own words and warning they might commit murder.


I wouldn't want to say that I'm warning honestly. I will fight for my life and I swear I will kill you. What was she afraid of? Not clear. Who was she afraid of that was another story entirely coming up, Maribel's roommate sits down with police.


So you were doing your own surveillance? Yes. Did he know something that police didn't?


We've covered a few stories in which family and friends tried to solve the case themselves. This could be one of those times. By now, posters blanketed the city of Orange, Maribel Ramos was missing and her family was frantic.


Soon as I got a call that she didn't show up to a baseball game, I got the worst feeling in the world. Putting himself out there with all the rest was Maribel's roommate, Casey Joy.


She she's my only family. I have just my best friend to come back, that's all.


Casey had moved from Tennessee to Southern California for a job. He had no family and few friends here. So he turned to Maribel and she was happy to include him. She even arranged for Casey to tutor her niece in math.


He seemed nice, respectful. He he liked to be involved with the family and my aunt in a family of his own.


So he kind of attached himself to yours. Yeah, but they were boyfriend and girlfriend. No.


Even so, in photos, Maribel and Casey seem to be having a great time. They even went on a cruise together. Soon police would be talking with Casey Joy.


They will make sure to keep track of their names straight. Yeah, it's a good idea.


The formalities over Detective Ramirez started asking about Maribel.


As you know, right now, there's some people, some family and friends that are worried about Maribel, your roommate I'm sorry, I care about very much.


But he said he had no idea what happened to her. So when was the last time that you saw her? About 9:00 p.m. That's when he talked about 9:00 that I went up.


That was Thursday night, May 2nd. The next night when the cops were called to Maribel's house, Casey wasn't there. He explained he'd been so worried that he did his own investigation, watching his own front door from his car parked out front. Or does the movie is a detective movie. I stopped by the West Coast Specter crime scene or whatever I want to see was like a Seth just parked the car in front of my notebook, had my locker and there.


So you were doing your own surveillance? Yes, that sounded strange to me then.


And OK, it still does. But keep this in mind right now. A lot of you consider yourselves amateur detectives and some of you are pretty good at it. We've covered a few stories in which family and friends tried to solve the case themselves with varying degrees of success.


And this could be one of those times, except here's what was weird, some odd injuries to Maribel's roommate, Casey Joy.


We sitting across the table from these wearing short sleeved shirt. He has jeans on and sandals. And instantly I can see scratches on both his arms. He's got a scratch across his forehead from his hairline to his eye. How did you get all these scratches on you?


We got to ask the hard part all the time before I let you go. Exactly. You got a big kick up. Either, Paul pick up fishing lines or you go out there fishing line. Those are from fishing. No, no, no. I'm good at explaining.


Casey explained he was walking the dogs when he saw a fishing line in a bush worrying about the ducks in the park, getting caught in the line. He reached in to remove it and got all those scratches.


There was one particular set of scratches on his right bicep that to me clearly look like scratches from a hand. And that says to you he was in a fight. It does.


When was the last time you guys had any sort of an argument fracture? The Thursday. This Thursday.


That was the last night anyone saw Maribel the night she was caught on camera paying the rent, which Casey said was what they were arguing about.


What would happen on it. Tell me about that. Because I was supposed to move out.


It turned out Casey had recently lost his job and could no longer pay his share of the rent. Maribel had asked him to move out. That was reason for concern, of course, and so was this. Detective Ramirez had learned about the nine one one call Maribelle had made 11 days before she disappeared, and he knew that in that call the man, Maribelle, said she might have to kill him. But I was Casey. Joy, if only is one sure way understand his guanciale.


Joy, now worth the police out to your house recently because you guys had an argument. We've been drinking part of it that night and she started yelling at me.


Casey said it was all just a drunken misunderstanding.


Other like you, I'm not attracted to you. That's going on. You know, time tonight was the phone. What was the problem? Detective Ramirez heard from Maribel's family. Something very interesting. Casey Joy had wanted to be more than just roommates with Maribel Ramos. When did it become apparent to you that Casey sort of had a crush on your sister?


Yeah, he called me and then he just says, I'm like, I'm like in love with your sister.


It's just great because you knew that your sister who wasn't in love with him. Yes.


And that's a bad situation. So at that point, I'm like, OK, Casey, you know you know, you're a good man and I'm sure you'll find somebody out there for you. But but it's not going to be her.


Yeah. Now, the woman Casey had told Lucy he wanted had told him that not only did she not love him, but he had to basically get out of her life. Despite that, Casey continued talking with police.


Mr. Jeter was being cooperative. He was talking to officers. Let let you guys take stuff out of the house. He did and never showed up with a lawyer. He did not. Doesn't sound like a lot to set aside your suspicions. No, you didn't. Suspicions, sure. But no proof a crime even occurred. Maribel Ramos was missing. That's all anyone knew gracer. And so Casey Joy walked out of that police station like all the other men in Maribel's life, a free man coming up.


He knew a lot more than he was telling us. Finally, the clue detectives had been waiting for. No one had searched there now, but he's looking at it. Yes. And you won't believe how they got it. Very smart detective work when Dateline continues.


The days were ticking by and still no Maribelle forensic results were coming in, DNA, fingerprints, cell phone data, none of it adding up to anything that told the cops what had happened to her.


So police were looking at the usual suspects, like her boyfriend, Paul Lopez. Lopez worked for the gas company and went from call to call in a company truck. The GPS on that truck put him nowhere near the city of Orange on the night Maribel was seen on that security video. That is until about midnight, Lopez told police. That's when he went home. He said he was alone and could prove it by parking spots, actually, right by a surveillance camera.


So the surveillance camera would show you parking.


That was enough to get Lopez off the list. There was that ex-boyfriend who'd been calling. Maribelle had never mentioned he'd been a problem and police didn't think he was involved. There was the photographer from the website, plenty of fish. His cell phone data placed him in San Diego out of the area at the time in question.


And the veteran from Cal State who'd come on too strong, he was in Japan. None of them could be connected to Maribel's disappearance. So in the end, there was just one person the cops couldn't stop looking at. The first person to report Maribelle missing her roommate, K.C. Joy Orange, police dispatcher.


Oh, this is not an emergency. And I unless you're thirty six years old, she didn't come home last night.


I felt she most likely was dead. I felt that there was a high probability Mr. Joye was responsible for it and he knew a lot more than he was telling us.


So Detective Ramirez became Casey Joyes shadow. He showed up at his house.


So when you say work, she works at corporate and food company.


Important, no question. Plenty of cases are made or lost in those police interviews. And I've seen detectives do all kinds of things to get a suspect talking and keep a suspect talking. And in the case of Marrable Ramos, Casey Joy did the one thing that nearly every criminal attorney I've ever met will tell you not to do, keep answering questions from police without knowing what the questions are going to be. And he did all of it without a lawyer.


Just a brief briefly, Casey, very cooperative with us.


He's got to move. You know, you can take this up.


Fingerprints, he says to you, oh, I've seen this movie and now you're going to take my fingerprints. He's like a pro. He's seen it all, he's being very relaxed, I felt that he was very confident that we weren't going to figure it out. What Mr. Joy apparently didn't know was that other officers were watching him 24/7. The surveillance teams noticed he was spending a lot of time at the public library and he was using the computers there, probably because police had taken away his phone and Maribel's computer, which was the one Casey normally used.


Initially, we would have undercover policemen going to the library, walk around and see what he's doing. And at one point, he's seen Googling, can a cell phone be tracked if it's turned off?


Well, that's certainly suspicious. It is.


Detective Ramirez was consulting daily with Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons.


There are things that can be called into question, but they're not immediately proof of anything. Exactly.


And that's why we didn't arrest him right away.


Police needed to see exactly what Casey Joy was doing on those library computers. That would require a very unusual plan. They obtained a search warrant allowing them to watch in real time every move made on the computer. This was something I hadn't seen before. It was very proactive. And to me, it felt like a big time move by a small police department that usually doesn't work cases like this. It was very smart detective work.


This is a recording of Casey's actual computer keystrokes and mouse clicks. That's Casey checking his e-mail. That's Casey applying for a job. That's Casey typing in. How long does it take a body to decay?


Suspicious, maybe, but not enough. And then he did this.


He pulled up a Facebook page that showed there was going to be an awareness walk in the near future, a walk to help find Maribelle. It was he Google mapped that park and zoomed in on to it. He then panned out, navigated over about eight to 10 miles this area that he was zeroing in on. Was it an area that had crossed your field of vision at all? No. Here, Casey, is Google mapping a place that no one had searched?


Watch as he zooms in to that area with the tree.


That tree didn't figure in the investigation in any way, not in any stretch of the imagination to search there now. And no reason for that to be in the paper or anywhere else. No, I mean, it's out in a remote canyon location, but he's looking at it. Yes. Yes.


By the time Casey was walking out of the library that afternoon, the police were already headed to that tree. Coming up, another startling discovery. This is way off the beaten path. We didn't know what to think and the suspect speaks here from Casey Joy himself. You're being framed here. I said yes. As he dug deeper into Casey Joy's background, Detective Joey Ramirez found more and more evidence that Casey was infatuated, even obsessed with Maribel Ramos, for instance, the time Maribel told Casey he was too old for her and he responded by getting plastic surgery 12000 hours later.


He's got a different face. Correct. And he says the reason he got it is because of the woman is missing. Correct.


Now, here was Casey at the public library. Google mapping a remote wilderness area. Since the dawn of detective novels, killers have returned to the scene of the crime.


But these days, there's no need for the bad guy to even get in his car. Now it can be done with the click of a mouse. The good guys still have to do it the old fashioned way.


Detective Sean Hayden got the call on the radio drive out to rustic Modjeska Canyon, southeast of the city of Orange. We didn't know what to think. This is very rural area. No one will be out here. Mountain biking, we're hiking. This is way off the beaten path.


At the other end of the two way radio, Detective Brian Stanly was watching Cassie's Google search, trying to give Detective Hayden better directions. Casey focused on an intersection and then moved over to the tree in the center of the shot.


There's one tree that looks like a bush on the middle of the wash, so don't look for that tree.


And then in the wash from that area, Hayden and his partner found the tree, then moved off the road and past the barbed wire fence.


And then they knew they were close.


As we were kind of tracking through this brush here, the first and foremost thing we found was overwhelming. Smell like a decaying body or something. Dad and my partner and I kind of turned our head and we looked over and we saw this kind of shallow, grave site. One of the detectives called and said, Joe, you're not going to believe this. We found her. Maribel Ramos had been left alone in that dusty canyon since before anyone knew she was missing.


Now, Ramirez knew it was time for one last meeting with Casey Joy.


Well, thanks for coming down here voluntarily. I really appreciate you're going to give me a ride back to the library and I'll have to walk out of can't.


Ramirez didn't tell Casey that Maribel had been found. He just tried for the final time to get Casey to be the one who would say what had happened.


I think that you have the answers in your heart that you do and that you should share the goal.


So, once again, Casey Joy walked out of the interview room. He didn't get far this time. He was arrested and charged with the murder of Maribel Ramos, the woman he had loved who had not loved him when he was taken into custody. Casey Joy was wearing Maribel's dog tags. Casey joyed, pleaded not guilty.


And in July 2014, a year after Maribel vanished, he went on trial for her murder as Maribel Ramos.


Maribel is no longer with us.


The prosecution laid out the evidence against Casey, the unrequited love, the scratches, the nine one one call, and finally the computer searches.


He's wondering how close is Maribel's body to where they're doing that awareness search? That's why goes to Google Maps, and it was the defense pointed out there was no DNA, fingerprint, cell phone info or standard forensic evidence that tied Casey Joy to Maribel's murder or to the crime scene. We don't know what happened, what kind of force was used.


Nobody knows who used it first. Nobody knows. Was there a weapon used? Was it used by Maribelle or was it used by Casey Joyce?


Nobody knows Casey. Joy told me police arrested the wrong guy.


Are you dangerous? I'm the perfect, most honest guy there is. I must trust what I'm a gentleman.


As for that computer search of the area where Maribel's body was found, Casey said he didn't do it. Someone else did by remotely accessing the same computer right after he had used it.


Cops are all pointing a finger at me or anything. That was that meth Google map. You're being framed here. I said yes.


The jury didn't buy it. We the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant, Quanto Troy, guilty of the crime. A felony, to wit.


Casey Joy was convicted of second degree murder. He insisted the jury got it wrong. And in our interview, just as he did with police, he seemed ready to talk all day. Except, of course, about Maribel Ramos. You had a crush on her?


No, we are absolutely not. It was our always maintained that we are platonic friends.


That part of the interview was absolutely unforgettable because while we spoke, this convicted murderer seemed to kind of forget where he was, which was in the lockup. He began by saying he didn't want to talk about his relationship with Maribel. And I insisted and then he got angry. You never told Lucy that you had a crush on. No, I never said that. She never said you were in love with her? Nope. Never said they did that you were obsessed with her?


No, I was not obsessed with her.


If you got plastic surgery, let's not get into that. If you got plastic surgery, I'm going to look up. If you're going to keep on that, we're going to talk about my child.


All of a sudden, he stands up like he's going to leave like he's a free man. That part didn't work out so well.


I want to know about your relationship with Mama Dunn, then sit with Casey.


Joy was sentenced to 15 years to life. He's eligible for parole in 2024.


Maribel Ramos graduated from college posthumously, niece Jazelle, who Maribel had always hoped would follow in her footsteps, instead ended up walking the path meant for her.


And I received her diploma and I got to sit in her seat and walk offstage and receive everything.


It was so difficult to be there. It was difficult to see my daughter in such pain walking for her.


And the day the story first aired on Dateline was also the day my own father died. Like Maribel, his service in the Army was a big part of what shaped him. And like Maribelle, he was fluent in Spanish. I was definitely thinking a lot about both of them that day.


While Mariano Ramos, he lost his job a couple of years ago. She was an Army veteran regularly in Old Town Orange.


They lower the flag for the fallen who served. But Maribel has a legacy, Jazelle seems well on her way to becoming the successful woman Maribel had hoped for. Your mom says that you've sort of been the rock.




That they wouldn't have made it through this without you. Yes. Where did you get that toughness? From her. From Maribel.


Yeah. And that's all for this edition of Dateline. We'll see you again Friday at 10:00, 9:00 Central. I'm Lester Holt for all of us at NBC News, good night.


Hi, I'm Chuck Rosenberg. This season on my podcast, The Earth, I spoke with 10 remarkable public servants, men and women who sacrificed for the common good, who do things that are hard, like former National Security Council official Fiona Hill.


We can have a serious discussion about where we want the relationship with Russia to go, but we have to stop using Russia as part of our domestic politics. Civil rights activist Maya Wiley. When police officers are not protected, when they tell the truth, that creates a culture of silence that makes them accessories.


And Flight 15 49 pilot Captain Sully Sullenberger to know that we had been in the cockpit of that airliner over Manhattan at that lower altitude when we had lost thrust on both engines with so few options. It was just astonishing.


Catch up on season three of the OK, with all 10 episodes now available, Search for the Truth, wherever you are listening right now to subscribe and hear all 10 episodes for free.