Transcribe your podcast

As she walked into the Bremerton Police Department, Sandy Glass had to have known that life was about to change dramatically for her, for Christ Community Church, and for Pastor Nick Acney. The things she was about to say, the secrets about the affairs, the awful things she said she knew about Dawn's death were unimaginable to so many who knew her, and they would turn her community upside down. Inside the police department, Sandy was introduced to the investigators, took a seat, and began telling her story.


Sandy Glass came forward and said, I've been going through counseling. I've been talking to folks, and I need to tell you what happened. I need to talk to you about this.


By 2001, Sue Schultz was a detective at Bremerton PD.


She actually arranged to come into the department. I believe she had legal representation with her and some other support and provided information about Don's death.


At that point, this was a closed case. This was an accident.




But Sandy Glass changed everything she did.


Back in 1997, Schultz was a patrol officer. When dawn died in the fire, she had some knowledge of the incident, but what Sandy now added to that was stunning.


She believed that Don had actually been murdered by Nick Hackney.


You believed Sandy?


It took us back. We had to go back and we had to look at the case.


With her statement to police, Sandy Glass suddenly upended years of assumptions about how dawn had died. In this episode, you'll learn how that reinvestigation unfolded.


I knew that he was still in an active role, leadership, and nobody knew this. It was appalling. I had to go up and blow the whistle.


You'll hear about a church leader's suspicions.


Well, I was concerned deeply for his state, but his state didn't seem to need prayer, need any kind of support.


He seemed calculating and details of how police came to believe dawn was murdered.


We did have information that dawn did have a cold Christmas day and had been taking Benadryl, but there was an excessive amount in her body.


I'm Josh Mahinkowitz and this is Mortal Sin, a podcast from Dateline. Episode three, the truth emerges. When Sandy Glass walked into the Bremerton PD, she spared not a single embarrassing, humiliating detail.


She told us that she had been involved in a relationship with Nick Hackney.


While he was married.


While he was married to dawn.


What Sandy said next was a game changer.


She had talked to him extensively about ending both her husband's life and the life of dawn. That they had discussed this.


They had discussed this as a plan, or they had discussed this as one of the many prophecies that she had that she allowed her to sort of foretell the future.


One of the many prophecies, she's had.


Them about a lot of different things, but apparently one of them was that her spouse was going to die. Nick's spouse, dawn, was going to die and that she and Nick would be together. And Sandy disclosed all of that to you, to your department when she came in to report that Nick had killed dawn. Did you look at whether Sandy was part of some plot to commit murder?


Absolutely. I mean, that's part of your investigation. If you go into an investigation and you don't eliminate everyone as suspects to get to a suspect, you're doing someone, a disjustice. So part of that investigation included investigating Sandy and eliminating her as suspect.


Do you think Sandy Glass knew in advance that Nick was going to kill his wife?




Do you think her prophecy that her husband would die and Nick's wife would die and she and Nick would be together, was her prophecy or did Nick somehow manipulate her into that?


That's a tough question because I think Nick Hackney did a lot of manipulating. That was evident throughout my investigation with the other women in the church. He had the ability to convince a lot of people of a lot of different things. Whether or not he could convince Sandy that she was having visions of dawn and her husband's death, I don't know.


Police tend to deal with proof, not prophecy. Sandy's word from God put a whole new spin on the investigation.


You think Sandy really had those prophecies?


I don't, that's. I can't answer that. We hear that. We hear of folks that say they've had a message from God and I will respect that. In an investigation, though, we'd have to stop and say, okay, is this something that you had a prophecy about? Is it something that God has relayed to you or is it something that you actually saw or did? And we'd have to be very careful with that because in this particular group of folks in their faith, they strongly believe in prophecies and the ability to receive and provide messages from God.


Well, and prophecies have at least equal weight with things that they actually saw or did, maybe more weight in some cases.


Complicating things for Detective Schultz was one huge question about Sandy. Why had she waited four years to come forward to understand that we need to go back to early 1998 and the story of Annette Anderson. Remember, she had been keeping her affair with Nick Hackney to herself. Now, just because one person keeps a secret doesn't mean another won't notice. There's something unsaid. During that time, Craig Anderson began to notice that his wife seemed withdrawn, depressed. He chalked it up to grief over Dawn's death. Even so, Annette's sadness seemed unusually intense, and Craig was worried.


She was very quiet, very distraught. Spent a lot of time on the porch. It was a tough time to watch your wife cut into a cave and I think was almost suicidal. Maybe she wouldn't have grabbed a gun and used it, but certainly a very depressed being emotionally and physically.


After several months, Annette's affair with Nick ended. And as more months went by and she spent time with friends and family, things got better for her. That continued until a few years later, when she learned that while she had been secretly involved with Nick, he'd been having a simultaneous affair with church secretary Sandy Glass. For Annette Anderson, that had to be a combination of a cold shower and some white hot anger. It confirmed to her the affair hadn't been God's plan at all. It had been only Nick's. So in the spring of 2001, more than three years after Dawn's death, Annette finally blurted out the truth to her husband. It was during a fight about the pastor they both had trusted.


Craig started defending Nick, and I couldn't take it anymore. I just said, he's not a good guy. And Crick said, did he have sex with Sandy? Is this why you're so mad? And I said, yeah, but that's not all. And he said, well, it wasn't. You also was, you know, I said, yeah, actually it was. So that's how Craig came to find out.


What was that like?


That was a big punch in the gut. I was caught off guard by that. I amazingly didn't see that coming.


You never suspected? Were you angry?


Yeah, I was pretty angry.


At her or at Nick?




I probably took know who could do that to me. So two people that, you know, just stabbing the back.


It was a lot for Craig to process.


I had a tough time with it. But we serve a God that is the same yesterday, today and forever. And if there's anything that I get from my faith is the knowledge that he died for me, in spite of my shortcomings, and I'm not a perfect person. We all make mistakes. And that, to me, is the ultimate example of forgiveness. He forgave me. At least I could do is forgive my wife.


Knowing what he now knew about Nick Hackney, Craig didn't think the pastor should be preaching anywhere. By this point, the church community had split the low key pastor Bob Smith and more intense apostle Robert Byley disagreed on the direction of Christ community. Pastor Bob started a new church, and Nick followed him there.


I knew that he was still in an active role, leadership in the church up there, and nobody knew know. It was appalling. I had to go up, know, blow the whistle.


So Craig called Pastor Bob, who set up a meeting. Sandy was invited, as were Craig and Annette Anderson and some of the other female church members Nick had pursued. Sandy had to know then that it was all going to come out, all the secrets, all the lies, and the series of betrayals that would be heard loud and clear well beyond the walls of Christ Community Church.


Hey, it's Anna Garcia, host of True crime Daily, the podcast. Each week on the show, we cover high profile and under the radar cases from across the country. We'll take you inside some of the most unbelievable and shocking true crime stories that you may or may not have heard of before. Listen and follow to True Crime Daily, the podcast, an Odyssey podcast on the Odyssey app or wherever you get your podcasts.


The night before the meeting, Sandy's phone rang. It was Nick. He'd found out that she had revealed their affair to others. She says Nick's response was, do you see any reason I shouldn't go? End it all right now. Sandy says she didn't answer, but told Nick she'd gotten a lawyer and was going to the police. She suggested he turn himself in. That's when she says Nick asked her, are you sure this is what God wants? I don't know, she said. This is the truth. The truth about what happened to dawn is exactly what Detective Sue Schultz was seeking. In reading the old case files, she came to an unsettling conclusion.


When looking at it from another set of eyes later on, it appeared that there was a lot of things that could have been done and should have been done at the initial scene. People went off of what the coroner was saying. People went off what fire department was saying. It was a wife of a pastor, seemingly happy couple, supported by their church. Nothing was really raising to the level where someone was saying, hey, we need to dig into this deeper.


Isn't it standard procedure when somebody dies, when a spouse dies, that you or any investigative agency look first at that person's husband or wife and find out what kind of marriage they had and whether there was any trouble in the home and whether anybody was being unfaithful? That's pretty normal?


If we had a clear homicide, yes, I think officers would have started digging into that. The investigators would have gone into the past, into the relationships, into the activities of the church.


But this seemed like an accident.


This seemed like an accident.


And after Sandy came forward, Detective Schultz and her colleagues did something quite familiar to the dateline audience, something you might have expected would have happened a lot sooner. They focused on the husband.


And you started digging around in Nick Hackney's background.


Yes, we did.


Finding out what was really going on in that marriage.




In short, all the stuff police officers should have done in the first couple of days after that death.




The detectives learned about Nick's affairs, of course, and tracked down some of the women in the church who'd had those relationships with him. You've met two of them already. Dawn's friend Annette Anderson, and Dawn's mother, Diana Parmley. Detective Schultz said her interview with Dawn's mom was particularly difficult. She asked her male colleagues to leave so she and Diana could talk woman to woman.


I sat and I talked to Dawn's mother for a long time. And that's when we talked about the relationship that Dawn's mother had had with Nick Hackney after Dawn's death. And she was devastated, ashamed. And I tried to encourage her and tell her that she had been victimized, manipulated, and that it was okay and that we'd get through it. That was tough.


I'm not sure she's ever going to get over that.


Probably not. And that's what makes her a wonderful person.


These were women lied to and seduced by Nick. The detective was surprised by how direct they were with her.


They're housewives, their mothers, they're upstanding women. And not to say that women do make different choices sometimes that we don't understand, but every woman that I went to go interview, every woman that broke down and told me that she had done this awful thing and was ashamed of it, I walked away thinking I wouldn't have expected that. I would have expected them to deny it or say, no, it's not true information. But I walked away just amazed and wondering, how could a man like Nick Hackney convince these women to have sex with him?


What do you think the answer to that is?


I'm still trying to figure that one out.


Detective Schultz and fellow investigators also contacted many other key players in the case. They talked with Apostle Byley about Nick's unorthodox counseling sessions. By luck or by design, Nick Hackney's couple's counseling for Christ Community Church seemed to have gifted him with a sort of x ray vision that was true for Annette, for sandy glass and for other women as well. The sessions allowed Nick to see into the emotional lives of the women who came to him for help. All of it gave the pastor some strategic insights into marriages he would later breach. Should Nick even have been given that level of trust and responsibility? Church apostle Robert Byley told me he had not even been aware that Nick was doing that kind of work.


Would you have had any problem with Nick doing marriage counseling?


I think so, because he was not in a position in the church to do that. Well meaning, he was to be dealing with youth problems, not marriage problems.


He was too young to be advising anybody on a marriage.


I feel so.


Byley says he had suspicions about Pastor Nick almost immediately after dawn died that day. Byley says he was with Nick at the scene of the fire and was paying close attention to him.


I was concerned deeply for his state, but his state didn't seem to need prayer, need any kind of support. He seemed calculating. He seemed odd to me. I guess is the best word I can put it.


And then there was the conversation Byley says he had with Nick later that day. It was beyond strange. Now, remember, the Andersons described Christ community church as charismatic. A community filled with signs and wonders. So when Apostle Byley saw Nick on that awful day, he suggested perhaps God could work not just a wonder, but also a miracle.


He was aware of the work we had done in Africa and Tanzania, and our ministry associates there had raised several.


People from the dead, literally brought people back to life.


Brought people back from the dead, literally.


And you offered to do that for dawn?


Well, I ask if he and I together can go pray, believing that this was an accident and it wasn't God's will. And I would like at least an opportunity to pray for her and to.


Literally bring dawn back to life.


Well, I would ask God if he was willing. It's a prayer that they would be restored to life.


And Nick said, sure.


No. He said, no way. He said, no way. Don't want to do that.


That had to seem strange to you.


It did seem strange to me. Very much so.


It's hard to know why Nick would have said that. Perhaps he didn't believe in man made resurrection of the dead. Or perhaps, for whatever reason, Nick didn't really want dawn to come back to life. The detectives were making progress in the case. At the same time, they knew quite well a philandering husband and a potentially flawed ruling from the coroner would not separately or together be enough to make a murder case stick. For that, investigators wanted details about means, motive, and opportunity. Maybe Sandy Glass could help with all of that.


Hi, everyone. I'm Jenna Bush Hager from today with Hoda and Jenna and the read with Jenna Book Club. There's nothing I love more than sharing my favorite reads with all of you, except maybe talking to the exceptional authors behind these stories. And that's what I'll be doing on my podcast, read with Jenna. I'll be introducing you to some of my favorite writers. These conversations will leave you feeling inspired and entertained.


To start listening, just search read with Jenna wherever you get your podcasts.


To prove their case, detectives needed evidence. After so many years, that wasn't going to be easy to find.


Cold cases are tough. You don't have the body. You don't have the crime scene to walk through. You have to go back and research all the reports that the initial officers did. You have to take crime scene photographs and look at them completely differently. It's a totally different way of investigating because you're limited to what you have, what you can put your hands on. And in this case, we were extremely limited.


The propane was gone, right?




That was an issue. Remember, the coroner had not found smoke or soot in Dawn's lungs. The explanation at the time was that one of the propane bottles in the bedroom had exploded, causing a flash of heat that immediately sealed Dawn's windpipe before any smoke could enter. Now, years later, Detective Schultz and lead detective Dan Trudeau dug deeper.


Detective Trudeau and I went back and contacted propane companies, contacted everyone that we could find the experts to tell us, can propane bottles cause this kind of an explosion? And they said, no, absolutely not. When we went back and we looked at things, we were able to say, this couldn't have happened this way. Dawn should have had smoke in her lungs, and she didn't.


Prophecies carry more weight in church than they do in a courtroom. Except Sandy told investigators about something that went beyond prophecy, something she says Nick Hackney actually did. Sandy told the detective that on the day dawn was killed, she got a call from Nick. It was after the fire.


And all he told her was, it is done. And there was some other biblical reference. But she knew that something had happened and that she was coming forward now in 2001 because she couldn't keep it to herself any longer.


And then Sandy delivered perhaps the most chilling part of her story. What she says Nick told her about how he killed dawn. If true, it was brutal.


She talked about a plastic bag being put over Dawn's head and Nick later telling her how he watched dawn die beneath the plastic.


Sandy said Nick told her that in order to suffocate his wife more easily. He had overdosed her with a medication sometimes used as a sleep aid.


He had provided her a large amount of Benadryl, which we did have information that dawn did have a cold Christmas day and had been taking Benadryl, but there was an excessive amount in her body.


And Sandy said that Nick had told her that he had overdosed on. On Benadryl so she wouldn't be able to fight back when he suffocated her.


Correct. That she would sleep through it.


Finally, detectives believed they had enough to go to the district attorney.


We built a very strong case. We built the case until the point where the prosecutor said, you have enough. Detective Trudeau and I traveled all over Washington and Oregon, talking to folks, meeting with parishioners, work partners, fellow pastors of Nix, interviewing everyone, collecting information and looking at things like the propane bottles and establishing that there's safety valves on propane, little propane bottles, which allows them not to blow up or to leak.


In September 2001, almost four years after dawn died, Detective Schultz and Trudeau arrested Nick on a charge of first degree premeditated murder.


We brought him to the police station, and detective Trudeau and I were interviewing him. And normally when we interview folks, we have the ability to run the interview. We ask the questions, we get the answers, and we go from there, and we usually allow people to talk. In this case, it was very evident that Nick Hackney wanted to control the interview. He wanted to be the one in charge. And it was interesting. One of the things he did was instead of referring to us as detectives or officers, he began talking to us with our first names, referring to us as sue and Dan. That doesn't usually happen in an interrogation when you're talking about a homicide.


And this is just Nick. We're now friends. Yeah, we're friends, and I'm asking the questions.


Uh huh, exactly.


Even though I'm being charged with murder.




There was one more question I wanted to ask Detective Schultz.


Let me go back to Sandy Glass for a minute. You know that sometimes cutting a deal to get someone's testimony sometimes allows a guilty person to go free so that you can build a case against someone who maybe has committed greater crimes, unfortunately. Did that happen in this case? Did Sandy Glass go free so you could get Nick acne?


No. I don't believe that.


You don't think Sandy Glass is guilty of anything except felony bad judgment.


Felony bad judgment. I think a victim. There's so many victims in this case, it's above and beyond. Just don. It's the parishioners it's the people in the church. It's Dawn's mother. It's Sandy.


The case against Nick Hackney was headed for trial. Jurors would have a lot to consider whether to believe Sandy, what her prophecy meant, and her credibility, given that immunity deal, what to make of Nick's alibi, and whether the evidence was enough to prove he himself had drugged and suffocated dawn before setting their bedroom on fire with her in it. And if Nick killed Dawn, what exactly was the motive? In trials, when witnesses are sworn in, we often hear four words. Words that were very likely on a lot of minds at Nick Hackney's trial, so help me God. Next time on mortal sin.


I think he liked his life with all of these women fawning over him, and it gave him a sense of power. Divorce was frowned upon. That was just not going to be an option for him.


And I argued that she saw the.


World through prophecy colored glasses, that she couldn't distinguish between reality and fiction, what.


She was dreaming about or what God had told her and reality.


It shook my faith. Not in God, but in the church. In man definitely shook my faith.


In man.


Is a production of Dateline and NBC News. Jessica Knoll is the producer. Brian Drew, Kelly Laudine and Marshall Housefeld are audio editors. Carson Cummins and Keanu Reed are associate producers. Adam Gorfane is coexecutive producer, Liz Cole is executive producer and David Corvo is senior executive producer. From NBC News. Audio sound mixing by Bob Mallory and Catherine Anderson Bryson Barnes is head of audio production.