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Nancy Grace Mysteries: Patrick McDermott; Joshua Young Murder Verdict

Aired August 9, 2013 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Everyone remembers when Patrick McDermott went missing. He was then 48 years old. Now, the name Patrick McDermott may not ring a bell to many people. But the name Olivia Newton-John does ring a bell to many people. She`s known around the world. She`s a singing sensation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine years ago, she met photographer Patrick McDermott. They`ve been together ever since until just seven weeks ago, when Patrick suddenly just vanished.


GRACE: Well, McDermott met her during a shoot. He was behind the camera. And they were very close, dated for nine years before he went missing.

Now, McDermott went missing off the coast of San Pedro, California. He was on an overnight fishing trip, a junket of sorts, casual, with a group of people he didn`t know. You just sign up to go on the trip, to go out fishing and then you come back the next day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were notified almost right away. I mean, that was part of the investigation, when they first reported him missing. I know that he was seen in the galley during the cruise. I`m not sure of the last person that saw him on the boat and when that was.

Right now, it`s being looked at as a missing persons case, and nothing else has deviated from that, so -- as far as I know, they`re still conducting interviews and they`re still looking for leads. I couldn`t say as to whether they`re -- they`ve gotten a lot or gotten very far or if they`re stumped or anything like that.

GRACE: Is he or isn`t he? Is he alive or not? And why should we listen to a bunch of drunk witnesses with tequila at a bar?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": Very good questions, Nancy. This bizarre mystery began almost a year ago when Olivia Newton-John`s former boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, went on a fishing trip off the coast of southern California and never came back, disappeared.

Now, right from the start, there were suspicions that maybe he didn`t go overboard and drown. Maybe he faked his own death because he had mounting debts and child support and alimony problems.

Flash forward the last couple months, a flurry of sightings of him from Baja, California, in and around the resort town of Cabo San Lucas. And then the most tantalizing development, the discovery of a visor that he may have left -- if, in fact, it`s him -- at a restaurant in Baja peninsula. It says Key West. It has a fish. It has some gray hairs.

Now a private investigator from Hollywood hired by the TV show "Extra" has that visor and is going to get it tested for DNA. If that DNA matches up with Patrick McDermott, this is going to be virtually proof positive that he is, in fact, alive.


JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think about a real mystery. I think about someone that may actually be alive and not dead, and that`s part of the allure to this case, the questions and the concerns.

Patrick McDermott went on a one-night fishing trip. One night, that`s all it was. It was a deep sea trip. He boarded the boat in San Pedro, California -- that`s right next to Long Beach -- and went out to fish and he was never seen again.

This fishing trip was on June 30th, and he had actually broken up with Olivia Newton-John on June 20th. They had an on-again/off-again relationship for about nine years, so it was a long time. And she was about to go to Australia for two months, and so he approached her and said, I think this is a good time for us to break up, for us to part the ways, since you`re leaving. And so it was on good terms and they agreed to do that.

What Olivia Newton-John probably didn`t know was that he was in dire financial straits at that time. When they had met in 1996, he was earning over $100,000 a year, but that income dwindled way, way down. The business that he had was not successful. He owed back child support. And he was at a point in his life, it seems, of many, many concerns.


GRACE: And it`s all about this, a pink visor. To Mickey Sherman. I`m sure if this were to ever go to trial on a perceived felony crime, you would attack the eyewitnesses, and that`s a legitimate attack. Explain.

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, that`s actually the worst form of identification and proof. We learned that from the Innocence Project.

GRACE: Whoa-whoa! Whoa-whoa! Wa-wait! Wa-wait!


GRACE: Wait. I never learned that...

SHERMAN: I have.

GRACE: ... because in all of my criminal cases, essentially, I would have eyewitnesses, and they held up pretty well in court. But according to you, it`s the worst type of evidence.


GRACE: OK. Go ahead.

SHERMAN: And the many people who sat on death row and have been freed by Barry Scheck and the people at the Innocence Project at Northwestern.

GRACE: How many, Mickey? How many?

SHERMAN: Too many.

GRACE: No, no! No, no!

SHERMAN: One is too -- one is too many.

GRACE: How many?

SHERMAN: Fifteen. I don`t know how...

GRACE: OK. All right.

SHERMAN: What can I tell you? But it`s common knowledge that eyewitness testimony is fallible. It just is. I mean, we -- this is not a great secret in the criminal justice system. However, if they`ve got the DNA in the hat, that`s something else.

To me, the bigger question, Nancy, is, who cares? I mean, this is a guy who`s on the run for child support. Not that children shouldn`t be supported, but is it really worth the manpower that law enforcement, wherever they`re located, is spending catching this guy?

GRACE: Mickey, Mickey, Mickey, I know as a veteran defense attorney, you like to not necessarily stick to the facts at trial, but kind of, like, make up a novella in your head. Law enforcement is not looking for Patrick McDermott, all right? It`s "Extra." Remember them? That`s where this information is coming from.

SHERMAN: So if he gets caught, will he be tried on "The People`s Court" or with Judge Judy?

GRACE: Well, if he gets caught, then there has to be a determination as to whether a crime has occurred.


GRACE: Just before he went on the overnight fishing trip, he visited Olivia Newton-John. She was headed to Australia for two months for work, and he said he wanted a break, a separation from their relationship. Well, so did she. At least, that`s the way it`s told, that it was mutual. He gave her some flowers and a card and basically broke up, I guess, for a better word for it. That was just days before he goes missing.

Now, in criminal law, there`s very rarely a coincidence. Think about it. He falls off a ship by accident? But just a few days before, he had formally said good-bye to his longtime love, and then he falls off a ship by accident? I don`t believe that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About the 30th of June, at 10:00 o`clock, Patrick McDermott went on the boat Freedom. The Freedom went to San Clemente island. They got to San Clemente Island about 5:00 o`clock in the morning. They fished all day at San Clemente island. You cannot get on or off the boat at San Clemente island. It doesn`t touch shore.

At approximately 1:30, 2:00 o`clock, the boat came back towards San Pedro. At a point three miles off of the San Pedro lighthouse, there`s a large buoy out there called a turning buoy. When a boat reaches the turning buoy, they go down into the bunk room and they wake all the passengers up. All the passengers go up into the galley and pay their galley bills, their fish cleaning, and whatever else they owe the boat.

At that time, Patrick paid his galley bill. And they have a sheet and they happen to keep the sheets for tax records. And he had paid his galley bill at that point.

At that point, all the people are awake up on deck, and you`re just a few minutes from getting back to the dock here. So no one goes back down and goes to sleep or anything else. They congregate in the galley around the back of the boat.

The crew is also on the back of the boat because they have to get the lines out, the buoys, get the fish out of the holes and everything else. So they know he was on the boat at that point.

And to think that a person could have fallen overboard or even jumped overboard on purpose -- it`s pretty slim. Strange things happen in the ocean. A giant squid could have come up and eat him or something like this. But you know, as far as we know, he was on the boat.


GRACE: McDermott was on that ship. We know he was on the fishing boat. We know he was on the fishing boat as late as that day at lunchtime because drinks and lunches were ordered for a precise number of people that were on the boat. He was one of those people. So he had to put in a drink and a lunch order. By the time they got back to shore later that afternoon, he was gone.


GRACE: Now, let`s think this thing through. McDermott was under great financial distress. He was divorced. He had a child that he owed child support for. His business was faltering, losing his home, the works. And then he happens to disappear.


JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, the latest is that this is still a missing persons investigation. And frankly, no one knows where he is. This was a fishing trip that was started on June 30th. It`s overnight. And basically, this gentleman leaves his belongings on the boat. He may have gotten off the boat. He may not. The belongings include his passport, his driver`s license, his car keys. His car was left across the street. No one has seen him since.

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": Carrying a passport on an overnight fishing trip?

MORET: That`s strange. I know.

KING: That`s strange.

MORET: It is very strange. Everything about this case is strange. You indicated that -- that his missing -- he wasn`t reported missing for five days. That`s because there was a family event that was on July 6th, and we know that then the dock was called on the 11th. That`s when they discovered his passport, his ID, and so forth.

KING: And what, Christine (ph) -- is -- why did Olivia Newton-John -- I guess you`re covering this because she`s Australian, right?


KING: Why was she so late in getting involved here, to issue a statement so much later?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, yes, that`s right. I mean, firstly, I think we have to remember that Patrick McDermott went missing while Olivia was back home in Australia. She was doing some promotional work there...

KING: She had nothing to do with his being missing, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no. Of course not. So she was away at the time. And because of the geography and the distance and the time problems there, it`s possible that there may have been a bit of a lag in her realizing that he had gone missing.

KING: Weeks?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not weeks, no. I think as soon as she got back, she was aware. And I think she`s just chosen to stay silent on this, being very mindful that Patrick has got a 15-year-old son, and that`s a very awkward age. This must be an incredibly difficult time for him, and I think she`s just trying to make it as -- as -- as least painful for him as possible.

KING: Chief Warrant Officer Scott Peterson -- Epperson, rather, Scott Epperson, of the U.S. Coast Guard, what`s the Coast Guard`s feelings or position on this?

CWO SCOTT EPPERSON, U.S. COAST GUARD (via telephone): Well, right now, we`re still treating this as a missing persons case. We`re investigating everything that we -- all the leads we`ve gotten so far. Some of this media interest in this right now has turned up several other leads, and we are following those at this point.

So far, we haven`t gotten -- really gotten any information from anybody that`s credible that we`ve -- someone saw him get off the boat, contrary to some of the reports that are out there.


GRACE: There have been many, many alleged sightings of McDermott in Mexico. Very often, he`s wearing the same floppy hat or the same type of a floppy hat that covers his face. He`s been seen at restaurants, at beachside bars. And I very carefully studied photos that had been taken of who many believe is Patrick McDermott, and it`s a very striking resemblance. I don`t think Patrick McDermott is dead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think there are a total of seven. We mentioned Marina Caravana (ph). She`s the owner of Marina`s Cafe, where that infamous hat was left behind. There`s also a surf camp owner, Jamie Dobie (ph). He believed he saw McDermott at Todos Santos, and basically, he just came in asking for information.

But an employee of his, Raul Avalez (ph), he actually saw McDermott check into kind of a sleazy $33-a-night hotel with this mystery blonde. I mean, and the list goes on. I mean, so many people saw him.

But also, they saw him with the same car. There`s this green VW van. And everyone identified him as that -- you know, he had moppy (ph) gray hair. I mean, if it is McDermott, he`s not doing a very good job of staying out of the public eye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly, there might be some kind of criminal non-support crime here, but disappearing is not a crime. The last time I looked, being involved with Olivia Newton-John and leaving her is not a crime. So other than criminal non-support or perhaps some fraud involved with evading creditors, there`s really nothing here unless he has somehow affirmatively tried to gain by faking a death, but that doesn`t seem to be the case here.



GRACE: When I say financial straits, I mean it. He had only $755 in his bank account, but he owed $19,000, nearly $20,000 in credit card debt alone. In his retirement plan, I think he had maybe $7,000 left. His landlord -- he had no home anymore, as in a mortgage -- but he had now rented for the past six months before he went missing. His landlord says he was having increasingly difficult hardship financially, was finding it harder and harder to make even his rent payment.

And just before he goes missing, he gets a double whammy. Not only does he no longer have a home, he`s renting, but now a judge orders him to pay $8,000 of back child support. That means he`s a deadbeat dad. To top it all off, he`s not even paying his child support.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, he left all his stuff on the boat. He left a bag with his passport and his wallet. Also, about a week later, or a couple of weeks later, when people finally realized that he was missing because he didn`t show up at a family function, they started looking for him and they found his car at a landing area near where the boat had docked.

So he wanted, if he is alive, to make it look like he was missing because he left everything behind, never called and said, Hey, I left my tackle box, I left my passport, I left my wallet. So either he fell overboard, which some say now appears increasingly unlikely, or he left it all to make it look like he was dead and took off to avoid those payments.

GRACE: And of course, no body or even clothing, none of his belongings have washed ashore or been found.

Joining us now, dock manager of the 22nd Street Landing, Frank Liversedge (ph). Sir, thank you for being with us. In a nutshell, what happened the day McDermott went missing?

FRANK LIVERSEDGE, DOCK MANAGER (via telephone): Well, the day -- I didn`t find out he was missing until two weeks after he was supposedly missing.

GRACE: OK. What happened the day he went missing?

LIVERSEDGE: Well, the day that his wife called me up on the telephone and asked me if we knew anything about him, and we knew nothing, we started checking records. And she gave me his vehicle license plate number, and so forth.

We found some stuff that had been turned in to the office. I opened it up. I went through it. I found his wallet and other papers in there. I did not find a passport. That`s an error. His passport was not in that bag. They found his passport at his house. But a lot of other papers and stuff was in the fanny pack that he had...

GRACE: What kind of papers?

LIVERSEDGE: ... along with some fishing tackle.

GRACE: What kind of papers?

LIVERSEDGE: To be absolutely honest with you, I did not go any farther than looking in his wallet. I went through the -- I asked the lady on the telephone if I could get permission to go through the wallet. I opened it up. There was no folding money in the wallet. His driver`s license was in there, and that`s as far as I went.

The police have a complete report. They sat in here at my desk and went through the whole wallet and itemized everything that was in it, but I didn`t go any farther than just to look at his driver`s license and stuff.

GRACE: With us, the dock manager, Frank Liversedge. Frank, were you there at the dock the day the boat came back in from the fishing trip?

LIVERSEDGE: I was here the morning, but not in the evening. The boat doesn`t come back in until about 8:00 o`clock at night. I was not here at that time.

GRACE: So at that time, no one considered him missing. He wasn`t reported missing, so there was no cause for concern.

LIVERSEDGE: Absolutely not. None at all.

GRACE: OK. Frank, I understand that two of your employees have been gagged from talking to the media. Who gagged them?

LIVERSEDGE: The lawyer did.

GRACE: A lawyer gagged them?

LIVERSEDGE: Yes. We had to hire a lawyer for the boat...

GRACE: OK, wait. Wa-wait. Only a court has the ability to gag someone from speaking. So the lawyer simply told them not to speak, correct?

LIVERSEDGE: Right, the same as he`s done to all the crew. That`s the reason everyone`s been talking to me because I`m the only one they can`t tell to shut up, I guess.

GRACE: Question. Were your employees asked to testify in front of a grand jury?




GRACE: Robi, do you believe that this is a case of another Willbanks, a Jennifer Willbanks?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: It`s slightly different. I mean, Jennifer Willbanks claimed that she was abducted, so she was crying out for help and attention, and basically, emotionally felt like she was being abducted.

In this case, we have somebody who has looming debt and responsibilities and is trying to avoid it and appear like he`s moved on to the afterlife, when, in fact, it looks like he just has moved on.


GRACE: Let`s talk about and identify the last time we can absolutely place Patrick McDermott alive and well. It was June 30, 2005. He was on a fishing junket, just an overnight trip, as I mentioned before. It was a relatively small group. There were 23 passengers and 5 crewmen, 28 people in all.

Now, remember, this was only for a few hours. You go out, you fish, you spend the night, you fish, you come back. One crew member said that McDermott was very upbeat, was cracking jokes, was having a good time. Another passenger says that McDermott was downcast the whole time, was complaining bitterly, with a tinge of sadness, about his ex-wife and his current condition in life.

So it really ran the gamut of emotions about what you get from the crew people and from the passengers, how they say McDermott responded, what was his demeanor on that trip.

And it`s also important to know that he didn`t know anyone. He had never met the captain before, none of the crew people, none of the passengers. He was completely anonymous on that fishing trip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mere fact that I think they needed to follow up, if there is an investigator on this case, to find out what he did before he got on that boat and what his plans were and who he dealt with and who he talked to that may lead him to where he is right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, the very latest is that we are hearing there have been three, possibly four, reported sightings of Patrick McDermott in Mexico on the Baja peninsula.

GRACE: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Four sightings?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Up to four separate sightings. That`s what we`re hearing. Now, two people in a bar and a third person who was working in a surf camp have identified...

GRACE: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Working in a what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A surf camp. He runs surf safaris.

GRACE: Surf camp. Got it! OK, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. So they have all identified McDermott from a photograph and looked at it and they have said, yes, they believe they`ve seen him, some as recently as 10 days ago.

But the problem here is that these are unsubstantiated reports. And what seems to have happened is there is a reporter who has gone down to Cabo San Lucas with a photograph of Patrick McDermott and he`s asking the locals, Have you seen this man? Three or four people have said, Yes, you know, we think we may have seen him, but there may have been 300 who have said no.

(INAUDIBLE) essentially, you know, a story that gets bigger and bigger each time it`s told and sort of grows legs and seems to have more credibility, when really, these leads appear to be going nowhere.

I spoke to one of the supposed witnesses and he said that, no, actually, he hadn`t seen Patrick McDermott himself, but he knew of someone who thought he may have. So there are some pretty serious credibility issues with these reported sightings.


GRACE: Now, this is very interesting. This overnight fishing trip ended, and everyone was getting ready to get off the fishing ship. As they neared land, within 30 minutes of setting shore, everybody had to pay up their bill. That day, McDermott had ordered two hot dogs and a Coke. His bill was $5. Everybody had been given a number. He was number 2. His order was number 2. His bill was paid. So he was on that fishing boat 30 minutes before it went back to shore.

Now, the way that you paid for your lunch is that you would go downstairs to the kitchen or the bar area, and you would pay the cook. The cook did not recall McDermott paying. Did somebody else pay for him? Wouldn`t that have been uncovered by now? It never has been. There were only 23 passengers, nobody has said they paid for McDermott.

But his bill was paid in the last 30 minutes before that ship, the Freedom -- coincidentally -- got to shore. So common logic places him alive and well 30 minutes before the boat lands.


MORET: Well, he filed for bankruptcy. We`ve obtained documents that he filed for bankruptcy five years ago. He was paying child support of $800 a month to his ex-wife. She went back to court in April, asking that he make payments directly to the court, which would raise the assumption that perhaps she wasn`t receiving all of her checks.

KING: She`s an actress, right?

MORET: She`s an actress.

KING: She came to the scene, right?

MORET: She contacted the folks at the harbor, and it was her call that prompted them to look at his belongings and find out who it belonged to, and so forth. But you know, it`s hard. As you just heard, there are more questions really than answers.

This is an odd case. We have covered missing persons cases before. Usually, the authorities are very forthcoming and they say, This is the car he was driving. This is the license plate. We haven`t really received that kind of information from the Coast Guard, and I know that they`re doing their best to find this person. They`re treating this as a missing persons investigation, not a homicide at this point.

KING: Anything that they`re holding back, Scott Epperson?

EPPERSON: A lot of stuff, or any information that is releasable from the investigation has been released to this point. Some things are, you know, within the realms of the investigation, and they`re not going to talk about them at this time. I mean, I don`t even have that information.

KING: What`s the interest in Australia, Christine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s huge interest. You know, Olivia really holds a very special place in the hearts of Australians. You know, she -- people have followed her career for now more than 30 years. It`s almost hard to believe because she`s still so youthful-looking. And she`s very Australian. She goes back home a lot. So there is that connection there.

KING: She`s there now, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand she`s actually in America. She`s out of Los Angeles. She left her Malibu home once the story broke over the weekend. But she does have a home in Australia, so that is a base that she can always go to.

KING: We don`t know where she is right now.

MORET: Right. And there`s actually a good point Christine makes. The distance in the relationship -- that`s another reason why you say, Why didn`t she report this sooner? She, as I understand it, may spend as much as six months a year in Australia, six months here. So while she and Patrick had a committed relationship, it was not necessarily a traditional relationship where you see each other all the time.


GRACE: Now, interesting, the boat docks at 7:00 PM. There is not a single passenger who can recall McDermott getting off the ship the Freedom. Up to this point in time, 21 of the 23 passengers and all of the crew people have been interviewed. Now, there`s 23 passengers, 21 have been interviewed, 22 would be McDermott himself. There`s only one passenger who has not been interviewed who was on that boat, the Freedom, that day that McDermott went on the fishing trip. None of them can place McDermott leaving.

And it just so happens that this particular fishing boat had no procedure to make sure that -- it was so small -- to make sure that everybody got on the boat got off the boat. In fact, what they used as documentation was the bar and food tab. And McDermott did pay his bar and food tab. At least, it was paid. That`s a better way to say it. Nobody can remember him actually paying it, but it was paid.

Nobody on that fishing boat can remember McDermott getting off. There`s no evidence he ever left the boat.

VINNIE POLITAN, HLN ANCHOR: Breaking news. Just moments ago, the verdict announced in the Joshua Young murder trial. Let`s take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) number one, murder. We the jury find the defendant, Joshua Young, not guilty under instruction number one. Jury form number two, tampering with physical evidence. We the jury find the defendant, Joshua Young, not guilty under instruction two. Madam foreperson, are those, in fact, the verdicts of the jury?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I have the attorneys up here please?

POLITAN: There you see the reaction inside the courtroom, Joshua Young not guilty. He is free to live the rest of his life. And there you see a smile from a 17-year-old, his father serving life in prison for the murder of his stepbrother. But these 12 jurors in Kentucky have spoken tonight and said that Joshua Young had nothing to do with it.

Natisha Lance was in the courtroom for this dramatic moment. Natisha, describe the reaction.

NATISHA LANCE, HLN PRODUCER (via telephone): Vinnie, there were tears on both sides. On one side, tears of sorrow. On the other side, tears of joy. I was sitting right behind Amanda Campbell (ph), who`s Trey Zwicker`s mother, and she immediately grabbed a tissue, buried her face in her hands and bent over and was sobbing.

Now, before everything happened, they were told not to have any outbursts, so she was silently sobbing, bent over. The attorneys eventually came over to her and she said, This doesn`t make sense to me. I don`t understand.

On the other side, you have the Stoneburners who were crying tears of joy with Joshua Young`s girlfriend, and a huge smile from Joshua Young, the most emotion that we`ve seen from him throughout this entire trial.

POLITAN: Unbelievable. Jean Casarez also with us. Jean, not guilty. He`s free to live the rest of his life. Unbelievable!

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s unbelievable. Two things. First of all, since he`s 17 years old, he is a minor and we know his mother passed away seven years ago, his father obviously a convicted felon for murder, serving life in prison. He will be returned as a ward of the Kentucky cabinet (ph) for health and family services, so they will have the custody of him.

And the question is, where does he go from there? Well, the Stoneburners, who are in the gallery tonight -- we saw them in there -- they have been the foster family for Joshua Young. They want him back. They even want to adopt him.

So this 17-year-old may have that loving home to go back to, to be able to lead that life, that straight and narrow life that this family can afford him.

POLITAN: If you`re just joining us, folks, breaking news, not guilty. And there you see the Stoneburners. They want to adopt this 17-year-old boy who was just found not guilty of murder.

You saw the broken hearts of Trey Zwicker`s father and mother inside the courtroom, but all smiles from Joshua Young -- not guilty. The jury has spoken. He`ll go into the custody of children services there, but he does have a family that wants him, that wants to adopt him.

This case is over. This case is over. Not guilty, Joshua Young. Keep it here for NANCY GRACE as we continue our regularly scheduled programming.

GRACE: It was on July 11 that McDermott`s ex-wife finally reported him missing. And what made her suspicious is that McDermott was supposed to visit his son, Chance, 11-year-old Chance, and he didn`t show up. Five days later, she calls police.

Police begin investigating, and this is what they learn. They go back to the Freedom, the fishing boat, and they find out that the Freedom has found his wallet, with all of his money, credit cards, ID, everything is in his wallet intact, and they`ve been trying to reach him.

They also find McDermott`s fanny pack. It`s under the pillow where he slept on the boat that night. And in his fanny pack is his passport, a lot of his information, his car keys. Speaking of his car, his silver Hyundai was found parked there at the ship docking and launch area. He never got in his car and left.

They get back that evening around 7:00 PM, but it`s not until July the 4th that they find the fanny pack and that they find his belongings, his wallet and fanny pack.

They keep trying to contact him over a period of days, so a week passes. July 11 is when his ex-wife contacts police, this after McDermott misses an appointed visitation with his son, Chance. So that`s the timeline. So well over a week has passed since he disappears that anybody really puts the pieces together.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would bet my money on it that he got off of the boat, and from that ramp, somewhere out there.


CASAREZ: The Coast Guard investigation, which was actually released in 2008, determined that McDermott most likely died at sea.

GRACE: The U.S. Coast Guard`s cold exposure survivability model program determined that this many days after he had gone missing, in such a large area of water -- determined that a search would be fruitless. They determined that in those circumstances, he could stay alive in the water for about 14 hours, and that that time had long since passed.

Now, the boat captain says that he would have had an opportunity at that time of the night, 7:00 PM, to jump into the water and disappear, and no one would have noticed. No one heard screaming or yelling. No one heard "Man overboard." No one heard a splash. Nothing.


GRACE: His mental state leading up to the trip was fairly unquestioned. Olivia Newton-John did not think that he was sad, depressed, suicidal, nothing of the sort, nor did any of his acquaintances.

There was an incident about 15 years before, where he had taken a cocktail of drugs. That was a concern. And then about three months before he disappeared, he had bought a 357 Magnum weapon. But there was no indication whatsoever that he was depressed or sad. We know he had some money problems, but who doesn`t?


PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: If you just wanted to kill yourself and have your son, for example, get the insurance money, you can drive into a tree. It`s over with. It`s done with. And there`s no question.

But what we had after he disappeared was a very odd down time by Olivia Newton-John. She didn`t seem to have a response to the missing ex- boyfriend. I mean, where was he? For a long time, she didn`t say a thing. And that`s pretty weird because you would think she says how much she loved him and still loves him and is worried about him, but yet there was this quiet time.

My guess is -- and I can`t say that she said this -- she -- this actually happened, but sometimes when people want to disappear, they go to the one closest to them and they say, Look, I can`t handle this anymore. My life is going down the toilet. I got to get out of here.

GRACE: Wait a minute! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait! Wait! Let me get this straight. Pat Brown, veteran criminal profiler, you`re trying to drag Olivia Newton-John...

BROWN: Poor Olivia Newton-John.

GRACE: ... into the big scam? OK, I`m not buying that. To Brian...

BROWN: I`m just saying she...

GRACE: I`m just saying! I hear what you`re saying!


BROWN: That`s why she would -- you can`t -- if somebody just told you that -- if somebody`s told you they want to disappear, you don`t want to get in their way, you`re just going to keep quiet about it. I think that`s what happened. I can`t prove it, but I think that`s what happened.


GRACE: Let me tell you what I think about Olivia Newton-John. I think that she is a very famous lady and this is an ex-boyfriend...

BROWN: True.

GRACE: ... and she said, I`m distancing myself from this whole ball of wax.


BROWN: She hired somebody to go and look for him, remember that? Eventually, she hired someone to come in and go find him. It took an awful long time. I think she knew exactly what happened to him.

GRACE: Let`s go to Brian Neary (ph), defense attorney. Brian, for faking your own death, if that`s the case here, if that`s the scenario, can he be prosecuted?

BRIAN NEARY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, if they can show that there was some fraud involved here, that it was being done for some merit. Of course, he had this insurance policy, so if they could show that he was fraudulently faking his death so that somebody could benefit from the money, that`s one possible way. Now, Mr. McDermott has his own problem here. He`s got non -- he`s got support payments he`s going to make.


CASAREZ: The thing that makes this case such a mystery and so mysterious is that although the Coast Guard determined that he most likely was drowned and his body was at sea somewhere, there have been reports, primarily from a private investigator, that McDermott actually is residing in Mexico under an assumed name, wanting to disassociate himself with any part of his life in California but to remain alive and work on boats, work on ships.

Pictures were taken down to different points in Mexico of Robert McDermott, and people said they recognized this person, that they had seen this person. There was even a group of attorneys that e-mailed saying, Our client is telling you to please stop looking for him.

Well, the fact is, he was very much in debt when he left on that fishing trip. He owed back child support for his daughter. He had tried to determine months before if he could upgrade his life insurance policy. He didn`t do anything with that in the end. But the question still remains, did he have a motive for leaving this life behind and taking on a new life?

GRACE: There was some suspicious activity discovered after McDermott`s disappearance. When police first looked at his computer, it indicated that he had created another identity. But then it was determined that that had been done by the previous owner of the computer, not McDermott, and they could easily tell that by the dates on the activity. It was before McDermott owned the computer.

But this is interesting. McDermott destroyed all of his e-mails on his computer before he disappeared, everything. And then we learned that before he disappeared, he inquired about having his life insurance policy increased from $100,000 to $500,000. He never went through with it, but he did inquire into it.


GRACE: Now, there is an investigative reporter, Phillip Klein, who was hired by NBC "Dateline" to try and find McDermott. He claims McDermott is alive and well. He also claims that McDermott left California to avoid the glow of Olivia Newton-John, living in her shadow, and that he wanted to avoid paying the $8,000 back child support he owed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The report came from family members who reported him missing after he failed to show up for an event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They contacted the Coast Guard...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They contacted -- I`m not sure that it was first the Coast Guard, but the Coast Guard -- they contacted authorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know who (INAUDIBLE) family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it was his ex-wife. I`m not sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the possibilities, and what does the Coast Guard think is most probable as to what happened here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we`re still treating it as a missing persons case. From the start, the investigation has been for a missing person, and along those lines. Through interviews and stuff, it`s -- all the interviews up to this point, it`s remained a missing persons case. And until the interviews lead us in another direction, we`re still treating it as that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a likelihood that he fell overboard or what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not know. That`s what the interviews are trying to determine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No foul play indicated anywhere?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re still -- we`re trying to determine, you know, what exactly happened and what`s been going on, so...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, the Freedom is an 85-foot sport fishing boat. It has capacity for 86 bunks. There were 23 people on the boat -- 23 passengers, 5 crew. Three of the crew were licensed captains.

The boat leaves the same time every night, 10:00 o`clock. It basically fishes the same place, San Clemente island. They follow the same courses. On the way home, they follow reciprocal courses to get back. Everything`s done on a computer now, and you know, it`s just the same thing over and over again.

The deal about collecting the galley tab at the turning buoy -- that`s been done every day at the same place for year after year. That`s their procedure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it serves kind of as a roll call, if you will, for that moment in the trip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, but that`s not the absolute reason. The reason is the crew needs to get their money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll calls are never done. Usually -- in 45 years down here, we`ve never lost a fisherman. We`ve lost divers that went down and drowned. I`ve had people jump over the side and swim to the shore at Catalina or something like this, but I`ve never heard of a passenger drowning down here or falling overboard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have you been here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. OK. So the boat, we got the details. Now, some people say they saw him come back. You found yourself -- or was it turned in...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was turned in, his fanny pack, his fishing rods, his tackle box.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We assume they were his fishing rods. I don`t know. The Coast Guard said someone told them that they looked like that, and they took a bunch of fishing rods. The tackle box, yes, that was his. It had his fishing license in it.

But I didn`t open it. I have a policy here. It`s kind of weird, but when anything`s turned in off the boat, it goes into my office and that`s where it sits and it doesn`t get opened. A person walks up and says, Oh, that`s mine, and there it is. And if anything`s gone, the only one they can blame is me. They can`t blame my crew or my office people or anything else.


GRACE: Klein, on his own, no longer connected to NBC "Dateline," says that he has heard from representatives of Klein`s (sic) stating that Klein (sic) wants to be left alone and stop pursuing him.

Now, we have not been able to identify who these lawyers are. He claims, Phillip Klein claims that the lawyers actually sent DNA as proof of life on McDermott, but that the DNA did not match McDermott.