NOTE: 48 HOURS MYSTERY WILL BE BROADCAST FRIDAYS AT 8PM JULY 16- AUG 20 IN ADDITION TO ITS REGULAR SATURDAY PROGRAMMING FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010, (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) A MOTHER AND HER 7-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER ARE TAKEN HOSTAGE, STRAPPED WITH DYNAMITE AND FORCED TO ROB A BANK ON 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "SHOW ME THE MONEY"
A relaxing evening at home quickly turned into a night of terror for bank manager Michelle Renee when three masked gunmen burst into her Vista, Calif., home and took her and her 7-year-old daughter, Breea, hostage. But this was no random break-in. Renee, a 35-year-old divorced mother, was the assistant vice president at a local branch of Bank of America...and these gunmen knew exactly who she was and where she worked.
The gunmen held them captive overnight and in the morning strapped dynamite onto the back of Michelle Renee and her daughter. Breea was shoved into a closet while Renee was forced to rob the very bank she managed. Shortly after the bank opened, Renee cleaned out the vault and handed over a duffel bag filled with $360,000 to one of the gunmen. Just as quickly as they entered her home, the intruders disappeared.
While it seemed as though Michelle Renee was the victim of a violent kidnapping, investigators, including FBI agents, were suspicious. The dynamite that had so terrorized her turned out to be fake. Even more implausible to investigators was Renee's claim that she recognized one of the masked robbers as a customer, even though he had been in her bank only once. Renee had also filed for bankruptcy in the weeks before the crime. Was Michelle Renee really a victim, or was she the mastermind of this crime?
SATURDAY, JULY 24, 2010, (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT)
ACTOR JOHNNY DEPP FIGHTS TO FREE THREE TEENAGERS CONVICTED OF MURDER ON 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "A CRY FOR INNOCENCE"
At 35, Damien Echols has spent his entire adult life on death row in an Arkansas prison alongside Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who are both serving life sentences. The trio, all convicted of a triple murder, are known as the West Memphis 3 and they have gained the support of actor Johnny Depp, who has become a staunch advocate on their behalf. Convinced of their innocence, Depp tells 48 HOURS MYSTERY that the men were easy targets.
In May 1993, the bodies of Stevie Branch, Chris Byers and Michael Moore were found naked and drowned in a creek in Robin Hood Hills in West Memphis, Ark. Amidst a countrywide media-fueled hysteria about cults, rumors swirled that the 8-year-olds were victims of a satanic ritual. Damien Echols, with his affinity for long hair and dressing in all black, became a prime suspect for police, yet there was no evidence linking him to the crime - that is, until 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley, whose lawyer says he has the mental capabilities of a 5-year-old and barely knew Echols, confessed to helping him and Jason Baldwin commit the murders. Many of the facts he recounted about the crime were wrong, but the three teens were charged with murder. Jessie Misskelley was tried first and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Three weeks later, Echols and Baldwin went on trial together. Misskelley refused to testify against them and by law his confession could not be used in this trial. Still, the boys were convicted. Baldwin was sentenced to life, Echols was sentenced to death.
In his exclusive interview, Depp says that coming from a small town and judged for his appearance he immediately related to Damien and felt that justice was not served. And as word of their case has spread, so has the outrage over what many believe was a grave injustice - among their many supporters are musicians Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Forensic scientists have challenged the causes of the wounds that were inflicted on the victims; sworn affidavits revealed possible jury misconduct and now, more than 16 years later -new DNA evidence points away from the three convicted men and to someone unexpected.
In fact, as Damien Echols is prepared to take his case to federal court, he has some unexpected support from parents of the victims. Chris Byers' father Mark and Stevie Branch's mother, Pam, who both cheered the guilty verdicts at the time, now agree that justice has not been served.