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S31.E30: Mystery at Eagle Creek 2018.03.17

Did a young model jump off a mountain cliff or was she pushed? Her boyfriend, accused of killing her, reveals the shocking final moments of her life in an interview with "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant.

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Needed a shower after this one.  Slimy doesn't even begin to describe this giggling idiot who likes to have sex with 14 year olds.

I was a bit perplexed though when mom said her daughter dated him for what he had.  Moneywise. 

Even though it was true would you tell all the people watching that your daughter was a gold digger? 

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Fuck that guy so much. When he was challenged about his guilty pleas regarding sex with minors and claimed that he didn't plead guilty because he was actually guilty but because of [insert lame excuse] I was channeling my inner Judge Judy: "If you plead guilty, you're guilty!"  I'm not sure how pleading guilty to criminal charges (particularly involving sex with minors) is supposed to help a person in their child custody battle.

When he started giving Peter van Sant the "wounded war buddy" scenario, I thought I was going to be sick.

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I remember watching this before and had forgotten how completely disgusting and creepy he was. I was hoping that by saying she liked what he had, that her mother meant that she appreciated he was somewhat established and stable but I really think she was just saying she was a gold digger. He’s have to have millions and millions to make me a gold digger for him and even then I think I’d rather be homeless than have to even be near that creeper.

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My DVR cut off before the episode was over because of March Madness. Was he convicted, or did he get off?

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The prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to convict, so they gave him a deal. He plead guilty to reckless endangerment and got time served plus 3 years parole. His jail time is over, and they removed his ankle monitor.  Ridiculous.

Oh, and he spun a little yarn to Peter Van Sant about what one might do to “help” a fellow soldier who had been injured so severely in combat there was no hope of recovery.  Peter flat out asked him if Rhonda was still alive when he got to her at the bottom of the cliff, and if he did something to “help” her, and he mealy-mouthed around the questions. He’s really a sick bastard who loves to play games, dropping hints and backing off when pressed for more information.  One piece of good news is that he broke up with his Chinese fiancée and she went home. At least she’s safe from that scumbag.

Half of the million-dollar life insurance policy is in a court-controlled trust for his daughter (of whom he has not regained custody), but half of it went to legal fees and (I think) Rhonda’s mother.

Edited by Lovecat.
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I remember seeing this case before, but I don't remember if it was 48 Hours or Dateline.  In the earlier rendition, one angle was that the mother accused Nichols of murder because she wanted the $1M life insurance for herself.  I think I left that episode not sure of his guilt.

Nichols seems to be one those people who just need to be given enough rope to hang himself.  The more he talked, the more convinced I became of his guilt.  Then add to that his criminal behavior with minors (which I don't remember hearing about before).  I have little doubt that he'll manage to act out before his parole is up.

The only person who came out of this story looking good was the child.  How sad for her that her life has been in limbo for 9 years while her father's rights trumped her right to be adopted into a loving home.  I hope she is in a good place and will get to continue to live there.  And that when she's of age, she will have someone looking out for her interests so she doesn't end up with someone who's just after her money.

Let the cycle be broken.

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He is as guilty as OJ.  And like OJ, he go away with it. They both even tried to spin the "hypothetical" possibility of their involvement in their murders.  I wonder if the prosecution wasn't able to use the scumbag's priors in her argument?  Otherwise, his previous guilty pleas and gross behavior with minors, plus the evidence of him getting physical with Rhonda would be a good bag of evidence to bring him to trial. no?  I'd convict him on looks/mannerisms/patter of speech alone.  Creepiest creep whoever creeped.  I think the mother was right, he is a sociopath & I'd throw in narcissist as well.  He loves to hear himself talk.  Why else would you OK a televised interview, then act shifty and coy by saying "Next question." with that smug pursed expression on your slug-like lips.  He is a disgusting P.O.S. to suggest Rhonda committed suicide.  He killed her. He did it. She probably told him it was over and she was moving on.  He didn't want to lose his eye-and-arm candy.  She made him look better b/c he was able to "get" such a pretty girl to live with and procreate with him.  And once all the sex with minors (her own sister as victim) details came out, he knew if she left him, his chances of seeing his daughter would be nil. He threw or pushed her off the path in anger. When he climbed down to see what he'd done and she was still breathing, he put her out of his her misery (don't you love how he made himself the war buddy hero in that scenario?).

He did it.  

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15 hours ago, Steph J said:

I'm not sure how pleading guilty to criminal charges (particularly involving sex with minors) is supposed to help a person in their child custody battle.

Yes!  I understand that sometimes people will plead guilty as the means to some greater end even if they don't think they deserve it.  But if the end goal is "I want to get my young daughter back in my custody", how is "I'm going to plead guilty to sexual offences with young women" in any way a part of that plan?  And how gracious of him to finally admit "yeah, I was in the wrong on that one" when discussing his late 30s/early 40s self sending shirtless pics to a 13 year old.  What in the world made you think that was OK when you were doing it?  

That guy's too much of a narcissist to ever kill himself, and he does seem very satisfied with how clever he is making kind of vague oblique references to things in those interviews with Van Sant (She wanted to die...but I'm not going to say it's suicide!  Hey, do you think mercy killing is OK?  I'm not saying I did that, just asking).  Peter looked pretty exasperated dealing with this guy, but I'm glad he flat out asked Nichols the question whenever Nichols  would say something like that.  Nichols never had a satisfying answer and just sat there floundering.  

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I seem to remember this story from an earlier airing; didn't he insinuate previously that the mother basically pimped out her daughter (the murdervictim, not the 15 year old) to attract rich men, including himself?  That detail sticks with me, but it wasn't covered in this episode.  In any event, the dude is guilty and it's too bad he's not in prison for the myriad of offenses he's committed. 

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11 hours ago, rwgrab said:

That guy's too much of a narcissist to ever kill himself.

100%. The only part of the episode that didn't make me rage was when the victim's mother was like, "Yeah, I doubt it," when told that he was implying he might do that.

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I seem to remember this story from an earlier airing; didn't he insinuate previously that the mother basically pimped out her daughter (the murder victim, not the 15 year old) to attract rich men, including himself?  That detail sticks with me, but it wasn't covered in this episode. 

I vaguely recall the first airing, and that allegation.  Didn't the mother end up stealing money that was meant for her granddaughter?  I thought that was mentioned during the first airing.  To me that would at least suggest that the mom using her daughter to get at Nichols.     

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On 3/19/2018 at 8:50 AM, rwgrab said:

Yes!  I understand that sometimes people will plead guilty as the means to some greater end even if they don't think they deserve it.  But if the end goal is "I want to get my young daughter back in my custody", how is "I'm going to plead guilty to sexual offences with young women" in any way a part of that plan?  And how gracious of him to finally admit "yeah, I was in the wrong on that one" when discussing his late 30s/early 40s self sending shirtless pics to a 13 year old.  What in the world made you think that was OK when you were doing it?  

That guy's too much of a narcissist to ever kill himself, and he does seem very satisfied with how clever he is making kind of vague oblique references to things in those interviews with Van Sant (She wanted to die...but I'm not going to say it's suicide!  Hey, do you think mercy killing is OK?  I'm not saying I did that, just asking).  Peter looked pretty exasperated dealing with this guy, but I'm glad he flat out asked Nichols the question whenever Nichols  would say something like that.  Nichols never had a satisfying answer and just sat there floundering.  

I do not think for one minute that the young lady jumped - although I would have jumped to get away from that self centered asshole.  So smug.  

As a hiker myself, why would you take an inexperienced hiker to someplace that was remotely unsafe?  I have heard other stories of men doing this to women (oops she fell!) and I always think:  Look, if you took a total rookie way out someplace semi dangerous you should be (possibly) charged with negligent homicide.

Same for these dorky men who say their wife shot herself while cleaning HIS gun - you know, the gun she hates?  But somehow she was sitting on the bed cleaning it....yeah right.  My hubby is a gunsmith and he just shakes his head at these stories.  What next?  The gun went off accidentally while we were hiking?

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On 3/18/2018 at 8:56 PM, Lovecat said:

Half of the million-dollar life insurance policy is in a court-controlled trust for his daughter (of whom he has not regained custody), but half of it went to legal fees and (I think) Rhonda’s mother.

Let us hope that the State of Oregon is not stupid enough to give custody of his daughter back to him.

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I am back to rant about Smug Douchbag Who Wants His Daughter Back - I am still amazed at his story of how she jumped.  Why in the world would you pick a method that is not a guarantee of death?  You could land in a not so bad fashion and lay in agony for hours.  You are with someone who could try to talk you out of it.  Why are you taking a rookie that has deep canyons and cliffs and not following basic safety precautions?  Did she have a whistle?  Did she have any provisions?  Look, I have hiked Glacier, alone, and when this Douchebag started yammering on I was like "Shut it."  He had never planned a hike before?  Just spur of the moment?  Liar.  You plan for WEEKS before a hike, even a day hike.  A day hike for novices just does not happen spur of the moment.  A simple day hike requires a few days of planning.  

Then he moves to China and and is all lovey dovey over Chinese woman making better wives?  Because they listen better?  Excuse me, gotta go vomit.  Just admit you like a subservient woman (and they come in all nationalities.)  

Gotta get back to work now.

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Just caught this episode on the ID channel-I do remember seeing it before elsewhere, though-and came here to see if there was a discussion on it. 

Seems I'm in full agreement with all of you. I was side-eyeing the screen pretty much the entire episode. I actually even squirmed a couple times as well-the way he talked and smirked and laughed just sent a weird twinge down my spine. 

On 3/23/2018 at 11:02 AM, Mrs. Hanson said:

Then he moves to China and and is all lovey dovey over Chinese woman making better wives?  Because they listen better?  Excuse me, gotta go vomit.  Just admit you like a subservient woman (and they come in all nationalities.) 

Seriously, what in the hell was that about? What a bizarre side comment to make. I also rolled my eyes when he was talking about how one of the reasons he and Rhonda "clicked" was because she valued intelligence, and he went on about how he felt that was one of his best qualities. Impressed with yourself much there, pal? Had a similar reaction when he was all, "My tongue hit the floor" when talking about his reaction when they first met. I see this a lot in cases where somebody's accused of killing their significant other, it seems like they have to oversell how attracted to them they were. You know? Besides that, obviously people who get together will have some physical attraction to each other, of course, but he never really seemed to talk much about any other traits of hers beyond the physical that he came to love about her over time. He talked a bit about how she loved her daughter, but that was about it. Most of his comments about her always seemed to come back to her looks, both positive and negative (when he kept harping on about her body changing after she had her baby). Between that and her mom mentioning that she was interested in him because of his money, that pretty much seems to sum up how doomed their relationship was right there. 

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I am still amazed at his story of how she jumped.  Why in the world would you pick a method that is not a guarantee of death?  You could land in a not so bad fashion and lay in agony for hours.  You are with someone who could try to talk you out of it. 

All good points. Also, he kept going on about how she was hinting at "If anything happens to me" on their way out to the area where they were planning to go hiking-okay, so if I were with somebody who kept dropping comments like that to me, or had been showing any other indications of potentially suicidal behavior, as he claims she was, I would not shrug that off and just keep on with our usual plan for a hike and continue driving on up to a place where it'd be so easy for them to find a way to end their life. I'd turn the car right around, take us straight back home, talk things over with my significant other, and focus on getting them whatever help they needed.

And then the fact that he actually went hiking again with his fiance...and to the same area where Rhonda had died at that. That...takes some serious nerve, right there (and further proves how his story's total baloney, because if somebody I loved committed suicide, or accidentally fell to their death, for that matter, in the midst of a little getaway we were having, I do not think I could bear to ever set foot in that area again, unless it was to pay my respects somehow. And even then, I think it'd have to take me a good, long while before I could work up the ability to even do that). 

Then, yeah, the creepy stuff with the teens, the robotic way in which he said that he had nothing to do, accidentally or intentionally, with her death (while never looking directly at Peter or the camera at that, which was telling), and his beyond irritating habit of never answering a damn question in a straightforward manner...just...yeah. Screw him. I'm so glad he didn't get custody of his daughter and I hope that remains the case. She deserves a much better life than to be shackled to him. 

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12 hours ago, Annber03 said:

All good points. Also, he kept going on about how she was hinting at "If anything happens to me" on their way out to the area where they were planning to go hiking-okay, so if I were with somebody who kept dropping comments like that to me, or had been showing any other indications of potentially suicidal behavior, as he claims she was, I would not shrug that off and just keep on with our usual plan for a hike and continue driving on up to a place where it'd be so easy for them to find a way to end their life. I'd turn the car right around, take us straight back home, talk things over with my significant other, and focus on getting them whatever help they needed.

And then the fact that he actually went hiking again with his fiance...and to the same area where Rhonda had died at that. That...takes some serious nerve, right there (and further proves how his story's total baloney, because if somebody I loved committed suicide, or accidentally fell to their death, for that matter, in the midst of a little getaway we were having, I do not think I could bear to ever set foot in that area again, unless it was to pay my respects somehow. And even then, I think it'd have to take me a good, long while before I could work up the ability to even do that). 

I watched the rerun (barf - I was bored) and all that yammering about "If anything happens to me" and "I had a dream I won't make it to 25" none of that could be cross checked.  Yeah, well my husband told ME he had a dream I am supposed to have six guys on the side but now he is dead - prove he didn't say that!!  (I don't want that, btw., lol)

Taking future wife (who eventually dumped him) to that spot and TAKE PHOTOS was a clear FU to the police, to her family, to her friends, to EVERYONE.   And I agree about never ever going back to the place where your loved one passed.  Hubby and I are hikers and I would never return to the same park let alone the same spot if something happened to him.  And if I did go back (big if) it would be to pay respects, quietly, and NO PHOTOS.   "Hey!!  New Boyfriend!!! Let's go to the spot where I killed my hubby and got away with it!!  PARTY ON!"

I never picked up the first time how so focused he was on her looks!!!  He was yammering on and on about her looks and and I am sure he bragged to his buddies that he was bagging a model who was 10 years younger.

For the record, my real life hubby is six foot seven and the chances of me pushing him off a cliff are nill, lol.  I would not want to!!!!

Just his whole passive aggressive bullshit (sorry) "Do you believe in putting out a wounded animal?"  "Intentionally or unintentionally"  go screw yourself, jackass.

The life insurance policies?  Red Flag.  My hubby and I have insurance on each other but is nowhere near a million, more like mid five figures.  And he ain't planning my death.  (I think.)

Then to cap it all off - he slept with the dead woman's UNDERAGE sister.  What a class act.  Where the hell was he when I was single???

On 3/19/2018 at 8:50 AM, rwgrab said:

That guy's too much of a narcissist to ever kill himself, and he does seem very satisfied with how clever he is making kind of vague oblique references to things in those interviews with Van Sant (She wanted to die...but I'm not going to say it's suicide!  Hey, do you think mercy killing is OK?  I'm not saying I did that, just asking).  Peter looked pretty exasperated dealing with this guy, but I'm glad he flat out asked Nichols the question whenever Nichols  would say something like that.  Nichols never had a satisfying answer and just sat there floundering.  

Yep - he was WAY too self centered to take his own life.  He reminds me of that Mac Davis song:  "Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way!"

I would love to hear Peter Van Sant's opinion of this jackass!!!

Edited by Mrs. Hanson.
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1 hour ago, Mrs. Hanson said:

I watched the rerun (barf - I was bored) and all that yammering about "If anything happens to me" and "I had a dream I won't make it to 25" none of that could be cross checked.  Yeah, well my husband told ME he had a dream I am supposed to have six guys on the side but now he is dead - prove he didn't say that!!  (I don't want that, btw., lol)

Heh, exactly. It's so easy to make those kinds of comments when the other person isn't here to refute them, isn't it? 

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I never picked up the first time how so focused he was on her looks!!!  He was yammering on and on about her looks and and I am sure he bragged to his buddies that he was bagging a model who was 10 years younger.

When he made that weird comment about Chinese women making better mothers, I noticed, too, that he had to slip in that he came to that conclusion "after dating a bunch of American women". Just had to let us know once again what a stud he thought he was. 

I also get the feeling her post-pregnancy body ultimately bothered him a LOT more than it bothered her. She may well have felt some insecurities, sure, especially if she was suffering from postpartum depression (and if she felt unloved in the relationship, that certainly wouldn't have helped her feel good about herself, either), but the way he talked about how her body had changed...his tone made it sound like just thinking back on how she looked then disgusted him. Certainly would explain one of the reasons for his affair with her sister. 

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Just his whole passive aggressive bullshit (sorry) "Do you believe in putting out a wounded animal?"  "Intentionally or unintentionally"  go screw yourself, jackass.

This. There were so many moments throughout the episode where I was just sitting here going, "What the fuck are you on about?" 

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The life insurance policies?  Red Flag.  My hubby and I have insurance on each other but is nowhere near a million, more like mid five figures.  And he ain't planning my death.  (I think.)

My time watching true crime shows has conditioned me to be very wary anytime life insurance policies are brought up now! Like you note, there are many couples who have life insurance on each other and it's all perfectly innocent, and it's totally reasonable to have those protections in place just in case, of course. But yeah, it's amazing how often it seems to be a factor in a lot of these kinds of cases. And the fact that he talked about her coming to him and asking about that out of the blue was weird, too. Certainly that's an issue a couple would discuss at some point, yes, but I don't think most would go about initiating that conversation in the way he claimed she did. 

I'm so glad that his fiance left him. I wonder how nervous the investigators were for her safety while they were working his case, and what their reactions were when they saw the footage of him taking her for a hike. I would've been like, "O-kay, can we put her in protective custody now or something?"

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I would love to hear Peter Van Sant's opinion of this jackass!!!

I kept wondering that, too. I think about that sometimes with some of these interviews, where the people are especially weird/creepy. I always imagine the interviewer/camera crew goes away from that meeting comparing notes on how guilty they think the person is, or if they're so creeped out that they're scurrying out of the interview room as fast as they can. 

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2 hours ago, Annber03 said:

My time watching true crime shows has conditioned me to be very wary anytime life insurance policies are brought up now! Like you note, there are many couples who have life insurance on each other and it's all perfectly innocent, and it's totally reasonable to have those protections in place just in case, of course.

Exactly.  Million dollar policies are more for the couple where the hubby is an executive at United Health Care (or equivalent) and wife has been a homemaker.  Hubby's income would need to be replaced.  I am not sexist, I am just going with the most common scenario.  Me and my hubby are still working, our house has not been paid off, if one of us kicks the other can pay off the mortgage and have a home.  Not a really hard conclusion to come with.  When you insure your struggling model girlfriend who we can assume unless she is Kate Upton is not earning a million dollars a year there is no reason to do this.  Unless you want that money.

 

2 hours ago, Annber03 said:

Certainly would explain one of the reasons for his affair with her sister. 

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Yes, nothing like a nice thin 14 year old who has never given birth to get your freaky engine running. (Just writing that makes me puke a little in my mouth.)  I have had two babies and I can tell you what postpartum weight looks like, lol!!  She never looked THAT heavy to me.  Even IF her stomach was a little poochy, so the hell what, Douchbag?  She just had YOUR baby!!!

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4 minutes ago, Mrs. Hanson said:

Exactly.  Million dollar policies are more for the couple where the hubby is an executive at United Health Care (or equivalent) and wife has been a homemaker.  Hubby's income would need to be replaced.  I am not sexist, I am just going with the most common scenario.  Me and my hubby are still working, our house has not been paid off, if one of us kicks the other can pay off the mortgage and have a home.  Not a really hard conclusion to come with.  When you insure your struggling model girlfriend who we can assume unless she is Kate Upton is not earning a million dollars a year there is no reason to do this.  Unless you want that money.

Excellent point. And yeah, being covered would make sense since they'd had a kid together, but considering how reluctant he seemed to be about marrying her, that makes the particular price tag of this insurance policy all the weirder. 

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 Yes, nothing like a nice thin 14 year old who has never given birth to get your freaky engine running. (Just writing that makes me puke a little in my mouth.)  I have had two babies and I can tell you what postpartum weight looks like, lol!!  She never looked THAT heavy to me.  Even IF her stomach was a little poochy, so the hell what, Douchbag?  She just had YOUR baby!!!

Exactly. Guys who get all bent out of shape over how their girlfriends/wives look in general are shitty enough as it is, but yeah, when they act all shocked that the woman looks different after she has a baby and are eager for her to get all "hot" again...just shut up and go away, you pathetic, shallow idiots. 

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One more thing about this douchebag:  "She wanted to get busy on that trail but I am prim and proper about those things."  Oh Lord - "My hot young model girlfriend wanted to hump me something bad, but I, ever the gentleman, passed because I am so old fashioned.  I believe in NOT humping a girl before shoving her off the cliff.  It is the only gentlemanly thing to do!!!"

This guy has a SERIOUS case of "I'm too sexy for myself" - talk about an inflated ego times ten.  More like Borderline Personality Disorder, truthfully!

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Agree with all above comments. In my 20s I was young and stupid (as opposed to now being old and wise heh) but a dude i had a relationship with was 12 yrs older and paunchy and fat, but nagged me relentlessly about my weight and i was maybe 5 pounds over. I have learned. Sorry. I am making it about me , but had to say it. 

And more power to that woman who just had a baby,. sheesh.

I also agree with the above. Life insurance can be totally normal... OR super fishy

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4 minutes ago, ari333 said:

In my 20s I was young and stupid (as opposed to now being old and wise heh) but a dude i had a relationship with was 12 yrs older and paunchy and fat, but nagged me relentlessly about my weight and i was maybe 5 pounds over. I have learned.

Sorry you had to deal with that crap. Glad he's out of your life now.

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