What happened to Jamie Laiaddee?
Produced by Judy Rybak
[This story originally aired on April 18. It was updated on Dec. 29]
(CBS News) PHOENIX, Ariz. - When Jamie Laiaddee disappeared in March 2010, none of her closest friends noticed for weeks. The truth is Jamie had been fading from their lives for nearly two years.
"After your friend stops making an effort you kind of stop too. But I never thought Jamie would have been the one to stop making an effort," said Sheila Dubs.
It was completely out of character for the sweet California girl they all met as freshmen at the University of Michigan.
Sheila Dubs, Gweneth Newman and Jennifer Langguth say they quickly formed a lasting bond with Jamie.
"She's a good friend; we were a support network for each other," Newman said. "It's kind of like we had this rock, we had this family of friends that we were so connected with. And I remember leaving Michigan, it was just so reassuring that you were just a phone call away from feeling like you belong somewhere again."
They call themselves the "516 Girls," referring to the address of a house they shared in Ann Arbor, their senior year. They were passionate supporters of Michigan's Big Ten football team.
"We were obsessed with U of M football," said Dubs.
No one was a greater booster than Jamie.
"I think just -- I always picture her in my mind on football Saturdays, you know charging out to the stadium," added Newman.
Sheila Dubs says that she and Jamie had a special connection. Both were from immigrant families and both were under heavy pressure to succeed.
"I think our fathers were kind of the same, they put a lot of pressure on us to do really well in school, but I think she just wanted to make it on her own," she said.
Vunnee and Jimmy Laiaddee came to the United States from Thailand in search of a better life. They admit they pushed Jamie to go to medical school.
"You think that because you were pushing her to go back to school, she might have pulled away a bit?" Moriarty asked Vunnee.
"Yeah, she said...she's a big girl," she replied.
After graduation, Jamie landed in Phoenix, Arizona. The big valley was booming... the perfect place to blend in and make her own way. She eventually found a high paying job selling medical supplies. While it consumed her time, she managed to maintain her now long-distance friendships.
"We emailed each other a lot. Even though we all ended up in different locations, I think we still look to each other for support. ...the weddings were the big thing that kind of kept us together," said Dubs.
Far away in Arizona, Jamie was lonely. She joined a local University of Michigan alumni club, where she found friends who shared her deep love of Michigan football.
Marlene Buffa was the group's president.
"She was enthusiastic, but still she was reserved and quiet," Buffa said of Jamie.
But when she caught the eye of a handsome, young, fellow Michigan fan, Jamie found romance.
Bryan Stewart says the attraction was immediate.
"She was hot -- I mean how else do you put it?" he told Moriarty. "She had a really good smile and really got enthusiastic about the football games and would jump up and cheer and would sing with the fight song."
They started dating in the fall of 2007. About a year later, Stewart moved in to the home that Jamie owned in the trendy Phoenix suburb of Chandler. She was the bread winner, making well over $100,000 a year. Stewart, a personal trainer, made much less.
Asked if she paid most of the bills, Stewart told Moriarty, "Most of the big ones, yeah. ...But it's not like I was dependent upon her."
"Did you love Jamie?" Moriarty asked.
"I still love Jamie. You know, I just want Jamie to be happy. It's hard because I don't know if Jamie knows what it takes to make her happy," Stewart replied.
In August 2009, Jamie suffered a crushing setback. When the economy took a big downturn, she lost the thing she valued most: her high-powered job.
"Her career had been going so well for so long. And I think this was a pretty major blow to her," said Dubs.
She searched for months in Arizona, Florida and New Jersey, but Jamie couldn't find another job. When the real estate crash hit Chandler, and her property value plunged, Stewart says she became despondent and even more withdrawn.
"You know, it was like when it rains, it pours...for Jamie, it was pouring..." said Stewart.
Bryan Stewart says all of it took a toll on their relationship, so he rented an apartment in Scottsdale and planned to break things off. And on the night of March 17, he said, he was going to tell Jamie he was moving out. Instead, he says, she surprised him.
"She came in -- asked me to take a week off from work. ...And she's, like...'we're gonna go to Denver. We're gonna get a house...I've got a job offer up there. ...It's time to go. I wanna go. I wanna get outta this state,'" Stewart said. "Basically I -- I told her no...I'm not leaving Arizona. I'm not gonna marry you."
Stewart admits Jamie was upset and that they argued. Still, he says, that when they went to bed, things had settled down. At the crack of dawn the next morning, he left for work.
"She was laying in bed. And I gave her a kiss, told her I loved her. And got in the truck and drove to work," explained Stewart.
But later that morning, Stewart emailed Marlene Buffa and told her a different story.
"And said, 'Jamie dumped me, she moved to--Colorado,'" Buffa told Moriarty.
"Did that surprise you at all?"
"No... I thought, 'Good for her.'"
"Did he seem upset?"
"Uh, a little bit. He was more angry that she left him alone."
"At any point did it even cross your mind that something could have happened to Jamie?"
"No, I knew she had means. If she wants to pick up and leave, good for her."
That day, and for weeks to come, no one realized that Jamie had disappeared.
"When is the last time you saw Jamie?" Moriarty asked Stewart.
"Physically saw her? 3:15 a.m. March 18, 2010," he replied.
Jamie Laiaddee had always been fiercely private, but by the summer of 2009, she was practically reclusive, cutting herself off from nearly everyone except her live-in boyfriend, Bryan Stewart.
"We never had anybody over for dinner. We never had any parties. Nobody came over to watch television or to just hang out. So--," Bryan Stewart told Erin Moriarty.
Asked why not, he replied, "I-- I-- one of the great mysteries. I don't know."
Even Jamie's parents say she was more distant than ever.
"My husband said, 'Well, you know, she's a busy girl...don't bother her," said Vunnee Laiaddee.
That's why it took nearly three months for anyone to notice that Jamie was missing.
"I think people were just respecting her privacy and her space. And that was unfortunate," said Marlene Buffa.
Then, on May 28, Buffa got a call from Stewart.
"He says, 'You know, I'm starting to get worried about Jamie,'" she said.
Marlene Buffa was also worried, so she and another member of the Michigan Alumni Club called a private investigator, Burke Files. Files did a background check on Bryan Stewart, and found nothing suspicious... although one thing did stand out. About 10 years earlier, at two different addresses in Michigan, Stewart had lived with a man named Rick Wayne Valentini.
"It could be a roommate, it could be a close friend. It could be a relative..." said Files.
Burke Files went on to trace Jamie's credit, to see where she was now living and working; he came up empty.
"And nothing. There was no activity at all. Nothing," he said.
Jamie had disappeared into thin air, so Files sounded the alarm. Marlene Buffa urged Stewart to call Jamie's parents, who then called the police.
"I immediately thought something was wrong. People of her background and stature don't just come up missing for 10 weeks and nobody hears from them," said Detective Troy Spielman.
That afternoon, Chandler Police got a warrant to search Jamie's home and started calling Stewart. But he seemed to be ignoring them.
"...to me, that was alarming," Det. Spielman said. "It just showed a lack of concern."
Later that same night, when detectives were searching for Jamie's missing Ford Escape, they found it in Scottsdale with Bryan behind the wheel.
"The detective said, 'Well, I'm here in regards to your girlfriend,'" Det. Moffat said. " And the first thing he did was say, 'My ex-girlfriend.'"
The detective felt that Stewart was being evasive and seemed nervous. When Stewart asked to use the bathroom in his own apartment, the answer was "no."
"We didn't wanna risk losing any evidence if there was some in there," Det. Nate Moffat said. "As luck would have it--he had a warrant for his arrest-- for driving on a suspended license, for a traffic offense."
The detective used that warrant to take Stewart into custody. Detective Moffat interrogated Stewart:
Det. Moffat: How long have you and Jamie been dating?
Bryan Stewart: Give or take three years.
Det. Moffat: OK, when did you guys move in together?
Bryan Stewart: Honestly, I don't know.
Det. Moffat: OK.
Bryan Stewart: (Laughs)
Det. Moffat: Where you cheating on Jamie at all before?
Bryan Stewart: NO.
Detective Spielman searched Jamie's home for clues.
Det. Moffat: Walk me through what happened around March.
Bryan Stewart It was simple really. She hated everything about this state. She wanted out. Now, she'd been up there for interviews. I suspected that she would get the Denver offer...
"See, now he's saying she went to Colorado. Yet, all of her suitcases are there, her passport's there. All these things that she would need to travel with were there at the house," said Det. Spielman.
Jamie's wallet and drivers license were missing.
"I was concerned, but the possibility did exist that, you know, she just left and...she doesn't wanna be found," said Det. Spielman.
But at the Chandler Police Department, Det. Moffat smelled a rat and started pressing Stewart:
Det. Moffat: Did you hurt Jamie?
Bryan Stewart: Unh-uh.
Det. Moffat: Did you have anything to do with her disappearance?
Bryan Stewart: Unh-uh.
Det. Moffat: You have nothing to hide?
Bryan Stewart: No. Unh-uh.
But things just didn't add up for Det. Moffat; there were just too many inconsistencies. Bryan Stewart gave a birth date to the arresting officer, which didn't match the date on his Arizona ID.
"I have no freakin' clue who's sitting in front of me. And it's extremely uneasy for me as I'm investigating a case of this magnitude..." Moffat addressed Stewart in his interrogation.
Detective Moffat had no idea how right he was until the next day, when Stewart was in a jail cell and detectives were searching his apartment.
"When we were searching...his new residence, we located -- a manila envelope with a Michigan driver's license in the name of Rick Wayne Valentini. And that picture was Bryan Stewart," he said.
On the night of May 29, 2010, as he interrogated Bryan Stewart about his missing girlfriend, Jamie Laiaddee, Det. Nate Moffat knew that Stewart wasn't telling the truth.
"I mean, you're talking about a woman who's been gone for two months now. And I have a person in front of me that has...different Social Security numbers, a couple of different dates of birth..." Det. Moffat told Stewart.
"You're not really Bryan Stewart at all, are you?" Erin Moriarty asked Stewart.
"To me, I am," Stewart replied.
"But not legally, are you?"
"Well, legally, I'm not anything," he said.
Legally, Bryan is Rick Wayne Valentini.
Remember the roommate that private investigator Burke Files noticed in Bryan Stewart's credit history? There was no roommate... just Rick Valentini, who was preparing to change his identity.
"In a modern world with the databases, you just can't turn on a new name, a new taxpayer ID number, a Social Security number. You have to age it. You have to season it," private investigator Burke Files explained.
In October 2001, when the name Bryan Stewart had enough of a credit history, Rick Valentini disappeared from Michigan. Days later, a man named Bryan Stewart became a resident of Phoenix.
"Driving from Michigan to Arizona, that's all I did. 'Bryan Stewart, Bryan Stewart, Bryan Stewart, Bryan Stewart.' I was always saying -- listening for Bryan Stewart, Bryan Stewart. Because it's a new name..." he explained.
A new name and a new man according to Valentini -- the kind of man that he always wanted to be. And he insists that, whether legal or not, he is now Bryan Stewart and would only agree to an interview if "48 Hours Mystery" would use that name.
"And if you don't want to accept that...I don't want you around. I don't want you in my life," Stewart told Moriarty.
"Why not just change your name legally?" she asked. "Why go to the trouble of forging a birth certificate?"
"Well, it -- it was my understanding that to -- to change your name legally would take years," he replied.
Stewart claims he wasn't running from the law... just leaving behind what he describes as a tragic childhood.
"Everybody takes their name for granted. Your name is the very core essence of who you are, of what you are," he told Moriarty. "And you find out it-- that it's all a lie...And then you find out that your own father doesn't even know you exist, because your own mother didn't bother to tell him."
His mother was 18 when he was born; his real father reportedly walked away.
"He just wasn't loved. He -- just didn't have love. That's why he loved us. 'Cause we loved him," said his aunt, Donna.
Donna says she believes he was physically and emotionally abused.
"I think the other children were, too, but not like him. He always knew there was something different about him and he didn't know what," she explained.
"Do you think that he created this different name -- different persona because he just didn't want to be who he was?" Moriarty asked.
"Exactly. Exactly," Donna replied.
But when detectives started looking into Rick Valentini's background, this is what else they found: three ex-wives and two daughters.
In a phone call, Cynthia, one of his ex-wives, told Chandler Police Det. Dave Selvidge she thinks Valentini is just a deadbeat dad on the run.
"He owed, from what I understand, quite a bit of back child support from Wendy, his first wife," she told the detective.
Valentini's oldest daughter, Amy, was a baby when he left.
"He never called. He never talked to me. Never contacted me," she told Moriarty.
"When your mom finally told you about your dad...what did she say about him? What kind of guy he was..."
"A really bad guy. A liar," Amy replied. "She always told me that...he always lied all the time. He lied about lots of things."
In Phoenix, his whole life was a lie. Stewart told everyone, including Jamie, that his parents were killed by a drunk driver, he pretended to be eight years younger than he is and boasted a hero's military record that was complete fiction.
"When you talked to Detective Moffat...when he sat you down, he asked you about your military record. And you said you been to Iraq and Afghanistan. You hadn't, had you?" Moriarty asked Stewart.
"Unh-uh," he replied.
"No, you lied."
"I was -"
"Yeah," said Stewart.
Rick Valentini, aka Bryan Stewart, was an enlisted man, but he was dishonorably discharged after going AWOL and stabbing two military officers in the hand and leg. He served two years in a military prison. He never mentioned that to anyone either.
"You tell a lotta stories though...don't you?" Moriarty asked Stewart.
"I have a lotta stories to tell," he replied.
"But you tell a lotta lies."
"Lies mixed in with the truth," said Stewart.
Like the lie that ultimately made Jamie Laiaddee trust Stewart with her life.
"You never actually went to the University of Michigan, did you?" Moriarty asked Stewart.
"No," he replied.
"But, you let people think you did?"
Asked why, Stewart said, " It was just -- a tie-in to my home state. And it was just part of the -- the pride that I had. I've been a Michigan fan since I was a little boy."
And it wasn't just that fanaticism that conned the alumni group in Phoenix for four years; Bryan Stewart also had a fake diploma.
"He was right in there, and boy, he was a Michigan man," Marlene Buffa said. "He's fooled all of us. ...We're talking hundreds of people here...and 20 or so board members, many of them attorneys and judges..."
News of Jamie's boyfriend's double life went viral and made her disappearance even more alarming.
"This doesn't happen to your friends," Gweneth Newman said. "This does not happen to -- people you went to college with, that you call your sister. This doesn't happen to your family. You don't have friends who meet people who have double identities."
"Did you begin to think that maybe Jamie was dead?" Moriarty asked Buffa.
"Yes," she replied.
"And did you think he might have killed her?"
Moriarty asked Stewart, "Did you kill Jamie?"
"No," he replied. "I've never killed anybody in my life. Not ever."
"Did you two fight that night?"
"Were you angry with her?"
"No," Stewart said. "...she told me that -- she was gonna be leaving the next day."
"And where was she going?"
"It was my impression Denver."
But detectives, who had already discovered several suitcases in Jamie's home, couldn't find any evidence of Jamie ever leaving for, or arriving in, Denver. Stewart says that's because Jamie didn't want to be found.
"I taught Jamie how to create a whole new life for herself. That included a new identification, a whole new persona... a whole new way of looking at things," he said.
"Are you saying that you helped Jamie change her identity?" Moriarty asked.
"Yeah. I showed her how to do it," he replied. "The only thing that she ever lived for was to be free of her family. She wanted to be on her own."
"He's too smart. Why would he have stayed there for 10 weeks if he killed her?" his aunt, Donna asked. "... Why wouldn't he have just left. He'd done it before, why wouldn't he do it again?"
"Isn't it possible that Jamie's doing the same thing that Bryan did? Just vanished the same way and no one's been able to track her down?" Moriarty asked Det. Moffat.
"Are you asking me today if I believe that's possible? Absolutely not," he said. "I wholeheartedly believe...Bryan Stewart, Rick Valentini...whoever you wanna call him, murdered Jamie Laiaddee on the night of March 17th."
But a year-and-a-half after Jamie disappeared, there is still no body, no blood, no sign of a struggle and no physical evidence of a murder.
"We just didn't have what you would consider a traditional crime scene," Det. Spielman said. "So, we went with more of a virtual crime scene..."
They started investigating the digital record of Jamie's life and a little white envelope contained several pieces of the puzzle. Prosecutor Juan Martinez says its contents was enough to convince him that Bryan Stewart should be charged with murder.
In June 2010, Bryan Stewart was charged with fraud for forging a new birth certificate and changing his name illegally.
"If you think using the name Bryan Stewart is fraudulent, hey, we're gonna fight it out in court," he told Erin Moriarty.
But while detectives suspected he was responsible for the disappearance and death of his girlfriend, Jamie Laiaddee, they couldn't charge him with her murder.
"What do the two of you think happened that night?" Moriarty asked Detectives Spielman and Moffat.
"I think they had a fight," Det. Spielman replied.
"But wouldn't there be some sign of that in her home?" Moriarty asked.
"Not necessarily," Det. Moffat said. "...I mean-- strangulation or suffocation or anything like that, there's gonna be, virtually no blood."
With no physical evidence, they would have to build a strong circumstantial case to prove that Jamie was dead and Stewart was the one who killed her.
"We literally -- dissected all of Jamie's financial affairs, all of her accounts, all of the transactions, his e-mail, her e-mail," explained Det. Moffat.
What they saw was a very responsible woman.
"She was a person that stayed up on her emails. She returned phone calls. She paid all of her bills on time. Until March 17th, then she didn't do any of those things," said Det. Spielman.
For the next three months, detectives realized that the only person who appeared to be using Jamie's credit cards was Bryan Stewart.
"The only transactions on one of Jamie's accounts were internet purchases and dating websites," said Moffat.
"He used her cards -- to meet other women," Moriarty commented to prosecutor Juan Martinez.
"That's right," he replied. "... basically, he said the same thing...he was a graduate of the University of Michigan, never been married, didn't know if he wanted kids or not."
"That's nervy, isn't it?" Moriarty commented to Stewart.
"Yeah, it's pretty nervy," he replied with a laugh.
"And pretty insensitive too, isn't it? Ye
Bryan: You know, a little, because-- well, let me-- let me explain.
Erin: You used her credit cards to go on dating sites to meet other women.
Bryan: Well, you know what? Look, Jamie-- Jamie was leaving.
But nothing alarmed Prosecutor Martinez more than what detectives found when they searched Bryan's apartment in Scottsdale.
"Her wallet was lying on his desk. There was a number of her credit cards there on the desk," Det. Spielman said. "And then on the back filing cabinet was her personal telephone that he said she had with her."
So was a small white envelope. When police got a warrant to open it, they found pieces of cut up ID and credit cards. When they put them back together, they had Jamie Laiaddee's drivers license, her Michigan University alumni card and several credit cards.
Asked why he cut up Jamie's driver's license, Stewart told Moriarty, "I didn't cut 'em up."
Stewart claims it was Jamie who cut up the cards after she changed her identity and ran away. But when Chandler Police tested the envelope to see who sealed it, the DNA belonged to Stewart.
"Even when you had that envelope, it still took a year before you brought murder charges against him," Moriarty noted to Martinez.
"We were tying up all the loose ends. When you don't have a body, you have to be very careful because you only get one chance," he said.
That chance came when an inmate at the jail where Stewart was being held agreed to testify that Stewart had confessed to killing Jamie.
"...he went to this particular individual...and said, 'Do you think that they can charge me if they can't find the body?'" said Martinez.
On March 24, 2011, a Grand Jury indicted Stewart on charges of second-degree murder of his girlfriend, Jamie Laiaddee. He was also charged with fraud for using Jamie's credit cards without her permission.
"Who is technically, legally on trial here?" Moriarty asked Martinez.
"An individual by the name of Rick Valentine, also known as Bryan Stewart," he replied.
"But isn't this a little odd, because even through the trial you're calling him Bryan Stewart?"
"That's the name that he preferred. I'll use whatever name he wants to convict him," said Martinez.
In October 2011, Rick Wayne Valentine, aka Bryan Stewart, went on trial. The first witness to testify for the state was Andrea Aardsma.
Juan Martinez: What does your husband do for a living?
Andrea Aardsma: He is a professional baseball player.
Back in 2010, she and her husband, David--then an ace pitcher for the Seattle Mariners -- were in Scottsdale during the off-season. Andrea worked out at Gold's Gym five days a week and her personal trainer was Bryan Stewart.
Juan Martinez: Did he tell you whether or not he had a girlfriend?
Andrea Aardsma: Yes, he had a girlfriend.
Juan Martinez: Did he tell you her name?
Andrea Aardsma: Jamie.
Aardsma testified that for months before Jamie disappeared, Stewart had complained about his souring relationship and what he really thought of his girlfriend.
"Whiny, naggy, bitch, sugar momma--nothing positive at all," she testified.
"And I don't know if he just thought I was a good listener or if he really did think that I was stupid and that he could tell me all these things and nothing would come of it," she told Moriarty.
In one of the trial's most disturbing moments, Aardsma stood up and reenacted Stewart sharing his nickname for Jamie.
"'Jamie the gut, Jamie the gut,'" she said while squeezing her stomach.
"I'm like, 'Man, like if you hate her so much, just break up with her,'" Aardsma told "Moriarty
The jury also heard from Jamie's parents.
Juan Martinez: Have you received any emails from her?
Vunnee Laiaddee: No.
Juan Martinez: Has she shown up at your house?
Vunnee Laiaddee: No.
Juan Martinez: And, have you been hiding her just so that Mister Stewart won't find her?
Vunnee Laiaddee: No...
But some of the most significant testimony revealed that Jamie had found a new job -- not in Denver, but in Phoenix.
"She was very excited about her new job and we were looking forward to working together on March 18th, " Kevin Tierney told the court.
David Beauchamp, a lawyer and friend, testified that he helped Jamie negotiate the contract for that job. What's more, he saw Jamie two days before she disappeared and testified that he saw bruises.
"She was exhibiting many, many of the characteristics of a battered woman," Beauchamp said. "And she absolutely broke down."
On day seven of the state's case, the jailhouse snitch took the stand.
At his request, the judge ordered "48 Hours Mystery" not to reveal his identity. He also got a deal for testifying: A two-year sentence for fraud was reduced to one.
"And, uh, he was very agitated talking about how, uh, the police know that I killed her that, uh, he needed to get it off his chest..." the jailhouse snitch testified.
By the time the State rested, Prosecutor Martinez and Det. Moffat were sure they would get a conviction on the fraudulent schemes charge, but had they convinced the jury that Bryan had committed murder?
"I think a lotta people would have a hard time convicting with no body," juror Valarie Shafer said. "We really had to be careful and listen to both sides..."
Knowing his life was on the line, Stewart was about to do something that would shock the entire courtroom.
Pieces of a drivers license and credit cards, a closet filled with shoes and purses. The evidence at trial is a daily reminder of what Jamie Laiaddee's parents have lost.
"[It's] so hard. Every time they mention her name. ...it's hurt me so much. Yeah, I'm think that I'm not gonna see her anymore," said Vunnee Laiaddee.
And as the defense begins, Jamie's mother has one wish: "The whole time I'd been praying that 'I hope he takes the stand,'" Vunnee told Erin Moriarty.
Asked why, she replied, "Because then they can see through him."
Her prayer is granted. Despite his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and very much against his lawyer -- and most any lawyer's advice -- Bryan Stewart boldly and defiantly takes the stand.
"I am the only human being who knows what happened. I am the only human being who knows why things happened, when they happened," he told Moriarty.
Max Covil, Defender Attorney: What was your relationship like?
Bryan Stewart: It was -- I would say 95 percent great.
Max Covil: Did you-- did you argue?
Bryan Stewart: No, not really.
Stewart appears confident and relaxed, but after all, it is his lawyer asking the questions.
Max Covil: Did you kill Jamie to use her credit cards?
Bryan Stewart: Absolutely not...
Max Covil : Did you have general permission to use her credit cards?
Bryan Stewart: Yes.
Stewart insists he didn't need to steal from Jamie.
Max Covil: Why do you feel that you had permission to use the cards?
Bryan Stewart: Even from our first date, it was literally-- an instruction to use them.
And then he drops a bombshell. Stewart claims that long after Jamie disappeared, she was still in Phoenix and would visit the house they shared and his new condo when he wasn't around.
Bryan Stewart: Because I would get back to my condo and things would be moved around or things would be left behind...
Max Covil: OK, now how did she get into your apartment.
Bryan Stewart: She had a key.
But that's not all. Stewart also claims he continued to communicate with Jamie long after that morning in March 2010, when she vanished.
Max Covil: How did she communicate with you?
Bryan Stewart: Email and telephone.
"You have told people that if you had a computer you could find her. I've got a computer here. You wanna try? Got my iPad here...," Moriarty said, offering her tablet to Stewart. "How would you find her?"
"I -- I would have to look on mine," he replied.
"I mean, if I got this whole thing set up could you..."
"I need to get into my computer because there's a special e-mail site that we were working through," he said.
"You must know, Bryan, that sounds a little crazy that you wouldn't give this information to your attorneys and they wouldn't go looking for the one person who could save you from going to prison for life..." said Moriarty.
"I know. I told them that," Stewart replied. "And I never heard anything."
Max Covil : Did you murder Jamie Laiaddee?
Bryan Stewart: No, Jamie Laiaddee is alive.
"She would just let you go on trial for murder? Go to prison? ...For the rest of your life?" Moriarty asked Stewart.
"I don't know. I don't think that either one of us ever expected it to get this far," he said.
"Would you be at all surprised if I told you that she was about to walk through that door?" Moriarty asked Stewart.
"No," he replied.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez wasn't buying any of it.
Juan Martinez: You didn't actually talk to her in that condo, did you?
Bryan Stewart: No.
Juan Martinez: You haven't seen her at any time and she hasn't walked in now, right?
Bryan Stewart: Right.
Juan Martinez: And she won't walk in because you killed her, right?
Bryan Stewart: Wrong.
One day before Thanksgiving 2011, more than a year-and-a half after Jamie Laiaddee disappeared, the prosecution and defense rested after presenting two very different stories. It was now up to the jury to decide.
Foreman Leon Lead was worried. "As we were moving to deliberation -- I wondered -- how difficult of a decision this is going to be for the 12 of us -- knowing that there was no body," he said.
But just four hours later, the jury returned with a verdict.
Moriarty asked a group of jurors, "Did any of you look at him when you walked in?" The group replied, "No."
Bryan Stewart was reassured by deputy sheriffs guarding him.
"Oh, yeah, they're like, 'Yeah, you're good. Any time a jury comes back that quick...'" he told Moriarty. "And I was like, 'OK, well, wow, all right, that's pretty good.'"
We the jury, duly empanelled and sworn in the above entitled action, upon our oaths, as to count one, second degree murder, do find the defendant guilty.
Jamie's parents were overcome by the verdict: Guilty.
"Guilty. That's all I heard, and I just -- I lost it. I was so happy," said Vunnee.
And then there was more:
As to count two, fraudulent schemes and artifices do find the defendant guilty.
Bryan Stewart couldn't believe his ears.
"I just sat there, like to me, my life was over with," he told Moriarty. "I just couldn't understand, you know? I mean, if I would have killed her, I would have admitted to it."
Moriarty asked the jurors, "Do you think Bryan Stewart slash Rick Valentini is a dangerous man?" They all replied "yes."
"No question in your mind?" Moriarty asked.
"None at all. The first 10 minutes of his testimony...any doubt I had that he was solely responsible for the murder of Jamie, had been sealed at that moment in time," said Lead.
"You've told so many stories it's hard to believe you," Moriarty told Stewart.
"Let's look at the Army, OK?" he said.
"No, let's look at what happened to Jamie. That's what really matters," said Moriarty.
"Jamie took $100,000...And she left the state of Arizona...I've said it for 18 months. I say it now. And I'm gonna say it for the next 18 years," he said.
But investigators say there was no money, and his story is just another lie. For her friends and family, the one remaining question may never be answered.
"It is hard because you don't really know where she is? You've never been able to bury her," Moriarty noted to Jamie's mother.
"That's right. That's right," Vunnee Laiaddee replied. "I still have what they call receiving blankets of Jamie from the hospital. And I carry it with me all the time. ...And I intend to use that blanket to carry her home...if we find her."
Bryan Stewart is now Inmate 268586 and is known to his jailers as Rick Wayne Valentini. His sentence for murder and fraud: 54 years.
He is appealing his conviction.
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