Produced by Allen Alter and Avi Cohen
(CBS News) GULF SHORES, Ala. -- Angel Downs was hard to miss. Her friends joked about her startling good looks, calling her "Barbie." Her life revolved around the beach and it's what kept her close to home.
"We were best friends ... We did everything together," Susan Bloodworth, Angel's younger sister, told "48 Hours" correspondent Richard Schlesinger. "If you saw one of us, you saw both of us. We were just very tight, very close."
Angel was 45. She sold real estate in Gulf Shores and lived in one of those quiet subdivisions where nothing much ever happens. By all accounts, she was happy -- except when it came to affairs of the heart -- emotionally and physically. She was born with a life-threatening heart condition.
"Her heart was the size of a man 65 years old and she was 18 months old when we discovered that," said Thelma Hinckley, Angel's mother.
Because of her heart trouble, Angel could never have children.
"Her animals were, indeed, her babies," said Bloodworth, who now cares for Angel's cat, Winston. "He's all we have left of Angel."
The emotional heartache in Angel Downs' life began on the beach. In 2004, she met Stephen Nodine on a weekend centered here around a storied local tradition called Mullet Toss.
"My God, you don't know what Mullet Toss is?" Nodine asked Schlesinger with a laugh.
"I -- I'm not from around here, sir. What is Mullet Toss?"
"Mullet Toss was a -- event," he explained. "We toss a dead mullet from -- one year it's from Alabama to Florida and the next year it's from Florida to Alabama.... it's a -- beach party ... a fundraiser for the Marine Corps."
"... one of my greatest assets was -- is that I was a celebrity mullet tosser," Nodine continued. "We were just down there havin' a good time. And -- we met through some friends. ... and hit it off right away."
Nodine had just been elected as a county commissioner for Mobile County, Alabama. He was also married, although he says his marriage was on the rocks. He began an affair with Angel Downs, who lived 50 miles away in Gulf Shores.
"We spent the weekends on the beach, you know down there playing Frisbee or you know just enjoying ourselves," said Nodine.
"You, you didn't really keep this secret," Schlesinger noted.
"No," said Nodine.
"You were seen in public with her all over the place? Schlesinger asked.
"True. In front of media," said Nodine.
Asked why he did that, Nodine replied, "Just because I was arrogant."
He was also powerful, with powerful connections and pictures with former President George W. Bush and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to prove it. There are only three county commissioners in Mobile. They control the money. Nodine built roads and parks and bridges.
"Once you meet Steve, he's such a dynamic personality. I mean he just latches on to you, you know, and you don't forget him," said Jack Tillman, the retired sheriff for Mobile County.
"So if I came down here in, say, 2007, 2008, and I had mentioned the name Steve Nodine, what would people say?" Schlesinger asked.
"Oh, they thought he was a tremendous commissioner," Tillman replied. "But now as far as his personal life, I don't know. I -- I didn't -- I didn't run with him in that way. We were political friends."
When Nodine was running around with Angel Downs, her best friends, Emily Simmons and Kayla King Donald, saw them together frequently.
"He was very nice, very polite -- very loud, attention getter -- wanted attention. Life of the party -- 'Everybody look at me,'" said Simmons.
Asked if she liked him, Simmons told Schlesinger, "Yeah, I liked him. He was very nice."
"He just had that hold on her that I can't explain," said Donald.
"We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We loved each other very much," said Nodine.
They had their ups and downs and even broke up a few times. Angel didn't like the role of the other woman and she insisted - repeatedly -- that Nodine, who was not just married but was the father of a young son, get a divorce.
"... desperately, she wanted him to get a divorce. She was in love with him," said Bloodworth.
And Nodine promised he would.
"About six months to a year into the relationship, she started questioning why it was taking so long for the divorce to be final and then he probably, about a year into it, told her that he had never filed," Simmons explained.
"How did she feel about that?" Schlesinger asked.
"Not very good," said Simmons.
"Do you understand why you didn't get divorced?" Schlesinger asked Nodine
"Sure. I wanted everything. I wanted to have Angel. I wanted to have my family life to come back over here in Mobile. I wanted to escape to the beach when I could. Umm...to live two different lives," he replied.
It all worked pretty well for Nodine for six years, until May 9, 2010, Mother's Day.
"It was a beautiful day," he recalled.
"Were you getting along?" Schlesinger asked.
"Absolutely," Nodine replied.
Angel looked very happy in photos taken just hours before she died.
"We had a, you know, normal day. I mean, no fighting, no arguing," said Nodine.
Until Nodine dropped Angel off at her house and left to go home ... to his wife
"... when we dropped each other off, and again, the comment was made to me that, 'Oh, you're going back to your wife,'" Nodine said. "I assumed she was pissed off. I more than likely said, 'I love you B.' And -- then I left. Got up the road. Forgot my wallet."
Nodine turned around and went back to Angel Downs' place.
"When I came back to get my wallet -- I parked parallel to the -- to-- her house. My radio was going, my stereo, and my air conditioner was going," he told Schlesinger.
"Did you see her at all?"
"No," Nodine replied. "No. I -- when I came in to get my wallet I came in, I grabbed my wallet and left."
And that's when this quiet subdivision suddenly stopped being one of those places where nothing much ever happens:
Cop: Before the gunshot, have you seen the truck here?
Roger Whitehead: Oh yeah, the truck's been here.
Angel's neighbor, Roger Whitehead, will probably never forget that evening.
"I think there was a gunshot," he said. "Mr. Nodine was still here. And then he got in his truck and left."
"I did not shoot her ... I did not harm her ... She took her own life," Nodine said. "She's not here to accept that responsibility."