Caught In The Crossfire

Who Is To Blame For A Wife's Death And A Judge's Shooting?

This broadcast first aired on Feb. 24, 2007. It was updated on June 12, 2007.

On June 12, 2006, the people of Reno, Nev., were glued to their televisions following the brazen shooting of Family Court Judge Chuck Weller.

"My thoughts immediately turned towards Charla and her whereabouts," remembers Ann Mudd, who along with Christine Libert, desperately tried to reach their friend Charla Mack.

The two women were convinced Charla was in danger; their fears were confirmed when they later heard on the news their friend had been murdered.

"That was probably the scariest moment in my entire life just to realize that my beautiful friend wasn't there any more," Christine remembers.

What led to the shooting of Judge Weller and the murder of Charla Mack? And was there a connection between the two cases? Troy Roberts reports on the investigation and what detectives believe may have led to the violence.

Darren Mack, a handsome and successful businessman, married Charla in 1995 in Reno. From the beginning, everyone says they had a chemistry that was undeniable.

"I think when you saw the two of them walk into a room, they were explosive together. Charla just fired him up. She was fire," explains writer Amanda Robb, who reported on the Mack case for Marie Claire magazine. "They were high profile in the community they knew everybody. Everybody knew them."

Amanda and Charla attended the same high school in Reno.

"She wanted to be famous more than anything that really was her dream…was to be famous," says Robb.

Long before Charla ever met Darren Mack, she pursued her dream of an acting career. Leaving Reno behind, the teenager moved to Los Angeles, where she landed two roles-one in a film with Drew Barrymore, the other in a documentary with Diane Keaton.

Charla eventually gave up acting and moved back to Reno. When she started dating Darren Mack, they seemed a perfect match. Friends say they also shared an interest in a self-awareness training group called Landmark Education.

"He was really into self improvement. He liked going to seminars about improving himself all the time. Achieving his goals. Which was money, money, money," says writer Amanda Robb.

Darren Mack is the oldest son of a wealthy and prominent Reno family; his parents owned one of the largest pawn shop in the city. When his father was killed in a plane crash in 1986, Darren became half owner of the family business and, according to court records, was said to be worth almost $10 million.

"They lived large. I mean there's no doubt about it. She drove a Lexus, he drove a Hummer. They had fancy things, fancy jewelry," says Robb. "It was fabulous."

But Darren Mack had been down the aisle before. Darren and his ex-wife Debbie had two children together but the marriage did not end well. "He would not stop fighting with Debbie. She spent more than a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees just responding to him," says Robb, who knows Debbie. "And Charla was on his side at the time."

Darren had joint custody and for a while at least, he, Charla, and his kids seemed to be one big happy family.

But their clean cut family image was a far cry from their private lives. Christine says her friend Charla was a very sexual person, without sexual inhibitions-
something she shared with Darren.

"They became sort of a fixture on the strip club circuit in and around Reno," Robb explains. "It moved up into swinging. They actually went to swinger conventions in California, Arizona and Mexico where there'd be group sex parties. They called it 'sexing.'"