American Justice - Driven to Kill   View more episodes

Aired at 07:00 AM on Wednesday, Dec 30, 2009 (12/30/2009)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00McLAUGHLIN, TO THE STATION FOR An interview.
00:00:05McLAUGHLIN EXPLAINED THAT HE And his wife had tickets to see the musicaldreamgirlsthat night.
00:00:1230, he said, he parked his white mercedes on the fifth floor of the garage.
00:00:21Marianne got out of the car first.
00:00:23McLAUGHLIN SAID HE LINGERED Behind to hide his car phone under the front seat.
00:00:28>> I finished doing that, and when I got out of the car, the accident had already occurred.
00:00:36>> Kurtis: Mclaughlin told police he heard a sound but nothing that he considered suspicious.
00:00:41As he walked to the elevator, however, he saw his wife sprawled on the ground and a car against the wall off to the right.
00:00:50>> It was a horrible scene.
00:00:51She was--looked disfigured, because her legs were entangled in different ways.
00:00:57Time sort of slows down in this kind of a shock setting.
00:01:01I heard a car and almost heard, like, it had shut off.
00:01:06>> Kurtis: Mclaughlin said he heard the car start up again, then saw it suddenly back up over his wife's body in order to make the turn onto the ramp leading down to the fourth floor.
00:01:21After the interview, the DETECTIVE let McLaughlin go.
00:01:24At the hospital, his wife had made it through an eight-hour surgery, but her prognosis was bleak.
00:01:32>> She was not supposed to live through the night.
00:01:38My younger brother, david, and my brother kevin felt that they should take her off life support and let her go.
00:01:44And my mother, from day one, said, "absolutely not, that she is gonna pull through.
00:01:50" >> Kurtis: While marianne McLAUGHLIN LAY IN A COMA, Investigators tried to piece together the case.
00:01:58It didn't take long to find the car that had struck marianne.
00:02:03The yellow 1972 buick skylark had been abandoned near a airwell on level two of the parking garage.
00:02:12That same night, police found the car's owner, a stephen mogan, from south boston.
00:02:18It turned out he had reported the car stolen hours earlier.
00:02:22Mogan had an alibi--he said he went bowling with friends, then out to dinner--but it seemed rehearsed.
00:02:31>> I got everybody that he was with that night.
00:02:34I interviewed them separately; I interviewed them collectively.
00:02:38And they all come up with the same story.
00:02:40This was like it was written down for them, and they studied it, and they all stuck to the same story.
00:02:46It did not seem normal.
00:02:49>> Kurtis: There was another part of the story that did not seem normal to investigators: joseph McLaughlin.
00:02:56For starters, marianne's family reported that joe was not visiting his wife enough at the hospital.
00:03:02>> Joe came to the hospital very infrequently, and when he did come, he would never go near my sister.
00:03:09He would stand by a doorway, never touched her, never held her hand.
00:03:18>> I probably didn't have a 24-hour-a-day vigil, but I did go often.
00:03:23And sometimes I might have not have been able to convey my thoughts to marianne, but I did the best I could.
00:03:32>> Kurtis: The family also told investigators that the couple had been having serious marital difficulties.
00:03:38They let it be known in no uncertain terms that they SUSPECTED joe McLaughlin might be responsible for this crime.
00:03:46Detective saggese thought they were on to something.
00:03:49>> It started to boil around THIS joe McLaughlin.
00:03:54He wasn't going to the hospital at all.
00:03:57He had a girlfriend.
00:03:58So that would build up and say there's something wrong here.
00:04:03>> Kurtis: But were the problems big enough to compel McLAUGHLIN TO HAVE HIS WIFE RUN Down while he waited off to the side and allowed it to happen?
00:08:27>> Kurtis: Boston.
00:08:28April 1989.
00:08:30marianne McLaughlin was in a coma, clinging to life after a suspicious and unsolved hit-and-run incident.
00:08:40If the 35-year-old managed to survive, her doctors believed she might have brain damage.
00:08:48Two weeks after the incident, marianne's sister susan got a phone call from one of the nurses.
00:08:53She feared the worst.
00:08:57>> There was a lot of noise in the background, so I thought for sure I could feel my body just leaving me, 'cause i thought that they were gonna tell me she had died.
00:09:05And it was good news.
00:09:10>> Kurtis: Despite having a fractured skull, a disfigured face, and internal injuries too numerous to mention, marianne had regained consciousness.
00:09:20She now had to confront the was she the victim of a hit-and-run accident, or had someone tried to kill her?
00:09:33She was unaware of any mortal enemies, but her seemingly picture-perfect life was marred a marriage gone sour.
00:09:51Marianne lewis grew up in quincy, massachusetts, a suburb south of boston.
00:09:59She was the third of six siblings in a middle-class irish catholic family.
00:10:06The family did everything together: ..
00:10:15Swimming in the summer, and holidays at home.
00:10:21Marianne was a spirited, independent child.
00:10:25Some say that's the only reason that, years later, she defied the odds and survived the hit-and-run.
00:10:33She gaveamerican justicean interview and talked about her upbringing.
00:10:37>> I was brought up a catholic.
00:10:39I'm a practicing catholic, and you learn as you are maturing in age what your parents would want you to follow, and basically, I followed their example.
00:10:51>> Kurtis: As the eldest girl, marianne took on the role of the responsible one, the one who kept up appearances.
00:10:58>> I just knew my father would be very disappointed, as well as my mother, if I didn't project this good-girl image.
00:11:07And I really was a good girl.
00:11:09>> Marianne was like a second mother to me.
00:11:12She was someone I always looked up to.
00:11:16>> Kurtis: Predictably, marianne's childhood shaped her dreams for her future.
00:11:21>> I wanted the same type of marriage that I had seen my parents have.
00:11:26I wanted everything that I had as a child myself.
00:11:29>> Kurtis: At 17, the high school senior met her future husband at a party.
00:11:35joseph McLaughlin was popular, catholic, and had grown up just a few blocks away.
00:11:41To marianne, he seemed like the perfect catch.
00:11:44>> He knew where he was going and what he was going to do with his life is the impression that I always had of him.
00:11:50>> That's the only relationship I've ever had.
00:11:52I dated marianne in high school, dated marianne in college.
00:11:54I was in love with marianne.
00:11:57>> Kurtis: After a six-year courtship, the couple was married.
00:12:01In 1979, they had their first child, melissa.
00:12:08Joe started out as a city planner for the town of quincy, BUT BY THE EARLY 1980s, HE WAS Ready to move on.
00:12:19>> I realized that I wasn't going to get what I wanted for my family being a planner.
00:12:23>> Kurtis: At the time, the boston real estate market was just starting to boom.
00:12:28Joe jumped in and went along for the ride.
00:12:31He became a partner in a real estate development firm and was soon turning handsome profits.
00:12:37>> He said, "i'm going to make a million dollars for every year of my life, and I am 32 years old at this point, and I'm not " >> Kurtis: The family moved to the exclusive town of cohasset on the south shore of massachusetts.
00:12:57There, in 1985, they had their second daughter, caroline.
00:13:03At this point, joe's demanding work schedule was taking its toll on the marriage.
00:13:08>> I think she was very affected by my hours of work.
00:13:11And I was on the road all day long.
00:13:1300 in the morning, get home 00 at night, and I don't think that's the relationship that she wanted.
00:13:21>> I said enough is enough.
00:13:23You know, we have a beautiful home.
00:13:26You're pursuing real estate in multiple other areas of the state and out of the state.
00:13:33I would like you to be at home.
00:13:36>> Kurtis: But joe did not stay home, and the cracks in the relationship opened up into a chasm.
00:13:45Marianne's family thought joe's frequent late-night meetings and business trips suggested he was having an affair.
00:13:53After the accident, the family proved it.
00:13:58They hired a private eye, who DISCOVERED that McLaughlin was living two very separate lives.
00:14:05[camera shutter clicks] He had a longtime mistress named joan lindegren, whom he took on vacations and wined and dined in the city.
00:14:17But at the time, marianne refused to even consider that joe was cheating.
00:14:22She thought he got what he needed at home.
00:14:26>> I honestly thought that I was just the ultimate wife.
00:14:29I kept a beautiful home.
00:14:31My appearance was always pretty, decent.
00:14:35I mean, I really thought I was great in bed.
00:14:38>> Kurtis: All the same, marianne thought joe was far from the ideal spouse.
00:14:43In 1987, tired of her husband's all-consuming career, marianne says she told joe she was thinking about divorce.
00:14:51She says joe talked her out of it.
00:14:53They tried counseling, but it did no good.
00:14:56>> I want my little white house with my little picket fence, and I want a happy family, and he was not willing to do any of that.
00:15:06It was a joke to him.
00:15:07>> Kurtis: For his part, McLAUGHLIN INSISTS THAT THEY Never seriously considered divorce.
00:15:12>> Certain things in our marriage weren't the best, but they certainly weren't at a point where we--i don't think we were going to be splitting or going anywhere.
00:15:21>> Kurtis: Whatever the case, while McLaughlin's marriage was floundering, so, too, were his business interests.
00:15:28BY THE LATE 1980s, THE BOSTON Real estate market had collapsed, along with joe's fortunes.
00:15:36So marianne was very surprised when, in april 1989, to celebrate her 35th birthday, joe gave her an expensive tennis bracelet and tickets to a show in boston.
00:15:47>> The beautiful tickets, the beautiful bracelet, my hope for a light shining or dawning on him--i was definitely looking forward to our evening out.
00:15:58>> Kurtis: That was april 21, 1989, two days after marianne's birthday.
00:16:07It was that night at the parking garage that marianne was hit by the car.
00:16:13For boston investigators, there were plenty of clues stacking UP AGAINST joseph McLaughlin.
00:16:21There was the mistress, the talk of divorce, and his aloof manner at the hospital.
00:16:27Then there was his strange behavior during the criminal investigation.
00:16:33>> I tried to interview him.
00:16:35He refused.
00:16:36I had sent registered letters to his apartment.
00:16:40They all came back.
00:16:42And he just refused to talk to me.
00:16:45>> Kurtis: Despite their suspicions, detectives could develop nothing on joe or the south boston man whose car had hit marianne.
00:16:55They were forced to relegate the mysterious hit-and-run to the cold case file.
00:17:01Marianne's family decided to keep her in the dark about the investigation so that she could focus all of her energy on her recovery.
00:17:09She endured surgery after surgery to rebuild her shattered face and body.
00:17:13She learned to walk again, and when she was well enough, she returned home to her husband and their two children.
00:17:20Marianne accepted that the hit-and-run accident had been just that, an accident.
00:17:26And then, years later, investigators made a breakthrough in the criminal case, and marianne's life would be turned upside down all over again.
00:21:57>> Kurtis: In boston in 1989, marianne McLaughlin survived a devastating hit-and-run in a parking garage.
00:22:07Four months after the incident, she went home with her husband, joe.
00:22:12She still had no idea that boston police considered him a possible suspect in her attempted murder.
00:22:22>> I had assumed I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
00:22:26What else could I think?
00:22:27I mean, how else could I go on with my life?
00:22:30You know, the girl that he had been dating since late teens-- no, I never really thought that way.
00:22:42>> Kurtis: But her already rocky marriage fell apart soon after her return home.
00:22:47The final straw, she told american jtice,was the day joe was driving her to a doctor's appointment downtown.
00:22:55>> And I made a comment to him, "i really don't know why I lived.
00:23:00I mean, this is just--i don't " " he says, "i don't know why you lived.
00:23:06Why don't you try to tell me as " >> Kurtis: Marianne said she was too shocked to respond, so she just looked out the car window.
00:23:20Soon after, marianne started divorce proceedings.
00:23:24She took back her maiden name, lewis, and tried to get on with her life.
00:23:32Five years passed.
00:23:34Then, in 1994, a south boston woman came forward with a piece of information that would reignite the investigation into the hit-and-run.
00:23:47Andrea flaherty lived with stephen mogan, who was the owner of the car that hit marianne.
00:23:53At a family gathering, flaherty overheard something about her boyfriend that caught her attention.
00:23:59>> His sister-in-law said to him, "you know, your girlfriend doesn't even know what you're like, and you know, like, the real true you," basically.
00:24:10>> Kurtis: When pressed to come clean, the 23-year-old mogan admitted to andrea that he had been hiding a secret from her.
00:24:17>> And he began to tell me the story about how, you know, someone had offered him money.
00:24:23>> Kurtis: Mogan told his girlfriend the money was for a very serious crime.
00:24:28He said he had loaned his car ..
00:24:32>> To run a woman down and to kill her.
00:24:35>> Kurtis: Mogan revealed the woman's husband was behind the entire plot.
00:24:42Flaherty was horrified by her boyfriend's secret.
00:24:47>> I totally freaked out.
00:24:48I couldn't believe it.
00:24:49A big fight broke out.
00:24:51You know, I was just out of my mind.
00:24:54Our relationship totally ended that day, totally ended.
00:24:58>> Kurtis: At the time, flaherty and mogan were living in a housing project in south boston, a tough irish neighborhood where the street culture dictates loyalty to other "southies" above all else.
00:25:12Mogan had just told his girlfriend about a secret involving himself and another south boston friend, a secret that, if revealed, could send them to jail.
00:25:23>> And of course, stephen mogan didn't want me to--didn't want anyone to know that he actually told me this story.
00:25:29So now he's hiding in bushes, and he's in, you know--smashing my window of my car, and he's chasing me around.
00:25:37And I mean, it was--it was very, very fearful.
00:25:41>> Kurtis: Andrea flaherty says that, eventually, she overcame her fear and placed a call to the lead detective on the case, nick saggese.
00:25:51>> She said, "are you detective " " " " and she said, "it's about the McLAUGHLIN CASE." " >> Kurtis: Five years after the hit-and-run, flaherty met with the detective and spelled out what she knew of a murder conspiracy.
00:26:10>> I couldn't believe that somebody, after all these years, would come forward.
00:26:14You only see this on tv, but this actually happened.
00:26:18Everything started to come together.
00:26:21>> Kurtis: Andrea provided authorities with details.
00:26:25They developed a list of the men believed to be involved: Stephen mogan, the owner of the car; MOGAN'S FRIEND, william McNeil, believed to be the driver; HIS SON, brian McNeil, who provided mogan's alibi; and, according to authorities, it had all been organized and put into motion by the victim's husband, boston real estate developer joseph McLaughlin.
00:26:57Andrea flaherty's revelations provided the ammunition authorities needed to bring the suspects in.
00:27:06In august 1997, the suffolk county district attorney's office won indictments against joe McLaughlin and his three alleged coconspirators.
00:27:18They were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit murder and armed assault.
00:27:26When the indictments were ANNOUNCED, joe McLaughlin had long since returned to his everyday life.
00:27:32He says he knew he was being investigated but had no idea anything would happen, until a colleague called him.
00:27:41>> And he said, "you've been " I said, "well, what are you " I had never been involved in a criminal action before, didn't know what it was about.
00:27:52No one in my family ever had.