Family Leads Search for Answers in Woman's Murder

Act 4: After ABC News' "Primetime Crime" story airs on the case, a new detective is assigned to investigate.
8:17 | 08/10/14

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Transcript for Family Leads Search for Answers in Woman's Murder
Announcer: "20/20" Saturday continues. Once more, John Quinones. Reporter: Before the honeymoon is even over, raven abaroa's second wife, Vanessa, suspects he got away with murdering his first wife Janet. He could get away with murder. I think he thinks he has. Reporter: But Vanessa says, at least for a while, raven is able to fool her and police. He would make me believe full-heartedly that everyone else was trying to pin everything on him and that he was an innocent man. The bottom line is that I was not involved with the death of my wife, that I would do anything in the world to keep her here. Reporter: But Janet's family and friends say they were never fooled. I knew he killed her the morning I found out, the exact second. There was no doubt in my mind. I wanted to believe that it was somebody else. But it kept just going through my mind, and the only person that pointed to was raven. And my instantaneous, nanosecond reaction was, "Oh, my god, raven has killed Janet." Reporter: So if raven is the monster Janet's family and friends say he is, how did he get two smart, independent women to marry him? He's a master at what he does. He -- at first he comes off very charming. Prince charming. He studies you. Learns everything about you. Everything that you want him to be. And he plays that part to a tee. Reporter: He becomes the person you want him to be? Yeah. And then you find out later what's really behind the facade. Reporter: Janet's family also saw raven's chameleon-like transformations. He could turn it on and off. All: Oh, yes. Turn it on and off. Depending on who he was with is whatever image he wanted you to believe he was. I mean, he -- he should've been a Hollywood actor. I mean, he's perfect. He can do any image you want. Reporter: Janet's sisters catalog all the lies. They discover he started deceiving everyone even before he said, "I do." We always attended church every Sunday as children. So we were brought up religious. And she continued that on. She chose a person to marry who was also lds. Reporter: In order to be married in the Washington, D.C., temple, raven told church officials he did his missionary work in Peru. True? False. He never went to the mission training center, he never had a passport, he never went to Peru. So if you're going to enter into a relationship with a young Mormon woman, and you're going to lie to her parents about what happened on your mission, that you didn't even go. His whole existence with that family and with Janet was based on a monumental lie. Reporter: From the very beginning? From the very beginning. Reporter: And remember how impressed Tim was by raven's "Fast start"? The nice house and all those fancy cars? Well, Tim recalls one car in particular. They had a brand-new Honda sc2000,which is about a $30,000 car. That car mysteriously burned up in the middle of the night, at 4:00 in the morning. It just burned up. No longer existed. And I just thought, wow, that's kind of strange. And then he commented several weeks later, he was upset with the insurance settlement, because they weren't paying him full value of the car. Reporter: Raven needed that insurance money, he was flat broke. After losing his job for embezzling, things got so bad for Janet and raven they began receiving assistance from the church. He spent way beyond his means. And then subsequent, I find out that, he took out a $500,000 life insurance on Janet, which just doesn't sit right with me. Here's a guy who's on church welfare. He's lost his job, but he's still paying his $154-a-month life insurance. You know, me, if I can't put food on the table, maybe I shouldn't be paying for life insurance. Reporter: Liar, cheater, deadbeat perhaps. But a murderer? The Durham police are not willing to take that big step. With cases like this, we are constantly looking for enough information where we feel we can present this to a jury and we can win beyond a reasonable doubt. That's our -- the burden of proof, and for us, we're going to make sure we present the best case possible. Reporter: The case gets passed from one detective to the next, and still the Durham police make no arrests. Tim dowd meets with investigators constantly and is convinced they should be doing more to charge raven. I think there's a total lack of consistency and continuity in this thing. This is a circumstantial case. It's hard. It's not easy. Well, you know what? Sometimes justice isn't easy. Reporter: So Janet's family decides to go public appearing on ABC "Primetime crime." Cases that seem impossible to crack. Crimes that seem impossible to solve. That's why there's primetime crime. Reporter: I sat down with the sisters who were hoping to turn up the heat on this cold case. It's been four years. I don't -- and nothing. Reporter: He's out free. Out there -- Yes, he is. Reporter: Doing what he wants. Yes, he is. Reporter: Does that anger you? Very much so. Yes. And fearful for other women or other people that come in contact with him. But he needs to be stopped from hurting anybody else. Like Vanessa. I mean, we're concerned about other people and other people getting hurt. And if we could prevent that, then we feel like we're -- at least we're accomplishing something. And that Janet's death wasn't just for nothing. Reporter: As part of our story, we went to raven's mother's house to get his side of the story, but raven and his family didn't want to talk. Reporter: After our program airs, something remarkable happens. The very next day we get a call from the Durham police department saying, "We've assigned a new detective to the case. Detective Charles sole." And then Charles very quickly reached out to the family, reached out to myself. It was absolutely critical. Reporter: So critical that the case is back in the headlines. Nancy grace begins looking into the facts and sees no reason why the investigation is stalled for so long. Very often you will hear the defense argue that it's only circumstantial. Let me remind everyone that under the law, circumstantial evidence is deemed as powerful, if not more so, than direct evidence. A jury can weigh it as such. Reporter: Do you think it -- the police got involved because they saw it on television after our piece? I like to think so. Because it started becoming much more active. The case started becoming -- becoming much more active once we put things out there. And I'm very grateful for that. Reporter: Remember. It's been four years since Janet was stabbed to death in her own home as her 6-month-old son slept in the next room, detective Charles sole is determined to bring the killer to justice. He has his work cut out for him. The hard part about this case, too, is, for me, is it's almost like you had to have like a time machine to go back. Reporter: What detective sole couldn't have known was that his trip back in time would bring him face to face with the victim. A clue police can only uncover by looking directly into Janet's eyes. And to do that, he'll have to take a trip to the cemetery. Stay with us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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