Transcript for Wife Stands by Husband Despite Troubled Marriage
with murder? It's the story of two wives, one dead, one arrived. A murder investigation that reached a deadend until "20/20" gets on the case. This evening what happens when a second wife does some digging on her own. You'll see why investigators insist on opening the case, by opening a grave. Reporter: Sometimes when you meet someone, you just know it's love. Janet Christiansen knew that from the moment she met raven abaroa in college. Oh, raven swept her off her feet. He's very charismatic. He knows how to talk to people. He was prince charming, and she fell for him hard. Reporter: Janet grew up in a conservative Mormon household, the seventh of ten siblings. Her sisters say she was so easy to get along with. A very sweet spirit. Loving, kind. She loved children. She had an opportunity to watch all of mine as they grew up. It's not just that she loved them. I mean, they all gravitate towards her. They loved her. Reporter: Outgoing? Definitely. Definitely she was. Soccer, swimming, basketball. She was, yeah. She was into a lot of sports and very outgoing with that. Reporter: At southern Virginia university Janet was a popular athlete with a steady boyfriend, but raven is smitten, and he persues her anyway. She was beautiful, attractive. I just felt so much comfort when I was with her. And we started this journey of just getting to know each other. It was just amazing. Reporter: What would she say about him? He was just infatuated. I mean, he has this going for him. He was going to be successful. He tried very hard to make everybody believe he had a perfect life. Reporter: Janet's younger sister Erika also attended svu and had a front-row seat for raven's courtship of Janet. He did seem to be good to be true. He was going to make this much money, he was going to take care of my sister, they were gonna have the perfect marriage, the perfect family, the perfect life together. Reporter: Erika, however, is not so sure about the new man in her sister's life. I was wary of him. And my first impression was, why is he trying so hard? But I thought, you know, okay, Janet likes him. This is her boyfriend. Reporter: Janet is convinced they can have a storybook life together. A fairy-tale wedding at the Mormon temple in Washington, D.C., is not far behind. She was 20, I believe. He was 19. I wouldn't say that it's abnormal for a lot of lds people to get married at such a young age. It was awesome to be able to kneel across from her and marry her for time and eternity. Reporter: For these newlyweds "Time and eternity" begins at their new starter home in the small colonial river town of smithfield, Virginia. They attend the local church where they meet neighbors Tim dowd and his family. Tim becomes a sort of father figure. We were just part of a big family. They both came from big families, and they didn't have any family in the immediate area, so they kind of adopted us. Hey, everybody, merry Christmas. Reporter: In their Christmas video card, the abaroas seem like the perfect, happy couple. We wish you the best and the warmest feelings this holiday season. Janet, what would you like to say? I would like to say merry Christmas and a happy new year. Yeah, he appeared to have his act together. I mean, he was young, newly married, had bought their first home, had a couple nice cars and a motorcycle. Like, "Wow, this guy's kind of off to a pretty fast start." Reporter: But the perfect man Tim admires, is secretly breaking the seventh commandment, thou shall not submit adultery. The young couple soon moves to Durham, North Carolina, where they both land jobs at a sporting goods company, and that's when raven confesses to Janet that he is sleeping around. He came to her one day, because he wanted to be out of the marriage, and explained to her that he had been cheating on her with several different people. And very soon after that she found out she was pregnant. She didn't know what to do. She didn't want to raise the baby as a single mother. Reporter: Just two and a half years into their marriage raven moves out, leaving Janet alone, pregnant and completely lost. She desperately reaches out to a family she trusts. You could tell she wanted -- she needed somewhere to go. She was crying, very distraught. And she told me she loved raven and that she didn't want to have this child by herself. She took her marriage very seriously. I mean, she's a member of the Mormon church. She was sealed in the temple. So this was a commitment for life and beyond. So she was trying to figure out, "How do I fix this, given all this, the terrible circumstances I find myself in." Reporter: Tim agrees to talk to raven, man-to-man. After all, he sees him almost like a son. And I kind of read him the riot act in a major way. You know, "What the hell do you think you're doing? You're married. Your wife is pregnant. You need to grow up real quick." He promised, swore up and down, that he would no longer cheat on her, that she was the only one for him. He would make it work. Reporter: Months later, raven moves back in when Janet gives birth to a boy, Kaiden. Raven appears to be a loving father, in awe of his son. After he moved back in, according to Janet, it was a day-by-day process. One day he was happy, one day he was not. So she really never knew what to expect. But he was there, and he was saying that he wanted to raise their son together. I wouldn't say that she was happier in her marriage, but she was happy to be a mother. Reporter: It doesn't take long for raven to once again stray from the path. This time, he is caught stealing high-end athletic equipment from his employer and reselling it to make ends meet. The young father pleads guilty to embezzlement, avoiding time behind bars. And once again, Janet stands by her man. He picked the perfect wife where he could continue to, you know, do what he wanted, basically. Someone who would stay devoted to him and committed to him because she had made that commitment. Reporter: And for a while, Janet makes it work. The young parents seem back on track. One spring night raven says he was getting ready to go play soccer. We looked at Kaiden sleeping, made sure everything was good with him, and put our arms around each other and said, "I really love you." Reporter: As raven recalls, Janet is getting ready for bed when he leaves. Later that evening he says he returns to make a horrifying discovery. I'd always go in and give Kaiden a kiss and just feel his warm little body. And that's, you know, when I found out that something was wrong.
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