Top 10 Most Shocking Dateline Stories



Top 10 Most Shocking Dateline Stories

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Take a seat and watch the most shocking "Dateline" moments. Our countdown includes "Mommy Doomsday," “Death of a Golden Girl," “Unraveled, ”and more!

Top 10 Most Shocking Dateline Moments

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 most shocking Dateline moments.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most shocking and anger-inducing stories covered on the newsmagazine show over the last few decades.

Know of any other moments that weren't included? Sound off about them in the comments.

#10: "Mommy Doomsday"

Season 29’s fortieth episode dealt with apocalyptic novelist Chad Daybell along with his partner and super-fan, Lori Vallow. The episode’s title “Mommy Doomsday” hints at an extremely dark truth. Vallow got so wrapped in conspiracy theories that she believed members of her own family were full of dark spirits and ended their lives. This was after she convinced her brother to take the life of her then-husband. After committing these heinous crimes, more information was uncovered about their extreme ideas. Valow even believes she has extraordinary abilities. Dateline NBC managed to speak to people involved in their lives in a harrowing episode. As of September 2021, the case against Vallow and Daybell continues.

#9: "The Life She Wanted"

What happened to Sherri Dally? A 2021 edition of Dateline NBC asks this question and picks up on a case from 1996. An eyewitness claimed Sherri had been arrested and placed in a Nissan before disappearing. In the wake of this incident, her husband Michael and his mistress Diana Haun, raised the alarm. But the police later realized that Diana had rented a Nissan that showed signs of a heinous crime. And they eventually found the deceased Sherri during an expanded search. After further investigation, Diana and Michael were charged and imprisoned for Sherri’s disappearance and are currently serving life sentences.

#8: “Death of a Golden Girl”

During a night out, Kevin Klym was trying to get his girlfriend Paula Sladewski out of the Space nightclub. But when bouncers believed the couple’s interaction was more nefarious than it looked, Klym was ejected from the club and went home. He never saw his girlfriend alive again. Paula Sladewski’s remains were later found in a dumpster, with only grainy CCTV footage offering any clues. A sketch of a suspect yielded no pointers, although Klym asserted the drawing looked like one of the club’s bouncers. When “Dateline NBC'' followed the case six years later, the question of just what happened to Paula Sladewski was yet to be answered.

#7: “At the Bottom of the Stairs”

It was absolutely tragic to hear that Annemarie Cochrane, a compassionate paramedic from Massachusetts who routinely saved lives, was found at the bottom of basement steps. Her wife, Cara Rintala, claimed the sad incident happened hours before help arrived. But what made this story out of the ordinary is that paramedics said she was covered in wet paint. The fact that it should’ve been dry if Cochrane’s accident really occurred hours prior set off huge warning signs. It was just one of the smoking guns that fired hole in Cara Rintala’s story. After three trials, Rintala was found guilty. “Dateline NBC’s” coverage of the case enlightens viewers to the prejudiced witnesses, poor investigations and the deadlocked juries that made for this twisted story.

#6: “Unraveled”

In season 26, “Dateline NBC” picked up on a case that hit extremely close to home. The life of Dr. Steven Pitt, a forensic psychologist and one-time contributor to the program, had been taken. Sadly, he wasn’t the last victim. The show discussed that Pitt’s passing occurred because Dwight Lamon Jones was on a violent spree of carnage. Jones was divorcé who sought revenge on all who he blamed for the breakdown of his marriage. The shocking episode begins with a tribute to Dr. Pitt, who was one of the first victims, before investigating how one person’s rage led to such violence. Before Jones could be held responsible for Pitt’s death and other crimes, he took his own life.

#5: “The Wrong Man”

Viewers of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” would probably find themselves screaming at the injustice that “Dateline NBC” uncovered in their “The Wrong Man” episode. After a night of hard night of partying, Charles Erickson had trouble remembering things. The body of Kent Heithold was also found that evening. After deep consideration, Erickson claimed he and Ryan Ferguson were involved in the crime. Although the physical evidence didn’t match and the testimonies were inconsistent, both men were sentenced and imprisoned for the violent crime. When renowned lawyer Kathleen Zellner, who represented Steven Avery’s from “Making a Murderer” stepped into the case, she managed to get Ferguson freed. Prosecutors apparently didn’t share evidence that could’ve exonerated both men of the crime. Erickson remains imprisoned.

#4: “Mystery at Bootleggers Cove”

A mysterious disappearance is the focus of this episode of “Dateline NBC.” Its resolution involves acts of violence and a warped bond between brothers. When Bethany Correira vanished, there were few clues left behind for the small community of Talkeetna to work with. A burned-out neighbouring apartment was the only major hint they had. In addition, Correira’s possessions were still in her home waiting for her. Suspicions eventually grew that building manager Mike Lawson was responsible. His brother Bob stepped forward and confirmed that was the truth and he helped cover it up. At the end of this sad, twisted and vile case, Mike Lawson was sentenced to 99 years in jail.

#3: “Bad Blood”

“Dateline NBC” also followed a case where a connection between sisters led to a terrible crime. Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead were both on the honor roll and did their best to succeed while living with their great grandmother. Their mother Nikki, who was reportedly not around much for her daughters, tried to regain custody of her kids. But Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead had issues living with their mom. After one contentious night, Nikki Whitehead was found deceased. The siblings eventually confessed to the violent crime and were sent to prison. As “Dateline” covers the story, the show also raises the question of how the sisters ended up in that situation in the first place.

#2: “The House on Pitch Pine Crescent”

In this complex and shocking “Dateline NBC” episode, we’re introduced to Caleb Harrison. After he’d been arrested for assault, he split with his wife and the mother of his two children, Melissa Merritt. She’d go on to remarry a man named Christopher Fatore and Caleb was later sent to jail for crimes he committed while intoxicated. Caleb signed over custody of his kids to his parents while he was incarcerated. In the following years, the children went back and forth between Caleb’s family and Meritt’s. But that all changed when Caleb and his mother both met sudden and untimely ends. Ultimately, Merrit’s husband Christopher Fatore confessed to taking Bridget and Caleb’s lives. That confession brought this horrible series of events to a depressing conclusion.

#1: "Dangerous Web"

Although it’s considered as more of a spin-off, “To Catch A Predator” remains one of “Dateline NBC’s” most recognisable, and shocking stories. The first investigation into online predators was known as “Dangerous Web”. It uncovered the nefarious acts adults were planning for those who they believed were vulnerable prey. After getting their background, they were confronted by Chris Hansen. These undercover sting operations were often criticised for the show’s shocking methods. But “Dateline” producers claim they were careful to follow the letter of the law when shooting. At the end of the day, the “Dangerous Web” episode and all others like it that followed were consistently shocking.