Producer Dan Slepian prepares to interview admitted killer Michael Lane.
Dan Slepian, Dateline producer, writes:
Had you met him in any other setting, you would probably believe Michael Lane was all that he claimed to be: a compassionate spiritual healer to whom people gravitated for guidance and comfort.
But on the day I met Michael Lane last spring, we were in a windowless cement room at the Clark County Detention Center and he was inmate #02735758 -- accused of an unspeakable crime, among the most heinous Las Vegas has ever seen.
It all started five months earlier, when 44-year-old Ginger Candela was reported missing by her daughter, Tabatha. She told police she had been receiving text messages from her mom, but hadn't been able to reach her by phone for two weeks, and now that it was Thanksgiving, Tabatha was even more concerned by the silence.
Missing persons detectives went to Ginger's house and made a gruesome discovery in her garage: a 96-gallon trash can filled with bleach, cement, and a dismembered body. They immediately called homicide detectives. Joel Kisner and Dolphis Boucher were now responsible for finding out what happened and who did it -- before anyone else became a victim of the same fate.
Chris Hansen and I were in Las Vegas, shooting another show, "Vegas Undercover," when Detectives Kisner and Boucher began their investigation. For nearly four days, Kisner and Boucher worked tirelessly, sleeping just a few hours each night, if that.
Our cameras followed the detectives each step of the way -- from the crime scene to the coroner's office to the interrogation room. In the end, you'll see how old-fashioned, smart, shoe-leather detective work solved this crime. Within 72 hours of getting the call, Kisner and Boucher had their suspect, Michael Lane, in an interrogation room confessing.
Lane said he had met Ginger just a few weeks earlier in Anaheim, California at a new-age, self-help conference. He said Ginger was looking for spirtual guidance, asked for his help, and invited him to stay with her in Las Vegas. But within a week of arriving, Lane said something went terribly wrong.
He told the detectives that he and Ginger were in her bedroom, trying an unconventional meditation technique: he was compressing her carotid artery in an effort to help her reach a "deeper state," when "something came over" him. He went into the kitchen, grabbed a frying pan from a drawer, and "whacked" Ginger over the head with it "several times." When he saw she was still clinging to life, he said, he got an electrical cord, wrapped it around her neck, and choked her.
He said he lived with her body for two days. Then, he said, he went shopping at a Home Depot where surveillance video confirms he bought many gallons of bleach, a plastic tarp, a hatchet, and the 96-gallon trash can in which Ginger's body was found.
Lane described how he remembered, from watching TV, that "dismembering things make them fit better" and how "bleach was a good skin dissolver."
In vivid detail, Lane calmly explained how he dismembered Ginger, stuffed her body in the can, and filled it with bleach and cement.
He also admitted that after he killed Ginger, he stole her phone and texted her daughter to make it appear Ginger was still alive. He also admitted that he met a transgender woman on Craigslist and brought her back to Ginger's house while Ginger was in the trashcan in the garage.
As I was heading into the jail to meet Lane, I couldn't help but think of Tabatha, and how painful, senseless and random all this must be for her.
I thought of Detectives Kisner and Boucher, who work case after case with the daunting task of finding justice for victims and their loved ones, all the while separated from their own families.
And as Michael Lane entered the room, I shook his hand and couldn't help thinking about what he said those hands had done to Ginger Candela.
Watch a web exclusive of Michael Lane's interrogation: