This report aired on Dateline NBC on Monday, June 22, 2009.
Mark Curran: In 20 years in law enforcement, it's by far the most unusual and bizarre case that I've seen.
Dave Godlewski: The lack of respect for human life. The selfishness.
DonnaFioRito: I've never heard of anything happening like to this anybody in my life, ever.
The story of one woman's anguish began with another woman's call.
911 call: "I think my garage is on fire."
The caller reported a fire in the garage at her upscale home in suburban Chicago. It was 8:24 on a Saturday morning in February 2008.
911 call: "Should I go outside or what do I do?"
When firemen arrived, the woman was waiting outside. Her name: Denise Squire. She was concerned her husband Ari wasn't answering his cell phone. He drives a white truck, she said. Dave Godlewski is deputy chief of the sheriff's office in Lake County, Ill.
Dave Godlewski: Their first concern is - at this point - is life, safety.
By now black smoke was billowing from the garage. Firemen rushed inside and found the white truck engulfed. They quickly put out the fire, but when the smoke cleared: a sad sight.
Dave Godlewski: Underneath the truck is a deceased individual. The truck is severely burned and it appears at this point the upper torso of the body was severely burnt also.
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Rob Stafford: Could not recognize the face.
Dave Godlewski: No, not at all.
But the lower half of the body was intact, so firemen searched for the victim's wallet.
Dave Godlewski: There was identification in his rear pocket.
Rob Stafford: Whose identification?
Dave Godlewski: Ari Squire.
Ari Squire, the woman's 39-year-old husband, a partner in a small construction company. But his real passion in life was working on diesel trucks. It appeared Ari died doing what he loved. The truck was up on a jack. Apparently he was underneath on his back when the jack slipped, and the truck fell, crushing him and breaking a light, which seemed to have sparked the fire.
Rob Stafford: This looks like an accident.
Dave Godlewski: Yes.
Rob Stafford: Freak accident?
Dave Godlewski: Yes.
It wasn't surprising Ari would be in his garage. He spent a lot of time there. He was part of the diesel truck world, where fellow truck enthusiasts, mostly men, bond at events around the country. They show off their pride and joy, share information, see the latest gear and compete in drag races and truck pulls.
Chad Embrey: It's an obsession because you have the ability to make your hobby something you're going to use every single day.
Chad Embrey is the owner of dieselbombers.com, one of several Web sites that cater to the community.
Chad Embrey: Ari was an avid puller and racer and he got other people involved in the sport.
Embrey says when word got out that Ari had died under his truck, fellow truckers immediately identified with him, particularly because Ari was known to be very meticulous and safety-conscious. And yet, he died in such a sad but familiar way.
Chad Embrey: We just felt pain for losing a brother in a community, especially the way he died was something that we've done so many times - crawling underneath our trucks.
What's more, Ari was especially well-liked in the diesel community. Video: Remembering Justin Newman
Chad Embrey: He was an extremely nice guy. I think he stood out because he was willing to - to volunteer his parts and tools to help others that he was competing against. And usually once that competitive nature takes over, people get into it for themselves. But Ari wasn't like that.
News of Ari's death traveled quickly through diesel truck Web sites.
Chad Embrey: People were very upset. The outpouring of people's sorrow was overwhelming.
That was also true among Ari's family and other friends. His wife, Denise, held a memorial dinner that week at an Italian restaurant for more than a hundred of Ari's relatives and closest friends. But there were also some uninvited guests -- members of the lake county sheriff's office. They were thinking some things about the accident were looking a bit suspicious... As was the marriage of Ari and Denise Squire.
Rob Stafford: What do you find out about their marriage?
Scott Morrison: Well, it's a very unusual marriage - from my experience. It appeared to be very cold. They didn't know much about each other. She couldn't provide many details about his life that a normal husband and wife would know about each other.
It was Denise Squire who had first called 911 to report a fire in her garage. She was worried about her husband, Ari. She couldn't find him and was afraid he might be in that garage. When police investigated, they found her fears were justified. Denise's husband had apparently been the victim of an accident -- he'd been crushed under his truck, his body badly burned in the fire. It fell to det. Scott morrison to tell her.
Scott Morrison: I took her aside. We actually sat in my squad car away from the busyness of the scene.
Rob Stafford: Difficult thing to do?
Scott Morrison: It's always difficult. I tell her that Ari was located, deceased, underneath his vehicle and it appears that he died in the fire.
Rob Stafford: How did she react?
Scott Morrison: Very cold. Not a lot of emotion. Was asking, well, "How - what do I do now? What's my next step?"
Rob Stafford: What did you make of that?
Scott Morrison: She handled it - what appeared to me as being sensory overload. She just - she was in shock.
As he talked to Denise, he learned she married Ari in 1994 and they didn't have any children. The night before she'd been at an olive garden restaurant with friends, got home after 11 and was asleep when the fire broke out the next morning. She also said she and Ari had slept in different bedrooms, but that was often the case. In fact, the couple spent little time together.
Scott Morrison: They just lived separate lives. Her statement was "Ari's not one for conversation." They're not involved in each other's lives. It was more of a business relationship where she had her life as a teacher and he had his life as a general contractor and truck enthusiast.
He took a look around the house.
Rob Stafford: Anything that strikes you?
Scott Morrison: Yes. They'd been married for 14 years and I did not find any photographs of them together. There was a-a-one painting of her and also a small wedding photo of just him in the foyer of the residence.
As Det. Morrison looked around the house, Detective Sergeant John Lucas focused on the garage. It appeared the truck had slipped off a 3-ton hydraulic jack - unusual, Sgt. Lucas thought, because a jack like that was supposed to be very stable. And something else seemed strange about the truck.
John Lucas: If it would have slipped off the axel, it would have made some scratches and some denting.
Rob Stafford: Were there scratches?
John Lucas: We found none. No damage. No scratches.
The sergeant also wondered why Ari had taken off the front tires in what looked like a routine fuel filter change. And why didn't Ari use his jack stands to stabilize the truck in case the jack did slip? Puzzling for a man with a reputation for safety. The sergeant was also looking into the cause of the fire.
Rob Stafford: It looked like an electrical fire?
John Lucas: First appearance, yes.
The immediate likely source was a light hanging from the opened hood of the truck, which had been heavily burned.
Rob Stafford: It looks like the truck fell down, hit the light and that sparked the electrical fire?
John Lucas: That was a possibility, yes.
But there was a problem.
John Lucas: We traced the wire back and we determined that the fuse box, which is in the garage, all the circuits were turned in the off position. All the power to that whole garage was off, including the light.
Rob Stafford: So how could it be an electrical fire if there wasn't any power to the light?
John Lucas: It couldn't have been. It was obviously a set fire.
What's more, on the body they discovered some kind of heavy fuel: diesel, kerosene or charcoal lighter. They weren't sure exactly which it was, but it was definitely highly flammable.
John Lucas: It's heavily - almost poured - on the clothing.
Rob Stafford: Any way that fuel could have leaked out of the truck and gotten on the clothes?
John Lucas: A possibility with him being underneath the truck. It could've possibly gotten on his shirt when he was doing a change of the fuel filter, if you wanted to believe that. However, it was on the jeans. It was down to his underwear. It was on his socks and it was on his boots. And the boots were actually sticking out from underneath the truck. It would have had to have been placed on him.
There was also a propane torch near the truck in the "on" position and cardboard on the body.
Rob Stafford: Why would cardboard be on top of the body?
John Lucas: It shouldn't have been there. I have a suspicious death. I have an arson going on. We're going in so many different directions with this. It's very complex.
Adding to the complexity: the finances of Ari Squire, a guy many found so kind and likeable. As detectives talked to Denise, they learned Ari's life was in shambles. He'd previously owned a home health care company and had been accused by the government of more than 2 million in Medicare fraud. Fighting those charges drained the Squires' financial resources and caused a lot of emotional turmoil.
Scott Morrison: She had explained that they had spent about $200,000 in the last five or six years in legal fees defending Ari. That he was very distraught over the entire case, over having to plead guilty. He felt that he was not in the wrong. She basically said, "We ran out of money to defend and so we fired our attorney and we just settled the case out."
What's more, at the time of the garage fire, Ari was in the middle of a 6-month house arrest. He could only leave for work and essential appointments. He also had to pay the government close to another $200,000 as a result of the fraud.
Denise also told detectives Ari's construction company was a failure and they had refinanced their home to keep it afloat. On top of that, Ari was in debt on a condo complex he owned in Florida.
Denise, an adjunct professor at a university at the time, felt all the financial burden of their home and his business had fallen on her.
Dave Godlewski: According to Denise, he wasn't bringing money home to help with the day to day bills.
Investigators also asked Denise if Ari had any life insurance. She said she knew of none, they say, but detectives checked... And this is what they found. A policy in Ari Squire's name. The amount? Five million dollars. The primary beneficiary? Denise Squire.
Rob Stafford: Is she a suspect?
Dave Godlewski: She's a person of interest.
Rob Stafford: And that interest seems to be growing.
Dave Godlewski: Correct.
But detectives were far from solving this case.
It was a tragic sight in Ari Squire's garage that Saturday morning: a body burned beyond recognition, looking like a victim of a suspicious accident and fire.
On that very same day, about 20 miles away in another county, another strange, seemingly unconnected, event. A mother was upset because her 20-year-old son failed to arrive home to take her to work. He also hadn't called, which for him was highly unusual.
Donna FioRito: I said, "You make sure you're home by 3:00 and if you're not here, make sure you call me." He goes, "Okay, either way, Mom, I'll let you know."
Donna FioRito's son, Justin Newman, was a fun-loving guy who rarely worried about anything. When Justin was young, he wanted to be a professional baseball player, then a fisherman. But reality set in, and lately he'd been working at Home Depot, although his ultimate goal was to make money... lots of it.
Donna FioRito: He said he was gonna be rich and he was gonna drive a Lamborghini. I said, "Working at Home Depot? [laughing] He goes, "No, something'll come my way some day, Mom, and I'll make a lot of money. You know where they say, there's a kid that's 13 going on 20? He was going on 21, but he was only 13.
His half-brother, Frank Testa, was older and more responsible.
FrankTesta: I actually cared about things like finances and bills and he was just, "We'll take of it when we take care of it. And, you know, it'll happen."
But Justin was always on time to take his mom to her job and pick her up at a Target store.
RobStafford: Did he ever not show up?
Donna FioRito: No.
RobStafford: Even this happy-go-lucky kid?
Donna FioRito: You bet. He was always there to take me and always there to pick me up. He'd do anything for me.
He barely trusted even Frank to pick up their mom at work. Just a couple days before, Frank volunteered but says Justin worried he'd be late.
FrankTesta: And Justin had said, “You have to be there on time.” She comes out of the store at this door - this is where you have to get her in the parking lot." He was very adamant about my being there on time.
So when Justin didn't arrive home that Saturday, his brother and mother became very concerned. They knew Justin was supposed to start a new job that morning with a construction firm. The job offered significantly more money than he was earning at home depot and an opportunity to learn the business. This could be the break Justin was dreaming of. The man offering it to him was a customer he met at Home Depot. His name: Ari Squire.
Donna FioRito: Everybody at Home Depot thought he was a good guy. He asked Justin, Justin told me, "How would you like to make some real money?" And he offered Justin $15 an hour.
RobStafford: Was Justin impressed by this guy?
Donna FioRito: He was impressed by the money and the job that he offered him 'cause he figured if he did construction, he could learn something and then move on. So he was excited about it.
Justin was also excited the job might include travel to a construction project in Missouri.
Donna FioRito: He was impressed by the money and the job that he offered him 'cause he figured if he- He says, "You know, Mom, he says, "Our company pays for your hotel and your food." Justin goes, "That'd be an awesome trip. I wouldn't have to take my car. I go with the guys. Make some money."
The job with Ari's company was to start the Saturday Justin went missing. And where was Justin supposed to report to work that morning? The home of his new boss, Ari Squire.
Donna FioRito: He was gonna be at Ari Squire's house by 7 o'clock, a little after, and he would be home by 3:00 to take me to work at 3:30.
When Justin didn't return home that afternoon or answer his cell phone, his mother called his former boss at Home Depot to get Ari's phone number.
Donna FioRito: I told him, "Justin went to work with him today." He goes, "Did he?" He goes, "Donna, Ari Squire died in a fire this morning at his house."
Right away, Donna phoned her other son, Frank.
FrankTesta: So I start asking her questions, "Do we know if his car's in Ari's driveway? Maybe he left with Ari's crew and left his car there. You know, did anyone see him around Ari's house?" And it was just very strange.
Rob Stafford: What's your biggest concern?
FrankTesta: My biggest concern is that Justin left and didn't tell anybody where he was going. Part of me was saying to myself, "Well, he's carefree. But his responsibility to his mother and to me - to the family, because we're all he has left" - and I was kind of conflicted with those two thoughts. So it seems very odd and out of place, but I was not going to share that with my mom.
Finally on Sunday night - almost 36 hours after Justin went missing - they received a text message from Justin's phone.
Donna FioRito: It says, "Gone to Missouri. Call ya next week."
But something seemed strange to Justin's family. The message included "M.O."- the correct abbreviation for Missouri.
Donna FioRito: Justin wouldn't know that.
FrankTesta: He wouldn't have abbreviated it and even if he did, it wouldn't have been correct.
Rob Stafford: So, are you more worried or less?
Donna FioRito: Oh, more.
Donna called 911, and investigators came to her home. The questions they asked about Justin upset her even more.
Donna FioRito: They were asking us about drugs. Maybe Justin got involved with this guy and he's running drugs to Missouri. Maybe he went to Mexico with kilos or bringing kilos back. I mean, they were so into the drug thing that it really started irritating me.
Even worse, they asked other questions that made her wonder if they thought Justin might have somehow caused the accident in the garage.
Donna FioRito: Maybe, you know, they're tryin' to blame him. You think the worst, you know? [laughs] Like did he have any part of this? You know, if it was an accident, Justin's probably really freakin' out, you know, thinkin', "Oh my God, I did somethin' wrong and this man's dead." It scared me.
Rob Stafford: If Justin leaned on that truck and it fell on Ari Squire, would he take off --
Donna FioRito: No.
Rob Stafford: because he was scare -- are you --
Donna FioRito: Absolutely.
Rob Stafford: sure?
Donna FioRito: --not. Asolutely not. That's not Justin. No. Uh-uh. He would've called 911. "Hey, a truck just fell on my boss. You gotta hurry and and get here." I know Justin. He had a heart. He might be carefree, but he does have a heart.
Investigators came back a few days later and collected some of Justin's things.
Donna FioRito: They took one of Justin's sweatshirts, a pair of his shoes and his shaver thing that he used for his hair.
Rob Stafford: What are they saying?
Donna FioRito: "Well, it's just for the future in case we need it." And I go, "You know what? I'm not stupid." I says, "I got a feeling." And she goes, "Oh, no, it's nothing' bad, it's nothin' bad."
Rob Stafford: What are you goin' through at that point?
Donna FioRito: I couldn't even sleep. I didn't eat. I just, "Where is he? Something's happened to him." And then I started thinking, "What if this man sent him on a trip with a bunch of guys for dope and they ended up killin' my son?" I mean, just things goin' through my mind.
As the Lake County Sheriff's office was investigating the apparent accidental death of Ari Squire in his garage, there were more questions than answers. Did the truck really slip off the jack? How did the fire start? Why did Ari's wife, Denise, who had revealed to detectives her husband was costing her a lot of money, claim not to know about the life insurance?
What's more, detectives say Denise met with a funeral director the day after the fire and was adamant Ari's body be cremated immediately. But there was one big problem: the county coroner, Dr. Richard Keller, was not releasing the body. He was having trouble making a positive identification even though it had Ari's I.D .and clothing, right down to the socks and underwear. The coroner tried to locate Ari's dental records, but Ari hadn't been to a dentist in years.
RichardKeller: The dental records were somewhat difficult to find. Initially we were told that all those records had been purged and that there were no records.
Making the official identification was difficult because not only was the face burned beyond recognition, but the fire destroyed the fingerprints. The bones were intact, though, and the coroner learned Ari had broken his arm years earlier, so he ordered an x-ray.
RichardKeller: There was no healed break where it should have been.
One way to identify a victim is with tattoos. The coroner didn't find any on the lower body, so he wanted to know if Ari had tattoos on his arms.
RichardKeller: Despite the fact that they were significantly burned, certainly our hopes were that we would be able to see at least a remnant of the tattoos.
Sgt. Lucas asked Denise and Ari's sister if Ari had tattoos. A simple question that ended up raising even more.
Sgt.Lucas: When we asked Denise, she said that Ari had one tattoo. Ari's sister interjects that he has two tattoos.
Rob Stafford: But Denise is the wife.
Sgt.Lucas: There was a lot of confusion then. You would assume that the wife would know how many tattoos her husband had.
Rob Stafford: Was she nervous about these questions?
Sgt.Lucas: She seemed a little thrown back at that particular one and she kind of tossed it off as, "I'm not sure how many he has."
RichardKeller: Although the story changed a little bit as to whether there was one or two, neither of those marks were where they should have been.
And what about Justin Newman? He was supposed to have been at Ari Squire's the morning of the fire and now he was missing.
Rob Stafford: Is Justin Newman a possible suspect in the death of Ari Squire?
Dave Godlewski: Absolutely. Without knowing Justin's background at that point in time, it could be financially motivated. It could've been just merely an accident that he witnessed and became scared and fled.
In a week when the investigation was moving in many directions at once, detectives went to home depot to ask about Ari Squire and Justin Newman, but they met another man with a strange story to tell that seemed connected to the case but weren't certain how.
Sandy Lively, a carpenter by trade, works at Home Depot and says Ari Squire was a frequent customer, who, a couple months earlier, offered to double his salary if he'd quit and work for his construction company.
SandyLively: He said he had a lot of work. He had work in Missouri. And he offered me $60,000 guaranteed the first year.
Rob Stafford: No matter how much work you had?
SandyLively: If he couldn't keep me working, I'd still get my check.
Rob Stafford: That's an incredible offer.
SandyLively: Almost too good to be true.
And when Ari gave sandy an application to fill out, the questions seemed hard to believe.
SandyLively: It's questions that you just don't ask on an application.
Rob Stafford: Like what?
SandyLively: My color of my eyes, my tattoos, where they're at, that they're of, piercings, ATM pin numbers, uniform size. I've never wore a uniform on a construction site.
Ari went to Home Depot often to talk to Sandy.
Rob Stafford: How many times did he come to the store looking for you?
SandyLively: Four times a week.
Then one day at the store he noticed Ari from a distance.
Rob Stafford: What's he doing?
SandyLively: Staring at me.
Rob Stafford: Right at you?
Rob Stafford: What went through your mind?
SandyLively: Nothing at the time. I just thought he wanted me to come over there and talk to him.
Ari also phoned repeatedly, sometimes several times a day, to talk about the job. Sandy agreed to meet with him a few times but never followed through. Once Sandy was just minutes from Ari's home when his mom called with an enticing offer.
SandyLively: She just made cornbread and beans and I said, "Okay, I', going - I'm coming over."
When Sandy didn't show, Ari got angry.
SandyLively: He called me up and you know, swear at me. And, "Don't you wanna work?" Just blows his top on the phone. He'd usually come in after that and then be all apologetic, say he had a bad day and get back on the same routine trying to get me to work for him.
Finally, Sandy says he fully intended to meet Ari - on the morning of the fire.
SandyLively: I was gonna call him at around 6 o'clock when I got up, and he was gonna tell me where to meet him and I overslept.
Sandy never met Ari that Saturday morning. A few hours later his phone rang. A friend from Home Depot was calling to tell him Ari had been killed in a fire. He felt bad for Ari - and his wife - but sandy was relieved he had not quit Home Depot.
SandyLively: Right away, I thought, "Wow, I would have been out of work if I would took the job." You know, it's just kinda ironic that, you know, he passed away.
Then sandy went to work Monday and learned Justin Newman was missing and was supposed to have gone to Ari's house that Saturday morning for a new job.
Rob Stafford: Did you know Justin was talking to Ari Squire?
SandyLively: No. Thought I was the only one.
One man was dead, his wife a person of interest. Another was missing --- and investigators were suspicious of him, too. His mother, though, was sure Justin was not involved.
Donna FioRito: I know he would've called me. There's no doubt about it.
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran could see the desperation in Donna - and took her son's case seriously.
MarkCurran: He's still a baby in her eyes and a mother-son relationship as strong as virtually any on the face of the Earth.
And as the investigation continued, the coroner raised questions about the age of the victim. He thought the body looked like that of a 20 or 30-year-old. Ari Squire was almost 40.
Dr. Richard Keller: Looking at the body, it looked to be someone much younger. We also had our forensic dentist come in. Their comments were that the teeth appeared to be of someone who wasn't as old as the stated age of this individual.
How could that be? And what could it mean? And where was Justin Newman? So few answers for so many questions, and a phone call to Det. Morrison would raise even more. The call was from Ari's business partner and it changed everything.
ScottMorrison: The partner called me and was upset on the phone. He was shaking and he said I really need to get something off my chest and tell you something very important.
Would what he had to say take the investigation into another direction?
ScottMorrison: He said that a couple years ago, on their way to a job site, he and Ari had had a conversation. This was in the middle of the Medicare problems, so he was under a lot of stress with that case going on. And he explained to the partner that wouldn't it be great to - to find - a dead body someplace and then burn it up. And then start my life over with that identity.
Rob Stafford: Start his life over with a new identity?
ScottMorrison: That's right.
Rob Stafford: What's going through your mind when you hear that?
ScottMorrison: I said, "You have to tell me in your own words, what do you think happened?" And he stated to the effect that, "I think that Ari may have killed an innocent person for the money."
One man dead in a garage, a young man missing, and without warning, the investigation suddenly moved to Missouri.
Bob Watson: The hotels in our city are normally patrolled regularly.
A week after the fire in Ari Squire's garage, Officer Bob Watson was on patrol outside St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri. A parked car with a crooked plate caught his eye and would soon catch the attention of police in Illinois.
Bob Watson: I ran the plate. It came back to a gentleman out of Illinois and there was also an endangered missing person hit on that plate and vehicle.
The car was registered to Frank Testa, Justin Newman's brother. By now Justin was listed as missing and endangered. The hotel register listed Justin Newman in Room 133. Officer Watson called investigators in Illinois.
Bob Watson: He informed me that he was in the process of working an accidental/suspicious death involving a subject by the name of Ari Squire. He thought that maybe Justin Newman had gotten scared and left or had witnessed something and left.
The Missouri officer requested photos of Ari Squire and Justin Newman and returned to the hotel with back-up. They announced themselves and knocked on the door of Room 133.
Bob Watson: We kept calling out Justin's name - just tell him that we wanted to make sure that he was all right, that he was not harmed in any way. But we never got a response.
They asked the hotel clerk to open the door with a master key. But the chain stopped the door.
Bob Watson: It was obvious we weren't going in any further at that point, so we made another announcement, you know, calling out Justin Newman's name, letting him know that we just wanted to make sure that he was okay.
Suddenly a gunshot from inside the room. The officers thought they were under fire. They took up tactical positions, evacuated that wing of the hotel and set up a perimeter. Finally, they went in, and on the floor was a body, a single gunshot to the head. In the man's wallet, a driver's license and a credit card, both with the name of Justin Newman.
But Officer Watson was far from making a positive I.D. He looked around the room and saw boxes of blue-tinted contact lenses and brown hair dye for men. With a beard and thinning hair, the victim looked much older than 20. What's more, he had two tattoos. The officer had been told Justin Newman had only one. And then he received the photos he had requested from investigators in Illinois.
Bob Watson: Ari Squire driver's license photo matched that of the deceased subject that I had in the room.
Ari had been alive all along. It wasn't him in the garage. He'd been on the lam hoping to invent a new life. And now, Ari Squire really was dead. Later that day, his fingerprints were used to confirm his identity. So who died in Ari's garage? That question sent them back to Justin's family, where detectives collected DNA from Justin's mom and asked his brother, Frank, some troubling questions.
FrankTesta: They even asked me if he was circumcised identifiers on a person's body. And that was just bone-chilling.
Rob Stafford: What are you going through at that point?
FrankTesta: Denial. I thought that, "Well, if something happened to my brother, somehow I'd be able to feel it, and I didn't have that. And I think it was denial, that I was tryin' to be strong for her. She's calling me up constantly at work and on my cell phone - crying, telling me, you know, "You know, your brother's missing. You know, my baby's gone."
Meanwhile, investigators prepared - again - to break the news of Ari's death to his widow. The first time they told her - after the fire in the garage - they described her as calm and unemotional, but, this time, they say Denise Squire was far different.
Scott Morrison: She was in shock. Legitimately nowIt took her by surprise. She made a statement, "He killed himself?" What do you mean he killed himself?"
Rob Stafford: Surprise that he committed suicide.
Scott Morrison: Disbelief.
David Godlewski: At that point, she did-- she did begin to cry. Showed-- showed some emotion.
Rob Stafford: More emotion than you'd seen before?
David Godlewski: Yes, absolutely.
Now Denise Squire really was a widow. And detectives say she appeared shocked by the sudden turn of events. But she, too, had something shocking she was about to reveal.
Rob Stafford: She's been talking to Ari Squire?
Nine days after the fire at Ari Squire's garage, the day after his suicide, investigators told Denise for the second time she was a widow. They also told her they were searching her house and seizing their computers. That's when Denise Squire suddenly had something she needed to say. And Deputy Chief Godlewski says it was a bombshell.
David Godlewski: She offers up the fact that she has been speaking with Ari via emails.
Rob Stafford: She's been talking to Ari Squire?
David Godlewski: Yes, since the 24th of February.
Rob Stafford: The day after he died. Supposedly.
David Godlewski: Yeah.
Why did Denise respond to emails from a husband she thought was dead? And why didn't she call investigators to say she'd received them?
David Godlewski: "I thought I'd get into trouble," was her response. She initially explains that she thought it was a scheduled or automated email that was sent from the server or Ari's computer.
Rob Stafford: And what do you say to that?
David Godlewski: It's impossible. She was communicating with a live person.
Here's some of what investigators say Ari wrote: "Did an accident happen?" Denise answered: "Yes." "When will my ashes be returned to you?" Ari asked. She replied: "Body has not been released." The final question: "Is there anything you need?" Denise wrote back: "A new life." Sheriff Curran says those three words say a lot.
SheriffCurran: I think it gives us a window into what was going on in terms of Denise Squire - financially strapped. Ari Squire, the burdens of their bills and not being able to meet them and that somehow a new day was gonna be born for them. And that would be the day that they got the check in the mail from the insurance company. Denise and Ari hook up at some point, and the two of them ride off into the sunset with all that money.
Four million dollars would be their take. A long-time friend of Ari's, who was never a suspect, was to get a million. But before any checks could be sent out, someone had to die. But who? Who was crushed under that diesel truck and burned beyond recognition? The results of a DNA test finally provided the sad truth - and proof - it was murder.
A week and a half after Justin went missing, his brother, Frank, got a call at work.
Frank Testa: The detective had called me earlier that morning and said that he needed to speak with me. And he just had a strange tone in his voice that he hadn't had before when he left the voicemail. And I called him back and he said he would come later in my shift to speak with me.
That afternoon an unmarked sheriff's car arrived.
Frank Testa: I noticed that a vehicle pulled up and they sat out in the parking lot for like two hours waiting for another vehicle. And it was kind of weird 'cause there were four of them sitting one car and they weren't coming in.
Rob Stafford: You didn't go out - why not?
Frank Testa: I didn't wanna know what they were about to tell me. I had a really bad gut feeling about that. And I was right because when they came in, the coroner was with them. He said, you know, "We have some pretty disturbing news. [crying] That body in the garage was your brother." [deep breath] And I had prepared myself for - for bad news when I saw their car sitting there for so long, but when he spoke those words, just everything - I just froze. And I immediately thought of, "How - how am I gonna tell my mom?"
Donna FioRito: I think the coroner's the one that told me. He goes, "I just wanna let you know - that my deepest sympathy is with you, but that was your son Justin underneath the truck." I felt it. I knew it. It's the worst day of my life. When you have kids, you know, and you're just used to bein' so close with 'em and you bond with 'em and you lose one, it's just like your whole world's gone. It's destroyed."
Destroyed for 4 million in life insurance, authorities say, from a 9-year-old policy Denise Squire said she knew nothing about a policy with a premium that was about to jump from just under $2500 to almost $12,000 a year. It appears Ari was in a hurry to find a body double to kill and cash in before the price went up.
Perhaps that's why he was luring both Justin Newman and Sandy Lively - to increase the odds of success. Although half Ari's age, Justin was close to his size. Sandy, a bit taller and heavier, but just two years older than Ari... And take a look at this. That's Ari on the left, Sandy on the right.
RobStafford: When you look at the photograph, what goes through your mind?
SandyLively: Holy cow! I just never realized that he looked like me. And it's amazing that he grew a beard the same time I grew a beard. I mean with the beard we look -- we look identical almost.
Sandy spends a lot of time thinking about how close he came to being Ari Squire's dead ringer under a truck in that garage. He suffers survivor's guilt, and endures terrifying nightmares.
SandyLively: I dreamt that I was under the truck and the thing was on top of me and I wasn't - I wasn't dead. And I could watch him, and I was watching him light the fire, but I couldn't do anything about it.
Sandy says perhaps if he'd shown up that day, he could've foiled Ari's plan and saved Justin's life. But investigators say this was a carefully planned murder. Ari may have been armed that day in the garage, and he was motivated and ready to do whatever was needed to pull off his scheme. Still, sandy's long nights continue, and sometimes his wife, Lora, hears him talking in his sleep.
Lora: He said that Justin was good, that he was fine, that he was with God and all his angels and he was [voice breaking] happy.
RobStafford: What's the hardest part of that?
Lora: Just knowing Justin being so young, and whether he knew it or not, he laid his life down for my husband. [voice breaking]. He took his place.
Justin's family finds some solace in that, but they are also looking for justice, they've filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Denise Squire.
Donna FioRito: I think she knew what was gonna go on at that house because she need-- she wanted a new life. There's no way I'm gonna go quietly with my son at 20 years old got killed over that-- he got murdered and I'm not letting it go. I'm never gonna let it go.
DavidGodlewski: Ari underestimated the love and devotion of a mother and son.
Denise Squire has not been charged with any crime. She declined to speak with Dateline. But her lawyer says she's cooperated fully with the sheriff's office, passed a lie detector test and has done nothing wrong. And she is fighting the civil suit. As for the millions in life insurance, almost all policies have suicide clauses, which expire two years after purchase. So the timing of Ari's gunshot to his head allowed Denise to file for all that money, which the sheriff says she did several months ago. So far the company hasn't paid, and the sheriff hopes it never does.
Mark Curran: It's blood money. It's - it's not right. Video: Remembering Justin Newman
As Denise continues to live where Justin Newman died, the sheriff continues his investigation. He says he's waiting for an FBI analysis of the Squires' computers. At this point, the sheriff suspects Denise of insurance fraud. In addition to filing for the life insurance, she put in a claim on her homeowner's policy after the garage fire, which covered more than $14,000 in clean-up expenses.
But so far, the sheriff has no evidence tying Denise directly to Justin Newman's homicide. But, he says, that could change.
Mark Curran: It is more than a reasonable inference and a reasonable argument to think that she knew about the murder plot. Clearly, she knew that Ari Squire had not died and that there was a dead body underneath the car. Whether or not she knew it was Justin Newman or not, we can't say at this point, but she knew that a murder had transpired.
During questioning under oath in the civil case, Denise repeatedly asserted the fifth when asked about the young man's death. Her lawyer said that's standard procedure when there's also an ongoing criminal investigation, and added Denise has nothing to hide - and is herself a victim of her husband's deception.
Donna FioRito: If you were an innocent person, you would want people to know that you were innocent. So, I think pleading the Fifth just sh-- it-- it's just gonna show people that she's sneaky, and she's lyin'.
As the case makes its way through the justice system, Donna struggles through life, haunted by the death of her young son, his life snuffed out in such a violent way for purely selfish reasons.
Donna FioRito: I've never heard of anything happenin' like this to anybody in my life - ever. It's inexcusable for anybody - anybody to do that to another human being. He had to be some kind of monster. Very heinous. And it's all about money. I'm never gonna be over it. I'm gonna live every day of my life thinking about Justin.
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