48 Hours: NCIS: The Double Cross

Can a videotape left behind by a dead sailor help real-life NCIS investigators solve a double murder?

Produced by Susan Mallie

In 1996, two Navy personnel were killed in a Virginia Beach apartment. The victims – Elise Makdessi and Quincy Brown – were coworkers at Oceana Naval Air Station. Makdessi’s husband, Eddie, said the couple had returned home from dinner and were accosted by Brown. Eddie Makdessi said Brown sexually assaulted and stabbed Elise. Eddie told police he was able to grab a gun and shoot Brown, but it was too late to save his wife.

Because two sailors had been murdered, NCIS was called to the crime scene that very night. With not one, but two of their own now dead, the agents would not rest until the mystery at the heart of this case was solved.

It would take 10 years as NCIS followed this twisting, turning tale that spanned two continents before coming to its stunning conclusion.

THE DOUBLE MURDER

Special Agent Brian Ricardo | NCIS, Retired: On May 15, 1996, I was notified by pager by the Virginia Beach Police Homicide sergeant askin’ to respond to … a scene of a double murder.

Brian Ricardo: Eddie Makdessi and his wife, Elise Makdessi, had been out for… a dinner.

Brian Ricardo: Elise Makdessi … was a good sailor, she was a model sailor.

Investigator Dennis Santos | NCIS; Virginia Beach P.D., Retired: We received the shots fired call over the radio. …The dispatcher has an individual on the phone claiming that he had found an individual raping and murdering his wife, and he had just shot and killed him.

Eddie Makdessi to former WTKR reporter Mike Mather: I’m on the phone with the police, the whole time I’m saying “Please, get here fast.”

Dennis Santos: Back in 1996, I was a sergeant with the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Dennis Santos: I’ve seen horror films, I’ve seen -- the slasher films. When I walked in, my first reaction -- I remember thinking, “Oh, my God, this is real.”

Eddie Makdessi to former WTKR reporter Mike Mather: I know someone hit me on the head. After that, I was dizzy, fainted.

Dennis Santos: Elise Makdessi was tied -- on the bed. …Her throat had been slit and there were multiple stab wounds in her chest. …Blood was everywhere. Laying on the floor next to the bed was Quincy Brown.

Murder victims Elise Makdessi and Quincy Brown

Murder victims Elise Makdessi and Quincy Brown 

Brian Ricardo: Quincy Brown and Elise Makdessi were coworkers … assigned to the Oceana Base headquarters.

Brian Ricardo: Quincy Brown is in her apartment and Quincy Brown has been shot dead while murdering Elise. …shot by Elise’s husband, Eddie.

Dennis Santos: We often talk about the sixth sense that something bad is about to happen.

Brian Ricardo: Before we even left the crime scene that night, we had discovered a videotape.

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “My name is Elise Makdessi. I am making this videotape in case something happens to me or my husband Eddie.”

Mike Mather | Former WTKR reporter: Elise Makdessi spoke from the grave to say what had happened to her.

Mike Mather: This was a very big story. …It was a big deal at the time.

Brian Ricardo: Clearly there were some alerts goin’ off that -- that -- that was much bigger-- and a whole number of issues far more-- than I had even imagined.

A “HORRIFIC” CRIME SCENE

Dennis Santos: We received the shots fired call.

Eddie Makdessi to 911: My wife, oh God. She got killed.

Dennis Santos: As we were pulling outta the parking lot ... we received a second shots fired call. This time, the dispatcher is advising that the husband is the caller and he’s reporting that he caught someone raping his wife-- and he shot him.

Eddie Makdessi to 911: He killed her, and I shot him…

Dennis Santos: So now, at this point, we know that this is a legitimate shots fired call, and everything is ramped up. Light, siren, and we’re responding at great speed.

911 operator: There’s a police officer at your house….are the police officers there?

Eddie Makdessi to 911: I’m gonna open the door…oh there he is.

Dennis Santos: As we exited the vehicle, a male subject is walking down the stairs … no idea who he was … he has something in his hand. I advised two of the officers to take him into custody until we could determine what we had. …It was later determined that this was Eddie Makdessi coming down the stairs, and he had a portable phone in his hands.

NCIS Investigator Dennis Santos

“I’ve seen horror films, I’ve seen -- the slasher films. When I walked in, my first reaction -- I remember thinking, “Oh, my God, this is real,” NCIS Investigator Dennis Santos said of the crime scene

CBS News

Brian Ricardo: It was clear that there was some kind of struggle that had occurred right at the front door. …There were some containers of food that were on the floor as well as a bottle, probably a wine bottle.

Dennis Santos: As we entered the house we’re moving rapidly because we -- we may have -- injured individuals. …I turned to the right at the very end of the hallway, which turned out to be the master bedroom. And this is where I find Elise Makdessi and Quincy Brown.

Dennis Santos: Even now to this day -- that is probably one of the worst crime scenes I had ever seen. I mean, blood was all over the bed, it was on the walls, it was on the ceiling. It was-- it was a horrific crime scene.

Dennis Santos: Quincy Brown was closest to me. …I went quickly to him, and very quickly confirmed that he was -- he was dead on the scene. I then turned my attention to Elise Makdessi, who was still alive. …She was spread eagled with her hands and her legs tied to each of the four posts of the bed.

Dennis Santos: The wounds that she had on her throat and on her chest …None of us were trained for this type of -- injuries and wounds.

Dennis Santos: I was telling her to hang on, that rescue was coming.

Dennis Santos: And there was a point in time in the room when it was just me and Elise Makdessi, when she was looking at me and I’m looking at her. You know, we don’t talk about this very often, but there’s -- there’s an unspoken promise that I’m not gonna forget this. You know, I’m not gonna let this happen. Somebody will be … held responsible for this.

Police officer | WTKR report:  “A male subject deceased … a seriously injured, critically injured female … was pronounced dead en route to the hospital … and then a third individual we believe is the woman’s husband is injured. He’s also at the hospital but other than that we have no further information at this time.”

Brian Ricardo: Eddie Makdessi and his wife Elise Makdessi had been out for a dinner at one of the restaurants in Virginia Beach. …They had come home. Eddie was attacked at the front door-- and then tied up.

Mike Mather WTKR report: “Eddie said, he broke free … but it was too late to save his wife.”

Mike Mather: This was a very big story. Virginia Beach bills itself as one of the safest cities in America, and it is. So any murder is relatively rare. A double murder, exceptionally rare in that city.

Brian Ricardo: Elise Makdessi … did well in boot camp. When she went to air traffic controller school in Memphis … she graduated at the time with the highest grade point average ever. …She was -- in the pipeline to become certified as an FAA and Navy air traffic controller, she was havin’ problems applying the theory into practice.

Brian Ricardo: Quincy was a career sailor. …he was married to a career sailor. His wife was a First Class Hospital Corpsman.

Brian Ricardo: He ended up being temporarily assigned to the quarterdeck with Elise Makdessi. … And the quarterdeck in Navy tradition is where you’re greeted when you come aboard a ship or when you come aboard a base.

Mike Mather: A sailor serving honorably at Ocean Naval Air Station had been murdered in her own home and that somebody else she worked with-- was involved. There was a sense of just how could this possibly happen and what’s the connection.

Brian Ricardo: We have been able to identify that there was sexual intercourse between Elise Makdessi and Quincy Brown that night, we have that forensically.

Brian Ricardo: We had a search warrant for the apartment and everything in the apartment.

Brian Ricardo: We had discovered -- a videotape and we had discovered -- what looked like to be a journal.

Brian Ricardo: The journal almost matched word for word with what she had had on the videotape … almost like a script.

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “…and he then threatened me:  ‘You can’t prove anything so keep your mouth shut.’”

Brian Ricardo: We knew that it was our duty to conduct-- a thorough investigation into her allegations. We had to speak for Elise.

SPEAKING FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Mike Mather: It was probably one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. It is essentially Elise Makdessi walking into frame, sitting down, starting off with, “My name is Elise Makdessi.”

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “This is the story of my life as a defenseless woman in the Navy.”

Brian Ricardo: We found the videotape and the journal; they were inside -- like, a fire safe or one of those little home fireproof lockboxes.

Elise Makdessi as seen on the videotape

Elise Makdessi as seen on the videotape

WTKR

Brian Ricardo: She was making claims that she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed by active duty service members at a number of commands, every place that she had been assigned since she’d been in the Navy.

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.”

Mike Mather: It’s a story of -- a woman who was sexually harassed and raped at her job working for the United States Navy. It was the first time in my entire career I’ve actually seen somebody talking from beyond the grave to me, and it was unsettling.

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “Very soon, I will have enough evidence [sighs] to send to the media and then something will be done.”

Brian Ricardo: The only thing that was left out of the video that was in her journal is that she had actually named sailors from each command … primarily that had -- sexually assaulted and harassed her.

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “One day, in January of ’96, I was raped.”

Brian Ricardo: Elise’s journal named Quincy Brown one of the suspects that had sexually assaulted her.

Elise Makdessi on videotape: “I got raped in the women’s bathroom. And he then threatened me and told me, ‘ You can’t prove anything so keep your mouth shut. Or else, you and your husband could get hurt.’”

Brian Ricardo: Obviously we knew that it would be hard to prosecute a case without a victim. But we knew that we had to look into her allegations, because just the simple fact that Quincy Brown is named in her journal. … Quincy Brown is in her apartment and Quincy Brown has been shot dead while murdering Elise, clearly we know that we have to open up an investigation.

Special Agent Brian Ricardo, NCIS retired

“She was making claims that she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed by active duty service members at a number of commands, every place that she had been assigned since she’d been in the Navy,” said retired NCIS Special Agent Brian Ricardo, who investigated the allegations

CBS News

Mike Mather: So there was a second investigation going on, not just of the deaths at that apartment, but of Elise Makdessi and who may have harmed her at work and was she harmed at work.

Nancy Simpson | Elise Makdessi’s friend and co-worker: In 1996, I was in the United States Navy and I was stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia … as an air-traffic controller in and I worked along side Elise Makdessi.

Nancy Simpson: We had a memorial service for Elise. …there was a lotta angry people in … in that room. And I didn’t understand that … I didn’t know what was goin’ on … I started to hear the stories about her accusing -- people that she worked with of sexually assaulting her, raping her, punching her.

Nancy Simpson: I was Elise’s supervisor -- immediate supervisor. … Our overall supervisor, another very strong female. … We compared notes. Like, “Have you ever heard anything about this?” “No, I never heard anything about it.”

Nancy Simpson: There was a local reporter named Mike Mather that was covering this story. … Eddie trusted Mike Mather.

Mike Mather: I got a phone call from Eddie Makdessi saying that he would like to talk about what happened -- he would like to tell me his story. …It’s-- it’s rare that a reporter gets an inside look at a crime scene.

Rocky Carroll | Narrator: At the time, Mather was a newspaper reporter for The Virginian Pilot. He started working for a local TV station a few years later.

Mike Mather: I remember Eddie -- had mixed himself a drink, and he was always rattling around the ice in the drink. He seemed very nervous. He seemed very agitated.  Over the next hour-and-a-half he walked me from the front door through every portion of that apartment into the bedroom where his wife was murdered and where he said he had shot and killed the intruder.

Mike Mather: The bed had been disassembled. … I looked down at the carpet, and there were cutouts where he said his gun had fallen. The walls had webs of twine all where they were tracking the blood spatter.

Mike Mather: I remember thinking at that time the way he was describing the murder to me did not match the evidence I saw on the walls. …That night it struck me that something was not quite right in that bedroom.

Brian Ricardo: As we move forward in this investigation, Eddie is less and less communicative with us.

Brian Ricardo: He allowed the news reporter into the apartment. He allowed the news reporter … to take pictures of our markings … of our blood spatter folks who did all the examinations of the blood spatter. He continued to talk to them, but he refused to talk to us.

makdessi-knife.jpg

The sharp knife, usually used for hunting, used to stab and cut Elise Makdessi’s throat.

Virginia Beach Circuit Court

Beth Dunton | Virginia Beach Forensics Supervisor: This is the -- knife that was used to actually -- stab and cut -- Elise Makdessi’s throat.

Beth Dunton: This knife is an extremely sharp-bladed knife and it’s normally used for hunting. …Thick blade and very, very sharp. Easily to cut through skin and bone with ease and no problem. This knife was recovered next to the hand of Quincy Brown underneath the bed that Elise Makdessi was murdered on. Elise Makdessi had her throat slit to the point where she was almost decapitated and three excessively large stab wounds in her chest that was consistent with almost somebody stabbing and then dragging the knife down, stabbing and then dragging the knife down.

elise-makdessi-autopsy.jpg

Elise Makdessi’s throat was slit to the point where she was almost decapitated; she also suffered “three excessively large stab wounds in her chest.”

Virginia Beach Circuit Court

Beth Dunton: Eddie had stated that …Somebody ambushed him from behind, knocking him out. …The next thing he remembers he was woken up in the bedroom with his hands bound behind his back with a black male he did not know on top of his wife, raping and stabbing her.

Beth Dunton: The knife itself we swabbed the blade for DNA and we swabbed the handle separately.  And on the blade of the knife was Elise Makdessi’s blood.  And on the handle -- was Quincy Brown’s blood. … At some point … Quincy Brown’s blood had to start flowing to transfer onto the knife … but if you go with Eddie’s original story, Quincy Brown’s blood should not be on the handle of the knife because he’s not bleeding yet … ‘cause he’s got no injuries to him.

Rocky Carroll: The more Dunton investigated, the more Eddie Makdessi’s version of events didn’t add up.

Beth Dunton: This is a .38 Special, Rossi revolver. … Eddie had stated that somebody ambushed him from behind … knocking him out.  … He was able to break through his binds, grab the gun that was located in the nightstand right next to him and shot three times at the suspect who was attacking his wife.

Beth Dunton: After further investigation and entering into the crime scene, Eddie’s version of events did not really match up to what the crime scene was showing.

Beth Dunton: Quincy Brown-- on his knees, laid back, was fully clothed with a T-shirt and shorts on.  His shirt was tucked into his pants really giving no indication that he … just was raping somebody.

Brian Ricardo: We were having some inconsistencies.

Beth Dunton: This gun was purchased the day before the murder occurred.  Elise Makdessi, as a matter of fact, was the one who actually purchased the weapon.

Brian Ricardo: It was starting to not make sense to us.

A STORY STARTS TO UNRAVEL

Mike Mather: Eddie always referred to the intruder, Quincy Brown, and said he had no idea who he was. And he appeared as shocked as anybody when the identification came out and it actually showed it was one of Elise’s coworkers.

Brian Ricardo: In the weeks before the homicide Eddie Makdessi had made statements to friends that Elise was being sexually assaulted and sexually harassed by people in the Navy, and that it was now going to come to light. And when it did, it was gonna be bigger than Tailhook.

CBS News report: The now infamous 1991 Navy Tailhook convention at a Las Vegas hotel, where Navy pilots taunted and mauled women during a drunken night of revelry.

Mike Mather: This was a difficult time in the Navy. …there was a nationwide perception of how some women are treated by military members. …Eddie Makdessi divulged to me that his wife … was harassed at work and this murder may have been some way connected to that harassment.

Rocky Carroll: As NCIS looked into the allegations Elise had left behind, they also started to take a closer look at Eddie. Born in Lebanon, he’d emigrated to the U.S.

Eddie Makdessi

Eddie Makdessi

Brian Ricardo: Eddie Makdessi … grew up in Massachusetts -- lived most of his life up there until he married … Elise Makdessi. He moved with her to several different states. …We could never identify what Eddie’s -- real job was; that he actually had an occupation.

Brian Ricardo: There were a number of insurance policies… The Navy insurance that Elise got through the Navy was around $200,000. … Eddie and Elise had got … additional insurance on each other. …between $500,000 and $750,000.

Mike Mather: Eddie was pressing hard to get his money. …Eddie began receiving a series of payouts that totaled more than $700,000.

Brian Ricardo: Three months, four months down the road, and we’re gettin’ information that Eddie has now moved-- back to Massachusetts.  …And Eddie has bought a boat that he’s named Elise and he’s bought -- a Tahoe … and has a personalized plate that says Elise.

Rocky Carroll: But according to Eddie Makdessi, the U.S. Navy was determined to silence him.

Brian Ricardo: He’s claiming that … there’s a Navy hit squad after him.

Mike Mather: I had a phone call from Eddie … and he was driving in his brand new truck … and a car starts following him. …and they run him off the road. And as his truck approaches a cliff, he is able to fling open the door, dive out just in time the car goes off the cliff and is destroyed.

Mike Mather: It wasn’t long after that that I get a phone call from Eddie. This time a second hit squad has descended upon him, and they manage to get alongside him and start shooting at him from one car to another. He told me he had been shot several times. Flabbergasted.

Brian Ricardo: We interview the emergency room doctor … who treated Eddie, and the emergency room doctor’s opinion is that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Mike Mather: That was the last time I heard from Eddie Makdessi for maybe a year.

Brian Ricardo: So months into the investigation now -- Eddie is not in communication with us, and he’s not in communication with -- the Virginia Beach Police Department on a regular basis.

Brian Ricardo: I was earnestly conducting this sexual assault investigation.

Brian Ricardo: We had interviewed well over 200 people, both active duty and civilian, in the Navy. We had interrogated all the suspects that Elise had named in her journal.  …We had no corroborative evidence of sexual assault or sexual harassment by anyone on Elise Makdessi.

Retired NCIS Special Agent Dan Rice

“The further we looked into it, the story didn’t make sense,” said retired NCIS Special Agent Dan Rice

CBS News

Special Agent Dan Rice | NCIS, Retired: My name is Dan Rice. And I was a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service when I picked up this case in 1998. …The case had gone basically cold for two years of being unsolved when they referred it to us to take a look at. …The further we looked into it, the story didn’t make sense.

Dan Rice: We have phone records from Quincy Brown’s phone showing that he made a series of short phone calls to the Makdessis’ house -- on the night of the killings. … using triangulation, we were able to show that the phone calls actually came from the parking lot of the Makdessis’ apartment house.  He leaves a couple of phone messages on their phone machine.  …The cassette tape from the phone recorder -- was missing. It’s never been found.

Murder victim Quincy Brown

Investigators believe Quincy Brown had been lured to the apartment as part of the Makdessi’s sinister plan to fabricate a story about sexual harassment in the Navy

Dan Rice: We think that what happened was that this was a prearranged -- tryst … that they had set up for Quincy Brown to come over to the house that night and have a romantic interlude with Elise.

Brian Ricardo: The crime scene, the more we thought about it, appeared to be staged. The phone calls … the visit to the restaurant -- even the videotape.

Dan Rice: Once we saw the holes in Eddie’s story-- we got with Virginia Beach. We both agreed that -- Eddie was in fact a suspect.

Rocky Carroll: Police also concluded that Quincy Brown had been lured to the apartment as part of the Makdessi’s sinister plan to fabricate a story about sexual harassment in the Navy.

Dan Rice: We had to put together an indictable case at that point. …I knew about Ross Gardner, a forensic examiner down in Georgia.

Mike Mather: And his specialty was making sense out of senseless crime scenes.

Ross Gardner | Blood Spatter Expert: At the time that I was brought into this investigation, I was a special agent assigned to the United States Army’s Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Gillem, Georgia.

Ross Gardner: Eddie’s original story was pretty succinct and pretty to the point.  He claimed … that he removed the gun from the -- nightstand.  Immediately turned and that Quincy then came off the bed.  And he fired and that Quincy rotated and went to … the ground.  That did not coincide with … the data that we had available from the crime scene.

Brian Ricardo: Taking the blood spatter evidence … he was able to conclude that … Quincy was actually on his knees on the floor. …and that Quincy was actually shot in that position and the final shot … Quincy was actually laid all the way back onto the floor.

quincy-brown-sketch.jpg

Based on the blood spatter evidence, it was concluded Quincy Brown was on his knees on the floor. …and that he was actually shot in that position.

Ross Gardner

Ross Gardner: The most significant of his contradictions relate to the phone.  Eddie says he shoots the assailant. … Then he retrieves the phone.  Nice story, unfortunately the physical evidence doesn’t support it.

Ross Gardner: When Quincy’s shot the second and third time, there was this immense spatter event that goes up into the air.  And those droplets rain down across everything.  This is the phone cradle where Eddie claimed he had removed the phone from after he did those shots. But as we look at the phone cradle, we’re gonna see that the spatter are throughout the area where the phone should have prevented that.  And the phone itself had none of these spatter on it. … Which tells us that the phone was not in this area anywhere at the time of that event.

Ross Gardner: Very early on, what I thought was most appropriate is follow the knife, the weapon that killed Elise.

Ross Gardner: Elise was found bound to the bed, tightly. Her body lay over the top of the purple bedspread.

Rocky Carroll: But that’s not where police found blood evidence from the knife.

Ross Gardner: What we’re looking at is the fitted sheet. We have this pattern transfer from the knife. But once Eddie encounters Quincy and stands up with the gun, that kind of demands that Quincy said, “Excuse me, I’ve got to make the bed before we have this little shootout.” That made no sense.

Ross Gardner: What we do know is that what Eddie said was going on, the order in which he said things were happening, didn’t happen.

Rocky Carroll: Gardner’s conclusion was stunning. Eddie had shot Quincy … and then butchered his own wife, as she lay tied to the bed.

Mike Mather:  This is early 2001. …It is unmistakable. The police believe he is not a victim, but a double murderer.

Dan Rice: We took the case to the grand jury. … Came down rather quickly. We got two indictments for first-degree murder. However, by that time, we found that -- Eddie had fled the country.

THE HUNT FOR EDDIE MAKDESSI

Dan Rice: After we got the indictments in 2001… it was just the best feeling in the world knowin’ that he was finally gonna see the inside of a jail cell and hopefully justice was gonna be done. …We went looking for Eddie and we found that he’d fled the country.

WTKR report: This is the man police are searching for. He is Eddie Makdessi and he is accused of killing his wife and her co-worker 5 years ago to collect insurance.

Mike  Mather: I don’t know where Eddie is at this point. …and I started trying to email him. … I didn’t know what his email was. So I just started with every free combination of could think of, emakdessi@hotmail.com and strung out a bunch of them and just kept hitting send, send, send, send. Eddiemakdessi@hotmail.com responded.

Mike Mather: He was angry. … I had told him in my initial forays of emails that he’d been indicted for murder. … He unleashed on me. He thought that I’d somehow betrayed him … That I somehow had cooperated in a way to get this indictment. …I responded and said, “You are being charged with murder, and you have the right to speak for yourself. …I need to hear your side of the story again. I need your reaction to this indictment.”

Mike Mather: Eddie Makdessi sent me a document. …”The Unbelievable True Story” of Eddie Makdessi.

Eddie Makdessi story document

The document Eddie Makdessi sent to reporter Mike Mather

WTKR

Mike Mather: He had told me that he had left the country … and went first to Syria. And in Syria … they believed he was some kind of a spy, they had jailed him, they had confiscated all his money. This is the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he had gained from the life insurance payouts. So he was essentially kicked out of Syria with no money. He eventually ends up living with a Russian bride about four hours north of Moscow.

Dan Rice: He had in fact married a Russian woman and had a child with her over there. And he was granted Russian citizenship, which we knew was gonna make it harder to get him back.

Mike Mather: He is in Russia, and there is no extradition treaty of any kind with Russia.

Mike Mather: I sent him an email and said, “Would you be interested in sitting down with me and formally, for the first time, telling your story about what happened that night, what happened after and how you’ve ended up here?” And he agreed. …In October of 2002, I traveled to Russia to meet with Eddie Makdessi in person.

Mike Mather:  I worked with the CBS bureau there, who provided me with a translator and a fixer, and they provided me with a driver.

Dennis Santos: My initial thought when I heard that Mike Mather had gone to Russia without telling anybody, to interview Eddie Makdessi, was that was the craziest thing I had ever heard. … [Laughs] I was very surprised that he would take that chance. Because that that was very risky for a story.

Mike Mather: I had been pressured a lot by the State Department, by the U.S. Embassy, by the police department to divulge where I was going, what I was doing, have them somehow assist, and that was more than I could possibly stomach. I needed to be there as an independent journalist to get his story.

Mike Mather: It was this odd cloak-and-dagger journey through the Russian countryside. I called Eddie, and he said, “Drive to this town and call me.” And we drove to this town, we’d call him. “Drive to this town and call me.” We drove to that town and called him.  We can come to you what hotel are you in? Finally he gave us the name of another town and a hotel where we could finally meet him.

Mike Mather: We arrived at that hotel in this throwback Soviet-era city. …It was largely vacant and abandoned. And in a closed breakfast bar area is the man I haven’t seen in years.

Mike Mather: The first thing I recall that really made me nervous is I went to put a microphone on him. And as I clipped the lavalier to his suit jacket and I part his coat to put the battery back on, he’s wearing a gun on his hip. Nobody knows where I am, and the man I’m trying to interview is carrying a gun to the interview. …And I had this fleeting moment -- maybe I’ve bitten off a bit more than I could chew.

Eddie Makdessi interview

Eddie Makdessi during his interview with Mike Mather in Russia

WTKR

Mike Mather: You know the police don’t believe your story. So, let me ask you this. Did you kill your wife?

Eddie Makdessi:  Of course not.  There’s too much blood, I remember. Too much blood. Blood on my hand, blood on my clothes, blood everywhere.  …She was tied. …I remember trying to get her untied, and …She’s looking at me.

Mike Mather: I asked him, “Do you want to come back and face trial?” He said he did.

Eddie Makdessi to Mather: If they want me to be tried – try me and kill me. Better than make me suffer. Please. I just can’t take it anymore.

Mike Mather: I told him that I can guarantee him a plane ticket from the embassy, but I need to tell them he has a valid passport. …He went home and got his passport. We converged in the hotel parking lot:

Eddie Makdessi to Mather: I’ve been in Turkey, I’ve been in Jordan. I’ve been in (mumbles) ...

Mike Mather: OK. You want me to call you tonight or tomorrow?

Eddie Makdessi: Whenever you like.

Mike Mather: OK , I’ll call you --

Eddie Makdessi: Call me today. Call me tomorrow. Call me every day.  You know how long it’s been I haven’t spoke to an American…

Mike Mather: And as soon as I shook his hand and took one step back, it felt like people just appeared next to me. And they were putting their hands on us and pulling us away. And they were Russian agents.

eddie makdessi

Two Russian agents can be seen to the left of Eddie Makdessi as Makdessi met with reporter Mike Mather in a hotel parking lot. 

WTKR

Mike Mather WTKR report:  Remember the men on the hotel stairs?...They took our  tapes, they took our passports, and herded us to separate rooms.

Mike Mather: They asked if I was a police officer. They asked if I was a spy.

Mike Mather: I -- for a while I believed I’m never getting out of here. My wife is home, pregnant with triplets, and I’m stuck in Russia and I will never see the light of day again. …They had taken our main videotape. And as we were being told we could go, this bear of a man with this giant scar through his forehead reached down and in Russian said something and the translator said … “Please let us not have this incident affect our countries’ growing affection.” And I shook his hand and said, “Sure,” and we got in the car and headed back to the hotel.

Mike Mather WTKR report: After answering dozens of questions over and over, they finally accused us of interviewing residents without a permit. And then they let us go.

Mike Mather WTKR report: We didn’t know what happened to Makdessi until the next day:

 Eddie Makdessi (via phone to Mather): They asked me questions about maybe two hours, and then after that, one person stayed at the door guarding. He said,” you can’t leave the room.”

Mike Mather:  They did not give you your passport back? 

Eddie Makdessi: No, I asked them, where’s my passport? I need to go back to the U.S. They said, “Oh, we forgot.”

Dan Rice: The Russian authorities confiscated Mike Mather’s film. And they also confiscated Eddie’s Russian passport, which basically left him stranded in Russia with no way to get out.

SEEKING JUSTICE FOR ELISE AND QUINCY

Dan Rice: Eddie … said that he wanted to come back to the United States. …He needed to get his Russian passport back.

Mike Mather WTKR report: The Russian foreign ministry expelled us without our tapes. And without any guarantee Makdessi would return for trial.

Mike Mather: I wanted to tell this story. … I think I owed it to Elise’s family. I owed it certainly to Eddie’s family. I owed it to all of our viewers to tell this story.

Mike Mather: I kept writing letters to our embassy, to the Russian Embassy just begging with them, pleading with them, to return this videotape. One day at the office, I got a call that there was … an overnight express-type envelope at the front desk. … Inside was a videotape. … And I thought, “This is gonna be the biggest joke ever. I’m gonna go take this, put it in the player and it’s going to be entirely blank.” So I walked back, pushed it in the player, hit the rewind button, pressed play, and there was Eddie Makdessi.

Dan Rice: After that, Eddie went to the United States Embassy in Moscow.

Mike Mather: I got this call from Eddie again, and he said, “I am at the gates of the U.S. Embassy, and they won’t let me in.” And I’m just about to lose it. I say, “Stay right there.” And I’m calling the detective. I’m calling my State Department contact … and I’m saying, “I don’t understand what’s going on. This is the guy you want back to face a murder charge. He is knocking on your gates literally, and you won’t let him in.” Eventually somebody contacted the right person, they opened the gates, and Eddie Makdessi walked into the United States Embassy in Moscow.

Dan Rice: We worked with the State Department, with the Russians. He was able to get his passport back and then travel to the United States under escort of the U.S. Marshals.

Eddie Makdessi under arrest

Eddie Makdessi was charged with the murders of his wife, Elise, and her co-worker Quincy Brown, upon his return to the U.S.

WTKR

Dan Rice: We brought Eddie back and put him in Virginia Beach jail in August of 2003.

Mike Mather: Are you glad you came back?

Eddie Makdessi: Yeah, I’m glad.

Mike Mather: Still glad? You’ll be able to prove your innocence still?

Eddie Makdessi: I hope.

Dan Rice: Eddie changed his story during the interrogation from the 1996 statement he gave to the police after the murders.

[Interrogation] Eddie Makdessi: These guys came to my house and they tried to kill me and my wife and I shot them.  

Investigator:  You said “these guys”?

Eddie Makdessi: Yeah. There was more than one. You know.

Investigator: How many were there?

Dan Rice When he told them initially there was one assailant, now he was up to five assailants attacking them in the apartment.

[Interrogation] Investigator:  You said you really don’t want to discuss what happened that night.

Eddie Makdessi: Not really. Not without a lawyer because I, I feel like I’m getting really screwed. …Why am I in handcuffs? I didn’t kill my wife. No one has any idea how much I loved her. For seven years, not one night a good sleep because of this.

Mike Mather: I’d talk with Eddie routinely in the Virginia Beach jail. …He had a lot of pretrial motions. One of the pretrial motions was about Elise Makdessi’s videotape. …Whether he was guilty or whether he was innocent, that tape, if it ever got in front of a jury would be the definition of reasonable doubt. …And the judge said the tape will not be admissible in trial. Eddie was devastated. He was so angry.

Prosecutor Catherine Dodson | Commonwealth of Virginia: Our theory of the crime was that Eddie concocted this scheme in order to -- get rich, to get $700,000. … Another motive that Eddie probably had was trying to concoct a lawsuit against the Navy to try to, perhaps, get more money out of that by using that scheme. … Elise was a quiet, shy individual. She was meek, and she was manipulated by Eddie. She was controlled by Eddie.

Rocky Carroll: NCIS was certain the claims Elise made in the tape and the journal were false. She’d been coerced into going along with the scheme only to be double-crossed by her own husband.

Brian Ricardo: I believe that Eddie decided to kill his wife when he realized that Elise was not strong enough to follow through with these allegations.

Dan Rice: What really got to me was the fact that he duped his wife into going along with this, knowing that he was gonna kill her and then killing her.

Dan Rice: In 2006, we finally get Eddie to trial. We’re ready.

Eddie Makdessi testifying: I shot him once, then twice.

At his trial, Eddie said he now couldn’t remember witnessing Quincy Brown killing Elise.

Mike Mather WTKR report: Makdessi backed away from the most consistent detail of the story. Saying he is no longer sure he actually saw the intruder stabbing his wife.  A woman he has repeatedly professed to love.

Eddie Makdessi testifying [wiping tears]:  She was like the nicest person you can ever meet. She would never do anything to harm anyone.

Mike Mather: It was Catherine Dodson, in her closing argument,  that said to the jury, “You are allowed to consider prior inconsistent statements.” Eddie Makdessi is the poster boy for prior inconsistent statements.

Catherine Dodson: The whole case was done in a little less than two weeks.

Dan Rice: It was actually a quick jury verdict.

Mike Mather: Clerk comes out, Eddie stands up. His defense attorney stands up. And the clerk reads the verdict: Guilty of two murders.

Catherine Dodson:  The jury sentenced Makdessi to two life terms plus 13 years which was the maximum incarceration.

Catherine Dodson: It was very gratifying. And Captain Santos came up to me afterwards and hugged me and said now he can sleep at night. And that felt real good.

Dennis Santos: The promise was fulfilled that I made with Elise Makdessi -- and all of that hard work that everybody was involved in finally came together at that one moment in time.

Brian Ricardo: I lived and breathed that case for three years. If you ask my family, that’s what my whole life, unfortunately, was devoted around that case and oftentimes not around them. … The more that I got involved in learning about Quincy and learning about Elise Makdessi … that I said “we need justice for them.”

Dan Rice: When you have a Navy or Marine Corps victim like we had here with two of ‘em-- knowing that we’re the ones who are entrusted with bringing their cases to fruition and hopefully seeking justice, it -- it puts a great responsibility on you. … And we’re never gonna give up.


The next episode of “48 Hours: NCIS” airs Friday, May 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS