- Dateline Fire & Ice Recap and Commentary
- Aired October 28, 2022, on NBC with Lester Holt and Andrea Canning
Firefighters make a grisly discovery while responding to a house fire in a Toronto suburb.NBC
We didn’t start the fire
On October 14, 2014, a fire was raging in Pickering, a suburb of Ontario, Canada. Anna Connolly noticed the inferno while walking her dog. She immediately called 911, and firefighters responded.
Carmela Knight and David lived in the home along with their two sons. First responders feared that worst: that the whole family was in the house. But luckily David and the kids were at hockey practice. Very lucky…
Carmela wasn’t so lucky. Her burned body was discovered in the smoking remains of their house. Her body was charred so badly that she had to be identified by her dental records. Also found with her body was a tourniquet and a syringe. Was it a possible drug overdose? Well, we are talking about Dateline, so I’m going to go ahead and assume this wasn’t an accident.
Time for an investigation
By the next day, the house was still smoldering and Durham investigators Dianne Jennings and Leon Lynch were assigned to the case. They had to break the news to Carmela’s mom Franca Agosta. Can you imagine how difficult telling a mother that her child is dead must be? I have to imagine that takes a toll on you.
The police pathologist determined Carmela’s cause of death to be undetermined. That’s weird. Shouldn’t smoke inhalation or burns be the cause? Curiouser and curiouser.
Also weird was the fact that the alarm system showed doors being opened in the house when it was supposed to have been empty, Was this the killer?
Her family admitted that Carmela often smoked in the garage, which is where the fire was the most intense. But a second autopsy revealed that she was already dead by the time the fire started. So was it an overdose? No. No drugs were in Carmela’s system, to the surprise of no one who has ever seen one episode of Dateline. In fact, the cause of death was blunt force trauma and neck compression.
We all know that the best place to start in a homicide investigation is with the family, so police immediately interrogated Carmela’s husband David. David’s alibi was that he was at the hockey rink with his two sons. There were many people who witnessed him there. His alibi was airtight.
He also admitted to police that he and Carmela’s marriage wasn’t in the best place. They were separated, sleeping in separate bedrooms. Divorce plans were being made. But David seemed genuinely upset his wife’s death.
Carmela and David had met at a nightclub and not long after had a huge Italian wedding. Then came the children. But that romance had long ago fizzled.
We meet several of Carmela’s friends and family members, and all of them say that Carmela didn’t do drugs of any kind. And there were no drugs found in her system. So that syringe? Must have been staged. What kind of dummy would think that police would fall for that syringe? Like they had to have known the police would run toxicology. I love when killers are stupid though. Makes them easier to catch.
The man in the black SUV
Leading up to her death, Carmela told family and friends that a man had popped up behind her fence and asked if David was home. The man left in a black SUV. Suspicious. Black SUVs automatically make you suspect if you ask me. Just kidding but it is ominous.
David told Carmela not to worry about the man, but didn’t explain who he was or what he wanted with David.
More ominous is the fact that David’s brother Matt Knight had left Canada and moved to Florida, but not before telling his wife that he knew what happened the night of the fire. He wouldn’t elaborate.
Heather (Matt’s wife) says that David had called looking for Matt the night of the fire. Does that mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. But David also planned to move to Florida to start a construction business. Police were very suspicious of David, and knew that if he left Canada, the case was basically cold.
Matt had a solid alibi confirmed by Heather.
Now we meet Graham McDonald, a friend of Matt’s who worked as a handyman for David. Graham told police that he had visited his grandmother the day of the fire, but he wasn’t seen on any of the surveillance footage at his grandmother’s apartment complex. He also claimed he stayed at a local motel, but that could not be confirmed.
Did Graham have a reason to want Carmela dead? Police were wondering if Graham and Carmela were having an affair but there was no evidence of that.
Police interviewed Graham a second time, but now he says he doesn’t remember where he was that day because he was smoking crack. I’m not saying that couldn’t have happened, but I don’t think that’s what happened in Graham’s case.
Always go to the funeral
So David didn’t go to Carmela’s funeral. I mean if you want to get away with the murder of your wife, probably go to her funeral. Her sons also weren’t in attendance which is so sad.
Anyway, we learn that David was having an affair. Carmela knew about it. She found nudes of another woman on a thumb drive. Being a cheater doesn’t make you a murderer, but…
I mentioned earlier that David planned to move to Florida. Well, the couple owned a vacation home there. This woman lived in Florida. David promised to stop seeing her and go to counseling, but he didn’t stop the affair. David was leading a double life.
By the time police had this information, David would no longer talk to him and had lawyered up. People always say that it’s suspicious for a suspect to ask for a lawyer, but please for the love of god, always ask for a lawyer, guilty of not. So this isn’t really evidence to me.
Carmela had filed for custody of their children, and a hearing was scheduled soon after her death. Now that I consider suspicions. Not only that, but Carmela had $850,000.00 in life insurance policies. It almost always goes back to money. Of course, David got the money as soon as he could and planned that move to Florida with the cash.
What David didn’t know was that his phone was being tapped by police. That’s how investigators got wind of his plans to leave the country. They seized his passport, but he told the passport office that he had lost his and they gave him another one.
Escape to Florida
Fast forward to three years after Carmela’s murder. David had arranged for a private plane to help him make his escape to Florida. But police knew and took that second passport he got. He was very upset by this, but who cares? He’s a murderer, right? I think that’s clear by this point.
Remember the guy in the black SUV? Turns out he was an ex business partner of David’s and David had stolen close to $200,000.00 from him. The mystery man wasn’t involved.
By now police are onto Graham and David. Police started an undercover operation to try to get Graham to confess. He told his new friend who was actually an undercover cop that he was under investigation for Carmela’s murder.
So Graham is a dummy. Like a real dummy. The undercover cop told Graham that he knew a guy who could make the problem go away. A man who had terminal cancer and would take the fall for Graham. This is literally a Breaking Bad plotline.
This fixer’s name is Uncle Dan. I laughed so hard at that. That’s the name they come up with? And he met Graham to get the details of the crime so that the fall guy would know what to confess to.
Graham of course started singing like a canary. David had hired him to kill his wife and it was David who let Graham into the house before he left with the boys for the hockey rink. Graham had set off those door sensors.
Graham had strangled her and planted the drug paraphernalia and placed her in the garage. David had promised to pay him $100,000.00 for carrying the deed out.
Well, well, well. If it isn’t the consequences of your own actions
Police found video of David filling up gas cans at a local gas station, but they needed to prove that he had paid Graham for the murder.
Graham was now cooperating with police and agreed to ask David for the money he was owed. What police didn’t tell Graham was that he had a camera on him. Not sure how the snuck that on him, but I’m glad he did.
Graham surprised Dave who was hanging out at a bar and told him the story of Uncle Dan and the fall guy. David gave him $5,000.00.
All three dummies were arrested: David Knight, Matt Knight, and Graham McDonald
David and Graham were convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and arson, and sentenced to life in prison.
Matt was convicted of accessory after the fact and only received one year in prison.
A 40 minute episode of Dateline? I was here for it. I get restless with the hour and a half ones. I really hated David, and Graham and Matt for that matter. Definitely give it a watch!
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