A WOMAN SUDDENLY VANISHES AND IS NOT REPORTED MISSING FOR MONTHS - HER HAIRDRESSER PUSHES FOR ANSWERS - IS SHE DEAD OR ALIVE?
"48 Hours" Investigates in "Missing Marsha"
Saturday, April 7- 10:00 PM, ET/PT
When Marsha Brantley of Cleveland, Tenn., suddenly vanished in 2009, her husband, Donnie, eventually became a suspect in her murder. But was Marsha even dead?
Peter Van Sant and 48 HOURS investigate Marsha's disappearance and the murder case against her husband in "Missing Marsha" to be broadcast Saturday, April 7 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. It's a case 48 HOURS has been working on for five years, and it raises questions about the challenges prosecutors often face when someone vanishes without a trace. It also includes a stunning ending that nobody - including prosecutors - saw coming.
The Brantley case was unusual from the start because for months after Marsha disappeared, nobody reported her missing - not her friends, family or even her husband. No one took much notice until her hairdresser, Kelly DeLude, worried about a missed appointment, started asking.
"I felt compelled to find out what happened to her," DeLude says.
"I wasn't trying to be a detective, I was trying to be a concerned friend," DeLude says.
DeLude eventually called police, and investigators later picked up the case. The investigation was full of seeming contradictions from the start. Donnie Brantley claimed he hadn't reported Marsha missing because she had left him. Then, police say he lied repeatedly about where she had gone and what she'd taken with her. Still, there was no physical evidence of a crime - no blood, no fingerprints, no crime scene at all. The investigators' biggest hurdle in solving the disappearance of Marsha Brantley may have been Marsha herself. There was no dead body to prove a murder ever had been committed. When Donnie Brantley was deposed in a 2013 civil suit, he didn't seem to want to talk much about Marsha. He pleaded the Fifth Amendment or said he couldn't recall more than 100 times.
Brantley was arrested in 2013, but prosecutors dropped the charges after deciding they didn't have enough to get a conviction. Two years after his 2014 election, District Attorney General Stephen Crump charged Brantley again with essentially the same evidence.
"He murdered her. He murdered her," Crump says, admitting it would be hard to prove.
Lee Davis, Brantley's attorney, says his client is 100 percent innocent.
"What proof is there that she's in fact dead - as opposed to gone missing or living someplace else?" says Davis.
"If he did do something to her and if I just let this go, he'll get away with it," says Delude.
Van Sant and 48 HOURS report the story through interviews with Brantley's friends and family; Donnie Brantley's attorney; his daughter, Elise Brantley; and others. Cameras are there when the case reaches a startling conclusion.
48 HOURS: "Missing Marsha" is produced by Josh Yager and Tom Seligson. Emily Wichick is the field producer. Tamara Weitzman and Sarah Prior are the development producers. George Baluzy, Marcus Balsam and David Spungen are the editors. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
Follow 48 HOURS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Listen to podcasts at Radio.com.