The Dateline NBC episode “The Reckoning” investigates the death of 28-year-old Kathryn Laird. The story starts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas where Kathryn met her future husband Brian Laird. They met on the polo field. (Kathryn was captain of the women’s team.) They eventually married and spent their first summer together as newlyweds in the small town of Fort Smith, Montana (population 161).
But just five months after their wedding, in July 1999, Kathryn told her mother, Mary Lou Little, that she was leaving her husband due to his abusive behavior. Two nights after that phone call, Kathryn went missing. When Kathryn’s employer called the next day to see if Kathryn was coming to work, she and Brian Laird started to look for her. They found Kathryn’s bruised body floating face-down in a reservoir, less than a mile away from their home. The case went cold for years until FBI agent John Teeling reviewed it in 2012. He discovered a couple, the Andersons, who lived next to the Lairds who had not been interviewed the first time around. Their subsequent statements conflicted with Baird’s story. In March 2016, Brian Laird was found guilty of his wife’s murder. He was sentenced to 100 years in jail. At his sentencing in July, he said: “I did not do this, your honor. I still don’t know how Kathryn died.” Dateline airs Fridays at 10pm on ABC.