Lynne Friend, a 35-year-old mother of 5-year-old son Christian, was packing to move to Nashville when she disappeared in August 1994. After winning primary custody of Christian from her ex-husband Clifford Friend, Lynne was ready to start a new life in a new city with her fiance, Ed O’Dell. Before Lynne and Christian left Florida, according to prosecution, Clifford Friend had her come to his home to pick up a child support check and then “choked her in a rage” and later dumped her body in the ocean. Lynne Friend’s body was never found but in 2014, Clifford Friend was convicted of his ex-wife’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
After Lynne’s death, Christian was raised by his father and his current wife, Janet. (Clifford and Janet married in 1995.) At his father’s trial, Christian, then 25, testified on behalf of his father: “He raised me to know the difference between right and wrong. I know he loved me. He loved too much to hurt me by taking my mother from me. After sitting here for weeks, I have never been more sure of his innocence.” The judge who sentenced Clifford Friend said of Christian Friend: “I hope one day he understands what he has lost.” TLC will air the Dateline NBC investigative report on March 7 at 9pm.