The Dateline episode “Under the Desert Sky” investigates the 2011 murder of 16-year-old Micaela “Mickie” Costanzo in Wendover, Nevada. The Mormon teen was kidnapped and brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend Kody Patten and his girlfriend Toni Fratto. They took Costanzo to the desert where Fratto hit her on the head with the shovel and sat on her while Patten slashed her throat. They buried her in the desert. Patten and Fratto, both 19, confessed to the kidnapping and murder. Fratto avoided a death sentence by agreeing to testify against Patten.
Prosecutors claimed Patten and Fratto were planning to get married but Costanzo had been texting Patten asking to get back together with him. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that psychological testing has shown Fratto has the mental and emotional maturity of a 15-year-old and her attorney claims she was under the influence of Patten. Security cameras at their high school had captured Patten choking Fratto. Fratto’s mother Cassie testified that Patten had stayed at her house for six weeks before the murder. She agreed to Patten staying with them because she feared Toni would otherwise leave home. Toni Fratto was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole in ten years. Patten was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Dateline airs Fridays at 9pm on NBC.