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Crime News Dateline

California Nurse's Brutal Murder Investigation Took "Shocking Twist" After She Met an "Unthinkable End"

After LaNell Barsock was found dead in her Palmdale home's garage with a plastic bag over her head, detectives eventually realized their investigation was "heading in the wrong direction."

By Jill Sederstrom
LaNell Barsock featured on Dateline: The Breakup

When a California nurse was found brutally murdered on the floor of her Palmdale garage, detectives began to look at what seemed to be an obvious suspect — until they realized they were heading in the “wrong direction."

“Sometimes the person who appears 100% guilty... is not,” Dateline correspondent Josh Mankiewicz told NBC Insider of the investigation at the center of a new episode debuting Friday, June 14 at 10/9c p.m. on NBC.

The episode, titled “The Breakup,” promises a “shocking twist of events in the slaying” and reveals the final moments in the life of nurse LaNell Barsock.

“When a nurse is gunned down in her home, detectives initially believe they have a clear suspect,” the episode's synopsis states. “As they delve deeper into the investigation, new information leads them down a completely different path.”

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Barsock’s friend La’Rene Austin, covered in blood, rushed into the Palmdale station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on June 16, 2010 with a harrowing story about finding her friend dead.

“La’Rene Austin said the horror began when she'd walked barefoot into her friend’s garage and she slipped on something wet. A terrible scene began to come into focus,” Mankiewicz explained in “The Breakup" episode of Dateline, as seen in a preview.

What happened to California nurse LaNell Barsock?

When detectives Joe Espino and Bob Kenney arrived at the crime scene a short time after Austin came to the station, they found Barsock dead in her Palmdale, California home's garage with a black plastic bag over her head.

“Usually it means they don’t want to see that person, so we made the assumption that whoever had done this killing knew the victim,” Kenney said of the telling clue.

Mankiewicz says in the Dateline episode of the nurse's fate, "It was an unthinkable end for a woman devoted to helping others."

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Detectives soon began to focus on Barsock’s live-in boyfriend, Louis Bonheur, but as the investigators dove deeper into the case, they realized that everything wasn’t as it initially seemed.

"The lights start to go on that we’re heading in the wrong direction,” Kenney says in the episode.

Detective Bobby Kenney featured on Dateline: The Breakup

As detectives pieced together the clues left behind, the case took a shocking twist.

"Investigators discovered a plot so sinister, so stunning, it took even seasoned detectives by surprise,” Mankiewicz teased in the pulse-pounding preview.

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Mankiewicz shared with NBC Insider that the most surprising aspect of the complex case was that Bonheur “isn’t angry” despite being thrown into the center of the investigation.

“I would be. Most people would be. He’s not,” Mankiewicz said. 

Detective Joe Espino featured on Dateline: The Breakup

In addition to Kenney and Espino, the episode also includes an interview with Marcel Fomotar.

“It’s a difficult story to tell because you have to start with the story detectives were first told (which they believed), and then the real story,” Mankiewicz told NBC Insider of highlighting the case.

RELATED: "Shocking Secret" Revealed Decades After Pennsylvania Mom Was Murdered and Her Home Set On Fire

To find out more about what really happened to LaNell Barsock, watch Dateline on Friday, June 14 at 10/9c p.m. on NBC, or stream the episode the next day on Peacock.

And for even more Dateline, sign up for the show's official newsletter and check out its podcast.

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