Deadly Iowa home invasion subject of tonight’s two-hour ‘Dateline’ mystery

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(NBC News) — Tonight on a two-hour “Dateline,” Tracey Roberts is home with her three children when there appears to be a home invasion, but what really happened on that cold night?

Here’s a preview of Dennis Murphy’s report:

Twilight in an Iowa farming town. Darkness presses in at the windows of a victorian house. Downstairs in the kitchen, a crockpot is simmering. Upstairs, a young mother runs a bath for her baby daughter. Her two older sons huddle by a TV in a bedroom down the hall. Suddenly they hear a shout. Their mother’s cry for help.

BERT PITMAN: All of a sudden I can hear yelling and then I can hear you know running toward the door. I’m really, like, standing there, like, “what’s going on?”

Bert Pitman, then 11-years-old, sees his mother running towards him.

BERT PITMAN: She’s in the door jam, like, tryin’ to get in. And I can see, all of a sudden, her, just get yanked back by her hair.

The mother flings the baby into her son’s arms.  And slams the door shut behind her.

BERT PITMAN: I can hear just rustling around, moving around. And her yelling for my help again and then it was the sound of her being choked.

More than ten years on, the true horror of what happened that December night, of what an 11-year-old boy says he heard and then saw, still haunts the town of Early, Iowa.

A crime: sudden, vicious and inexplicable. And its impact lingered. The fear.

MARY: I was afraid for myself. I was afraid for my family.

The pain.

MONA WEHDE: Each-and-every one of us felt alone, lost, confused.

And the unanswered questions. Just what had happened on that frigid night?

Watch tonight’s “Dateline” mystery at 9 p.m. on NBC4.

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