When a fisherman reeled in something big on his fishing line two decades ago, he couldn’t have imagined that he would become part of a mystery murder case that would end in the conviction of a man for killing his wife, and the victim’s daughters fighting for justice more than 20 years later. That’s the basis of tonight’s CBS 48 Hours.
In the episode “Crime and Punishment,” viewers will hear about the events leading up to the disappearance of Phonthip Boonack Ott, a mother who vanished into thin air before her dead body was found in the Sacramento River. Phonthip’s husband, Dennis S. Ott, was found guilty and given a life sentence. On 48 Hours, her daughters will reveal details of the couple’s tumultuous marriage, along with details of how they fought to keep their stepfather in prison.
In 1992, Phonthip Ott’s daughters went to pay a visit to their grandmother for the day. But their lives changed forever once they returned and couldn’t locate their mother. According to 48 Hours’ coverage, her daughters entered the home and knew right away that something was strange. Instead of their mother running out to them and kissing them on the cheek, she was no where to be found.
For weeks, Phonthip Boonack Ott’s daughters agonized over the whereabouts of their 32-year-old mother, who they describe as spunky and fun. They wouldn’t have the answer to that until a fisherman contacted police when he found a body in the Sacramento River.
According to the fisherman, he thought he had caught a big fish, but became suspicious when he was unable to pull it because it was too heavy. And when he saw two feet sticking out from a five-foot duffle bag in the river, his shock turned to horror.
Once police arrived and opened the bag, they saw a woman’s jet black hair, followed by the victim’s nude body and concrete blocks. The woman was positively identified as Phonthip Ott.
Right away, police believed that her husband, Dennis Ott, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, was involved, despite his cries of innocence.
The victim’s daughters were just 10 and 14 at the time. They remember their stepfather, Dennis, as a happy man who smiled a lot, but who had a bad temper and who often fought with their mother.
On one occasion, the fighting became so fierce, the girls remembered listening to the altercation on the other side of the door, where they were frozen with fear. They say they don’t want to ever experience that fear ever again.
On 48 Hours, you’ll learn that Dennis Ott was eventually charged in his wife’s death and handed a sentence of 25 years-to-life in a California correctional facility.
In 2015, Dennis Ott sought parole, stating that he didn’t kill his wife, and that he is not a danger to society. He made the following statement, according to a report by Broadway World.
“It would have been a whole lot easier a long time ago to say, Yeah, I did this crime. But that’s not true. I didn’t kill Phon. I’m not going to say it.”
Dennis Ott’s stepdaughters say that he doesn’t deserve parole after what he did to their mother and the anguish that he has caused them. Phonthip Ott’s daughters, Tippy Dhaliwal and Jeanette Marine, stated the following, Broadway World continued.
“Our mother doesn’t get a second chance. Why should he? He deserves to rot and die in prison plain and simple. He took everything from us, everything. And I want to take everything from him now.”
Dennis Ott’s parole was denied last year. Listen to their story for yourselves by tuning into 48 Hours tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on CBS.
[Featured Image by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images]