Did James Flanders kill: Marie Carlson and where is he now?
The terrifying disappearance and murder of 37-year-old Fort Walton Beach resident and mother of two Marie Carlson will be explored in greater detail in the upcoming episode of NBC Dateline. After choking Carlson to death, former pastor-turned-murderer James Flanders was able to avoid capture for five years.
On July 22, 2022, at 10/9c, watch the NBC Dateline episode Secrets on the Emerald Coast to learn more about the unsolved 2011 murder.
The inexplicable disappearance of a mother who left behind everything, including her newborn daughter, will be covered in this story by investigator Keith Morrison.
The NBC Dateline show will present a comprehensive picture of the murder case by fusing journalistic investigation with the emotional fallout experienced by the victim’s loved ones.
NBC Dateline: Marie Carlson murder case
James Flanders last saw Marie Jane Carlson on October 17, 2011 at their home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The daughter of the 37-year-old mother-of-two and Flanders had just been born. Together with her ex-husband Jeff Carlson, she had a second daughter.
Marie sought safety with James and Tanya Flanders, the former pastor of a nearby church, after leaving an abusive relationship. The couple’s polygamous relationship with Marie was later made public, and James referred to Marie as his “sister wife.”
A mysterious message was sent to Carlson’s family stating that she had left to pursue her lifelong ambitions. They were not comforted by the message; instead, it made them more wary.
A search for her was launched after Jeff Carlson filed a missing person report on October 24, 2011.
When James admitted to the manslaughter in 2015, new evidence that had been hidden for years finally came to light. He acknowledged putting Marie “in a choking grip” before she passed away from asphyxiation. Their Fort Walton Beach home’s garden contained a grave where her bones were discovered.
NBC Dateline: Where is James Flanders now?
Up until 2016, Marie Carlson’s disappearance remained just that, with no leads on any sightings or proof of her demise. The creators of Cold Justice worked hard to revive interest in the cold case, which first surfaced in 2015.
The reality about James and Marie’s tense relationship started to emerge from the parish. They admitted that on the day Marie vanished, the two got into a fight. They also disclosed to detectives that James spent days in the hospital after she vanished because he was “distraught.”
After reviewing old mobile phone data, it was discovered that Marie’s phone had never left Fort Walton Beach. Detectives also discovered that she never meant to give up her 8-year-old daughter or her newborn child.
James relocated to Arizona three months after Marie vanished, and on May 5, 2015, he was detained there. He was extradited to Florida and accused of second-degree murder.
James admitted guilt to manslaughter in April 2016 and was given a 15-year prison term. He also issued a heartfelt apologies in the following statement:
James was spared life in prison thanks to his confession, statement, and agreement to reveal the location of the body’s grave.
His parole date is set for 2029, according to prison records, and he is still detained at Florida’s Madison Correctional Institution.