The tragic murder of 16 year old Micaela “Mickie” Costanzo by Kody Patten and Toni Fratto will be featured on the NBC news magazine “Dateline” later this year.
Producers from the program have already conducted interviews the Costanzo family as well as the Pattens and the Frattos it is unknown whether either Kody Patten or Toni Fratto were interviewed for the program.
Costanzo was killed by the Wendover teens in March 2011. Both are now serving life sentences in the Nevada prison system.
It will be the first time the story will be covered by a major national network although the story along with interviews of Mickie’s mother Celia Costanzo and Toni Fratto’s mother Cassie as well as a jail house interview with Toni fratto were featured on the syndicated talk show ‘Anderson’ starring CNN anchor Anderson Cooper earlier this year.
Dateline NBC, or Dateline, is a U.S. weekly television news magazine broadcast by NBC. It was previously NBC’s flagship news magazine, but now focuses mainly on true crime stories. It airs Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time and after football season on Sunday at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
While Mickie Costanzo’s murder has been mostly ignored by the national television media it has been covered thoroughly locally and on regional television in both Reno, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City almost from the moment the girl was reported missing.
In addition to the local media the story has also been picked up by most national newspapers and in the blogosphere primarily by politically liberal ones such as the Huffington Post and smaller evangelical Christian ones as well as the foreign Press primarily in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The common denominator in almost all of the non-local coverage is Fratto’s and to a lesser extent Patten’s membership in the LDS Church.
“When we see something like that,” said an LDS Church executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We often ask if they would give the same kind of headline if the criminal had been a Catholic or Jewish or a Muslim. The answer is obvious. But on the other hand Mormons are in the news with Mitt Romney as the presumed Republican nominee. Even before that we have seen in the last few years Mormons coming to the attention of the entertainment industry with series like ‘Big Love’. There is a Broadway play going on now called the ‘Book of Mormon’.”
Just why Mormons became a hot topic especially abroad even before the election season may be a symptom of the church’s success. 50 years ago there were fewer than 10,000 Mormons in Great Britain according to UK census figures, today that number is quickly approaching half a million.
While novelty can explain part of the international media’s fascination with the Costanzo murder. There may be a dark side to its attention from the left wing and extreme anti-Mormon evangelical blogs.
“It’s kind of clumsy and I sincerely doubt it will be successful,” the LDS official continued. “While there are a very few evangelicals who may not for Mr. Romney just because of his religion those numbers are pretty small.”
Indeed the most virulent attacks on Romney’s Mormonism have not come from the very far Christian Right but rather from the often mainstream Liberal Left.
According to the Gallup poll numbers 27 percent of Democrats would oppose a Mormon candidate, compared to 18 percent of Republicans. And according to a Pew poll Forty-one percent of liberal Democrats said they would be less likely to support a Mormon candidate.
Any attempt to tar Romney with the murder of Micaela Costanzo simply because her killers were Mormons will probably only be successful with liberal anti-Mormons who would never vote for a Republican anyway.
However it may cause some interest if the Dateline story take up the ‘Mormon’ angle and if it is aired before or after the presidential election November 6.
In a related development Kody Patten is now a resident of the infamous Ely State Prison, called by inmates “The Graveyard”.
According to former and present inmates Ely Max earned its name due to what they call the larger than normal number of deaths at the facility than other prisons.
“Ely State Prison is a place of death, stagnation, misery, pain, loneliness and indeterminate lock down. If you were to take a walk on one of these depressing tiers back here in “the hole,” you would hear many disembodied voices ring out, yelling in anger and frustration, trying to tell you how bad it is for us in here, in between the isolated confines of steel and stone.” Wrote an inmate under the pseudonym of ‘Coyote’ “…I can see why Ely State Prison is labeled “The Graveyard,” there are so many deaths there. It is a locked down, maximum security prison, all but half of one unit – the workers unit – which is on one side of Unit 8…”
Since his sentencing in late August, Patten had been housed until this week at the medium security prison in Carson City and there was some speculation that he would remain there.
“He has been in Carson a pretty long time,” said a source close to the case before patten was transferred. “That could mean he is staying. Ely is after all supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst. The most difficult to manage in prison regardless of their crimes that got them incarcerated in the first place. The only way Patten will be transferred there is if he does something bad at Carson and not because of the murder he committed.”