Apr 6, 2023 - News

"Dateline" examines 2014 Coppell death

Pam and John Crews recently spoke to "Dateline" about their son's mysterious death. Photo: Courtesy of "Dateline NBC"

A Coppell man's death will be the focus of an NBC "Dateline" episode examining whether he killed himself or was killed by his then-girlfriend.

Driving the news: "Behind Door 813" will air at 8pm Friday. The teaser was released yesterday and NBC shared an extended version exclusively with Axios Dallas.

Catch up fast: Jonathan Crews, 27, was fatally shot in the chest in his Coppell apartment on Feb. 2, 2014.

  • His girlfriend at the time, Brenda Lazaro, called 911 and told the dispatcher that Crews shot himself while trying to prove that he loved her.
  • Police initially suspected the case was a homicide, per their records, but charges were never filed against Lazaro.
  • The Dallas County medical examiner says the manner of his death remains undetermined.

Yes, but: Crews' family believes he was murdered.

  • He told his friends and his sister just before his death that he was planning to break up with Lazaro.
  • His body was found in his bed, his damaged phone was lodged between his mattress and the box spring, and the greasy magazine of his gun was stashed in his tie collection, per police records.

State of play: Lazaro — who is now married and goes by Brenda Kelly — has repeatedly declined interviews through her attorney, who says she's innocent.

  • Last year, a Dallas County civil jury awarded the Crews family $206 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against their son's former girlfriend.
  • Coppell police haven't publicly explained why they didn't continue the homicide investigation.

What we're watching: The "Dateline" episode will detail the case, cover the civil trial and explore why the investigation remains at a standstill.

  • It will also include interviews with people on both sides of the case, and never-before-seen police interviews and body cam footage.
  • Plus: Naheed, who has written about the case for several years, will appear on the two-hour episode.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Dallas stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more