In 2011, Florida polygamist preacher of Calvary Emerald Coast Church, James Flanders’ secret sister wife Marie Carlson sent out a group text announcing that she was leaving the area. Unfortunately, Marie never left Florida, but James and his first wife left Tanya Florida for Arizona three months after she disappeared. They took with him her young daughter Grace.
Below is a video of James Flanders preaching at Calvary Emerald Coast Church in 2009, two years before Marie’s disappearance.
James Flanders was Marie’s baby biological father, but that fact was unknown by the churchgoers. They thought Marie had gotten pregnant by an abusive ex-boyfriend when the truth was Marie was living with James and Tanya as a sister wife.
Marie also had a daughter, Paris, with her ex-husband Jeff Carlson. Jeff was one of the people who received Marie’s eerie grountext on the day she went missing.
Marie’s case went cold for years with now leads but was finally solved after an airing of an episode of Cold Justice. The producers’ prodding for information inspired detectives to reopen the case.
In 2015, police spoke to some of Calvary’s parishioners, who let them know that James Flanders had fought with Marie Carlson the day she disappeared.
In April 2016 James confessed to killing Marie. He claimed that during an argument he accidentally killed her by hugging her too tightly and then putting her in a chokehold. He then buried her in the backyard.
He’s currently serving 15 years in prison for the slaying. eventually confessed to the manslaughter of Carlson, but said it was all an accident. He agreed to show detectives where Carlson’s body was buried in return for the charge reduction, though the judge still gave him the maximum penalty of 15 years for the killing.
Dateline: Secrets on the Emerald Coast airs tonight on NBC at 9/10 c.