In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Harrison Ford plays Indy, who is looking for the Holy Grail, which turns out to be the Cup of Christ. At the end of the movie, when Indiana Jones has to solve religious puzzles to get to the cup, which is the most exciting part. “Only the man who is sorry will pass,” says one of the puzzles. A man who is sorry for his mistakes and kneels before God is penitent. This is what Indy does to avoid getting his head cut off by a trap.
James Flanders, who used to be a pastor, is not a repentant person, even though he may have once thought of himself as a humble man of God. He is not only completely innocent, but he also used his own mistakes to get a lighter sentence for a crime he did. What did James Flanders do, and where is he now? A new Dateline special tells a horrible story in a shocking and revealing way.
What happened to Pastor James Flanders?
Pastor James Flanders is in the last year of a 15-year sentence for killing Marie Carlson in 2011. He is doing his time at Madison Correctional Institution in Madison, Florida. How did James Flanders go from being a priest to wearing a jumpsuit? In 2011, Flanders and his wife, Tanya Flanders, lived in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where Flanders was a pastor at Calvary Emerald Coast Church.
Marie Carlson, who was 37 and single, was having a hard time and needed help. So, she went to her pastor and his wife for help. They took her in. Dateline says that Marie was supposed to stay there until she “got back on her feet.” Soon, Marie was pregnant and telling people that her abusive ex-boyfriend had made her pregnant and then left her. But that wasn’t what was happening in the house.
The Panama City News Herald said that Marie was living with the Flanders as if she were their “sister wife.” After Marie had a daughter, whom she named Grace, she stayed in the same house where James and Tanya took care of Grace. Things changed on October 19, 2011, when Marie allegedly sent a group text to James, her ex-husband Jeff Carlson, and other friends and family.
A statement from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says that the text said she was leaving to do “something she had always wanted to do.” She didn’t take her daughter Grace or any of her other belongings. In the end, her car would be left at the airport. At the very least, it was strange.
Where did Marie Carlson go?
Jeff, Marie’s ex-husband, reported her missing on October 24, 2011, after he had been unable to reach her for a few days. Marie’s body wouldn’t be found for another 5 years. In 2015, James Flanders was arrested in Arizona for killing Marie. In order to reach a plea deal, he chose not to say where Marie’s body was found.
The Panama City News Herald said that in exchange for telling police where Marie’s body was buried, Jeff got a “plea deal” that says he won’t spend more than 15 years in prison for killing Carlson. It looks like Tanya had nothing to do with Marie Carlson’s death. The Arizona Range News said that in 2013, “Flanders asked the Cochise County Superior Court for a court order to end the mother’s parental rights.” It had been two years since Marie had died.
Unfortunately, that court order let Flanders choose who would raise Grace, and his family got the job. Marie’s family can visit Grace and stay in touch with her legally. For more on this story, including how police caught James Flanders, watch Dateline’s “Secrets on the Emerald Coast” on NBC on Friday, July 22 at 10:00 p.m. EST.