NBC’s “Dateline” episode Friday night tells the story of Sherri Malarik, a Navy petty officer and mother who was murdered on the evening of Sept. 21, 2001, in a parked minivan outside of a shopping area.
The episode, according to NBC Insider, will feature interviews from two of Malarik’s adult children, Tera and Jacob Malarik, and Detective Buddy Nesmith, among many others.
“Dateline” correspondent Andrea Canning, who dove into this week’s case, told NBC Insider, “Real life cases don’t always get solved in the commercial break like on TV. They can take decades.”
“But very often, law enforcement will eventually come calling,” Canning added.
Canning also expressed the difficulty that came with getting interviews for the episode. “The most challenging aspect was for the producer on the story, Sergei Ivonin, to get everyone to talk to us with such a painful feud still raging within the family.”
Canning reflected, “This was a very complex case to cover with many layers.”
Who was Sherri Malarik?
Sherri’s son, Jacob, shared to Court TV what happened prior to the 2001 incident.
At the time, Sherri had been married to Gregory Malarik for around seven years, first meeting each other in Bermuda during their Navy service.
The Malariks eventually became a blended family and, once married, Sherri brought in 4-year-old Jacob and Gregory brought in a son the same age as Jacob. Together, they had three more children over the mid-to-late 1990s.
The night of Sherri’s death
During the evening of Sept. 21, 2001, according to Court TV, Sherri allegedly went to a local shopping area using the family’s minivan while some extended family members were visiting. By 11 p.m., Gregory said he was getting concerned that Sherri hadn’t returned back home yet, so he alerted authorities and family members.
Once Sherri was found by her brother-in-law, it was too late: Sherri was shot in the head, laying on the van’s floorboard at a Winn Dixie supermarket parking lot, per Pensacola News Journal.
“When I got to the van, I saw blood,” the brother-in-law described. “I touch her, she was cold,” per NBC Insider.
Jacob — who was 11 years old at the time — recalled when he heard the horrific news and shared in the “Dateline” preview, “Immediately I just kind of went numb.”
What happened to Gregory Malarik?
The case went cold until 2020, when Gregory was arrested and charged for Sherri’s death, as reported by WKRG, a CBS affiliate. Allegedly, according to Pensacola News Journal, this was due to his then-mistress Jennifer Spohn revealing new information about the case.
Gregory’s first prosecution ended in a mistrial in 2022, per WEAR-TV, an ABC affiliate. In October 2023, he went back to court for a second trial and was found not guilty for the murder by an Escambia County jury.
How to watch tonight’s ‘Dateline’
“The Sleepover” will air on NBC tonight at 7 p.m. MST and will be available for streaming on Peacock the following day, according to NBC’s website.