Sex. Murder. Mystery. (True Crime box set)
FOR A PLACE WITHOUT AN OCEAN, THERE IS nowhere in the world more lovely than landlocked Colorado. Mountains of unbelievable mass spray upward from spruce-covered foothills with exhilarating force. Stands of birch and aspen shimmer; their leaves moving like silver schools of fish. Snow clings to the tops of the highest peaks throughout the warmth of summer. Rocky Mountain high. John Denver. Coors Beer. The Broncos. Rugged. West. Unspoiled.
Folks who live in Colorado know all of that. Old-timers and newcomers alike know that theirs is the state that holds truest and firmest to the call of the Old West. Colorado is western without the trendy goofiness of California; the granola zealotry of Oregon; the drippy weather of sodden Washington.
And forget Utah, Coloradans opine. Utah, they know, is its own planet.
While those who ran other state tourism boards tell postcard printers to “punch up the color,” no such effort is needed for the images of the Rocky Mountain State. Skies are sapphire, rich and deep. Look to the heavens day or night and feel a sense of falling up. Foaming rivers hastily ran through chiseled chasms like Christo-inspired aquamarine ribbons stretched from boulder to boulder, canyon wall to canyon wail.
Colorado is the place where the great prairies are stopped by the Rockies. Denver, the state’s largest urban center, is bunched against the mountains. Like Denver, most of the state’s major cities—from Ft. Collins in the north, south to
Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Trinidad, the smallest of the big four—are strung along north-south Interstate 25.
Yet, as is true of any place, after the passage of time the splendor can fade in the eye of the beholder. Mountains can be an encumbrance that forces additional hours from Point A to Point B. Raging rivers overflow in the blink of an eye during lickety-split spring melts. And the trees? They are no longer things of beauty, but disparaged because of a sudden drop in lumber prices. Excitement wanes. Interest falls. Time to move on.
Love can be like that, too.
The man poking through the stinking, smoldering remnants of the living area of the house at 12370 Columbine Court had seen his share of such scenes. Thornton, Colorado, police criminalist Bob Lloyd had personally handled more than 1,000 death investigations. All but what could be counted on two hands had taken place in Detroit.
Detroit. The name no longer brought residual feelings of goodwill and recognition. No more did Detroit conjure the sounds of Motown to reverberate in his head or the smell of a new car inspire him to smile. The Detroit of Bob Lloyd’s tenure as an officer there meant only one thing: death.
He kept a black plastic binder of grisly photographs he’d taken over his twenty-year career in the Motor City. He called it his D-book. If it meant “Detroit” or “Death” it didn’t really matter. They were one and the same. Images on the pages revealed dead eyes fixed in lifeless terror, blood-spattered walls and coagulated pools of mahogany… all were the reality of the job that took more than it gave.
The veteran criminalist made up his mind that enough was enough when a twelve-year-old girl was shot in the head a couple of blocks from his supposedly safe neighborhood. Drug violence knows no boundaries. The little girl had been riding her bike down her street when gunfire ripped through the air and killed her. Bob Lloyd’s daughter was the same age, his sons were fourteen and sixteen. The father and husband knew it was time for the cop to move on.
Suburban Denver was safe, clean, friendly. If none too exciting, then he knew he’d have to buckle down and get used to it. At least he would not need to bring two guns to protect himself during a crime-scene investigation. At least he could go to sleep at night without the worry that the lead spray of a drive-by shooting would shatter his daughter’s window and kill her as she slept in her bed. He arrived in the snow-crunched month of February 1986 and the months flew by without a murder. Not several a night nor a handful a week—zip.
“This is the way people are supposed to live,” the 46-year-old told a friend.
It was still dark when Bob Lloyd and the others first arrived on the scene, following reports the home had been burned while the owner was away. Arson, they all suspected. It was a good guess. A cursory examination, even in the black of the early morning hours of November 20, 1988, indicated the fire had been isolated to an area off the garage entry into the house. Firemen with beard-stubbled, smudged faces and wet boots told the investigators that charred “pour” patterns around an open pit in the floorboards indicated an accelerant had more than likely had been used by the arsonist…………………………………..
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