Would you believe this investigation took place within only three hours? Yet Lt. Joe was already too late, even as he began. The murderer was already on his way to commit another murder. “We were on chapter one,” Lt. Joe says, “and didn’t realize chapter two was unfolding.”
Favorite lines: “What makes humans so dangerous is their emotions.” “Don’t monkey with someone else’s monkey.”
Summary: The year is 1991. On a late afternoon in an apartment complex in Colorado Springs, Cathy Hickey lies napping on her couch. She awakes to screaming from an upstairs apartment, then footsteps pounding down the stairs. She runs outside & finds her teenage neighbor lying, bleeding to death. This is Robert Addison Jr., known as Bobby, age 16. Upstairs in the apartment is another body. This is Bobby’s mother, Ernestine Addison, age 40.
Bobby was a nice kid, a good student at the local public school. Ernestine worked as a nursing assistant. They were churchgoers.
Lt. Joe is teaching a class at Pikes Peak Community College when he gets the page, “DB” for “dead body.”
He arrives to find a crowd, media in full force, a “Tower of Babel,” with “an enormous amount of emotion.” Neighbors assume this is a murder-suicide. Indeed, multiple victims in a private home often indicate that. But multiple gunshot wounds on the woman have “powder halos” around them. The gun was fired over & over, from close up. It’s obvious the woman was trying to get away. The complicated wound entering the boy’s back under his rib cage also could not have been a suicide. The sad story the evidence shows is that Bobby heroically died in an effort to save his mother. Even after he was shot, he ran outside attempting to get help. Lt. Joe forces himself to appear cold & matter-of-fact, but internally he is hit by the sorrow of these deaths.
The victims knew the killer. There is no sign of struggle or forced entry. Ernestine had been preparing dinner, with food already in pots & pans. This killing was done in an “emotional rage.” Lt. Joe sees him as Mr. X, a “mysterious demon.”
There’s a witness. A neighbor, a seventh-grade girl named Darlene, heard a heated argument inside. Then she saw a man in a suit run to his “truck car” & speed off. There were only two models of “truck cars” available in that era, so that narrows the vehicle search.
Sharyl, Ernestine’s daughter & Bobby’s sister, talks about Robert Addison Sr., Ernestine’s ex-husband & Bobby’s father. Here’s the first suspect.
Lt. Joe finds him in his office 15 miles away, surrounded by co-workers who can vouch for his presence throughout the day. He claims to have had a civil relationship with his ex-wife, & he weeps when he heard the dreadful news. He is not Mr. X.
Lt. Joe hurries on to find Mattie Wilson. Ernestine’s mother & Bobby’s grandmother. She is at home with her son Lincoln, who is interviewed for this show. They have already seen the news on TV. They are devastated. Lincoln mentions that Ernestine was involved with an older man, whose name he can’t remember. Now Lt. Joe is no longer looking for Mr. X. Now he’s looking for Mr. Boyfriend.
He rushes to the hospital where Ernestine worked & tracks down her co-worker & friend, Linda. Linda is distraught to hear the tragic news. She knows a lot about the boyfriend. He is 15 to 20 years older than Ernestine. He wears a suit. He is possessive & controlling. Ernestine had said she was going to end the relationship. She has a plane ticket to go to Florida. This man’s name is Bryant. There is confusion about whether that’s his first or last name. But there is no confusion about who is now the number one suspect.
Lt. Joe goes on to Bryant’s place of employment as a salesman in the furniture department of J. C. Penney at a local mall. The manager there confirms an employee by the name of Herman Coleman Bryant. He is in his 60’s. He has a wife Emma, age 69, & has been married more than thirty years. He had left work that day without permission. He seemed upset about something.
Lt. Joe calls the sheriff in El Paso county where the Bryants live. He almost drops the phone when he hears law enforcement officials are already at the scene. There’s been another murder. Emma is lying dead in the yard. According to neighbors, a “mysterious madman” has barricaded himself inside the house.
“We didn’t get it done fast enough.” El Paso County is not Lt. Joe’s jurisdiction, not his crime scene. But Lt. Joe notices evidence in the driveway, a Chevrolet El Camino “car truck,” just as Darlene had described. Lt. Joe knows the man barricaded in that house is Herman.
Force is the only option. A SWAT team has already arrived. The entry team charges inside, only to find a closed bedroom door. Now they must make a second entry. Lt. Joe worries, “What if he isn’t done making people dead yet?” Inside the bedroom, a shot rings out. The entry team enters to find Herman kneeling by the bed & dead, with a gunshot to his head. There is no arrest to be made.
This turns out to be murder/suicide event after all.
The Trajectory of the Bullet: One bullet killed Bobby. In an effort to protect his mother, he flung himself over her body on the bed. He was almost horizontal & still moving when the bullet entered his lower back, traversed through his chest, tore into his throat, cut his tongue, & stopped inside his mouth. He lived long enough to run outside. Of course, the meticulous Lt. Joe had the gun & the 38-caliber slugs analyzed to make sure that the weapon in all four deaths was the one & the same.
Domestic Violence: The most dangerous time in a domestic violence relationship is during a breakup. The victim attempts to get away. The bully objects. He wants control–or else. Herman Bryant was a control freak. When Ernestine decided to go to Florida, perhaps to take up again with an old flame, it was clear he had lost control. He took control again, death’s total control. Was his wife Emma also trying to get away? Was he losing control of her, too? We don’t know. Lt. Joe could find no friends, no acquaintances, no contacts to tell him about her. She seems to have been unusually isolated from the world, & that of itself tells us something.