AT TEN FOURTEEN THE following MORNING, approximately fifteen hours after the murders, helicopters were dark stars over the Meyer house when LAPD Detective-Sergeant Jack Terrio threaded his way through the tangle of marked and unmarked police vehicles, SID wagons, and vans from the Medical Examiner’s office. He phoned his task force partner, Louis Deets, as he approached the house. Deets had been at the scene for an hour.
“Meet you at the front door. You gotta see this.”
“Hang on—any word on the wit?”
A slim possibility existed for a witness—an Anglo female had been found alive by the first responders and identified as the Meyers’ nanny.
Deets said, “Not so hot. They brought her over to the Medical Center, but she’s circling the drain. In the face, Jackie. One in the face, one in the chest.”
“Hold a good thought. We need a break.”
“Maybe we got one. You gotta see.”
Terrio snapped his phone closed, annoyed with Deets and with the dead-end case. A home invasion crew had been hitting upscale homes in West L.A. and the Encino hills for the past three months, and this was likely their seventh score. All of the robberies had taken place between the dinner hour and eleven P.M. Two of the homes had been unoccupied at the time of entry, but, as with the Meyer home, the other four homes had been occupied. A litter of nine-millimeter cartridge casings and bodies had been left behind, but nothing else—no prints, DNA, video, or witnesses. Until now, and she was going to die.
When Terrio reached the plastic screen that had been erected to block the front door from prying cameras, he waited for Deets. Across the street, he recognized two squats from the Chief’s office, huddled up with a woman who looked like a Fed. The squats saw him looking, and turned away.
Terrio thought, “Crap. Now what?”
She was maybe five six, and sturdy with that gymed-out carriage Feds have when they’re trying to move up the food chain to Washington. Navy blazer over outlet-store jeans. Wraparound shades. A little slit mouth that probably hadn’t smiled in a month.
Deets came up behind him.
“You gotta see this.”
Terrio nodded toward the woman.
“Who’s that with the squats?”
Deets squinted at the woman, then shook his head.
“I’ve been inside. It’s a mess in there, man, but you gotta see. C’mon, put on your booties—”
They were required to wear paper booties at the scene so as not to contaminate the evidence.