Wastedby Suzy Spencer
A Crime That Shocked A City. . .
In 1995, Austin, Texas was rocked by the brutal murder of a lesbian princess named Regina Hartwell. Even though Regina's body was burned beyond recognition, within days police had two suspects. One was the beautiful ex-cheerleader who was the object of Regina's/b>/b>/i>
New York Times Bestseller
A Crime That Shocked A City. . .
In 1995, Austin, Texas was rocked by the brutal murder of a lesbian princess named Regina Hartwell. Even though Regina's body was burned beyond recognition, within days police had two suspects. One was the beautiful ex-cheerleader who was the object of Regina's desire. The other was a man who would take the fall for murder. . .
A Killer's Heinous Acts . . .
In this new edition of her bestselling book Wasted, true crime master Suzy Spencer chronicles a fatal love triangle--and lives driven out of control by sexual desire, drugs, and shocking childhood demons.
A Twisted Road To Justice. . .
Four years after Regina Hartwell's murder, a new charge was brought against one of her suspected killers. Now, Suzy Spencer adds a new chapter to Wasted--detailing a killer gone wild, a nerve-wracking legal standoff, the shocking twists that would take place in a second, explosive trial. . .
16 pages of shocking photos!
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Penguin Random House Publisher Services
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 947 KB
Read an Excerpt
By SUZY SPENCER
Copyright © 1998
All right reserved.
Chapter One Terry Duval, fire chief of the Bluebonnet Volunteer Fire Department in rural Bastrop County, Texas, was putting his crew through their usual Thursday night drills. That night, it was truck training. There were fifteen to twenty volunteers, many of them teenaged, junior firefighters, working in a light, summer rain.
At 9:38 p.m., Duval received a page-vehicle fire on Farm to Market Road 1209. Immediately, an assistant fire chief left for the call in his private vehicle. Duval stayed behind to coordinate the crew, adults and teens alike. One minute later, he had a brush truck on its way. Another minute later, a larger pump truck left.
About the same time, Sharon Duval, Terry's wife and a labor-and-delivery nurse, received a medical call for the fire. She too left for the scene. The night would be hot, and the men would need fluids to drink-perhaps, but hopefully not, medical attention, too.
For half the run, the volunteers studied the fire-its orange glow lighting the night sky a mile away. Seven, eight minutes later, all the firefighters stood along the tiny road and stared into the blazing, green, grassy area.
A whirling, tornado-like column of flames roared twenty-five feet toward the charcoal heavens and clouded the men's view. Sun yellow tips of fire licked the trees' emerald leaves into amber brown. Sweat dripped down the firefighters' faces.
Duval set up the pumper and radio communication and got everyone in position. The assistant chief led a crew of four down the 170-foot trail to the fire. In the dark, one of them accidentally kicked over a nearly knee-high metal canister as he tried to stretch the 150-foot hose to 170 feet. Quickly, he uprighted the can and sat down on it as he fought the fire.
At 10:10 p.m., Duval called the sheriff 's department and reported a probable stolen vehicle. He knew it wasn't uncommon for stolen cars and trucks to be dumped in this farmland just a half-hour drive from Austin. He then directed several men onto traffic control. Drizzle coated his body. Smoke was thick and heavy in the humid, night air.
Two firefighters returned from the fire to put on air packs. Five minutes later, the blaze was almost out, and Duval was down at the vehicle. He walked around the perimeter of the 40-foot-wide clearing, staring at a burned-out Jeep with no license plates and no tires.
The tires had melted so that the vehicle rested on its belly. Duval could not see in the dark that one license plate, its right half scorched black, lay on the ground-RHV 33H, the 33H barely readable. A burned compact disc lay a mere half inch or less from the plate. It, too, blended invisibly into the night.
Duval could see that the once green trees above the Jeep were brown from the heat. A trail of rain-dampened grass, burned black, ran from an upside down, five-gallon gas can to the Jeep. It was the same canister the firefighter had overturned earlier.
Near the can was a round, green spot of unburned grass that perfectly matched the circumference of the can. The opened top of the can was burned. The smell of gasoline permeated the wet air, and Duval knew that an accelerant had been used.
He directed two men to stay on the hand line. He was worried there might be a second explosion. The odor of gas was as dense as the wet air. Gas, burned rubber, melted metal-it was a sickening combination of smells.
Duval then took a closer inspection of the vehicle, starting at the burned Jeep's right-rear corner. Glass crunched under his feet. Duval stopped, having noticed something in the back seat. He ordered the junior firefighters away from the scene and everyone else back forty feet. Only the two men on the hand line were allowed to stay.
Duval had spotted bones, then a skull. He realized a blackened corpse lay in the back seat; it looked like a monkey carved out of cold, hard, black lava. The Jeep, in contrast, was ashen white.
"We have a crime scene here," Duval said as he called the sheriff's department a second time. "Step up the response."
"Want to go down and see the body?" said Duval to his wife.
"No," said Sharon. She looked around. Everyone seemed to be nervously smoking cigarettes, lots of cigarettes.
Patrol Sergeant John Barton of the Bastrop County Sheriff's Department arrived and met with Duval. The two men then walked down the trail to the Jeep, a flashlight in Barton's hand. Barton aimed his light beam and saw the body.
It lay in fetal position, the soft tissue of the head burned completely off. Its shrunken, cooked eyes were at the bottom of the orbital cavities. Its ears were missing. Its arms and legs were jagged stumps. Its chest was distorted, but the full curve of a woman's breasts was clearly visible.
The men sealed off the area, and Barton phoned the sheriff's office. "You need to call the Criminal Investigation Division investigator that handles homicide," he said.
The office called CID investigator Sergeant Don Nelson.
In response to Duval's first abandoned-vehicle call, two more Bastrop County Sheriff's officers arrived. Then the sheriff and justice of the peace Katherine K. Hanna arrived. Within twenty to thirty minutes, Nelson was on the scene, and Barton turned the crime over to him.
But in the dark of night, even with lights set up, no one saw the burned, black license plate. Barton located the Jeep's Vehicle Identification Number-1J4FY49S5SP240535-and called the office via cell phone once again. "Run this number for me."
Nelson took measurements with Barton, then collected evidence with patrol Deputy Robert Gremillion. Nelson personally filled out an evidence tag for the burned fuel can. He took photographs of the Jeep and the body.
"I need to photograph the underneath," he said.
They rolled the body over and found tucked beneath the small of its back something that looked to Gremillion like toilet paper. It was scorched cotton cloth, the color blue. Wrapped in the cloth was a single-edged lockblade knife. The knife was unburned, except for one small, scorched, black spot on the wooden handle.
Nelson and two funeral-home workers then tried to remove the body from the back seat, but the crispened corpse crumbled like toast. They were forced to body bag the entire seat, which was only a frame and springs, and the blackened-like-lava corpse. Still, they left a few body parts behind.
Ten a.m., Friday, June 30, 1995, Travis County Chief Medical Examiner Roberto J. Bayardo, M.D. began the post-mortem examination under the written authorization of Katherine K. Hanna, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Bastrop County, Texas.
The partially cremated remains had an estimated height of sixty inches and a residual weight of approximately seventy pounds. The external genitalia were identified as those of a female. The right foot and the lower portion of the right leg were missing. The right hand was completely separated. The back was also extensively charred.
Body X-rays revealed no bullets or broken knives.
There was a one-inch wide stab wound from the soft, front portion of the neck, just above the clavicle, to the fifth rib of the back. The stab track traced a thirty-degree angle, five to six inches deep. It cut through an artery, then a vein, then through the upper lobe of the right lung.
The wound cut the same vessels an undertaker cuts to clean a corpse.
There was a fixed, stainless steel retainer with stainless steel sleeves over the first bicuspid teeth. The retainer was placed in a special envelope, labeled, signed, and saved.
Vaginal smears were negative for sperm.
Dr. Bayardo slit the corpse from the chin to the pubis. In the rib cage, there was the end of the stab wound track. The right pleural cavity was filled with approximately three pints of liquid and clotted blood.
The left leaf of the diaphragm had a one-and-a-half-inch laceration that appeared to be heat-related. Through this laceration the burned base of the diaphragm was protruding.
Only a scanty amount of blood remained in the cardiovascular system.
Both lungs were collapsed. The lower lobe of the left lung was charred and markedly shrunken. The tracheobronchial tree contained a small amount of vomit, as did the upper trachea and larynx.
The woman had been menstruating. A recent corpus luteum was present in the right ovary.
The tip of her tongue was burned.
Her brain had coagulated from the heat, turning into jellylike mush. The blood in her head had drained to the right side.
Alcohol and Valium were present in her blood, and alcohol and cocaine in her bile.
The cause of death, determined Dr. Bayardo, was a stab wound of the neck into the right chest.
Unable to identify the body through fingerprints or any other visual means, the Travis County Morgue sent the corpse to the Bastrop County funeral home.
Jeremy Barnes walked into Regina Hartwell's apartment to get a pot she had borrowed so that he could cook spaghetti. He also wanted to see how messy the apartment was and how long it would take him to clean it. Barnes, a friend and neighbor of Hartwell's, often cleaned her apartment to earn extra money.
The place was filthy-beer bottles, empty Marlboro packs, ashtrays overflowing their rims, dirty bathroom, dirty bedroom. What he thought were tampons were on the floor. He didn't pay much attention to them, though. He knew that Hartwell was having her period and figured her mutt Spirit had pulled them out of the trash.
In the living room, Barnes saw a dark stain on the carpet. Tea, coffee, smeared dog do, he guessed. Regina was a slob. He'd cleaned her apartment enough times to know that. Noticing that Spirit didn't have any food or water, he filled a soup bowl with water and left.
Anita Morales closed out her last day on the job as an intern for the Austin Police Department. As she drove home on the hot, final Friday of June 1995, she passed Regina Hartwell's apartment and stared. She and Regina had planned to talk the day before, but they'd never connected despite several pages from Regina and returned calls from Anita. Morales was worried, but she drove on home.
Saturday, July 1, 1995 was a day of more warm temperatures and bright, sunny skies. But Morales and her roommate, Carla Reid, were indoors painting their new apartment, and Carla knew that Anita was distracted. "Regina hasn't called you back, has she?"
Morales shook her head no.
"Have you tried ...?" Reid named a litany of friends, all of whom Morales had phoned, none of whom had heard from Hartwell.
Reid dropped her paintbrush and grabbed Morales by the hand. "We're going over there, now."
They entered Regina Hartwell's apartment through a window they both knew had been broken for months. Why they didn't go through the door, they don't remember. It was unlocked.
In the doorway, they spotted bloody tissues on the floor. Like Jeremy Barnes, they, too, thought the tissues were tampons Spirit had dragged from the trash. But they didn't pay much attention to them. They were busy looking for Regina, hoping she hadn't overdosed or passed out and hit herself on the head.
They glanced at Spirit. The sweet, abandoned mutt didn't run up to them like she usually did. She cowered in the bedroom.
They went into the living room and flipped on the light. It didn't work, so they didn't see the bloodstain on the floor.
Carla Reid went in to Hartwell's pink and white bathroom. Regina's makeup and hairbrush were laid out on the counter. She never went anywhere without her makeup and brush.
They walked into the bedroom. All of Hartwell's clothes were there. All of her shoes were there, except her favorite Doc Martens boots. Her purse was on her bed. It, too, had makeup in it.
"I'm going to check with Jeremy," said Anita.
She walked over to his apartment and knocked on the door. "Have you seen Regina?"
"No. She called on Thursday and asked me to clean her apartment by Monday."
Reid was looking through Hartwell's bills as Morales walked back in, a not-so-faint look of worry across her face.
"Jeremy says Regina told him to clean her apartment by Monday. Maybe she went out of town." But Anita knew that didn't ring true, not with Regina's makeup and purse there.
"But everything's here," said Carla.
"Write down every single number that's on her caller ID," Morales answered. "Then we'll start at the top and go all the way down the list and call every number."
On the list were the numbers of Kim LeBlanc, Kim's parents, Sean Murphy, Liz Brickman, Hope Rockwell and a Bastrop number. But also on the list were tons of names that Anita and Carla didn't recognize. It was almost as though Regina had a whole, other life secret from them.
Morales shook her head and pulled out a cigarette (she did that when she was nervous) and socked her hands into her pockets just like her friend Regina did.
Reid phoned Kim LeBlanc. Her number was busy.
She called Liz. Liz said Regina had stood her up Thursday night.
She phoned Sean Murphy. He was out of town.
Anita and Carla dialed Kim's number again and again. Finally, they went home and back to painting. There seemed to be nothing else to do.
Jeremy Barnes walked over to clean Hartwell's apartment. He started in the bathroom. He spotted tiny splatters of blood by the commode, tiny splatters of blood on the three walls of the shower-fine, thin splatters as if the blood had been slung on the wall.
But, again, Barnes didn't think much of it. He knew Hartwell was whacked out on coke these days, that she had blackouts, nosebleeds. He thought about how Regina joked that she did so much cocaine that she could stick her finger up her nose and hit nothing-it'd be hollow.
He thought about how each morning, Regina began her day by hacking and snorting to try to clear the cocaine from her sinuses. Barnes wouldn't have been surprised if Hartwell had just picked her nose and flicked her bloody mucous on the walls.
He wiped away some of the small specks of blood on the white wall across from the toilet. He scrubbed away more small specks of blood just above the toilet-paper holder. He scrubbed the bathroom counter. He tucked neatly into a drawer her makeup and her favorite towel-the one she used when she put on her makeup. She loved that towel like a toddler does her teddy. It was filthy with eyeliner and mascara. And it was always the first thing Regina pulled out after Jeremy cleaned.
He moved through the hallway and missed the slips of blood on the cream-colored walls, blood splatters that were so thin and short that they were about the size of runny insect droppings. Except they were red droppings, blood.
Barnes walked into the living room and started cleaning there. He noticed more blood splatters on the wall, blood on one of the marble spheres on Hartwell's beloved black-and-white-checkered coffee table. He scrubbed the walls of blood, but missed a few specks. He cleaned the cigarettes and beer from the coffee table. He wiped away the blood drops. He straightened Regina's four remote controls and bloodstained marble spheres.
He glared at the huge stain under the black, leather recliner. The recliner was in reclining position with the stain slightly camouflaged by the footstool.
"You little evil wench," he muttered to himself. "You knew I was coming in to clean. The least you could have done was clean up a little bit before I got here." Barnes moved the chair. But he didn't think much of that either. He always had to move things when cleaning her apartment-Regina had a habit of hiding things. He scrubbed the hell out of the spots on the floor. Still, he missed some.
That night, as Anita Morales walked between Oil Can Harry's and Club 404, two gay clubs in Austin's downtown warehouse and party district, Anita ran into Kim LeBlanc's ex-roommate, Tim Gray. "Have you seen Regina?"
"She's probably dead somewhere," he said.
"That's not funny."
"Hey, I was only kidding."
Sunday afternoon, Jeremy Barnes returned to Hartwell's and he began to really worry. Once again, there was no food or water in the bowl for Regina's pets. That wasn't like Regina, he knew.
If she were just two hours late getting home to take care of Spirit and Ebenezer, she'd phone Jeremy to take care of them. And two days in a row, Spirit and Ebenezer had been without food and water. And for two days Barnes hadn't heard from Regina. That was a heck of a lot longer than two hours.
But Barnes really knew something was wrong when he looked in the bathroom. Its counter was too clean. That filthy, favorite towel of Regina's wasn't spread out on the counter with her makeup on top of it. Regina always pulled out that towel.
Excerpted from WASTED by SUZY SPENCER Copyright © 1998 by Suzy Spencer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
ABC's Primetime Live has referred to Suzy Spencer as Austin, Texas', best-known true crime writer. She is the author of The Fortune Hunter; Breaking Point, the story of Andrea Yates, a Book of the Month Club, Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild and Mystery Guild selection; Wages of Sin; and Wasted, a New York Times bestseller and Violet Crown Book Award finalist. Spencer has appeared on Good Morning America, ABC World News, Primetime, Dateline NBC, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Court TV, Oxygen, and the E! Channel. She lives in Austin, Texas. Please visit her online at w.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
I thought "wasted" was VERY well written, it captured my eye right in the book store. I think it had such a thrilling storyline that it just made it so much better, i can honestly say one of the best stories i have read in my life. Keep writting Suzy!
I found this book well writen, it captured my attention and held it all the way through, Ms. Spencer gives us indepth knowledge of the caracters and insight to who they were. She paints a vivid picture of the drug filled life they led and how it all went terribly wrong.
I thought "Wasted" was well researched and written. I didn't want to put it down. The details of each event were such that I could visualize them as I read the chapter. A Real Life tragedy told by an outstanding writer. I would reccomend this book to anyone.
Interesting story better told by someone else ...or for that matter anyone else.
It was so poorly written. It was hard to follow. It seemed out of sequence somehow
and her overall style of writing was like that of a high school student. The story had huge holes all the way through it.