<editorsnote>: This is part three of the story. Here is part one and here is part two if you need a ketchup. If you want a quicker ketchup, my dog died, my good friend/ family member died, and 15 hours after the celebration of her life my good friend and neighbor was shot five times (and I was there when it happened). There ya have it … </editorsnote> https://www.youtube.com/embed/H-3rxh8kZHE?wmode=opaque
My best friend came home some time later, and instead of being angry at each other, we remained focused on the fact that not only were we both grieving, but we were both in the eye of the hurricane also known as a murder investigation.
Later that evening, I sent the building manager a text asking if I could see the body be wheeled out …
In 2018, when I had another friend die (also while I was there), it actually gave me closure seeing her be wheeled out. It was shockingly surreal to go from texting your friend on Saturday to Monday them being dead but then oh yeah we were all still supposed to go dancing together on Thursday and now we’re throwing a memorial for said friend.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately) the detectives wheeled his body out in the middle of the night so I didn’t get to see that. Desperate for some sort of something to understand the next day, I went upstairs and saw the results of the CSI agents.
I was expecting this …
… and instead got this …
<tangent> Out of privacy, I can’t share anything more in this picture, but what you don’t see is that they are MASSIVE dog lovers!!! I dog sit now any day I can as a way to deal with the enormous enormous loss of Buster Brown. I happened to be walking a dog when the agents were doing their thing and the result is a totally precious picture. I thought LAPD and anything associated with them would be heartless, I found the EXACT opposite to be true. Which fortunately, in this very moment was so very helpful. </tangent>
It still didn’t seem real. The police tape was now torn down, and unlike in the other instances where I’ve seen someone’s place after they’ve passed, this one didn’t have the corner’s blue seal. I learned later that evening it was because the seal is placed on a crime scene because the body has yet to be identified. I’m not sure who qualifies for identification if it has to be a family member or some sort of significant other, but either way, I thought that was interesting. I had assumed previously the coroners seal was part of the deal to protect the crime scene, but apparently they had processed whatever they needed to.
Later that evening I got a call asking if I knew where his cats were. They still couldn’t find one of them and they asked if I could go inside the apartment to see.
BINGO! I thought scared but also happy to begin my own healing.
I had my red nike hoodie on (which has an extra long hood) so I placed that over my mouth and took very shallow breaths standing outside the apartment. “I can’t go in again,” said someone who had also been looking for the cat.
I turned on my flashlight on my phone and carefully entered the apartment. I had been in it before but had never seen it look like this -the place was ransacked and the lights were all on. I walked to the left where his bedroom was (I had actually never seen this part of the apartment before – just the living room). There on the bed I saw the two large pillows and blood. You could see the holes in the pillows but I didn’t get close enough to look at them nor did I touch anything in the apartment. I called out for the cat (which most cats like to hide out under the bed), and didn’t find anything. Considering the smell in the place, I can’t imagine a cat wanting to not come out of its hiding spot.
I did a 10 second swoop and lap (careful to not touch anything) calling the cat’s name before leaving the apartment. “I didn’t see the cat,” I said coming out.
“Yeah, we don’t think its in here. It might have escaped somehow. Appreciate you looking.”
“I appreciate that you reached out!” I said. I needed closure and at least seeing with my own two eyes, yep someone definitely died here. I’m a “see it to believe it” type person and in this case I took that literally.
The crime scene may have been processed but I had yet to even begin my own processing that that person was also my good friend.
The next day, I got a call from one of the lead detectives who asked if he could talk to me.
When something like this happens, you’re now living in an active crime scene. There were at any given moment two to four cop cars both marked and unmarked in the building. In one way you could say you felt safer, in another way it was a constant reminder that “yes a murder actually took place here.”
Outside of my friend being gone, this whole thing was SUCH a violation. The only other thing I can compare it to is when someone robs you. If someone breaks into your car, or your house, and takes something – you then feel violated and it’s eerie/ unsettling re-entering KNOWING someone has been in your place. The fact that someone or someone(s) committed an act of murder in THE PLACE WE CALL HOME was very unnerving.
Losing three of my friends in the first five weeks of the year was hard enough. Getting over the violation of a murderer entering our home was a completely different beast.
That Wednesday at noon, I invited two detectives into the place I call home.
Excuse me while I now pull an Unsolved Mysteries style re-enactment …
The detectives walked in like this …
I pulled a third chair over to the table and invited both to sit down.
I sat here …
The lead detective sat here …
The other detective chose to sit on the edge of the couch …
My instinct on this is that they didn’t want their back to the door. Hey, I can’t be mad at that.
What you see in movies is this dimly lit room with a spotlight on the subject similar to this …
My reality was it was noon on a Wednesday so no lights were needed AND I was wearing a shirt.
I then took out my phone to show the detectives the conversation between Batz and I. I couldn’t change the choices he made in his life (amor fati), but I could help honor the man that I once knew and cared deeply for.
Remember, I have nothing to hide in this situation – and I wasn’t being interviewed on the murder, I was being interviewed about who my friend was (since not a lot of people knew).
I’ll show you the actual text messages in a bit, as I lead with, “Batz was a protector. He recently lost someone he was very close to, and I think that set him over the ‘edge’ in terms of making bad choices. We were in contact bi-weekly since the beginning of November. He kept asking what I was up to and if I needed any of his help.”
“Do you know what Batz did for a living?”
“He was a writer, and (you even see in one of the text messages him referencing his writing as we talked about it a lot) he’s been published – I have some of his books on my shelves,” I said pointing in this direction to my triangle bookshelf.
“Can you make money as a writer?” he asked as his eyes looked down, “oh it looks like you’re a writer too,”
Bee tee dubs, this didn’t feel like a “dig” of any kind, and again I have nothing to hide so if that was his intention he can keep on’ diggin!
“Are you a published writer as well?”
Without skipping a beat I said, “my life is being turned into a TV show. It was previously owned by Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS and we are now FINALLY going into production.”
I took a beat … and then said …
“It’s a Wednesday at noon and you’re sitting in a place I call home asking me about my friend who was murdered – I’d say that’s an interesting enough life to be turned into a TV show.”
He smiled as he read the texts.
“I can see how protective he was of you.”
“Yes,” I said, “and I’m not negating his behavior – I just didn’t see that side of it. I know there were some domestic violence calls but it wouldn’t have been Batz. He would NEVER hit a woman – and I couldn’t be friends with him if he did.”
“We’ve heard that from a couple of people in the building specifically women. He helped one with a stalking case.”
“Yes,” I said knowing what he meant.
“What’s the building gossip,” he asked. “You seem to know everyone.”
“There is no building gossip (which was true), we’re just absolutely terrified and want to know how we recover as a community from something like this.
Management hadn’t even sent out an email or memo that FYI your neighbor was shot IN THE BUILDING.”
“I really appreciate your time,” he said as the approximate 15 minute meeting came to an end.
This is what they looked like when they were leaving …
… I took my first deep breath of the day once the door clicked shut.
I took a beat and said out loud, “so that’s what it’s like to be interviewed in a murder investigation.”
I can’t say it was a good or a bad experience – it just was what it was, and there it is.
Later in the evening my friend and neighbor came over for dinner. I cooked and words came out of his mouth – but slowly things stopped registering. I’ve never had the life experience of being “catatonic” until that exact moment.
Remember Cam from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? https://www.youtube.com/embed/bhoeIKr6tdo?start=66&wmode=opaque
That’s what it feels like. You’re there physically. Words may or may not come out of your mouth. People see you but you can’t see or process anything. The trauma of the shooting, and deaths combined with the loss of my coping mechanism in the form of a furry four legged furrever best friend was proving to be too much.
I have no idea what my friend said that night, but as he started to get louder and louder – I had enough and said, “you wanna go break some plates?”
Immediately he started laughing.
“I’m serious,” I said. “With Buster being gone I replaced the plates to change up the routine. Now I have all these plates so let’s go smash the shit out of them.”
Which is exactly what we did …
We walked down the street to a parking lot and broke plate after plate … SHOUTING as we did.
Similar to this scene actually … https://www.youtube.com/embed/9xUADFAa-gA?start=52&wmode=opaque
Feel better? I asked when we were all done (my best friend came too).
“Actually yes,” said my friend.
“We can’t change or control what just happened. We just have to grieve and feel what we are feeling even if it doesn’t make any sense.”
The next morning I woke up to this …
… which technically speaking I didn’t listen, I was just a catatonic person presently playing the role of a sounding board.
Now if you’ll excuse me, but I have a meeting about murder I need to get ready for.
I’m not kidding actually, I wrote the PDF myself and called it “Murder Meeting” …
I was unimpressed with how negligent the building was in terms of communication, so I took matters into my own hands and not only found the EXACT person to talk to in these situations, but I convinced him to actually come and talk to us. I personally placed this letter under the door of my neighbors and taking action is also how I ended up crying my eyes out in front of Katie Couric and Will.I.Am.
PS. The meeting says Wednesday but instead the officer had to push it until today – which was annoying because I had to print even more notices … but hey, at least I’m not the dead person in this scenario so I have that going for me.