By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
part 2 of 2
When police and firefighters arrived at Smith's home, they found the house clean and tidy, making Wirtzfeld all the more incongruous. He was sitting on a corner of the sofa, perched casually as if he'd fallen asleep while chatting with friends. He was leaning on his left elbow, which was propped atop a bed pillow. His right foot was resting on his left knee. An unopened beer can sat on the coffee table in front of him. Wirtzfeld's head was tilted back, his eyes partly open. His mouth was agape, revealing rows of crooked teeth.
Georgetown police chief Greg Wood found Smith in the master bathroom, where she and Perkins had been smoking cigarettes and speaking together in low voices. Wood says it was clear to him that Smith was ill, an observation that would be used against her at trial when the prosecution suggested that she, too, might have ingested an opiate. Smith also didn't tell Wood about Clogston's body being out in the van. It was ten or fifteen minutes before she mentioned to the local fire chief that there was a dead man in her driveway. That set off another flurry of activity and raised suspicions in Wood's mind: Why hadn't anybody mentioned it earlier?
Wood was well-versed in investigations. He'd become Georgetown's top cop ten years earlier after serving as a Nebraska law enforcement officer for eighteen years. But he wasn't quite sure what he had on his hands that day. He asked firefighters to check the house for the presence of dangerous gases, and he and his officers gathered up food on the chance that the men might have died of food poisoning.
Smith and her friends didn't know Wirtzfeld's last name, and police couldn't find any identification on him. And, for all Wood knew, there might be yet another dead body out there somewhere--after all, no one could account for Billy Been's whereabouts. No one could remember Been's last name, either. Wood set out with photos of Wirtzfeld to identify both him and the missing Been.
Wood eventually tracked down Been at his stepfather's home in Georgetown. Been answered the door looking, Wood says, "like warmed-over death." When the chief began questioning him about his whereabouts, Been gave the officers a brief accounting, ending with his departure from Smith's house at about 8 a.m. that same day.
Wood recounted his interview with Been in a written report. According to that report, when Wood asked Been, "`Did you know Bruce was dead when you left?' [Been's] eyes got big and his mouth dropped.'" Wood then told Been that Clogston was dead, too, "and I asked him if Bruce and Bill were using drugs at the bar or at Sue's house. By his reactions, I could tell he thought he was in trouble. I told Billy that if he took the same drugs that Bruce and Bill took, he might be in big trouble right now because they're dead and [he]might need medical attention."
It was then, according to Wood's report, that Been began reciting the version of events that later would serve as the backbone of the prosecution's homicide case against Sue Smith. Wood wrote in his report that Been told him the offer of "leftovers and a cocktail" at Smith's house had turned into something more sinister. Been told Wood that Smith had pulled open a couch drawer and produced a plastic bag "with about nine prescription bottles in it." Been said that Smith placed one brown bottle (later identified as having been filled with liquid morphine) on the coffee table and that she also passed around some "little pink pills."
Been said Smith told him the pills were "uppers." Been swallowed two. He said Smith and Wirtzfeld took some as well. (Investigators never asked Smith to submit to a blood test, a procedure that could have confirmed or disputed Been's account.)
In addition, Been told the chief that Wirtzfeld had taken "two or three" swigs from the brown bottle Smith had set on the coffee table. Been claimed he didn't know what was in the bottle but said Wirtzfeld told him the liquid tasted like peppermint schnapps.
By the time he went to sleep, Been told the chief, it was roughly 2:30 or 3 a.m. At that time, he said, Smith was conked out on a chair in the living room--not in her bedroom, as she claims.
Been told the chief he'd awakened about 8 a.m., feeling ill. He told Wood that he tried to awaken Wirtzfeld by jiggling his knee. After failing to rouse his buddy, Been said, he headed home alone.
Since leaving Smith's home, says Wood, "Billy Been had been sick the whole time. He'd been puking. He was very ill. When I told him Wirtzfeld was dead, he was visibly upset and worried about his own well-being.
"That kid," Wood continues, "he was scared. He thought he was going to die. I have no doubt he gave me the correct story. I interviewed him several times, and he always gave the same story."
Because Been "can barely read and write," says Wood, Georgetown officers had to help him fill out a written statement. Later that day, when Been's stepfather took him to the hospital, where he was held overnight for observation, doctors interviewed him. They noted in their report that Been had admitted to a history of "heavy multi-substance abuse." The doctors also concluded that Been's nausea likely derived from ingesting Dilaudid, one of the painkillers that had been prescribed to Smitty.