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"The divorce itself was a very complicated situation," he continues, "because she had gotten more involved with [Schmitz's] family in Germany. They extended her a hand."
Indeed, after the couple separated, Otto Kranzbuhler stepped in to make sure that his great-grandchildren were provided for by establishing a trust in their names. The trust was designed for one purpose only: to purchase a home for the children. It was apparently a healthy sum of money--Carrie Schmitz, as trustee, subsequently bought a quarter-million-dollar home in Boulder.
According to Denver District Court records, Schmitz was to make his child-support payments through the court, not directly to his ex-wife. However, court records indicate that payments were never made.
The former Mrs. Schmitz declined to comment for this story.
Although Carrie Schmitz told people that she'd "cleaned up" her life after leaving Peter, her ex did not alter his lifestyle. He continued to move from loft to loft (he claims to have lived at fifteen addresses in LoDo) and haunted the same old bars--the Wazee Supper Club and McCormick's were two favorites. And he continued to hang out with a rich, fast crowd.
It was at a wedding several years ago in Aspen, says Denver interior-design-shop owner Kenny Mack, that he introduced Schmitz to Spicer Breeden.
Spicer Humphreys Breeden was heir to a Denver dynasty. His mother was the granddaughter of mining and banking magnate Charles Boettcher. And when she died, Breeden, through no act of his own, was worth $2 million.
The 36-year-old Breeden didn't work--he saved his energy for parties and his money for fast cars. He owned a Jaguar and a Porsche and even bought a $135,000 Ferrari Testarossa. When he got bored with one car, he'd buy another. Breeden racked up numerous speeding tickets and, in an incident that combined his love of cars with his love of partying, was once convicted of drunk driving.
Schmitz, too, had an extreme fondness for cars--he'd once owned an old Mercedes, and rumors had circulated in Denver that he was an heir to the Mercedes-Benz fortune. Uhl, however, says that isn't true. "Peter loves cars so much that he would have told me that," says Uhl. Schmitz himself had a clean driving record, though he apparently never bothered to get a Colorado driver's license. Records on file at the state Department of Motor Vehicles show only that Schmitz obtained a Colorado photo ID card in 1990.
Like many of Schmitz's wealthy friends, Breeden bought some of his artwork. And the two of them became a familiar sight on the LoDo scene.
Breeden and Schmitz were together again on St. Patrick's Day this year, though they hadn't planned it that way. Schmitz was trying out his charm that day, schmoozing a married couple in the hopes of selling them a piece of art. But when he failed to make the sale and Breeden showed up, the two of them ate dinner at a LoDo restaurant and then roared off in Breeden's 1995 BMW 540i around 7:30 p.m. A parking valet would later tell police that Breeden was at the wheel of the car. But a second valet placed Schmitz in the driver's seat.
Thirty minutes after Schmitz and Breeden left LoDo, a dark-colored BMW was seen weaving in and out of traffic along southbound Interstate 25, traveling at speeds estimated at up to 100 miles per hour. The BMW had reached the South Santa Fe Drive exit when the driver attempted to change lanes. Discovering that a car was in his path, the BMW driver then swerved into another lane, clipping a Toyota 4Runner driven by Greg Lopez.
Lopez, who was known for his sensitive profiles of the common man, was returning home from a movie when the BMW sideswiped him. Police said Lopez had no chance; his crippled Toyota rolled over three and a half times, killing him instantly.
Witnesses to the accident told police that the BMW pulled over momentarily, then sped off into the night. A red pickup truck, which had been following the BMW, did the same.
Shortly after 9 p.m., Schmitz and Breeden showed up at Enoteca in a different car. They had a couple of drinks and then left. Later that night, Breeden allegedly phoned Sydney Stone, a longtime friend, and told her that if the police came looking for him, she should tell them that he was out of town. By way of explanation, he reportedly told her that a friend had been driving his car and that he'd had "a bump-and-go" accident that caused another car to spin out.
In the absence of a suspect, Denver police accident investigators were left with little more than pieces of a broken grille, some paint marks and information that the car bore a personalized license plate on which to base their investigation. Initially, officers believed they were going to face the daunting task of tracking down every BMW that carried a personalized tag, because state motor vehicle records don't indicate a car's color.
But officers found that luck was on their side when a BMW dealer identified the paint marks as belonging to a car so rare and expensive that only three of them had been sold in Colorado. By Tuesday, detectives were hot on Breeden's trail.