By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
After they married, the young couple moved across the street into a fourplex. Danny worked for his dad. When he came home hot and tired, she'd have a bath ready--then every night they'd go across the street to his parents' home for dinner.
Meals were a crowded, noisy, laughing affair. Everyone--the parents, their boys, their girlfriends, wives, children and assorted neighborhood visitors--would sit down at the table to eat. They never knew what they were going to get. During lean times it might just be meatloaf, but there were always hot green chiles and a big stack of homemade tortillas fresh off the stove.
It was a rough-and-tumble household. Joe smoked huge cigars, and Ida puffed cigarette after cigarette. They all drank beer. Especially the boys, who would get drunk and wrestle around the house until they were told to take it outside. A favorite pastime was to go to a bar and start a brawl: One minute everything would be quiet, the next all hell would break loose.
Theresa loved it. She'd married into the sort of family she had always wanted and thought her children would grow up safe and well-loved in the arms of that family.
June 2, 1997
The day after Brandy DuVall's body was identified by her mother, Jeffco sheriff's investigators Doug Moore and Jeffrey Pevler visited Patrice Bowman. The fifteen-year-old black girl was one of Brandy's best friends and had been with her on the night of May 30.
Patrice admitted that she and Brandy had smoked marijuana and drunk most of a six-pack of beer, which a man they met at a bus stop had purchased for them in exchange for one of the beers. Brandy had left a little after 11:30 p.m., headed for a bus stop on South Federal Boulevard where she could catch a ride back to her grandmother's house. She'd been wearing a red Chicago Bull's jersey, black shorts and red, black and white Nike running shoes.
After talking with Patrice, the investigators were five hours closer to Brandy's murder but still had many unanswered questions. Where were her clothes? The light-blue jeans she'd been wearing when her body was found were several sizes too big for her, and otherwise she was nude.
But the trail dead-ended at the bus stop on South Federal and Florida. They hoped someone who'd seen her there could narrow the time gap still further. Maybe that someone had even glimpsed the face of Brandy's killer.
Federal was a busy thoroughfare even at that time of night. A lot of teens, some of them homeless and on their own, hung out on corners and in parking lots. On a Saturday night, lowriders and gang members alike might be cruising the street, showing off and looking for action. Someone must have seen something.
On June 10, investigator Simmons received a call from an informant, who said that a man named Jose Martinez had told him that Brandy DuVall had been assaulted by the Bloods at his home on the night of May 30, 1997.
On June 12, Simmons and investigator Ralph Gallegos contacted Jose Martinez at the house he rented at 3165 West Hawthorne Place in Adams County. Martinez quickly confessed to having been the unwilling witness to the rape and torture of a teenage girl. She'd been brought to his house by a Bloods gang member he knew only as "Baby G" and four others he didn't know at all. Already there, getting drunk and high, were his nephew Daniel "Bang" Martinez Jr., Francisco "Pancho" Martinez, Frank "Little Bang" Vigil Jr. and a boy named Zig Zag.
The gang had "the devil" in them that night, Jose Martinez said, and he'd been unable to stop what they had done to "that poor little girl."
The girl was still alive when they'd finally left his house before dawn, begging to be taken to a hospital. After that, he'd cleaned up his house and found the girl's clothes, as well as her high-school identification card. The name on the card was the same one he'd heard later on the television news.
Simmons asked Martinez if he'd kept any of Brandy's personal effects that would help corroborate his story in court. Martinez shook his head. His nephew Danny and the boy he knew as Zig Zag had come over and taken the girl's things, including the identification card, a B-shaped diamond pendant and the bloody mattress of the bed where she had been raped and tortured.
Nothing? the investigator asked.
Martinez gave in. He went to his kitchen and removed something from under the sink. It was a small prayer card. He told the investigators he'd kept it because he liked it and thought he might need something if the police ever showed up asking about the girl.
Now the Jeffco investigators had suspects, but some of them were known only by their nicknames. So Simmons went to talk to Greg Romero, one of the detectives assigned to the Denver Police Department Gang Unit.
Romero identified Zig Zag as 23-year-old Samuel Merced Quintana Jr. Zig Zag, along with 23-year-old Francisco "Pancho" Martinez, 24-year-old Daniel "Bang" Martinez Jr. and 22-year-old David Warren, also known as "Baby G," were all members of the Crenshaw Mafia Gangster Bloods, specifically a subset that called itself the Deuce-Seven. They were drug dealers suspected of a number of shootings, Romero said, but had done little in the way of jail time to show for it. The DPD's gang unit had Danny Martinez and his younger brother, Antonio, also known as "Boom," pegged as the leaders of the Deuce-Seven along with their first cousin, Sammy Quintana; Francisco Martinez, no relation, was immediately below them in the gang hierarchy.