Zero to Life

Lisl Auman had met Matthaeus Jaehnig only that morning. By day's end, he and a cop were dead--and her life was over.

"I heard nothing out of her mouth like that."
"I'm gonna take this because he doesn't deserve it and I paid for it?"

"I heard I'm gonna take that because I paid for it, because it's mine. But I didn't hear I'm gonna get him, or no shit like that. No...We weren't there like that."

By the next morning, though, Lisl was having serious doubts about the entire enterprise. She was afraid of Gerze and his friends and unsure of their intentions. When she and Soriano went to a Taco Bell to cash a check, she told Soriano she wanted to abandon the idea of getting her belongings, at least for that day. Soriano, however, urged her to go through with it. She pointed out that Lisl had written checks for Cheever's gifts that she might not be able to cover. Besides, she said, Gerze had set things up and it was too late to back out now.

Lisl knew what that meant.
"She knew I was scared of Dion," Soriano says of her then-boyfriend. "I was terrified of him. He had threatened to kill me. He had threatened to kill my whole family.

"If you went against Dion, you might find yourself not there the next day."
The friends Gerze had recruited were Matthaeus Jaehnig, who had a record for assault and drug and weapons possession, and Steven Duprey, whose rap sheet was even longer.

Soriano and Lisl had planned to ride together, but the men insisted that Lisl travel in Jaehnig's red Trans Am with him. ("Tao [Jaehnig]...probably wanted to fuck her," Gerze speculates on the interview video.) Soriano and Duprey rode with Gerze in Soriano's black Chevy Cavalier. Gerze describes his own mood as lighthearted. His intentions were simply to help his girlfriend's friend move, he told the police, and to play in the mountains.

At the lodge, Lisl greeted some people she knew. She and Soriano began retrieving clothes, books and other belongings from her room. Jaehnig stayed outside in his car; at one point, Soriano joined him for a smoke break. Meanwhile, someone--no one has said precisely who--cut the lock on Cheever's door with bolt cutters. Prosecutor Twining attributes this act to Lisl, because Soriano testified that Lisl came down the stairs and handed her the cutters. But it is more likely that this large, cumbersome implement was wielded by one of the men.

Amid the flurry of accusations and counter-accusations that followed the burglary, it was hard to ascertain exactly what was taken from Cheever's room: The disputed items are the snowboard Lisl had bought; two camcorders, one Lisl's, the other broken; a pair of Cheever's speakers, one of which had been outside his door in the hallway; a tripod; an amplifier; and a box of CDs in which Auman's and Cheever's discs were mixed together.

At some point, Lisl did become aware that the men were taking items that were not hers. Soriano believes she was afraid to challenge them. "They were on top of us the whole time," she says. "There was really nothing she could have done."

Steffany Froemel has her own take on what happened. "I guess you could call it a burglary," she says. "Shawn's the one that stole the things. If that makes them his, well, there you go."

The cars outside the lodge were loaded up. Concerned at what he'd seen, one of Cheever's friends took down Jaehnig's license plate number. Someone else called 911. The red Trans Am sped away. Soriano's car left, then returned. Duprey jumped out to help himself to another box of discs.

Nine days after Lisl's trip to the lodge, a pizza was delivered to a room at a Quality Inn in Wheat Ridge. The bill was only $14 or $15; the delivery man was handed a $25 check with a woman's signature. He left, then returned to point out the discrepancy. It was Shawn Cheever who opened the door. Just give me five dollars, Cheever told the pizza man, according to police reports, and we'll call it even.

The check was forged. When police arrived, they discovered handgun shells in the room, cocaine and four women's purses--all stolen from maids at the Quality Inn. They also found Lisl Auman's checkbook.

Cheever had been frequenting upscale Denver hotels and stealing patrons' IDs to set up bank accounts. He had rented and never returned a chainsaw. Eight months before the Buffalo Creek break-in, he'd been arrested in Aurora for attacking his common-law wife. He had swung a vacuum cleaner at her, almost striking their five-month-old baby.

Two and a half months after the burglary, in January 1998, Cheever informed his Buffalo Creek landlords Red Jessup and Connie Matthews that he had impregnated their thirteen-year-old daughter. Furious, Jessup reported it to police, but no charges were filed against Cheever. In a motion to exclude this information from Lisl's trial (at one point the young girl was expected to testify against her; Cheever, too, would be taking the stand), Twining and DA Bill Ritter explained why:

"Other than the parents [sic] oral report to the unknown Denver Police Detective, there are no other reports concerning this allegation. Moreover, because all that was reported were [the child's] parents allegations, the Denver Police never opened an investigation, much less were charges ever filed." In addition, the motion stated, the thirteen-year-old was unlikely to cooperate in an investigation.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

hahaha....Denver skins... what shit, they laughed at the skins and the skins only wished to be like Matthaeus