We Are Capitol Hill

When Stephen Elliott was murdered in an Alfalfa's parking lot last year, it shocked neighbors right down to the bone. Down to the bone, that is, for about 72 hours.

"He was my first barfly," E.J. says of the man she initially knew only as Elliott. She didn't like him at first. His edges were too sharp. When Elliott spoke to her, he usually complained about his consulting job or was too quick to debate current affairs. But over time, E.J. was drawn to him -- his intellect, his bone-dry humor, his honesty. The two became close, close friends: E.J. and Elliott.

On Thanksgiving 1992, E.J. and several friends spent the evening at Elliott's home, where he served salmon instead of turkey. The following Sunday, Elliott called E.J. and asked her to help him finish off the leftovers. The two stayed up late, talking and drinking. E.J. didn't go home.

When she left in the morning, E.J. felt as if she had just lost her best friend. "I was thinking he wigged, it's over, he can't take that," she remembers thinking. A few nights passed before E.J. hesitantly called him.

Long gone: A police composite of the suspect in Stephen Elliott's murder.
Long gone: A police composite of the suspect in Stephen Elliott's murder.
The price of a gourmet life: The Alfalfa's parking lot where Stephen Elliott died.
Anthony Camera
The price of a gourmet life: The Alfalfa's parking lot where Stephen Elliott died.

An excited Elliott surprised her. "You wanna go out to dinner?"

"It was a shock," says Mani Powers, a close friend of E.J.'s "Not that they weren't compatible. But nobody expected them to get together. Elliott didn't seem to be the 'family man' type."

Elliott had once described himself to E.J. as asexual. When he'd told Asimus he was bisexual, he had offered no evidence. For all of his talking on grand subjects, Elliott spoke little of his past romantic relationships. He had mentioned only one girlfriend from DU, a relationship that lasted all of two months. Another relationship was via telephone, with a woman from Singapore.

He tended to intellectualize his relationships and ignore romance. "Holding hands for Elliott was pushing it," E.J. says. When they cooked together, she used a cookbook like a good suggestion; Elliott read it like a map. He enjoyed making sauces, if only because that's where precision was rewarded. Intuition, gut feelings, capriciousness -- those traits never led Stephen Elliott.

The following January, E.J. had an even bigger surprise for their friends: She was pregnant with Elliott's child. "I knew what he felt about life, I knew what he felt about death, I knew what he felt about marriage, and I knew how he felt about kids," she says. "This was not in the game plan."

Their friends were stunned. Suvanjieff and other friends teased Elliott. "We said, 'Elliott, that involves you having a sexual relationship with somebody.'"

The idea of fatherhood didn't knock Elliott over with a wave of emotion, either. "It was just too much," E.J. says. "After his parents' deaths, he wasn't going to do any more risks. He was done with pain. He was done with that."

"The nine months was a long haul," she adds.

E.J. gave Elliott plenty of chances to walk away. That summer, E.J. went to her family's vacation home in southern New Jersey. Before she left, she asked Elliott if he'd like to join her -- she knew better than to give him an ultimatum. He did follow her, though he spent his days at the beach reading An Introduction to Logic. As E.J.'s pregnancy wore on, Elliott agreed to attend Lamaze classes, grudgingly investing himself in the relationship. "I took him to his limit," E.J. says.

What Elliott feared most was having a boy. "I wouldn't know what to do with one," he told E.J. What he wanted out of their child, he said, was "someone who is interesting to talk to." The birth of Isabel in 1993 held their union together as closely as it could.

As their family life was still being defined, in 1995 Elliott attempted to make the big score. With four other investors, he started a business called MarketScape, a company that specialized in portable computer technology. MarketScape's initial mark on the industry was the creation of a technology called Web CD that allowed Web sites to be downloaded onto CD ROMs. Elliott was the designer, the brains of the group. "He was an exceptional engineer," says Bob Pinna, MarketScape's CEO. Elliott had done consulting work for Pinna's first business. "He was very, very, sharp. He could be a bit of a challenge to work with, but everyone respected his work because he was so brilliant."

Elliott commuted each day from his Capitol Hill home to Colorado Springs. He left home early and didn't get home until 8:30 or 9 p.m. Then he'd make dinner with E.J. and Isabel. At one point, as Elliott became busier with work and E.J. began teaching Spanish at Metro College, he asked her to stay at home with Isabel full-time -- and offered to pay her.

He took his job, and his investment, very seriously. Elliott didn't socialize with his co-workers. He didn't care for the twenty-something slacker chic that was so pervasive in the computer industry. "We're here to work," he'd say. "To make money." Elliott's cutting sense of humor did, however, allow him to post a few Onion clippings on his office door.

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