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A Hard Hit

Whoever murdered Eric Scott deprived some troubled teens of a reason to make a better life.

Talia and Scott returned from California on Sunday, May 27. She stayed at his place that night and most of the next day. "We'd been down to Tijuana and picked up some Xanax," she says. Xanax is a prescription anti-anxiety drug with popular recreational applications. "Eric liked it because it helped him sleep. He had a lot of nightmares, stuff from his childhood and whatnot. He laid us each out three white bars." A bar of Xanax is a two-milligram pill, the highest dose manufactured. "I pocketed mine, but he took his and started to get ready to crash out early." Talia left around 9 p.m.

The next day, Scott was supposed to call Talia between 8 and 9 a.m. to come pick him up; he'd planned to go target shooting with her brother. But he didn't call. Talia called him and got no answer. She waited until 9:30 and then left for his apartment, arriving about ten minutes later.

Scott lived on the top floor of a turn-of-the-century Victorian on the 300 block of Lincoln Street. The house was known as the "crystal palace" in the mid-1990s because of all the methamphetamine dealers and addicts who lived there before Scott moved in and kicked them out. "He really cleaned the place up," says Frank, the landlord. "I made him house manager and gave him a break on rent."

In the ensuing years, everyone who came to see Scott -- friends as well as customers -- entered through a door leading into the house from the back yard. The door, which was usually unlocked, opened to a stairway leading to a second-floor hallway. In this hallway was the door to Scott's residence, which opened onto another stairway that went up to his spacious third-floor flat. Scott was careful to keep this door locked at all times. But Talia says it was unlocked the morning she found his body.

"I knocked and he didn't come down, so then I checked the lock, and it was open, and I was like, 'Oh, that's weird,' because when I left the night before, I knew I'd locked it. I walked up the stairs, calling to him, and when I walked into his bedroom and saw him lying there, I thought he was just all Xanaxed out, because the covers were completely over him. I went over and jiggled him a little bit and said, 'Wake up, sleepy,' and then I yanked back the covers."

That's when she saw the blood.

Talia says that after she called 911 and asked for an ambulance -- "I thought he might still be alive" -- she had just enough time to search the apartment. Scott kept his drug money in a blue zippered bank pouch inside his microwave, where he also hid his wares. She says that when she'd left, just twelve hours earlier, there had been $6,000 in the bank bag and a quarter-pound of kinder packaged for sale. Now it was gone. Scott's small safe -- where he kept his will, more money and his personal stock of marijuana -- was also missing, along with "a few thousand dollars he kept stashed in other places" and his gun, a Ruger 9mm pistol he kept in a cabinet in his headboard. "Everything else was still there," she says. "They definitely knew going in what they were after and where to find it."

Talia doesn't remember any signs of a struggle. "There weren't, like, blood patterns all over the room or anything. The bed was soaked, and there were blood spatters on the wall behind the bed and on the ceiling right over it, but that was it. It looked to me like they had hit him while he was in bed and then pulled the covers all the way over him so they didn't have to look at it."

Scott's Afghan hound, Tazzy, was nervously pacing the apartment. When the ambulance crew arrived, she bared her teeth and wouldn't let them come near the bed. "The paramedics told me I had to control the dog, so I took Tazzy downstairs into the hall," says Talia. "Then I just put my arms around her and collapsed."

The EMTs pronounced Scott dead on arrival and radioed the police, who sealed off the crime scene.

Denver police detective Shane Webster, the lead investigator assigned to the case, won't say whether he believes Scott was attacked while asleep or if he put up a fight. He maintains it would be unwise for him to discuss any specifics of what he found inside Scott's apartment. "There are certain details about the crime scene we need to keep close to our vest at this point, so that if someone does come forward with solid information or we do get something on somebody, we have those details to verify or disprove their story with," he says.

But Frank, the landlord, says residents of the other four apartments in the house reported hearing nothing out of the ordinary the night of the murder.

The first person Webster checked out was Talia. She says that soon after he arrived at the apartment, Webster asked her to come down to the station with her. She agreed. On the way, she popped the Xanax in her pocket from the night before. "I'm glad I did. It made the police station a little more bearable," she says. "They told me it would only take about half an hour. It took like five." She says she was first interrogated, then given a lie-detector test. "I think they thought I did it because I had pink hair at the time. They hooked me up to the machine and asked me what time I left, did I know who was involved, did I kill him, all that. They videotaped me the whole time, while I was a complete mess."

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