A Hard Hit

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

Detective Webster confirms that Scott's girlfriend was administered a polygraph. He won't say whether she passed. "That's another one of those details I just can't release."

Becker and Frank both arrived outside Scott's apartment while his body was inside. Frank noticed that someone had propped a ladder against the back wall of the house and unscrewed a security light. Like Talia, Becker immediately suspected Earl Taylor. "I called him, and he didn't answer, and I kept calling all day. Kidder had Caller ID, and usually he always picked up right away when I called," Becker says. "He was hiding."

The day after the murder, Scott's friends heard Taylor had been down in Skyline Park, bragging. They called Detective Webster. They say Webster told them he wanted to bring in Taylor for questioning and gave them a mug shot from one of Taylor's juvenile arrests to pass around. They also say Webster told them Taylor's home number was the last number logged on Scott's cell phone -- another detail Webster won't confirm or deny.

Brian Stauffer
Zoot suit riot: Eric Scott in his favorite threads.
Zoot suit riot: Eric Scott in his favorite threads.

The homicide investigator does acknowledge this much, though: Taylor became a suspect and was questioned three weeks after the murder. "The word on the street was very consistent about this individual's involvement, and so we did ask that individual some questions," Webster says. "He maintained that he knew the victim but had nothing to do with what happened. To this point, I don't have anything to tie him directly to any part of this. We don't have enough to arrest him or anyone else."

Scott's friends remain convinced of Taylor's guilt. And they remain afraid of him. (Two of them quoted in this article made arrangements to leave Denver the day before it was published.) Becker moved to South Carolina in July, two months after the murder. "If I'd stayed, I would have either killed Kidder or died trying," he says.

Scott's apartment was broken into several times in the month after he was killed. One visitor left a bouquet of roses. Another painted the word "redrum" ("murder" backwards) on the door and left a hammer.

The killing of Eric Scott was page-seventeen news. The Denver Post covered the crime in 33 words, the Rocky Mountain News in fifty, barely enough to note Scott's name, age and the fact that he'd been beaten to death.

The big story at that time was the condition of Westy the Cat, who earned front-page headlines such as "Burned Cat Appears Better, Nibbles Kibble." Not that Scott would have minded. He was an animal lover.

Over the years, Scott took in dozens of stray cats, carpeting the banisters in his apartment's stairway for their convenience. He paid to have the cats fixed, then placed them with friends, who say the cats often ran away and went back to Scott. His closest animal companion, though, was his dog, Tazzy. Whenever Scott dyed his hair a new color, he usually dyed a strip of hair on the Afghan hound's head to match. He even talked several of his instructors into letting Tazzy attend classes with him at Metro, where Scott had been studying to be a veterinarian before deciding to invest in the surfboard shop instead.

"Eric was always trying to look after others he thought needed looking after, whether animals or people," says Frank, who adopted Tazzy after Scott was murdered. "He told me his childhood made him that way."

It made him other ways as well.

The State of California's Department of Social Services shows that Scott was in the system from the age of four until he was sixteen. That's when he ran away from the last in a series of hellish foster homes.

Scott's friends say he was sexually promiscuous and bisexual and that he self-analyzed both proclivities as psychological reactions to being raped repeatedly by foster brothers in several of the group homes he'd lived in. "Being a slut was Eric's way of reclaiming his sexuality," says one.

Talia remembers that the sight of eggs sickened him because in one of his foster homes, he was forced to eat rotten eggs for breakfast. Scott was anti-cigarette smoking. He despised the hypocrisy of a tobacco industry that contributed money to anti-drug campaigns, and he said that too often, cigarettes reminded him of a particularly vile foster mother who chain-smoked and extinguished her butts on his legs. He had the scars to back up his story.

But more than anything, the evil that infested Scott's childhood made him desire to exorcise his demons by one day becoming the perfect parent.

"Eric wanted kids so bad it wasn't even funny. He went and took parenting classes just to get a head start," says Darcy, one of Scott's oldest friends. "He took anger-management classes because he read that abused children often turn into abusive parents, and he was dead set that that's not what he would be. He was great with my son. Anytime I needed a babysitter, I could call Eric. Anytime I needed money for diapers or groceries, I called Eric and I got it. My son's five now, and he keeps asking when Eric's coming over again, because Eric's the best father my son ever had."

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