Headed for Trouble

Erik wanted to help his friend get out of the house. He succeeded -- they're both in prison for life.

"Nathan, what the hell are you doing? Stop it."

Erik could hear the struggle as Julie fought for her life. He stood petrified in the hallway, saying "oh, fuck" over and over, staring at a wall that he knew was the only thing between him and a murder in progress.

"Get the Saran Wrap," Nate yelled from behind that wall.

Erik Jensen
Erik Jensen
Nate Ybanez
Nate Ybanez

Erik went into the kitchen and saw the wrap sitting out, right on the counter. He grabbed it and went into the living room, where Nate was on top of his mother. Nate reached for the Saran Wrap with one of the hands he was using to pin his mother down -- but Julie hit the box first. Erik saw blood on the wrap, and dropped the box. Freaking out, he started to back away.

"I need help," Nate said.

"Fuck you," Erik replied.

"I've got her wrists, you've got to help," Nate said, handing Erik the tongs. "Here."

Erik let the tongs drop on Julie's head.

In the struggle, Nate had somehow landed with his back on the floor and his mother on top of him, her face toward the ceiling. Julie asked Erik to stop Nate as her son laid the tongs across her neck. He pulled down, strangling her as she muttered one word: "Stop."

A bubble of blood came out of her mouth. Her white sweat suit was stained red.

The murder wasn't like anything you see in the movies. Nate had talked about strangling his mother, or maybe knocking her out and then killing her. But even after a dozen or so blows to her head, Julie had remained conscious.

An autopsy would later reveal that she had been strangled to death.

Once his mother stopped moving, Nate wrapped the cord from a Sega Genesis controller around her neck. He put a plastic bag over her head and taped it down. Then he and Erik wrestled Julie's body into a red sleeping bag and dragged it out onto the balcony. The murder scene was a bloody mess, with stains on the floor, walls and ceiling.

"What the hell did you do!" Erik shouted at Nate.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this," he replied. "You weren't supposed to be part of it, but I felt -- I thought I needed help. I didn't think I could do it alone."

And they needed still more help to clean up. They called Brett Baker, Troublebound's other guitarist, who also worked at Einstein's.

"Can you come over?" Nate asked Brett, who was eating Burger King at the time. "Just come over, now." He passed the phone to Erik.

"Brett, just come over, now," Erik repeated.

"Did you guys do it?" Brett asked.

"Just come over," Erik said.

Brett arrived a few minutes later. A wide-eyed Erik answered the door. There were blood splats on his face. Nate was on his knees, scrubbing at the blood on the carpet and walls. "Oh, my God," was all Brett could say.

"Clean," Erik told him.

"No," Brett said. "I don't want to."

"Well, neither do I," Erik said. "But we have to."

The three friends cleaned the apartment. Erik scrubbed the bloodiest wall. Brett cleaned the ceiling and Nate did the floor. Then Erik took a shower and put on some of Nate's clothes. He wanted to get stoned so that he could calm down.

"I guess you can do whatever you want to," Nate said, "because obviously nobody is going to catch you now."

Erik went out on the deck and smoked a bowl.

Then they cleaned up the rest of the evidence. They took the bloody cleaning supplies and threw them into garbage bags. They packed up some of Julie's belongings to ditch, so people would think that she and Nate had just upped and split. Brett and Erik took the garbage and Julie's stuff and drove around Littleton, ditching trash bags in random dumpsters behind strip malls in the area of County Line Road. Erik was still smoking pot as they drove.

They stopped at a gas station, and Erik bought a can of gas. And then they returned to the apartment.

Nate said he wanted to leave Highlands Ranch and find a place in Denver. Erik and Brett thought he should go further away, maybe to Mexico.

Brett and Nate wrapped a rug around the sleeping bag that held Julie's body, and then tied the cord to an electric guitar amplifier around that. The three started carrying the bulky package down the stairs, but it was heavy and the cord snapped by the second flight of stairs. The rug started to unroll, but they managed to get the bag down to the parking lot.

Loading the body into the trunk was another struggle. They maneuvered it various ways. Nate finally had to step on it to get it to fit.

After that, Erik and Brett left. They drove over to Brett's so he could get some work clothes for the next day. Brett told his parents that he was going to stay at Erik's that night.

For a couple of hours, Nate drove his mother's Lexus around town, -- with the body, a shovel and a can of gas inside. He finally pulled into Daniels Park, near Sedalia.

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