By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
June 29: The Subaru victim hands detectives a surveillance video he obtained from a Conoco station, showing the male and female gassing up the Expedition and the Subaru and paying with the vic's stolen credit card. The suspects are soon identified as Darrell Havens and Shannon Vicenec.
June 30: Two Lakewood detectives locate the stolen Subaru in the parking lot of the Glendale apartment complex where Vicenec lives. While they wait for backup, Havens appears, slips into the Subaru and starts to take off. The detectives rush the car, one with gun drawn, but Havens ignores them, flooring it, "causing all tires to 'burn rubber,'" one of the officers report. He blazes out of the parking lot and disappears.
July 5: Havens is under investigation in Arapahoe County for identity theft, forgery and motor vehicle break-ins.
August 4: Denver detectives conducting surveillance and trying to arrange a meth buy at a house on West Cedar Avenue run checks on a number of vehicles coming and going from the place. One is a Honda motorcycle, stolen seven days ago; another is a GMC Sierra, stolen five days ago; another is a Honda Accord, stolen just hours earlier. Havens and Vicenec are observed leaving the house on the stolen motorcycle.
An informant who tried to buy drugs from Vicenec's roommate inside the house tells the surveillance team that Haven has two guns on him. Police follow the motorcycle at a discreet distance. (Later, the episode will be characterized as a "police chase," but it's not clear if Havens was aware of the surveillance.) A few miles down the road, the motorcycle runs a red light on South Wadsworth and smashes into a turning car.
Havens says he has no recollection of the accident, beyond what Vicenec has told him: that blood was coming from his mouth as she tried to get him to respond, that his eyes were open but unseeing. "She was telling me to wake up, get up, and people were telling her to leave me alone, that the ambulance was on its way," he says.
Vicenec slipped away and managed to make it back to the house on West Cedar. She got into the stolen Accord with two males, Joshua Welles and Geoffrey Fansler, just as police moved in to seize the vehicles. According to police reports, Fansler slipped the car into reverse and shot backwards into a parked truck, swerved past police officers emerging from their vehicles, ran over a pile of rocks that blew out a front tire, and crashed into a concrete wall. It was Vicenec's second smash-up in two hours.
She fared better than Havens, who had a broken arm, a shattered femur and a blood clot on his spine that affected movement on his right side. He also had a brain injury. He spent weeks in the hospital in an induced coma, and when he came out of it he had trouble walking, talking and recognizing his own family. "I asked my mom how old I was," he recalls. "I thought I was seventeen. She said I was nineteen."
When he was released, he moved in with his sister Chrystal. Surgeries had left him temporarily unable to use either of his arms, and Chrystal found him much changed from the little brother she once knew. "He had a hard time remembering things," she says. "He would get really frustrated really fast. He wouldn't understand things, and you'd have to rephrase it so he could get it. Most of his life he had to depend on himself, and now I had to shower him and feed him."
Gradually, though, Havens was able to take care of himself again. After a few weeks he got back with Vicenec, unaware that she'd admitted to police her role in the Subaru theft and was offering to cooperate in other theft investigations involving Havens. Charges and court dates were piling up, but he went back to heisting cars, too, using his good arm to steer.
In mid-November, Cherry Hills issued an arrest warrant for him after recovering a stolen Yukon that had been abandoned with a flat tire. A print on the rearview mirror belonged to Havens.
A week later, a man in southeast Denver surprised a skinny male in the act of rifling his Honda Civic. The suspect jumped into a Nissan Maxima and tried to get away; the Honda owner struggled with him, and the Nissan crashed into a parked van. The thief was easily wrestled to the ground -- one arm didn't seem to work -- but he managed to flee on foot anyway.
The Nissan came up stolen. A backpack inside contained drug paraphernalia and court papers in the name of Darrell Havens.
More cases followed, in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver. One police report claims that on December 26, interrupted in the middle of another car break-in, Havens fled a Sheridan parking lot in a different vehicle, narrowly missing hitting a witness, who dove out of the way.
Meanwhile, police in Lone Tree, investigating a series of vehicle thefts in a gated community, had also begun to focus attention on Havens. Shortly before the SuperTarget shooting, a detective named Todd Pachello met with Shannon Vicenec. "She said she was going to start wearing a wire, getting things on tape for us, tell us where our stolen vehicles were," Pachello would later inform CIRT investigators. (Vicenec, who has convictions for auto theft and related charges and is now in community corrections, didn't respond to requests for comment.)