By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
In fact, he and Teresa were putting up a fence that Sunday, outside the Englewood home the couple shared with Peter's mother, Mariko Shida. They worked in the pleasant spring air while Shida sat under a tree and watched their eight-month-old son. That night, Shida took everyone to Red Lobster.
Life was good, Spitz thought. The four years he'd been married to Teresa had been the happiest he'd ever known. The couple had returned to Colorado from Wisconsin a few months earlier to take care of Peter's mom, who had a history of tuberculosis but was still quite active. The move had involved finding new jobs and scrimping a bit, but things were picking up. Teresa had hired on with a truck-leasing operation that allowed her to work at home much of the time, and Peter's income and hours as a local trucker were improving. They were thinking about getting their own house.
But while Peter was looking down the road, at a future crammed with expanding opportunities, Teresa was planning the next few hours. She was an extremely organized woman, a maker of lists. And she was facing a series of difficult tasks that night, a to-do list in her head that had to be accomplished stealthily and in a tight time frame — ten minutes for this, fifteen minutes for that.
Load gun. Put in bathroom drawer.
The revolver, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airweight, was a present from Peter. She had tried it out at a local shooting range with him. She handled it well and was a good shot. It wasn't her favorite, because her long fingernails got in the way, but it was small and easy to conceal.
Give baby a bath. Write letter. Pack diaper bag.
Shortly before four in the morning, Peter woke up and found Teresa dressed. The baby needed diaper-rash ointment, she said; she would run to the store with him and be right back. Peter drifted back to sleep, unaware that his wife had set his clock back so that his alarm wouldn't sound in half an hour, the time he usually rose to go to work.
Get $ at ATM. Drop off baby.
The minutes ticked by. There were not many to spare. Teresa showed up at the home of Don and Sheila Reynolds, an older couple she had known for years and regarded as family. She told Sheila that Peter was having chest pains; would they mind looking after Lee while she ran to the hospital?
After Teresa left, Sheila Reynolds discovered that her friend had brought not only an unusually hefty load of diapers and other baby-care items, but Lee's Social Security card and medical paperwork, as well. Also in the diaper bag was $500 in cash, some jewelry, a diary, and a letter giving the Reynoldses custody of the child.
She made it back to the house shortly after five and took the gun from the bathroom. Peter was still sleeping. She put a pillow over his face and fired. She started to leave, but there was screaming behind her.
She went back and shot him in the face again.
This time she made it to the stairs, but there was still noise coming from the bedroom, and now her mother-in-law was calling from downstairs, wondering what was going on.
She went back to the bedroom. Peter was crawling on the floor, moaning. She shot him in the right temple, then headed downstairs.
Later, the police would not be able to determine if Shida knew she was in danger and was fleeing the house, or if she was seeking her glasses before calling 911. But Teresa caught up with her in the kitchen and shot her in the back of the head.
She went outside to her car and used her cell phone. She gave the address and said shots had been fired. When the dispatcher asked her name, she ended the call. A few minutes later, she walked into the Englewood Police Department and handed the empty revolver to an officer in the lobby. A detective took her into an interview room and advised her of her rights.
Teresa Spitz declined to answer questions and asked for a lawyer. But she did have a question of her own.
"Are they both dead?" she asked.
Only one, it turned out. The police had received two 911 calls from the 2900 block of South Cherokee that morning. One had been the hang-up call about shots fired.
The other had come from a badly wounded Peter Spitz.
He awoke in fear and excruciating pain, pain that couldn't be stopped or understood. His mouth was on fire. He thought he was having a stroke, an aneurysm, some terrible eruption inside his head.
He heard a loud noise — not a gunshot, but the sound of a giant ball bearing being dropped through a lead pipe. And with the noise came another brilliant blast of pain in his left eye. He fell out of bed and screamed for Teresa to help him.
The pain hit him again, this time on the right side of his head. He crawled in agony across the floor, groping for a phone.