Longform

A Cold Case Frozen in Time

Page 4 of 11

When Jerry went to open the gate, he realized that the lock had been changed. It was strange, but Paul did buy a new lock whenever he fired someone. Maybe somebody had screwed up, maybe that would be part of the story.

Jerry waited outside the gate for Paul and Lorenzo to show up.

Meanwhile, Sarah's mother called police to report that Paul hadn't brought their daughter back from his weekend visit. The two had been in court over custody issues before, and Michelle had recently told Paul she might be moving out of state. The Grand County Sheriff's Department issued a warrant for Paul's arrest. As far as the authorities were concerned, the incident was a parental abduction and Sarah wasn't believed to be in any danger.

But if that were the case, then where was Lorenzo?

Lorenzo Chivers had been working for Paul for a few months. They'd met through Teresa, since Lorenzo lived with her sister. He was a mellow, nice guy who could strike up a conversation with anybody. He was a father of two — fifteen-year-old Josh, who lived with him, and twelve-year-old Aubrie — and it wasn't like him to just take off and not let his kids or their mother know where he was. Even though Lorenzo was separated from his wife, Misha, they were still close. Recently, they'd even talked about reconciling.

Misha didn't know what to think when Josh called her that Monday to say that his father hadn't shown up the night before. She asked to talk to Bobbi Jo. "I know he's not coming home," she remembers Bobbi Jo telling her. "I know something horrible has happened to him."


It was Wednesday before anyone could convince the police to check out the Tuff Movers lot. A Westminster officer met Jerry there and told him to open the gate. Jerry said he didn't have the key, and didn't want to cut the lock in case it was evidence. Irritated, the officer slammed his car into the fence, then jumped onto his hood and over the gate.

"You coming?"

Inside, Jerry tried to think of what was different from how he'd left the lot Saturday. He noticed a puddle of oil partly covered by a piece of plywood and pointed it out. "Can you prove that he didn't change his oil?" the officer asked.

Jerry went up to the big moving truck that he'd noticed parked funny on Monday and tried to peek inside the cab without touching anything. "That's unusual right there," he said. "The truck's clean. We live in these trucks."

The cop grabbed the driver's-door handle and whipped it open.

"I feel he destroyed more evidence than he was willing to look at," Jerry says. "To him, there was nothing unusual there. I was disgusted with him."

The officer left the lot unconvinced that a crime had been committed.

Another day passed with no sign of Sarah, Paul or Lorenzo. Josh Chivers had been staying at his mom's house. On Thursday night, Misha took him to his dad's so that he could pick up some clothes. They found everything from Josh's room packed up and waiting by the door. "I guess you don't have a room at Daddy's house anymore," Misha told her son.

Sharon Skiba finally flew back to Denver on Saturday, February 13. All week, she'd been calling police; all week, they'd been telling her not to worry, that Paul had probably taken off with Sarah and would eventually come back. But she knew her son wouldn't do that. His business and life were in Colorado. He'd recently taken out a second mortgage on his house to pay off credit-card debt, and he'd been to court enough times to know that keeping Sarah would only hurt him. He was careful to never even drop her off late.

Desperate, Sharon went to the phone book and hired a helicopter so that she could scan the area for Paul's car, a '72 Chevelle. She had the pilot fly over the Tuff Movers lot and also over Brighton, since Teresa had told her she'd been to a psychic who said that Paul and Sarah were dead and that Paul's car would be by a gravelly area near a lake or river. But they didn't find anything.

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Jessica Centers