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"The guy doesn't miss a heck of a lot," says Wickman, who doesn't seem to miss much himself. He and Trujillo are meticulous, thorough and patient as they process the scene.
"Listen," Pitt tells the detectives. "Someone gets in through the second-story sliding door, finds a knife, kneels down, stabs this girl in the side, leaves. She doesn't knock over that full glass of water by her bed, then waits all that time to call for help, though she's had a knife stuck in her.
"Now, think of all these stressors she has in her life: Dumped by a boyfriend, low self-esteem, financial problems, away from her family and her friends for a short period of time. I'll bet she has a mental-health history. I'll bet you a dessert."
Tom Wickman takes the bet, just for kicks.
About 2 p.m., the detectives leave the crime scene and stop at a familiar haunt for a bite to eat. Trujillo is just about to dig into his breakfast when his pager goes off. Wickman's sounds, too.
The pair leave immediately, game faces on. They don't say where they're going, but those left behind suspect this is it.
Two hours later, outside the Justice Center, Alex Hunter makes his short announcement:
No charges against anyone in the Ramsey case.
The next morning at the Boulder PD, with Wickman sitting in, Steve Pitt briefs the detective who's been assigned to lead the case. He tells her why he suspects the wound to be self-inflicted, and carefully walks her through the investigative steps she should take to get the young woman to come clean.
"This is a very interesting case," the shrink says, clearly in his element. "Very, very interesting."
"Just another day," replies Wickman. "Just another day."
By the way, he owes Steve Pitt a dessert.
Contact Paul Rubin at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org