The Case of the Fatal Femme

Samantha Somegustava's boyfriend tells the homicide detective she has a "hard heart." By now, the cop knows what he means

They authorize the release of a photograph of Samantha to the media, dubbing her a "very important investigative lead" in the murder.

The media release notes that Samantha has a tattoo on her neck that says "R.I.P.," as well as something illegible on her upper chest.

Later that day, the detectives collect their warrant to search the Cavalier. The following morning, crime-scene tech Jerry Yarbrough starts to scour the car, inch by inch, item by item.

Among other things, he sees blood spatterings and stains on the front seat and interior driver's side door panel. He also recovers receipts from the Shell station for the gas purchased with the stolen credit card after Gabe's murder.

Yarbrough finds a tee shirt silk-screened with the words, "In Memory of Macido Davis -- Uncle Joe. 1977-2003."

The presence of two pairs of rubber vampire teeth in the back seat will remain a mystery.

Jason Schechterle is delighted with how this topsy-turvy murder investigation is moving. On March 13, he holds court with some young patrol officers, loudly regaling them with tales of the ongoing case.

In the next-door office he shares with Jack Ballentine, Detective Alex Femenia has heard enough. With Ballentine looking on, he shuts their door and telephones Schechterle.

Femenia mumbles into the receiver that his name is Johnny Running Bear and that he actually witnessedthe Cruz murder. He says he needs to meet Detective Schechterle at a Circle K in downtown Phoenix.

Hanging up his cell phone, Schechterle bites hard for the practical joke.

He rushes to tell Jack Ballentine that something has come up that needs their immediate attention. Feigning disinterest, the senior detective turns back to his computer.

Exasperated, Schechterle decides to go by himself to the convenience store. He grabs a notebook and is about to leave the office when Femenia hollers after him.

"Hey, Jason," the detective says. "When you're at the Circle K, say hi to Johnny Running Bear for me, okay?"


The Phoenix detectives return to the reservation late on the afternoon of March 14 to tie up some loose ends.

Samantha Somegustava is still at large, but Jack Ballentine remains confident that her time is running short.

At 5:30 p.m., Gila River police officers Mike Lancaster and Hilario Tanakeyoma pull into the ubiquitous Shell station where Somegustava and her mother had bought gas, to meet the Phoenix detectives. They ask what they can do to help.

Ballentine asks if they'll accompany him and Schechterle into the housing project where the convertible had been found. They want to interview one of Mildred Davis' neighbors.

Once inside the project, the detectives interview a boy who seems to know nothing, and start driving out of the reservation about 6:30 p.m.

But they take a wrong turn, and Schechterle has to turn around to return to where they started.

As he and Ballentine reach the original intersection, they see two tribal police cars rush up and surround a red Jeep Cherokee.

Their guns drawn, the cops rush up to the Cherokee.

"Go!" Ballentine tells Schechterle. "That's our gal right there."

"Shit, it's Samantha!" Schechterle replies.

Other Gila River squad cars race into the suddenly chaotic scene. People are pouring out of their homes to see what's going on.

An officer yanks a young woman wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans from the passenger side and handcuffs her. Another cop pulls out the driver, a young Latino man whose eyes are bulging in disbelief and fear.

"What did I do, what did I do?" he keeps asking.

The woman says loudly to no one in particular, "I already called last night to say I was going to turn myself in."

Then she yells over to her friend, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you nothing. I'm sorry."

"I love you, baby," he responds as tribal officers place the suspects in separate patrol cars.

Ballentine walks over to the car holding the woman and opens the back door. He recognizes her from photographs as Samantha Somegustava.

She's crying, and the light-blue mascara caked onto her eyelids is smearing on her face.

"I'm scared," she says.

"You gotta hang in there with me, Samantha," Ballentine tells her, placing one of his large hands paternally on her right shoulder. "Don't get all upset. You'll be dealing with me, and you just need to relax."

He wants to interview Samantha and her friend as soon as possible at the Vee Quiva casino.

"Fuckin' poetic," Jason Schechterle says. "She gets to get arrested right in front of her family."

"God bless the neighborhood," Jack Ballentine says, referring to the anonymous caller who tipped off the Gila River police to Samantha's presence.

He calls his sergeant, Patrick Kotecki, to inform him about the wild developments.

As they ride over to Vee Quiva, Schechterle asks Ballentine about his first impressions of Samantha.

"I think she's gonna break," Ballentine tells him.


Inside the noisy, smoky casino, the patrons continue to funnel their money into the gaming machines, oblivious to the drama a few feet away.

Ballentine plans to speak first with Samantha, who's waiting for him in one of the interview rooms, still sobbing.

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2 comments
sandrajeanharvey
sandrajeanharvey

Sam & Richard are my family they are hurting well in prison. I still love them and feel for them. they had a very hard life growing up, no excuse for what they did. please pray for them they are human. as the years go by, I hope they know that god does for give.

sandrajeanharvey
sandrajeanharvey

Sam & Richard are my family they are hurting well in prison. I still love them and feel for them. they had a very hard life growing up, no excuse for what they did. please pray for them they are human. as the years go by, I hope they know that god does for give.

 
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