SUNSHINE AND SADNESS
Traffic is light as I drive north on I-17 from downtown. I spot the Woodstone Apartments on the right side of the highway.
I know I've arrived when I see the big, block letters on the wall of the 700-apartment development. They read:
As I turn into the main entrance, there is another sign greeting visitors: "Luxury Living."
Arizona Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks
TicketsTue., Nov. 1, 7:00pm
Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers
TicketsWed., Nov. 2, 7:00pm
Arizona Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators
TicketsThu., Nov. 3, 7:00pm
Arizona State University Sun Devils Hockey vs. University of Michigan
TicketsFri., Nov. 4, 7:05pm
I wonder if Angela Brosso, then 21, had noticed these signs, too, the day she came to register at the rental office.
At the mailboxes, there are signs advertising tear gas for sale. Someone also wants to sell a three-foot-long king snake for $40. The seller guarantees the snake is "very tame."
There is a small athletic club in the clubhouse adjacent to the rental office. This is where Brosso took aerobics classes three times each week. There is also a swimming pool heated to 84 degrees.
Brosso was a recent graduate of DeVry Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, and drove a silver-colored 1985 Dodge Omni with the license plates she had purchased back home in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The lone identifying mark on the car was a DeVry Institute sticker on the rear window.
We still know little about this star-crossed girl.
Several months ago, she moved here from California and into apartment 3115, a one-bedroom unit, with her boyfriend, Joseph Krakowiecki, 24. He is still a student at the DeVry branch in Phoenix. The school is located several miles south of the apartment complex.
In our minds, Angela Brosso will be remembered simply as "the woman who was beheaded." We will think reflexively of the accompanying horror: the demonic mutilation of her body by someone who may have been attempting to imitate a character called Buffalo Bill in the film The Silence of the Lambs.
There is an even more frightening theory. Could it be the work of teenagers obsessed with MTV, weird music and drugs, members of a youth culture saturated in violence from their earliest years?
Who is it, after all, who awaits trial for the horrible murders at the Buddhist temple but a pair of teenagers who have confessed and explained how the crime was committed?
@body:A tall young man with shoulder-length hair answers the door to apartment 3115. In his arms, he cradles a three-foot-long ferret.
"Yes, this is where she lived," he says, before I even ask.
"Her parents just left. They came over from Pennsylvania to pick up her things."
This was the day after Angela Brosso's head had been found floating in a canal near Metrocenter.
"Are you Joseph Krakowiecki?"
"No, I'm his friend. We've traded apartments so that he can avoid the media."
He is friendly but aloof, almost bored. He has nothing to say, and appears consumed by the welfare of his pet ferret.
I walk downstairs. I encounter a young woman. She is in a floor-length bathrobe. She has long, straight hair. The small dog at her feet does not bark.
She says, "I guess you could say I knew her. We talked on the stairs. We talked about the weather and how we were glad the heat was over. My God. Whoever thinks something like this will happen?
"I'm frightened half to death."
I walk south, through the complex. It is like a college campus. I wander toward the bike path on the eastern border of the property.
Several tenants are moving out, hauling and wrestling their mattresses down the stairs before lifting them into the backs of pickup trucks and securing them with ropes.
"Can I talk to you?" I ask one bearded young man.
"Are you going to try to use that tape recorder?" he demands.
I say goodbye to him.
There are many out-of-state license plates: New Mexico, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Alaska, New York, Illinois, Hawaii.
There is a tractor-trailer rig parked toward the rear of the complex. Seven small boats are stored there, too.
I walk past the dumpsters where the police had rummaged for Angela Brosso's head that first morning. I move across a dirt field covered with scrub to the bike path on which she pedaled north toward Cave Creek Park at 7 on the evening of November 8.
I walk along the bike path on which Angela Brosso took her final ride into the night on the eve of her 22nd birthday.
I don't have to walk for long before I see the flowers. Someone has placed them at the spot where her naked body was found.
Angela Brosso's head had been severed from her body. Her clothes were placed in a pile not far away. Unspeakable things were done to the rest of her body.
It is a sunny day. How can there be danger here?
A young woman passing by sees the flowers and recognizes the meaning. Her mouth opens in a silent scream.
She is right to scream. The pathos created by an unclad body tossed in an open field is absolute and universal.
I think of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the antihero of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs, the pure sociopath with his unnatural desires and enormous intellectual gifts--Dr. Lecter, with the maroon-colored eyes and the six fingers on his left hand, who was confined for a time to a cell without windows. On the wall of this cell, he drew a map of Florence, Italy.
When the young FBI agent, Clarice Starling, asked Dr. Lecter if he drew all the details from memory, he replied:
"Memory, Officer Starling, is what I have instead of a view."
@body:I stand there on the blacktop bike path and look westward toward the apartment complex. I can see the red-tile roofs. The windows are some 60 yards away. Small trees line the path, but they are too young to provide any camouflage. And there are overhead lights every 20 yards.
If you look the other way, you can see an iron fence which borders the canal. The canal is empty.
The police have released very few details. You wonder if her fingernails were broken, something that would indicate she had undergone great pain before death.
Did he--or they--come to get her in a van or a closed truck? Where was she taken? And why was she brought back to this spot? Above all, why keep the head so long before tossing it into the canal, two miles farther south?
The young man with the ferret had given me the family's telephone number in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
I got a recorded message. It was a woman's voice with a melodic tone. "I'm sorry. We are unable to come to the phone right now."
I put down the telephone. I think about how to sum up my visit to the crime scene.
It was a sunny, brisk day and the wind blew the leaves from the trees. But there were no children playing in the streets.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.