Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: Prelude to Murder, Act II

The Hartleys' reports are in general agreement about their fearful trip to the Stop N Go. The two of them left the Lakewood Village apartments, walked around the small trail where Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor were later found, walked north until they decided they were being followed, ran to the Stop N Go, and there informed the employees that they were being chased. The store employees called the police.

Some other aspects of their reports are also consistent. The two of them did become separated. They did rejoin later at Victor's, whose apartment was the starting point of their great adventure.

Both reports make clear that Barbara wished to avoid any encounter with the police. She declined to take a shortcut through the Lakehurst Apartment complex for fear of being arrested there. She left the Stop N Go before the police arrived in response to the "chased by shadowy figures" call. She avoided the police again when they later appeared at the Stop N Go in response to the "wife abducted by shadowy figures" call.

The reports are also in agreement about the existence of some guys in some type of vehicle at the car wash.

In this post, Act II, we'll discuss those areas of agreement. In the next post, Act III, we'll discuss Drew's efforts to locate Barbara after the two of them became separated. Drew's claims of what happened during his frantic search for her may be the most revealing of all. First things first however.

According to Drew, after he and Barbara arrived together at the Stop N Go, he set off alone for the Lakehurst Apartments.
Drew: My wife stayed at the Stop-N-Go and waited and I left. Barbara wouldnt [sic] go past the Stop-N-Go unless she knew that Gino or somebody was home. I went to the Lakehurst Apartments and visited Gino. I knocked on the door and talked to them briefly and then left. I went back to the Stop-N-Go to get Barbara.
Note that I rearranged the sentences in that paragraph to make it a bit more clear. Note also that to walk from the Stop and Go to the Lakehurst Apartments, they would have had to walk along the north end of the wooded area. Barbara seemed too rattled by her experience to even risk that.

According to Barbara, she left the Stop N Go without Drew.
Barbara: I looked out the window and I saw Drew outside, but nobody else. I then went out of the store and went to the car wash behind the Stop And Go and I talked to some guys there and I asked them if I could hang around there for a few minutes and they said it was O.K. with them. I saw two police cars pull in the Stop And Go. I then asked the guys to give me a ride to the front Stop and Go [a different Stop N Go] on Westheimer. I rode around with the guys for awhile and then they gave me a ride over to a friend of mine, named Victor, who lives in the Lakewood [Village] Apartments.
Given her recent scare, I suspect Barbara would have been cautious about hitching rides with complete strangers. I suspect that Barbara knew the "some guys". I suspect that that she may have called them to pick her up. I suspect one of those "some guys" may have been the aforementioned Victor Alfeiri. That would explain Victor's temporary absence from his apartment when Drew was hunting for Barbara.
Drew: Barbara didnt [sic] turn up. This white guy then gave me a ride to Victor's. She is not there and Victor is not home.
Victor was apparently at home when Drew and Barbara left on their excellent adventure, and Victor was apparently at home when the police later to pick up Barbara, but he was not there when Drew dropped by in search of Barbara. Perhaps he made a quick run out to the Stop N Go.

Though Barbara didn't mention it in her report, Drew spoke with the guys who gave Barbara a ride, and they threatened to beat his ass, because he wanted to get out of their vehicle. To me, that seems unusual behavior for new found friends eager to help out with some transportation issues. Those "some guys" must really take their charitable efforts seriously.

Drew's encounter with these guys (from the Bad Ass chapter of the Good Samaritans) occurred after his frantic search for his loving wife, who it turns out had ditched him.
Drew: I went to the Stop-N-Go and asked them to call the police that my wife was missing. They called the police and an officer came out.

Cook and Beck: Officers riding Unit 20G40 were flagged down by a person known as Drew Curtis Hartley regarding his wife missing. The time was approx 2330 hrs and the location was the Stop N Go parking lot at 2303 S. Kirkwood. ... Hartley had a flashlight in his hand and stated he had been looking for his wife for a while.

Drew: The officers is [sic] looking with a spot light driving down the street. Barbara is riding in a pickup truck with three white guys. Barbara said that she was fine and to get into the truck because I was making a scene. I got into the truck. I decided to tell them to drop us out. The truck pulled over and stops. I get out and Barbara wouldnt [sic] get out. They pulled up into a driveway and turned around and drove at squeling [sic] and I ran. I heard them say that they out [sic] to beat my ass.

Cook and Becker: Officers drove from the Stop N Go and began looking into a field in the 2400 blk of S. Kirkwood ... Officers walked east along the path ... when observing a black female laying face down in the path ... Approx 40 to 50 feet east of the female's location officers found a small boy laying in the brush face down approx 2 to 3 feet north of the path. ... Officer Becker continued to look in the immediate area for any susp(s) or evidence. Becker then went back to the Stop N Go and picked up Hartley from the store ...

Drew: I ran up to where the police officer was at the Stop-N-Go and told him that I had found my wife. The officer told me that there had been some murders out there and he took me to Victors. [sic] I met Barbara there and the officer took me to the scene of the crime.

Barbara: About an hour later Drew came to the door with a policeman and was saying that someone had gotten murdered down the street and the police wanted to talk to us.
Barbara and her friends apparently drove at "squeling speed" from the car wash just as Officer Becker was returning to the Stop N Go to pick up Drew. It seems as if neither Barbara nor her friends wanted Drew to speak with the police. She told him to get in the pickup (already carrying 4 people) because he was making a scene. Her friends soon thereafter discussed the possibility of beating her husband's ass simply because he asked to get back out.

If Drew was being truthful, then Barbara was not. She could not have been at Victor's for an hour before Officer Becker arrived with Drew to pick her up. And it does seem as if Drew is being the more truthful here. If he had not had the encounter with Barbara and her friends at the car wash, he would not have known she would be at Victor's, as he clearly told Officer Becker she was.

It is clear that Barbara really, really, really wanted to avoid the police. After the store employees called the police the first time, she found a way out of the area before the police arrived. She didn't want to walk anywhere near the field, so she conveniently or (more likely) deliberately secured a ride with "some guys."

At some point, Barbara and her friends became uncomfortable with having Drew out there "making a scene", so they decided to pick him up. They found him at the car wash just as Officer Becker was returning to the Stop N Go to pick up Drew and transport him to the scene. Barbara not only wanted to avoid Becker, she (and the others) wanted Drew to not speak with Becker.

Perhaps because Drew had already given his name to Cook and Becker when they arrived in response to the abduction call, Drew felt it best to tell them that his wife had been discovered and that all was well. He did not know at that time about the murders.

He must therefore have been shocked when they told him about those murders in that field he had just criss-crossed. His shock, however, must have been nothing compared to Barbara's when the police arrived at Victor's and wanted to question her, not about drugs or some other low-level offense, but about murder.

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