|Map: Ft. Carson in Colorado|
In fact, as Smit would soon learn, that very night Grammer had gone to the Red Lobster to meet her boyfriend after work.
Was there a connection?
Smit didn't know. As he sat in his car that morning, mulling precisely that question, he noticed something he had never noticed before. "It hit me that this dead-end alley...dead-ended into an apartment complex," just a few yards from the spot where Karen Grammer's blood trail had begun, Smit later recalled.
Maybe it was a "hunch." That's the word Smit uses to describe it now. Or maybe he had just been still enough to hear it when the crime scene whispered its secret. But Smit headed over to the apartment complex, and knocked on the manager's door. He remembered the vague description of the young men who had tried to rob the Red Lobster that night and decided to ask if there was anyone in the apartment complex matching that description. The manager told him that three young men, all current and former soldiers from the nearby U.S. Army base at Fort Carson, had rented an apartment and had moved out just a few days earlier.
The manager gave Smit their names. Michael Corbett. Freddie Lee Glenn and a young man named Larry Dunn.
"Have you cleaned up the room yet?" Smit asked.
"No," the manager replied.
"Would you mind if I went down and took a look?" Smit asked.
There wasn't much left in the small apartment, although there probably hadn't been much to start with. But rummaging through the drawers, Smit found something that made the hair on the back of his neck stand straight. Tossed to the back of a kitchen drawer, was a slightly dog-eared copy of the DMV driver's handbook. Written on the front of it was the name "Winslow Watson."
Smit had seen that name before. It had been printed on a death certificate just a few days earlier, a death certificate that listed the manner of death as two bullet wounds to the face and listed the cause of death as homicide.
Smit didn't quite grasp it at that moment, but the alley had given up its secret, and the trail of blood that began there would soon lead him to Florida, then to New Orleans, and back to Colorado Springs. The trail would be littered with bodies, a half-dozen of them; all of them killed with a kind of icy depravity that to this day he finds unimaginable. In the end, the blood trail that began with Karen Grammer would lead Smit directly to a gang of young cutthroats headed by Michael Corbett, a man whom Smit describes as "one of the most dangerous men I've ever met."