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Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country (Chapter 11: The Gunman)

THE OIL BOOM REACHED ITS peak on Fort Berthold in the summer of 2013. That September, after the tribe had been earning a steady average of $12 million in oil and gas production taxes each month, suddenly, it earned almost $20 million. A year before the next primary election for chairman, tribal councilmen found themselves in an unfamiliar position: No longer beggars for investors and grants, they became the bestowers of wealth. They funded building projects such as schools, powwow grounds, tribal offices, and housing developments, and created summer programs for youth. Under Tex Hall’s direction, they established a People’s Fund, from which they issued an annual five-hundred-dollar payment to each member of the tribe. It had long been true that members who could not afford to pay their bills petitioned the council for help. This reliance on the tribe for basic needs had hardly diminished with the boom, but now members were not the only ones for whom the tribe opened its coffers. At council meetings, white men dressed in company shirts populated the chamber, peddling their services with phrases like “Your Honor,” “your people,” and “Mother Earth.”

 

I attended several of these council meetings on my trips to the reservation. I wondered if councilmen thought it funny, all these white people stumbling over words, but they seemed to enjoy the attention and had no problem making people wait. Once, while interviewing a tribal administrator in his office, I saw two white men dressed in matching shirts pass the door a half dozen times, and when I went into the lobby an hour later, I saw the men again, on another lap around the building. “Just making the rounds,” one said, and smiled as if I understood.

Most of the visitors were industry lobbyists waiting on drilling permits or rights-of-way across tribal land, but a surprising number had little to do with oil. They were real-estate investors and salesmen pushing boom-time goods such as software, water filters, and GPS systems that traced the whereabouts of trucks. It was remarkable all the things the tribe was told it needed when suddenly it had money. The council seemed wary of the offers and took few of them, though it did accept several that drew its constituents’ ire—among them, a $1.2 million yacht named Island Girl that would take casino guests on the lake, and a helicopter that the tribe leased to fly patients to hospitals and diabetics to dialysis. Both were Tex Hall’s idea. While his fans considered the helicopter a good investment, his detractors felt he had acted in self-interest and claimed he used the helicopter more than anyone else. As for the yacht, it was kept onshore, since the tribe had yet to secure permission from the Army Corps and Coast Guard to put it on the water. Anyone who crossed the bridge saw the yacht perched on the beach like a trophy, and the longer it remained—amid an addiction crisis and heightening violence—the more it smacked of carelessness and poor judgment.

It was no secret that some councilmen were profiting from the boom. Most tribal members I interviewed had heard of Maheshu and knew Tex earned significant royalties from oil wells on his allotments. Judy Brugh, who represented the Four Bears segment, told me she earned $50,000 a month from wells drilled on her land; meanwhile, she had relatives who owned oil-field service companies. Mervin Packineau, who represented Parshall, was a partner in U.S. Sand, a Texas-based corporation that shipped silica and ceramic proppant, used to frack wells, from Tianjin, China, to North Dakota.

 

Most tribal members knew only the gist of their councilmen’s arrangements. The New Town News rarely reported on tribal politics, and the tribal newspaper, the MHA Times, was funded by the tribe and thus could not report critically on the council. (The editor I knew would be fired when she did.) It was not for lack of trying that members had so little information about their own tribe’s affairs. I knew many who had launched citizen investigations, interrogating councilmen at meetings and requesting documents from state and federal agencies. These tribal members attended public hearings in Bismarck, and when bureaucrats failed to answer their questions, they found the answers themselves. Often, I would visit their homes, and they would present me with boxes of photos and paperwork. Everything that could be witnessed was documented—spills, oil-field waste tossed in fields, traffic, well explosions, men wandering where they should not be, car accidents, and potholes.

Among these tribal members was Ed Hall, the elderly man I shared a meal with on my first visit to the reservation. Ed would hear I was in town or see me at a meeting, and later he would call and say he had something to tell me. The secrets he shared were never revelatory, and I wondered if he just enjoyed the company. One day, when I saw him at the grocery store, he dropped all pretense and said, “Call me, and we can gossip.” I picked him up at his house in Parshall that evening, and we drove west toward the lake. He had heard a councilman had built a mansion by the water. Ed wanted to see the place, but we drove and drove and could not find it.

 

THE INVESTIGATION INTO KC’s disappearance had languished once more. While Blackstone no longer operated on the reservation, it appeared to be doing fine from its new base in Watford City. Meanwhile, it was dispatching a fleet of oil trucks from Williston, Lissa learned. As for Tex, his separation from James and Sarah seemed to have had no effect on his willingness to return Lissa’s calls, and if what Sarah said was true, then Maheshu, with help from James’s acquaintance Robert Delao, was also still turning a profit.

 

Then, in the fall of 2013, a new rumor circulated on the reservation: The chairman’s stepdaughter, a nineteen-year-old woman named Peyton Martin, was pregnant with James’s son.

Lissa had reason to believe the rumor. In the summer, Jill had forwarded her a tip that came via the Facebook page. It was from a waitress at a diner in Keene, a town near the west border of the reservation, who claimed that the winter KC went missing, she often saw him come in to eat. Sometimes, she saw him with another man—“a built, buff, tall guy”—who made her feel uneasy. “He dresses very nice and is very charming in a puke kind of way,” the waitress wrote. Lately, this man had been appearing at the diner with a young woman the waitress knew: “She happens to be the chief of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation’s stepdaughter.”

Lissa knew little about Peyton Martin. Peyton’s mother, Tiffiany Johnson, had worked on Tex’s staff during his previous term as chairman and was described by many as an “attractive” woman—dark hair, sharp features. The compliment, however, came with a caveat. Tiffiany wore her oil wealth shamelessly. Her hair was strange, people said, cut short and dyed red at the tips, and her eyelids, painted green and purple, were dabbed with glitter. She wore beaded jackets, Pendleton purses, jeans and leather belts crusted in rhinestones, and jewelry so heavy with silver that it hung like chains around her neck. Tiffiany owned a retail business called The Sparkling Spur. On Facebook, Lissa had found photographs of Tiffiany, Tex, and Peyton at a gala, dressed in Tiffiany’s adornments.

Sarah had never mentioned Tiffiany or Peyton to Lissa, but the rumor of James’s affair gave Lissa another idea. “We need to talk,” she texted Sarah one day on her way home from the reservation. “Where’s James right this second?!? He is not with you is he?!”

“He’s at the house with me, why?”

 

“Honestly?”

“Yes, what’s wrong?”

“Tell James to call me right now!!!”

“Really?! Is everything ok?”

“Call me!! But would like to talk to James.”

Lissa did not record the conversation, nor would she remember all of it, though she committed to memory a few important details with help from Micah, who listened to the call. Her first impression, she later would say, was that James sounded confident, and when she asked if he cheated on Sarah, he denied it without hesitation. Lissa asked again; James spoke over her. He was a smooth talker. She let him talk, and when he seemed to have talked himself out, she asked another question: “Aren’t you worried Robert’s going to snitch on you?”

James paused. “No,” he said.

“Well you need to be,” Lissa replied. “Once a snitch, always a snitch.”

After they had spoken a few minutes, as Lissa would recall, James handed the phone back to Sarah. It seemed to Lissa that Sarah had been listening to the conversation, but if Sarah heard Lissa ask about Delao, she did not mention it. Rather, Sarah wanted to know why Lissa believed her husband was having an affair. Lissa did not bring up Peyton but invented a story about a woman from Arizona who called with tips regarding KC. Lissa told Sarah that the way the woman spoke about James made her suspect they were romantically involved.

“Do you think he’s a cheat?” Lissa texted Sarah.

“I don’t think so,” Sarah replied. “But there are so many rumors out there now, I can’t help but wonder….I wonder why she’s curious about KC but…she really just wanted to talk shit about James.”

“She said she believed James had KC taken out.”

“Seriously?! Agh that makes me sick to my stomach, I just can’t imagine that. Or why he would even do that or have a reason. Did she have any guess as to what a motive would have even been? That’s what I always think about.”

“What did he say about it?”

 

“He said no way has he cheated. Has no idea who she is.”

A month later, Lissa tried again. She told Sarah the truth this time—that she had received a new tip from a relative who said James and Peyton were seen on a well site in James’s truck. According to the relative, Peyton’s uncle had spotted them while at work on the site. “He’s a dirty fuckin dog and you should ditch his ugly ass!” Lissa texted.

“I need to know details,” Sarah replied. “I have to present it to him, date, well site, anything else.”

“Call me.”

“I’m trying to call James.”

“Keep me out of it.”

That night, Lissa and Sarah spoke briefly. Sarah admitted she had been hearing rumors that Peyton was sleeping with James. Tiffiany had said she didn’t like the way Peyton looked at James, and drivers had also mentioned the rumors to Sarah, but Sarah dismissed them. Jill had begun attacking her on Facebook around the same time, and Sarah suspected the rumors were part of Jill’s effort to discredit her. But in November 2012, when she and James joined Tex, Tiffiany, and Peyton for a football game in Dallas, Texas, and James and Peyton disappeared together, Sarah began to wonder if the rumors were true.

Lissa instructed Sarah to delete their messages. “Ok, I’ll be ok,” Sarah wrote. “He knows I’m just sad, he’s not an angry person.”

The next night, Sarah wrote to Lissa, “Sometimes I look back at the past year and can’t believe I’ve kept my sanity. I see my friends all moving to Cali and relaxing and I’m like wow our lives are so different. And mine nothing like I had ever expected.”

“Just make sure you have a backup plan,” Lissa replied.

“I know. Another thing I never thought I’d have to worry about.”

“You don’t talk to anyone about that shit do you?”

“No not at all.”

“Gonna shower and hit the hay. You’re a good person with a good heart.”

“Thanks Lissa.”

 

 

IN NOVEMBER 2013, Peyton Martin gave birth to a boy. Sarah still denied the rumor that James was the father, while Lissa spent evenings on the phone trying to convince Sarah otherwise. The tip that James and Peyton had been spotted together on a well pad came, originally, from Peyton’s uncle, but after Sarah asked the uncle about the sighting, she received a message from Peyton herself. “She told me to stop being insecure cause she would never want to be with someone who had a record like James,” Sarah texted Lissa. Sarah had said something similar about Peyton: “James has a type, and she for sure is not it.” Even if James had taken an interest in Peyton, Sarah could not see how Peyton would have gotten pregnant, since by that time Sarah had put James “on lockdown.”

Lissa suspected Sarah was not confident in this belief. At the same time that she denied James’s infidelity, Sarah privately insulted Peyton and Tiffiany. Lissa responded gamely to these insults, both in the hope that it would lead Sarah to acknowledge the truth and to indulge her own disdain. According to Sarah, from the start of the Blackstone and Maheshu partnership, Peyton and Tiffiany had taken a watchful interest in her and James: “I honestly think Tiffiany wanted to be my friend cause she wanted to be white. She always talked shit about being native. Wanted to know what I wear, where I’ve traveled, and like everything about my life.” Peyton, meanwhile, had a non-Indian father but “thinks she’s the ‘chairman’s’ daughter. I’ve heard her drop Tex’s name all the time. She always says do you know who my dad is?! I’m like wtf Tex isn’t your real dad….She always calls the reservation ‘rezy’ she said it’s her way of saying ‘white trash.’ ”

“Rezzy means like ghetto. Not white trash,” Lissa replied. “She of all people should know white trash when she sees it.”

One day, Lissa asked Sarah to send her a portrait of James as a baby and, to make it as obvious as possible, placed the photo side by side with an image Peyton had posted on Facebook of her son. Sarah saw no resemblance—James was blonder with bluer eyes, she said—and, in reply, sent a photograph of Peyton’s most recent boyfriend. He bore a striking resemblance to James, Lissa thought. “You know what Indians say,” she wrote to Sarah. “All white guys look alike! Lol.”

 

 

WITH THE FALL had come a damp wind, and with the beginning of November, light snow. One weekend, Lissa took the dinghy to the sloughs east of White Shield to search for Ron Johnson, but she found them drained to their muddy bottoms. Instead, she drove to Watford City and south into the national grasslands. There, in a draw above the Little Missouri River, police had recently located the body of a worker who committed suicide. Lissa wondered what spirits the man had left behind. For hours, she wandered among the meadows and wooded coulees, but she felt nothing. For a moment, she wondered if KC was buried there. She decided he was not.

There was something bothering Lissa about Sarah. She felt that Sarah was withholding information from her, and at the end of November, Lissa learned what it was: Blackstone was working on the reservation again.

The tip came from Paul, the former Blackstone trucker who first told Rick and Lissa about Robert Delao. Paul had recently returned to the reservation to drive trucks for a different company, and one day, on a drilling site, he spotted a man who had worked with him at Blackstone—George Dennis, the driver Rick once mentioned to Lissa who was particularly close to James. Paul called Rick, who called Lissa. According to Rick, Paul said, “I saw George on a Petro-Hunt location, and he’s in one of James’s trucks, but it’s called Bridgewater now.”

As soon as Rick shared the news, Lissa googled Bridgewater. The company was licensed to a man based in Spokane, Washington. James’s name was absent from the records, which did not surprise Lissa. She suspected the man was James’s new front man, a face no one in the oil fields recognized. To confirm her suspicion, she called the Tribal Employment Rights Office. Indeed, Bridgewater was licensed to operate on the reservation. Listed with the company was a phone number. Lissa left a message, but no one returned her call.

 

The man who owned Bridgewater was named Doug Carlile. Sarah had never mentioned Carlile to Lissa. In fact, Sarah rarely spoke about work anymore. Several times she had insisted to Lissa that Blackstone stopped hauling water, but she had never spoken of other companies. Had James instructed Sarah not to mention Bridgewater, Lissa wondered, or had Sarah made this choice herself?

Lissa decided to reach out to Tex one more time, and in early December, she sent a text message to his cell phone: “You have to be concerned for your safety as am I but I think we could help each other out.”

To Lissa’s surprise, Tex replied, asking who she was. He didn’t have her number.

“I’m a relative,” Lissa wrote.

They spoke on the phone shortly after that. Lissa told Tex about Carlile and Bridgewater and gave him the date and time that George Dennis had been spotted at the well site. Tex told Lissa he would investigate.

She also called Carlile many times that week. When finally she reached him, “He didn’t want to hear what I had to say,” Lissa would recall. “I said, ‘Hey, Doug, do you know you’re a front person? Do you want to know what happened to the last front people?’ He said, ‘Lissa, everyone has a past.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know everyone has a past. I have a past. I’m a felon. But I don’t keep reliving my past. There’s some people who rehabilitate to change their lives, and there are others who rehabilitate on paper to get to the next move, and that’s the guy you’re dealing with.’ He kind of threw it in my face. ‘Look, you have a past. How would you like it if people did that to you?’ I said, ‘It happens all the time. But there’s a distinct line between who I am today and who I was. You’re working with a guy that hasn’t made any changes. You’re going to become a target.’ It didn’t last long. I did most of the talking. He just interjected with one-liners: ‘Everybody’s got a past, Lissa.’ ”

 

 

AS WINTER APPROACHED, Lissa went less often to the reservation. Something was wrong with her body. Her ankles began to ache, and then the aching crept into her pelvis and spine and up her neck and into her fingers. Her hands and feet swelled to twice their size. One day, Lissa could walk only on the outer edges of her soles; the next, she could only crawl. She called in sick to the welding shop and, for days, remained in bed. The boys peered worriedly through a crack in her door until, one night, CJ entered, passed her a joint, and ordered her to smoke it. Her pain subsided. The next morning, Lissa drove northeast to the clinic on the White Earth Indian Reservation, where a doctor diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that inflames the joints, and prescribed medication. The swelling went down, but the pain lingered.

Her diagnosis was in one way a relief to Lissa. Her body rarely failed her, and yet she lived with a persistent dread that it would. All it took was a common cold for her to wonder if the consequences of her drug use were, at last, revealing themselves. Once, not long after she arrived at prison, she had tested positive for hepatitis C, but when she was tested again years later at White Earth, doctors found an antibody in her blood—proof she had been infected—but no active infection. It was odd, because Lissa had never been treated for hep C. In prison, a few women had been chosen for treatment, and Lissa was not one of them.* Among those chosen had been Jayta Schmidt, a white inmate five years older than Lissa who had been in prison for fifteen years before Lissa arrived. Jayta was serving a life sentence for shooting a woman in the stomach three times. “You think you’re hot shit because you killed a bitch?” Lissa asked her once. “I didn’t kill a bitch. I killed a snitch,” Jayta replied. One day in the sewing room, Jayta taunted Lissa, claiming she had been chosen for the treatment because she was “worthy.” “You’re not worthy,” Lissa replied. “They’re just giving you a chance at life, and you’re going to fuck it up anyway, because you’ve been here so fucking long you don’t know anything outside these walls.” Jayta had brandished her scissors. Lissa told her to “sit the fuck down.” On the day Lissa left prison, Jayta had cried. Years later, Lissa read in the paper that Jayta killed herself after she was denied parole a third time. Lissa called the prison and learned no one had yet claimed Jayta’s ashes. “Can I come get them?” she asked. “I’m probably her only friend on the outs.” But the prison did not allow it.

 

As soon as Lissa could walk normally again, she returned to work. She still spent evenings on the phone, exchanging messages with the men and women in whose lives she had planted herself. She was not sure what inspired Tex to reply after ignoring her for more than a year. She had heard from Sarah that Robert Delao quit Maheshu after Tex blamed him for conspiring with James to steal more than $500,000 from the company. Did that have something to do with it? Was Tex, like Jed McClure, the investor from Chicago, hoping she could help him get his money back?

Lissa had not spoken to Jed in some time, but she had spoken to Darrik Trudell, the Homeland Security agent, who, with help from a U.S. postal inspector and an IRS agent, was making progress toward indicting James and Sarah for fraud. He could not share details with Lissa, but the case was seeming solid. The story he and his fellow investigators pieced together went like this: In June 2011, James introduced himself to Jed as the owner of Blackstone LLC, his last name spelled H-E-N-R-I-C-K-S-E-N. Jed ran a search on the name, checking for bankruptcies and other signs of financial irresponsibility and, when he found none, wired his initial investment. Jed then prepared a résumé for James to solicit other investors, spelling his name H-E-N-D-E-R-S-O-N as he had seen James also do. (Sarah changed it to H-E-N-R-I-K-S-E-N.) That September, Jed and Ryan Olness, the investor from Arizona, signed a joint venture with Blackstone LLC, entitling them each to a percentage of monthly gross profits. In the first few months, they received returns on their investments, but then the money stopped coming. Jed confronted James, who told him Blackstone was losing money. Meanwhile, Jed heard another story: According to company employees, James and Sarah had founded a new oil hauling company called Blackstone Crude. Jed suspected they used Blackstone LLC money to purchase trucks for the other venture. He began to search for associated companies and found at least five more registered to James and Sarah or their aliases. Even Sarah had used multiple names—“Sarah Hendrickson” and “Amy Peterson.”

 

On December 12, 2013, Trudell and his fellow investigators interviewed an employee who had begun working for Blackstone on or about the day KC disappeared. The employee confirmed what Jed suspected: James and Sarah were running companies on the side, depositing profits into these companies’ accounts while paying expenses with Blackstone LLC’s. One side company, Blackwell LLC, employed James’s best drivers as subcontractors; 20 percent of the profits these drivers earned benefited Blackstone, while the other 80 percent went into another account.

The next day, Trudell interviewed Ryan Olness in Arizona. By the time the agent returned to North Dakota, he believed he had evidence to charge James and Sarah with fraud.

Two days later, on the fifteenth of December, Doug Carlile was murdered.

 

A DENSE COLD sank into the prairie. Lissa’s body gripped with a pain so strong she could not sleep, so, in the early hours of December 16, she noticed a message from Tex Hall as soon as it appeared on her phone. Lissa wondered why the chairman was awake. Then she read his message: Carlile had been shot in his Spokane home by an unidentified gunman.

Lissa texted the news to Trudell, who called the Spokane Police Department. Lissa wanted to text Sarah, too, but told herself to wait. Instead, she monitored the news. An article in The Spokesman-Review noted that Carlile and James had leased an allotment in Mandaree and hoped to drill for oil. James wanted to buy Carlile out, but Carlile had refused. Before he died, Carlile told one of his sons, “If I disappear or wake up with bullets in my back, promise me you will let everyone know that James Henrikson did it.”

 

A day passed. Sarah still had not mentioned the murder. In lieu of asking about it, Lissa texted Sarah a photograph of a milkshake.

“Dairy Queen!” Sarah replied. “I love blizzards ha ha.” Given the circumstances, Lissa thought Sarah sounded oddly unperturbed. She had been at the gym, she told Lissa, and she griped about Jill, who had filed for bankruptcy with her husband, which did not bode well for the defamation suit.

The next morning, when Sarah still had not mentioned the Carlile murder, Lissa texted Sarah a link to the Spokesman-Review article. “I’m worried about you,” she wrote. “Did he tell you about this?”

“Yes,” Sarah replied. “I can’t believe it. It’s so sad, and I just hurt for that wife.” Doug’s wife, Elberta, had been inside the house when the gunman killed her husband. Sarah knew Elberta and Doug. They were working on some deals together, Sarah said, and Sarah had once visited them in Spokane. The night of the murder, Sarah and James were at home in Watford City eating dinner with friends. The police called James to ask where he was, because Elberta had said she believed James killed her husband. “But it wouldn’t make since,” Sarah wrote to Lissa. “That guy owes us and a lot of other people a lot of money. Why would James do that if money is owed? Right?”

Lissa suddenly felt tired of playing games with Sarah. She urged Sarah to go home to her parents and to believe the news reports, which were sounding more certain of James’s involvement in Carlile’s murder. But as they combed together through articles posted on the Spokesman-Review website, the news drove Sarah only deeper into denial. “Wife says shooter was a stranger,” one subhead read: “Carlile’s wife told police that the couple had just returned home when an intruder confronted Doug Carlile in the kitchen. Already at the top of the stairs, the wife returned to the kitchen, where she saw a white man she didn’t recognize, clad in all black and wearing gloves, pointing a gun at her husband.”

 

That the shooter was white ruled out Robert Delao, who was Latino, but when Lissa pressed Sarah for other ideas, she had none. Sarah fixated on money. Doug, she claimed, owed her and James almost $2 million.

“What did the project consist of?” Lissa asked.

“Oil lease, buying and reselling. Flipping.” Now that Doug was dead, Sarah did not know what would become of the lease. “Doug was telling everyone they were getting paid soon. Now…someone else will have to take over.”

“Sarah,” Lissa wrote the next day. “You know this is basically the same story as KC….Do you question or second guess any of this?”

“There’s no reason for James to do this,” Sarah replied. “And Doug and his whole family knew about everything we went through with KC. James made a point to let them know, hey this is what people say about me….Of course I stop and think about things….But it just doesn’t make since.”

“I’m worried about YOU in this whole matter.”

“I don’t know what to think. I do worry for my safety.”

“If James is putting hits out on people…what happens to you if someone retaliates? Everyone knows James is totally dependent on you!…That makes you a target!”

“I don’t understand why James would put hits on these people. Unless he has a whole life I don’t know about.”

“Answer me this. Honestly. Do you think James has the ways and means to carry something like this out? Fuck whatever the motive could be!”

“Honestly, I’ve thought about it. If it’s possible I sure don’t know how, and he would have done a good job at hiding it from me.”

“Your parents must be hysterical!!!!”

“My mom called me this morning, she’s freaking out. Wants me to leave everything and leave ND.”

 

“I’m in total agreement with your mom! If you were my kid, you’d be hog tied in the backseat going home!”

Sarah did not go to Washington—she could not “abandon” her husband, she told Lissa—and Lissa gave up on telling her to. Instead, Lissa told Sarah not to speak to the press, nor to police, before consulting a lawyer. News outlets had called with interview requests; Sarah blocked their numbers. On January 5, 2014, when two police detectives from Spokane dropped by her house in Watford City, Sarah did not speak to them, either.

On the fourteenth of January, police raided Sarah’s house. Sarah texted Lissa on her way home from Denver, where she had been with James on a business trip: “Oh man Lissa, I’m scared. People are really trying to hurt James and or me.”

Lissa was asleep. When she woke the next morning—the fifteenth, a Wednesday—she was on the couch in her welding boots, her phone in the limp palm of her hand. She was late to work and did not text Sarah until her break. Sarah had arrived home to find a door kicked in, clothes scattered across the bedroom floor, the lining of her jewelry case ripped out, and her cash, computers, documents, and guns gone.

“Guns? Wtf you guys doing with guns?” Lissa wrote.

Sarah explained that she had a concealed weapons permit and owned “a couple hand guns” and “then like a hunting rifle”—“nothing crazy.” They chatted briefly about Robert Delao, who was at the house gathering his things, before Lissa had to go. “I’m so confused and sad with what’s going on,” Sarah wrote.

Lissa replied that she would text Sarah after work. She wrote Sarah that evening four times. The next day Lissa texted, “If you don’t wanna talk just tell me. But don’t let me worry about you.”

Sarah did not reply.

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