But efforts to identify the vehicle’s owner failed. Hendershot asked one of her department’s crime analysts to scour nearby agencies for similar crimes.The analyst turned up an incident in Lakewood, another Denver suburb, that occurred about a month before the rape in Westminster.She read the email and her mind shot back five months, to a crisp Tuesday in August 2010.
They sank down on separate couches in their living room. The attacker had been cunning, attempting to erase any traces of DNA from the scene. “I basically had 20 minutes to pack my stuff and go.” Until something more permanent could be found, Marie moved in with Shannon Mc Query and her husband in Bellevue, a booming, high-tech suburb east of Seattle.They often don’t know about, or fail to use, an FBI database created years ago to help catch repeat offenders. She would move “a hundred miles an hour in one direction,” a colleague said. She’d worked more than 100 rape cases in her career.Between one-fourth to two-thirds of rapists are serial attackers, studies show. But there was a clincher: the woman in Galbraith’s case had remained as focused as possible during her ordeal, memorizing details. Careful, diligent, exacting — she complemented Galbraith.But Hendershot right away recognized the potential in collaborating and in using every tool possible. Her department was small — a little more than 40 officers serving a town of about 20,000. “I have no qualms with asking for help,” Galbraith said. She recalled the camera that the attacker had used to take photos. “Sometimes going a hundred miles an hour, you miss some breadcrumbs,” the same colleague noted.“Two heads, three heads, four heads, sometimes are better than one, right? “Let’s do what we can do to catch him.” A week later, Galbraith, Hendershot and Aurora Detective Scott Burgess gathered around a conference table in the Westminster Police Department. It was a pink Sony digital camera — a description that fit the model stolen from the apartment of the Westminster victim. Their initial attempts to identify the attacker faltered.Before he left, he showed the student how he broke in through a sliding glass door. He worked in Westminster, some 15 miles to the northeast. Shannon, a real estate agent and longtime foster mom, had met Marie through meetings for kids with troubled pasts and had sensed a kindred spirit. She didn’t have to be pushed out the door to school. “Our personalities didn’t match at first either,” Marie says. For me it seems like people read me differently than I see myself.” Peggy, who had received a file two to three inches thick documenting Marie’s history, was surprised at how well she was coping.He suggested she put a dowel into the bottom track to keep out future intruders. Golden and Westminster were middle class bedroom towns wedged between Denver’s downtown skyscrapers and the looming Rockies. As David listened, he realized that the details of the case were unsettlingly familiar. She reports not knowing much about her biological mother, who she said would often leave her in the care of boyfriends. “I moved a lot when I was younger,” Marie says in an interview. About two of those and probably 10 or 11 foster homes.” “I was on like seven different drugs. But on the first day, a support counselor came to the school and told Marie the family had lost its foster care license. Shannon and Marie were both “kind of goofy,” Shannon says. We were a lot alike.” Despite all Marie had been through, “she wasn’t bitter,” Shannon says. But no matter her affection for Marie, Shannon knew they couldn’t keep her, because the foster child already in their home required so much care. Marie was into boys, drawing and music, be it rock, country, or Christian. Marie figures her happiest years were when she was 16 and 17, and the happiest day may have been one she spent with her best friend, another high school student who was teaching Marie the fine points of camerawork.A 59-year-old woman told her that she had been asleep in her home when a man jumped on her back. “I guess you won’t leave your windows open in the future,” the man told the woman, who had recently been widowed. Hendershot remembered that while investigating her case, an officer had alerted her to an incident in October 2009 in Aurora, a suburb on the other side of Denver.There, a 65-year-old woman told police that she had been raped in her apartment by a man with a black scarf wrapped around his face. He took pictures and threatened to post them on the Internet.No one came to court with her that day, except her public defender. Galbraith suggested that she and the victim escape the icy gusts in a nearby unmarked patrol car. Most had been assaulted by a boyfriend, an old flame, or someone they had met at a club. Juries were hesitant to throw someone in prison when it was one person’s word against another’s.She was 18 years old, charged with a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. Her case was one of 4,859 filed in 2008 in Lynnwood Municipal Court, a place where the judge says the goal is “to correct behavior — to make Lynnwood a better, safer, healthier place to live, work, shop and visit.” But her misdemeanor had made the news, and made her an object of curiosity or, worse, scorn. The woman told Galbraith she was 26 years old, an engineering student on winter break from a nearby college. From a large black bag, he took out thigh-high stockings, clear plastic high heels with pink ribbons, lubrication, a box of moist towelettes and bottled water. He documented the assault with a digital camera and threatened to post the pictures online if she contacted the police. She clearly remembered one physical detail about him: a dark mark on his left calf the size of an egg. Those investigations often boiled down to an issue of consent. Rapes by strangers were uncommon — about 13 percent of cases.