It was snowing that night
It was snowing on the night of December 14, when 25-year-old schoolteacher H.G. slid behind the wheel of her red Toyota Paseo. Her dear schnauzer, Nikki, sat beside her on the passenger seat.
H.G. looked forward to a pleasant evening with close friends and a night with the man she loved. That man was bespectacled and handsome Jason Bradford, 26, who taught science at Augusta High School and coached the boys’ junior varsity basketball team. He was a popular teacher with a flamboyant streak expressed in the bright blue shoes he habitually wore.
Bradford shared a triplex with two other young men, Brad Hetland, 27, and Aaron Sarig, 29.
Hetland worked for petroleum and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, where he was a valued employee thought to have a bright future. The chubby man with the winning smile and lively sense of humor had earned three promotions in as many years.
Sarig was a slender, fresh-faced man who looked younger than his years. A devout Roman Catholic, he had recently quit Koch because he felt called to the priesthood.
H.G. arrived at her beau’s 12727 Birchwood Dr. home at about 8:30 p.m. Having her own key, she let herself inside the condominium. She saw Hetland and Sarig but not Bradford.
First Heather Mills, 25, then Bradford, joined the group. Mills was a pretty woman who wore her light brown hair in a pageboy and attended graduate school at Wichita State University. She and Sarig had dated, drawn to each other in part because of their shared commitment to the Roman Catholic Church. That piety had also led to their recent break-up as a couple since Sarig wanted to enter the priesthood. They remained close friends and Mills was starting to feel that, like Sarig, she might have a religious vocation and spoke of becoming a nun.
Bradford was in love with H. G. and wanted to marry her but had not yet worked up the nerve to “pop the question.” He had recently bought an engagement ring for her and, at the same time, purchased a book on how to propose.
The five friends watched TV, ate dinner, and made conversation before heading off to their various beds.
Bradford and H.G. were snuggling together under the sheets when the porch light suddenly came on. “Don’t tell me I have to get up and turn off the light again,” Bradford said irritably.
H.G. heard Sarig talking with someone. The voices were muffled so she assumed he was chatting with Mills. H.G. turned to look at the digital clock and could not make it out completely because her boyfriend’s head was in the way but saw that it was sometime after 11:00 p.m.
The bedroom was in semi-darkness when its door burst open. Bradford screamed.
A tall black male pointing a gun stood in the doorway. He came into the room and tore the covers off the bed in which H.G. and Jason were lying. H.G. had only a T-shirt and underwear on. Then a second black man, also armed with a gun, led Sarig into the room. Since the room was cloaked in darkness, it was hard for H.G. to physically differentiate between the intruders except to see that the second man was not as tall or thickly built as the first. The shorter man shoved Sarig onto the bed.
Little Nikki growled and bared her teeth.
“Grab your dog,” one of the invaders said, “or we’ll shoot her.”
“Who else is here?” the other man demanded. The terrified victims told of Hetland and Mills. One of the attackers headed down the stairs while the other guarded H.G., Bradford, and Sarig.
Clad in a white undershirt and a pair of boxers, Hetland was brought up into the bedroom. The intruder then left, retrieved Mills and brought her to the room. She had on a sweater with a shirt under it and jeans and boots.
“Get undressed!” an intruder ordered.
All five took their clothes off.
The shorter man left his partner to guard the victims while he checked out the house.
“Do you have any money?” the taller gunman asked the now-naked group.
Eager to cooperate, the desperate victims begged him to “take our money!”
He asked who had ATM cards. Each victim raised a hand and told him the amount. Lights were switched on in the living room area.
“Where’s the safe?” the taller man asked.
The men who lived there said there was no safe and the robber replied, “In a house this nice there has to be a safe!”
The shorter man returned to the room. Mills and H.G. were ordered to go to the wet bar area located just outside Jason’s bedroom.
A hideous sexual orgy began. The women were commanded to perform oral sex on each other.
“Suck that pussy,” an intruder ordered.
H.G.did that to Mills first, and then Mills did that back.
The intruders then ordered the two girls to digitally penetrate one another.
H.G. inserted her fingers in Mills’s vagina while Mills was doing the same to H.G..
“Do it deeper,” an intruder said.
Then Mills was taken back to the bedroom and Hetland ordered into the wet bar where he was told to have sexual intercourse with H.G. Unable to get an erection, he forced his soft penis into her.
The intruder expressed anger over Hetland’s inability to get an erection.
Hetland was told to stop, then led out of the room. Bradford was brought into the wet bar and ordered to have intercourse with H.G. He pushed his flaccid organ into her vagina.
Then one of the intruders said, “That’s his girl. Don’t let him do it with his girl.”
He was returned to the bedroom and Sarig brought into the wet bar and told to have sex with H.G. “I can’t do it,” he pleaded. They told him he had to and one of them hit him in the back of the head with the butt of his gun.
Sarig pushed his limp penis into H.G.’s vagina and went through the motions of intercourse.
The attackers directed H.G. to leave the bar area. She accompanied them back to the bedroom. They ordered her into the closet where she joined Bradford and Hetland. The victims were told not to speak. The folding doors of the closet were shut on three naked, frightened people.
Mills and Sarig were commanded to go to enter the wet bar.
The intruders again ordered Sarig to get an erection and again he said he could not. He was told he had until 11:54 to “get his dick hard.” The angry captor counted the minutes from 11:52 to 11:54.
When the time was up, the man beat Sarig, probably with a golf club from the residence.
In the meantime H.G. was performing oral sex on Bradford in the closet, because there were threats being made that if he didn’t have an erection, that he would be shot, so she was trying to help him.
The intruders then took Sarig to the closet and ordered Bradford out of it and made him to have sex with Mills.
During that time, H.G. could hear Mills moaning. She wasn’t crying, it was just sounds of pain.
Some minutes passed and Bradford was brought back to the closet.
The intruders led Hetland out of the closet and ordered him to have intercourse with Mills.
When he was brought back to the closet, the attackers told the victims they were going to ATM machines to withdraw funds. The victims were allowed out of the closet and told to get their car keys. In their confusion, Hetland, H.G., and Mills were unable to find them. Angered, the captors threatened to “pop” someone unless they located their keys.
Bradford found the keys to his silver Dodge Dakota truck atop the entertainment center in his room.
H.G. was able to see the intruders more clearly. The taller man wore a black coat she thought was made of leather. He also had black leather gloves on his hands. The shorter man had what she called “poofy” hair styled in clumps.
Bradford was ordered to dress and accompany the taller man while the shorter guarded the other four.
The captor staying behind directed H.G. onto the floor, on all fours, and ordered her to prepare herself for sex. She complied, masturbating to try to get her vagina lubricated.
In the meantime, H.G. heard the intruder unzipping his pants and saw his gun lying about two feet away from her. Her hand itched to grab it but she feared she would not be quick enough to get it before he could. Having little experience with firearms, she was uncertain she would even be able to shoot it. She thought he might take it away from her and kill her right then so she did not take the chance. H.G. had made up her mind that no matter what humiliations she had to endure, she was going to survive this ordeal if it was at all possible.
The captor then pulled out his erect penis from his pants and penetrated H.G.’s lubrificated vagina, forcing her to have sex for about five minutes. Then he took her back to the closet and brought Mills out of it. The captives obeyed the order not to talk but Sarig could not help weeping as he heard Mills’s moans while she too was forced to have sex with the intruder.
The taller man returned to the house with Bradford in tow. Bradford was ordered to strip again. In the closet, for the first time, a tearful Sarig disobeyed the order not to speak to his fellow victims. He whispered to Hetland: “Do you think they’re going to kill us?” Hetland did not respond.
Hetland was allowed to dress, then taken from the home.
When he was brought back, the taller man opened the closet door and asked, “Who’s next?”
H.G. stood up. Sarig said, “No, I’ll go.” But he sat down when H.G. continued making preparations for her trip. She was not permitted to get fully dressed as the men had been but was allowed to put on only a sweatshirt. She walked into the freezing night naked from the waist down, her bare feet in the snow.
The kidnapper escorted her to Bradford’s truck. Without speaking, he waved a gloved hand at the driver’s side door to indicate that she should drive. She backed the truck out of the icy driveway and turned towards 127th Street.
He asked her what his crime partner had done with her and she said he had forced her to have sex with him.
The captor laughed. “Did you like it?” he asked.
“Yes,” the victim replied, hoping not to anger him.
He asked if she had ever been with a black man before and H.G. said she had not. Then he asked if his partner was “better” than her boyfriend was. Again she said, “yes.”
Did she like being with a girl? He wanted to know.
“No,” she replied.
“Baby, that’s all right,” he said, “you ain’t got to lie to me.”
H.G. drove without speaking, then blurted out, “Are you going to shoot us?”
“No,” he replied.
“You know,” a desperate H.G. continued, “you can have whatever you want. Please don’t hurt us. Do you promise you’re not going to shoot us or kill us?”
“Yeah,” he said.
She stopped the truck in front of a drive-up ATM machine then rolled the window down on her side of the vehicle and started to use her card to withdraw money. The man put his gloved hand on her vagina and rubbed. Startled, H.G. fell against the window. When she recovered her balance, she handed him the money.
Then she drove in silence while he channel surfed the radio.
Sometime during the trip, he told H.G. he wished the two had met under different circumstances. He said she was cute and he thought the two of them would have hit it off.
“Yeah, me too,” she said.
He swore when asking her what she meant.
“Well, I’m not really having a good time,” she explained honestly.
H.G. parked the truck in the driveway at 12727 Birchwood Dr. The pair walked back into the house. He ordered Sarig to accompany him.
Mills was sitting on the floor by the wet bar area. She was the only one of the victims who would not be taken to an ATM that night. H.G. did not make eye contact with Mills but remembered her as looking “spaced out, shocked.”
After the shorter captor walked H.G. to the closet and put her in with Hetland and Bradford, he shut the door on the three.
“What is Weller’s?” he asked Mills.
“It’s whiskey,” she replied.
There were the sounds of a drink being made. The closet door opened and the intruder asked if anyone wanted a drink. All three said they did not. He had found a muzzle for Nikki in her basket under the sink and threw that in the closet. H.G. put it on her dog as he shut the closet door.
There were sounds like a jug full of change being shaken. The captor asked, “Whose is this?”
Mills told him it was probably H.G.’s but “she doesn’t know about it yet.”
It was the diamond ring with which Bradford had planned to surprise her.
Eventually Sarig and the other captor returned to the home.
The taller captor summoned H.G. from the closet and took her to the dining room. He noticed her earrings. “What are those?” he asked.
“They’re fake,” she said. “You know, you can have them if you want them.” She pulled them off her ears.
“No, I don’t want them,” he replied.
She left the earrings on top of a stack of boxes containing Christmas decorations.
Then he said something she could not remember but that scared her, causing her to jerk.
“Relax,” he said. “We’re not going to shoot you yet.”
Terror seized her at this betrayal of the promise of not shooting them at all.
He ordered her to get down on all fours and he got on his knees just behind her. He then pushed his erect penis into H.G.’s vagina and began to move in and out of her. After few minutes, the captor grabbed the back of H.G., pulled her up, turned her around, and ejaculated into her mouth.
The intruder ordered H.G. to swallow his semen and she complied.
After that, the man made H.G. accompany him to the bathroom where she saw Mills on all fours penetrated from behind by the other capto. “Hold on,” the intruder in the bathroom said, “I’m not done.”
When he was “done,” he indicated with a motion that H.G. should come into the bathroom with him. Then he forced H.G. onto the floor and penetrated her again from the rear.
For the first time, H.G. noticed that the shorter man was wearing a black leather jacket, an orange and black FUBU sweater, jeans, and tan hiking boots.
After the intruder had withdrawn his penis from H.G.’s vagina, she thought he might have removed a condom although she never saw it but only heard him flush the toilet.
Then the women were directed to exit the bathroom and go to the area of the wet bar and sit on the floor. The invaders spoke softly between themselves. The taller man went downstairs, then came back up. The two whispered again and H.G. made out the words “big screen.”
The captors ordered Mills and H.G., both of whom were shoeless and naked below the waist, to leave the house for the garage. There they were told to get into the trunk of Sarig’s Honda Accord. The nude male victims were brought out and also ordered into the small trunk but not all five would fit. The attackers told the men to get into the trunk and the women into the back seat of the car.
Mills looked at H.G. and said, “I wonder how long they can last in a trunk.”
The garage door opened and the criminals talked with each other. The taller man told H.G. to get out of Sarig’s car and accompany him to Bradford’s truck. The shorter man got into the driver’s seat of Sarig’s vehicle.
After the taller kidnapper had been driving for awhile, H.G. asked him where they were going.
He replied that they wanted to drop the victims off away from either the attackers’ car or their own cars. Eventually both kidnappers parked in a snow covered soccer field.
The trunk of the Honda Accord was opened. Bradford, Sarig, and Hetland were told to kneel in front of the car.
Panicked, H.G. looked at Mills and cried, “They’re going to shoot us!”
Both women were commanded to kneel beside the men.
A gun fired and Sarig begged, “Please, no, sir, please!”
The gun fired again and H.G. felt a bullet slam into her head. She remembered that her mind “went kind of gray with white like stars” but she was not knocked unconscious. Someone kicked her from behind and she fell forward. She lay in the snow, pretending to be dead in the hope that they would not hurt her anymore.
The truck started and ran over the victims. H.G. suffered its terrible impact but still did not lose consciousness. Then she heard the truck start yet again and believed from the way the sound traveled that it was leaving the area. She turned her head slightly and saw that she was correct.
Still lying in the snow, the wounded woman called out the names of her lover and her friends. “Jason? Heather? Aaron? Brad?”
No one answered.
H.G. waited until she could no longer make out the truck’s headlights. Then she got up to examine the other victims who lay exposed and face down in the snow.
Bradford was next to her. She rolled his naked and battered body over. This was the man she loved, the man she knew loved her. He wanted to marry her but had not gotten the chance to slip the engagement ring on her finger.
Blood flowed from his head and eyes. Maybe he was still alive! Shivering and near-naked, H.G. removed her sweater, the only garment she had on, and tied it around his head to stop the bleeding.
She went to Hetland but soon realized there was not much she could do to help while she was there.
Seeing lights to the west a ways off, she thought the building that had them “was like some sort of farming type thing” and believed it might not have a phone. Looking toward the highway, she saw a home with Christmas lights on.
Like all things identified with this holiday season, bright and multi-colored Christmas lights represent joy and love and the spirit of giving.
For H. G., from whom so much had been taken — loved ones, security, and dignity — those lights meant comfort and help.
As she raced toward the Christmas lights, she saw car headlights and immediately dove into the frigid blanket of snow because she feared it might be the attackers. Every time she saw headlights, she flung herself to the ground, waited, then got back up to run toward those beckoning lights.
H.G. got to a fence and climbed over it. She crossed a highway that was almost empty due to the hour. Then she climbed over another fence and found herself on a dirt road that appeared to be behind a subdivision. She got to the back of a home, then raced around to the front door and repeatedly rang the doorbell and pounded on the door.
She had run a mile. As a child, H.G. was nicknamed “Toughy” by her playmates. She had lived up to that name.
The owners of the home, a man and a woman, peeked out a window to see a shivering, bleeding, naked woman on their porch.
They opened the door and let her inside, then bundled her up in blankets.