Inciting incidents

An inciting incident radically upsets the balance in the protagonist’s life. Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting


I talked with Teri Vogt at Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in regard to her friend who knows the FRYE family. She said that her friend is her boyfriend’s mother, last name of KREBS. Teri said that she was with them at the Holly Inn South on Friday night 6-8-73 when they accidently ran into the FRYE’s and her impression was that MRS. FRYE was a friendly, warm, outgoing person. Teri said she was not introduced to MR. FRYE and he stayed in the background and didn’t say anything. Teri said she would try to get in touch with MRS. KREBS and arrange for us to talk with her. Progress Report by Investigator Louis J. Lajoie, June 15, 1973


If Lajoie followed up with Midge Krebs in 1973, there’s no record of it. But Midge, pushing 90 and still sharp, resurfaced in the cold case. In 2006 investigators interviewed her in Texas.

As Lajoie had reported, the night before Betty was murdered, Midge ran into her and Duane at a Mexican restaurant called The Holly Inn. A third person was with them: Barbara Dean, a close family friend whose husband Jim worked with Duane at Martin Marietta. Midge said Betty seemed sweet, quiet but not particularly happy that night. She acknowledged talk in 1973 that Duane and Barbara had been seeing each other before the murder.

Midge had more to say to Betty’s sister, Jean. She told Jean that Duane and Barb were sitting next to each other in a booth that Friday night, giggling and having drinks, while Betty watched from across the table. As Midge watched Betty, she had the sense Betty was suddenly putting two and two together. Jean and the cold case cops think Betty confronted Duane about Barb that night.

Midge’s suspicions tally with Duane’s sister Cherrie’s grand jury testimony in 2006. According to Cherrie, Duane told their mother that Betty began crying uncontrollably that Friday night. Saturday morning she was still crying. Hours later she was dead.

Time gives gossip the weight of truth. Something always lights the match. But must an inciting incident be rational?

A 1973 report contains this detail. When cops arrived at the Frye house the day of the murder, a patrolman was assigned to record motorists who approached or passed by more than once. The second name on his list, at 5:59 p.m., was Barbara Dean. She identified herself as a family friend before parking and going to the door. Diligent as he was, it wasn’t the cop’s job to ask how she knew Betty was dead. If Barbara gave an explanation, he didn’t note it.


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