53 | Telling Details, Part 2

telling: carrying great weight and producing a marked effect: EFFECTIVE, EXPRESSIVE. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition

The truth of the story lies in the details. Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies

A telling detail captures the essence of what is being described. Like a perfectly framed snapshot, it says more than it depicts. And it embeds itself in one’s memory.

In May 2011, after the case was over, I had lunch with cold case cops Isaacson and Brandt at The Avalanche Bar & Grill, near the ACSO in a sports complex overlooking the rink where the Avalanche hockey team practices. I wanted to know what went wrong in 1973 and what the case had meant to them personally. Isaacson and Brandt immediately brought up their interview of Duane in Florida in 2006. They were struck by two details.

For Isaacson it was the look on Barbara Frye’s face and what she did when, accompanied by a Florida cop, they came to her door. When Isaacson and Brandt identified themselves as Arapahoe County cold case cops investigating Betty’s murder, Barb clapped her hands in excitement and said, “You finally found who did it!”  

For Brandt, it was the way Duane looked at you. He sizes you up, Brandt said, trying to figure out if you’re smart or Barney Fife or something. Apparently concluding they were Barney Fife, Duane led them from his front hall past a living room and kitchen whose counter opened onto a dining area. While the Florida cop stayed in the kitchen with Barb, Duane sat the cold case cops at the dining room table. He positioned himself at the end of the table facing the kitchen counter. The interview lasted an hour and a half. During the entire time, Duane watched Barb.

I remember a Hallmark card I received in 1982. The Christmas after Doug left, Barb sent it with a little note. I’m so sorry how things worked out, she said. Barb was the only member of the Frye family I ever heard from.

What details are embedded in your memory?

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