Happy Scribe Logo

Transcript

Proofread by 2 readers
Proofread
[00:00:00]

You're listening to Talk of the Drag. What you're about to hear contains strong language, drug and alcohol abuse and descriptions of physical violence that are gruesome in nature. Some listeners might find this distressing. If that's you, please take caution as we navigate the story about the life and death of Jennifer Cave. Previously on The Orange Tree. They ran into some friends at a bar called Treasure Island, Holton's been downing vodka and taking Xanax since earlier that day.

[00:00:38]

I to say he just tried to break the window of this car and then she said again, you know, what are you doing? That he was urinating on a vehicle. And how did that phone call in? She said she was going to help him look for his phone and that she would call me back.

[00:00:51]

And did you speak to her again after that one phone call? No, sir.

[00:00:55]

What happened when you left the bar? They were kind of behind us.

[00:00:58]

I looked at the door and saw them at the door showing their I.D. and when I turned back, they were gone. Yellow police tape wraps around a street facing corner of the orange tree condo's neighbors watch as police officers and detectives stream in and out of the complex. That's a few blocks from the University of Texas at Austin. News vans line West Campus and reporters set up their camera to interview students and parents about how they feel. Yesterday, a body was found in Unit 88 of the orange tree and police have yet to make an arrest.

[00:01:38]

The nine one one call Thursday night brought police to West Campus.

[00:01:42]

And with the officers came a new sense of uncertainty for area residents in Colton Pasternak's hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. His friend Allie Jones gets a call. The person on the other line is frantic. Ali doesn't understand what's going on. I remember the phone ringing or the landline. I was sitting in the kitchen and they're picking up the phone. And I just remember her face and I remember seeing her literally. She dropped to the floor and started hysterically crying and dropped the phone and was just burst into tears.

[00:02:18]

And she could barely speak. And I was like, so confused. I did not even know what it's like to think like it was just so all of it was so bizarre and that automatically my mother, she automatically was like, oh, my God called that, you know, like we automatically knew like there was more to this story. A few days pass and the media reports that the body isn't Coltons, he's alive. In fact, he's the only suspect police are looking for and he's missing.

[00:02:51]

O n Monday, Austin police released Colton Bertoni arrest warrant and they're charging him with intentional murder. This was acquaintance of an acquaintance. We now know that the last call that Jennifer Cave made from her cell phone was to a friend at 105 a.m. Thursday. She was concerned about Platoni behavior. During the call, she told her friend that Colton Pasternak was very upset after losing his cell phone the next day, Cave's parents called police because she didn't show up to her new job.

[00:03:21]

I'm Hailey Butler and I'm to New Thomas. This is the third episode of The Orange Tree.

[00:03:42]

When we first met Colton's parents, Eddie and Bridget, they were beaming not because they were particularly excited to meet us, but because Bridget had just received a video of her baby granddaughter swimming. Colton's brother's daughter, Eddie, looks like an older version of his son. He speaks in careful, measured sentences and gets teary eyed. When talking about Colton, he wore a billowy Western shirt tucked neatly into a Texas sized buckle. He was prepared for us, even brought notes to our interview that he referred to the whole time.

[00:04:12]

Bridget also had notes they were written out on an iPad, but she barely looked at them and was quick to answer any questions about Colton. Neither she nor Eddie had ever talked to the media. They ducked past reporters during the trials and have since turned down all interview requests until now. We got the feeling that Bridget has been waiting years to talk about her son. Well, you know, he started talking way before he walked and he was always just very verbal and always wanted to learn.

[00:04:47]

He read at age three.

[00:04:48]

And part of that is because when his brother Dustin would go to kindergarten and would come home, Carlton would be like, teach me everything you learned this day. And he did. And so, in fact, we didn't even know he was reading. My mother came and she was he was reading her little book, and I thought he had memorized it. And so she said, I think he's reading.

[00:05:13]

Eddie runs a farm equipment manufacturing company. When his boys were little, he inherited his family's farm. And while living there, Colton developed a love for animals.

[00:05:22]

Carleton's very allergic to cats and he would just want to carry them around. And we have a picture of him where his eyes are swollen, so almost shut. But he's got that cat, you know, carrying it around. So, you know, he just that's that's kind of Colton in a nutshell.

[00:05:41]

Eddie took his sons, Colton and Dustin on hunting and fishing trips growing up.

[00:05:46]

He assumed Colton would enjoy hunting and fishing as much as he loved being around animals on the farm.

[00:05:51]

Dustin did, but Colton, not so much.

[00:05:55]

He went he went duck hunting and deer hunting with us. But he just it's not his thing.

[00:06:01]

Do you have, like, a problem with, like, hurting animals or was it just when they would fish?

[00:06:07]

He would never get the fish. His brother would always do that. He said, I'm not doing that one day, as Colton said, are you a.. A hunter? And he said, no. Are you a hunter guitar player? That's cool. He just came back and I said, no, you know what? I can't enjoy playing a guitar and I enjoy going hunting with his brother. It just that didn't pull his chain.

[00:06:26]

Carlton was always more when my friends and I are going to go to the skate park or we're going to go play our guitars or, you know, things like that. So I don't know. I didn't really hang out too much together. Although Colton and Dustin had different interests growing up, their parents had a way of keeping the family close.

[00:06:44]

I grew up Catholic and Birgitt converted when we got married. And Colton was really always wanted to serve and help and volunteer priest Bashur servers. I don't know if you're familiar with the Catholic mass, but he'd go volunteer to serve and it was just cold and he always wanted to it.

[00:07:01]

Eddie and Bridget enrolled Colton and Dustin at the All Boys Catholic High School in town.

[00:07:06]

He tried one time to talk us into letting him go to Central.

[00:07:09]

We were like, no, because the boys school had Father Cariboo, who is is well known, but he kept a firm hand and that kept the boys in line because what they did on the weekends somehow Father Trabi knew about it on Monday morning and he would announce it over the intercom system as to what everybody did over the weekend. Yeah, but it really it kept them in line.

[00:07:31]

Kolten excelled here. His math teacher, Tommy Khoi, remembers Colton as one of his brightest students.

[00:07:38]

He seemed very focused on getting into a good school, being a national merit scholar, having a great act score. His class rank was important. Catholic high Alexia's is known for its academics. I think by its nature, it's very, very competitive. And most of the boys that are there are very driven academically. Of the friends that I remember, Colton was probably the most academic of them. To balance both academic and social success, Colleton raced to finish his homework every day before the bell so he could hang out with his friends after school.

[00:08:10]

He was the type of clean-Cut friend that your parents trusted, the only guy that was allowed to stay inside at my house on the couch and, you know, high school, college, everything. I was always allowed to go places. If Colton was there, they thought of him as the responsible. One would always tell the truth. He'd always answer my mother's phone calls about and answer my phone.

[00:08:34]

Ali was a cheerleader, a Catholic, all girl sister school. She remembers that Colton loved to party and drink, but she said she never saw him drive when there was drinking involved and never saw him do anything more than just drink. Colton was careful about what he put into his body, and in high school he got into fitness and nutrition and it sometimes took to a comical extreme.

[00:08:57]

I remember actually a funny story here or other good for employee leg injuries, like a bodybuilding contest.

[00:09:06]

He and Louis decided to get in a bodybuilding contest when they were in high school. So they worked out and everything. And then they went and they got these spray tans. They look like orange monsters.

[00:09:17]

They gave them like hell for it. Ali is still close to Eddie and Bridget. We still see Ali all the time. In fact, she calls me her second mom. I've always kind of thought consider them to be like family. Colton's academic performance made him a strong candidate for several top universities and colleges, but after visiting Austin, he made up his mind he wanted to go to the University of Texas. Colton receives a scholarship to attend the highly regarded McCombs School of Business.

[00:09:51]

Choosing the University of Texas was a surprise to his family, but choosing business isn't a laugh. I say he was an entrepreneur from the time he could talk. I was going to have a yard sale one day and I told the boys about it. And Colton asked his grandmothers for paperback books and things. He claimed his old bike up and sold it. He set up a lemonade stand. And so at the end of the day, he had in his pocket.

[00:10:18]

He was always doing something like that.

[00:10:21]

Kolten moves into the largest, loudest dorm on campus, it's filled with freshmen who blast music at all hours, but it didn't matter. Colton was happy to be independent and away from Catholic high school and all its rules. He doesn't have to wear a uniform to class anymore, and the dorms are coed.

[00:10:39]

Soon as we got all this stuff in there, he was ready to get rid of us. You know how you know college students like our mom and dad go.

[00:10:46]

And we got in the car and I just cried and cried and cried. But he loved it, you know, he adjusted once he got to you t kolten up to his drinking game. He joined a fraternity his sophomore year, Delta Tau Delta, the same fraternity that famous alumni Matthew McConaughey pledged to about 15 years before Colton got there. For a while, he kept his grades up a few B's, but seems to. Harder drugs are available around campus, but he's still just drinking.

[00:11:19]

Ali remembers Colton finding Adderall in a room during a visit back home. I literally took the bottle. Walk to the bathroom, dump it out in the toilet, and was like, you don't need this crap. He was like prescription or not drugs or drugs. And he was like, you can buy it just fine all these years in school without having to take drugs. You don't need to start doing it. Now, you know, I care about your friend.

[00:11:46]

You don't need to mess with that crap. And I was so mad at him early in our reporting process. We tried to reach out to everyone in this case, including Chorlton himself, but we didn't have high hopes. Colton had never accepted an interview request before.

[00:12:01]

We were sitting in class one day when we got the notification that Colton had denied a request, a prison communications officer told us that once a prisoner denies an interview request, it's extremely rare that they go back on that. But after a few back and forth, Colton did. He wanted to talk to us. We drove to Abilene, Texas, a small oil city in the middle of west Texas, to talk to him in prison. Prison rules give members of the media one hour.

[00:12:30]

One of the first questions we asked was what was going on with him when he was a student at our school?

[00:12:37]

How did he go from being an A student to one who barely attended class?

[00:12:42]

I think at the time, you know, like I said, I was kind of lost. I was just going up there to go to school and then scan's caught up in this endless party. It was just kind of live moment to moment.

[00:12:52]

He told us that everything changed when he turned 20 almost overnight. His no tolerance stance on drugs took a complete turn.

[00:12:59]

When I was about 20, I met a guy and he dealt cocaine and he's like, I try this, try this. And I was terrified, but I tried it. And I said, Oh, this is fun. No, I didn't die.

[00:13:08]

You know, Coke led to harder drugs like meth and heroin.

[00:13:13]

Now all of a sudden, I'm staying up for a day or two, you know, and it just turns from that partying too much and waking up late for class. Where did Friday go? You know, I've never seen it Sunday night. Xanax is a prescription drug commonly used to treat anxiety problems. It's so powerful that many people abuse it across college campuses. Xanax is so popularly used as a party drug that it's taken on the street named bars.

[00:13:37]

One time when Colton's mom was visiting Austin, he told her that his anxiety was bothering him.

[00:13:44]

I took him to the doctor and I had a fit when I took him to the drugstore and realized that doctor prescribed Xanax. No, I'm not going to take it on, I take it, but we know that was not true. The pills do not tell people all the time. Look, I used meth, cocaine, heroin, you know, they're bad, they're not good for you. But do those don't mess with the pills. It just takes you outside your personality.

[00:14:12]

If you were a student at UT looking for drugs in 2005, you might find yourself at Coltons place because that's when he started selling the drugs that he'd been using.

[00:14:21]

I got down there and I just, you know, I was trying to be tough. I was my friend calls it the drug thing, you know, kind of the suburban gangster, kind of. I liked the drug dealing thing because it kind of kept me is like the center of the party.

[00:14:34]

You know, he's a middle man for students who felt more comfortable buying drugs from a fellow student. But being in the middle comes with its own troubles. I started kind of getting involved with some people are, you know, the real criminals, and it wasn't that I was in too deep, I just I was too friendly, you know, like I was too soft hearted and too friendly to be a drug dealer, you know, because I'd print it out pretty much everything I had and pretty much everybody owed me money when I got locked up.

[00:15:03]

One of these new friends was Jason Mack, Jason wasn't a college student. He was a commercial painter and he'd been in and out of jail. Was this white college kid trying to be tough?

[00:15:13]

And here he just came out of prison. So I see this guy with tattoos. He knows about gangs and drugs and stuff. So I think he's cool.

[00:15:20]

Jason said they met because they both enjoyed taking ecstasy. We spoke to Jason about this at the West Texas prison.

[00:15:27]

He's serving time out for an unrelated crime, but he's really down to earth kind of dude like money. Like even if he was a rich guy in the world, if he were his friend when he wasn't the richest guy in the world, you're his friend when he becomes a rich guy, I mean. Colton's apartment turned into a nonstop party. I was like known to be a spot where people partying and stuff when it started, it wasn't like I'm going to throw a party.

[00:15:58]

It would just become a party. He would give away a lot of drugs. And that's going to get college kids their ecstasy and music and.

[00:16:11]

Pretty girls are going to come. People are going to come. More girls are the more guys are going to get. More girls are going to come. People are going to come. You were looking for a girl, knew where to get it. Colton had few friends he could really rely on at the time, most of the people around him were there because of his drugs. This is what Jason had to say about it when I would come over there and hang it would it would be cool, like he could go to sleep and I would be like, I got to go to sleep savings in school.

[00:16:43]

I know these crazy people take over your house by because people come in and write some of those guys to come in and steal from him. Why was I passed out? Because they know where his key was or something like that, and they would just like steal stuff out of his place while he's asleep. Jennifer was one of the few who cared about cults and beyond his drugs. Drugs were a big part of their friendship, he recalled times that they'd get high at his place and they'd roleplay his animals, him a lion and her a frog, he even had a nickname for her.

[00:17:15]

Jay Ribbit. But after a while, Jennifer took a step back from doing so many drugs in the spring and summer of 2005, she cleaned up, staying away from Colton and all of his drug habits. But Jason Mack remembers the one time she came back, a time when Colton was especially struggling. He was on heroin at a friend's place and Jennifer came by. When she saw him, she tried to talk him down.

[00:17:41]

She was like telling him, like, you re doing what you got to pull together. And he was he was upset because he was really embarrassed. And when she left, he said it like, he's a man you don't trip. And like, I got it. I got to get it together. I'm going to flunk out of school. I'm here on a scholarship. Like, what am I doing? During that same time, someone else cared deeply for Colton, University of Texas student Laura Hall was head over heels for him.

[00:18:11]

She ran errands for Colton, hung around his place whenever she could and took every opportunity to be around him. Colton said he didn't mind the attention at the time.

[00:18:22]

I mean, she you know, she was nice. We got along, you know, we were friendly. And like I said, it was kind of a you know, I was kind of an asshole at the time. And, you know, it's like, hey, I got my own car for a late night booty call or something like that. You know, it's not that, you know, I just absolutely disliked her or something like that at the time.

[00:18:39]

I just I guess, you know, just kind of nice somehow to hang out with way.

[00:18:45]

Laura was a government major who aspired to be a lawyer. She worked part time at an Austin law firm. She loved to swim and was a member of Ute's rowing team.

[00:18:56]

She's a slender, dark haired girl with piercing eyes before you tea, she went to a private school in East Texas where she was a good student and a passionate member of the debate team. Laura is a hard person to figure out. She was smart but reckless. Friends say she didn't like to be alone and she had a fiery personality. Yeah, I mean, when I first met her, she was I don't know, she was dating a guy, hooking up with him, and when I met her through, I actually walked up on his apartment while she was outside burning some of his clothes.

[00:19:28]

So I was like, you know, who's the character, the crazy chick over here?

[00:19:32]

Pretty much. I think anybody you talked to, the newer you know, there was just these emotional swings and kind of, you know, it just I mean, she was kind of crazy.

[00:19:43]

You know, it's really going to put it, Laura Colton, as a handsome, dark haired guy who is popular with women. He wore leather jackets and he hosted parties at his place. When he spent time with her, she felt like she was on top of the world. On August 16th, Colton's car had been impounded. Laura was the one that offered to drive him to get his car. After getting his car, Colton told Laura that he'd call her when he got back home and make plans to hang out later that night, but he never did call.

[00:20:19]

At his trial, Kolten testified about what he remembers of that next day. This is what he said during the early morning hours of August 17th. Colting calls Laura to come over and hang out. He's hung over and stumbles to the bathroom, and that's where he finds the body of Jennifer Cave. He says he doesn't know how her body got there. He calls law back, urging her not to come over. She goes over anyway. When Laura gets to his apartment, he's panicking and trying to figure out what to do.

[00:20:53]

They don't call nine one one. Then instead of trying to figure out what happened the night before, Colton copes by continuing to take pills and drink, getting further away from reality and creating even more holes in his memory, he explains that this is the reason for his blurred recollection of that day.

[00:21:12]

But he remembers some things like getting into Laura's car that night.

[00:21:17]

I mean, I had to turn off and I was just kind of along for the ride, you know, a scene with a ball in my mouth and just I was really just spelled nonsense, you know, I think I remember. And we should go here.

[00:21:28]

And she's like, no, no, we got to go to Mexico as Colton and Lauren near the Mexican border, they see flashing police lights in the rearview mirror, but the officer doesn't pull them over on suspicion of murder. Instead, Laura gets a speeding ticket and the two are getting closer to the U.S. border town of Del Rio, four hours away from the crime scene.

[00:21:56]

Laura keeps a cool head, she drives them into Mexico and gets a hotel, she's trying to keep Coltons anxiety at bay.

[00:22:04]

I remember very, very little from that time, you know, just as far as I know. I remember just count, you know, like freaking out and crying a lot at the hotel. Colton insists on keeping the curtains drawn, but he won't stop peeking through them. He's paranoid and believe someone will surely come banging on the door at any moment as he paces around the room freaking out. Laura begs him to relax and take a shower.

[00:22:30]

I remember her trying to sober me up and saying, like, you know, we got to figure this out to figure this out, you know? And I think at that point I was like, there's no figuring this out. You know, this isn't something that's fixable. You know, this isn't something you just it just happens and you just run off into the sunset with some love story and disappear in Mexico, you know? Austin defense attorney Joe James Sawyer, who will represent Laura years later, says it's no surprise she would go to Mexico with Colton.

[00:23:04]

She was clearly no one doubted, obsessed with him. I mean, love is the improper word. Obsession, I think is the right word.

[00:23:15]

Back in Austin, Detective Mark Gilchrist and his partner David Fugit get assigned to the case.

[00:23:20]

I've been with the police department for 25 years now and I'm currently in my sixth year in the homicide unit.

[00:23:28]

Detective Fugit looks and dresses like a detective you'd see on a crime TV show.

[00:23:33]

He has short cropped hair and wears a uniform that includes a Navy windbreaker and his badge. In his free time, he watches Court TV. Future's passionate about his job and the cases he works on. This one in particular, he says, stands out in his memory. For our interview, Fugit brought a color coded calendar that detailed exact dates and times from this case. He color coded and printed it out himself. Colton kept his cell phone on him during the drive, making it relatively easy for police to track his movement.

[00:24:06]

Detectives enlist U.S. Marshals to find Colton.

[00:24:09]

And it was at that point we had discovered that he had traveled from the area of Austin to Checkpoint del Rio. So we had reason to believe that he had crossed into into Mexico. Detectives still don't know exactly where he is in Mexico or how he got there, Coltons white Toyota Avalon is still the orange tree parking garage. Next day, Laura and Colton drive an hour and a half to another town and to another hotel, the Cadillac rolls into the crowded parking lot of the Casablanca Hotel in Piedras Negras, Casablanca.

[00:24:45]

Hotel manager Pedro Fernandez testifies later at Coltons trial.

[00:24:49]

And did you have occasion to come in to contact with two young American customers who appeared to be college students? Yes. What was the first time you noticed either one of those individuals as the female approached the their front desk? Kind of like pushing through the crowd. It was very crowded and asking if there was availability for a room on their second day at the hotel.

[00:25:15]

Carlton and Laura are drinking and hanging out like they're on vacation. The two spend time on the hotel lobby computer looking up flights to a place south of Mexico City. Coltons, a big fan of UFC and May. He remembers that there's a big fight on TV that night. Fernandez, who's managing the lobby, overhears Laura and Colton's conversation about it. He invites them over to watch it at his place.

[00:25:38]

We just kept talking about it and he seemed very interested on it and they didn't seem like bad people to me. I went ahead and invited them over to watch with. Ed Fernandez's home, they're all drinking as usual, Coltons had a big head start. He asked Fernandez about selling Laura's Cadillac because they're running out of money. But Laura doesn't have the car's title. Fernandez tells them to cross back into the United States and get a copy of the title.

[00:26:09]

Kolten tells him that they can't do that. Fernandez gets suspicious about what these two American college kids are up to. When the two start talking about legal matters, that concerns Fernandez even more while you all were at your home, did the defendant, Mr. Potočnik, ask you some questions about extradition? Yes, he did. What specifically did Mr. Bertoni ask you?

[00:26:32]

He asked me if there was extradition laws in Mexico or if I knew any other countries that didn't have extradition laws.

[00:26:41]

Fernandez wonders why they can't go back to the United States. He picks up the phone and calls a few friends, one who's a Border Patrol officer.

[00:26:49]

The person that I know, the other person called me and told me to be careful because there's something happening. And so they pretty much that's when I knew the news, what had happened over here.

[00:27:00]

And after I knew that and I knew that was this person, then I got really worried.

[00:27:07]

He wants them to leave. Colton tries to get up and leave. But when he does, he stumbles and falls. He lands in Fernandez's son's playpen. Laura joins him in the playpen. Colton has a small straw sombrero on the top of his baseball cap and a Mickey Mouse doll in his hand. They're both drunkenly enjoying the moment and smiling. They look like too carefree college students. On spring break, Fernandez snaps a picture. Eventually, he sends it to Detective Fugit.

[00:27:37]

It's just unbelievable.

[00:27:38]

I think the photo speaks for itself. A picture is worth a thousand words. I think this was probably worth a million. The photo hits Austin newsrooms, journalists crowd over computer screens to gawk at the two fugitives having fun. Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle remembers this moment.

[00:28:00]

They were kind of, you know, the way it was portrayed, at least was sort of whooping it up basically in Mexico and having a good ole time on the lam, sort of natural born killer style, as if it was some sort of romantic thing.

[00:28:15]

Laura has been sending emails from Piedras Negras to her parents back in Texas. Hey is out of the area. I'll email again tomorrow. Everything OK? Laura's father, Lauren, replies, the next day, life is precious and fleeting, take care of yourself. Laura writes back. I am trying my best, very happy. Finally, I'll let you know what's up later tonight or tomorrow. Delete emails. Don't say you've heard from me to anyone. And don't worry, no matter what you might hear.

[00:28:45]

Not sure how best to handle, but I guess just on vacation, Laura sent another email. A few hours later, I hear Colts' famous. I left the key to my apartment underneath the plant out front rather than tell my friends I have a lot of expensive stuff in there that you bought me. I suggest you get a trailer or something empty at my place. Sell it, don't care before the thirty first, actually. Or I might do it.

[00:29:07]

Asep, email me back if you're still my friends. Love you always, Laura. Her dad replies the next morning, what's up on the real call me so I can be sure this doesn't sound like you? It sounds like someone else emailed me, so call me collect or I will need legal advice. Lauran Hall calls the police out of concern for his daughter, and he had reason to believe that Hall may have been with with Colton. So then we started researching her vehicle as well.

[00:29:38]

She owned a 1994 dark green Cadillac Deville Concord a few days later.

[00:29:43]

Police received video of the car. Laura's dad described to them its surveillance footage showing Laura handing over her passport at a checkpoint.

[00:29:50]

She drove through on the way to Mexico to obtain the license plate number. We provided it to customs agents and learned that she had actually crossed into the border from Del Rio into Mexico to thirty six a.m. on the 18th. In the video, Laura calmly talks to the Border Patrol agent before driving through. You can't see Colton, but he's in the passenger seat. Now police are looking for two people.. While Colton and Laura are in Mexico sharing cave in, Jim Sedwick returned to Corpus Christi, they have to prepare for Jennifer's funeral.

[00:31:12]

Jim Sedrick is still the only one in the family that knows the details of what happened to Jennifer's body up to this point. The only thing the public and Jennifer's family know is that Jennifer was murdered.

[00:31:27]

All day Saturday, all day Sunday, and told so and so that's pretty hard, not not to talk to somebody.

[00:31:39]

Jim is following orders from the lead detective, Mark said. He said the reason you can't tell anybody, he said, is because if you do, we're going to have people coming out of the woodwork taking credit for this crime.

[00:31:53]

And he said it's really going to help or hurt us in finding out who really did this right before the funeral.

[00:32:02]

Jim finds out from a friend that news stations are about to reveal details of the crime scene to the public.

[00:32:08]

They're fixing to break the story. Will that, excuse me, was an old shit moment. I'm standing up there telling Sharon and the daughters and everybody else in the family is there about a mutilation of Jennifer. And that what that was for me, that was probably the most emotional part of it, because the girl none of the girls knew, noting that Sharon was so. I don't really remember anybody knocking on the door, but I remember machine guns and people coming in and just freaking out because, you know, I'm lucky that they didn't shoot me, you know, and I was just like, go with them, cooperate.

[00:32:59]

You know, I remember seeing the lights when they drove to the border and passed me over. You know, I was like I was so drunk when they the me, you know, the the adrenaline of it kind of snap snap to I do remember getting arrested and going to the jail and everything.

[00:33:15]

So Colton Bertoni arrest was at the hands of U.S. Marshals. Potočnik is accused of shooting and partially dismembering 21 year old Jennifer Cave, whose body was discovered in his West campus apartment late Thursday night. Police say Patrick was seen buying a hacksaw, cleaners and odor eliminator from a neighborhood hardware store before he left for Mexico. Colton and Laura are escorted across the border by Mexican authorities, U.S. Marshals are waiting for them on the American side in Austin, six days after Colton and Laura crossed the border into Mexico, people finally get to see the man police suspect of committing this horrible crime.

[00:33:58]

He's wearing a plain green t shirt, oversized khaki shorts and big white sneakers. His hair is a mess and he's unshaven. He doesn't look as scary as he looks defeated and disheveled, Laura and Colton are separated and interrogated. Colton asks for a lawyer and doesn't say much else.

[00:34:18]

Officers only have an arrest warrant for Colton, so they let Laura go. The reason we did not arrest her is because we were conducting an investigation to determine the extent to which she had knowledge about what had transpired and to determine the extent to which she had assisted or aided the suspect in in his escape. Colton had not reached out to his parents while in Mexico, like Laura had all his parents know was that Jennifer Cave's body was found in his apartment and that their son was nowhere to be found once in custody.

[00:34:53]

Colton finally calls them. What was that conversation? Very short.

[00:34:59]

Mom, you know, mom, dad, you know, I've been arrested and. I'm sorry, I love you, I'm sorry. That was pretty much it, wasn't it? But then later that night, Bridget gets another call. Yes, she was referring.

[00:35:21]

Hello, Mrs. Bertoni, this is Laura Hall. I've been with Colton in Mexico, you know, something like that.

[00:35:27]

And then I just wanted to come and see if, you know, he'd been arrested. And I said, you know, it's like it was like 5:00 in the morning. And I said, yeah, we know that. And then I just you know, I was so shocked by that.

[00:35:41]

I just kind of hung up. Laura also calls a friend named Sellers's and confides in him about her last six days.

[00:35:48]

Ozzy says Laura Hall told him she would tell police that she just thought they, meaning she and Plutonic, were on vacation and that she would be OK. When Azeez called Potočnik an axe murderer and questioned Hull about why she was helping him, she said that Ozzy should not be judging Colton and quote, It was an accident. Paul allegedly goes on to say there's a big difference between manslaughter and first degree murder. And if I help him, he might walk.

[00:36:17]

Azeez, then ask her why she would help someone who's accused of killing a girl much like herself. And she responded by saying that she loved him and quote, That's just how I roll.

[00:36:30]

She talks to him three times that day and tells him she's been, quote, all up in the shit since two hours after it started. She also says she's going to tell police that she thought they were just on vacation. As Colton awaits his fate, Laura returns to Austin. She hangs out with a few friends and even tries to go to a concert downtown that very night to see the band. OK, go. But the show sold out while her friends are at the concert.

[00:36:57]

Laura walks into a tattoo parlor. When she walks out, there's fresh ink on her ankle in purple and yellow. Curly font, it says Colton.

[00:37:15]

Next on the orange tree, a room full of people inch to the edge of their seat to hear how Colton's defense will prove his innocence.

[00:37:25]

I can remember exactly what I told her, but I showed her to everybody, took her down to the bathroom and showed her Jennifer's body.

[00:37:33]

So what did she say? She just said, what are we going to do?

[00:37:41]

The Orange Tree is a production of the drag and audio production house that's a part of the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism and the Moody College of Communication.

[00:37:51]

It's reported, produced and hosted by me, Haley Butler and me to New Thomas. Our executive producer is Robert Quigley. The studio sound engineer was David Alvarez. This podcast was created in partnership with Katie Austins, NPR station special thank you to Cutty's Debbie Whyatt, Matt Largey and Todd Callahan for their guidance, studio space and technical support. The podcast was fact checked by Lisa Rowe got the massive help with story structure and editing news. Audiotape and trial footage in several episodes were generously provided by KXAN, Austins, NBC Station and CAVU Austins ABC station.

[00:38:29]

Christian MacDonald is the dregs. Technical director Matty Thomasin designed the podcast artwork Sabrina Labov letter marketing and PR efforts working with the Moody College and Kutty special thanks to Kathleen McElroy, Alexis Chavez, Kelsey Whipple, Claire Boyle and David Janah for their guidance and support. The drag is made possible thanks to the Dallas Morning News Innovation Endowment and by individual donations. Since the drug is part of the Muthee College beauty, we've had the help of several students who serve as associate producers for this podcast.

[00:39:02]

They include Sidney Jones, Simon Julia, Candace Baker. Tuesday, Domingo's in Reagan Ritterbusch Allaster Talgo, Riley Miller, Meredith Palmer, Kadija, Bill de Miah. Follow us and Mikhaila Mondragón for the full list of students and others who helped with this podcast. And for more details on the orange tree.

[00:39:22]

Check out our website, The Drag Out Your Dotcom. While you're there, click on the donate button to support this podcast and the work of student journalists. The drug is a non-profit organization, so we really appreciate your help. Also, please consider supporting Katie or your local NPR station. Hi, my name is Mr. Perez, and I'm Alyssa Hernandez, we're the host of Crooked Power, a podcast about how the free press stood firm against the crooked power.

[00:39:55]

This story is incredibly personal DSR because it is actually about his family and how they were prosecuted by a former president of Ecuador.

[00:40:04]

This podcast series will make its debut in 2021 as part of the drug and audio production house at the University of Texas at Austin.