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Jodi Arias met Travis Alexander at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in September 2006, when they were attending a convention. He strolled up to her in the Rainforest Café lobby, stuck out his hand and introduced himself. They were inseparable throughout the rest of the weekend and Arias described their short time together as if it were a fairytale.
Although they lived in different states, Travis in Arizona and Arias in California, they continued to see each other until they formally began dating in February of 2007. It was a short-lived relationship that only lasted four months before ending in June. Rather than letting him go after the breakup, Arias moved to Mesa, Arizona to be closer to Travis in hopes of keeping the relationship alive. They continued to see each other on an almost daily basis with their sexual dalliances reaching a fever pitch.
In April of 2008, Arias decided to move to Yreka in Northern California, but that did not put an end to her obsession with Travis. After being apart from Travis for approximately two months, Arias drove to Mesa in June to visit him. When she arrived in Arizona, the two enjoyed one last sexual tryst after which Arias stabbed Travis in the chest, slit his throat and shot him in the head.
At her trial, Jodi claimed it was Travis’ fault that she killed him.
As we passed through the closet, I noticed it was orderly and organized. Baseball caps were lined up in a row. Several pairs of Levis, each clipped to a hanger by the hem hung lengthwise.
Casual shoes sat on a shelf above the dress shoes, each pair aligned with its mate. To the right were Travis’ suits, and next to them were his shirts, which seemed to be arranged by color. In the middle of the closet was a bench for dressing and putting on shoes. A framed picture of Abraham Lincoln hung on the small space of wall between the two shelf units, as if watching over Travis’ clothing. Some luggage was stored next to the door leading into the bathroom.
The orderliness of the closet stood in stark contrast to the chaos of the bathroom, and as I looked around I first saw a sink streaked with brownish-red blood. The blood covered the faucets and was splattered on the mirror. Blood was also strewn around the floor and on the baseboards, marking a grim trail either toward or away from the shower stall, where Travis Alexander’s naked body lay on the floor crammed into a fetal position—legs bent to his chest, head pressed onto his right shoulder, feet pushing against the wall. After days in this cramped repose, his extremities were turning black. It was obvious that his throat had been slashed, but there were also stab wounds visible on the upper chest. The body had apparently been rinsed off, but there was still an active discharge emanating from the gash in his throat.
There was a clear sixteen-ounce plastic tumbler resting between his right arm and the wall of the shower. Detective Flores and I discussed two possible alternatives for the tumbler. One was that it had been used to wash the body. That explanation did not make sense, because the body was already in the shower. It was more likely used in an attempt to wash away the blood in front of the sink and down the hallway, which had only served to distribute the blood to different places on the tile floor. A cardboard box on the floor of the bathroom linen closet next to the sink had soaked up some of the blood and water, leaving a light pinkish-red pattern on its’ sides.
The cut to the throat had almost certainly been delivered with a knife, and although I hadn’t seen anything resembling a gunshot wound, there was a .25 caliber casing lying on top of a small concentration of blood on the floor in front of the sink, where I first noticed a variety of blood patterns, indicating that Travis had stood there before making his way down the hallway. Police had searched throughout the house, but no weapon—not a gun or a knife—had been found.
Standing there, taking in the spectacle, I couldn’t help but think Travis must have suffered greatly. I’d seen a lot of crime scenes since I’d joined the homicide unit, and this one spoke to an over-kill. This murder seemed methodical and I didn’t think it was a crime of passion. It also seemed less angry and more purposeful. Only later would I find out just how goal-oriented the murderer had truly been because as it turned out, Travis had been killed three times over—stabbed in the chest next to the heart, slashed across the throat, and shot in the temple.
My eyes moved slowly around the bathroom one more time. I knew that it would be memorialized in photos and diagrams and that the whole room would be cataloged and measured by the investigators now working in the master bedroom suite. I would revisit this disturbing scene many times in the future through the photographs taken and the reports yet to be written, but I wanted to preserve as much as I could in my mind, so that wherever the investigation led I wouldn’t forget the bloody scene now in front of me.
Main photo: AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Mark Henle, Pool