10. contact.

On October 23, 2015, about 6 months before I sent the letters, I filed a request for documents pertaining to Jen’s case. Just about a week went by before I received my first set. Among them were warrants, arrest paperwork, indictments and transcripts. 

The documents were long. This shouldn’t have shocked me so much, as though in a few pages they would be able to wrap up the contents of almost 3 days between their crime and their arrest. 

The pages were sloppily photocopied and full of typos. I grabbed the Plea Transcript and skimmed through the document to find where Dray spoke. I needed to know his voice. To know what he said, what he felt.

He finally came alive on page 39. His words danced off the page. My brain struggled to keep up with my eyes.

He apologized. 

I closed my eyes and tried to picture him in court.

I am sorry.”

“It wasn’t me that night.”

He sounded remorseful. Kind of pathetic and devastated. It made me so fucking angry. He didn’t mean to do it? Every article made him sound like a monster. Someone who reveled in the excitement, in the thrill. What did it mean if he was sorry?

Four months’ later in February 2016, the documents pertaining to Krystal arrived. The arrest warrants revealed Krystal was raised in an upscale Connecticut town, full of promise and opportunity. The motel room number, the last place Jen was alive. My breathing increased as I read through each word. 

Each sentence.

Each page.

The bumping in my chest picked up speed as I continued to read.

Jen’s mom’s Victim Impact Statement.

Within a month of receiving the rest of the documents, I sent letters to Dray and Krystal. I knew it was time I needed to hear directly from them.

In my first letter, I vaguely referenced my gender transition.  I wanted to be clear with her from the start. I feared a man reaching out might convey the wrong message: either that I was interested in something romantic or that I was out to hurt her like other men she trusted. If she felt unsafe, I’d be less likely to get the truth. This was one of the first times that I felt my updated gender identity of male was a disadvantage. I was also aware that mentioning this information about myself opened me up to immediate rejection or invasive questioning. I was prepared for both.

I also wanted to make sure it was clear from the start that I was being honest about who I was. I wouldn’t lie to get what I wanted. 

*****

I was weaving through Seattle traffic, scolding myself for deciding to get a haircut during peak hours when an email popped up on my phone. The subject line caught my eye. 

"You have an incoming message from your loved one…." 

It took me an embarrassingly long time to register that I had an email from the Jail Email service.

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I pulled over.

The email was from Krystal.

“Your loved one…”.

The words hit me like a boxer’s fist.

I was slightly unprepared for her willingness to share. I thought I’d have to do a little more convincing. What was her motivation?

I also worried that the jail payment system cheated me out of my money when she didn’t mention receiving any from me. Though far from an expert of inmate relations or etiquette, based on my hours of research on forums to help connect prisoners with outsiders, I learned that $10 of Commissary money was a generous amount, especially from a stranger. I think it’s worth a little more when that stranger also happens to be your victim’s friend. 

The second I got home, I started googling to find out who this woman was. I had never seen a book written about Jen. Law and Order had an episode that was inspired by Jen’s case, but I had never seen a book written about the case. I couldn’t find anything, so I resolved to asking about it in the future.

The fact that I finally had contact with someone who could answer my questions felt like a breakthrough. It was monumental. I was that much closer to knowing what happened.

Nash Azarian