Blood on the Script
23 • You Just Do It
24 • Bean Bags
25 • The Middle of Nowhere
Neil and Jayden uncover inconsistencies as they examine the bullet-riddled truck. Based on Google data, they retrace what could have been Adea’s last day step by step.
I need to tell my mother about this. She needs to know.
Chris Spotz (via his journal)
First of all, nobody shoots themselves four times in the head.
Jayden Brant, Private Investigator
VO: The following episode took place in April 2018. Updated with information from the present day.
Neil Strauss: The plan is I’m going to go to an undisclosed location, and I’m going to take an undisclosed amount of time to get there.
Jayden: Got it. This phone number right now with GPS coordinates, that’s all I’m going to ask for. Yeah, so are you ready?
NS-VO: There’s a small unsettling side story in this investigation that I rolled past without really exploring, and if the fact that people like Jayden can find the location of anyone in North America as long as they have that person’s cellphone number. Now as I’ve gotten deeper into this case however, I’ve discovered that both Jayden’s ping information which comes directly from the cellphone supposedly, and the police’s ping information which comes from the tower that the phone is communicating with have not always been reliable. So I’ve decided to test Jayden’s provider.
Neil Strauss: Okay. I’m somewhere.
Jayden: Are you? You’re in your undisclosed location? Because I’m going to send it now, and I’m going to confirm with you that I sent it. And then like I said, just please give me some sort of an image of where you’re at. Okay. All right, it is being sent. It has been sent.
Neil Strauss: Okay, cool. Let’s see how scary of a world we’re living in. Hey man.
Jayden: Okay. So the response within and I’ll just give you an approximate address, is the 4400 block of Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey.
Neil Strauss: Nowhere near there. Not even close.
Jayden: All right.
Neil Strauss: It’s 21 miles away. An hour and 12 minutes in L.A. traffic.
NS-VO: I’d like to test Jayden’s provider a few more times. But the big takeaway is that you can’t count on them consistently. So maybe that’s a good thing. However, while I’ve been testing Jayden’s service I’ve had my Google location history turned on, and it happens to have not just my exact coordinates right now, but everywhere I’ve been all day down to the minute. And fortunately Chris Spotz didn’t turn off his Google location history on February 23, 2018, the day he picked up Adea Shabani and she was never seen alive again. And Jayden and I are about to follow every step he took and find out whose story is a lie.
NS-VO: Chapter 23. You Just Do It.
NS-VO: It’s eerie to look through Chris Spotz’s Google location data. Everything is here going back years and years. The entire history of his five month affair with Adea is laid out day by day, hour by hour. From Valentine’s Day where he has dinner at home with Mary, and then runs out of the house at 10:04 pm to meet Adea at the restaurant Izabell. To his near nightly visits to Adea’s apartment, sometimes for an hour in the early evening, other times staying until 2:00 or 3:00 am before returning home to Mary. But the period I’m concerned with begins late at night on February 19. This is the night that Adea showed up outside of Chris Spotz and his fiance Mary’s apartment, and set in motion a chain of events that would lead to the discovery of her affair with Chris. And some four days later her murder. What we’re trying to determine based on this data and our most recent interviews is, what is the connection between these events and is Chris Spotz, his biological father Chris Marez, or is someone else involved?
NS-VO: So let’s start with Monday, February 19. Here is Mary speaking about that night.
Mary: So Monday I called him from my Google number online, and he picked up and he said, “Mary we’re not safe, get your stuff, pack the dogs, meet me downstairs.” And he seemed really concerned that I like started moving. Like okay, I go grab my stuff, and as I was just about ready he came upstairs, he was just parked in the alleyway, didn’t even go into the garage. And we found a hotel to stay at. Along that hotel stay there were multiple, multiple messages from her. I didn’t really get to see them. I know that they were being sent and he was getting them, and what she had told him was that she was in front of the building and that she was going to commit suicide in front of the building if he doesn’t come out. I think he had already broken up with her then, but again it was back and forth like, “I’m going to ruin your life.” And he was like, “Well if you ruin mine, I’m going to ruin yours.”
NS-VO: Keep in mind that since Mary didn’t see the actual texts, we don’t know for a fact that Adea was actually saying these things, and it seems highly unlikely that she was threatening to kill herself. The next day was Tuesday, February 20. Three days before Adea’s disappearance. Mary went to work that morning knowing that Chris’s stories about why Adea was upset and outside their apartment weren’t adding up. But she still hadn’t said anything to Chris yet.
Mary: I knew about her. I know her name. He’s done multiple scenes with her, and I just felt like, I knew. I knew it was always her. So he mentioned her by name, and he told me about this whole Macedonian thing. None of it jived with me. Like I knew something wasn’t right.
NS-VO: We had previously thought that Chris hadn’t seen Adea on this day, but despite everything while Mary was at work coming to terms with the reality of what appeared to be a long term affair, Chris according to his Google data was at Adea’s apartment that afternoon for an hour and a half. When Mary come home later that day she finally confronted him.
Mary: So I was like, “You’ve got to tell me what’s going on.” Like, “What in the world actually happened?” So that’s when he started telling me that things, that there was stuff going on with them, and that he had the affair and was sleeping with her at the time, and that he’s been trying to break it off for a while. And of course my answer was, “How do you try to break something off? You just do it.”
NS-VO: That night Mary refused to allow Chris in the bedroom so he slept on the floor of the living room on the dog bed. The next day was Wednesday, February 21, two days before Adea’s disappearance.
Mary: Wednesday, I went to work. I couldn’t work so I came back home around like 11:00 or noon, and he had told me that he was meeting one of his uncles. The one that was on some city council in L.A. or Studio City, in that area, and he was in, I don’t know exactly where, Koreatown maybe, or Chinatown, I don’t know, and I had called him back home and he never got to meet him.
NS-VO: Chris wasn’t in Koreatown or Chinatown. He was at the Hollywood ArcLight movie theater with Adea. This is when Chris suddenly left Adea in the middle of the film claiming that his uncle was at the hospital with a heart attack. Adea then noticed that her phone was missing. Later that day Adea reached out to Chris Marez on Facebook for the first time, got his number and called him trying to track down Chris Spotz. And Chris Marez as you may recall covered for his son.
NS-VO: On Thursday, February 22 one day before Adea’s disappearance, Mary and Chris’s relationship remains volatile. When Mary catches Chris still texting Adea they start arguing. Chris bends his iPhone until it breaks, so that Mary can’t check what’s on it. Originally we’d thought that Chris had spent the night of Thursday, February 22 at home.
Mary: I mean I don’t remember. I can check right now. He was somewhere. I want to say he told me that he went and stayed with Sebastiano. I had told him that I didn’t think he should stay with me. Yeah and at 5:00 am I told him that I wanted that restraining order. Because he had mentioned that he wanted to get one for the both of us against her early that week, after he’d had that incident with here chasing him with a knife.
NS-VO: But at 5:00 am while Mary was texting Chris about a restraining order against Adea. Chris was spending the night not at his friend Sabastiano’s, but at Adea’s. This brings us to the day in question, Friday, February 23, 2018.
NS-VO: Chapter 24. Beanbags.
Neil Strauss: Hi there. I’m picking up stuff for my car.
Speaker 5: Do you have a stock number?
Neil Strauss: Oh here. The stock number is 2216987.
Neil Strauss: No. Only personal items. And that Insurance Auto Auction’s in North Hollywood, where Jayden and I are preparing to follow Chris Spotz’s exact route from February 23, 2018. Chris’s journey did not begin here, but something just as important is here. His Toyota Tacoma truck.
Neil Strauss: Hi. Is this where they bring the truck to?
Speaker 6: What kind of car is it?
Neil Strauss: It’s a Tacoma 2015.
Speaker 6: He said just wait right here. They’ll bring it out right now.
Neil Strauss: What does that mean when it’s all shrink plastic wrapped?
Speaker 6: It’s under investigation.
Neil Strauss: Oh, it’s under investigation.
Jayden: I think ours is shrink wrapped too.
NS-VO: We’re here for three reasons. One because due to inconsistencies that Chris’s family has had in their dealings with law enforcement and the coroner’s office, they’re suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Chris’s death. Two, because the family wants to recover Chris’s possessions in the car. And three, because both Chris’s family and Adea’s family want to see if there are any clues as to what happened to Adea and who was involved in the vehicle.
Neil Strauss: So basically it’s in an accident they bring it here. They don’t wash it. They don’t do anything. They just bring it here and offload it.
Jayden: Yeah, and then they hold the auctions here.
Neil Strauss: It’s sort of like a home for L.A. tragedies right? Like the who knows what happened to the passengers of these cars?
Jayden: Yeah, that’s true.
NS-VO: And there it is. The same truck that picked up Adea Shabani on the day she disappeared and the same truck that her boyfriend Chris Spotz died in. It’s being lowered off the back of a tow truck with its windows wrapped in plastic and covered with orange biohazard stickers.
Jayden: Well those won’t be here.
Neil Strauss: Well…only you have the gloves so.
Jayden: Here you want, does anybody else want, do you want gloves?
NS-VO: Yeah. We put on latex gloves.
Jayden: So this window is out too.
NS-VO: Jayden removes the plastic and he then begins his examination of the vehicle.
Neil Strauss: They said the try to pit the car?
Jayden: Yeah, yeah. CHP will do that. They’re the only agency in California that still does the pit maneuver.
Neil Strauss: Yeah, because Mary said she thought it was illegal.
Jayden: No, it’s only CHP. Do you know what it is?
NS-VO: The truck looks heavily battered, with no tires, shredded rims and huge dents. Jayden is discussing the tactics that California Highway Patrol must have tried to disable Chris’s truck including the pit maneuver which involves ramming the rear of a car near a back wheel in hopes that it will spin out.
Jayden: The reason most agencies don’t do it is because you’re basically putting yourself right in the line of fire. Whoever the car is that does the pit maneuver, one it’s very dangerous. You’re going to end up causing somebody to roll over. Then they cause a death, and CHP will pursue for anything. So even if you just don’t pull over for speeding, they’ll still pursue you. Most agencies like sheriff’s department, LAPD, if you don’t stop for a traffic infraction, they’ll follow you for a little bit, and then if they can’t get anything else on you, like they run the plate and you’re not wanted for anything. Most of the time they’ll stop the pursuit.
Neil Strauss: Really?
Jayden: Absolutely. Too dangerous. The risk reward. So my take on this would be, I would say probably at the time of the stop when they rolled up on the car, they probably broke all these windows out including the side window just to clear the car. It’s kind of the nightmare scenario for a traffic stop.
NS-VO: Jayden walks around to the drives side of the truck where he sees four bullet holes in the window. Three of the holes are about the size of a baseball, maybe a little smaller. And the fourth is roughly the size of a dime. The only reason these holes have been preserved is because of the tinting on Chris’s window.
Jayden: They’re heavily exterior to interior.
Neil Strauss: Just those?
Jayden: At least these. So there’s a total of four. These are odd. I mean obviously this one is different. I don’t know why. All right. Yeah, there’s a lot of blood on the seat here. So I can pretty much say he was shot this way.
Neil Strauss: Really.
Jayden: You have a lot of blood over here. Blood down here, and you have no blood on the v-pillar except this right here.
NS-VO: When Jayden says this way, he means that Chris appears to have been shot on the left side of the head. Jayden believes this because while there’s no blood on the driver’s side window, the central console and passenger seat are extremely soiled. What’s odd about this is that Chris was right-handed. So it doesn’t make sense that he would shoot himself on the left side of the head.
Jayden: There’s a lot more blood on this side than there is on that side. I mean there doesn’t appear to be any blood on this window at all. So everything here is pointing toward inward shots. This is peeled inward.
Neil Strauss: How about this one that’s not fully impacted? Is it coming from the outside or the inside?
Jayden: It’s hard to say. It could have been at closer range, so if when you’re shooting a handgun round the further away the shot is the more expansion you get. I mean it’s pretty terminal at some point, but if you were to hold the gun very close you would get a small hole like that because the bullet wouldn’t have expanded. These indicate more expansion, maybe further away.
Neil Strauss: I really think you’re right. I mean-
Jayden: Well I mean just think about it. If the bullet is exiting this window … Well first of all nobody shoots themselves four times in the head.
NS-VO: Jayden opens the door of the car and looks inside. The interior is a mess. There are suitcases, clothing, rotting food, trash, blood, and broken glass everywhere.
Neil: There’s, why the… everything.
Jayden: I’m assuming everything is very dirty so we’re just going to set it up.
NS-VO: But what stands out are white papers scattered all over the front seat. We pick them up and see what Chris was likely working on the moment he was pulled over. They’re pages from a script for a web series called The Shokes, in which Chris is cast to play the part of a police officer. It looks like as if he were rehearsing dialog with his friend Chance for his film shoot the following day. I glance at the blood splattered pages and see the line, no one’s going to buy this shit. That’s blood on it.
Neil Strauss: Look at the line on that script. It says, “No one’s going to buy this shit.”
Jayden: Oh, that’s blood. Oh, that’s just crazy.
Neil Strauss: And it’s just covered with blood.
NS-VO: Jayden pulls items out of the car and the suitcases one by one, and lays them on the hot pavement. There are almost a dozen books all of them self help classics written over the last 100 years, from As a Man Thinketh, to the Power of Positive Thinking, to the Course of Miracles-
Jayden: The Course of Miracles.
NS-VO: To Rene Brown’s Daring Greatly.
Jayden: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.
NS-VO: There are also pills, powders and supplements. A lot of them things you might read about in body builder forums.
Jayden: REB Sports DAA. Aspartic acid, increase muscle strength, stimulate-
NS-VO: From pills to gain muscle mass, to boost testosterone, to block estrogen, and to cure erectile dysfunction.
Jayden: Bazooka, keep it up.
Neil Strauss: Yeah, I am interested.
NS-VO: And there are drugs and booze.
Jayden: Supplements. Here’s another one. THC gummies-
NS-VO: From THC gummies, to bottles of whiskey and vodka,
Jayden: This is weed and then pipe-
NS-VO: To a glass pipe with mariajuana residue, to a baggie filled with what Jayden believes-
Jayden: This is probably some-
NS-VO: Is crystal meth.
Neil Strauss: There’s still stuff in there.
Jayden: That’s meth.
Neil Strauss: Are you serious?
Jayden: Yo. Bean bags. Bean bag rounds.
Neil Strauss: How interesting.
Jayden: That might have made those big holes. Look here’s the bottom line. I’ll tell you what I think happened. Unless he was, well even if he was lefthanded, he would have had to clean the shot the bullet right out the other window and there’s not bullet holes over here. It would have been a through and through at any close range. A very preliminary armchair investigation. I say he took three beanbag rounds in the seat, and that top one killed him. Exit wound bled out to the right. With a huge caveat that I’m not a crime scene analyst.
Neil Strauss: Could this top one … I mean these clearly penetrate inside the car, could this top one have penetrated and come from the inside of the car?
Jayden: No because you would have had blood all over here. It’s your exit wound that produces the blood. If you’ve ever seen anybody shot Neil, sometimes you can’t even see the entrance wound it’s so tiny. It’s all about the exit.
Neil Strauss: What do you mean?
Jayden: All of the blood spatter, all of the loss of the blood’s going to be on the exit.
Alex: What’s the little purple thing right there?
Jayden: That’s another shotgun probably from the beanbag. That’s what I think these are.
Neil Strauss: Is that a third shotgun.
Jayden: I think these are beanbag rounds. That’s out third wad. That’s what they call it.
Neil Strauss: Yeah, so that’s those-
Alex: That’s what made the big holes?
Jayden: I think that’s what it is, and I think that killed him especially because it came high. I mean that’s head height right there.
Alex: So why would they shoot these…
Jayden: Beanbag rounds, I mean you know sometimes you just shoot them. Sometimes you fucking shoot them afterwards.
Neil Strauss: What do you mean?
Jayden: I mean I’m not trying to disparage the bad law enforcement is bad for everybody. Sometimes you shoot them after to say, “We tried to shoot him with beanbags, couldn’t stop the threat.” Because how are you going to tell if it was before or after?
NS-VO: There’s one other significant thing we find on the scene. Four notebooks and journals filled with Chris’s handwriting.
Neil Strauss: He was writing.
Jayden: He was writing.
Neil Strauss: Homeless is godliness.
Jayden: I am. The last entry, “I need to tell my mother about this. She needs to know.”
NS-VO: Chapter 25. The Middle of Nowhere.
Neil Strauss: So I’m going to walk through Chris’s ride a little bit.
NS-VO: Jayden and I are finally ready to begin our re-creation of Chris Spotz’s movements on Friday, February 23, the day of Adea’s disappearance. We’re outside Adea’s apartment on Hollywood and Wilcox where Chris’s day began. In addition to Chris’s Google data I also have his phone log and credit card bill. We’re following in his exact footsteps that day to determine what was Chris Spotz’s state of mind at the time. Was he or someone close to him involved in Adea’s death, and which theories about what happened to her can be proven or disproven by the facts we now have.
NS-VO: Early that Friday morning Chris starts his day with Adea here telling her he has to leave to go to an audition. Instead, following Chris’s timeline on Google maps, he goes back to his and Mary’s apartment in Studio City.
Neil Strauss: So on the 23rd, 970 [redacted], was his first call. So he calls his mom in the morning.
Jayden: At what time?
Neil Strauss: Like 7:30 in the morning.
NS-VO: As we’re sitting in the car I reach out to Jade to ask here about the call. So I’m going to ask you to rely on your memory a little bit so we’re talking about the 23rd and I guess he called you a bunch that day. You guys talked early in the morning about 9:00 Colorado time.
Jade: Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.
Neil Strauss: And do you remember what you talked about then?
Jade: I think that he told me that I need to talk to Mary, that she was so upset and she wasn’t doing good. I knew that they had, had an affair and that Mary had told me that morning how upset she was and breaking someone’s trust and betrayals I would say instant kind of harsh checks about betrayal and that’s not how people do it, and anyway then I just told Mary that maybe she needed to get out of the house until they got some counseling because she was very devastated.
NS-VO: He leaves the house at 8:36 am and tries to call his biological father Chris Marez. A few minutes later Chris Marez calls back and they speak as Chris Spotz drives to get gas for his truck then heads to a shopping plaza in North Hollywood. He briefly runs into Chase Bank and then apparently goes to the Green Valley Marijuana Collective.
Speaker 10: Hi.
Neil Strauss: I’m wondering if I could ask you a question? I’m not sure if I …
NS-VO: Jayden and I pull up outside the store and I walk inside and ask if anyone there saw Chris on that day or any day, and noticed anything out of the ordinary? The employees there look at photographs of Chris and tell me they don’t recognize him. They then proceed to tell me they have as many as 1,000 customers a day, and are generally too stoned to pretty much remember anyone.
From there Chris drives less than three blocks to Anawalt True Value Lumber, a hardware store. Then he went to Anawalt Lumber.
Jayden: He wasn’t there long, right? He was only there like 15 minutes total.
Neil Strauss: I can ask my friend, can you get me all the transactions at that time. Mary did say something about him getting paint for her. She might have said that, so it could have just been the paint for her. I can ask about that, but he might have got something else, and used that as an excuse.
NS-VO: By coincidence, I’m actually friends with one of the owners of Anawalt Lumber. So I call him and see if there’s anyway to find out what Chris bought that day. On the surface stopping at a hardware store on this particular day is pretty suspicious.
Neil Strauss: So the question is, if I give you the date and the time, is it possible to see what the transactions were?
Speaker 11: Well I will do my best, and here’s the glitch, the North Hollywood yard doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to a second cousin named Jim Anawalt. But yeah, send me what you’ve got and I’ll contact Jim and we’ll see what we come up with.
NS-VO: He drives home and then goes back and forth from his car to his apartment for the better part of an hour and a half. He leaves at 11:05 that afternoon to go to Studio Plaza. He spends $48.00 at Ralph’s on Mary’s American Express card, he then goes to Rite Aid and then puts another $18.00 on the credit card, and finally he goes to Wells Fargo and withdraws $100.00 in cash from a bank account he shares with Mary.
Neil Strauss: There’s a bunch of text around 10:30. He’s picking up stuff, but what’s happening there?
Mary: He’s going, just leaving my Wells Fargo and my Amex card, but I told him that I don’t think he should stay with me, and he said, “forever?” He said that he’s going to write a letter.
NS-VO: Meanwhile at the exact moment as Chris is withdrawing cash, Adea is texting a friend of hers from acting class about her night with Chris. “So what happened with Chris,” the friend asks? “Nothing,” Adea responds. “He stayed over, he went now to audition.” Which we know now from Chris’s Google data isn’t true. Adea continues, “So he’s leaving her. She makes him sleep on the floor because she’s mad. So he’s got to pack all this shit up and leave.” “Mad,” her friend asks? “She has the right to,” Adea responds. Adea goes on to discuss how she and Chris have decided to get a one bedroom instead of a two bedroom apartment. She adds that he has two dogs so he will be bringing one of them to the new apartments and leaving the other with Mary. Adea continues texting, “We have been fiery and crazy because I was jealous that he was going at night to Mary no matter what, and caring and calming her, when he told me that he chose me. But like this, when she’s out of the picture, we are calm and lovey dovey.”
NS-VO: Chris returns home for half an hour, then leaves for Adea’s apartment at 12:14 pm. However, he makes one stop along the way. He receives a call marked as unavailable on his bill for a minute, which typically denotes calls from a blocked caller ID. He briefly speaks with the person, then parks and enters an apartment building in North Hollywood. He’s in this apartment for just seven minutes, then he leaves for Adea’s.
Jayden: Yeah, so if you’re looking at this guy, we’ve got to figure out if this is a possible guy where he may have dropped her keys off to him. Do we have any indication that he maybe had the keys at that time?
Neil Strauss: Yeah, because he went off-
Jayden: Or wait-
Neil Strauss: With Adea’s set. She was complaining about it.
Jayden: Right. Okay. Right so that makes sense. So he had the key. So we’ve got to figure out is this somebody that he dropped the key off and is this our person that possibly wanted to be a partner.
Neil Strauss: So Jayden, but could it be another possibility that this person was just someone that Chris was just dropping off a script to, or picking up something for an acting role? It could be an innocent stop too.
Jayden: I mean anything’s possible. I think the key is, we’ve got to figure out whose place that is, and if we can somehow either talk to them, or connect them to it in someway. I mean this could be a person that LAPD never spoke to.
NS-VO: At 12:46 Chris calls his biological father as he’s pulling into Adea’s apartment building. He’s off the phone nine minutes later, and immediately afterward he walks into Adea’s apartment. It’s worth noting that Chris Spotz doesn’t make another call for the next seven hours. As we know from Adea’s records the last time her phone checks in online and receives data is at 12:50 pm. So around this time it’s either shut off, or put in airplane mode, or less likely it runs out of charge. Whatever the answer may be, her phone is never used again.
Neil Strauss: Her phone last receives data at 12:50 pm, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it went off at that time right?
Jayden: I think that it’s possible that he just took the phone from her. He has a history of doing that, so he takes the phone shuts it off, he’s up against this deadline that he’s imposed by a family emergency. I mean it’s a perfect cover. He takes the phone, she starts looking for it saying, “Where is the phone? Where is the phone? I can’t find my phone.” He says, “Well we just have to leave. Don’t worry you don’t need your phone. We’re just going up to Sacramento and we’re coming back.”
Neil Strauss: Is there any possibility that maybe he just said to her, “Hey we’re going on a trip, it should be just you and I. Hey, can you turn off your phone.”
Jayden: Right. Well that does fit in with the fact that he doesn’t use the phone on the drive up there. If he’s selling her on that idea, then he has to stick with it too.
NS-VO: Chris and Adea remain in the apartment for 26 minutes and then they take the elevator together with Adea’s luggage. Looking completely amicable and get into his truck. At 1:27 pm they leave her apartment building for the last time.
NS-VO: Before we begin following Chris and Adea’s actual road trip I want to play for you the most complete version of Chris’s story as told to Mary about what happened that day.
Mary: He told me what had happened is that he went to drop off her keys and she wouldn’t let him leave and she had her bags packed and she was going to go on a holiday. And she kept asking him where they were going on a holiday, and we was like, “We’re not going anywhere.” So his thought was he was going to go to Magic Mountain with her and break up with her publicly so he had nothing do to with anything and he didn’t want her going after him again with a knife. So he was going to take her somewhere public and along the way like she kept say, “No, I don’t want to go there. I’ve been there a thousand times, and he” … What he told me was that he told her like, “Nope, this is the only place we’re going, we’re going somewhere public.” That they were not going anywhere else, and that she had somewhere along the path figured out what he was planning to do and she started hitting him and punching him in the face and he pulled off the next exit and he let her out, and she took her stuff with her. And I mean I got really mad at him. I was like, “So you just left her at the side of the road.” He was like, “Yeah, what was I supposed to do?”
NS-VO: After just a half hour of driving Jayden and I are outside of L.A. and approaching Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park.
Neil Strauss: I mean the first things you notice being here is, if they get into a fight, are you going to pull over and leave her off on the side of the highway here? Like there’s no real place to leave somebody off.
Jayden: No, and most of these exits just because I kind of know the exits, they don’t dump off like a typical exit. Usually the stuff is pretty far removed from the freeway. So his explanation of pulling off, I guess it’s good in the fact that he can’t disprove that he did it. That’s Six Flags over there.
Neil Strauss: Right. So like if you’re leaving someone off here, you’re just literally leaving them on the side of the highway with either a fence on one side, or like just a bank with trees on the other side.
Jayden: Which seems crazy. I mean I don’t care how much I was fighting with somebody I don’t think I would dump them on the side of the road.
Neil Strauss: Yeah, you know it’s funny-
Jayden: That’s just me.
Neil Strauss: I actually didn’t realize Magic Mountain was actually on the way. So it isn’t preposterous, he did pass Magic Mountain right?
Jayden: He did, yeah. But the preposterous thing was, is he told his dad he was coming to see his dad and would be there around 5:30. Adea told friends that she was going up to the dad’s and she packed two suitcases and a neck pillow, and was dressed in like sweats.
Neil Strauss: One of the other reasons Jayden and I are assuming that Chris didn’t kick Adea out of the truck here, is that Chris’s Google maps doesn’t show him pulling off at an exit or stopping for any amount of time.
Neil Strauss: We’re stopping at that place on the way right?
Jayden: Yeah, we’re 11 minutes away. It’s the one on Gorman Post Road right?
NS-VO: Half an hour north of Magic Mountain Jayden and I reach a 76 gas station in Gorman, California. This is where Chris and Adea make their first stop for five minutes. The Google data here is so precise that it’s clear that Chris pulls in, he parks, he stays in the truck and doesn’t get gas. So presumably it’s Adea who leaves the truck possibly to buy something, or use the restroom.
Jayden: So this is it.
Neil Strauss: All right.
Jayden: This is the 76 station.
Neil Strauss: His first stop.
Jayden: Hey, how’re you doing. I’ve got a question. Are you like the manager, or-
NS-VO: This also could have been the spot where Chris supposedly kicked Adea out of the truck, but he never said it was at a gas station. He said it was by the side of the road at an exit near Magic Mountain.
Jayden: Did you ever speak to anyone from LAPD? Do you remember that?
Speaker 12: No.
Jayden: About that? Okay. Who would be the best person to speak to regarding looking at some footage from the security cameras?
NS-VO: He gives us the name of the manager and we hope that when we follow up with her we’re not already too late. Especially since the LAPD apparently hasn’t been here.
Jayden: But again, I just don’t understand why you would harm her here when you have a willing passenger.
NS-VO: Jayden and I drive one more exit north and then veer off of Chris’s Google route. That’s because this is the Lake of the Woods area where police, search and rescue teams, and divers were looking for Adea because phone pings showed Chris in this area for forty minutes. However, I do have a logical explanation as to why the police thought Chris was in the area for so long. His phone loses reception exactly as he’s passing the Lake of the Woods area and doesn’t pick up signal again for another 58 miles. So it may have intermittently pinged off the same cell tower in Lake of the Woods during that time.
Jayden: This is it right here. And so Lake of the Woods-
Neil Strauss: And the gas station we were at last time, does this road maybe connect to it? Not-
Jayden: It’s back that way.
Neil Strauss: Oh, it’s back that way.
Jayden: I really see nothing out there.
Neil Strauss: And as we said a 15 minute drive each way, you’re not hitting any real wilderness to do anything.
Neil Strauss: Whether you’re hiding something or throwing luggage away, or assaulting someone there’s really-
Jayden: I think if you had to call it right now, I think that would be it. It was just a red herring. A deer element. It just goes back to the fact that it makes the most sense that he arrives in Sacramento with Adea alive.
NS-VO: Two hours of driving later Chris has still made no phone calls. Assuming that Adea is still in the truck she may be asleep on her neck pillow because at 4:49 pm Chris is able to sneak off three text messages in quick succession to Mary.
Mary: Oh gosh. 4:42, so yeah around 30, 42, I had text him and I told him that the apartment was being shown, and if he can meet me later that day and he said he couldn’t because that he’s spending the weekend in Gilroy Heaps place in the middle of nowhere to be alone.
Neil Strauss: And who’s Gilroy Heaps?
Mary: It’s a place. It’s in the middle of nowhere to be alone.
NS-VO: Two quick notes of clarification. Mary is referring to Gilroy, California. Which is roughly midway between Los Angeles and Wheatland where Chris’s biological father lives. The words Gilroy Heaps place appear to be an auto correct error, and the reason Mary is renting their apartment is because she no longer feels safe there after all the stories Chris has told her about Adea, many of which don’t appear to be true. Not coincidentally at the exact moment Chris is texting Mary about being in Gilroy, he’s actually passing the exit to Gilroy on the freeway. 15 minutes later Chris pulls off the freeway at a Shell station in Los Banos, California. He runs into the store, pays cash, pumps his gas and drives off. Time elapsed six minutes. When he’s half an hour away from Chris Marez’s house, Chris Spotz make his first phone call of the trip and calls his biological father for two minutes.
Jayden: This is it the greater Wheatland metropolitan area.
Neil Strauss: So Wheatland is the name of that place he lives.
Jayden: Yeah, he lives in [redacted].
Neil Strauss: There aren’t even like, nothing’s a brand here. Even the gas station. Everything’s independent. Jesus loves his peeps is the sign at the church.
NS-VO: Both Jade and Mary have told me that Chris Marez said repeatedly that Chris Spotz was only at his house for 15 minutes, but according to the Google information Chris Spotz is actually at and around his father’s house that night for what appears to be five hours. One thing we know for a fact that Chris Spotz does when he’s at his dad’s house, is that half an hour after arriving he answers a call from his mother Jade who’s been desperately trying to reach him. They speak for just two minutes.
Jade: And then later on in the afternoon I was worried about Chris. I called Mary and she said Chris wasn’t there. She wasn’t quite sure where he was. So I started texting Chris saying, “Where are you? I’m worried about you. I need to hear your voice. I need to know you’re okay.” And then I send him some pictures of like his baby brother Shane at the bowling alley, and then a picture of me and my friend and I was crying, and so that was about 8:03 and I’m not sure what time the call was that you said Chris called.
Neil Strauss: Yeah, around 8:46 L.A. time. That would have been 9:46 your time. If Chris brought her there then I guess he would have said something if that happened?
Jade: Yeah, you would think so, but he probably wouldn’t have told me because he hated … He knew how upset I would get when he would be at Chris Marez’s. And it was never anything good that came of his time with Chris Marez.
NS-VO: Jayden pulls up in front of Chris Marez’s place.
Jayden: This might be his truck right here. That’s probably his house right there.
NS-VO: It’s in a flat rural area with small homes and large fields. A fence and a long driveway block Chris Marez’s house from view from the road. Jayden tries to call Chris hoping we can come in, sit down with him and ask some tough questions.
Jayden: So if he doesn’t answer, I’ll call him later.
NS-VO: Because if there’s one thing we believe from our trip so far, it’s that when Chris Spotz arrived, whatever may or may not have happened to Adea Shabani along the way, she was in that truck with him. And why do we believe that?
Jayden: Here’s the thing about being here, is if you leave Chris Marez’s-
NS-VO: Because if you leave Chris Marez’s house and drive about 200 yards.
Jayden: We take your first left-
NS-VO: On the left there’s a road that takes you into the Spenceville Wildlife Area.
Jayden: And you go down that dirt road.
NS-VO: And this road dead ends in 10 miles. At almost the exact spot where Adea Shabani was buried.
NS-VO: To Live and Die in L.A. has been a production of TenderFoot TV and me Neil Strauss in conjunction with Cadence 13. The executive producers of this podcast are myself, Donald Albright, and Payne Lindsey along with producers Alex Vespestad and Mike Rooney. Anything you know about anyone mentioned in this podcast we want to know. Please email us at livediela@tenderfoottv or call us at 213-204-2073. The music and score you’ve heard in this podcast is by Makeup and Vanity Set. Our theme song is Love and War by Fleurie, and our show are and design are by Trevor Eyler. You can follow us on social media at Live Die L.A. pod. Or you can find our website with bonus content at livediela.com. The editing is by Alex Vespestad, with additional mixing by Resonate Recordings. Special thanks to Rich Boerner, Kevin Richter, Chris Corcoran, Warren Siegel, Brian Fishbach, Oren Rosenbaum at UTA, Eric Lynn at Shangri La and the Nord Group. It helps a lot when you subscribe, rate and review the podcasts that enjoy and listen to. Thank you for listening and for your support.
Episode 10 - Blood on the Script
Episode 11 - The Long Way Home
In this special hour-long episode, Neil and Jayden follow the trail of evidence all the way to the burial site…and a new suspect emerges.
Episode 12 - Look at the Stars
In the season finale, Neil uncovers definitive answers. After more than a year investigating Adea’s disappearance and murder, the truth will come out, but justice is in the hands of LAPD.
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