Look at the Stars
30 • Sam Marez
31 • Chris Marez
32 • Chris Spotz
33 • Three Persons of Interest
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.
I just asked him straight up, did you have anything to do with that young lady missing?
Sam Marez, Chris Spotz Uncle
It was kinda his assumption that his uncle killed her and his dad buried her.
Chance, Chris Spotz’s Friend
GENERAL VO: The following episode took place between May 2018 and May 2019.
NS-VO: The cover of the journal reads DREAM BIG in large type. It was found in Chris’ Spotz’s truck. And written in the last months of his life.
From an undated entry on page 3 he writes, I have an amazing fiance who is sweet and tender and rough and stern. Kind of sounds like me, ha! If I sit and actually think about my life, I’m in awe at how lucky I am. Maybe I should do that more. I’m excited about where my art is going.
Six pages later, he writes, it’s been 2 months. Naturally, depression set in without me knowing it. I started taking my five HTP again, which has helped. I’ve also started microdosing with LSD. This has been interesting to say the least.
3 pages later: This pseudo-triangle has been getting the best of me in recent days… and honestly, my partnership may not recover from last Sunday. It’s not important for it to anyway. I know I need to be careful because of my anxiety. I would like to burn no bridges, so I will proceed with caution here and at all costs, I must keep my energy. I’m almost certain that she’s a vampire or a succubus.
NS-VO: Chapter 30: Sam Marez
NS: Did he say anything about Sam Marez?
CHANCE: His uncle?
CHANCE: Yeah, he did. We did talk about his uncle a little bit.
NS: What’d he say?
NS-VO: I’m on the phone with Chance, and asking him about Sam Marez, the brother of Chris Marez, and the supposedly dead uncle of Chris Spotz. Ever since Chris’s mother Jade shared her suspicions about Sam Marez, I’ve been making calls to find out who Sam is and if he could have any connection to Adea’s disappearance. And it turns out, there’s some things that Chance didn’t share with me when I first spoke with him.
CHANCE: He said his uncles, pretty gangster dude.
I don’t really know how much I want to say here, so I don’t want to like, they’d get in trouble if they don’t deserve it, but it was kind of his assumption that his uncle killed her and her dad buried her. He said he thought they kind of tag teamed I think. But Chris said, my dad is, he’s big and he’s strong. He’s fucking stupid, but he’s a pussy. Said my daddy ain’t got the fucking balls to kill somebody. So if anybody did it, my uncle did it. My Dad is just stupid enough to get rid of the body is too stupid to do it right.
NS-VO: Jade also mentioned when I last called her that Chris Spotz had said something similar to her before he left Colorado on his final road trip with Chance.
And he mentioned that he thought Chris and Sam Marez knew where Adea was.
So this raises the question of whether there was a 3rd person involved, because Chris Spotz made only one other call on that fateful night Adea was killed. And that was to a burner phone with a 424 Los Angeles area code. And just maybe, Chris’s mother’s suspicions are right and this number does belong to Sam Marez.
So I try it again.
NS: Message or no message?
SM: Yeah. Hello?
NS: Yeah. Hello
NS: Oh Shit, I can’t hear you. It’s breaking up.
SM: Hello, are you a business? They’re the only ones who have this number?
NS: I guess I was calling about Chris spotz.
SM: Oh, okay. Okay. That’s my nephew
NS: Is this Sam?
SM: Yeah, this is Sam
NS: I just wonder if you had some time, I’m doing a podcast on Chris and everything that happened and, and I know he talked to you a bunch. I wonder if you had time to talk about him and
SM: Oh good. That’s all right. Yeah. I mean he’s my nephew. I hadn’t seen him in 3, 4 years. Something happened that should’ve never happened. It doesn’t show to him at all. He’s not that person. You don’t fight, you know, like arguing. He don’t like nothing. I mean, no, I wish you would still be here so I can talk to him and stuff like that. There’s nothing you can do about that now he’s gone and I wish that safety for the other family to, they’re so sad, you know, just horrible.
NS: And when was the last time you actually did see him?
SM: Well, last time I did see him… jesus….probably 3, 4, maybe 4 years ago
SM: We kind of lost touch….but talking on the phone every so often.
NS: When was the last time you spoke to him?
SM: When this was all going down, I spoke to him during the time, but I mean one time I did, you know, when we did talk, I asked him straight up…. during that time I was confused by everything he wasn’t making any sense, I tried to figure out what he was doing, I asked him straight up, Did you have any to do with that young lady missing…and he’s like NO, I promise you I promise you. Nothing to do with that. [inaudible] he ain’t never lied to me
NS-VO: So far, nothing Sam has said is a lie or a contradiction. And he seems relatively open and up front. We talk for a while longer and I debate whether or not now is the best time to tell him what I know.
NS: What do you think happened?
SM: They got into a lovers quarrel, or they got in an argument or I guess she was kind of small I assume, I remember hearing how small she was…I guess to cause of death with something to the head. Correct.
SM: Yeah. So maybe he hit her in the head, tried to block her. I don’t know, my wife was close to him….trying to put it together how it happened. That’s what I had to think of, had to be himself protecting himself maybe or protecting each other and maybe something violent…something like that.
Do you do also stories about police corruption, civil lawsuits or anything like that?
NS: I think that any story that strikes me as compelling as worth telling where, what are you thinking?
SM: I have a story of my own that happened in 2015 where I was assaulted ….me and my wife… by the Los Angeles Police Department.
NS-VO: He tells me more details about the case then asks for my address.
SM: I can come down there if you’d want to send me the address or something and I can meet you or talk to you about it, whatever.
NS: Great. Then again, I’ll, I can also share whatever I’ve kind of found so far about Chris and Adea and then whatever you can remember from those kind of phone calls he had around that time would be super helpful.
SM: Yeah definitely, I’ll send you the information and everything else and then we can discuss more of that, more about Chris.
NS-VO: Now that I know this number belongs to Sam Marez, I can prepare for my meeting with him. Then, face to face, I can ask him specifically about his calls with Chris that night, as well as Chris’s accusations.
NS: Gonna call Jayden right now.
NS: Hey Jayden.
JB: Hey man.
NS: I just want to let you know that I just got off a 20 minute call with Sam Marez.
JB: What? How’d that happen?
NS: Well, Alex was was over. I said, why don’t we try that 424 number again?
JB: No Way. Our mystery 424 number. Wow. And he just answered.
NS: Yeah. So I called it rings like four times. We’re sure it’s going to voicemail. Then a voice picks up and the voice sounds like Chris Marez. I said, you know, are you, I was actually calling about Chris Spotz. There’s a long pause. And then he goes, that’s my nephew.
JB: I mean, so we’ve tied him to…. minutes before…that’s the last call. I mean, how many times did we called that number? Amazing. For trying one more time. I mean, I’ll never not try one more time. That’s crazy.
JB: Hey, also I wanted to tell you, I just got the autopsy from Nevada County for Adea, so I just sent it to you. So take a look. It’s pretty extensive. It’s about, you know, 30 pages. There’s the, the general autopsy report. There’s the protocol and talks.
NS: Anything significant on it that jumps out to you?
JB: Well, I mean we find, I mean, yeah, we finally, you know, at least have a picture on cause of death. You know, they’re say blunt force trauma to the head. Not a lot of detail in terms of like narrowing down a weapon or anything like that. Dealing with the decomp and somebody that we’re not going to see that. There’s also in the tox report, it’s showing caffeine, valium, and THC or marijuana. It looks like just normal dosage. Certainly none of those listed has any relevance to cause of death.
NS: And was she pregnant at any way? Like Angel said?
JB: No, no. It’s negative on that.
NS: Is there anything else you can tell about what happened or
JB: It’s, it’s gonna be hard to tell. I mean one thing that’s definitely stated that it was massive blunt force trauma. If you look at page 5, you’re going to see that they indicated that death was within seconds. There appear to be maybe some slight defensive wounds maybe from like an initial hit, but they are indicating blunt force trauma, death within seconds …and they’re indicating skull was crushed. So obviously somebody that’s heavy. You know.
NS: Yeah. So they write that she was wearing a brown jacket or red hoodie with a zipper in the front, a pair of blue pants and black knee high boots. Was that the same stuff she wore when she left her apartment building with Chris?
JB: So I would say with some relative certainty, yes, the video was not great, but that’s generally consistent with what she was wearing.
NS: I think I have one other questions as I’m scanning through it. Okay. Yeah. It says she was covered with a silver and brown plastic tarp, which was secured with a thin orange colored rope. That just seems odd to me …as if she’d been transported in some way from somewhere else.
JB: Yeah, it’s definitely odd. I mean, seeing that is, you know, my conjecture is just that it does indicate transport. Wrapping her in that prior to burial really wouldn’t make a lot of sense. So I would definitely say that, we need to think about transport and how getting other evidence that we have and that we can find that would kind of support that theory…might bring on little more relevance now.
NS-VO: Through a tip that recently came in from someone close to the team that recovered Adea’s body, I saw a photo I’d hope never to see: and it’s of Adea Shabani as she was found.
I won’t go into the details here, but my anger at someone who could do this to another human being…but I do want to share a few things that are significant to this investigation:
A tarp has been placed over her head and it extends down to around her knees. It’s secured tight to her by thin twine.
Because part of her legs are exposed, it’s clear that the body is not wrapped for concealment, because it’s easier to transport so it won’t soil a vehicle. And the the twine is bailing twine. The kind used to secure bales of hay for horses.
My source said it was their belief that the twine and the tarp came from Chris Marez’s property.
NS-VO: Chapter 31: Chris Marez
NS: Sure. Should I try it again one more time right now?
JB: Yeah, sure.
NS: Okay, cool. Here we go.
CM VMAIL: This is Chris from [redacted], I’m not here but I’ll get back to you. And have a blessed day.
NS: Hey Chris. It’s Neil hopefully. It’s not too late. I’ll be up for a bit. Talk soon.
JB: No answer.
JB: It’s kinda late
NS: Yeah, I get, yeah, it is late. It’s late. So maybe he’ll call me tomorrow.
JB: Does he know….if he wanted to talk to you, he would call you back
NS: Oh, it’s him. It’s him. It’s him. Okay. Hello.
CM: Hello Ace, I was outside, saw that you called, so what’s going on?
NS: Great man. Yeah, no, I’m sorry to call so late.
CM: Oh, I saw your say, Live and Die…and whatever. Those little, what number of those? I don’t even know what those were. I just listened to them.
NS: What are your thoughts so far?
CM: Yeah, I just saw him the other day. I just, just kind of in that whole thing with Chance… I never met the kid so I don’t know what he was talking by. Never seen him in my life. I mean, you know, all I’ve ever heard with my son talks about, I’ve never met the kids so I don’t know like she knows shit cause you know I was kind of surprised.
NS-VO: It’s been hard to reach Chris Marez, and this may even be my last chance to speak with him. If he was involved with Adea’s disappearance, I know he’s not gonna just confess to me, but I can share the facts I know that make any lies or evasions that much more difficult.
And one question I have is: who led the authorities to Adea’s body? Especially since I saw the picture of Adea. Because it did look like a boot was sticking up out of the ground. She looked pretty well-concealed.
So someone must have known where she was.
And thanks to the tip from my new source, I’ve got a good idea who that someone is.
NS: I want to check a bunch of things with you and the for the first one, and I had known this when we spoke is that that you led the police do a day or told them where she was?
CM: Who me?
CM: I never told them any of that I just told them what happened was, my son came back, my son came back, I can remember what day it was.
NS-VO: Chris Marez is referring to the Thursday 2 weeks after Adea disappeared, when Chris Spotz, for some unknown reason, took a 17 hour drive from Colorado to his dad’s house in Wheatland. Stayed for less than 2 hours, and then left.
CM: She shows up at my house, my fiance gets the door, “hey your son’s here.” And I’m like, what? He didn’t call me or tell me nothing. I was like, this is kind of fucking weird. So I said okay. So I go outside, man. He goes, I don’t want to talk to you. And I saw them sitting there talking,
Oh, I said, what are you doing?
We hit this car. Where was going? If he goes, dad, I have a gun on blah, blah, blah. So I said, what are you going to come for? You know what? I said, even if they catch you with a gun, you know, this is my kid. And I said, son, I said, what’s going on? So he basically opened up and he told me the situation, okay, he didn’t go into detail. He just told me, Hey dad, this is what’s going on. And he didn’t tell me specifically where those three different spots that he told me. He basically told me, hey, this is where she’s at.
NS: Why did he say 3 spots instead of I put her here, why did he say 3 spots?
CM: Well this is the deal. When he came to see with me, you know, he, he there, there’s these great places people ride on. And that’s where he told me, you knew we had Spenceville, we had Campfire West, we had hidden falls and he said, you know, I knew those places. So that’s when he told me that, so but he knew this area, yeah him and [redacted] go hiking up there. Yeah, they got, it’s called hidden falls. It’s a beautiful, I seen, it’s a beautiful place.
NS-VO: That bleep is concealing the identity of Chris’s childhood friend whose name we changed to Bryan for purposes of anonymity. Roughly 10 years ago, Chris and Bryan came to live briefly with Chris Marez when he was living in a neighboring town. And by the way, just in case you missed it in his wall of words, it was Chris Marez who tipped off police to where Adea was.
CM: That’s kind of why he told me that, because I needed the place. There…only 3 street. Go ahead.
NS: What were the spots he said,
CM: What they are is… they’re creeks and there’s bridges, there’s 3 in that area. There’s one, two, three. That’s pretty much what he told me. If you’re going to go horseback riding or if you’re going to go hiking or you’re gonna go you know, shoot, whatever, there’s three. And that’s basically all he said. And I said, okay, fine. So I didn’t say anything. My thing is to see him, I was just sad because I could see the remorse he had. He’s a very, I don’t know even what to say. It was just sad, you know, just seemed like that. I think he realized what he’d done.
NS: when Chris said he had a lot of remorse about it. Did he say like why he’d done it or what happened?
CM: You know what, I’m going to share this with you, but this is honest to god truth.
He told me this when he, when he came that Thursday when he told me that he goes, dad, she reminded me of my mother and then I’ve always wanted to kill my mother and straight into my eyes. Exactly. I’m telling you, that’s word for word…. and I just kind of blew it off. And then I’m like, son you got to go to the cops. But he did tell me that. So I’m telling you right now, he got a lot of hate for his mom and whatsoever reason, you know, Ada is a lot like his mother, but she was a person that likes drama. She was drunk and that’s the way her mom wa…his mom was.
NS-VO: I just want to point out how little empathy Chris Marez has for Adea, for the victim here. And he’s never said a positive word about her. I ask him about his call to Jade Spotz on February 24th when he was talking about Adea’s disappearance before anyone knew she was gone.
NS: She had said that you had the morning after Adea disappeared, you had called her and said, hey, some stuff happened like ….the little girl and you know, don’t worry about it, I’m going to take care of it.
CM: No never…I don’t ever, I never got, we never, never talked to her like it’s only time I talked to her is, I don’t know if she had told you, but I guess Chris went out there right before Christmas and he got in a huge fight with his mom is definitely, it’s something out of character, well I like told her and I asked her what’s going on with Christopher and then she told me what happened and that was the only time I talked to her.
NS: So just to clarify, so you didn’t call Jade that morning after day? Yeah. You know when,
CM: no, no, no. The only person I talked to that morning was Mary. Mary calling me up? Cause he came back to my house, to get his shoes, and only reason she called me up was because she tracked her credit cards to that hotel. And that was the first time I ever talked to her.
NS-VO: Keep in mind that Chris’s mother Jade has already sent me her phone bill to prove that she spoke to Chris Marez. And they did indeed speak for 11 minutes on the afternoon in question: Saturday, February 24th, at 12:20 PM.
So what Chris Marez is telling me is clearly not true.
NS: So there are a couple of odd things I wanted to ask you about. And one was…Adea was wrapped in a tarp and in twine that matched twine that was on your property. Maybe twine used to like tie the bales of Hay or something?
CM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s the thing is I have, you know, horses that I buy and sell horses, you know, ask the detectives, they came from my whole house. I said I don’t know anything about anything…you know, when I told him, you know, could have been, I said, collect them, you know, cause I send them back and we reuse them or whatever. If you looked at it, it’s like a thousand of them back there. I had no clue.
NS: But how could he have gotten the twine from your property that Adea was wrapped in?
CM: Well because he… because he came over to my house.
NS-VO: Chris Marez has just basically admitted that Chris Spotz got the twine that Adea was wrapped in from his property. Now listen to the answer to this question.
NS: Was He, was he ever out of your sight what he’s out of your property that day?
CM: No, no…when he came in. And when we got in an argument, he took off. Then they come back that morning.
NS: And how long? How long was he there for that, but how long was he there for that night?
CM: Oh, probably 3…4 hours. Eh probably 3 or 4 hours until we got in a fight, then he took off and then he came back in the morning and he was only here that morning for maybe… 10 min not even 10 minutes
NS: If Chris was in your sight the whole time, how would he have gotten the twine from your property that Adea was kind of tied up in that tarp?
CM: Like when I told the detectives, I have no clue. You know, my thing is…. you know I have 18 acres out here… and you know, the weirdest thing was they, they they found a hole on my property. And they had the detectives and you know, looking at this hole, but it was a squirrel that dug it up and they thought, “Well Shit,”
I’m thinking my god…did my son do this? It’s right on the front of my property. So I’m thinking, no, this isn’t a, no way ….I knew it wasn’t, you know, but they had to do their job and it was, you know, it was actually you know…squirrels. They dig the hole.
NS-VO: You may remember that when I first spoke with Chris Marez, he said that this hole was dug by dogs.
Another time, he said it was a coyote. However, the same source who showed me the photo of Adea said that investigators believed that someone had tried to dig a grave for Adea at Chris Marez’s property. But they stopped when they hit rock and couldn’t easily go any deeper.
NS: They said they had dug this hole. There was a kind of a like, a body size hole,
CM: Yeah yeah that was
NS: But then, but then it hits this like. It hit rock.
CM: Yeah. Yeah. That was actually that, that was actually the hole…that I was talking about, you know, and that’s what the other detective was setting me… cause they had over there. They’re digging it up and taking pictures and we came back. There was nothing there, of course. But I mean, I’m just thinking holy shit you know,
NS: they were fairly certain that it was like, you know, a hole dug for a body cause there’s a big hole and then it hit rock and it will take a couple deep enough—
CM: It was probably maybe 2 feet by 1 and a half feet. We thought it was a fresh hole…And I explained to them, at the beginning of the year there’ll be 2 or 4 or digging the same hole, you know, so one of their day, there was nothing of course, but I’m just saying I’m just like ….fuck, you know, I’m thinking, did my son do that? But I’m thinking…but he’s right. You know, it was just, it was just crazy.
NS: The thing that I’m still trying to piece through is…. she must’ve been there that night in the truck, whether alive or dead. She must’ve been in his truck.
CM: You know, like, like I told him, the detec…I saw nothing, I saw him come in …and come back in morning to get his shoes….that was it ….I don’t know what I would have done, gotta be honest with you, if I would’ve been like, fuck, I don’t know. How my brain would com…I’m glad I didn’t because if I did, I don’t know, I would react,
NS: That’s where like kind of I get stuck. Like it just doesn’t make sense cause there’s
A: she 100% had to be there, you know, alive or dead.
B: is the only stop for 4 minutes and 8 minutes at a gas station. How do you have time to do something like that?
And then D, when you get the twine and the tarp, like how do you get all that wrapped up and then he hit the road and then go to that spot? In the
CM: Exactly. The only thing I can think of…is when he… Maybe he, you know, I don’t know. We’ve talked about this before. Maybe when he got in an argument with me, that’s when he took off. Because His plan for the weekend, me him and with Desiree were gonna go out the next day to dinner, and uhh…you know, everything was planned, go horseback riding… all that. So it was kind of weird. It was kind of weird for me. And I’m thinking, okay, you know, an argument, but you know, it was something like, okay, son, but I didn’t want it, you know, I’m like, okay, you’re 33 years old. I’m not going to tell you, beg you to stay. You know, if he got upset with me and that was what he did what he did. But I don’t know. See that’s her opinion in the city. I never wanted the detail,
NS: but here’s the thing that doesn’t make sense. So let’s just say that somehow he did this in the car. I don’t, I don’t know how, let’s just say that happened in the car.
NS: But then how would you not have blood on him when he came in your house?
CM: Exactly. When he came to the house. I mean, I hate to say that, I don’t really know what he was wearing…umm…I don’t, I think he was wearing sweats or shorts or something. Yeah, just some casual shit he had in his bag, and he brought it in. And then he put her right here and I said, go put it in the room. You put it in the room
NS-VO: One thing I’ve been waiting to ask is whether his fiancee who he lives with, was home that night. Or if he had her leave. To me, that would suggest, some sort of premeditation.
CM: No, no, she was not there. She was. She was over at Mom’s. Thank God. The only reason was that she was over mom’s, because wanted me to spend time with Christopher, cuz Christopher never told me he was bringing Adea. I thought he was coming by himself. He had a backpack and a bag…and he just came to my house. Says hold on, Dad, let me go out to the truck, gets the other bag. He did come in. I had some wine…when I was drinking some wine. We’re talking and it’s no big, it’s like nothing happened. Nothing. I had no clue. Didn’t say nothing to me until like 11:30 and then I was like Holy Shit.
He just told me good. Said they got in a fight and uhh.. got into argument and she was hitting him and he ended up choking her. Killed her.
It’s what he said. You know, and then my head, I couldn’t comprehend that. I was like, there’s no fucking way, and then you know, there’s no way he did this You know, I’m thinking, there is no fucking way.
NS-VO: What Chris Marez is apparently saying is that saying that on February 23rd, when Chris Spotz first came to visit him, his son confessed to murdering Adea. And Chris Marez thought he was joking.
CM: He told me later that night, about 11:30, 12…he told me that and then when we started getting in an argument, and I was like, you’re out of your mind, I can’t…he was like, I didn’t believe him, you know at first, you know. And naah, he like, he just said Dad I did it, and I’m like you’re fuckin not…you just…what are you doing this, you’re fuckin lying, there’s no way in hell you would do this, I said it’s the movie you’re gonna be playing because he had told me he was going to do a bad cop scene on netflix, that’s what I’m thinkin. Nah, this is not real, this is not, you’re full of shit, and he was like nah dad, then he threw that oh you weren’t there for me when I was a kid, and I said, okay son, I’m here for you, so what’s going on.
NS-VO: While Chris Marez is admitting to more than he has in the past, there still clearly a lot that he’s hiding. But whatever the case may be, one thing is now certain: that on February 23rd, the night Adea Shabani went missing, he knew what happened. That if he thought it was a joke, that a few days later when the news broke that she was missing, he knew by then it was real.
This whole time afterward, when he was pretending to be helpful with me…with Jayden, with the police, with Adea’s suffering family, he knew exactly what happened and where she was. And he said nothing. Not until his son was dead. And, I’m guessing, it was safe for him to come forward because there was no one around to contradict him.
CM: Ya know I was just happy that they found her …closure for the mom, the family, that was the most important thing.
The sad part, my son, for whatever reason he did what he did. And you know, and I strongly believe this.
I mean, you know, I think he just felt so guilty that ….he felt that he, I think in his eyes, you know he, was telling them, oh, you know, a warrior, I’m gonna go out like a warrior…you know I think he went out, I think he went out because he felt like he was so guilty. You know, he was so …he did what he did. It’s just a sad, sad story. And you know, I was wanted him to grow up ….having kids and I’d be a grandpa. That’ll never happen.
NS-VO: Chapter 32: Chris Spotz
NS-VO: When reporting, you have to knock on a lot of doors.
But sometimes, you just happen to stumble across the right door. This particular one was in Yuba City, about 20 minutes away from Wheatland. Led there by an anonymous tip from a listener of this podcast, Jayden and I knocked on the door.
A bald stocky man answered, and his first words were, I was wondering when you guys would come, I figured the LAPD or detective would eventually be here.
ANONYMOUS-YC: I’ve been saying for, since all this started. I can’t believe nobody’s come and talk to her,
ANONYMOUS-YC: I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been saying, I can’t believe that he’s talked to her yet
ANONYMOUS-YC: because I was waiting for her.
NS-VO: He then called his wife and told her, there’s a private investigator here to see you. Her response: is it about Chris Marez?
The man invited us in and we sat on the couch as a fish tank bubbled in the background.
After 10 minutes his fiancee arrived…. along with the daughter she had with Chris Marez.
KIM: I still, I still talk to my sister in law every once in a while, like in a text messages and she’ll talk about Chris and I can’t believe like, you know, like nothing happened to him and you know, I’m like, I know I mean, but he’s gotten away with, I mean he’s gotten to play with so much stuff. It’s not even funny.
NS: So one question as far as these go, is it okay to share these recordings with the LAPD?
KIM: Yeah. And Yeah. And that,
NS: Is it okay to use these on the, you okay with that?
NS: Okay, just wanna make sure.
NS-VO: The woman you hear speaking is Kim Marez, Chris Marez’s his ex-wife. She was with him for almost 25 years.
JB: Whatever you feel comfortable sharing. And obviously, you said he visited you?
KIM: Oh he does. He confides in me…he always confides in me. I mean I don’t know why, but he does probably because we were together for so long, 20 something years. So yeah, he always tells me things… that I wish, you know, things I probably didn’t want to know. But
JB: obviously the, you know, we’re interested in that. I mean we’re interested in what he talked about and whatever background you want to discuss that. I mean, what happened? And we’ll say Chris for Chris Marez…Christopher for…
KIM: His daughter had a performance and…. as we were leaving that night from the performance, he told me, [redacted] you know, go go to the car and you know, I’m your mom and I are going to talk.
NS-VO: By “he,” she’s referring to Chris Marez.
KIM: And so then he was telling me about…. exactly what happened to her. That Christopher had planned to kill her. And I guess he was saying that it was Sam, which is Chris’s brother, that he had died and that they were coming up here for the funeral and I guess they were traveling up here to go to the funeral or whatever to stay with Chris. Chris said that I guess Christopher and his girlfriend would sometimes go home, sit on the bed of the truck and look at the stars and stuff. And so when they were driving up here, Chris said, I don’t know where it happened, but supposedly they were at the bed of the track and looking at the stars and he had pulled up, I believe it was a shovel ….and hit her in the back of the head. So that’s what he told me.
So it’s, it’s hard to, you know that he has this information and then apparently talked to her family and knew where she was… and didn’t say anything. That’s just kills me. It’s like you have a, you have a daughter, how could you do that? And I guess he couldn’t because that was his son. So, I dunno.
JB: What did he say happened after that?
KIM: First, A couple of stories. I think the last story was Christopher came to the house, Chris’s house, and they were talking, you said he was acting kind of weird, just like just Kinda, just kinda odd. Like he wasn’t acting himself. He’s like, what’s wrong with you?
And he’s like nothing. And then I guess at some point he told he is why he killed her. And he’s like, no you didn’t. You’re, you’re kidding around.
Says no, I killed her. She’s in the back of my truck.
Christopher wanted Chris to help them bury her.
And Chris told me, he’s like, no way, I’m not going to do that. You know, I’m not going to get involved. And Christopher played that, You were never in my life. You never did anything for me. You know, you could at least do this for me since you’ve never been there for me.
And apparently Chris… in his own truck, had Christopher follow him to a place where she was buried. But he told me there was blood in the back of the truck. He told me that she was rolled up, and I don’t remember what he said she was rolled up in, but he said he saw Christopher take her out of the truck and roll her into the hole that he had dug. He saw that. I know he was the only one with Christopher there… because his girlfriend had gone. His girlfriend wasn’t there that night.
JB: Did he say that, we talk about going down to that location. Did he talk about helping him to dig the hole?
KIM: He said he didn’t. He said, I never touched her. I never, never dug the hole. He goes, I didn’t do any…I didn’t participate at all was I didn’t do any of that.
JB: You believe him?
KIM: Oh yeah. Right after Christopher killed himself, you know? Yeah. Chris is crying to me saying, he was going to go to jail. He’s gonna go to prison. All this stuff, you know? But he never came clean with seeing Christopher bury her, all that.
I guess her brother had called Chris. I was, I guess it was her birthday. And if you, you know, and she was, he was like, we bought our birthday cake. We don’t know where she’s at, you know, if you know anything. And that’s what kills me as Chris is like nope, I don’t…
And he knew, you know, how could you know where she was at and not say anything. I just don’t get, I don’t understand….
I mean to me it’s like why would you like go in separate cars? You went in separate trucks and Christopher followed you all the way to a place where you chose to bury her and then you just stood there. Like it’s kind of hard for me to believe that he would have just not have done anything. I mean as far as like …him, like helping them commit the crime? I don’t know. I don’t, I mean he’s done, he’s pretty crazy, but I don’t know if I could see him doing it. I don’t think I can.
JB: Why? He’s just…
KIM: I don’t know. I just, I used to, he was really bad when he was on steroids really badly. He put a gun to my head, pulled the trigger, all kinds of stuff. I just don’t know if I could see him.
I don’t know.
JB: Did he ever talk to you about motive? Like Why?
KIM: Yeah. Yeah. He told me because he had his fiance and that he tried to break it off with his girlfriend Christopher did.
And she was just like not having it. And she told him, you know, I’m gonna ruin your career. I’m going to ruin your life.
And that’s why he did it.
And then Chris always told me that Christopher’s always said that his girlfriend reminded him of his mom and he couldn’t stand his mom, which I doubt that ….I remember. I mean, even the girls at work still every once in a while, hey, what’s going on with Chris? Have they arrested them yet, you know? That’s why the girls that I work with, because everybody was shocked that nothing happened. He does get away with a lot.
NS: Did he say why he led the police to Adea or why he gave that information?
KIM: Yeah, because Christopher had already died, so I guess now it was like an okay time.
JB: You mentioned one of the things like and I just want to go back there real quick.
You said being in the back of the truck, looking at the stars, was that a, was that a Chris thing or a Christopher thing?
KIM: Definitely not a Chris thing. I don’t know if it’s a Christopher thing,
JB: Okay but but he talked about that. He said what? That that was something that,
KIM: Yeah, he said that’s Christopher. We used to do that once in a while. He said, I don’t, he’s to this day still says, I don’t know where they stopped?
Like how close they were to Wheatland or because I don’t know where they went to, where they pulled in and stopped and to look at the stars. He goes, I don’t know.
NS: This is, what do we do about the Sam? Anything you know…
KIM: I know that Christopher was talking to Sam after he murdered her. I know that, but he, he’s hush about it. And I think he talked to Sam like days before he killed himself.
JB: Did they talk regularly before that?
KIM: I don’t think all the time.
JB: From what we were saying it wasn’t very often
KIM: I think everyone, no, no they didn’t. No they didn’t. I think it was like ….Kinda like what Chris did, you now needed someone to talk to him, spill his guts about things that he’s done. Maybe. I don’t know.
NS: What’s the Chris Marez and Sam Marez relationship?
KIM: There brothers.
NS: Are they brothers who trust each other? Distrust each other?
KIM: Distrust. They don’t talk to each other. They don’t talk at all. Like Chris is kind of, doesn’t really talk a lot to his family. Like I talked to his nieces and you know like I’ve talked to them, but he’s kind of like, I think of all the lies and everything. I think there everybody’s kind of like stays away now.
KIM: So do they still have the cases? It actually still open?
KIM: They closed it?
JB: Yeah I understand. I get why. I mean I work local from the sheriff’s department for a long time. The goal was to close cases. So you know it’s fast as you can close them with a good closure. That’s what you do. Do you know it’s doesn’t give the family complete close.
NS: Doesn’t give the family closure.
JB: And it’s, but it’s a reality based on budgets and caseloads and you know, that’s, that’s how it goes. But I don’t, I don’t think it’s closed. I mean I, no, I don’t think so.
NS-VO: It’s three days later and I’m looking at a property receipt given to Mary by the police. It contains the items they took from Chris Spotz’s truck. It includes one baton, which was the metal baton that Chris Spotz had bought for his role as a police officer in the web series The Shoaks. It contains papers which we believe to be the letter that Chris Spotz was writing Mary.
There’s a hat, 2 pairs of boots, at least hundred rounds of live ammunition, a gun magazine, a key, and a receipt from Anawalt Lumber. Dated February 23rd, 2018.
And the frustrating thing is after months of back and forth, my Anawalt Lumber contact never came through with a cash receipt. Fortunately, Jayden comes through and sends me there to pick it up.
NS: I just went to Anawalt Lumber. I went to the back office. The guy hands me the receipt. And you’re not gonna believe this.
JB: Did you look at the actual items?
NS: Yeah, I looked at the SKU numbers.
NS: And I went and looked up each one. I got em spread out right in front of me now.
JB: Oh you bought the items.
NS: I bought the items.
JB: Amazing. Okay
NS: So I’m looking at them right now. He gets a pair of suede gloves, a flashlight,
NS: A big moisture-absorbing towel, and a shovel.
NS-VO: Chapter 34: The Final Chapter: Three Persons of Interest
JB: Hey Alex.
NS: We have, we’ve got all this information. We’ve got all these interviews. It’s been 14 months.
NS: And, and almost, and really in this last like week, just a flood of information came in.
NS-VO: I’m in Jayden’s office and we’re preparing our final report for Adea’s mother Nora as well as for Chris’s fiance Mary and his mother Jade. It’s the first time that we’ve sat together formally and just attempted to put together all the information we’ve collected.
Our investigation has led us to three persons of interest.
Person of Interest 1: Sam Marez.
JB: When were the calls to Sam? 10:26…. 10:47
NS: And a leg and then I take a text at 11…
ALEX: They’re all one minute calls. They easily could have just…
NS: Not connected. Hey, call me back calling. Try them again. Texts calling back asap.
NS-VO: There are 2 pieces of information that led us to Sam Marez.
The first is the phone calls that Chris Spotz was desperately making to Sam’s 424 number on the night of Adea’s murder.
Though I still have plans to meet with Sam in person, after getting to know him better, it felt like the time was now right to ask him about that night.
NS: Why do you think he was desperately trying to reach you that night cuz you were the only one he was calling
SM: I wouldn’t know. Like I said, I hadn’t talked to him in only once before, and that was 2015. When he was living in LA. And I can tell you truthfully that he never mentioned anything, never told me anything, and if he would have, at that moment, I would have told him to turn himself in.
NS-VO: Sam goes on to tell me that it’s unlikely that Chris Spotz had his 424 number, so he probably got it from Chris Marez. And since Sam says he didn’t answer any of the calls, his best guess is that Chris Spotz was calling for advice, for help, or most likely, for somewhere to stay in the area since he probably did have some sort of argument with his father that night.
The second piece of information that led us to Sam Marez is Chris Spotz’s claim that Sam and Chris Marez were co-conspirators in Adea’s murder and burial. And aside from the fact that we now know Chris Spotz told a lot of lies, the other problem with his accusation is that Sam Marez doesn’t trust his brother enough to get involved in something like this with him.
SM: I never had a close relationship with my brother or talked to my brother much. Fortunately my brother, I don’t even know of anybody in my family who speaks to my brother, my sister hasn’t spoke to him, my uncles, aunts, I’ve had
NS-VO: I’ve spoken extensively with several people who know both Sam and Chris Marez and they’ve confirmed what Sam is saying. So I feel confidant in concluding that Chris Spotz’s allegations about Sam were completely fabricated in an act of fear and desperation.
NS-VO: Person of interest 2: Chris Marez.
NS: The next thing is he’s keeping the affair secret ….from Mary, from his mom. I’ve talked to a few of his friends now for most of his friends to let to the very end, except for one person he knows won’t disapprove of what he’s doing,
JB: That’s Marez?
NS-VO: This is Jade Spotz discussing a conversation with one of the LAPD detectives investigating the case.
JADE: She said I cannot reveal to you my information that she said I know you think Chris Marez was involved but I can tell you we are 100% sure that he had no contact with Chris Marez. In fact, they’re contact over the last 3 years was very limited and next to none.
NS-VO: But there’s a problem with what the detective is telling Jade.
I have Chris Spotz’s phone bill. And in November, he had 4 calls with his biological father. In December, there are 3 calls. But in the 19 days leading up to Adea’s murder in February, there are 41 calls between Chris Spotz and Chris Marez. For a total of 251 minutes. And in the last 3 days before Adea disappears, there are 14 calls back and forth between them.
And this is where our suspicions about Chris Marez’s involvement begin.
NS-VO: Especially since he later admitted to us that he knew about the murder and concealed it.
So let’s discuss then, his statements to his ex-wife Kim.
We don’t know for a fact that what he told her is true. He has lied to us many times. But the lies have always been to protect himself. And his story to Kim lines up with the data we have, specifically the Google information and the Anawalt Lumber receipt. Data that neither Chris Marez nor Kim Marez have.
So it feels safe to say that Chris Marez’s confession is the minimum of his involvement in Adea’s disappearance. Where the line of demarcation between what he did and his son did can be drawn is something we’d still like to determine. But one thing we do feel certain about is that Chris Marez led his son to the Spenceville Wildlife Area campground where Adea was buried.
For one thing, Chris Marez told us that his son knew the Spenceville Wildlife Area because he’d gone hiking there with Bryan. But here’s what Bryan had to say about that when I asked him afterward.
And just to make sure, I had him look it up on Google Maps. We’ve disguised his voice here.
NS: Spenceville Wildlife Area.
BRYAN: Yeah, no man, never once been hiking there so
NS: And you’ve never heard of a place called Hidden Falls or anything.
BRYAN: Nuh uh.
NS-VO: However, when I spoke with Chris Marez’s fiance, she said that she and Chris Marez had gone horseback riding in that very spot several times.
After our meeting with Kim, she called back with one other fact that she forgot to mention:
KIM: He actually, Chris said that he held the flashlight while they buried her.
NS-VO: Whether Chris Marez helped more than this, we may never know. But we do know that he was there that night assisting his son. And giving his son money the next day for the ride home.
California Law defines accessory after the fact as harboring, concealing, or aiding a person whom you know has committed a felony. In order to protect him or her, from arrest, trial, conviction, and/or sentencing. And that’s probably why Chris Marez told Kim as well as his fiancee, that he was likely going to jail.
KIM: So I remember Chris and I like got down and he goes, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I just want to let you know that if something happened to those, it won’t, because the cop always kept giving him the [indecipherable] right, you never know. And he said, that whatever happens, it’ll be taken care of.
NS-VO: Person of interest 3: Chris Spotz
JB: So what we want to say is we know they drove, drove up there, we know they stopped 2 places based on the accurate accuracy of the timeline. We know that nothing happened to her prior to that.
So when we went up there, and I’ve looked at it again and thought about it. I mean that road really is… that’s a good spot.
NS: To what likelihood is that that had happened to that driveway versus when they’re at Chris Marez’s house… for you?
JB: I don’t know No, I mean 80-20 driveway. Because so far, Kim’s information as either, kind of been corroborated with something else or been corroborated with some kind of evidence…. like her story to sort of, fit into the narrative. The fact that there was both the blunt force trauma and lacerations just on a 30,000-foot view, we would say, well, that makes sense with a shovel because you’re actually dealing with a blunt object and sort of a bladed object.
NS-VO: I showed Adea’s autopsy report to an independent forensic pathologist, Dr. Judy Melinek, who stated that nothing in it was inconsistent with Kim’s story.
JUDY MELINEK: So you’ve got at least 8 different impacts to the head, possibly more, with crushing injury to the underlying bone. So that would be consistent with a heavy, hard implement like a shovel.
NS: Your thoughts on the drive back? Cause I don’t think we ever said it explicitly now that we know all this other information.
JB: I feel like he’s definitely getting rid… discarding her stuff. I mean ….the Google timeline tracks into dumpsters and stuff in parking lots, right…so he’s definitely getting rid of her stuff…. piece by piece.
NS: The only thing left is ….this last chase …the pursuit with the police. And I think we haven’t discussed that you got Chris Spotz’s autopsy report. I shared that autopsy report with the forensic investigator. I have his notes.
NS-VO: The report we commissioned from an independent forensic investigator stated, “Mr. Spotz discharged a single 9 millimeter shot, this shot occurred prior to the 3 less-lethal shots fired by CHP Officers from outside the vehicle into the driver’s door window. Assuming no other individual was in the vehicle cab at the time of the 9 millimeter discharge, Mr. Spotz did commit suicide using a 9 millimeter pistol. I would so testify the aforementioned findings and opinions under penalty of perjury.”
JB: My problem with his like activity after the fact has always been, how did he think…that it was a better idea to NOT cooperate with the police, get a lawyer, start staying in hotels, how did he think that was a better idea than just….
NS: If Chris Spotz came home, went about his normal life… what would happen? Given all the evidence we have?
JB: I think as long as, as long as Chris …Marez kept his mouth shut, probably… a bunch of nothing
He would have probably held it… He would have had to hold up under some scrutiny, but… it would have been Chris Marez… it would have been if that body resurfaced.
He could’ve come up with a way better plan. That was a really terrible plan.
NS-VO: Based on a 14 month investigation, including extensive interviews with all the surviving individuals known to be involved in the case, it is our determination that Chris Spotz planned and carried out the murder of Adea Shabani. With at the very least, help as an accessory after the fact from his father Chris Marez.
Jayden reaches out Adea’s mother Nora to share our findings, and the new information we found about what happened to her daughter. And I share our conclusions with Mary, Jade Spotz, and Jack Spotz.
MARY: So yesterday morning, before you told me any of this, before I knew any of this…I like was literally getting ready for church, and this overwhelming like feeling and thought was just like…came through across my head and heart, it was just like it’s time, it’s time to let him go, it’s time to let him be at peace.
NS-VO: As for Nora, she’s now looking for ways of keeping Adea’s memory alive.
NORA: I would like to do something now. I’m entertaining that idea. I think now because she loved so much music, now the research shows that music can help a lot of children who are… cognitively affected by some kind of trauma. And now evidence is emerging that music can heal these children.
NS-VO: I also speak with Chris Marez and share our theory of what happened with him.
He doesn’t deny it. In fact, he often appears to agree and say “exactly.”
Yet still, he returns to the same stories he told earlier in this episode. As if he hasn’t heard what I’ve just said.
NS: Where would I go to drop off a package for detective Bill Hayes?
LAPD: You have a contact number?
NS-VO: Right now, I’m dropping off this episode and all the original source material for it ….including the google data and the Kim Marez interview… at the LAPD. Hopefully, this is not the end.
FLEURIE – “LOVE AND WAR”
I’m next in line and my supply is running out It’s time to leave,
the clouds are hanging low
The truth begins to show
Lover, hunter, friend and enemy
You will always be every one of these
Lover, hunter, friend and enemy
You will always be every one of these
Nothing’s fair in love and war
NS-VO: Just as this episode is coming out, Jayden called to say a potentially groundbreaking tip had just come in. One that he wants to investigate further, before sharing even with me. If needed, we will continue this in a bonus episode. If you’re listening to this, and you’re in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, the national domestic violence hotline can help victims and survivors of domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233
NS-VO: Many of you have written us with questions about the case. We will answer those, as well as share further information in a special bonus information.
If you have any other questions, theories or tips about this case, please write us at email@example.com
Or call our voicemail line at 213-204-2073.
Or even email us a recording of your thoughts. Be sure to let us know if it’s okay to use your voice on the podcast.
Though you’ve heard my voice in all these episodes, producers Donald Albright and Alex Vespestad worked just as many hours over the last year on this and deserve special acknowledgement.
To live and die in LA has been a production of Tenderfoot TV and myself 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. The music and score is by makeup and vanity set. Our theme song which you finally got to hear more of is Love and War by fleury. Our show art and design are by Trevor Eiler. The editing is by Alex Vespestad with additional mixing by resonate recordings.
Special thanks to Oren Segal, Brian Fishbach, Charlene Lee, Julian Chan, Ingrid De La O, Carla Velarde, Rich Burner, Kevin Richter, Chris Corcoran, Oren Rosenbaum at UTA, the Nord Group, Eric and Shangri La, Concord Music, Cobalt Music, Beck Media and Marketing, Station 16, and the teams at Tenderfoot TV and Cadence 13.
One final note, we’re planning a live event in LA very soon. We’ve learned so much from Adea’s case that we’ve been able to help another family.
This family’s son went missing late last year and they haven’t had the support they need. Both from the authorities and from the media. Information about the date, time, and tickets, which will help support the family’s GoFundMe will be posted to my social media accounts @Neilstrauss as soon as possible.
Thank you for listening, for commenting, for calling in tips, for making all this possible, and for remembering Adea as she was. And Adea, there are no words. You didn’t deserve this, and no one does. We’ll be making a significant donation to the Children’s Music Fund in your name.
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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