When Detective Julissa Trapp arrived, her partner was already knee-deep in the trash surrounding the young woman's body in the cavernous, ear-splitting warehouse.
For Trapp, it was hard to imagine a more chaotic crime scene than Republic Waste Services in north-central Anaheim, where tons of trash surged across a series of elevated conveyor belts, fed by an endless procession of garbage trucks.
A rat scurried over Trapp's shoe. Pigeons wheeled and flapped. The stench was thick.
Machines echoed off the walls and high ceiling. The belts kept rolling, except for the one on which Det. Bruce Linn was currently standing, the one where a worker had spotted what looked like a protruding human foot.
It was Friday morning, March 14, 2014. The victim was a blondish young woman, unclothed, her jaw broken, her leg snapped, her skull crushed, her body wrapped in a shredded blue tarp amid what looked like debris from a residential remodeling job.
Who was she? How did she get here?
The detectives decided to collect trash in a wide radius around the body -- 20 to 30 feet in each direction. They were looking for addresses that might lead them to the trash bin she had been left in.
Linn spotted something else -- a tube of acrylic sealant labeled TremGlaze. It was the closest to a hard surface he could find, the kind that might hold a clean fingerprint. With a gloved hand he dropped it carefully into an evidence bag.
Trapp and Linn had seen many varieties of savagery, but the singular coldness of the scene struck them both. "Everybody dies -- I get it. The death rate is one per person," Linn said later. "But to get thrown out in the trash? Now, that ain't what you do."
Linn was a transfer from the fugitive-surveillance squad who had spent years in disguises, often unwashed Dickies and a tool belt -- "a dirty mechanic, a dirty plumber, a dirty elevator-repairman" -- and so had not hesitated to climb into the trash. He had deep-set, watchful eyes set in a hard-boned face that looked as if it could absorb a heavyweight's right cross.