At 10:15 a.m. on June 6, 2008, a woman shopping at a Target in Florida was interrupted by a phone call. Her daughter's number flashed on the screen. Rachel, who lived in Atlanta, called every morning. Even when Rachel was home visiting, she'd call her mother from the next room just to let her know she'd woken up.
But when the woman answered the call, it wasn't Rachel on the line. Instead, she heard a young man say, "Is this Rachel's mom?"
He then made an odd claim. "Rachel came to my house with drug paraphernalia," he blurted out.
"What do you mean 'drug paraphernalia?'" the woman asked.
He mumbled that Rachel was carrying drugs and needles in her purse, and that he'd had to call the police.
"Where is Rachel?" her mother asked.
"The hospital," he said.
"Was she breathing?" her mother asked.
At some point, he said, he thinks she stopped. But he performed CPR and she was all right. He mentioned that several cops were at his apartment.
"Let me speak to the police," the woman asked.
"They're busy," he replied.
He gave her his phone number and said his name was Warren. He spelled out his last name — U-L-L-O-M.
About a half-hour later, the woman learned her 32-year-old daughter was in full cardiac arrest when she'd arrived at the hospital. In the opinion of the physician on duty, Rachel was already dead by the time she got there.
Warren hadn't slept at all the prior night. He'd been in the throes of heroin addiction for a while by that point, so sleepless nights were nothing new. But last night was different. Rachel, who he'd met two nights earlier in the parking lot behind the Five Spot on Euclid Avenue, had come to his apartment around midnight. Even through his smack-induced haze, he was drawn to the tall, beautiful woman with dark hair and amber-green eyes. And she was doubtlessly intrigued by him, a fashionable rocker who fronted a promising local power-pop band called the Judies.
Warren would later claim that Rachel knew he was into hard drugs and wanted to party with him — and that she was adamant he not tell anyone about it. After trying what Warren later described as a small amount of heroin, Rachel nodded out on his couch. For the next five hours, Warren attempted to revive her. But his methodology was seriously — by professional accounts, fatally — flawed. He called on his coke dealer, the Sweet Man, to come over and help.
Sweet obliged, but he was wary of Warren's plan: to offset the woman's heroin overdose with a shot of cocaine.
Sweet would later allege that Warren injected an unconscious Rachel twice with coke. Sweet, who'd shot up his own heroin-cocaine cocktail, was in and out of reality himself. But there was a point, around 8 a.m., when he realized Rachel was really bad off. She was turning blue.
Sweet wanted to call 911. He claims Warren didn't. Unbeknownst to Warren, Sweet defied him; he stepped out of the apartment, called 911 and started walking home.
But Sweet couldn't give the exact address to the operator. The ambulance got lost. In the meantime, Warren sent Sweet a text message saying Rachel was better and the ambulance wasn't needed.
Warren was wrong. Thirty minutes after the text, Warren called 911 himself. By the time paramedics finally got to his apartment, it was too late.
Shortly after calling Rachel's mother, Warren received word that Rachel had died. He got in touch with Rachel's friend Jenny, an acquaintance who'd introduced him to Rachel. They decided to go to the hospital together to find out more about Rachel's death. Jenny picked up Warren at the Majestic Diner on Ponce de Leon Avenue. On the way, Warren started rambling about Rachel's curiosity about heroin.
"I told her not to do it," he said. "She wanted to do boy."
At the hospital, Warren kept asking the staff when Rachel stopped breathing. It was clear that Warren was wasted, so Jenny jumped in and told him to shut up. She'd talk to the nurse herself.
On the ride home, Jenny asked if she could come inside his apartment to see if any of Rachel's things had been left behind. Jenny didn't find anything of note — a fact that would soon become significant to Rachel's family and, later, law enforcement. An important item was missing, something valuable that would help elevate the investigation of Rachel's death from an accidental overdose to something allegedly more sinister.
It's a point of contention as to whether Warren was aware of the thing that went missing. But he was well aware of another factor that complicated — and criminalized — the events of June 6, 2008: the cocaine injection. It would be better for him if no one were to know about that. It would be better if the police were to treat Rachel's death as what it appeared to be on the surface: a tragic but run-of-the-mill overdose.
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