Victim’s name: Erickson Daniel Scott, 28
Where body found: His apartment at 358 Lincoln St.
Investigative agency: Denver police
Date killed: May 29, 2001
Cause of Death: beaten with hammer
Suspect: none identified
Given up at birth and twice by successive adoptive parents, Erickson Daniel Scott learned early to fend for himself.
When he turned 18, he graduated from California’s foster care system to the streets, where he survived by selling marijuana to homeless kids.
He moved to California and later to Denver in a few years.
“He kind of showed up one day and offered to do work at some apartments I owned in exchange for rent,” said Evan Frank, 47.
It was a move up from the streets where Scott had been a popular figure among teens and young adults referred to by 16th Street Mall vendors as mall rats.
Scott had unusual responsibilities at the apartments: He picked up trash and he settled disputes by the young, drug-using renters in a role much like a bouncer, Frank said.
“It was a rougher neighborhood,” he said. “He was good at stepping in and making sure calmer heads prevailed. He was a good people person. But when he needed to get into peoples’ face he could do that, too. He didn’t have to use his fists. It was more intimidation.”
Scott didn’t have a family so his mall rat friends became his unofficial family.
“Princess,” a 15-year-old homeless girl who met Scott in the mid-1990s, said after her parents kicked her out of their home she and her friend Erin were welcome to crash at Scott’s house at 358 Lincoln St. whenever they needed to.
“It wasn’t like he was going to molest us,” Princess said. “I was like his kid sister. I felt safe around him.”
At the same time she was a little bit afraid of him. He was a drug dealer who sported a blue Mohawk. He had about four guns and kept a 9-mm hand gun near his bed. It was the nature of the business he was in. But with Princess and Erin, he only showed his softer side.
One Thanksgiving he invited the two girls to his house for dinner.
“‘I’m going to make you a feast. He cooked this small turkey and a big dinner. He really made me feel loved,” she said.
That wasn’t unusual for him, Frank said. Scott often bought blankets, clothes or food for the mall rats, he said. Though he started to acquire possessions including a prized vintage green scooter, he never forgot his friends.
“He had a certain charisma,” Frank said. “People gravitated towards him.”
Scott was an intelligent person, he said.
“You would say he was street smart, but there was a different level of intelligence.”
Scott had a beloved Afghan hound named Tazzy that he doted on. He also got heavily involved with a crowd of scooter enthusiasts. He would go on rallies. He mingled with people of widely different interests and backgrounds.
Frank said Scott had a tough time settling into a legitimate career. He delivered pizzas. But most of his income – anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a month – was derived from the drug trade.
Frank was trying to get him to invest his money in a legitimate business, counseling him like he would a younger brother.
Scott often was drawn to different careers seemingly on the spur of the moment. At one point he decided on a career as a D.J.
“He wanted to be a D.J. so he bought a bunch of expensive equipment,” Frank said. “Eric was the type of person who always reinvented himself.”
Another time, after Princess fixed his aching back, he wanted to be a masseuse. He enrolled in college courses at Metropolitan State College.
Then in the Spring of 2001, Scott went on a vacation to California, met a guy who had a surfing shop and decided on the spur of the moment that he was going to invest in the shop and move west.
After he returned home, he was on a mission. He was selling his drug stash, his expensive stereo equipment and a motorcycle. He was liquidating so that he could invest in the surf shop, Frank said.
“That’s probably what triggered the attack. He had a lot of cash in his apartment,” he said.
Scott stuffed thousands of dollars he accrued by selling drugs and his possessions in a bank bag he put in a microwave oven.
“It wasn’t hidden that well,” Frank said. Word got out that he was putting away a lot of cash in his apartment.
On May 28, 2001, Frank talked to his friend for the last time. Scott was smoking weed. He said he was determined to go straight – at least he wasn’t going to sell pot any more. He wasn’t going to give up smoking it, Frank said. Scott was excited about becoming a legitimate business man.
Late that night someone snuck into Scott’s apartment and pummeled him in the head. Blood was pooled in his bed, splattered on the walls and on the carpet. Scott was 28.
“Someone pretty much caved in his head with a hammer,” Frank said.
His girlfriend found his body the next morning.
In the days after the murder, a young mall rat who regularly carried a hammer around with him was boasting that he had killed Scott.
Police interviewed the man but didn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest, Frank said. He fears the case wasn’t a high priority.
Officers showed mall rats a picture of a suspect, but the young man with a reputation for violence was never arrested in the case.
“The street kids were scared of this guy and didn’t want to give names,” Frank said.
Lt. Matt Murray, spokesman for the Denver Police Department, said the case was reopened as a cold case in recent years.
He said he could not comment on the status of the investigation or whether there is a suspect.
Frank adopted Tazzy and took care of his friend’s prized pet for years until he finally had to put the ailing animal down.
“It was like I lost that connection with my friend,” he said. “It was like going through it all over again.”
Contact information: The Denver Police Department can be reached at 720-913-7867.
Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org