By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
But when the two met the next semester, they couldn't take their eyes off each other. Brent's hair had grown in a soft blond mop, and his body, while still buff, seemed less bulked up. "He was happy-go-lucky, very personable; everybody loved him and wanted to be around him," Martwig says. "It took us awhile before we realized we'd met before." Soon they were inseparable.
That year, Martwig says, she got on the dean's list because she and Brent spent so much time studying together. "He was a very diligent student," she says.
Deciding they were soul mates, the couple set a wedding date for two years later, after their scheduled graduations.
During the summer of 1995, Martwig made plans to work as a nanny in Dallas to be near Brent, though the two had been having conflicts. "It was being young and dumb and not knowing ourselves very well," Martwig says. None of their differences had seemed that serious, but the day before she left Lubbock, Brent shocked her by breaking up over the phone. He never gave her a reason. She later learned Brent had left Lubbock in fear of his life.
Earlier that semester, as a resident adviser in Murdough Hall, Brent had tried to mediate a dispute between two students, "William and Jerry." William told Brent he was going to pay a student people called "Big Tony" to hurt his rival. Brent knew Tony, a weightlifter, from the gym.
Several days later, Brent ran into Tony, who asked, "When are you gonna do this favor with me for William?" Fearing that the student would be hurt and that Tony might turn on him for not cooperating, Brent called his father and said he was going to the police. Thinking Brent was crazy to get involved, Jerry nonetheless hired Lubbock attorney Robert St. Clair to represent his son. "He was nervous about retaliation," St. Clair says.
On March 24, 1995, Brent went to the police and wrote a three-page affidavit. "I consider Tony to be a dangerous person," Brent wrote. He described Tony talking about his involvement with drugs and guns and an incident in which Tony pointed a handgun at him.
That summer, Jerry insisted that Brent return to Tech so he could graduate on time. Crying, Brent told his father that after he wrote the affidavit, Tony had broken into his room, put a gun to his head and told him to leave Lubbock. His tires were slashed, his car stereo stolen and his room vandalized.
"Brent believed that this guy would kill him if he went back to Tech," Jerry says. "He says that's one reason he broke up with Sara, so she wouldn't be hurt." The story sounded improbable to Jerry, but Brent was clearly upset.
In Dallas, Brent enrolled in community college. At his mother's urging, Brent began seeing a therapist, who diagnosed him as bipolar, torn between alternating mania and depression.
"Looking back on it," says Martwig about the end of her relationship with Brent, "I could see he was cycling into a manic phase. He was spending a lot more money and not really thinking about it too much." And soon Brent had found another new love.
Working part time for his dad and attending classes at UTD, Brent seemed to have recovered from the debacle at Texas Tech. Living with three other men in a student apartment, Brent had made several friends. He and Brad, a computer science major, studied together. (Brad asked that his last name not be used.) Brent was on track to graduate with a business degree in August 1997.
And he had a new workout buddy, Scott Garrett, an electrical engineering student. "He was so disciplined, we couldn't even eat a frigging pizza," Garrett says. By the end of 1996, Brent weighed 210, so muscular and chiseled he could crush an egg by flexing his pectoral muscles.
Brent's father still kicks himself for what happened next.
In February 1997, he asked Brent to take a delivery to his accountant's office in Plano. Jerry told him he had to see their new secretary Chanel Banks.
"She's really hot," Jerry said, even though he knew the young woman was planning her wedding.
In the fall of 1996, Brent had dated Rosalie Castillo. "He wanted to get serious," says Castillo, now a teacher. (She asked that her married name not be used.) "He wanted more commitment than I did." Castillo broke off the relationship, but they stayed friends.
Since then, Brent had dated only casually, but after making the delivery, Brent called his dad and said, "That's the most fantastic-looking girl I've ever seen!"
"Brent, she's engaged," Jerry told him.
"I'm having lunch with her tomorrow," Brent said.
Eight days later, Banks broke off her engagement and moved in with Brent.