By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
On the afternoon of May 22, 1999, Dowdy was making plans to move back to Texas, thrilled to get a job as director of a Presbyterian church camp. With her expenses paid, Dowdy could sock away her salary. She was looking forward to a perfect summer.
A group from work had made plans to go out that Saturday night, but by 8 p.m. everyone else had flaked out. Dowdy didn't want to cancel on the new girl. Around 10 p.m. Dowdy picked up Hillin, who answered the door with a gin-and-tonic in her hand, her second of the evening. Dowdy declined Hillin's offer of a drink.
On the Crosswinds dance floor, Dowdy noticed a guy homing in on her. Muscular and tanned, he traded a few words with her, though she couldn't hear much over the music. She wasn't particularly attracted to him, later recalling his "buggy" eyes.
Abruptly, Hillin gestured that she felt sick, and the girls made for the club's restroom. Dowdy helped Hillin cut in line to the toilet where she repeatedly vomited. Mortified, Hillin waved Dowdy out of the room while she cleaned up. When Dowdy checked on her a few minutes later, Hillin insisted she felt better. They returned to the bar, and Hillin tried to order another gin-and-tonic.
Alerted by a female bar-back who had seen Hillin in the bathroom, the bartender refused to serve her. Dowdy ordered another Cape Cod; she'd put down her drink when Hillin got sick and had lost track of it. (Dowdy later told investigator Frye she thought the muscular man brought her the drink, but this was never brought out in court.) A short time later, Hillin's nausea returned. They agreed to leave.
Hillin edged down the club's narrow staircase, followed by Dowdy, who noticed the man from the dance floor behind her. He trailed as they walked to Dowdy's car.
When Dowdy unlocked the passenger door, Hillin insisted she just needed fresh air and urged Dowdy to return to the club. Until that point Dowdy had felt OK--not even a buzz.
Closing the door was her last memory of the evening.
Hillin and Dowdy had left the club to go to the car between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. For the next few hours, Hillin was passed out, waking up a few times long enough to vomit. About 1:30 a.m. someone apparently called the police to say a woman was puking in the parking lot. Hillin was picked up by Officer Kevin Tucker and booked into detox at 2 a.m., leaving Dowdy's car in the lot.
Tucker later testified that security guards had looked for Dowdy in the club but that she wasn't there. Bartender Michael Szekely confirmed that he had served the two women and later watched to ensure Dowdy didn't give Hillin another drink. Szekely said he didn't see either girl return.
The next sighting of Dowdy was at 3:28 a.m., when a motorist called the highway patrol to report someone speeding westbound in the eastbound lane of Highway 240 near Interstate 35.
Another driver, 22-year-old mechanic Oscar Ramirez, was parked under a railroad trestle of Highway 240, checking his oil when Brewer's eastbound car passed. Moments later, Ramirez heard the explosion of metal slamming head-on into metal.
Seeing flames, Ramirez roused his buddy, passed out after too much to drink. Another car passed them and slammed into the two wrecked vehicles. That motorist pulled to the side of the road with only minor injuries.
The men ran to Dowdy's burning vehicle and pulled her out through the window. As they laid her unconscious on the pavement, Ramirez heard the flooosh of the car being engulfed in flames. "She was gasping for air like a fish on the bank," Ramirez says. "I thought she was going to die." Paramedics would later describe Dowdy as cursing and uncooperative, but Ramirez heard only tortured breathing.
The two buddies tried to help Brewer, but the accident had pinned him inside his car. Moments later, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper David King arrived. He held Brewer's head and neck until paramedics arrived and pronounced the young man dead.
As emergency vehicles and patrol cars arrived, Ramirez noticed a shift in the attitudes of the law enforcement officers. For years he believed that the victim was the son of a highway patrol trooper because their anger was palpable. But the victim's drivers license revealed he was the son of an OKC police officer named David Brewer. One of their own had been killed by a drunk.
Dowdy's first lawyer, Beau Williams, hired private detective Dick Frye to investigate.
Frye believes the initial investigation of the crash was botched: Dowdy's car wasn't processed; her clothes were thrown away at the hospital; and no rape kit was done though a blood clot in her urethra indicated possible sexual assault.
Frye interviewed Dowdy and her neurosurgeon. He put together Hillin's symptoms, Dowdy's abrupt memory loss and the sequence of events. After local narcs told him a nearby health club had just been busted for drugs that included GHB, Frye concluded Dowdy and Hillin had been "poisoned" with the date-rape drug.