Crimson was twenty-two, single, and vivacious. The daughter of perhaps the most forgiving woman I’ve ever met.
She had recently broken up with Derek. He was the macho sort who boasted of his combat experience as a paratrooper during Desert Storm. Which, as it turns out, was a lie. He wasn’t a paratrooper, he hadn’t seen combat, and he had been dishonorably discharged from the United States Army for misconduct.
January 30, 1998
On a mild, winter afternoon in January, Crimson Rose went to Derek’s apartment to collect her personal belongings. This was just a few weeks after their breakup. A neighbor spoke with Crimson before she went inside, and that same neighbor spoke with Derek a short time later when he left the apartment. Derek calmly told the neighbor goodbye and said he wouldn’t be coming back. He didn’t mention that Crimson Rose lay dead on his kitchen floor. Derek departed alone in Crimson’s car.
Derek had a roommate who was home when Crimson Rose came over. From his room, the young man heard Derek and Crimson arguing. Then he heard a fight, a substantial commotion in the living area of the apartment. But the roommate was no match for Derek—he knew this, and he was afraid of him—so he remained behind his closed door, unwilling to intervene. He huddled in the corner of his room and listened as his roommate bludgeoned a woman to death.
After a period of complete silence, the roommate gained the courage to come out of his room. Derek was gone, and Crimson Rose lay dead on the kitchen floor, her battered and bloodied face nearly unrecognizable.
The Killer Attempts to Flee
Derek fled in Crimson’s vehicle to San Diego where he had planned to cross the border to avoid prosecution. But he inexplicably returned a few days later and ultimately turned himself in. My partner and I were notified that Derek was in custody at East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station.
We sat down that night to interview him, hoping for a confession. It was never easy convincing a killer to talk to the cops. Derek said he had nothing to say. We showed him a crime scene photo. He shrugged and smirked. There was not the smallest trace of emotion when he reiterated he had nothing to say.
Derek was big, tall, and thick, naturally strong. His hands were large and powerful. I watched as he moved them about, rubbing the stubble on his face, scratching his arm, pushing his thick, dirty fingers through a mass of black hair. He folded his hands on the table between us and left them there. The hands that had killed a young lady just a few days earlier. For a moment, I wished he would raise them in an act of aggression against us, continuing with the tough-guy routine. But he wouldn’t; we were two, and we were men.
I Detested Him.
Before the trial began, my partner and I sat with the victim’s mother and father in a private room to prepare them for the exhibits and testimony they would see and hear in the courtroom. We showed them photographs from the scene and autopsy. They wept, they gasped, they fell apart; they always do.
This monster was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. (He is eligible for parole in 2021.) During the sentencing phase, Crimson Rose’s mother addressed him in an open courtroom. She looked him directly in his eyes and spoke with resolve as she forgave him for what he did to their daughter. She then gave him a Bible.
Derek had no response and showed no emotion.
I found her actions remarkable. I wanted an eye for an eye. Haul him out back and beat him to death or draw and quarter him. Hang him from a high tree or a light pole for all I cared. Assemble a firing squad; I’d volunteer. That’s how I felt about it. I wasn’t the forgiving type. To this day I can see the images of that brutal murder, and I think about the smirk on his face when we showed him the photographs of Crimson Rose lying dead on the floor of his apartment.
A Compassionate Woman
Several weeks after the sentencing, I received a package in the mail. It was from Crimson’s mother, and it contained a wooden cross necklace and a handwritten letter. In her letter, she spoke of the blood of Christ and redemption and forgiveness. She asked that I would always remember Crimson Rose.
There were times in my career when I questioned my faith, having seen the unspeakable violence and cruelty inflicted on the most vulnerable among us. Maybe that’s why twenty years later the cross still hangs on my wall. It serves as a reminder of a compassionate woman’s loss, and how her ability to forgive and to love in the worst of times had impacted my life.
May her daughter rest in peace.
* * *
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will share it with your family and friends.
I went to junior high and high school with Crimson and her little sister Jasmine. Crimson was so smart and studious, I envied her love of learning. She had the most beautiful handwriting and I once asked her how she achieved such penmanship. She said she practiced tracing letters with her fingers when she was bored. Lol ok Crimson. But it’s a silly habit of mines that I do to this day and when others compliment my handwriting, I share Crimson’s advice. I was away in college when I heard about her passing and it hurt me so much I left my studies for the day. Crimson was one of the few girls at our high school that didn’t mind praying for others, we could talk about the Bible and not feel weird. She has never been forgotten and I think of her family often. You never know how much someone will impact your life – thank you Crimson. For Jasmine: Baby sister… you and your little brother are always in my heart. There may be other siblings but I only knew of you two and she loved to talk about you guys. When you were a freshman, she was so proud of you playing sports. Soccer I think? Lol. It’s been so long but when I’m in the area I drive by the house and pray that the sun is shining for you guys, wherever you were. I too was a little dismayed to find this blog. I feel so protective of Crimson now as if she is my own to keep bottled up because she truly shaped a part of who I am. I hope this message finds her friends and family in a good space.
Thank you for sharing your story about Crimson.
I was friends with Crimson since the age of 5. Before her death she was making plans for her to visit me in Arizona for the birth of my second child. I think of her every day and even came a cross a framed picture of her in my closet. My daughter’s middle name is Rose in honor of her since I was pregnant when Crimson passed. She was an extraordinary woman and an even better friend. I loved her dearly and miss her regularly.
Thank you, Kimberly.
Crimson came to mind the other night. This evening I stumbled upon your blog. It brought back so many emotions that I had experienced as an 18 year old experiencing such a major loss in such a brutal way. I worked with her for a short time. I’ll never forget her glow and kindness she shared with those around her. I pray the monster who took her from this world never steps out from behind bars.
Thank you, Barbra. We’re doing our best to keep him there.
I worked with Crimson as well. She was a beautiful soul. I remember how she used to say “ I don’t have many friends”. Let me tell you, it was standing room only in the chapel when we attended her service. There were so many family and friends. I cried and whispered to her “ You had more friends than you knew”. It was a beautiful service and I think of her from time to time. I would see her father and siblings from time to time and her little brother. He adored her. Such a tragic ending. I never knew the details of her demise. All I knew was that she was beat to death. Never knew there was someone else in the apartment. It breaks my heart that this could have been prevented.
Thank you, Leanora. She was absolutely a beautiful soul.
I found about her murder from a lady who worked at Target Norco.i wish I could’ve attended her services.
I worked with Crimson at Target on Grand in chino California. I remember her big smile and her always great attitude in life.
Thank you, Kim.
Today, I was told this tragic story by the victim’s boyfriend; her new boyfriend at the time. He has been a customer of ours for a while but we never really talked until today. I began the conversation by asking if he’d ever met Sharon; a former co-worker of mine who’s boyfriend recently took her life. The look on his face as his eyes welled up gave me the impression that he had met Sharon and that he was only now learning of her death. I was wrong. He told me he had lost his girlfriend the same way in 1998 and began telling me her story. The details horrified me. He explained how he relives their last conversation just before she left to go to her ex-boyfriend’s apartment to retrieve her things. He was supposed to go with her and was determined to go no matter what but she had insisted that his presence would only provoke her ex and she thought she would be fine to go alone. To this day, the guilt still resonates and haunts him whenever he looks at her name tattooed on his forearm. I asked him her name and found this blog and I hope and pray that the monster responsible for taking her life rots in prison and is never granted parole.
If possible, could you please provide me an address to send a letter to help keep him locked up, if I’m not already too late. Thank you so much. My deepest condolences for your loss and to all the families and friends who have been down a similar road. God Bless.
Audra L. Stanovich
Audra, thank you for sharing that. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this.
Unfortunately, they are seriously considering his parole now, and we’ve been fighting it. I am not sure if people not directly related to the case can send letters, but I’ll find out for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I remember to let you know.
Thank you, and God bless!
I’m Crimson’s best friend and we are doing our best to keep her murderer behind bars. His parole hearing is November 4th. I think of Crimson’s boyfriend at the time of her murder and I pray he is doing well. I met him for the first time at her funeral and one time at her gravesite on her birthday a couple of years later. Please let him know that I think of him often and I hate that he holds on to the guilt. We have never blamed him nor thought the outcome would have been different.
Her merder is at the parole for the second time. We have 30 days from now to write a letter stating why he should not be released. We have found out that not only did he murder her he murdered his soulmate and attempted murder
Her murderer is up for parole for the second time. We have 30 days from now to write a letter stating why he should not be released. We also found out that not only did he murder her he murdered his Cellmate and attempted to murder someone else while he has been locked up. Please help us to stop this criminal from getting out and murdering someone else.
Hi Brandy, can you email me the information on where and to whom to send a letter? Thank you. email@example.com
This was a very moving story and a reminder that the things we see as police stay with us long after the case has been closed. The emotional wall that I erected to keep my sanity when I still on the job has gotten a lot of holes in it as sometimes late at night I recall and relive some of those experiences I once blotted out. I could never be as forgiving as the victim’s mother was. What a courageous lady. I mourn for all the victims and their families. Danny, know that you made a difference by caring and helping others as much as you could.
You’re spot on, my friend. Thank you, Mike.
Great blog, Danny. Every cop who ever lived has wanted to enforce justice on those cowardly bullies who hurt and/or kill those weaker than themselves. Early in my police career, I was taking some classes on the Constitution and the instructor, W. Cleon Skousen, made a very wise observation. Skousen had been an FBI agent and later the Chief of Police of Salt Lake City. He said that if it had been Constitutional, he only would have hired officers who were had a strong religious belief in God. The reason was that cops see so much pain and suffering (and injustice when crooks are released on technicalities), that there is strong urge to dispense “street justice”. With a strong belief in a just God, even if the dirtbag gets away with his crime, the cop knows he will pay for it later.
That is very profound. Thanks for sharing it, Buz!
Great blog, and even better discourse.
Sadly, we can never leave all of it behind. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, sir.
The past never stays there for a lot of us. There will always be the memento, the old photo or the case file found at the bottom of the desk drawer
No one really is gone forever if they still exist in our hearts… bittersweet sometimes.
Nicely written son
Thanks, Mike. Well said.
It takes a lot of courage to forgive, and harder still to ask the question of “Why”? No trial and no proceeding ever comes close to answering that question, and that is the hurt that keeps many victims or survivors and their families awake at night.
Whether its Faith or Karma, eventually there is real justice one way or another. That trash that hurt innocent families find out the hard way that “Justice” Prevails. Whether they get severely beatdown and possibly sodomized in the shower room or stabbed to death in an agonizing way with rusty prison shanks, Justice Like Life, Finds a Way.
I detest those that hurt innocent children and innocent animals. Maybe its from being bullied myself, but I see a time where the justice system will be made weak on purpose to allow this trash to roam the streets until the People enact Street Justice of their own. Lots of prisoners sadly are using the Covid-19 excuse to fight for early release, and this trash who destroyed a family with his actions might be released earlier than 2021 if the Covid-19 excuse plays out in his favor. Newsom is way out of touch with reality, and his strategy of “Teddy Bears and Hugs” does not work on hardened criminals.
Keep the Faith Det. Smith. Faith is something that no one can take away from you, and to see evil of this nature is a lesson to be the best father and husband you can be. With so much injustices you witnessed in your career, its understandable to have anger at the worst this society has produced. Thank you for this reflection.
Thank you, Raul.
I am someone that rented a room to get when she worked at target , unfortunately I heard of the news from a tenant.. She was the most beautiful and kind person.. So sorry , my husband and I had admire her ability to hold down a job and budget her bills. God bless her family. I had a house on ridge gate drive and that was her first rental! I met her parents.
Thank you for the comments, Nicole.
Great blog it really shows your heart and caring soul.
We all have those ones you can never forget but try so hard to hide them away. I hope the family and others who read this blog understands how cops really feel when they work these types of cases.
That TOUGH GUY KIT we were given always lets a little pain through. I for one appreciate all you have done and sacrificed for people you had never known. Take care my friend.
Thank you for those kind words and sentiments, Kay. You’re a good man.
If there is no law, wouldn’t it be common courtesy to notify her family that you were going to write about her? She has more than just a mother who survived her
Ms. Gates, I apologize for not notifying you but it honestly hadn’t occurred to me to do so. No, there is no law, just as the press is free to print any story. I guess perhaps it would have been courteous to notify you, but it could also have been an unwanted intrusion. (Also, being retired, I have none of your contact information.) This was written more than two years ago. I didn’t use her last name, and I wrote it with love, respect, and a heavy heart. I’m sorry it upset you.
Detective Smith. I appreciate your reply. My sister’s death was extremely traumatic for our family, and though my mom, Crimson’s mom, is an unusually forgiving woman, I am not. Seeing your blog for the first time today was a kick in the guts for me. It is obviously very personal for us, and my first reaction was one of hurt, anger, and feeling exploited. I must say though, that my reaction does not mean you are wrong for telling the story as you experienced it as a detective. I must acknowledge the fact that this trauma was a part of your life as much as it has been a part of mine. I guess it goes to show that the ripple effects of a murder are never limited to just the victim.
I suppose I should end by saying thank you for having worked her case, for remembering her, and for remembering my mom. Brandy spoke with my parents today, and I’m sure my mom appreciated your sentiments.
Thank you for your response. Again, I apologize for any hurt I have caused. Thank you for your well-thought message as it is right on point. God bless you and yours, Danny
As a human being and a mother this saddens and angers me. I could never be as compassionate as Crimson’s mother.
Nor could I, Jody.
Detective, you mentioned he would be up for parole in 2021. When sentenced, he was given 26 years to life, one year added to the 25 because of a past transgression. That would put parole eligibility at 2025, would it not? I am sorry to reach out to you this way, but our family is now worried that we will miss our chance to give a statement to the parole board. Do you know if there is someone or some department we should reach out to?
Hi Jasmine, thanks for reaching out to me. If you ever want to contact me directly, you can do so through the contact form on my website.
The blog was written some time ago, and at that time the California Department of Corrections had him listed as eligible for parole in 2021. However, after seeing this comment, I went back to the CDC website (cdcr.ca.gov) and I now see that in April 2020 he had a hearing (apparently a year early) but they denied his parole and set the next hearing for April 2023.
If you go to the website and search inmate locater, you can see all of this for yourself by clicking the orange button that says ‘View Board of Parole’s Hearing Actions.’
You can also find under “Additional Inforamtion” the contact information for victim family members. I suggest you contact them and make sure that your family are on the list to be notified of all future hearings and proceedings.
Although I now live in Idaho, I will gladly appear at any parole hearing to protest his release if necessary. Just let me know.
Crimson Rose was my best friend. She was coming to my house that Friday and I was going to tell her I was pregnant with my first child. I waited and waited for her to come over. I called her parents after I heard of a murder on the news of a woman stabbed to death in Gardena California. Later finding out it was not with a knife but with his own hands, feed and and a candle used for prayer. When I spoke with Crimsons dad I told him I was worried after hearing this on the news and he said he had heard it too. I prayed it wasn’t her but a few hours later I got a call from her roommate asking for Crimsons parents phone number. I said to her roommate “shes dead isn’t she”. Her roommate said I can’t talk right now I just need her parents phone number. I knew she was gone. I knew he had killed her. I knew I lost my best friend. I remember like it was yesterday I remember every moment of that horrible day. On August 19, 1998 I gave birth to my daughter and I named her Taylor Rose. Crimson Rose there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. I still cry but I cherish the time we had together. I love you
Brandy, thank you for sharing this with me. What a beautiful sentiment that you gave your own daughter Crimson’s middle name. Very lovely indeed. God bless. If you are in contact with her parents, I would love for her mother to read this blog and to know of the impact she and her gift had on my life. Danny
For some reason I decided to google her name to see if I could find a news article from when this happened and your story came up. Thank you for writing this. She was my friend and a beautiful young lady who loved life. I think of her often.
Beverley, I am so happy you commented. Such a tragic case, such a wonderful family. Thank you! Danny Smith (Dickie Floyd is a pen name)
Loved this story. I agree with you. Tall tree, short rope. Or maybe drag hanging through a cactus field. Just finished A Good Bunch of Men. Great story! I never worked Homicide, but I feel I knew all those characters. Looking forward to the next one. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, sir!
Well done. Great insight into the darkest side of humanity. These experiences never leave us. Memories can be painful and often destructive.
You are blessed with a talent to describe our travels with such eloquence and emotion.
Thank you and best wishes for continued success.
Mike, thank you, it means a lot!
Hang em high. You know my level of forgiveness.
Patrick, settle down. (:
Loved the story! Don’t remember the case, but, as we all know, there are always a few cases in our career that stay with us forever. I have mine, this is obviously one of yours.
Wow…..That’s another jug of water I didn’t know you were carrying. You amaze me. I’m glad you aren’t picking up any more along the way. You’re carried enough for any 20 men.
Thanks, Deedub. A lot of good men carry more than me though, and like you, I appreciate their sacrifice.