There is a photograph. A blond girl lets out a wail. Her head is thrown back, caught in her own hands: palms against her temples, fingers burrowing into her scalp. Her mouth is wide open, eyes squeezed shut. She became the image of Columbine. Throughout Clement Park Tuesday afternoon, and in the photos that captured the experience, the pattern repeated: boy or girl, adult or child, nearly everyone was clenching something--a hand, her knees, his head, each other. Before those pictures hit the newsstands, the survivors had changed. Kids drifted into Clement Park on Wednesday morning unclenched. Their eyes were dry, their faces slack. Their expressions had gone vacant. Most of the parents were crying, but almost none of their kids were. They were so quiet it was unsettling. Hundreds of teenagers and not a whiff of nervous energy. Here and there a girl would sob and a boy would rush over to hug her--boys practically fought over who would provide the hugs--but those were brief exceptions. They were aware of the blankness. Acutely. They didn't understand it, but they saw it and discussed it candidly. A vast number said they felt they were watching a movie. The lack of bodies contributed to the problem--they were still inside the perimeter. None of the names had been released. The school was effectively gone. Nobody but police could get near it. It wasn't even visible from the line of police tape where everyone gathered. Students had a pretty good idea of who had been killed. All the murders had been witnessed, and word spread quickly. But so many stories had turned out to be wrong. Doubt persisted. Everyone seemed to have at least a few people unaccounted for. "How can we cry when we don't know who we are crying for?" one girl asked. And yet she had cried. She had cried most of the night, she said. By morning, she had run out of tears. ____ No one from the sheriff's department called Brian Rohrbough. No officer appeared on the doorstep to inform him that his son had been killed. The phone woke Brian Wednesday. It was a friend calling to warn him, before he picked up the Rocky Mountain News. There was a picture. Brian flipped past the huge HEARTBREAK HEADLINE, the dozens of stories and diagrams and pictures of clenched survivors, none of whom were his boy. He stopped at page 13. It was an overhead shot from a news chopper, but the photo filled half the page, so the subjects were large and unmistakable. Half a dozen students huddled behind a car in the parking lot with a policeman squeezed in beside them, squatting behind the wheel for cover, his rifle mounted across the trunk, eyes to the gun sight, finger on the trigger. A boy lay unprotected on the sidewalk nearby. He was out in the open, collapsed on his side, one knee curled up toward his chest, both arms splayed. "Motionless," the caption read. An enormous pool of blood, nearly the size of his body, stained the concrete a foot away and trickled down the crevice between two sidewalk squares. The victim was unidentified, his face blurry and almost completely obscured by the angle. But Brian Rohrbough knew. He never turned to page 14. Brian was a tall man with the heavy build of a laborer. He had a long, puffy face with receding silver hair that accentuated his clenched brow: deep grooves stacked up across his forehead, over a pair of vertical gashes above the bridge of his nose. Danny looked remarkably similar, though he had yet to grow into all his features or develop the worry lines. Danny was all Brian had. He and Sue had divorced when their son was four. Sue had remarried, but Brian had not. He had his custom audio business. It was successful, and he loved it, but the best part was that Danny did, too. He had been toddling around the workshop since he could walk. By seven, he was building wiring harnesses and running speaker wire. In junior high he started working for real weekdays after school. Brian and Sue had a friendly divorce and lived only a few blocks apart, but Danny could never get enough time with his father. The shop was such a cool hangout for a high school boy: a big, greasy garage filled with power tools and hundred-thousand-dollar vintage cars up on blocks. Danny helped fit them with opera-caliber sound systems worth more than his wealthier friends' cars. Depending on the project, the place might reek of burnt rubber or prickly epoxy fumes. When Brian manned the buzz saw, the sweet smell of fresh-cut cherrywood wafted into the street. Danny was a natural. He loved cars and he loved sound. He was great with the PC and had an ear for pitch. He liked to mess around with computer programs and was promising to take the business in a new direction. And he knew how to behave. Brian catered to some of the oldest and richest families in Colorado. Danny had grown up in their houses. He knew the drill. He was a charmer, and Brian reveled in showing him off. A few months ago, Danny had come to a decision: college was not for him. He would go straight into the business from Columbine, make a career of it. Brian was ecstatic. In three years, he would make his son a partner. In four weeks, Danny was going to spend his first summer working at the shop full-time. Wednesday morning, as soon as he saw the picture, Brian got in his car. He drove to Columbine. He stormed up to the perimeter and demanded his boy's body. The cops there said no. Not only were they not turning Danny over, they had not brought him inside. Danny was still out there, lying on the sidewalk; he had weathered the elements all night. Too many bombs, the authorities said--the body could be booby-trapped. Brian knew he wasn't getting a straight answer. Bomb squads had been clearing the school since Tuesday afternoon; Brian's son just wasn't a priority. Brian couldn't believe they were treating a victim's body so cavalierly. Then it began to snow. Danny lay out on that sidewalk for twenty-eight hours. ____ Misty Bernall started Wednesday at three A.M. She had slept a little, drifting in and out. Nightmares would jolt her awake: Cassie trapped in the building, huddled in the dark in some closet or lying on the cold tile floor. Her daughter needed her. She's over the fence a hundred yards away, Misty thought, and they won't let us get to her. She gave up and took a shower. Brad did, too. They dressed and crossed the backyard to the perimeter. A cop was standing guard. Brad told him Cassie was in there. He implored the cop give it to them straight. "We just want to know if there is anyone still alive in there." The cop paused. "No," he said finally. "No one left alive." They thanked him. "We appreciate your honesty," Misty said. But Misty wasn't giving up. The cop could be wrong. Or Cassie might be lying in a hospital, unidentified. Misty kept trying the perimeter all morning. She was rebuffed each time. Then the parents were alerted to return to Leawood. Brad and Misty headed right over. They waited for hours. District attorney Dave Thomas arrived around 1:30. He still had the list of the deceased. It had not changed; nor had it been confirmed. The coroner required another twenty-four hours. So he decided to risk it. He informed the families one by one. "I don't know how to tell you this," he told Bob Curnow. "You don't have to," Curnow said. "It's written on your face." Misty took it hard, but she did not take it definitively. The DA said Cassie was dead, but he also said it was unofficial. Hope gradually dissolved into anger. If Cassie were dead, Misty wanted her body out of that library and attended to. ____ Linda Sanders's family awaited the news at her home. By Wednesday afternoon, the house was packed with friends and relatives. Everyone knew what was coming. News crews set up a row of cameras to capture the moment of agony. "Be ready," a victim's advocate told Melody. "Be prepared to support your sister." A patrol car pulled up just before three P.M. The deputy rang the bell, and Melody let him in. Linda was still not ready to hear it. "We have tentatively identified your husband as a victim at Columbine," he said. Linda screamed. Then she threw up. ____ Frank DeAngelis didn't know if he was safe yet. He woke up at his brother's house on Wednesday, because he had been advised against staying at his own home. His car was sealed off inside the perimeter, so an assistant principal was on his way to pick Frank up before dawn. He was headed for meetings, to figure out what to do. What on earth were they going to do? And what could he say? They were coming to hear him at ten A.M. Kids, parents, teachers--anyone aching--had been told to gather at Light of the World, a large Catholic church, one of the few venues large enough. They would look to him for answers. He had none. Frank had lain awake much of the night grappling with it. "God, give me some guidance," he'd prayed. Morning came, and he was no closer. He was consumed with guilt. "My job is to provide an environment that's safe," he said later. "I let so many people down." Light of the World seats eight hundred and fifty and every pew was packed, with hundreds more students and parents standing against the walls. A parade of local officials took the podium in turn, trying to console the kids, who were inconsolable. The students applauded each speaker politely. Nobody was getting through. Mr. D would settle for polite applause. He was hoping he wouldn't get lynched. Did he deserve to be? He had no speech prepared, no notes--he just planned to tell them what he felt. His name was announced, he rose to approach the microphone, and the crowd leapt up from the pews. They were shouting, cheering, whistling, applauding--kids who hadn't registered a smile or a frown for hours were beating their palms together or pumping their fists, fighting back tears or letting them stream down their chins. Mr. D. buckled at the waist. He clutched his stomach and staggered around, turning his back to the audience, sobbing uncontrollably. His torso was parallel to the floor, shaking so hard it was visible from the last row. He stood there for a full minute while the crowd refused to subside. He couldn't face them; he couldn't right himself. "It was so strange," he said later. "I just couldn't control it; my body just went into convulsions. The reason I turned my back is I was feeling guilt. I was feeling shameful. And when they started clapping and standing, knowing I had their approval and support, that's when I broke down." He made it to the podium and began with an apology: "I am so sorry for what happened and for what you are feeling." He reassured them and promised to stand by them--"I will be there for you, whenever you need it"--but refused to sugarcoat what they were in for. "I'd like to take a wand and wipe away what you are feeling, but I can't do that. I'd like to tell you those scars will heal, but they will not," he said. His students were grateful for the candor. So many kids in Clement Park that morning would describe how tired they already were of hearing so many people tell them everything would be all right. They knew the truth; they just wanted to hear it. Mr. D. ended his speech by telling them he loved them. Each and every one of them. They needed to hear that, too. ____ Kids were having trouble with their parents, especially their moms. "It's kind of hard for me to sit at home," a boy said. "Like when my mom comes home, I try to stay out of the house." Lots of other boys nodded; more and more told the same story. Their mothers were so scared, and the fear hadn't abated when they'd found their kids; now they just wanted to hug them. Hug him/her forever--that was the refrain Tuesday. Wednesday, it was My mom doesn't understand. Emotionally, their mothers were wildly out of synch. At first, the kids needed the hugs badly; now they needed them to stop. ____ Most of the student body wandered the park, desperate to unload their stories. They needed adults to hear them, and their parents would not do. They found their audience: the press. Students were wary at first, but let their guards down quickly. Reporters seemed so understanding. Clement Park felt like an enormous confessional Wednesday. The kids would regret it. In the midst of it, a shriek pierced the media camp. Mourners froze, unsure of what to do. More screams: different voices, same direction. Hundreds ran toward them: students, journalists, everyone within hearing range. They found a dozen girls gathered around a single car that remained among the satellite trucks in a small lot on the edge of the park. It was Rachel Scott's car--the first girl shot dead. Rachel didn't have an assigned spot, so she had parked half a mile from the school on Tuesday. No one had come to claim the car. Now it was covered front to back with flowers and candles. Messages to Rachel in heaven had been soaped across the windows. Her girlfriends held hands in a semicircle around the back of the car, sobbing uncontrollably. One girl began to sing. Others followed. ____ The Harrises and Klebolds both hired attorneys. They had good reason: the presumption of guilt quickly landed on their shoulders. Investigators didn't expect to charge them, but the public did. National polls taken shortly after the attack would identify all sorts of culprits contributing to the tragedy: violent movies, video games, Goth culture, lax gun laws, bullies, and Satan. Eric did not make the list. Dylan didn't either. They were just kids. Something or someone must have led them astray. Wayne and Kathy and Tom and Sue were the chief suspects. They dwarfed all other causes, blamed by 85 percent of the population in a Gallup poll. They had the additional advantage of being alive, to be pursued. Their attorneys warned them to keep quiet. Neither family spoke to the press. Both released statements on Wednesday. "We cannot begin to convey our overwhelming sense of sorrow for everyone affected by this tragedy," the Klebolds said. "Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt apologies go out to the victims, their families, friends and the entire community. Like the rest of the country, we are struggling to understand why this happened, and ask that you please respect our privacy during this painful grieving period." The Harrises were more brief: "We want to express our heartfelt sympathy to the families of all the victims and to all the community for this senseless tragedy," they wrote. "Please say prayers for everyone touched by these terrible events." Dylan's brother stayed home from work for several days. Byron was nearly three years older than Dylan, but because of Dylan's early enrollment, just two years out of school. He was doing gofer work at an auto dealership: washing cars, shoveling snow, moving inventory around the lot. "It was an entry-level job, but man, he's good," a spokesman for the store told the Rocky Mountain News. His employers understood the need for time away. "It's shocking for everyone," the spokesman said. "We're a family here and we look out for each other. Our hearts go out to Byron. This kid's great." ____ Supervisory Special Agent Fuselier's concern Wednesday morning was the conspiracy. Everyone assumed the Columbine massacre was a conspiracy, including the cops. It was just too big, too bold, and too complex for a couple of kids to have imagined, much less pulled off. This looked like the work of eight or ten people. Every attack of this magnitude spawns conspiracy theories, but this time they appeared sound. The legacy of those theories, and Jeffco's response to them, would haunt the Columbine recovery in peculiar ways. Wednesday morning, Fuselier entered the ghastly crime scene. The hallways were scattered with shell casings, spent pipe bombs, and unexploded ordnance. Bullet holes and broken glass were everywhere. The library was soaked in blood; most of the bodies lay under tables. Fuselier had seen carnage, but still, it was awful. The sight that really stunned him was outside, on the sidewalk and the lawn. Danny Rohrbough and Rachel Scott were still out there. No one had even covered them. Years later, he shuddered at the memory. Fuselier arrived at Columbine as an FBI agent, but he would play a more significant role as a clinical psychologist. Altogether, he had spent three decades in the field; he'd started in private practice, then worked for the air force. A hostage-negotiation course in Okinawa changed his life. He could read people. He could talk them down. In 1981, Fuselier joined the FBI. He took a $5,000-a-year pay cut for a detective job, just to get a shot at the Bureau's Special Operations and Research Unit (SOARU)--the leading center of hostage-negotiation study in the world. Agent Fuselier worked his way up through standard casework and discovered he liked detective work, too. He got the assignment at SOARU, finally, and began a new career defusing gun battles. He would handle some of the nation's worst hostage crises, including the 1987 Atlanta prison siege and the Montana Freemen standoff. He was the FBI's last hope at Waco, and the final person to talk to David Koresh before the tanks rolled in. Fuselier spent most of his time at SOARU studying prior incidents and analyzing success rates. His team developed the fundamental tactics for hostage standoffs employed today. Fuselier became known for steadiness under pressure, but his heart was weakening, his temples were graying, and eventually he sought a quieter life. He moved his family to Colorado in 1991, and they settled into a tranquil neighborhood in Littleton. Fuselier would play the leading role in understanding the Columbine killers, but it was luck that drove him to the case. If his son Brian had not been attending that high school, Fuselier would not have even been assigned to the investigation. In fact, it's unlikely that the FBI would have played a major role. But because Fuselier arrived on the scene, established a rapport with the commanders, and offered federal support, FBI agents would play a major role on the team. Fuselier was one of the senior supervisory agents in the region and already had a relationship with local commanders, so he was placed in command of the FBI team. Before April 20, Fuselier headed up the domestic terrorism unit for the FBI in the region. For the next year, he delegated most of that responsibility. This was more important. Columbine was the crime of the century in Colorado, and the state assembled the largest team in its history to solve it. Nearly a hundred detectives gathered in Jeffco. More than a dozen agencies loaned out their best minds. The FBI contributed more than a dozen special agents, a remarkable number for a local investigation. Agent Fuselier, one of the senior psychologists in the entire Bureau, headed up the FBI team. Everyone else reported to Jeffco's Kate Battan, a brilliant detective, whose work unraveling complex white-collar crimes would serve her well. She reported to Division Chief John Kiekbusch, a rising star who had just been promoted to senior command. Kiekbusch and Fuselier each played an active daily role and consulted regularly about the overall progress of the case. The team identified eleven likely conspirators. Brooks Brown had the most suspicious story, and Chris Morris had admitted to hearing about bombs. Two others matched the descriptions for third and fourth shooters. Those four perched atop the list, with Dylan's prom date, Robyn Anderson, close behind. Bringing them to justice would require a Herculean effort. Detectives planned to question every student and teacher at Columbine and every friend, relative, and associate of the killers, past or present. They had five thousand interviews ahead of them in the next six months. They would snap thousands of photographs and compile more than 30,000 pages of evidence. The level of detail was exacting: every shell casing, bullet fragment, and shotgun pellet was inventoried--55 pages and 998 evidence ID numbers to distinguish every shard. The Jeffco command team hastily reserved a spot for Fuselier in the Columbine band room. The killers had made a mess of the place without setting foot inside it. Abandoned books, backpacks, sheet music, drum kits, and instruments were strewn among the shrapnel. The door was missing--blown away by the SWAT team searching for gunmen. Much of the school looked considerably worse. Pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails had burned through stretches of carpeting and set off the sprinkler system. The cafeteria was flooded, the library unspeakable. Veteran cops had staggered out in tears. "There were SWAT team people who were in Vietnam who were weeping over what they saw," District Attorney Dave Thomas said. The detective team was moving in. Every scrap of wreckage was evidence. They had 250,000 square feet of crime scene--just on the inside. Footprints, fingerprints, stray hairs, or gun residue could be anywhere. Crucial DNA evidence might be floating through the cafeteria. And live explosives might still be present, too. Detectives had stripped down Eric and Dylan's bedrooms, left the furniture, and hauled out much of the rest. The Klebold house yielded little--some yearbooks and a small stack of writings--but Dylan had wiped his hard drive clean. Eric's house provided a mother lode: journals, more computer rants, an audiotape, videotapes, budgets and diagrams and timelines... Eric had documented everything. He'd wanted us to know. ____ Adding to the sense of urgency--and conspiracy--was a cryptic message suggesting more possible violence to come. "We went scrambling for days trying to track that down," Fuselier said. They searched the school for explosives again. They raised the pressure on the probable conspirators. The detectives conducted five hundred interviews in the first seventytwo hours. It was a great boost, but it got chaotic. Battan was worried about witnesses, who were growing more compromised by the hour from what they read and saw on TV. Investigators prioritized: students who had seen the shooters came first. Other detectives headed to the suspects' childhood hometowns.