A shotgun blast in a Kearns neighborhood the night of Dec. 13 ended the tumultuous life of Dee Dee Kaye Wach, a pretty 19-year-old blonde who, loved ones say, was trying to escape half a decade of wandering on the wild side.
Had things gone as planned, Dee Dee and childhood friend Ron Lynch - whom she had started dating in September - would be on their way to Phoenix now and attempting to leave their wayward histories behind them.They were waiting only for Dee Dee's divorce from Paul Wach to become final, hoping it would come by Christmas.
On Dec. 13, Dee Dee worked a regular evening shift as a plainclothes security officer at J.C. Penney's in Bountiful. After work, she returned to her parents' home on Thunderbird Way, where she and Lynch had been staying the past two months.
After she parked her car alongside the curb, another car stopped in front of the driveway.
Someone in the car apparently asked Dee Dee for some assistance, then leveled a 12-gauge shotgun and shot her in the chest at close range. Dee Dee, bleeding profusely, stumbled to the front door and pounded hard.
Her parents, who had just gone to bed, dashed to the living room.
"As I opened the door, she just fell into my arms and I let her fall to the floor," said Ed Prince, Dee Dee's father. "She came clear to the house with her drink in one hand and her purse in her other hand."
While Mrs. Prince dialed 911, Prince began asking his dying daughter who shot her, but she did not respond.
"He was just asking for directions," Dee Dee said to the first Salt Lake County deputy sheriff to arrive, according to Prince.
She died in surgery hours later at LDS Hospital.
Sheriff's detectives are pursuing several leads but have so far have found no incriminating evidence.
What is known, however, is that Dee Dee's teenage years were tainted by violence and drugs. During the six months preceding her death, Dee Dee nearly killed her husband in self-defense, pursued a heated divorce involving a custody battle over the couple's infant daughter and, for a short time, faced felony charges of burglary and theft.
Dee Dee's family, Lynch and one of his friends talked with the Deseret News last week to tell her story. The newspaper was unable to locate her estranged husband for comment.
"By the time Dee Dee was 14 or 15, she had done it all," said her mother, Dorothy Prince. "She hadn't been the easiest child to raise."
Considering how Dee Dee had lived, the family was not completely shocked she died in violence. What gnaws at their hearts, though, is the fact that her death occurred during a time she was fighting her way back to respectability.
"We had agreed to stop smoking," said Lynch, 22, who himself had recently divorced. "We were also going to try to go back to church."
Dee Dee's parents said she met Paul Wach in November 1984. She and a friend, Christine Gallegos, both 15, were hitchhiking on south State Street when Paul, 23 at the time, stopped and gave them a ride. The ride turned into a trip to San Diego, but the party ended when police stopped Paul and arrested him on a probation violation.
(Six months later, in May 1985, Gallegos was shot to death on a street west of Derks Field. Her slaying - which was later linked to the fatal shootings of two other young women in 1986 - has yet to be solved.)
Dee Dee and Paul married in March 1986. According to her family, the marriage was never on firm ground. "Dee Dee was always coming over to stay with us," said her mother.
Most of the girl's time, though, was spent "cruising" the streets. Salt Lake police knew Dee Dee and occasionally depended on her for information. "She knew a heck of a lot of people. She helped us out a lot," said Jim F.G. Bell, lead detective on the Salt Lake Homicide Task Force, which was formed to investigate the death of Gallegos and the two other related slayings.
On Jan. 31, 1987, Dee Dee got something she had wanted all her adolescent life: a baby girl. She and Paul named the infant Heather.
A year later, Dee Dee, who had been staying with her family for about a month, and Paul got together at a friend's house to celebrate the child's first birthday.
It was not a fun party. Paul pulled a gun and "threatened to kill me if I didn't come back to him," according to a statement Dee Dee wrote in support of a spouse abuse complaint she filed in 3rd District Court last Feb. 2.
But a protective order was never served and Dee Dee eventually went back to Paul and worked at his business, Class Act Entertainment and Escort. Police often consider escort services to be fronts for prostitution.
In fact, according to a district court affidavit signed by one of Class Act's female employees, "(Paul Wach) employs several girls for prostitution services as part of his escort business and solicited both (me) and (Dee Dee) to work for him as prostitutes."
Another escort told Dee Dee's family that Dee Dee didn't do escort appointments involving sex acts.
Her loved ones do believe, however, that Paul introduced her to "heavy" drugs, which she used occasionally. According to an affidavit filed by a former escort who has since moved out of state, "(Paul) used large quantities of drugs, in particular, (I) witnessed (Paul) free-basing cocaine on numerous occasions."
The root of Dee Dee's problems with her husband, though, was his violence toward her, according to several affidavits filed by Dee Dee, her friends and her mother.
The conflict peaked on June 20. Dee Dee and Paul, who were living together at their home, argued most of the day, according to police reports and court records. Dee Dee, having suffered a blackened eye and contusions on her head, packed her bags, took Heather and fled to the Princes' residence.
About 11:30 p.m., Paul forced his way into the Prince home, knocked Mrs. Prince to the floor, assaulted Dee Dee and attempted to take custody of Heather, according to the documents. Dee Dee grabbed a large kitchen knife and plunged it into Paul's abdomen. During his five-day stay in Pioneer Valley Hospital, Paul was served a court order to stay away from Dee Dee.
The Salt Lake County attorney's office refused to prosecute Dee Dee, ruling the stabbing was in self-defense.
Shortly after being discharged from the hospital, Paul filed for divorce, asking for custody of the child and claiming Dee Dee to be an unfit parent.
Dee Dee filed a divorce and custody counterclaim, alleging Paul was unfit to be a parent.
An affidavit signed and filed in court by Dee Dee in September states, "(Paul) has repeatedly threatened violence against (me), (my) family and friends and has exhibited violent behavior and outbursts . . . wherein he has assaulted and injured (me), (my) mother and has threatened physical violence against (Heather)."
Affidavits filed in support of Paul by two acquaintances of the couple accuse Dee Dee of being violent, irresponsible, an adulteress, a liar and a drug user.
In September, Dee Dee, who had been living with a roommate in an apartment, encountered Lynch, whom she had known for 10 years, and they began dating. Dee Dee also took a security job at J.C. Penney's in Bountiful. Her supervisor said she was an excellent employee, well liked by other employees.
Two months later, on Nov. 1, Dee Dee and Lynch moved in with her parents. That same month, Barbara Pearce, a state Division of Family Services worker, sent a letter to 3rd District Judge Scott Daniels, recommending that Dee Dee be given custody of Heather, whom Dee Dee had been keeping from Paul because of his threats of violence and threats to remove the baby to California, according to court documents.
"I want to get on with my life," wrote Dee Dee in an affidavit filed in November. "I want Paul Wach completely out of my life. . . . I am in constant fear for the safety and well-being of my infant daughter because of Paul's threats toward me."
According to her family and friends, things were going well for Dee Dee in November and the first week in December.
"She was happy," said Mrs. Prince. "We had a mother-daughter relationship that we never had before."
Then, on Dec. 8, Salt Lake police detective Tom Olsen appeared on the front porch of the Princes' modest white-brick rambler with an arrest warrant in hand charging Dee Dee with the July 23 burglary of an eastside Salt Lake home. Dee Dee was booked into jail that night, then released the next day on her own recognizance.
The criminal complaint was based largely on statements by Paul Wach and his associate, Randy Pollock, who is currently in Utah State Prison. The two men told police they took Dee Dee to the eastside Salt Lake neighborhood last July to do a "trick," or a sexual act for hire. When she came back to the car, she had jewelry that she claimed was given to her as payment, the men alleged. The men said they later learned the property was stolen and so they contacted police.
The Deseret News learned that Paul and Pollock had been granted immunity from prosecution for testifying against Dee Dee.
"Those charges just tore her apart," said a defiant Mrs. Prince. "She is totally innocent. She was with me and 10 other women the night that the burglary was supposed to have occurred. We could have proved she didn't do it."
The woman's family and friends and several authorities believe Dee Dee was framed in an effort to bolster Paul's divorce and custody cases.
Five days after her arrest on the burglary and theft charges, Dee Dee was gunned down.
"We're still investigating it 100 percent," said sheriff's detective Dick Judd on Friday. "We've still got some people to talk to. No arrests are imminent but we're going to unravel it."
Meanwhile, Daniels has granted temporary custody of Heather to Ed and Dorothy Prince with no visitation rights for Paul pending a Jan. 17 hearing.