Sophia Palmer (senior at Paonia High School): Lemme just say, I didn’t kill Eva Flores.
Ethan Switalski (senior at Paonia High School): Soph came running to my house after the whole sheriff thing, and I knew it looked bad for her. That stupid curse. God... I just… [Exhales, looks out the window and stops talking.]
Sophia: The sheriff’s office… I… [Pause.] After everything that went down, I knew they’d think it was me. I mean, I knew it. Right? But I’m not a murderer. I’m not an arsonist.
Ethan: They kept her there for hours, interviewing her. Probably illegal with no lawyer and stuff. So when she came to my house, she was literally shaking.
Sophia: I was just driving by when I saw the sheriff’s car and fire truck. So I stopped on the side of the road to watch. [Bites her lip, looks at her hands.] I mean, who wouldn’t do that?
Ethan: Soph kind of, you know, stumbled through my door. Said she’d been talking to Sheriff Rawlings. For like, forever. And he was being all nice, trying to get her to confess to some gruesome crime or something. Anyways, Sophia’s all, I’m too young to go to jail.
Sophia: I just kept staring at the lodge—it was like passing by a car wreck and you can’t look away. The black grassy field, so weird, so burnt. It snaked its way up to the river. Literally scorched the pine trees, circled the lodge. I couldn’t stop looking. There were these black holes on the edges of the roof. But then I saw Dakota’s dad, and he saw me. I sank deeper into my seat.
Delta County Sheriff Goeffrey Rawlings: I saw her right away. She pretended not to notice, but I wanted to talk to this girl. I’d heard stories about her. Mostly from my own kid.
Ethan: I guess he knocked on her window.
Sophia: He scared the shit out of me. [Covers her mouth.] Sorry. [Takes a sip of tea from a ceramic mug.] But he did.
Sheriff Rawlings: I motioned for her to roll down the window.
Sophia: I kind of froze.
Sheriff Rawlings: That was it. That two-second delay in rolling down the window? I knew I needed to interview Ms. Palmer.
Sophia: It’s funny how some things just stay with you. That moment. [Looks to the corner of the room.] I remember the little rattle of the window when I rolled it down. And then when the smoky air came into my car... I don’t know. My brain was moving in slow motion. He said, “You’re friends with that Eva girl, now, aren’t you?” I just shrugged. I mean, I wasn’t friends with her. He asked me why I was sitting out there.
Ethan: It took like an hour to get her to stop shaking. She just kept on repeating I didn’t do anything. I knew that. Me and Morgan knew that. But it was like, I don’t know… Like she was trying to convince herself that she didn’t do something. Like the more she said it, the more she could control things again… That damn journal.
Sheriff Rawlings: After our talk that night, we found them. The journal. The Snaps. The texts. The bloody jacket. Unwinding this story all took time. As you’ll see. But I think the kids just honestly made up some crazy story.