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Mar 1 2009

Dart Award Honorable Mention

Aftershocks of a Crime Spree

6:15 A.M.

Outside an apartment building in White Lake, Doyle is waiting in the truck with the engine running and the radio blaring. Dando walks across the parking lot toward a white 1994 Geo Tracker.

Outside an apartment building in White Lake, Doyle is waiting in the truck with the engine running and the radio blaring. Dando walks across the parking lot toward a white 1994 Geo Tracker.

George Cubitt, 50, sits in the Tracker, letting it warm up before going to Dunkin' Donuts, to drink coffee and hang out with some friends -- his morning ritual since he quit work as a carpenter to have heart surgery seven months ago.

"Can you give me a ride to Kroger?" Dando asks. "I want to go to Kroger. I live behind Kroger. I want to get home before my mom gets home."

She looks familiar, like one of his neighbors.

"Sure," he says.

It's on his way.

She gets into the passenger seat and doesn't say much. They drive down Highland Road, past the White Lake Township police station. A cop car is waiting to pull into the station and Dando holds her breath. She doesn't look in the rear-view mirror but she assumes that Doyle is following in the truck. That's the plan.

While smoking a Marlboro, she directs Cubitt to the back of Kroger.

When Cubitt stops to let her out, his door flies open and Doyle, in a red coat with a scarf around his face, sticks a shotgun in Cubitt's face.

"Don't move," Doyle screams. "Give me your wallet and car keys."

Dando gets out of the car quickly, afraid he is going to shoot and will hit her by mistake. She runs to the truck and gets in the passenger side. The radio is blaring Ozzy Osbourne. She loves Ozzy.

Cubitt stays calm. He reaches for his wallet in his back pocket.

"I said, don't move!"

"I'm getting my billfold."

Cubitt hands over his wallet and his keys.

Doyle gets into his truck and they speed away, heading east on M-59.

Dando searches through the wallet and finds $30 and two credit cards.

They go to the Amoco on Pontiac Lake Road and try to use the credit cards, but they are rejected. They fill up with $32 of premium gas and drive off without paying. The cashier calls the police. Later, she learns about the rest of the deadly crime spree on television. She will be rattled for weeks, afraid to work outside the bulletproof window unless all of the station's doors are locked.

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