1-12-08 Waiting for Monday….

Print version — http://jaygaskill.com/ReiserTimeLine.htm

1-12-08 Waiting for Monday….

About That Critical Time Line:

Yesterday’s post referenced a lengthy reintroduction to the Han Reiser case with a newly produced hypothetical time line (What did Hans do & when?). for those of you who have been closely following the case, the timeline follows this abbreviated setting. Brief comments then follow.


Nina was last seen alive (by anyone except her killer) at approximately 3:00 PM on September 3, Sunday of the 2006 Labor Day weekend. We know it was some time after 2:02 PM because it was then that she called Hans, probably to say she was running late to deliver the kids. In the mid afternoon Nina does leave both kids with Hans per their agreement.

What happened between 3 PM Sunday, September 3 and the time Hans’ mother returned from that weekend? What did Hans’ mother observe from the point she arrived?

The jury will soon be trying to imagine a scenario in which Hans’s could murder Nina out of sight of any witness, then dispose of the body in the hours following 3 PM September 3.

I think the DA may be able to argue that Hans accomplished several things that weekend: (1) He quietly killed his wife. (2) He temporarily put Nina’s body in the passenger seat of “his” car, that Honda CRX. (3) He moved Nina’s car to the place where it was eventually found. (4) He disposed of the body somewhere. (5) He washed his car in order to remove all Nina traces (the corpse might have begun to deteriorate by then). (6) Eventually, as police attention on him intensified, Hans removed and disposed of the CRX passenger seat.

How long would all that take? How much “alone” time did Hans have? It is very hard to conceal a human corpse for more than 12 hours without generating horrendous odors.


I’m indebted to Professor Maria Chang (political science, university if Nevada) who sat in on the DA’s opening statement and provided me with the basic outline for this hypothetical sequence.

Recall that two days after Nina’s last visit, on Sept 5, Hans gets a call from his mother at around 3-4 PM; she has returned from the Burning Man event in Nevada & she wants Hans to pick her up from her friend Mark’s house.

If – as we will assume for purposes of this hypothetical narrative – that Reiser has killed Nina but hasn’t yet figured out what to do with her remains, Hans knows he must now quickly dispose of the body. And he has but a few hours to accomplish that.

So he drives the CRX somewhere within a 2 to 3 hour perimeter & accomplishes at least a temporary disposal. [I note that this theory would then entail a further attempt to move the body to a more secure location still – say outside the Tahoe area?]

This urgent drive is stressful & exhausting. This theory explains why – when Hans shows up at Mark’s house that night, driving not the CRX but Mom’s hybrid —he is so exhausted that he must lie down on Mark’s couch in the living room to rest before he can drive his mother home.

After his mother goes to bed, Hans then takes the CRX out onto the driveway to hose it down – presumably to wash away incriminating evidence. This soaks the car floor & possibly gets water into the gas tank. That may explain why, on Sept 10, Hans buys a bottle of Valvoline fuel-dryer at Kragen Auto in San Lorenzo. That same day, Mom repossesses the Hybrid from Hans; so he must have the CRX in running condition.

The jury will probably assume that Hans had not yet removed the passenger seat on Sept 5 when he is seen by neighbor Jack Stabb hosing something in his driveway. [Hans may still think at this early point that he can wash away all the incriminating evidence, but seat fabric can retail biological traces.] The officer who gives Hans a ticket on Sept 12 does not report seeing anything unusual about the car. This is a close call – assuming Hans is the killer. The jury will also likely infer that Hans is so spooked by this encounter that he resolves to not drive the CRX.

Did Hans take – or plan to take the car to Manteca?

Hans may well have removed the passenger seat on Sept 17. That day, he was in Manteca where he bought a 40-piece socket set from Kragen Auto Parts. He would have used the socket set to take out the four bolts that anchored the passenger seat to the CRX’s floor. Hans had probably planned to rent a storage locker in Manteca because when he was taken into custody on Sept. 28, police found advertising flyers from a storage facility in Manteca; Hans had circled two locker sizes — 10’x15′ and 10’x20′. DA Hora has already suggested to the jury that the CRX (which measured 10×12) would have fit into the 10×15 locker.

Apparently Hans changed his mind about renting a locker to store the CRX. Instead, he rented a U-Haul truck for a one-way trip from Manteca to Oakland. Was he transporting the CRX? Some jurors will suspect that he intended to transport a body – and not necessarily to Oakland. The next day, Sept 18, Hans unknowingly led police to his CRX parked on Acton Street near the Claremont Hotel. He got into the car & drove it to Monterey Blvd. Then he left the car parked & jogged the 2+ miles back home to Exeter Drive.

When the CRX was recovered, the police noticed that the passenger seat was missing. It was taken to crime technicians the next morning who eventually found traces of Nina’s blood and that of the defendant.

Was the Manteca rental space really intended for a car that Hans eventually parked in Oakland?

We can reasonably suspect (again as we pursue the hypothetical path of a killer seeking to hide evidence) that Hans’ goal was to move something from somewhere near Manteca to a still more remote location. In this connection we note that, in the prosecution’s opening statement, Mr. Hora asserted that on Sept. 24, Hans Reiser was in the Tahoe region. Reiser withdrew cash from 3 ATMs in Truckee. He also bought a phone card in Roseville on Sept. 27. Wherever Nina’s remains are, the much larger perimeter suggested by Hans’ presence in Truckee/Tahoe has created an impossibly large search field, especially if the body has been well hidden from causal observers.


I expect the defendant to testify in this case for a simple reason: Assume he says – – as I expect he will say – that he last saw his wife alive when he left the house on September 3, 2006 and he has had no contact with her since. Then if only one juror chooses believe him, there can be no conviction of murder.

Of course, if Hans is trapped in a lie, all bets are off….

If Hans testifies, you can expect the defense to quickly rest its case. Why? Everything Hans says – – where he disposed of the car seat, what he was doing in Truckee, and so on – is subject to investigation and possible rebuttal. The DA’s investigators will have very little time to do this. Expect the DA to put on some minor rebuttal witnesses to buy time, hoping for a long weekend recess. The investigators will be working overtime.


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