On February 18, Denver serial rapist Brent J. Brents nearly beat 33-year-old Tiffany Engle to death. She was his last victim—and she is also my friend.

October 2005

This article won a 2006 Western Publication Association Maggie Award in the personality profile category.

Friday Evening, Feb. 18, just before 5:30 p.m.
She didn't want to go. Tiffany Engle jumped in her new, charcoal-gray Mazda 6 and argued with herself in the front seat. A brokerage assistant at Marcus & Millichap in downtown Denver, she also managed two apartment buildings on nights and weekends for the extra cash. She needed to double-check a maintenance job at one of her buildings, but knowing she still hadn't packed for a weekend road trip she just wasn't in the mood. She would've rather gone home, popped something in the microwave, cleaned up a bit, and relaxed. She reminded herself this was only her job for two more weeks-after all, she'd already turned in her notice. But the Midwestern work ethic-a personality trait that so far had served the Iowa native well-kicked in. Besides, it would only take 10 minutes to make sure some windows had been properly replaced.

She zipped down familiar Denver roads to 19th Avenue, took a right on Park Avenue, and crossed over Colfax Avenue to Franklin Street. Still making a mental checklist for the things she needed to pack later that night, she took a right onto 13th Street and then south on Marion Street, just west of Denver's Cheesman Park.

The building at 1057 Marion St. looks out of place in the neighborhood. Built in 1957, the long, rectangular box with seven apartment units is an ugly duckling among the deep-red brick of circa-1900 bungalows and Denver Squares. On an otherwise lively block, 1057 Marion was only half-full with tenants. It was 5:30 p.m. and the February sun was setting as Tiffany grabbed her car keys and the keys to Apartment No. 4. The tall, slender blonde with freckled Irish skin walked down the narrow pathway along the side of the building to a recessed doorway, her high-heeled boots clicking along the cement.

Opening the door, she stepped onto a landing, walked down a short flight of stairs, and turned to her left. Just a few feet in front of her, she saw something that made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand up straight: A nude young woman and a naked man stood in the hallway. Tiffany didn't know it, but she'd stumbled in upon serial rapist Brent J. Brents and his hostage. Behind him, on the floor of the otherwise empty apartment, was a two-by-four.