Now Brae was grappling with the death of her stepfather -- whom she called Daddy -- all alone in a police station in downtown San Diego. After she was questioned, she asked to be taken to Bonnie and Rick MacNeil's house.
Later that evening, detectives visited Brae again so they could photograph her wrist wounds made by the zip ties. While being questioned for a second time about what had happened, Brae suddenly blurted out a name she hadn't mentioned before.
"I heard my dad ask [the intruder], 'Why are you doing this, Nathan?'" Brae said. "That's all I know... ."
Stunned detectives tried to wrap their heads around the new information.
"She said this name, 'Nathan,' and she goes, 'It's not my brother, my brother's named Nathan, but it's not him,'" said Det. Burkett.
"She started to get a little more defensive," said Smith. "Brae volunteered that she had a brother named Nathan, but Nathan was definitely not the killer."
Police recorded the revised statement and began to wonder if there was even more to the story. Nathan lived in Arizona and seemed to be a clean-cut student with a bit of a goofball Internet presence. Could he have been involved in the awful crime?
Could Brae herself be involved? All signs pointed to the fact that she adored her stepfather -- he had doted on her and she had, by all accounts, adored him in return.
At the MacNeil house, Rick and Bonnie were beginning to have doubts as well. Brae's demeanor had changed and her story seemed to be fluctuating.
It was another slip of the tongue that started things moving. While looking at reports about the crime published on the Internet, Rick and Bonnie's daughter, Shelly, pulled up a police sketch of the killer. Brae glanced at the computer and remarked that the sketch wasn't correct -- the jaw line of the intruder was not how it had been drawn.
Shelly froze as she realized that Brae was contradicting herself. After all, Brae had claimed a black mask completely obscured the intruder's face. Now she was saying she'd seen him.
Shelly told her parents, who advised her to call the police. It was the beginning of an evening that would change the lives of all involved.
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