"I'd be very surprised," Ed said.
"What friends does Jesse have?" Walsh asked.
"Very few other than his brother, Ted," said Ed, who then told Walsh that Ted was a paraplegic who raced wheelchairs and that Jesse idolized his brother and spent most of his time with him. With prints from two pairs of shoes in the snow, Walsh did not consider Ted a suspect. Jesse had been fishing down at the lake, and he came walking up wearing water shoes, the day's catch dangling from his hand. When Walsh told him what Charity had said, Jesse smiled a nervous smile. Walsh said he would drive him to town for questioning.
"Jesse, you have to put shoes on," Debby said. Walsh asked to see all of Jesse's shoes. There they were, inside the front door, a pair of Nike ACG Tumacs. "Oh, those don't fit anymore," Jesse said.
"Those are your shoes!" Debby said.
Walsh scooped up the Tumacs. "You tell them the complete truth, Jesse," said Ed.
On videotape Walsh repeatedly asked Jesse who the shooter was, and Jesse agonized for more than an hour. "I don't know if I can say his name," he said. When he finally said, "My bro," the detectives who were watching the TV monitor let out a gasp. "I almost fell out of my chair," says Walsh.
The police arrested Ted that afternoon, at the INN office, and he confessed to Walsh immediately upon being told that Jesse had named him as the shooter. When the story hit the evening news, all those who had known Ted, in and out of wheelchair racing, sat stunned before their TV sets. "That's not the Ted Ernst we know," Gay Moddrell recalls thinking. "Couldn't be! It's a guy with the same name."
"The last guy in Flathead County that you would have ever suspected of killing Larry Streeter," says Dupont. "The last one."
It is Monday afternoon, Oct. 4, 1999, and Theodore Ernst is sitting in his chair, dressed in prison blue. He has wheeled himself into the recreation hall in the Montana State Prison at Deer Lodge, where he's serving a 100-year sentence, with no chance of parole, after pleading guilty on Dec. 10, 1998, to a charge of felony murder—that is, of deliberately committing homicide in the course of carrying out a burglary. Jesse pleaded to the same charge and was also sentenced to 100 years, with a chance of parole in 25. (He has appealed the sentence.) He too is housed in Deer Lodge.