Saundra stayed on the phone with Cherica and heard her repeat these things to Carruth. And she heard Carruth talk her daughter back into going.
No, no, no, he said. I'm going. I'm leaving right now. Let's get your things. Let's go to the car.
And they got in his tricked-out white Ford Expedition and headed off to the Regal Cinemas for a late screening of The Bone Collector, with plans to return to Carruth's house afterward.
Cherica's roommate later testified that around midnight she got a phone call. Cherica was heading home. Carruth was coming with her. This was a total surprise. Cherica had left the apartment in disarray. She asked the roommate to straighten up her bedroom. A prosecutor would later say this change of venue was a crucial part of Carruth's plan.
It was 10 miles north from his house to Cherica's apartment. He drove the white Expedition, and she followed in the black BMW. Behind her was a gold Nissan Maxima that contained Little Man and New York.
Rea Road is one of the prettiest drives in metropolitan Charlotte. Going north from I-485, it's a winding four-lane avenue divided by a tree-lined median. You cross a bridge over Four Mile Creek, and at Pineville-Matthews Road you can see the breathtaking crown-shaped sanctuary of Calvary Church. From there the road narrows to three lanes, then two, and it slopes down to a hollow that's secluded on both sides by trees and underbrush. There, at about 12:30 a.m., Rae Carruth came to a sudden halt.
Cherica hit the brakes.
The gold Maxima pulled around and stopped on her left.
She was trapped.
New York had a Charter Arms five-shot .38 Special revolver, and he emptied all five rounds into the BMW. The Expedition pulled away, taking Carruth to a friend's house to play video games. Little Man turned the Maxima around in a driveway and headed south. But as he sped up the hill and saw the lonely hollow receding in the rear-view mirror, he caught a glimpse of the BMW's brake lights flashing red in the dark. And he knew they had left the job undone.