Her ex-boyfriend, Andrew Kolcinko, had been calling again, threatening to kill her and their three-month-old son. Then he showed up at the Parma bar where she worked, a glint of menace in his eye. She was terrified.
Kolcinko, a Solon cop with a teddy-bear build, had been harassing Elizabeth for two months now. She began recording their conversations, which she played for her brother. "I bought a fucking gun," Kolcinko said on one tape. "And I sat up on that fucking hill when you lived on Broadway and had a clear fucking shot."
Emanuele dialed Solon police. He wanted Kolcinko disarmed and off the streets. The dispatcher said he'd contact Kolcinko's superior immediately.
The next morning, Emanuele's cell phone rang. He recognized the number and sent Kolcinko directly to voice mail.
After the fourth call, he finally picked up. "I'm gonna come see you," Kolcinko said. "I want to wish you a merry Christmas. In fact, I'm right around the corner from your house. I want to teach you a couple things, man to man."
Emanuele hung up and called Euclid police. When they arrived at his house, he played Elizabeth's tapes. "Did you know that I bought a gun from a fucking nigger?" Kolcinko could be heard saying. "And I had a clear shot through [your oldest son's] window."
Euclid cops went to Garfield Heights, where Elizabeth lived with her two sons, and escorted her to the police station.
Solon Chief Wayne Godzich's mustache twitched as he listened to the tapes with dismay. "We'll see who's paying the price," Kolcinko said on one in which he threatened to kill their son. "We will see when I choke that little motherfucker and put the pillow on his fucking face just until he almost stops breathing."
Godzich couldn't believe his ears. Kolcinko had spent 16 years on the Solon force. In 2004, he was named officer of the year. A year later, he was promoted to sergeant.
"I was very disappointed listening to them," Godzich says. "I was very shocked also. He's done a very good job. But I heard all I needed to hear. Nothing needed to be said after that."
On January 5, Kolcinko was placed on leave. Eleven days later, Garfield Heights charged him with 26 counts of telephone harassment and one count of menacing.
Things hadn't always been this ugly. When Kolcinko first met Elizabeth in 2002, he was enamored of her Snow White looks. Balding and burly, what he lacked in appearance he more than made up for in charisma. He doted on the slender single mother. She felt secure being courted by a man in blue.
Elizabeth struggled to pay the bills with part-time bartending work. Kolcinko was happy to help, eventually landing her a job at his friend's pub. "She worked for me for a couple years," says Kolcinko's friend Mike, who doesn't want his last name printed. "Then she just kinda wigged out when she left, because she didn't want Andy coming in and talking to the other barmaid anymore."
Throughout their four-year relationship, passion often morphed into bouts of jealousy. Elizabeth was convinced Kolcinko was seeing other women. It became a tumultuous cycle of breakups, cool-offs, and reignition.
Then, in 2006, Elizabeth became pregnant. Neither of them was ready for a child. "This was a pregnancy neither of us wanted," Kolcinko says. "She talked about abortion."
But Elizabeth had their baby boy in November. He was born with serious heart problems that precipitated a series of complicated surgeries. The stress of taking care of a sick child weighed on hearts and wallets. Passion was replaced by incessant arguing. Less than a month after the baby was born, Kolcinko finally broke things off.
But he still wanted to be part of raising his son. He offered to buy Elizabeth a house and pay for medical bills.
By December, the boy was due for his first operation. Kolcinko wanted it done at the Cleveland Clinic, where insurance would cover it. But Elizabeth had already scheduled it at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, outside Kolcinko's health network. It would cost him upwards of $30,000. There was no way he could pay on a cop's salary.
Elizabeth refused to move the operation. Kolcinko kept calling, begging her to change her mind. But since they weren't married, Elizabeth had the final say.
Kolcinko was convinced she was getting revenge. He felt frustrated and powerless. That's when the threats began.
"I said some things out of anger and frustration," he says. "And a lot of it was baited. I just wanted to lash out at her. It doesn't make it right, but I just want to be with my son."
A man who professes love by death threat is not easily dismissed. Some days he promised to smother the baby until just before he died. Other days he'd talk of just shooting the whole family point-blank. Elizabeth caught it all on tape -- and refused to budge.
Kolcinko got a restraining order against Elizabeth and the Rainbow surgeon, barring them from going forward with the operation. But it was much too late to save face. Elizabeth had already handed the recordings over to Garfield Heights police, and she and her brother had already filed dozens of police reports.
Kolcinko says it was all for show, that neither Stevens should be trusted. He points to a 2001 police report in Westlake, in which Elizabeth accused the father of her eldest son of sex abuse, a charge later ruled unfounded. He points to Emanuele's conviction for insurance fraud and arrests for domestic violence. The sergeant has already filed two slander suits against Emanuele.
Over the phone, Kolcinko sounds more frustrated father than deranged stalker, just another guy caught in the spare-no-ammo fallout of love lost. But the tapes depict a different man, one who carefully details how he'd choke his son, in a steady, purposeful voice. No fatherly proclamation can wipe that away.
"I won't kill him because I don't want to get caught," he says on one recording. "Just when he starts fucking gagging, I'll think of you."
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.