Lindsey Mueller knows what she read in the San Jose police report: A severed ear, most likely belonging to her boyfriend, Kyle Myrick, was found at a crime scene in a burned-out building next to GP Sports in San Jose.
She also knows police say there was "a great deal of blood" found nearby, that Myrick hasn’t been seen since Jan. 22, and that his co-worker, Steve Hlebo, 39, of Los Altos, was charged Wednesday with Myrick’s murder.
Despite that, Mueller, 28, a massage therapist at a Santana Row day spa, refuses to believe her boyfriend was violently killed or his body dumped in the ocean, as police have speculated.
"He’s such a chill, genuine soul," she said of Myrick.
Mueller and a friend are hosting a community event at 8 p.m. Thursday called "Lighting a Path for Kyle to Come Home" at Cambrian Park Plaza.
"I believe that he may be badly hurt," Mueller said Thursday, "but that he is alive in some form and he will come home soon. We need to keep the positivity going, and light a path for his way home."
Myrick had apparently gotten into a physical fight Jan. 22 with Hlebo as the two were assembling two ATVs in the back of the motorbike shop at 2020 Camden Avenue, according to a police report made public Wednesday. What the fight entailed has not been revealed. One of Myrick's friends, Shaun Davis, told NBC Bay Area on Thursday that Myrick had never mentioned Hlebo by name. But he said that Myrick complained that some of co-workers weren't as nice to him as they could have been and weren't teaching him the ropes. Davis said that Myrick had been working in the parts department at the Santa Clara shop, and had been transferred to the San Jose shop in the service department last week.
Davis added that his longtime friend was "outgoing and friendly. Everybody liked him."
At some point that afternoon, another employee noticed Myrick was missing and Hlebo’s GMC truck was backed up behind the vacant building next door, which had been damaged in a 2014 fire, according to the report.
A severed ear was found at the scene, and police quickly began looking for Myrick, believing he might be hurt. Later, Hlebo allegedly told a family member had had "killed Myrick and disposed of his body in the ocean," the report stated. This week, however, in a jailhouse interview, Hlebo adamantly denied that, saying he was innocent and set up by unknown people who he suspects put drugs in his coffee.
John Sparry, a software engineer at Barracuda Networks and Myrick’s stepfather since 1999, recalled seeing Campbell police in his driveway about 6:30 p.m. the day Myrick vanished. Officers were looking for his stepson with flashlights.
"It was a little scary," he said, "but then, we didn’t appreciate just how much."
He hadn't had a chance to greet Myrick at breakfast that morning. Sparry said his only tangible connection to Myrick that day was noticing his stepson had just taken a shower before taking off for work.
"I guess I had just missed him," Sparry recalled.
Sparry still misses him. Every day since, Sparry has been helping lead searches in hopes of finding Myrick alive — although he knows now they're more likely to find his body.
Sparry said his company told him to take all the time he needs, and even let the entire engineering department off for a day to help scour the Santa Cruz mountains and Lexington Reservoir.
Sparry, like Myrick’s mother, Kelly, and his two half-brothers, Shane and Rick, have been trying not to focus on the fact that the Westmont High School graduate might be dead.
Instead, they are remembering the all-around athlete who went to Forest Elementary and Rolling Hills Middle schools, as an easy-going, fun adventurer. They said Myrick was a Little League champ, snowboarder, roller hockey player and avid lover of motorbikes.
After high school, Myrick decided college wasn’t for him, Sparry said, and learned a trade instead: fixing motorbikes.
"He didn’t love to study," Sparry acknowledged.
A job as a flagman at a motorcycle track took him to Gridley, Butte County, for several years to live with his father, Brent Myrick, a truck driver, and then back home to Campbell, where he had been living with his mother and Sparry.
During his free time, Myrick loved to watch races on TV with friends and fix their cars when they broke down. Myrick’s beloved German shepherd, Bella, also has been trying to sniff out her owner’s scent.
Mueller said she and Myrick had hoped to move somewhere more rural within the next year, because that’s the type of lifestyle her boyfriend loved. The two met through a mutual friend about two years ago and went to Santa Clara Billiards on their first date.
"He took off my jacket," Mueller recalled, "and when I messed up, he’d put his arms around me to help me."
When he leaned in for a kiss, she said, Myrick was "cautious, making sure it was OK."
She described her boyfriend as a guy who "doesn’t like confrontation" but is also "strong willed, someone who will never give up."
And she has decided neither will she.