Shortly after Nina Reiser disappeared, police found her blood in her estranged husband's home and car. The passenger seat was missing. The floor was soaked with water. And in the back were two true-crime books about murder.
Hans Reiser was quickly questioned, jailed and charged with murdering his wife.
But prosecutors are going to have to prove it without a body, because they have yet to find her remains.
His lawyer already has tried to explain away Nina Reiser's disappearance by suggesting she simply returned to her native Russia or got mixed up with a sadomasochist or the Russian Mafia.
"You can prove the case, but it's a terrific challenge," said E. Michael McCann, the former Milwaukee district attorney who prosecuted Jeffrey Dahmer. He said he remembers about a half-dozen "no-body" homicides during his 38-year career. "A prosecutor's hope is that something will turn up."
Hans Reiser, a 43-year-old Oakland software developer, is being held without bail while a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to try him. A decision is expected next month.
In addition to the blood in his Honda CRX were a roll of trash bags, masking tape, absorbent towels and two books: "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," by David Simon, about the Baltimore police homicide squad, and "Masterpieces of Murder," by Jonathan Goodman, about notorious murder cases.
Reiser bought the books five days after his wife's disappearance last September, according to police. But prosecutors have noted the books included chapters on how to dispose of a body.
Defense attorney William Du Bois has countered by saying the books contain chapters on how police plant evidence and set up murder scenes.