Since coroners could not then identify the body, David was buried as "John Doe #93." When he was identified several years later, the Orr family, inexplicably, was not notified.

The following is an attempt, on the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of David Orr, to solve at least part of the mystery of his life and create a context for understanding why his death came -- for him and his family -- in the disturbing way it did.

No one can give you the motivation

Susan met David's father, Sam Orr, in 1959 at Oberlin College in Ohio. They were married in 1962 at her parent's home in New Rochelle, N.Y. and that same year their first child, Katie -- now a Sacramento art dealer -- was born. Sam enlisted in the Army and they were stationed in Nuremberg, Germany, where their second child David was born in 1964. The coupled divorced in 1972 and Susan lived in Reno for 17 years until moving to Sacramento in 1989, the year after David went missing.

Susan, who now works as an art therapist and teacher at CSUS, is an artist herself. She's an accomplished photographer but now works primarily as a painter in oil pastels. Her Sacramento home has a warm, natural, peaceful feel and is full of all manner of original art and photos of her family. Describing her son's early years, she recounts some incidents from an otherwise normal adolescence that seemed to indicate a pattern of unsettling behavior.

"The summer after his junior year in high school, I got a letter saying that he had flunked all of his courses," said Susan. "It turns out that he had been skipping school and smoking dope, partying with his friends. David had presented this whole other experience to me and there was such a big discrepancy between the two since he had presented that he was having such a good experience."

His poor grades would eventually become inconsequential.

"His senior year in high school he seemed pretty depressed," continued Susan. "We tried working with the school to make things better for him and all the teachers and his coach really cared about him. We all got together one afternoon and asked, 'What can we do to help you?' One of the teachers said that he had what it takes to do well, but he had to be motivated and no one can give you the motivation. That seemed to be a serious issue with David, at least as far as school was concerned."

In the spring, David went out to eat with some friends, and what might have been a prankish dine-and-dash episode had a darker resonance for Susan. "They realized at the end of a meal that nobody had any money, so the two other guys said they would go get their money and they left. David was there sitting at the table for as long as he could until it felt to him like nobody was coming back. He got up to leave and the security went after him and he ran, so it became a foot race. He then jumped into the Truckee River and swam for a while. Later he got out, figuring he had won the challenge, and went and sat on the cop car, waiting for the police to come back. What I didn't understand at the time was the slipping of judgment. I was so frightened in the aftermath that he could have gotten shot in the back. Eventually all the charges were dropped because the kids showed up with the money. But at that point he started therapy."