After her daughter vanishes, Lori McLeod puts her hope with Kimball

By John Aguilar
Camera Staff Writer

Kaysi McLeod, pictured on a memorial Web site, had been missing for eight days when Scott Kimball married her mother, Lori McLeod. (

Fleeting signs of her daughter, missing since August 2003, kept Lori McLeod from losing hope.

There was the gold necklace — the one Kaysi had been wearing the last time she left the house — found hanging from the teenager’s bedroom doorknob one day.

McLeod’s new love, Scott Kimball, had pointed it out. See? Kaysi was just here.

Kaysi’s box of makeup went missing as well, more proof that her daughter had been by but wasn’t yet ready to talk to Mom.

That wasn’t all.

The landlord assured McLeod he had seen Kaysi and her boyfriend driving around the Adams County property that Kimball and McLeod had rented together that summer.

Kimball told McLeod that her daughter needed some time alone, to sort through the normal issues of being a 19-year-old girl.

The worried mother believed it all.

“It brought me a lot of peace, knowing she had been in the house,” she remembers.

Summer 2003

Trouble had been brewing in the McLeod home for awhile.

Read a profile of Kaysi McLeod.

Kaysi McLeod's life

During high school, Kaysi had moved in with her aunt in Phoenix and started dabbling with drugs. Experimentation with prescription pills turned into full-blown meth use.

A friend said she was losing weight fast and “wasn’t herself anymore.”

After Kaysi graduated in 2001 and returned to Colorado to live with her mother, she was still hanging out with an unsavory crowd. In March 2003, she was accused of stealing a credit card and racking up more than $3,400 worth of fraudulent purchases.

By summertime, Lori McLeod felt certain her daughter was kicking the meth habit and turning a corner in her life. She was putting weight back on and had gotten a job at the Subway restaurant on 144th Avenue in Broomfield.

Still, with Kaysi facing felony theft and forgery charges, tensions between mother and daughter remained high.

Kimball saw an opportunity.

Aug. 21 or 22, 2003

Kimball showed up at his girlfriend’s work with a vial filled with white crystals that looked like rock salt.

“I found this at the house,” Lori McLeod remembers him telling her.

Despite Kaysi’s insistence that she wasn’t back on drugs, McLeod decided to get serious with her daughter. She went home to confront Kaysi — it was time for her to have a chat with police.

Kaysi and Kimball went out front to wait in the Jeep. By the time McLeod joined them, Kaysi had taken off on her bike. Kimball assured McLeod her daughter just needed time on her own, to wait for things to calm down so she could return home.

Kaysi ended up at a Motel 6 in Thornton and got a room with her boyfriend, Celestino Bovill.

Aug. 23, 2003

Kimball arrived at the motel around 5 p.m.

Chatting with Kaysi and Bovill in their room, Kimball offered to drive Kaysi to her Saturday-night shift at Subway.

Scott Kimball, an avid outdoorsman and hunter, insisted he’d been alone in the mountains scouting out bow-hunting grounds the night Kaysi McLeod disappeared. (Courtesy of Rob McLeod)

She climbed into his pickup truck with an attached camper — one he had stolen from a former cellmate at the federal pen several months earlier — and they drove off together.

McLeod soon learned that Kaysi never showed up for work.

Frantic, she called Kimball, but his phone was off.

Aug. 24, 2003

When Kimball finally answered his phone, he denied Bovill’s story that he’d picked Kaysi up the night before.

He insisted he’d been in the mountains alone, scouting out bow-hunting grounds.

But he pledged to help McLeod track down her daughter.

Unable to get traction with Broomfield and Northglenn police regarding Kaysi’s disappearance, McLeod decided to put her faith in Kimball. After all, he worked for the FBI in some capacity. She had seen him bring home wads of cash — $600 in May, $2,000 in July, $500 in early August — as compensation for his duties with the bureau. He even had a Colorado driver’s license under his FBI alias, Joseph Lee Scott.

It might be good to have him on her side.

“I needed someone to help me,” McLeod remembers tearfully. “He was my only link to her.”

Aug. 31, 2003

Lori McLeod. (Mark Leffingwell / Camera)

McLeod’s desperate need for answers transcended practicality. Overcome with emotion, she hoped a special partnership could change everything.

Eight days after her only child went missing, McLeod drove with Kimball to Las Vegas and tied the knot. They paid for the trip with $18,000 given to Kimball by the FBI three days earlier, payment for his help foiling an alleged 2002 plot to kill a federal judge and prosecutor in Alaska.

It was a drive-through wedding, devoid of romance, but it was official.

Lori McLeod was now Lori Kimball.

Sept. 14, 2003

It was Kaysi’s birthday.

Scott and Lori Kimball were camping at Kremmling’s Red Mountain RV Park to celebrate their marriage, but the new bride couldn’t get her mind off her daughter.

“Happy 20th birthday sweet love,” Lori Kimball wrote in her diary. “I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying your day. I miss you and wish I could celebrate with you. Anticipating your arrival 20 years ago today, I was in the most severe pain I thought I would ever feel. That would also not be the last time I would be wrong in my life.”

Kaysi’s handwritten work schedule for the week she disappeared, found when police searched Kimball’s belongings years later. (Courtesy of Lafayette police)

This was her little girl, her only child — the one who loved to draw, dance and belt out the words to Sarah McLachlan songs. She wanted her back.

Late 2003

Lori Kimball felt increasingly conflicted as the months went by, on the one hand suspecting her husband of having a role in Kaysi’s disappearance and on the other hoping he was only helping her hide.

“When your child is missing that long, every thought goes through your head,” she says.

She wanted to believe her husband was clean on this one. Maybe, just maybe, Scott Kimball could chip away at the mystery shrouding her daughter’s whereabouts.

It would be years before Lori Kimball realized it was her husband who planted Kaysi’s necklace on the doorknob after her disappearance, who removed her daughter’s makeup box, who asked their landlord to lie about seeing Kaysi.

It would be years before searches of Kimball’s belongings uncovered Kaysi’s Subway hat, her date book and her work schedule — handwritten in pink marker — for the week she disappeared.

And it would be years before the grieving mother found out her honeymoon camping trip took place less than 30 miles from the spot where her husband had murdered her daughter and left her to rot.

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