By John Aguilar
Camera Staff Writer
Weeks before Kaysi McLeod disappeared, her father visited her at the Subway sandwich shop where she worked. They sat at a table together for a few minutes, and Kaysi started to cry.
She said she was “not doing anything to be proud of,” Rob McLeod remembers.
“I told her having an honest job and doing an honest day’s work is something to be proud of,” he said.
McLeod never saw his daughter again.
“I used to be kind of a happy, easygoing person,” he said. “That person’s gone.”
Rob McLeod takes a 100-mile bike ride on Kaysi’s birthday every year. He thinks back on the hopes he had for his daughter.
He wanted to see Kaysi clean up her life, get a career, become a mother one day.
He saw how much she adored her half-sisters — his two daughters with his second wife.
Both of Kaysi’s parents — divorced when she was 4 — think the 19-year-old might have been turning a corner, ready to grow up and take on more responsibilities as an adult.
Lori McLeod said her daughter tested the boundaries like any adolescent. She smoked, pierced her belly button, got tattoos — a four-leaf clover with the Virgo sign on her foot and a fairy on the small of her back.
But she was also a kind and respectful daughter with a love for jewelry-making, drawing, dancing and music, Lori McLeod said.
“She didn’t ever talk back,” she said. “I got very lucky.”
At 15, Kaysi needed some time away from her parents, who didn’t see eye to eye on how to raise her, said her maternal aunt, Donna Harper. The teen moved in with Harper in Phoenix and finished high school there.
“I gave her consistency,” Harper said.
Kaysi worked at a skating rink in her spare time, even driving the Zamboni around the ice.
Tabetha Blow, her best friend in Arizona, said Kaysi had a “passion for life” but fell in with a bad crowd and started messing around with prescription medications.
“She started losing weight rapidly, and she wasn’t herself anymore,” Blow said. “I was really concerned about her at that point.”
When Kaysi moved back to Colorado after graduating in 2001, she looked “strung out,” said Rob McLeod.
“She was definitely not firing on all cylinders,” he said. “I was just sad for her.”
Kaysi lived with her father in the summer of 2002 and held a customer-service job at Echostar. Rob McLeod told his daughter she needed to clean up her act.
“I love you. I support you,” he remembers telling her. “But if you’re doing that stuff, you can’t be here.”
The same month Kimball entered her life, Kaysi stole a credit card and charged more than $3,400 worth of fraudulent purchases on it, according to police reports. Kimball has never been implicated in that case, but he met with Kaysi privately for nearly an hour just before she confessed to police.
Lori McLeod said she sensed that Kimball tried to drive a wedge between Kaysi and herself, exploiting her daughter’s history of drug use to raise her level of alarm.
That culminated, she said, in August 2003, when Kimball implied Kaysi was using drugs again. McLeod said she’s “thoroughly convinced” Kimball planted the drugs, egging on the ensuing fight and helping Kaysi get set up at the motel where he later picked her up.
“He needed to separate us because he couldn’t take her otherwise,” Lori McLeod said. “Obviously, I blame myself because I’m the one who brought Scott into our lives. I would give anything for a do-over. Life doesn’t offer that.”