Chapter 2: Dead End

March 8th, 2010

Using the alias ‘Hannibal,’ Kimball calls his first victim one week out of prison

By John Aguilar
Camera Staff Writer

Four-and-a-half years after LeAnn Emry’s death, investigators found this photo of her on Scott Kimball’s computer. It’s dated 11 days before Kimball marched her up a Utah canyon and shot her in the head with a .40-caliber Firestar handgun that she had bought for him. Photo courtesy of Lafayette police.

Police later found this photo of LeAnn Emry, dated 11 days before her death, on Scott Kimball’s computer. (Courtesy of Lafayette police)

Introducing himself as “Hannibal,” Scott Kimball first called LeAnn Emry on Christmas Day, 2002.

He’d been released seven days earlier from federal prison, where he’d met LeAnn’s boyfriend, a bank robber named Steven Holley.

Holley had hatched an escape plan and asked Kimball to find LeAnn upon his release to fill her in on the details.

Kimball called the 24-year-old veterinary technician up to 17 times a day and soon endeared himself to her enough to be seen as a protector. Holley told LeAnn to listen to Hannibal, that if everything went as planned, the couple would soon be able to unite in Mexico and start a new chapter in their lives.

LeAnn needed Hannibal — calling him a “blessing” — but she knew her new friend had a volatile side.

Shortly before secretly leaving with Kimball on a whirlwind voyage through five states, LeAnn called her younger sister, Michelle, with a message.

Utah’s Bryson Canyon, where Scott Kimball killed LeAnn Emry on Jan. 29, 2003. (Courtesy of Howard Emry)

Utah’s Bryson Canyon, where Scott Kimball killed LeAnn Emry on Jan. 29, 2003. (Courtesy of Howard Emry)

If anything bad should happen, Michelle should know her sister loved her.

Jan. 29, 2003

LeAnn stepped out of the Jeep and into the red dust of Bryson Canyon, a barren stretch of eastern Utah’s Book Cliffs 15 miles off of Interstate 70.

They were going for a hike, Kimball told her. The two had been on the road for weeks, passing thousands of dollars’ worth of bad checks, and LeAnn’s long, blonde hair was newly shorn and dyed brown.

They wound their way into a box canyon and up a desert wash. They walked sharply uphill, moving up a cliff face. Then they stopped. The air was chilly, the rock walls silent.

“Scott, your face just changed,” LeAnn said.

Kimball told her to take off her clothes, turn around and kneel on the red rock. She did as he ordered. Then he pulled out a .40-caliber Firestar handgun that LeAnn had bought a few days earlier and shot her through the head.


Read a profile of LeAnn Emry.

Leann Emry

LeAnn died in the desolate wash, two months before she would have turned 25.

Feb. 1, 2003

Howard Emry got the sheriff’s deputy’s message just before midnight, after returning to his Centennial home from a visit with friends. His daughter’s Toyota Corolla had been found in the remote Harley Dome area of eastern Utah. Her belongings — camping and caving equipment, a cell phone, a purse — were still in the car.

“Everything was there, except her,” Howard Emry remembers.

LeAnn had been gone for a little more than two weeks, after telling her father she was going caving in Mexico with friends.

It would be a few days before the first clues to her recent whereabouts emerged.

First, a cascade of bad checks — passed in Laramie, Wyo.; Baker City, Ore.; Vancouver, Wash.; Reno, Nev. — came in from her bank. LeAnn had been moving across the West at a furious pace, overdrawing her account by $4,000.

Howard and Darlene Emry hold a photo of their daughter, LeAnn Emry, inside their Payette, Idaho, home last fall. (Matthew Cilley / for the Camera)

Howard and Darlene Emry hold a photo of their daughter, LeAnn Emry, inside their Payette, Idaho, home last fall. (Matthew Cilley / for the Camera)

Howard Emry’s bank also reported fraudulent activity on his account, with someone in California charging up a credit card he had co-signed for his daughter. When Emry got a copy of the receipts, he could tell the signature on them wasn’t hers.

Emry called the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, which said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to pursue a missing-person case.

“They didn’t take it seriously at all,” remembers Emry, a 63-year-old retired telecom data specialist.

He began to think his daughter might be missing on purpose.

After all, she wasn’t perfect.

LeAnn had been diagnosed as bipolar and lived with nearly constant back pain. She had stripped at private parties and been convicted once of felony menacing. She had been in an abusive marriage with a man who was constantly in and out of jail. And now she was romantically involved with a bank robber in federal prison.

“As a parent, you always want to believe the best-case scenario — maybe LeAnn is just on the run,” Howard Emry says. “I kept hoping that someday I would get a call from her saying, ‘I’m OK.’”

February 2003

Steven Holley, LeAnn Emry’s boyfriend and Scott Kimball’s fellow inmate. (Courtesy of Lakewood police)

Steven Holley, LeAnn Emry’s boyfriend and Scott Kimball’s fellow inmate. (Courtesy of Lakewood police)

Howard Emry never got that call.

But he did get a letter from Steven Holley, the Federal Correctional Institution-Englewood inmate his daughter had been seeing for the last several months.

“I am not going to lie to you and say she is not in real trouble!” Holley wrote in the letter, dated Feb. 24. “I don’t fully understand what the hell she thought she was doing, but I know she is way out of her league!”

LeAnn was with some “very dangerous people,” he warned. Holley wouldn’t give details, but he implored Emry to call the FBI and have an agent come talk to him right away.

Emry called, but an agent said Holley was a liar and that the prison visit would be a waste of time. Emry visited Holley himself, and made further appeals to the FBI and Arapahoe County authorities, but without success.

“I was at a dead-end street,” he says. “So I gave up.”

Whatever information Holley had about LeAnn Emry would remain a secret — at least for the next 4½ years.

Click here to read about LeAnn Emry’s life »

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