March 21st, 2010
Describing himself as a ‘cleaner,’ Kimball claims he isn’t solely responsible for murders
By John Aguilar
Camera Staff Writer
“You have a problem that you need cleaned up, call a cleaner,” Kimball wrote from the Sterling Correctional Facility in response to questions sent to him by the Camera.
His meaning is vague at best, but Kimball claims the killings of three women in 2003 stemmed from a vast criminal enterprise in which he played only a small part. The FBI, he said, was complicit.
Kimball’s stories are pure fantasy, and they have changed to fit the evidence before him, Boulder County prosecutor Katharina Booth said.
Each of his claims has been investigated and discounted, she said.
“He’s implicated every criminal gang,” she said. “Anyone who was a remote possibility, they were run down back and forth.”
A search of Kimball’s cell late last month uncovered several fraudulent FBI documents that Kimball created to convince the media of his conspiracy theories.
The fakes, which Kimball is thought to have made on county jail computers before being sentenced to prison, prompted Booth to ask a judge to prevent the inmate from getting any more hard copies of evidence from his case.
Her request is pending.
“He will go to whatever lengths to fabricate stories, documents and witnesses to support himself and hold himself harmless,” Booth said. “He’ll do anything to avoid the truth.”
Power and money
There’s one thing Kimball and investigators agree on: that power and money drove Kimball.
“If anybody wants to know why I did what I did, my answer is that I always did it for the money, huge amounts of money,” Kimball wrote.
Jennifer Marcum and LeAnn Emry had to be killed because they worked as drug mules, smuggling contraband into prison through their boyfriends, and stole money from the gang, Kimball said. He said he helped arrange for their executions — and watched them happen — but was not the triggerman.
A previous story he told a fellow inmate, though — the account of hiking LeAnn up a Utah canyon, making her strip naked, then shooting her — matches the forensic evidence.
In Kaysi McLeod’s case, Kimball said he saw the 19-year-old overdose on meth and fall into a campfire in the Colorado mountains.
But the same inmate told investigators that Kimball said he strangled Kaysi with a dog collar and smashed her head with a rock because she was a potential witness against the leader of a powerful drug gang.
No evidence of a skull fracture showed up in an autopsy of Kaysi’s remains, and her manner of death is undetermined.
Kimball, an FBI informant at the time, said his handler — Special Agent Carle Schlaff — knew about the women’s disappearances but allowed him to engage in lucrative criminal activities, including an Internet sex video business.
“The one agent was driven by greed,” Kimball wrote. “It’s always about power and money.”
Amy Okubo, Booth’s colleague in the District Attorney’s Office, said Kimball’s motives were probably a lot less grandiose. He liked to control people, she said.
“I think he thrived more on the ability to manipulate and control the relationship even while they were still alive for awhile — to have that power — and use them for what he could use them for while he could until he just didn’t need it anymore,” she said.
Terry Kimball’s murder was probably driven by money, since Scott Kimball used his uncle’s name and credit card after his death, Okubo said. She said it’s also possible that Terry knew too much about his nephew’s check scams.
Okubo said sexual sadism — as evidenced by hundreds of explicit rape simulation and bondage photos found on Kimball’s computer — probably contributed to the women’s murders as well.
The condition of the victims’ remains — found after years of exposure and deterioration — makes it impossible to tell whether Kimball raped them.
Life in prison
Today, Kimball spends 22 hours and 45 minutes of every day alone in a 6½-by-13-foot cell at the Sterling Correctional Facility, a 2,500-bed prison surrounded by a high-voltage “lethal fence.”
The discovery of the fake FBI documents prompted prison officials to move Kimball to administrative segregation at the start of this month.
He has no interaction with other inmates, and he’s shackled and escorted by two armed guards for his 1¼-hour breaks to take a shower or visit the exercise room.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said she doesn’t know how long Kimball will be kept in segregation.
Once he’s out, he’ll be returned to the “close-custody” unit where he’d been housed since arriving at Sterling in October.
There, inmates have one cellmate and get a few hours every other day in the exercise yard or common room. They can also find a variety of jobs, earning 30 to 60 cents a day.
Kimball has worked at Sterling upholstering chairs in a workshop and filing books at the prison library, Sanguinetti said. He hasn’t had access to computers there, she said.
Kimball could be eligible for parole in 38½ years — at age 81.
“I won’t spend the rest of my life in prison,” he wrote to the Camera in December.
But in order to be considered for release, his behavior and conduct behind bars must be exemplary over the next four decades. Even then, there’s no guarantee he would receive parole.
Asked whether Kimball could try to shave time off his sentence by revealing the whereabouts of Jennifer’s body sometime down the road, Okubo said it’s unlikely but not entirely out of the question.
That would require a “huge process” of consulting the victims’ families and gauging the societal danger of potentially releasing Kimball earlier, Okubo said.
“We never foreclosed on the option of getting more information from him,” she said. “We always expected that he would use that as a carrot to dangle in front of us, but whether it would be successful is anybody’s guess. You never say never.”
Booth said she fully expects Kimball to reach out from behind bars and attempt to trade information for a deal on his sentence.
“He holds his trump cards close to his chest until he’s in a desperate spot,” she said. “Then he’ll play them.”
But Booth said she’s confident Kimball won’t be able to take advantage of the system again.
“We are convinced that he will die in prison,” she said.