Teen Anger

After young Joe Gallegos was let back into society, all hell broke loose.

Josh Turville's home on the hill in Bayfield was part of the reason he felt God wanted him there, his parents say. It was owned by a friend from California, the same friend who had introduced him to Jeb Bryant. When that friend took a job in New Mexico and offered the place to Turville, the young man told his parents it was a sign not to be ignored. While the small house had only two bedrooms, Turville always had space. When two of his friends from El Modena High School in Orange County called and said they were considering moving to Colorado because of the promise of good jobs, Turville encouraged them to come and stay with him.

Near the beginning of September, John Lara and Steven Bates did just that. Turville moved stacks of Bibles, religious pamphlets and tapes of Christian music and sermons out of the spare bedroom so that his friends could move in. While the three men, all age twenty, had known each other since the fourth grade, the two newcomers did not share Turville's intense interest in the Bryants' church. Lara and Bates weren't planning to stay long. They told their parents they planned to move out soon after arriving. They put money down on an apartment in Durango and were planning to leave Turville's by the end of September.

A week or so after his friends moved in, Turville told them that another young man would be joining them. Joe Gallegos, his constant companion at church functions, was granted parole and would move out of the Bryants' home and into Turville's laundry room, which could be converted into a bedroom. Kris Bryant says Lara and Bates didn't have any problem with adding a housemate, especially because they were moving out in a couple of weeks anyway.

So the reality of parole didn't change Gallegos's life much. He was working the same job and attending the same activities with Turville. Instead of living with his pastor, he was living with his youth-group leader.

While parole didn't change his life, losing Hocker did. As a parolee, Gallegos was under some restrictions, but he broke most of them in what police and friends realized later was an obsession with Hocker. Only after the carnage, when Jeb Bryant found among Gallegos's personal belongings a clipped news article detailing a hostage situation, did he realize that the boy he had vouched for may have been planning a rampage. "I was shocked," Bryant says. "I didn't want to believe it."

While living with either the Bryants or Turville, authorities say, Gallegos got a nine-millimeter semi-automatic Ruger handgun, stolen a month earlier during a "smash and grab" from a Cortez hardware store. He still had plenty of friends from his days of hanging out in Cortez, and police say it was through one of them that he got the gun. Police would like to ask the main suspect in that burglary if he sold a gun to Gallegos, but he won't be answering any more questions: He used another one of the stolen guns to kill himself, according to Cortez police.

Under his parole, Gallegos wasn't supposed to have a gun, or even leave Bayfield without permission, but he made at least three trips--each a sixteen-hour round-trip drive--to see Heidi Hocker in Greeley. "Jeb didn't mind," Hocker says. "They didn't think he needed to follow all those stupid rules."

Hours after his parole hearing in Denver, Gallegos dropped by the Agape House in Greeley. A counselor at the Christian center later told police that he came asking questions about a "Christian friend" who was a student at UNC. "She is easily influenced, and I'm afraid she's getting in with the wrong crowd," Gallegos told her, urging the counselor to contact Hocker but not to use his name. She told police that he seemed like a nice, concerned friend.

Students at the University of Northern Colorado had a different impression. They called him "Crazy Joe" because he would crash parties looking for Hocker and would threaten to beat up anybody who dared to interfere, even when Hocker herself made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with him. Some other students saw letters that Joe had written to Heidi with lines such as "I can see your unborn children in your eyes." Yet other students remember Gallegos offering to sell crystal methampthetamine.

At a party in Greeley, Gallegos saw Hocker talking to a male student, and his anger emerged. Hocker says he grabbed her by the arm, took her outside and then forced her to the ground, crouching over her. He didn't use a beer bottle on her, as he had on other victims, but he did slap her and tell her never to talk to other men. Some other students arrived and Gallegos let her go. Some of the boys were ready to fight Gallegos, but Hocker discouraged that. "I told them I don't like fighting," she says. Why didn't she call police? Hocker says she knew it could jeopardize his parole, and she was hoping he would just move on with his life in Bayfield. "Guys had done stupid things to me before," she says, "but it didn't really worry me, because they finally got the hint."

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