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Live Fast, Die Young

She was fifteen going on twenty-five, but three bullets made sure Jenny never saw sweet sixteen

"When did you give the .380 to Steve?" Finley asked. Somewhere around March 2, Kennedy replied. His friend also had two television sets and a stereo receiver that were his; he wondered if he would be able to get them back.

At the apartment, the detectives collected more than 1,100 pills--pharmaceutical drugs like phenobarbital and codeine, for which Kennedy had no prescription. The presence of "downers" in the home of a speed freak was not the contradiction it seemed; depressants take the edge off the meth. Otherwise, a user might never get any sleep. "We're investigating a homicide," Finley assured him. "We don't care about your drugs."

The search moved from the apartment to Kennedy's 1972 green Torino, a piece of junk that looked like it barely ran. Under the front passenger seat, Finley found a Winchester bullet container. In the trunk was a pair of Army pants and a crude, hand-lettered cardboard sign that read: Take me serious--if you fuck me I'll end up slapping you, your old lady or girlfriend till I get all my shit or cash--I am dead serious I don't use police now or ever asshole!

Kennedy said the sign was meant for a guy in the neighborhood whom he suspected of breaking into his apartment.

Finley noticed that Kennedy limped on his left leg. "What did you do to your leg?" he asked.

"I shot myself accidently," Kennedy replied. "About two months ago. In Denver. The bullet's still in there."

Timothy John Kennedy was born in Craig in 1956. The family moved from the Western Slope when he was a boy, though, and he'd spent most of his life in Wheat Ridge and Arvada.

Tim graduated from Arvada West High School in 1975. He was smart and industrious, starting his own hauling business after graduation; eventually he became a carpenter and a member of the carpenters' union. But somewhere along the line, drugs--especially methamphetamine--took over his life.

Kennedy lived with his parents well into his thirties--but that didn't keep him out of trouble with the law. There were arrests for possession of narcotic equipment, dangerous drugs and carrying a concealed weapon. Whenever he was arrested, his parents would bond him out. The family spent thousands of dollars sending Tim to drug-treatment programs, his sister later told Finley. But a methamphetamine habit is one of the most difficult addictions to break.

Kennedy's behavior got worse, more bizarre. He sent a bullet flying into the attic of his parent's house. Then in February 1991, a month before Staskiewicz and Jenny were murdered, he was taken to a hospital claiming his parents were trying to poison him.

While there, Kennedy admitted to an Arvada police officer that he had a gun in his car. In his report, the officer noted that it was a stainless-steel AMT .380. But to the exasperation of the Colorado Springs detectives, the officer had failed to take down the serial number. And he'd turned the gun over to Tim Kennedy's dad.

If there's anything that whets the investigative appetite, it's catching a suspect in a lie. And the detectives trying to solve the homicides of Staskiewicz and Jenny soon snared Kennedy in several.

One. Kennedy said the AMT .380 he gave Staskiewicz was black--but Finley had checked with the manufacturer, who said that model was issued only in stainless steel.

Two. Shannon went to Lutheran, the hospital where Kennedy said he'd gone right after he shot himself--and he'd been there, all right, but weeks after the shooting, when the wound got infected. While in Arvada, Shannon also learned that Kennedy had a stainless-steel AMT.

Three. Although Kennedy said he gave Staskiewicz an AMT, several witnesses saw Staskiewicz with a cheap, black .380, which fit the description of the gun found in Kennedy's apartment on March 20.

CBI criminologist Cordell Brown had determined that the bullets that killed Staskiewicz and Jenny had come from one gun--and that gun had been narrowed down to several brands, one of which was an AMT. But a Davis had been ruled out.

Shannon's next assignment was to find the AMT, or at least its serial number. He called Kennedy's mother and asked if she had any medical bills from when her son had shot himself. It was obvious that she was going to protect her boy, but if he asked about something that had happened months before the homicides, she just might tell the truth, thinking it would clear her son.

Shannon's ploy worked. Tim, she said, had gone to a medical center in Raton, New Mexico.

Soon Shannon had a detailed report written by New Mexico state trooper James Montoya on January 5, 1991. Kennedy had told him he'd shot himself near Walsenberg. Originally he thought it was a flesh wound, but when it didn't stop bleeding, Kennedy stopped at a small medical center in a tiny New Mexico town. The center was unable to deal with such a serious wound and had him transported to Raton, where Montoya was called in to investigate.

According to Montoya's report, the gun Kennedy shot himself with was a stainless-steel AMT .380, serial number A53334.

By now, although he wasn't ruling out other suspects, Finley was convinced Kennedy was their man.

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