By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
The visit didn't last long. Roundy was eager to go deer hunting. He was soon arrested for hunting without a license. Baxendale bailed him out of jail.
It could have been worse. Roundy's idea of hunting was to drive across open fields in the Lincoln, taking drunken potshots at rabbits while looking vainly for bigger game. One of his errant shots put a hole in the hood of the car.
Baxendale soon tired of the hunt. The last straw was the night Roundy woke him up after midnight, ecstatic because he'd finally shot a deer. He dragged Baxendale into the woods to help him gut it.
"I was getting tired of playing nursemaid to this drunk," Baxendale says. "Throughout most of this time I wasn't doing any drugs and I wasn't drinking, because I was doing all the driving while he sat in back and got wasted."
Baxendale suggested they take a detour to Las Vegas for more civilized recreation. Roundy agreed, but first they had to stop in Salt Lake City; he wanted to do some "research," he said, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' famous genealogical archives. The research consisted of obtaining all the vital personal information he needed to add to his growing collection of phony birth certificates and driver's licenses. By now he had half a dozen aliases, but he soon added one more: David Hoffman.
"He started telling people he was Dustin Hoffman's nephew," Baxendale says.
Taking Roundy to Vegas proved to be as shrewd as bringing a flamethrower to a fireworks factory. In Glitter Gulch he bought hundred-dollar racks of coins, took over an entire row of dollar slot machines and ran from slot to slot, feeding coins and pulling levers. A relay of waitresses kept the double shots of tequila coming. When they were both thoroughly tanked, Baxendale decided it was time to find some marijuana. A parking valet directed them to a house in a quiet neighborhood where they scored and stayed on to party.
Baxendale brought along his guitar. Roundy brought in the arsenal from the car to show off to their admiring hosts, including a SPAS twelve-gauge shotgun that could be configured as a fully automatic assault weapon. "In one brief, lucid moment I thought, 'I need to unload these guns,'" Baxendale recalls. He put the ammo in the trunk of the car.
At some point Roundy began to smoke crack. Then he erupted in paranoia. He put the SPAS to someone's head and pulled the trigger. When nothing happened, he rushed out of the house. Baxendale found him outside a neighbor's house, banging on the door and screaming bloody murder. "I wrestle him to the ground," Baxendale says, "and ten police cars pull up."
By the time Roundy had calmed down, his brand-new, thousand-dollar suit and ostrich-skin boots were in shreds. Incredibly, the cops bought Baxendale's story about how he and Roundy had just come from a hunting trip and had a little too much to drink. Somehow they missed the ounce of weed tucked away in his guitar. They checked the registration on the guns and let them go.
The duo checked into Circus Circus on the strip but found the service inadequate. The staff seemed to have a problem with guns in the room and with Mr. Hoffman's rampages, which included tearing up the carpet one night, searching frantically for the money orders he'd hidden a few hours earlier. The two moved down the strip to Caesars Palace. Over the next few weeks they gambled away most of Roundy's money.
Down to his last few grand, Roundy bought a used Chevy Blazer and dubbed it "the White Knight." Baxendale strolled into a gift shop and bought a toy badge that had the word "SHERIFF" emblazoned on it. From a casino on the Utah border, they called the car-rental agency and told them where to find the much-abused Lincoln.
That night Roundy's luck began to turn. Pulling rows of slot levers in rapid succession, he hit a jackpot of more than $2,000. But he was falling-down drunk, and within minutes, someone took the buckets of coins away from him.
The idea of digging up a lost trove of Confederate gold was looking better all the time. But Baxendale and Hoffman, as Roundy now insisted on being called, kept running into detours.
On their way back to Texas they stopped in Denver, long enough to become acquainted with some of the regulars at the Sheridan Saloon, a rough-edged bar on the city's west side. Baxendale got tight with a coke dealer named Slick and his girlfriend, Sandy.
Sandy seemed impressed by Baxendale--maybe it was the satin jacket from Caesars Palace, maybe it was the .357 he carried under the jacket, in the small of his back. Soon he and Sandy were an item, and Slick was history. He'd be back to see her, Baxendale said, after he took care of a little business in Texas.
Kevin Rutherford was another hanger-on at the Sheridan Saloon. An Air Force veteran from Michigan, he'd been in town only a few months, working low-paying jobs and planning to complete a computer degree. He had a history of drunk-driving arrests and one felony burglary conviction from his youth, as well as a taste for a little Bolivian marching powder, but no one considered him to be a major badass.