By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
It had never been easy for him, but this time seemed worse. By now his family and friends seemed to have finally put Ciaran behind them, a lost cause, too much trouble. "So when I was locked up, I didn't have very much contact with my family," he says. "And at that time, when I lost all contact, I started thinking about my mom's murder and why anything hadn't been done. And a commercial for a new movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer, came on. And that theory started floating around in my head.
"In the movie, these guys accidentally kill some dude, and he comes back and tells them, 'I know what you did last summer.' That started going around in my head. I started thinking, if this was Nicole Brown Simpson, or Cosby--if it was one of these people, would the police have looked into my mom's case further? So then I started thinking: The police have laws they have to abide by, and maybe because of the law, they might have five suspects, and one of them might be real good, but because of the law, they might not have the evidence and they might have to hold what they have back and hope this guy or this lady makes a mistake.
"But what if I could get that name?
"Well, then it literally became a simple equation of banks equals money equals lawyers and investigators I could hire equals the name in that file, you know what I mean? And that would equal an I Know What You Did Last Summer technique, you see what I'm saying? I thought to myself, I'm going to be breaking the law if I get this name anyway, by harassing this person, or sticking something in their mailbox, like a picture of my mom, letting them know, 'I know what you did, and you can either turn yourself in or blow yourself away. Do whatever you have to do, but one way or another, you're going to get caught, and I'm coming for you,' you know?"
It certainly wasn't the first time that a private investigation followed by a bloody and satisfying revenge had occurred to Ciaran. In fact, the Mission had begun building in him almost from the beginning, although early on it had no form or shape, just a simmering anger and frustration that percolated to the surface, particularly when he was drunk.
"Cops would come to my home in the middle of the night," his ex-wife recalls, "saying that Ciaran had been saying in a bar that he was going to hunt down his mother's killer and kill him. So the people who heard him would call the police, and they'd come by and try to find him."
Later the Mission's details sharpened into a vivid picture. "I knew that to get a name, I was going to need lawyers, I was going to need Pinkerton's--that's who I wanted to hire, Pinkerton's," he recalls. That would require money, a lot of it. Ciaran began buying lottery tickets, $20 worth at a time, hoping for a hit that could spark the plan into motion.
As time passed and the anger of others seemed to flicker out, it began to feel as though he was the only one who cared; the rest of his family seemed so complacent, so...passive. "So I was going to go to California, and I was going to take charge, get into everybody's ass and into everybody's face," he says. "I thought, if I was the one who had been murdered, my mother would stop at nothing, you know? And I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I hadn't been able to do anything about catching the person who killed my mom."
In jail, the feelings of isolation and frustration got worse. He began having dreams. He dreamed about his kids, all in a park together playing catch--only now there was another man with his boys, and when Ciaran asked them to throw the Frisbee, they turned and looked at him like he was a stranger and said, "No, we don't throw to you anymore, Dad."
Other times he dreamed he was walking through his mother's apartment in the silent time directly following the murder, seeing things as the killer did. "I was walking in the back door and then standing over my mother, knowing this is what he saw when he did it," he says. By springtime the details of the Mission were complete, the plan fully formed. He was finally ready to do something. It was almost a relief.
He was released from the Denver County Jail on the evening of April 2. Because the weather was chilly, and because he'd been arrested in the summer when all he'd been wearing was a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, the jail had given him someone else's clothes: a pair of long off-white pants and a thick black B.U.M. sweatshirt.
The jail had provided him with other helpful things, too. On the inside he'd made some friends, people who sympathized with him and offered advice. One told him he knew where a guy could find a vehicle to use for, say, a personal Mission--he could think of it as a small contribution toward his revenge--and so after his release, he immediately headed for the Arvada wastewater treatment plant near Sloan Lake.