Dealing With the Devil

Brandy DuVall went through hell before she died. She left no angels as witnesses.

She thinks back to when she was a young girl, living in the house at 2727 California, the house where Danny and Antonio--Bang and Boom--first gained their gang notoriety. Their grandmother's house, for which they named their particular branch of the CMG. The Deuce-Seven. If she could just go back, back to when her boys were young, when she could have changed their lives--saved Danny's life.

Antonio somehow walked away from his criminal past, graduated from art school and got a job at a fancy tattoo parlor in another city. He works hard supporting himself, his girlfriend and her son and also sends money back to Denver to support his daughter. But to move on with his life, he had to distance himself from the brother he loved and from Francisco, whom he loved like a brother.

Theresa won't let Antonio come back for the trial.
Bad enough that she will have to sit hour after hour on the hard wooden benches of the courtroom, staring at the back of her other son, the little boy who loved people and couldn't stand to be cooped up indoors. Danny. She loves him still and can't abandon him, no matter what he did.

Even if he participated in the rape and then stood on the hillside with Little Frankie, watching while Pancho and Sammy stabbed Brandy dozens of times, then threw her like a piece of trash over an embankment. "The law says that makes him just as guilty, a consequence for their total behavior that night," she says. "But at least I won't have to sit there and hear that my son did the killing."

It's a small consolation on this night, three days after Christmas. "But it helps me feel not quite as bad," she says, then whispers, "Yeah."

May 31, 1997
It was a great day to drive through the mountains. There were no clouds in the thin slice of sky that showed between the narrow walls of Clear Creek Canyon, and the sun was high enough to peek over the edge of the high rock precipices, warming the early afternoon air.

Lance Butler had the windows down as he guided his car along the curves of two-lane Highway 6, a few miles west of Golden. He was enjoying showing the scenery to a visiting friend. They were a couple of clean-cut college grads on their way to Central City for a day of gambling and beer.

A mile or so past the point where Tunnel 1 burrows through a granite shoulder, the friend looked across the highway at the tumbling, rushing waters of Clear Creek. He suggested they stop and dip their feet.

"It'll be cold," Butler warned, as he drove across the highway and pulled into a gravel turnoff at mile marker 296.5. They got out and stretched, then walked over to a narrow swath of grasses. Just ahead, the ground suddenly dropped away to the stream thirty feet below. The embankment was a steep jumble of jagged boulders, too rugged to climb down.

The friend was walking along the edge, looking for another way to the water, when he pulled up short and pointed. "There's a body down there."

Butler thought his friend was joking. But he saw the blue of a pair of jeans and then the body, bare from the waist up, wedged in the rocks almost at the water's edge.

Butler and his friend thought it looked like the body of a small man. They moved along the rim until they were directly above it and were trying to decide if they should get closer still when they saw a dark red stain on the grass. It was a pool of congealing blood a couple of feet in diameter.

They ran back toward the highway and started flagging cars. This was a busy Saturday, and the highway was jammed with casino buses and other vehicles full of hopeful gamblers. Still, it took several minutes of frantic waving before someone pulled over.

The driver tried to call out on his cellular telephone but couldn't get a signal past the high canyon walls. More cars stopped, and other drivers dialed out but couldn't get through. In the meantime, tourists walked back and forth along the edge, trying to get a look at the body.

Finally, everyone decided to leave and find help. "When you get to a telephone, call the police," Butler yelled as he ran to his car.

A few minutes later, the Jefferson County Sheriff's dispatcher fielded several calls from Central City about a body and "a lot of blood" in Clear Creek Canyon.

Diane Obbema was the first deputy to arrive at the mile 296.5 turnoff. She got out of her patrol car, took a few steps to the edge and immediately saw the body. Then she began picking her way down through the boulders to see if she could help.

The body belonged to a girl who was past help. She was lying on her back, her face turned to the sky, her eyes closed. Her head was nearly in the water, her bare feet pointed up the hill. A pair of silver-colored handcuffs bound her hands behind her back. She was covered in blood.

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