Dead Reckoning

Only Michael Furlong knows how his wife fell to her death. But the authorities know this isn't the first time he's lost a mate.

Gilbert doesn't downplay the difficulties involved in reopening the investigation. The neighbors and construction workers who may have seen suspicious goings-on at the Hitch-N-Post apartments are scattered. Billy Bob Northern, Robson's beloved surrogate father, died in 1997.

To the end, says Tryon, her father believed Linda Robson was trying to communicate with him, to let him know she forgave him for not being there when she needed him. Robson's death so distressed Northern that Tryon sometimes had to go to his home in the middle of the night to comfort him.

And among the living, Gilbert says, "memories fade." JR, for example, can offer only the tangled fears and memories of his savagely traumatized boyhood.

But some memories are not perishable.
Bill Humphreys is currently collecting photographs and mementos for JR. "I've got a place in the mountains I go visit Linda every year, kind of in a spiritual way," he says. "Linda's mom died at a very young age, and she always feared she would, too. She made me promise that if anything happened to her, I would take care of Bucko--that's what we called him. I'm struggling with that. I want to reach out. But then there's the question, What am I reaching into?"

Patty Jacques will never stop missing her friend. "I still don't celebrate New Year's," she says. "I swore there would never be a good New Year's again until I had her back or the man who killed her is laid to rest or in prison for the rest of his life." She sighs. "Mike will get his justice," she concludes, "whether it's with the criminal-justice system or with his maker."

After Linda Robson's murder, Michael Furlong moved to Texas. There he dated Jennifer Diane Leurke for six months in 1993 before returning to Colorado.

Contacted by an investigator after Deanna Furlong's death, Leurke described how Michael had explained his move to Texas: "He had, ah, at one time he was seeing this girl and, ah, she came up dead...It was best he got out of Colorado for a while.

"He was a gentle person to me," she added.

Deanna Furlong was the single mother of two children, Andy and Jacquie, when she met Michael Furlong, an engineer who'd recently moved to Boulder.

Soon after graduating from Fairview High School, Deanna had married Daniel Luntsford. According to her close friend Megan Hammer, the couple was "ecstatically happy."

"They didn't have a lot of money," Hammer says. "It didn't bother either of them. They had a tiny apartment in Berthoud; they were living out their dreams. The first child was a beautiful healthy boy, followed by a beautiful healthy little girl."

But over time, things changed. As Hammer sees it, Deanna began advancing in her work at Packaging Resources in Longmont, steadily gaining independence and self-confidence, and "the more she grew in that direction, the more he digressed in the other direction," Hammer says. "It was almost like she was taking his self-confidence. She wasn't. But the more she gained...and it just got to a point where she didn't want to live like that anymore. She felt smothered."

In August 1991, Deanna told Luntsford she wanted a trial separation. A day later, Luntsford abducted her and his children at gunpoint, drove them to Flagstaff Mountain, put the gun in Deanna's hands and told her to shoot him. When she refused, he shot the gun into the air, telling her that killing him would be easy. Finally, he ushered everyone into his truck and took them home.

Luntsford was arrested; that November, his bond was revoked because he had again threatened to kill both himself and Deanna. Ultimately, he spent almost two years in prison in connection with the abduction. But although she did not relent on the subject of divorce, Deanna supported Luntsford through the ordeal, bringing his children to see him, once writing a letter in his support to a judge.

"They loved each other intensely," says Hammer. "She loved him up until the day she died."

No one detected similar currents of love and loyalty between Deanna and Michael Furlong, however. "There was no 'twitterpation' between them," says Hammer, referring to the word used by Thumper in Bambi to describe a state of great excitement. "She said she didn't need to be twitterpated. He provided some sense of financial security, some stability. She had no inkling of what a monster he would become."

But Deanna did have some concerns. "She actually asked me right before they were married--we went out for a margarita--she said, 'Do you think I'm making a mistake?'" says Hammer. "I said, 'Yes. I think you're making the worst mistake of your life.'"

Hammer, with her rich, warm voice and quick laugh, seems the quintessential best friend. "Deanna," she says ruefully. "Deanna. Deanna. Deanna." She shakes her head, sighs. "Deanna said, 'It's too close to the wedding now. I can't back out.'"

Deanna's family and friends soon saw signs of Michael Furlong's temper for themselves. Deanna's father remembers that at his bachelor party, Furlong wanted to fight a man who had accidentally bumped him. "He was a contrarian," says another male acquaintance. "He has to show his superiority on every issue. Gun control--he's a supporter of the NRA. Boulder, because he hated the people and the politics."

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