Top

news

Stories

 

Keenu told the detectives that the suicide pact had been under discussion for weeks, possibly since before Kauri's trip to Sedona. The pair were spotted at the Royal Gorge on October 13, the same day Kauri called about the plumbing. And surveillance video police obtained from a gun shop in Cañon City reportedly shows Keenu attempting to purchase a pistol, failing, then Kauri entering the shop and also being rebuffed. They checked into the Denver Marriott Tech Center the next day.

Kauri had long been interested in end-time movements of one kind or another. She was a member of the Singularity Action Group, an online network of futurists and others fascinated by the notion of artificial intelligence evolving to a point well beyond human comprehension. Her notebooks are full of links to sites promoting "transhumanism," a patchwork of hopeful musings about extreme technological modification of human subjects to defy disease and even death. A common idea in transhumanism, though, is closely related to the New Testament parable about the grain of wheat's sacrifice and transformation — unless it dies and goes into the ground, it cannot bear fruit. Quoting sci-fi writer David Zindell, one of the transhumanism sites declares that man is a seed, "an acorn that is unafraid to destroy itself in growing into a tree."

Perhaps Kauri regarded her own death as a similar transformation. Her last tattoo client told one friend that Kauri had talked during the session about "ascension" and how her work was done here. It was not a term that Reed, Kosnar, Schinn or other confidants had heard her use before. But then, Kauri's ideas about life and death and her place in the universe were always changing, always evolving.

Tara Schinn, who had several tattoo sessions with Kauri, says her friend "did not want to die like this."
Tara Schinn, who had several tattoo sessions with Kauri, says her friend "did not want to die like this."
Kim Kosnar, who had "girl talks" with Kauri weeks before her death, says her friend gave no hint of being suicidal.
Kim Kosnar, who had "girl talks" with Kauri weeks before her death, says her friend gave no hint of being suicidal.

With her, nothing was fixed in stone, nothing was permanent — except death, maybe, and a good tattoo.


After Kauri left with Keenu, Kosnar texted her cell several times without a response. At the end of the week, she finally got a message back. It was the Denver police, using Kauri's phone to try to get in touch with her friends.

Kauri left no will. The state became the executor of her estate, and officials went to the warehouse and took her computer and personal effects. Kosnar went to the public auction to try to rescue what she could.

It was a grim scene. Strangers were rummaging through boxes of Kauri's stuff, her books and artwork and even her clothes, still suffused with her scent. "Look at these," someone snickered, holding up a pair of boots that reflected Kauri's flashy sense of fashion. "She must have been a hooker."

By the time it was over, Kosnar was in tears.

After weeks of effort, an investigator in the Denver coroner's office located Kauri's mother. The body was cremated, the ashes returned to Arizona. Some of her friends felt a sense of relief and closure at the news. Others were still turning over the inescapable questions: Why did Kauri do this? How could Keenu, a man with no history of violence, do what he did?

"I went from really sad to really angry," says Kosnar. "No ends were tied up. If they wanted to die painlessly, why not pills and alcohol? As disgusting as it sounds, I'd like to hear it from Keenu. I'd like to hear his side."

Keenu appeared briefly in court last week in putty-colored jailhouse scrubs, his hands and feet shackled. With his piercings removed, he seemed shaggy and washed-out — a study in gray, except for the bright red-and-turquoise cosmic scene on his left biceps. His preliminary hearing was postponed until February. His side of the story may have to wait until the day, if ever, that the contents of the notes he and Kauri left behind are divulged at trial.

The colors in Tara Schinn's cherry blossom half-sleeve are as bright as ever. But in her last few weeks, Kauri had started work for several clients that she never finished. They remain bare sketches on flesh, mere shadows of what they might have become.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
Cliff
Cliff

Kauri was a friend of mine. I have old letters and stories of her time in Tucson. She and Jay later visited me in Northern California when her Grandfather died and we spent time on the Lost Coast. There is a deeper longer story of deaths ... strange ritual deaths ... that were around her going all the way back to the '80's. She was always scared that "they" would find her ... to the point of paranoia. Her interests in the occult and psychedelic drug use led her down some very dark roads many of you know little of, but there were other murders (two I know of intimately). There were also wars, tattoo wars, going on in Tucson that she was affected by, with bombings and shootings ... she was not a willing participant. I'm sad to hear of her passing, as are many of her other old friends here in Tucson. RIP Kauri

Iris
Iris

Wow, I knew Kauri back in the 80's when we were just two young women hanging out together. Reading this makes me very sad. We sure had some good times, didn't we? Rest in peace Kauri.

Jery
Jery

Kauri did not 'go' by the name McPhillips, she married Jay McPhillips in 1994 in a private ceremony at the Enchangted Dragon Tattoo Studios in Tucson Az. People who slam a person "after" they are dead usually won't have ANYTHING said when they go. Kauri was a kind and kindred soul with visionary thoughts, a sharp wit and could recognize "crap" at a glance. Probably why some of these people are slamming her, she recognized them.

Jerry
Jerry

Have read the comments and I lived with Kauri for 14 months. Sorry you didn't get any James, only guys who knew her that hated her were the ones she dumped or never got any in the first place. Call you so you can play phone soldier, go turn some tricks and shut your face. Funny, don't see your name in any ink rags. She was spotlighted many times however. Man that jealousy can be harsh.

Jerry
Jerry

I knew Kauri since 1994, lived with her and her then husband in Tucson, she was Kauri McPhillips and worked for the Enchanted Dragon studios there for Glen Tackett. No I lived with her for 14 months and she did not want to go out like this.

Anne
Anne

Jim, How dare you talk about Kauri that way? Her art was not garbage and she was no liar.

james birkbeck
james birkbeck

i would encourage the writer of this article to print some of the fine literary musings kauri wrote and post an open challenge for a reputable scientist to interpret her nonsensical gibberish.the stone cold fact is the bitch was crazy,but just cause she died everyone wants to seem sympathetic and all full of the warm fuzzies for her.she wasnt shit in life ,so why should she be deified just cause she murdered. the only shame is that she didnt get the proper psychological help she so needed.i wonder why all her suppposed friends were so absent in that department.

Margaret
Margaret

It's not that Kauri was a lair, james, it's just that you're too stupid to know what she's talking about.And yes, I did know her, worked with her for years in different locations.

james birkbeck
james birkbeck

to those of you who were offended by what i had to say,my only question to you is did YOU know her.thought not ,because if you did and you were sane,you would probably share my lackluster sentiments.and to the retard who "is going to teach me a lesson"i live in virginia beach,va.if you feeling that assbent then feel free to contact me at 716 348 1223.i hope your your rightousness pays off,and by the way ,FUCK YOU!

 The
The

james birkbeck how dare you... seems like your the liar! where do you live again? I'll teach ya a thing or two about talking crap !

ouroboros
ouroboros

you tipped the scales, speaking ill of the dead.

james birkbeck
james birkbeck

i knew kauri very personally.we dated for a while when she lived in buffalo nyabout ten years ago.she actually got me into the tattoo business.one thing about kauri is she was a liar on the worst level.she was actually one those people who were so sick she believed her own lies.she would publically declare some total nonsense and the mere fact that she stated it somehow made it true to her.she was a very disturbed person who needed alot of help.she just drifted from town to town and used people around her,quite sad really.and speaking as a respected artist in the tattoo community,her work was garbage.her reputation was based soley on being freaky not so much as talent or skill in her craft.man that girl was nuttier than squirrel turds.

Rx
Rx

After reading this piece, I clicked for another page. But no, this was all there was to it: A somewhat tedious roadmap of a couple of scary-disturbed individuals hitting the end of the line in a Denver hotel, in an odd kind of way, not much different than the way the had lived. It's a sad story, but not terribly remarkable. I am left with two questions: Why was this story written? And why, with all her soul-searching and "voracious reading," did she evidentally never question her "racing thoughts" and instability? The article seems to glorify these traits, which are more than just quirky behavior than a series of acts pointing less to exceptional artistic ability and more to, say Bipolar I.

Krystof
Krystof

The word "Kauri" translates into "Tree", ironically, Kauri was the tree, those of us that she tattooed were the branches, and the tattoos themselves are the leaves. Many leaves take on many different shapes and colors, some almost incomplete in structure but still beautiful none the less. Thank you Kauri for the brief time you touched our loves. Until we meet again my friend.Love, Krystof, Lesley and Deanna

Lauren
Lauren

I am absolutely shocked. I was randomly scanning the website and decided to open this article....this woman did my tattoo in Northampton, Mass about 6 years ago! For the life of me I never remembered her name, but I do remember her stud implants and her love for physics (and her grandfather's supposed work on the Manhattan Project). The color on my tattoo is still the best I have ever seen and it has made it impossible for me to find another tattoo artist. I'll never be able to accept anything less than her absolutely gorgeous work. I am so sorry to hear about her death. She was an amazing artist and will always be remembered.

 
Loading...