Last summer's wild multi-state crime spree by the Dougherty Gang -- two scary-looking brothers and their stripper sister -- understandably drew some superheated media coverage, what with Lee-Grace Dougherty's online bikini shots and all. But the story fizzled shortly after the trio's brief rampage ended in a police chase and crack-up on I-25 south of Pueblo.
Thank goodness for GQ, which has come out with a highly detailed and readable 7,500-word account of the siblings' wayward ways, their fierce bonds with each other -- and even some insights as to why they were in Colorado. They may be non-GQ people themselves, but Kathy Dobie's "The Whole True Story of the Doughtery Gang" provides a glimpse at the kind of hard-luck recklessness and goofiness that made the Doughertys instant cult material.
Part travelogue, part treatise on redneck culture, Dobie's article explores the desperate crisis in the family that touched off their break with the workaday world: young Ryan's conviction for sending sexually charged text messages to an eleven-year-old girl. (Hell, he was a dumb nineteen-year-old kid at the time, he explains, and he thought she was thirteen...none of which makes it sound any better.) To head off a possible prison sentence, the Doughertys took off from Lacoochee, Florida, and the next few days were filled with swapping shots with police, a bank heist in Georgia, and Slim Jims and Gatorade across the Southwest.
The gang bounced around a lot, apparently, but kept coming back to Colorado. They liked the mountains, the cool nights -- it "felt like a good place to hide," Dobie explains, and Ryan told her, "it might be the last time we ever see things this beautiful."
"Without all the guns and shooting at things," Lee-Grace adds, "it would've been an ordinary family vacation."
Indeed. Dobie's interviews with the gang, now facing dozens of charges here and elsewhere, are stuffed with such gems. But it's Dylan, the reputed mastermind, who has the best line: "To be honest, I don't know what the fuck we were thinking."