When they were a little older, Holly and Tammy occasionally ran away together. They'd leave for a few days, usually staying in the area, but sometimes hitchhiking as far as Arizona and California. They'd always come home, though. When they were all home, Tammy, Holly and Dave often partied and smoked pot together. "The three of us were real tight," Tammy says. But she insists that their somewhat wild lifestyle was nothing out of the ordinary for teenagers growing up in the '70s. Their parents didn't agree, but "they had no control over us at that age," she says.
Dave eventually spent time in juvenile hall; Tammy received psychological counseling for running away from home; and in late 1976, Holly spent two months at Fort Logan Mental Health Center.
"I guess back then they called it 'uncontrollable behavior,'" explains Tammy. "You know, back then, you could have your kids put in Fort Logan for smoking pot. You can't do that anymore."
Holly got out of Fort Logan just before Christmas 1976. Soon after, in her typical playful fashion, she put on her majorette uniform and posed for a photograph of herself sitting on a mall Santa's lap. The photo, taken just before Holly was murdered, is one of the only photos that Tammy has of her sister.
On Christmas day, the Andrews kids, along with two children from Gerald Andrews's second marriage, gathered at their father's house to celebrate. That evening, Tammy remembers, Holly decided to go to a friend's party in Englewood. She wanted Tammy to go with her, and although Tammy wanted to go, she was already grounded and didn't want to get into more trouble. Holly, angry that Tammy wasn't joining her, left the house alone.
That was the last time Tammy saw her sister alive.
Holly did return to her mother's house after the party, but on the evening of December 26, she left to visit a friend. An acquaintance of hers named Steve Hobbs and his cousin would later report that they had seen her hitchhiking at the corner of Belleview and Broadway in Englewood at about 5:30 p.m. Paula Albert, a relative of the Andrews family, later told police that she had seen Holly near her father's home sometime between 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Since Holly didn't come home the next day, her stepfather assumed that she had run away again, and he filed a runaway report with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office. But that same day, a pair of cross-country skiers found Holly's body, clad only in blue knee socks, on a high cliff near Bakersville, west of Georgetown. She'd been stabbed once in the chest and six times in the back, and an autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted.
Tammy remembers that a group of men wearing suits, probably agents from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, came to her father's house. "My friend was there with me, and we were babysitting my little sister. Next thing I know, my stepmom tears out the door. She's got to go see my dad. And then my dad comes home from work and tells us. But he says, 'I think they found her. They think it's her,' because, you know, she hadn't been identified. I didn't believe it."
Tammy started drinking in reaction to Holly's death, and she says that, combined with her grief, the alcohol blurred her perceptions and her recollections of the days and weeks that followed. "From then on, things got so distorted. I was drinking. I shouldn't have been, but I was."
Holly was buried on January 3, 1977. Tammy remembers that four of her younger siblings were too small to attend the funeral, so they stayed at home. She also recalls learning that the CBI had secretly videotaped the funeral, thinking that the killer might make an appearance. She remembers little else about that day. "I looked at the funeral book, and I don't remember all those people being there," she says. "I didn't remember my mom being there, but she was."
And it was her mother, Tammy says, whose life would be consumed by Holly's death. Over the next few years, Tammy and most of her siblings dropped out of school. She got married at sixteen and moved out of her parents' homes. Dave was in and out of juvenile hall and, later, prison. But Madson could never get her mind off the murder. She called police all the time to see if they had any leads. They never did. She even conducted an investigation of her own, tracking down people who might have known something about the murder. She may have even had a suspect of her own, although she never told Tammy who it was.