Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore |

Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore

When is the orgasm so good that murder is incidental to its release? Is the life of a 12-year-old child worth it, or the life of anyone, for that matter? We’ll never know the answers, of course, because we’re not the ones motivated by such hideous insanity.

Aspen did indeed, however, play a pivotal role in this chilling saga, and I suppose we’d all like to forget it, but as columnist Paul Andersen once wrote, “We have a celebrity climate here that even includes mass murderers.” It doesn’t seem right to talk about it, now that we know how it all turned out, but that’s why we’d like to forget, I reckon.

For me, it started out innocently enough. Headed to Carbondale to replenish feed for the T Lazy 7 horse herd, I suddenly found myself pulled up short in a long line of vehicles at the Old Snowmass Conoco. Soon enough, the solemn-looking law officers manning the site left no doubt they were serious about something, as they looked in trunks, pried open hoods and peered behind seats with an efficiency seldom seen in local enforcement. Such aberrations always put me in a bad mood ’cause I figure if someone hadn’t screwed up somewhere along the line, we wouldn’t need the hassle of a road block.

Up until then, rapist and serial murderer Ted Bundy’s presence in our local jail hadn’t made much of an impression on me, but his escape that morning and the sudden realization that my wife, Caroline, was home alone on the ranch (which was along a possible flight route), parched my mouth and cranked up my pulse rate. Over the phone, I instructed her to keep my lever-action .30-.30 close at hand and to be extremely suspicious of anyone coming by. “Finish your errands,” she’d said, and had I been “Terrible Ted,” I’d have made a wide swath around her, she was so confident.

Which is exactly what he did, shortly after my telephone call. He went up the far side of Maroon Creek, directly across from our house, not a hundred yards away. We didn’t know this until days later, when a sheriff’s deputy thought such information might be welcome. It made me cuss, I remember that.

Later that afternoon, we drove up the road to see what kind of big deal the manhunt had created. At the lower end of Henry Stein’s meadow, near the mouth of East Maroon, we spotted a roaring fire, stoked up for a pep rally it seemed, surrounded by beefy, squint-eyed men in wool shirts, jeans and leather boots who amateurishly spit tobacco, stroked their high-powered rifles as they might rub morning erections, and slurped on cans of beer.

The fact that I’d walked the couple hundred feet down to the gathering, rather than bouncing a big four-wheel-drive vehicle into their midst, marked me as one of the unwashed, but when I told ’em they were on private property (looking out for Henry’s better interests, I was, thinking they were a bunch of nut cases from over the Divide), they looked at me like I’d lost my mind. They had been “deputized,” the story went, and were gonna catch Ted Bundy that night, or soon thereafter, and I’d best not interfere. Turning on my tall-heeled boots, I offered that if they built a bigger fire, Ol’ Ted might be drawn to the flames, like a killer moth.

Bundy, who once said, “So what’s one less? What’s one less person on the face of the planet,” and who couldn’t drive around the block without screwing up, was arrested six days later when he drew attention to himself near the Aspen Grove subdivision in a stolen Cadillac.

Only in this civilized world is it possible, but he went on to kill at least two more women and another 12-year-old girl. Those clowns with the big bonfire should have caught him first.

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