Scott Kimball was 10 when his grandmother's neighbor took him to a cabin near Nederland and sexually abused him for the first time.
The abuse went on for seven years, Kimball later told police. Sometimes Theodore Peyton, who was convicted of the abuse in 1991, gave him alcohol before tying him up and assaulting him, according to a document filed in Boulder County court. Once, he held a gun to Kimball's head and threatened to kill his father if the boy told anyone.
More than 30 years later, the victim has become the suspect. Kimball was the last person seen with four people, all of whom disappeared shortly after being spotted with him. One of them was a 19-year-old woman whose remains were found in a remote, mountainous area of Jackson County in 2007. Authorities are investigating whether remains found last month in Utah are those of another victim.
Kimball is now 42 and serving a 48-year prison sentence for theft. He has not been charged in the disappearances and has denied committing any violent crimes — even as he apparently provided information leading authorities to the body in Utah.
"Fuel for the fire"
Experts in psychology and criminal behavior are quick to say that victims of child sexual abuse are not destined to commit abuse of their own. Most do not, said Gregg McCrary, a criminal profiler and retired special agent who spent 26 years with the FBI.
But a lot of offenders do have "troubles" in their background, said McCrary, who now works as a private consultant and teaches forensic psychology at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. Combined with other problems such as a personality disorder, abuse "becomes fuel for the fire."
That may be particularly true in cases such as the abuse of Kimball, when it goes unreported for years and the victim carries the psychological burden without benefit of counseling.
"It's one of the things you look at when listing suspects," McCrary said.
A spokeswoman for the FBI referred questions to the Boulder County district attorney's office. A spokeswoman there declined to comment. Kimball's defense attorneys did not return phone calls.
It is the policy of The Denver Post not to name the victims of sexual abuse unless they choose to come forward. In this case, an attorney for Kimball in the theft case disclosed the abuse against him in open court and court records.
According to records filed as part of his 1991 conviction, Peyton befriended Kimball and one of Kimball's relatives in 1976, while living across the street from their grandmother in a Lafayette trailer park. Kimball was 10. His relative was 7. Peyton was 41.
At first their outings were innocent, Kimball and his relative told police years later. Peyton would take them bowling or to his cabin. He bought them presents, gave them money. About a month after they started spending time together, things changed. Peyton insisted on taking only one of them to his cabin at a time, saying the pair fought too much when together.
Both said Peyton would give them alcohol or play games, such as "Truth or Dare," that would become sexual. Years later, Scott Kimball's relative said the assaults were so frequent it was impossible to remember how many times they occurred. Kimball later estimated Peyton took 600 to 700 pictures of him, either nude or partially clothed, according to a court document.
The abuse stopped when Kimball and his relative reached their teen years, rejected Peyton's advances and told him what he did to them was wrong.
In 1989 — about six years after the abuse ended — Kimball's mother met with a detective for the Boulder County Sheriff's Office. Scott Kimball had tried to kill himself, she said. During counseling, the allegations of abuse surfaced.
Peyton was charged in January 1990 with six counts of sexual assault on a child. In January 1991, a jury convicted him on all counts. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
According to news accounts from the time, Peyton denied at trial and during his sentencing that he did anything wrong.
Because his conviction occurred prior to July 1, 1991, when Colorado's sex-offender registration law took effect, Peyton is not required to register his address with police.
Now 74, Peyton still lives in Nederland. Approached at his home there, Peyton acknowledged knowing Kimball and said he was aware Kimball is currently in jail. But he refused to discuss his relationship with Kimball or the sex-abuse case.
Still seeking clues
Authorities still are looking for remains and other evidence in the disappearances of Jennifer Marcum, Kaysi McLeod, Leann Emry and Terry Kimball, all of whom were last seen alive with Scott Kimball.
Kimball met Marcum while serving time for fraud in a federal detention center with her boyfriend. In 2002, authorities let Kimball out early to work as an informant for the FBI. He and Marcum spoke on the phone almost daily and met in person a half-dozen times, according to court records. A few months later, Marcum, 25, went missing. Kimball later told an FBI agent that a drug dealer had killed her.
McLeod, 19, was last seen in August 2003, while Kimball was dating the girl's mother. McLeod's boyfriend said Kimball picked her up the day she disappeared. Her partial remains were found in late 2007 in Jackson County.
Emry also was last seen with Kimball in 2003. Her car was later found abandoned near Moab, Utah, about 18 miles from where human remains were found earlier this month. A source with knowledge of the case told The Denver Post that authorities had been to the area with Kimball.
Terry Kimball, Scott Kimball's uncle, disappeared in 2004, after staying at Scott Kimball's home.
In 2005, Kimball was arrested for violating conditions of his supervised release on a previous, unrelated conviction. About that time, Marcum's and McLeod's fathers went to the FBI and urged them to investigate Kimball.