The case of Scott Lee Kimball: Modern American serial killer

Updated: Jun 4



Today’s case is another serial killer case. I haven’t done that many serial killer cases; in fact, the only one I remember doing was on The Bear Brook murders, which I covered a couple of weeks ago, both here and on this blog’s corresponding YouTube channel. (By the way, that video is doing really well, so thank you to everyone who has watched and/or engaged with it so far.)


Just like the Bear Brook murders, today’s case is a bit convoluted. I’ve put all the information in the order I think is the easiest to follow, so let’s get started. This is the case of Scott Lee Kimball.



early life



I couldn’t find much information on Scott’s early life. He was born in or around 1966; Wikipedia listed his birthday as September 21, though it’s not exactly reliable.


Scott was born in Boulder, Colorado and raised in Lafayette. He left Colorado during high school and moved to Montana with his dad. Then he moved back to Colorado in 2002. At some point, he was married and had two sons, but the marriage ended in divorce.


In the early 2000’s, Scott and his mom were running a check fraud scam, stealing over $50,000 from an optometrist who worked in the same building as his mom. They were quickly caught; I don’t know what happened to his mom, but Scott was sent to prison.



Scott was released from prison on December 18, 2002, but not because he’d served his time. He’d convinced the prison warden (or whoever makes that decision) to let him out early so he could become an FBI informant in a murder for hire plot. More on that case later.


Around this time, Scott began dating a woman named Lori McLeod. The two met at a casino and hit it off pretty quickly. When they met, Lori was worried that Scott might be a felon, but he told her he couldn’t be because he worked for the FBI. The couple moved in together and were soon joined by Lori’s teenage daughter, Kaysi.



Kaysi McLeod


Kaysi Dawn McLeod was the only child of Lori and Rob McLeod. Rob described his daughter as creative, smart and giggly. He said she could do really well at something if she put her mind to it.


Rob and Lori divorced when Kaysi was four. In high school, Kaysi moved to Phoenix, Arizona to live with her aunt after some clashes with her mother. After high school, Kaysi started hanging out with people who were bad influences, according to her family and friends, and got into drugs. She ended up turning her life around and went to live with Lori and Scott.


In August 2003, 19-year-old Kaysi lived with her mother and Scott Kimball and worked at a local Subway. But things quickly changed when Scott showed Lori drugs he said he’d found in Kaysi’s room. Lori confronted her daughter about the finding, but Kaysi insisted the drugs weren’t hers. Angry, she took off from the house.


Scott got Kaysi a hotel room and would sometimes come by to pick her up and take her to work. He told Lori that Kaysi just needed some time to cool off, and then she’d likely come back home.


But just a few days later, Kaysi’s boyfriend, who’d been staying with her at the hotel, said she didn’t come back one night. She hadn’t shown up for her shift at work that day either. Her boyfriend thought Scott had picked her up and taken her to work, but Scott said he was on a hunting trip that day.


Scott was gone for a week after Kaysi was last seen. According to Lori, he would frequently be gone for what he claimed was work, so this might not have seemed unusual at the time. When he returned home, he told Lori Kaysi probably just wanted some time to herself. Lori did try to get the police involved, but they seemed to agree that Kaysi had left voluntarily and would eventually come back on her own. Lori also claimed police wouldn’t let her file a missing persons report because there was no evidence of foul play.


Not long after Kaysi was last seen, Scott suggested to Lori that they take a trip to Vegas to get married, which they did. Scott later claimed to find one of Kaysi’s necklaces in the house, and a neighbor claimed he saw her there as well. A few months later, Kaysi failed to show up at her dad’s house for Christmas, where she usually spent the holiday. Both of Kaysi’s parents worried that she’d gotten back into drugs, but thought she would come home when she was ready.


the in between


Lori McLeod

In 2004, the newly married Scott and Lori started a cattle farm. Later that year, there was a horrific accident involving Scott’s son Justin, who was 10 at the time. Justin was digging a hole outside and a cattle grate, which had been leaning against a truck, fell on him. Scott got a severely injured Justin into his car to take him to the hospital, but the car door came open on the way and Justin fell out. (Another source said he actually fell out of the window.)


Justin was in a coma for a month. When he woke up, he claimed his father had pushed the cattle grate on him. Prosecutor Katharina Booth believes Scott tried to kill his son for insurance money but, ultimately, didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with a crime. I’m not sure at this point if Lori and the rest of Scott and Justin’s relatives knew about his claim, or if they believed that this was an accident.


After the accident (or “accident”), Scott’s 60-year-old uncle, Terry Kimball, came to stay with the family. Lori didn’t care much for Terry and didn’t question it when he left the house later that year. After Terry left, Scott told people his uncle had won the lottery and moved to Mexico with a stripper named Ginger. A year later, an e-mail sent from Terry’s account claimed he was doing well and had no plans of returning to the U.S.


Terry Kimball

In 2005, Scott was once again investigated for check fraud, this time involving his cattle business. In early 2006, investigators talked to Lori, who said Scott wasn’t at home, but may have fled to California or Alaska. They also discovered that Kaysi hadn’t been heard from in over two years — and Scott had been one of the last people to see her.


A warrant for Scott’s arrest was put out, and he was tracked down in Palm Springs, California in March. When he was finally found, a long car chase ensued. The chase ran through the states’s famous Coachella Valley and didn’t stop until Scott ran out of gas and surrendered.


But this was just the tip of the iceberg. An investigation called Operation Snowball soon revealed that Scott Kimball was the last person seen with at least three other missing people.



LeAnn Emry

LeAnn Christina Emry was born on March 24, 1978 in Weiser, Idaho and moved to Denver in 1985. As a child, she loved singing, animals and the outdoors. According to her father, Howard Emry, if LeAnn wanted something done, she’d get it done. He also described his daughter as active and a leader, always wanting to help both people and animals. LeAnn made straight A’s and loved adventure.


Upon reaching adulthood, LeAnn started going to school for physical therapy, but switched two years in and became a vet tech, getting a job at an animal shelter. Due to health issues her mom faced, LeAnn didn’t finish college. She ended up losing her job and started hanging out with people who could be described as “the wrong crowd” — people who did drugs and had been in trouble with the law. She married a man in jail, but left him in 2002.



By early 2003, 24-year-old LeAnn lived in Centennial, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. In January, she told her dad she was going on a spelunking trip in Mexico with friends, something she’d done many times before. They planned to be gone one or two weeks.

LeAnn left for her planned trip on January 16. A few hours later, she called her sister, Michelle, and said that if anything happened to her, she wanted Michelle to know she loved her. This was unusual for LeAnn, who wasn’t one to just tell her family that she loved them out of the blue. Eleven days after leaving on her trip, she called her dad and told him she was going to stay in Mexico for awhile.


But LeAnn wasn’t calling from Mexico. She was calling from Colorado.


LeAnn was last seen on January 30, 2003 checking out of a hotel in Grand Junction. The next day, her car was found near Moab, Utah.

A sheriff’s deputy called LeAnn’s parents to let them know about this. They filed a missing persons report, but it was clear the police thought she’d left on her own and that there were no signs of foul play. LeAnn’s credit cards weren’t in the car, so her dad contacted her bank to investigate further.


In the weeks before her disappearance, her credit cards had been used to buy gas in Wyoming, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Colorado. As far as Howard Emry could tell, his daughter hadn’t been to Mexico like she claimed. One of her cards was used again in California a few days after she was last seen, but the signature wasn’t hers.


A few weeks later, Howard Emry got a letter from LeAnn’s boyfriend, Steven Holley, who was in jail at the time. Howard wrote back and told Steven that LeAnn was missing. Steven then told him to contact the FBI because LeAnn was in trouble. But when Howard did that, the agent he talked to said Steven Holley couldn’t be trusted and talking to him would be a waste of time.

In the months leading up to her disappearance, LeAnn wrote to one of her cousins about someone she referred to as “Hanable.” Whoever this “Hanable” person was, she seemed to be scared of him. A few days before she left on her trip, LeAnn told this cousin: “I have to hide my orders come from Hanable (for the moment) and he’s a dangerous person. ...”

“Hanable” was actually a man who had been in jail with Steven Holley. The two hatched a plan to escape, and for LeAnn and Steven to meet in Mexico. “Hanable” asked Steven for LeAnn’s contact information to help arrange this meeting, and the two began corresponding. But he didn’t want LeAnn to know his real name, so he told her to use the alias “Hannibal.” Hannibal’s real name was Scott Kimball.


In October 2007, FBI agent Jonathan Grusing contacted the Emrys, looking for LeAnn. By this point, pictures of LeAnn had been found on Scott Kimball’s computer, so police knew she was connected to him in some way — they just weren’t sure how. When they found out she was missing, they knew Scott Kimball was probably responsible. Remember, he was released from prison in December 2002 — less than two months before LeAnn went missing.


Jonathan Grusing had been looking for LeAnn to talk to her concerning a murder for hire case. This case involved a woman named Jennifer Marcum.



Jennifer Marcum

Jennifer Lynn Marcum was born on June 15, 1977 in Denver, Colorado but grew up in Springfield, Illinois. Jennifer enjoyed dancing, shopping and sports and dreamed of opening up her own coffee and sandwich shop.


By 2003, 25-year-old Jennifer was the single mom of a 5-year-old son. She’d been working as a stripper in order to provide for herself and her son, and had worked as a prostitute at some point as well. In the early 2000’s, she started dating a man named Steven Ennis. In 2002, he went to jail on drug charges, where he shared a cell with Scott Kimball.


While in jail with Steven Ennis, Scott Kimball learned about Jennifer and her dream to open a coffee shop. He promised Steven that when he got out, he’d help Jennifer with that dream — but ended up double crossing both of them. Scott told the FBI that Steven and Jennifer had hatched a plan to kill two people who were set to testify against Steven. The case he’d been released from jail to help the FBI with was Jennifer’s — but there’s no evidence she knew about any of this.



Jennifer Marcum was last seen on February 17, 2003 near the Denver International Airport. Her car was found at the airport about a month later, but there’s no evidence she ever got on a flight. Her last phone call was to Steven Ennis, who she told she would see in three days. Her phone hasn’t been used since. Jennifer disappeared about six months before Kaysi McLeod, and about 20 miles away.


Much like LeAnn Emry, police didn’t seem too eager to investigate Jennifer’s case at first. But Jennifer’s father, Bob Marcum, kept pushing. An FBI agent he’d previously been in contact with about the case was able to set up a meeting with an informant who went by the alias “Joe Snitch.” “Joe” told Bob that Jennifer was dead, he knew where her body was, and they needed to find the body so she could be properly buried. He even offered to take Bob, as well as Jennifer’s mother, Mary Willis, to find the body in mountains. They declined out of concerns for their own safety.


After this meeting, Bob called the original FBI agent and said he thought “Joe Snitch” killed his daughter. The agent didn’t believe him. “Joe” ended up making an offer to Mary Willis when she contacted him herself: If she wanted to know what happened to Jennifer, he’d demonstrate it on her. Later, he said he’d demonstrate it on an escort if Mary hired one.

Bob Marcum had secretly written down “Joe’s” license plate number and had a police officer friend run the plates. And they found out Joe’s real name: Scott Kimball.



Terry Kimball


But Kaysi, LeAnn and Jennifer weren’t the only missing people connected to Scott. Lori McLeod soon realized that nobody had heard from Scott’s uncle Terry since he presumably won the lottery and moved to Mexico. So police investigated further.


The story, of course, turned out to be fabricated. The Ohio State Lottery, which Scott claimed Terry had won, had no records of him ever winning. Scott sold a lot of Terry’s things after his disappearance. He’d logged in to Terry’s e-mail after he disappeared, presumably to write the e-mail that said Terry didn’t plan on coming back to the U.S. Terry’s blood was also found in a house Scott used to live in — I assume the one Terry stayed with them in in 2004.



finding the bodies

So by now, it was around 2008. Scott Kimball was in jail for check fraud, and suspected in four disappearances. But without bodies, there wasn’t a lot that could be done.

Investigators pressed him for information, but he seemed reluctant to give any. Finally, a few months in, he asked a strange question: What if one of the girls disappeared on federal forestland?


Jonathan Grusing remembered a receipt that had been in evidence for awhile. It was from a grocery store in Walden, Colorado, near the Routt National Forest. It was dated August 24, 2003 — the day after Kaysi disappeared.


Grusing talked to park staff, who said hunters had found a skull in the forest in the fall of 2007. DNA testing was ordered on the skull, which was confirmed to belong to Kaysi McLeod.


It was confirmed by cell phone records that Scott was in the area around the time Kaysi was last seen. Even worse, he and Lori had honeymooned in the forest just days after Kaysi went missing. Lori later said she thought Scott took her there so he could, in her words, “Check out his handiwork.” She also believes he staged everything that suggested Kaysi was still alive.


Kaysi McLeod's body was found in the Routt National Forest four years after she went missing.

So now investigators knew where Kaysi McLeod was, and that Scott was almost certainly involved in her death. But what about the other three missing people connected to him? A deal was eventually struck: Scott would plead guilty to second degree murder and get a 28 year sentence if he led police to the bodies of Terry Kimball, Jennifer Marcum and LeAnn Emry.


At first, investigators felt like Scott was leading them on a wild goose chase. But in March 2009, with his help, they found the skeletonized body of LeAnn Emry. She was lying in the fetal position on a remote ledge in Utah’s Book Cliffs, near the Colorado border. A bullet fragment found near her body matched a gun Scott owned at the time she died. Howard Emry believes his daughter was killed just after she was last seen.


In January of that year, Scott had drawn investigators a map to the remains of his uncle, Terry Kimball. In June, when snow thawed, they found Terry’s mummified body in a remote mountain pass in Vail, Colorado — right where Scott had said it would be.


Scott attempted to lead investigators to Jennifer Marcum’s remains, but a search of the area never led to anything. Her body has never been found. At first, Scott claimed Steven Ennis killed her. Later, he changed his story and said one of Steven’s friends killed and buried her near Rifle, Colorado. He would also later claim he had trouble finding her remains because the area where they were was dark and he’d only been there once.


I have seen speculation online that Scott isn’t actually involved in Jennifer’s disappearance. A reddit user who goes by strigoi82 suggested around 2018 that Scott may not have actually killed Jennifer, but falsely confessed to get a better deal.



If this is the case, it didn’t work. Because he’d failed to fully uphold his end of the deal, his original 48 year sentence was increased. In 2009, he plead guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 70 years in prison, where he remains today. He’ll be eligible for parole in 2044.



other potential victims

So Scott Lee Kimball is responsible for the murders of Kaysi McLeod, LeAnn Emry, Terry Kimball and presumably Jennifer Marcum. But several people involved in this case, including Rob McLeod as well as prosecutor Katharina Booth, don’t believe he stopped there. The Boulder County District Attorney claims Kimball bragged about committing dozens of murders, and his victim count has been estimated to be as high as 25. Let’s talk about some other unsolved murders that Scott is thought to be involved in.

Catrina Powell


On October 25, 2004, the body of 26-year-old Catrina Powell was found near a dumpster behind a mall in Westminster, Colorado. (Another source said she was 28.) She had been strangled (and/or bludgeoned) and her hands were cut off. She had no ID on her, but was identified pretty quickly by her sister-in-law.


Scott Kimball lived close to Westminster at the time of Catrina’s murder. He also said at one point that he had killed a prostitute and left her body in someone’s backyard. Catrina was a prostitute, and there were houses near the dumpster where she was found. Scott has denied killing her, and he’s never been charged in her murder.


If you have any information about the murder of Catrina Powell you can contact the Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867. Be sure to reference case number 2004-15625.

Lina Reyes-Geddes


Lina Reyes-Geddes disappeared from Austintown, Ohio, on April 8, 1998 at the age of 37. She was supposed to be going to Texas, but it’s not clear if she ever got there. She was reported missing by her husband a few weeks later. (another source said he waited six months) He was initially a suspect in her disappearance, but died in the early 2000’s.


Lina’s body was found on a highway near Ticaboo, Utah on April 20, 1998 — just days after she was last seen. She had died of a single gunshot wound to the head and her body had been wrapped in a sleeping bag, plastic bags, duct tape and a play mat. Her fingers had been cut off — similar to Catrina Powell’s hands being cut off — and ties on her body were similar to ties that would be found on Terry Kimball’s body over a decade later.


But investigators at the time hadn’t made any of these connections yet. They didn’t even know her name. For twenty years, she was only known as “the Maidenwater victim” before finally being identified in 2018.


Even before she was identified, Scott Kimball was a person of interest in her murder. His son, Justin — the one he allegedly tried to kill years earlier — said he played on a mat similar to the one Lina was found wrapped in around the same time her body was found.

West Mesa murders


Scott has also been suspected in the West Mesa murders, a case I did a full video on a few months ago. In 2009, a woman walking her dog along Albuquerque, New Mexico’s West Mesa stumbled on a human bone. This discovery led to a mass burial pit that contained the remains of nine women, two teenage girls and one unborn child. All of the victims disappeared between 2003 and 2004, the same years Scott Kimball’s murders were committed. He also travelled to Albuquerque sometimes for business. He was arrested in 2006, around the time the murders are thought to have stopped.


Scott has also been suspected in the death of a homeless man in Montana, but I couldn’t find any more information about that case.



aftermath


Lori McLeod had her marriage to Scott annulled. In addition to planting evidence that Kaysi was still alive after killing her, she believes he planted the drugs in Kaysi’s room to get the mother and daughter away from each other.


In 2015, Lori was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. An obituary for a Lori McLeod that seems to match her says she died in 2019 in Canada.


When Scott was arrested in 2006, he denied his involvement in the then-disappearances of any of his victims. He eventually confessed to killing Terry Kimball, but not any of the women. He later said he knew who killed them and helped dispose of their bodies. Then he claimed he killed them but didn’t act alone.


In 2011, Scott wrote a 147 page letter to his family admitting responsibility in the murders. Well, sort of. He admitted to killing Kaysi, but said it was an accident, that she overdosed on drugs and alcohol he gave her. He said he killed Jennifer by causing her to overdose on heroin, and that he shot LeAnn while she was trying to escape from him.



In my research, I came across investigator after investigator who described Scott in similar terms. Detective Gary Thatcher described him as charming but manipulative, and said he would tell you whatever you wanted to hear. Prosecutor Amy Okubo said he was dangerous, manipulative and smart. Prosecutor Katharina Booth, who I’ve mentioned a couple of times, thinks he loves controlling and manipulating people and using them until they’ve served their purpose. Jonathan Grusing, the FBI agent I talked about earlier, says Scott was intelligent and could read people well, but also earned people’s trust only to take advantage of that trust and manipulate them to get his way.


Several of these people also described Scott as a sociopath. I don’t know if he’s ever been formally diagnosed, but these characteristics are pretty typical of sociopathy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.



Jennifer Marcum info

Before we go, I want to give a few details about Jennifer Marcum’s case, since her body has never been found. She’s believed to be dead by most people I’ve come across in my research, but hopefully something here can still help in her case.



Jennifer Lynn Marcum was last seen near the Denver International Airport on February 17, 2003 at the age of 25. (The FBI’s official website says February 16.) She was a white female, about 5 foot 6 inches and 115 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. She wore an IUD and had breast implants, both of which could help identify her if her body was found. If she were actually alive today, she would be 43 years old.


If you have any information about Jennifer’s case, you can contact your local FBI office. Click here for a list.


conclusion

There’s still a lot about these murders that we don’t know, such as details and even motive. While it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder and speculate — and plenty of people have — the person responsible is behind bars, and that’s ultimately what matters.

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