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Authors: Suzy Spencer

Tags: #True Crime, #General

Wasted (8 page)

BOOK: Wasted
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Regina Hartwell bounced down to the basement, where music meant solely for tripping played, retro music from the 1970s.
When she returned to the upstairs room, Hartwell sat down with Sean Murphy, a University of Texas student and a Club 404 regular. Murphy smiled and waved at a handsome couple, Tim Gray and his best friend Kim LeBlanc. Murphy, an orientation leader, had just met the two in-coming students at freshman orientation. They had been hard to miss.
Tim was tall and slim, with flawless skin, sparkling blue eyes, perfect teeth, and a smile to die for. He was also gay. Kim was out-going, obviously popular, tiny, pretty, well-toned, and brunette, just Regina Hartwell’s type. Only Kim LeBlanc was reputed to be straight.
“Hey,” Kim said to Sean. God, she was excited. Life was about to change. College. A new start.
Sean pointed at the table. “Come join us. This is Regina.”
CHAPTER 8
“On Earth as it is in Austin.” For the hippies and high techies, that bumper sticker’s not sacrilege, it’s truth. Austinites passionately believe they live in God’s chosen land.
Thirty minutes outside of town, on the shores of Lake Travis, the hippies and high techies believe it even more passionately. Rugged cliffs of limestone, dotted with the musky green of juniper and gnarled oaks, drop into the deep, blue waters of Lake Travis. Hawks soar over the tight sails of thirty-foot sloughs. There’s almost always a good, solid breeze.
The wind can make rough waters for boaters. Still, they’re there on wakeboards, kneeboards, inner tubes, and water skis every summer weekend. They toss their beer cans from cigarette boats and jet skis. The cans sink into the murky, dangerous waters below.
Lake Travis has one of the highest drowning rates in the state—booze, pills, pot mixed with too much speed and too little wisdom.
 
 
Kim LeBlanc was much like the Lake Travis region she grew up in—beautiful on the surface, stone-hard just below, dangerous waters down deep. Like the region, she seemed to have it all. She was smart—a National Honor Society scholar. She drove a cool car—a green Jeep Sahara. She was PPC—a pretty, popular cheerleader.
But it wasn’t enough to escape the reality of life, at home and at school.
 
 
Kim was born Kimberley Alex Derrick on May 17, 1976 in Houston, Texas. She was a tow-headed baby with big, brown eyes and a smile that could light up the skies, especially when she was tugging on her stuffed rabbit’s ears.
Less than a year and a half later, on August 20, 1977, Kim’s mother, Mary Catherine (Cathy), married Kenneth Dwain LeBlanc, a man ten years her senior. As it did for Regina Hartwell, her parent’s marriage altered Kim’s life forever. Like Regina Hartwell, Kim kept smiling no matter what.
With a move to Dripping Springs, a cowboy community just outside of Austin, Ken LeBlanc became Kim’s only father figure. She loved him, and she trusted him for almost thirteen years.
Her mother, Cathy LeBlanc, believed they had the perfect life. She spent her days working as a secretary for a prestigious Austin law firm. She spent her nights with Ken waiting on her hand and foot. She believed he was expressing his boundless love for her.
Kim believed his chivalry was proof that Cathy was incapable of taking care of herself, that she was naive, and couldn’t make a good judgment by herself. Kim remembers Ken telling her these things, time and time again. So many times, that she came to believe them. Her mother did, too.
According to Kim, when the man she and her mother trusted made his move, she was only fourteen years old.
“My friend had sex,” Kim told him. “She didn’t like it. She said it was horrible. It hurt.”
He smiled. “Don’t worry. I won’t let that happen to you. I’ll teach you,” she heard him reply. Kim alleges he then had sex with her.
Please God, make him stop,
Kim prayed, her brown eyes wide and watering.
Please, God, please.
She begged and she pleaded with God. This is what she was being taught sex was like.
Please make him stop. Please, God.
Kim’s soul soared out of her body and up to the ceiling. There it stopped. Detached, it sat and watched. Numb. Unfeeling. Like a bad home movie projected on a clean, white sheet.
She remembers hearing him say, “Your mother can’t survive without me. You tell her about this, and she’ll divorce me. She can’t survive without me.”
Kim Derrick maintains she was molested repeatedly.
She didn’t tell. Her heart raced with fear. She didn’t want to hurt her mother. She wanted to protect Cathy LeBlanc.
Kim had no one to turn to. Not a natural father in Houston whom she didn’t really know. Not a mother in Dripping Springs who worked days and was waited on hand and foot at night. Not anyone. Kim believed there was only Ken LeBlanc to turn to.
Kim decided she must be guilty. She must have done something wrong. It must have been her fault to lure his sex away from an adult and onto a child. Those are the thoughts of sexually abused children.
There was no adult for her to tell. He would leave Cathy if Kim told, she believed. Cathy and Kim would be out on the street if she told, Kim believed.
 
 
Ken LeBlanc was retired due to disability. He had taken a tumble from some scaffolding while working. On the surface, Ken provided a comfortable enough life for Kim and her mother. He had retirement funds and owned a bit of Wal-Mart stock. They owned the Dripping Springs home and a lot in the Highland Creek Lakes subdivision.
Sex, as Kim had now come to believe she’d been instructed, was the way to reap rewards. Sex, she’d been taught, was power. Sex, she believed, was one’s only worth.
Kim believed her stepfather peeped on her as she showered. She believed he listened to her as she masturbated.
Ken LeBlanc bought Kim a bright, shiny Jeep Sahara, which she was so very proud of. She didn’t dare let anyone else drive it.
“Don’t tell your mother. She can’t take care of herself.” The words rang in Kim’s brain.
Kim’s young mind was too full of rape to remember that her mother worked and had worked for years for a prestigious, downtown law firm, that her mother made money, decent money.
 
 
But Kim Derrick was still a “sorta-have” in a Lake Travis region of haves and have-nots. In Lake Travis, there’s no comfortable place for sorta-haves. Kim “sorta” had a nice house, but it wasn’t in the Lakeway subdivision—home of pro football coaches, movie producers, retired generals, school teachers.
She “sorta” had a father. But he wasn’t her real father. She “sorta” had a mother. But the haves have mothers who don’t work. Everyone else has a mother who works to pay the grocery bill or to keep up with the haves.
Yet Kim Derrick was way too well-off to be a have-not—the world of scruffy-faced men who stand on the side of the roads in thirty-degree weather selling firewood out of the back ends of thirty-year-old rusted pickup trucks, who live in trailer homes parked next to the haves’ subdivision, who own mongrel dogs, drink beer, smoke pot, and have no desire or aspirations to go to college.
On the surface, they are nothing like the haves. In reality, they are much like the haves who hide their woes in fine liquor, fine pot, and cocaine, in mystic crystals or Fundamentalist Bibles.
After Kim Derrick was raped, she cursed God. God, a real God, wouldn’t let that happen to one of His children, she thought, her eyes glazed over. At fourteen, Kim also began having sex with boys closer to her own age. She began drinking alcohol and swallowing pain pills. Anything was better than reality.
 
 
Neither the haves nor the have-nots, though, want to think they are alike, so they draw a thick line of designer clothes between them. The only thing that pulls them into the same room is the school—Lake Travis Independent School District, 135 square miles. Half of the students are the haves from Lakeway, half are the have-nots from everywhere else.
 
 
This thick division affects the way one feels about oneself.
The haves rule.
The haves like Chevy stepside trucks, Ford Mustangs, Dodge Stealths, country-music radio station KASE 101, Dr. Pepper, and Garth Brooks. They also think football is all-important.
Football was the number-one school sport in Lake Travis, although the Lake Travis Cavaliers rarely won a game. During Kim’s sophomore year, she was a beautiful, blonde cheerleader. With her “megawatt personality,” she always rode the top of the pyramids the cheerleaders built.
Their football team, however, won only two games that year.
Kim Derrick spent her time with her best friends, Meredith Swan, another cheerleader who was nicknamed the Princess of Darkness for her Addams Family-like makeup, and Tim Gray, a handsome blond, blue-eyed gay student. Both Meredith and Tim won fine arts awards that year.
The following year, Derrick was inducted into the National Honor Society. She attended the prom, which featured a KASE 101 deejay. She made tamales for the school Spanish club. She built sets for the school’s one-act play.
Kim and Meredith Swan were still cheerleading partners. Meredith was considered a nice kid who would look her teachers in the eyes when she talked to them. Both girls were fans of Nine Inch Nails.
Her fellow students considered Kim sweet; her teachers considered her brassy. She wore short skirts and tops that came down off her shoulders. They thought of her, in dress and personality, as outgoing, forward, and aggressive.
The football team only won two games that year, too. The players cried to their parents, the parents cried to their school board, and Lake Travis got a new coach.
Turnover in Lake Travis I.S.D. was high—often twenty-five percent annually. Coaches came and went. Band leaders came and went. Teachers came and went. School superintendents came and went.
Kim Derrick suffered instability at school and instability at home.
 
 
At first, Kim Derrick only abused drugs recreationally, meaning only Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Her senior year, she asked not to be placed in honors classes. Derrick was always harried about deadlines and she didn’t have time for study. She seemed to be separating from her high school crowd.
Kim took a job at the World Gym in Oak Hill, a ten- to fifteen-minute drive from her high school. Teachers thought she was working to pay for college. They thought she had the “want to” to succeed, to make something of herself. In reality, she was working to stay away from home.
Kim’s boss at World Gym was a man named Robbye Cellota, a man who months later would hire a handsome, young trainer from California.
 
 
Kim chopped off her long, blonde hair. Her friends razzed her about it. She attended sporting events with a baseball cap slapped backwards over her locks, and a tank top for a blouse.
She made a poster containing photographs of brightly colored, fully inflated condoms for a school project about the book
Brave New World.
Teachers thought Kim had a curious ambiguity to her—sexually precocious while wanting to be a good little girl.
This is often the behavior of a sexually abused child, but, apparently, not one teacher in the Lake Travis School District noticed that. Instead, they sat in the teachers’ lounge and gossiped about her homelife—rumors that her mother nagged her about her weight, that there were problems at home. No one asked Kim for the truth.
She only confessed the truth to a few close teen-aged friends, including Tim Gray.
She also changed her name from Derrick to LeBlanc.
Around Christmas time, Kim LeBlanc had sexual intercourse, for the very last time in a very long time. She also popped a tab of the drug Ecstasy that year. For the first fifteen minutes on X, there was a tornado of sensations—drunk, stoned, on speed, all at once. Then, elation. It settled like a gentle caress of fog.
For the next six to eight hours, there was a comforting feeling of love, euphoric love, love for everything and everyone. God, it was good. And for the first time in her life, Kim experimented with sex with a girl. It was with a close friend. And it felt good.
But to Kim, anything felt good under the influence of Ecstasy.
Graduation day was a big day at Lake Travis High School. In 1994, graduation was held in the school gym. With class valedictorian Amanda Dexter leading the way, each senior marched in holding a rose connected to the other roses and seniors by a single, long ribbon. A statuesque beauty and daughter of a Lake Travis High teacher, Amanda gave the valedictorian speech. U.S. Congressman Greg Laughlin also spoke.
There was a half-hour slide show of photos of the senior class. There were baby shots, graduation shots, and glamour shots from the local mall for the wealthier girls. There were photos of the losing football team, pictures of the Cavalette drill team, and pictures of the cheerleaders.
BOOK: Wasted
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