Christy Crystal Creek and the Missoula Mauler...

posted Jun 10, 2012, 7:11 PM by Ian Withrow

Missoula, Montana.


The body of a five-year-old girl is found in a culvert.  Stabbed.  Molested.  While the community is outraged, no suspects emerge.


A preacher returns home to find his wife, Donna Pounds, shot.  Her body bound and gagged, the preacher’s handgun jammed between her legs.  After questioning the preacher, police focus their attention on a neighbor boy—a teenager, witnesses claim, who was seen lurking around the victim’s backyard the afternoon of the murder.  The name of the teenage boy is Wayne Nance.

During investigation, police find a pair of bloody underwear and a bag of .22 caliber bullets in Nance’s home.  But with DNA a tool not yet discovered, the evidence is deemed circumstantial.

Nance passes a polygraph and the charges fall through.


The bodies of three teenage girls are discovered, decomposed beyond recognition, throughout the Missoula Valley.  The girls are given names based on the location of their discovery:

Betty Beavertail was stabbed to death.

Debbie Deer Creek and Christy Crystal Creek were both shot in the head.


A man breaks into the Ravalli home of Michael and Teresa Shook.  He ties them up and shoots them.  He then sets fire to the house, nearly killing the four small children hiding inside.  Following their investigation of the charred remains, police determine two items had been taken from the home:  a hunting knife and a ceramic bull elk.

There are no witnesses.


A man breaks into the Missoula home of Kris and Doug Wells.  He ties them up, and instead of killing them together, moves Doug downstairs.  He stabs Doug in the chest with an eight-inch knife, then returns upstairs to the bedroom to attend to Kris.  Still alive, Doug manages to break free of his bindings, loads his rifle, and shoots the assailant in the head.  Kris and Doug both survive.

Wayne Nance is pronounced dead in the emergency room of St. Patrick’s Hospital.

A search of Nance’s home uncovers satanic books by Anton LaVey.  A wire hanger shaped into a pentagram, used as a brand.  And indication of animal sacrifice conducted on the banks of the nearby Clark Fork River.  They also find a hunting knife.  A ceramic bull elk.  And enough evidence to connect Nance to the murders of Betty Beavertail, Debbie Deer Creek, and Christy Crystal Creek.


Advancements in forensic science reveal the identities of two of the three remains found thirty years before.

Betty Beavertail becomes Devonna Nelson, a fifteen-year-old runaway from Seattle.

Debbie Deer Creek becomes Marcella Bachmann, a fifteen-year-old runaway from Vancouver.


The scientific journal, Homicide Studies, publishes an article in which criminologist and homicide expert Kenna Quinet estimates the American serial killer problem to be “10 times worse” than imagined.  Of the 100,000 missing person cases that remain open at any time in the U.S., 20 percent are assumed the victims of homicide.  “I would guess that at any given moment,” Quinet states, “there are at least two people in each state committing serial murder.”

To date, the Department of Justice reports knowledge of 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains across the nation.


Christy Crystal Creek still awaits her identity.



Serial killers.

The parasites of society.  The torturers.  The rapists.  Bacterial meningitis in the human form.  They are the manifestations of evil that lurk in the dark crevices, that kill with a cold, dissociative mindset, that are celebritized in popular fiction and hour-long TV dramas for their creepiness, their cleverness, and their ability to kill.  They are the cockroaches—ugly, diseased, and impossible to fumigate.

“Outliers,” we call them.  “Mad men.  How on earth could one person behave in such a way?”

And yet many of us do.

Take me, for instance.

Somewhere, parked in some driveway, is my truck.  A Ford F150, a gas-guzzler, and I drive it, every day.

I drive the meager mile and a half to work, a gluttony of fast food wrappers and empty Starbucks cups filling the passenger seat by my side, listening to pop music on the radio and contemplating things like potential and Jazz.

I drive because I am lazy, because I am comfortable in doing so, because to not drive means inconvenience, and effort, and the end of a freedom of which I feel entitled, because like Nance, I am a small town, Montana male.

I drive despite the wars fought in my truck’s honor, the countless lives lost in order to obtain its lifeline–that herculean black blood derived from living bone, that flows through the industrial veins of the American Dream.

I drive, not thinking of global damage, but rather the misery of my immediate affairs.  Plotting with a cold-hearted, dissociative mindset, the next chapter in my novel.  The next chapter in my life.  And the infinite ways I could someday make myself happy.

I drive.

Does that not make me a parasite?


Or maybe I’m being overdramatic.

But think of it this way:  Seeing one cockroach equates to far more than two bugs per state.  One cockroach means millions.

Moloch exists, and Ginsberg’s outcry is smothered beneath ambivalence.

Christy Crystal Creek still awaits her true identity.  Metaphorically speaking, don’t we all?