Left In The Trunk To Die 2/1/99
By William Simonsen
Denver, Colo. — He told his victim he could kill her immediately, or leave her in the trunk of her car to die.
Laura DeVaan’s family said her life was forever changed the night she was brutally raped and left to die by Joshua Boll in the Echo Lake area.
DeVaan performed the final act of her dying when she shot herself to death Jan. 20 in a lonely apartment in suburban Denver.
A DeVaan family member (who did not want to be identified by name) said Laura DeVaan had heard a rumor that Boll was about to be released from prison.
She said that DeVaan had also become the subject of a smear campaign – with those spreading a rumor questioning the validity of the rape charge.
But court records leave no doubt.
Boll testified he asked DeVaan for a ride home from a Kalispell party the evening of Oct. 25, 1995. Boll then held a knife to her throat and forced her to drive to the Echo Lake area.
On the witness stand Boll admitted to brutally raping DeVaan multiple times before he tired of her and gave her a life or death choice. Boll told DeVaan he could kill her immediately, or leave her in the trunk of her car to die. DeVaan chose the latter. Boll then hog-tied her and locked her semi-naked in the trunk of her car in the middle of a Christmas tree field to die.
Somehow DeVaan managed to work free of the wires Boll used to tie her, then pry her way out of the trunk, and walk and crawl to a nearby store for help.
Six months after she married and moved to Bigfork, DeVaan found herself nearly dead, victimized and far from her South Dakota home.
Ironically, the rumor of Boll’s release was just another vicious rumor.
He is currently being held in the high security section of the new prison in Shelby. Boll will not become eligible for early release or parole until April 22, 2036.
Flathead County Attorney Tom Esch said he was impressed with DeVaan’s strength during Boll’s hearings. With an iron will she testified against him, describing the terrible things he had done to her. Unfortunately that iron will would contribute to her demise, said a relative.
Boll, 17 at the time of the attack, was unrepentant on the witness stand. But by then he was an experienced criminal and used to being in trouble with the law. Testimony at the sentencing hearing brought out a history of violent crime and anti-social behavior – some involving threatening people with guns – dating back several years.
After the criminal trial, DeVaan sued Flathead County and the state for dereliction of duty because Boll was allowed to remain at large rather than in a prison. She won the case and a moderate cash settlement.
But by last December the ongoing pain and suffering of her ordeal had begun to catch up with her, said a relative. “She had so much pain she couldn’t deal with it,” the relative said.
She said DeVaan was “so strong she couldn’t ask anyone for help” so her attempts to get counseling did not come to much. “She fell through the cracks in the mental health system,” said the relative. “We knew she was going down hill, but there was nothing we could do to stop it.”
DeVaan and her husband began moving their things to the Denver suburb of Edgewater in mid-December. By the second week in January the move was completed – her husband was at his new job and she was trying to make a new life. She had no family or friends in Edgewater, but she also had no one to spread ugly rumors about her either.
None of her relatives, or the law enforcement officials who investigated the suicide knows why it happened when it did. A relative said, “I think it all just caught up with her. The rape changed her forever. Before it happened she was very loving and very caring.
“Afterwards it hardened her. She was a completely different person.”
She was buried near her home town of Leola, in central South Dakota.
© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.