Relief was the typical reaction following the arrest of Kenneth Botham in connection with four murders which kept the community on pins and needles for months.
But residual fear will remain in a friendly town where persons once were eager to open their homes to strangers in need of aid or direction.
Saturday following Botham’s arrest, the 1990 block of Ouray – once the home of the four murder victims – was quiet. Cloudy skies cast a dismal light on the street where the children of Linda Miracle once played and Patricia Botham lived with her two young sons.
Neighbors remember both families with interest.
Mrs. Cora Hiner, of 1926 Ouray, often babysat for Mrs. Miracle and Mrs. Botham when they left their homes on quick errands. But failing eyesight and murdered neighbors have left the woman with an added wariness in opening the door to a stranger.
And even in talking with police following the disappearance of her neighbors, Mrs. Hiner was afraid.
“Anybody that would be cruel enough to kill two children because they thought the children might talk – wouldn’t be beyond popping someone else off if they thought someone knew something,” she said.
Ned Crawford, of 1931 Ouray, said most of the neighborhood were concerned about the disappearances were more than missing persons.
They remember Patricia Botham as a devoted mother who would never leave her two young sons. And when she did an uneasiness prevailed over the neighborhood, Crawford said.
“It’s the feeling of our family that authorities have finally accomplished something – we’re relieved they have made an arrest in connection with the murders,” he added.
But Crawford added that most people in the neighborhood – including his family – have gotten in the habit of locking their doors since Mrs. Botham, Mrs. Miracle and her two sons were found slain in the Gunnison river.
Neither Mrs. Hiner nor Crawford remember anything unusual occurring at the time of the disappearances Aug. 23. But Mrs. Hiner recalls seeing Mrs. Botham pulling one of her sons in a wagon Aug. 22 as was her custom – a wagon which now lies on its side rusting in the unkept [unkempt] lawn next door at the Botham residence.
Nothing can ease the sadness of relatives, but most expressed relief a suspect has been arrested.
Mrs. Dewey Miracle, mother-in-law of Linda Miracle, said the arrest “doesn’t make me feel any better,” but she believes authorities have done their job.
She is waiting to tell her son, Delbert, the news. He is on his way home from California – a truck driving run he said he was on when his wife vanished. The couple was living apart at the time.
Mrs. Miracle remembers Linda as a sensitive woman who often wrote poetry and is reconciled to her daughter-in-laws friendships with others since separating from Delbert.
Friends remember Linda in a similar light. She was a popular woman.
She also was a poet. One poem was written one evening on the shore of West Lake, a small body of water just west of town and north of U.S. 6. It gives a hint to her mood:
like it here on nights like this,
the lake is silent
the rain belongs to me.
is no need for yesterday
tomorrow doesn’t matter now.
that remains is reflected peace –
a rainbow in my mind.
this would last forever
stay that long too.
I would take it with me
the storm passes over
I have to go.
where would I have to come to
other lonely nights?
find another place
now I’ll sit and wonder
perhaps take time to know,
how many raindrops it would take
To fill the palm of my hand.
And in a similar vein Patricia Botham’s parents recall a bright artistic child who excelled at the piano.
Albert E. Jantz, of Greenville, said Saturday night he was relieved an arrest had been made in his daughter’s murder.
“As far as an arrest, we were anxiously waiting the day someone would be apprehended,” he said.
The remaining members of her family, a brother and mother, though far away are “doing well under the circumstances,” Jantz said.
But the public feeling is just as strong, for suspicion and fear rages when a neighbor disappears and children are murdered for no apparent reason.
Crawford summed up this feeling.
“We’re nearly satisfied they wouldn’t have arrested someone, if they didn’t have enough evidence to support the arrest,” he said.
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