In 1971, Guy Goughnor was a 19-year-old longhair who went by the name Deputy Dawg. He and his hippie friends used to drink into the night, urinate in the streets, steal laundry from clotheslines and otherwise show their disrespect for authority.
The last time anyone saw Goughnor alive was the night a bulldog-like lawman by the name of Renner Forbes pulled him out of a bar and threw him into the back of his patrol car.
In September, Forbes, now 68 and living in a nursing home, confessed to killing Deputy Dawg, authorities say.
“He was looking over his shoulder for the last 26 years, not only for the law, but his maker,” said Kirk Long, a former Boulder County detective who headed the original investigation. “I think he wants to clear his conscience before he meets his maker--or try to, at least.”
Forbes had been the prime suspect in Goughnor’s shooting death from the start, but without enough forensic evidence, Long was forced to abandon the case in 1972.
“It’s one of the things that you know who did it and you just can’t prove it,” Long said. “It’s real frustrating, but at the same time it goes with the job.”
Forbes, who was Nederland’s town marshal, arrived in 1971 at this Rocky Mountain village of 550 people just east of the Continental Divide. Reared on a farm in Bird City, Kan., and fresh out of the Air Force, the brash, bull-necked Forbes seemed suited for restoring order in restless times.
“He was big, and he was scary-looking,” recalled Celeste Haselwood, who lived in Nederland from 1962 to 1995. “He looked like a bulldog. If I was a lawbreaker and I saw him on the street, I’d stop whatever I was doing.”
Lured by the picturesque Colorado mountain peaks, drifters gave Forbes plenty of work as they turned Nederland into their own personal summer camp.
“We were overloaded with hippies,” said Stephanie Lawrence, who moved to Nederland in 1940. “There were bad ones and some of the good ones--the flower kids.”
Goughnor, who hitchhiked here from his family’s lakefront home in a Minneapolis suburb and adopted the name of a cartoon character, ran with the more reckless crowd that used deerskin hides to cover their tepees in the woods outside of town.
Their mischief ranged from indecent exposure and theft to public urination and stealing the water hoses from the Fire Department. One police report described Goughnor as “a huge pain.”
On July 21, 1971, Forbes pulled Goughnor from the Pioneer Inn tavern, threw him in his patrol car and drove him to a remote area of adjacent Clear Creek County, where he shot the young man once in the head, authorities said.
Hunters found Goughnor’s body a month later in a mountain canyon where Forbes used to hunt elk. It had been dragged off a steep dirt road marked on maps as Oh My God Road.
Shortly thereafter, Forbes lost his job when he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges after a fight. He moved back to Kansas, where he managed his mother’s farm for 25 years.
Forbes referred all questions to his lawyer, Bob Peppin, who would not comment on the confession. Forbes is scheduled to be formally charged in December with second-degree murder, which carries up to 48 years in prison.
“This is a guy who’s paralyzed on one side, can’t get out of his wheelchair by himself, can’t turn over in bed, can’t get in bed by himself, can’t dress himself, can’t eat by himself. What do you really take away from him if you put him in prison versus, say, a nursing home?” asked Det. Steve Ainsworth, who worked on the revived case.
Nederland residents seem ambivalent about Forbes’ future. A copy of Forbes’ picture hangs on the door to the town marshal’s office. The caption reads: “If you have a complaint or have broken the law, you are welcome to sign up for a ride-a-long with ME!”
“We still have the hippies and the dreadlocks,” said Diana Giglietti, who works in the office, “but we don’t take them out and shoot them.”