by Robert A. Waters
In April of 1942, Americans cheered Jimmy Doolittle’s kamikaze-style raid on Japan. In Europe, there was little to celebrate—World War II had bogged down into a bloody slugfest between the Allies and the Nazis. And off the southern shores of the U. S., German U-boats sank dozens of American-bound ships.
None of that mattered to Donald Fearn, 23. The Pueblo, Colorado resident, married and working as a railway mechanic, had long harbored an obsession with a little-known Indian religious cult called the Penitentes. Because the sect had been persecuted for millennia, they worshipped in secret. Using an adobe church deep in the desert, the group practiced self-flagellation and mock-crucifixion. Fearn claimed to have visited the church, but his pre-occupation with the blood-stained altar had little to do with religion and everything to do with sexual arousal.
On April 22, at 9:30 P.M., sixteen-year-old Alice Porter walked down East Eleventh Street. The pretty brunette, returning home after registering for a nursing course at Central High School, didn’t realize she was being shadowed by a monster.
As the lone teenager neared her home, Fearn parked beside her and jumped from his car. He stuck a handgun in Porter’s face and ordered her to get in. The teen screamed, then obeyed. As quickly as that, Alice Porter vanished.
In a home across the street, Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Mckinney heard screams and a commotion that seemed to come from the sidewalk outside their residence. Rushing to their front window, the couple spied a tan-colored Ford sedan speeding away.
Fearn drove his victim straight to an abandoned ranch-house in the wastelands southeast of Pueblo. For six hours, he unrelentingly tortured the girl. Finally, after killing her, he dropped the remains of Alice Porter into a cistern and covered her with branches and leaves.
But as Fearn attempted to leave, his car became stuck in the mud. (A violent rain-storm had passed the night before.) Try as he might, he couldn’t get it to budge. Eventually, at about four in the morning, Fearn walked to a farmhouse and called Whaley’s Garage in Pueblo. The owner, Boyd Whaley, drove into the desert and pulled Fearn’s automobile from the mud.
When Alice Porter hadn’t returned home by midnight, her father, a former police officer, reported her missing.
But that was just a fraction of the injuries suffered by Alice. Coroner Blair also reported that the victim had “multiple bruises over her entire body with contusions on her shoulder and right ankle. Burns, inflicted by a hot wire that had been heated in the fireplace, were spread over her body—fifteen on her stomach, two on her left groin and ten on her back and left hip.” In addition, the victim had suffered numerous stab wounds. Almost as an afterthought, Blair reported that Alice had been repeatedly raped.
Pueblo Police Chief J. Arthur Grady told reporters that the scene was the “most gruesome” he’d witnessed in his 38 years on the force.
After his arrest, Fearn quickly confessed. Tried and convicted, the monster was sentenced to death.
On October 23, Fearn kept his date with the executioner. He’d shown no remorse for his victim or her family. For his last meal, the killer requested a steak and a beer. After eating, Fearn entered the gas chamber. He undressed down to his shorts, and was strapped into the chair by guards. Then the cyanide was released, and a smoky poison rose into the air.
In three minutes, Fearn was dead.
Alice’s father watched, wondering if the six hours she’d spent at the hands of the sadist was worth only a three minute death.