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Title: Fantasy Game Probed in Teen Killings

Source: Chicago Tribune, July 17th, 1985

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Fantasy Game Probed In Teen Killings
Young Suspect An Avid Player
July 17, 1985
By Howard Witt.

A fantasy role-playing game similar to Dungeons & Dragons is assuming a central role in the investigation into the bizarre slayings of two Wheaton teenagers in the Colorado mountain wilderness last month.

Books from a fantasy game called Villains & Vigilantes were found at the remote site in the San Juan Mountains where the bodies of Amy Boyle, 15, and Larry Brock, 16, were discovered June 10, Colorado authorities have disclosed. The couple, joined by a friend, Patrick Beach, 15, had run away from Wheaton a week earlier, telling friends they planned to marry.

The Montrose County, Colo., prosecutor and the defense attorney for Beach, who remains the only suspect in the shooting deaths, are scrambling to learn how deeply involved the three youths may have been in fantasy role-playing games.

Both sides agreed Tuesday to allow prosecutor Reid Pixler two more weeks to file charges against Beach, who is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond. The delay will allow a team of University of Colorado psychiatrists time to finish an evaluation of Beach begun several weeks ago in Denver, defense attorney Craig Truman said.

The psychiatrists have found that Beach has an IQ "above 140" and has been an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons since 6th grade, Truman said. Friends have said Beach played in two Dungeons & Dragons groups in Wheaton.

Pixler, who must decide whether to charge Beach as a juvenile or an adult, is consulting with experts on role-playing games in an attempt to determine a motive in the case, which continues to confound investigators.

"If these games were involved, I want to know as much as possible about them before going ahead with the case," Pixler told The Tribune in a recent interview. "We just don`t know how it relates at this time."

Late last month, Pixler met with William Dear, a flamboyant Dallas private detective who has investigated several suicides and murders involving teenagers who were avid players of fantasy role-playing games.

Dear, best known for tracking down a Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast at Michigan State University in 1979 who was playing a version of the game in the school`s underground steam tunnels, declined to reveal the substance of his discussion with Pixler.

Fantasy role-playing games--complex imaginary adventures typically played by highly intelligent youths--have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years by some critics who contend that they can lead unstable young people into violence and insanity.

In many of the games, which require no boards or moving pieces and can take hours or days to complete, players take on the identities of medieval warriors who build strength as they battle their way through monster-filled mazes. Characters can cast various ``insanity curses`` on each other.

Critics, including parents of some teenagers who have committed suicide, contend that some youths start to live in the fantasy worlds generated by the games.

Officials of TSR Hobbies Inc. of Lake Geneva, Wis., manufacturers of Dungeons & Dragons, vigorously dispute such contentions, arguing that the games are no more violent than what teenagers encounter on television or in movies.

Neither Pixler nor Truman would say how they believe the Villains & Vigilantes game might have been involved in the slayings of Brock and Boyle, who were each shot several times with a small caliber rifle. But each appears ready to use the game as part of a trial strategy.

Truman said he intends to turn over the results of the psychiatric exams to Pixler in the hope that they will persuade Pixler to treat Beach as a juvenile rather than an adult.

But Pixler said Beach`s possible involvement with the game "is not any kind of a minimizing factor. It may be evidence that I can use to my advantage."

The bodies of Brock and Boyle were found along a remote mountain stream in sparsely populated Hinsdale County, a short distance from the overturned pick-up truck the three youths had taken from Wheaton.

Beach, who showed up at a fishing resort a few miles away seeking a ride out of the area, initially told investigators that he did not know the slain couple. When arrested, he was found holding the dead boy`s wallet containing about $900.
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