S1/E3: Curtis Allgier / The Leatherwood Murders


August 25, 1979

Curtis Michael Allgier was born in Custer, South Dakota.

He grew up to be a troubled teen and seemingly had set a goal at an early age to build as big a rap sheet as he could.  He became a member of the Aryan Empire Warriors, a white supremacist gang, and is a self-declared skinhead, covered in tattoos that proudly display his ignorance.


Allgier’s criminal record began at age 19 with convictions for theft and reckless driving in South Dakota.  Shortly after, he made the move to Utah for unknown reasons.

October 2000

Allgier was charged with felony burglary, forgery and theft in Utah, after burglarizing a neighbor’s apartment.  Brilliantly, he made out a stolen check to himself for $300.00. There are no details on how the criminal mastermind was caught for this particular crime, but it was a busy month for him. He was also charged in another country with carrying a concealed handgun and was sentenced to 180 days and probation.

August 2001

Allgier fled Utah, was quickly captured and given a one-to 15 year sentence.

May 2003

Allgier was paroled. It didn’t take long for him to find his way back to prison.

July 2004

Allgier traveled to California without authorization. He was picked up and was found to be carrying two knives, violating his parole.

October 2006

After serving 27 months in prison, Allgier was paroled again. But freedom just wasn’t his thing, apparently.  Just a month later, he violated parole again and became a fugitive for two days before a Salt Lake City SWAT team arrested him at a local hotel.  Allgier was armed and barricaded himself inside one of the hotel rooms. Again, showing his brilliance, he tried to hide within the hotel’s ceiling, but fell through to the floor, where he was promptly arrested.

June 14, 2007

Allgier was sentenced to 104 months in prison for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.

The morning of June 25 2007

After having complained of back pain, Allgier was escorted by Prison guard Stephen Anderson to the University of Utah for an MRI.  While waiting with Anderson in an examination room at the university’s orthopedic center, Allgier was unshackled. He then overpowered and disarmed Anderson and shot him in the head, killing him instantly.  

Allgier fled the clinic on foot, carjacked a Ford Explorer, and led police on a chase reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour. After blowing out a tire, he ran into a nearby Arby’s restaurant, where 59-year-old Eric Fullerton had just ordered breakfast. Allgier took an employee at gunpoint, even firing the gun at his head, but thankfully missed. Instead, he beat the employee with the butt of the gun.  Fullerton was much smaller than Allgier, but was a former Army paratrooper and Vietnam Veteran, and sprang into action. He grabbed Allgier by the arm and forced him to drop the gun. Allgier punched Fullerton and then slashed his throat with a knife, but Fullerton was able to take control of the gun, allowing police to apprehend the killer.  

Allgier’s freedom lasted just 45 minutes.

December 5, 2012

Five years after the murder, Curtis Allgier pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.  He had also pleaded guilty to additional charges of disarming a peace officer, aggravated escape, aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

The plea deal spared Allgier a trial and the death penalty if convicted.

Stephen Anderson was a 22 year employee of the Utah Department of Corrections. He was close to retirement, at age 60 and was survived by his wife, five children and 18 grandchildren.  A statement from his family read:

“His influence and example are missed every day by his family and those who knew him, and these memories will never be lost. Stephen was a kind and generous man who served his family, his church, and his community with kindness, dedication, and honor. This senseless act of violence is a constant reminder that we live in a less than perfect world with less than perfect people.”


The Leatherwood Murders

June 16, 1988

2:30 A.M.

The Stewart County Sherriff’s department in northwest Tennessee was notified that eight inmates had escaped from the penitentiary at Eddyville, Kentucky. Eddyville was about 70 miles north of Stewart on the other side of the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Three of the eight escapees were almost immediately recaptured. The other five: James Blanton, Joseph Montgomery, Ronnie Hudson, Derrick Quintero and William Hall made it to a residence half a mile from the prison, where they stole and fled in a 1966 Chevrolet pick-up truck owned by the homeowner, Curtis Rogers.

After news of the escape had been broadcast to the public, the Sheriff’s department received a telephone call from Zachery Pallay, a resident of the Leatherwood community in the nearby city of Dover.  Pallay warned police that Quintero was familiar with the area and would probably seek refuge there.

The Sheriff’s department’s soon received several reports of suspicious individuals in the Leatherwood area including a report of three men attempting to flag down a car.   When a rash of burglaries broke out in the Leatherwood community, the Sheriff’s department became convinced that the escapees were in the area.  

June 18, 1988

The first burglary was reported.  That day, Jim McMinn of Clarksville, Tennessee, arrived at his cabin in the Leatherwood area around noon.   He left the cabin to go fishing in his boat at around 1:00 p.m. Upon returning to the cabin two hours later, McMinn noticed a box of shotgun shells lying on the floor and discovered that his loaded .22 caliber pistol was missing from the bedroom.   The telephone in his cabin had been removed from the wall, and the outside portion of the phone line also had been severed

McMinn went to his truck and discovered that the windows had been rolled up and the ignition destroyed with his ax.   The telephone from McMinn’s cabin was in the bed of the truck.

Following the report of the McMinn burglary, the Sheriff’s Department initiated an intensive search of the area, utilizing helicopters, four-wheel drive vehicles, and tracking dogs. At one point law enforcement officers chased what they believed to be the escapees on foot through the woods, but they were not able to overtake them.

Hudson and Montgomery became separated from the other escapees and fled to Lebanon Kentucky- about 200 miles from Dover, Tennessee.

June 19, 1988

The aftermath of another burglary in the Leatherwood community was discovered. Alfred Cherry found the inside of his trailer in disarray. A bed was unmade and there were wet towels in the bathroom. The refrigerator light switch had been taped down to prevent the light from operating when the refrigerator door was opened.

Among the missing items from the trailer were bedspreads, a thermal blanket, a sleeping bag, a portable radio, a flashlight, a small handsaw and six knives.

Cherry didn’t have a telephone in his trailer, so he went next door to call the police on the telephone in the trailer owned by his brother-in-law, Thomas Harris.  Cherry discovered that Harris’ trailer had also been burglarized.  The trailer had been ransacked.  The refrigerator light had been removed.   The sink was full of dirty dishes, and there was food in a skillet on the stove.  Wet towels and sheets were strewn about and the floors were covered in burns from cigarettes.  Stolen from the trailer were all the canned food items, two quilts, silverware and butcher knives.

When Harris later received his telephone bill, he saw that several unauthorized long distance telephone calls had been placed from his trailer.  Three of the calls had been placed to a number in Springtown, Texas. Two additional unauthorized calls were placed to a telephone number in Hopewell, Pennsylvania, The Texas number was listed to Bryan Quintero, the half-brother of Derrick Quintero. The Pennsylvania number belonged to Barbara Vasser, William Hall’s girlfriend.

Wayne Vester and his 12-year-old son had spent the weekend with Wayne’s parents, Buford and Myrtle Vester. They left around 6:00pm Sunday night to return home to Dickson, Tennessee- over an hour’s drive away.

June 20, 1988

Wayne attempted to reach his parents by telephone, but was unsuccessful.

June 21, 1988

Leatherwood resident Neal Foster discovered his house had also been burglarized over the weekend. The place was ransacked. He found his binocular and food on a kitchen counter, deer steaks in the microwave, and an ammunition box, flashlight and the holster of his .22 caliber pistol on the living from floor. His bedroom was torn apart, with items such as walkie talkies, a hacksaw and a 12 gauge shotgun barrel strewn across the bed and floor.  His 12 gauge had been unsuccessfully sawed off. It was rendered unusable and was discarded by the intruders. His 20 gauge shotgun, 30-30 lever-action rifle and various types of ammunition were all missing from his walk-in closet.


The authorities found several latent prints at the Foster residence, and identified them as belonging to Blanton, Hall and Quintero.

Meanwhile, Wayne Vester again attempted to reach his parents and was again unsuccessful. Now worried, he called his parents’ neighbor, Howard Allor, who lived about a quarter of a mile from the Vester home. Allor said he had not seen the couple since before Wayne left.  


June 22, 1988

In Kentucky, Joseph Montgomery and Ronnie Hudson were apprehended after a brief exchange of gunfire with authorities.

When Wayne Vester was still unable to reach his parents, he again called Allor and asked him to check on them.   Allor drove to the Vesters’ residence and discovered a grisly scene.

The Vesters slept in separate bedrooms. When Allor entered Buford’s bedroom, he found his body on the floor next to his bed. There was blood on the pillow and sheets of the bed. Buford had been shot twice with a shotgun; once in the chest and once in the neck and head.

Myrtle’s body was found lying in a pool of dried blood on the floor of her bedroom next to the bathroom. She had been shot three times- once with a 20 gauge shotgun in her upper left arm, once in the collarbone with a high-powered rifle, and once in her right forearm with either the shotgun or rifle. The last shot nearly severed her arm.  The blast broke both ulna and radius bones in her forearm. Her hand and wrist were attached only by a piece of tissue consisting of skin, muscle and fat.

She had also been stabbed thirteen times; once in the middle of her back, and 12 times in her head and neck.

It was later posited by the medical examiner that Myrtle Vester could have survived the brutal attack for up to 15 minutes.

The telephone connection box outside the Vester’s residence was damaged, so when Allor attempted to call the sheriff, the line was dead. He returned to his home to make the call. It was soon discovered that the Vesters’ maroon 1985 Pontiac Bonneville had been stolen- a lookout was issued by police for the vehicle.   

June 23, 1988

Memphis Police Crime Scene Squad responded to a call from a Memphis Funeral Home. An employee had witnessed three men park a maroon Bonneville in the funeral home’s parking lot three days prior.  He hadn’t thought much about it, as he assumed they were working construction at the hospital across the street. But when the car was left unattended in the parking lot the entire three days, the police were called. It was the Vester’s Bonneville. The keys were in the car’s ignition.   The officers found a sawed-off 20 gauge shotgun containing one live round under the floor mat behind the driver’s seat which was later identified as the weapon stolen from Neal Foster’s home, and as the weapon from which a spent shell found outside the Vesters’ residence had been fired.   Police were able to lift three latent prints from a crumpled Budweiser beer can found under the back seat. The prints belonged to James Blanton.

No other prints were found in the car.  The officer noted that the extremely hot temperatures in Memphis at the time the car was found made it difficult to lift intact prints.  

Curtis Jones was a security guard at the Memphis Greyhound bus station. He told police that he saw three men enter the bust station earlier that day. When he approached the men and asked them whether or not they had a ticket, they said they would leave. They had spent about 10 minutes there. Jones was able to identify Blanton and Hall from a photographic line-up provided by police.

The men had also been seen at the Blue Movies West adult bookstore and entertainment center across the street from the bus station. All three were identified in a photographic line-up by employees.

July 6, 1988

Barbara Vasser received a third call from her boyfriend, William Hall. Vasser agreed to wire money to Hall at a Western Union in El Paso Texas. Vasser’s mother contacted Pennsylvania State Police. Hall was apprehended by FBI agents when he entered the Western Union.

July 10, 1988

Derrick Quintero and James Blanton were apprehended by Mexican officials at the Santa Fe Hotel in Juarez, just across the border from El Paso.


After a joint trial that lasted six weeks, Hall and Quintero were each convicted of two counts of first degree felony murder, three counts of grand larceny, one count of petit larceny and three counts of first degree burglary. Both received death sentences for the murder of Myrtle Vester and life sentences for the murder of Buford Vester. James Blanton was tried separately and was convicted of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, four counts of grand larceny and three counts of first degree burglary. He was also sentenced to death.

James Blanton died while on Death Row in 1999. William Hall and Derrick Quintero remain on death row.

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