Driven to Kill
A few blocks away in a middle-class home located in the 300 block of Council Bluffs Way, two young boys raced for their bicycles, which were parked near the front porch of their house. The boys appeared not to have a care in the world. Their father, who adored them, often wished that he had only one-half of their energy.
"We're going hunting for lost balls!" yelled William Neer, ten, to his father. It was a statement, not a request, part of an almost daily ritual in which William, whom everyone called Billy, and his brother, Cole, eleven, rode their bicycles to a nearby golf course where they hunted for balls that had missed their marks and had gone astray. They nearly always found most of the balls near the driving range, and were paid a penny apiece for them by the golf course's manager. It was easy money for the boys, which they eagerly spent on candy, baseball cards, and toys.
Even though they hadn't lived there long, the McLoughlin Heights neighborhood seemed like a good, safe place to raise children. Automobile traffic, as opposed to some maniac running loose looking for kids to kill, seemed to be a greater reason of concern to parents looking out for their children's safety. It was a few minutes past 4 p.m. when the boys left their home, the last time that Clair Neer saw his sons alive.
Being kids, Billy and Cole paid their father little mind as they hopped astride their matching BMX bikes and zoomed off down the street, popping wheelies every half block or so. As always, they arrived at the driving range without a hitch. Excited about the prospect of earning money, they enthusiastically scavenged for the lost golf balls for the next hour and a half.
By 6:15 p.m. Billy and Cole had found all the golf balls they cared to find. They were getting tired and hungry and, after collecting their money, decided that they should head for home. Wanting to arrive home in time for dinner or risk getting grounded, they took their favorite shortcut through David Douglas Park along one of the secluded dirt bicycle paths, barely a half-mile from their house.
Unknown to Billy and Cole, Westley Allan Dodd had begun walking down the same trail only moments before they had turned onto it. Dodd quickly saw them, and deliberately stood in the middle of the trail to force the boys to stop. They were about the age that he wanted, he decided, and there was no one else around. Perfect. He approached them as they looked at him curiously, and instructed them to get off their bikes. Both being obedient kids, they did what they were told.
"I want you two to come with me," said Dodd.
"Why?" asked Billy, sincerely puzzled at the stranger's command.
"Because I told you to," answered Dodd. "You can bring your bikes if you want." Dodd had sensed that Cole was going to leave his bike behind, and he didn't want someone to easily find it and begin looking for its owner. The boys, either out of fear, curiosity, or a feeling that the stranger needed their help, followed Dodd down the path.
Along the way Dodd examined the boys carefully. He realized that their complexion was darker than that of a Caucasian, and he felt like they were of a different race. He had always limited himself to molesting only white children, and had never liked "the idea of (fellating) foreigners." Nonetheless, he was committed. He might not have another chance as good as this for some time.
As they walked along the trail they passed two teenagers at one point. Dodd warned the boys to remain quiet, not to talk to them. Billy and Cole looked at each other quizzically, but obeyed. After the teenagers were out of sight, Dodd asked the boys their names and ages. He was a little disappointed when they told him their ages. They were both older than he had initially thought, certainly older than he liked his boys to be. But there was no turning back now.