Investigation Discovery’s ‘Valley of the Damned: The Absent Father’ traces the tragic murder of Jim Durgan in Salida, Colorado, in July 2008. The police did not have to look for long before nabbing his killers. The documentary meticulously untangles the various layers of this case and offers a clear understanding of the way the events played out. If you’re intrigued and want to learn more, including the current whereabouts of the perpetrator, we’ve you covered. Let’s just begin then, shall we?
How Did Jim Durgan Die?
James Glenn “Jim” Durgan was born in Salida, Colorado, on December 19, 1970. He was a fun and easygoing man who loved outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting. He met Kristin T. Durgan in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1990, through a mutual friend. Kristin and Jim fell in love and got married on July 3, 1992, in Las Vegas. They moved back to Salida in 1998, with Jim citing the reason as “setting some roots.” According to the show, he had an affluent job in telecommunication and was earning about $90,000 per annum.
However, the job required Jim to stay away from home during the week, though he always tried to come home on the weekends to spend time with his wife and children, Andrew and Elisabeth. He also had a stepson Nicholas Ayers. On July 11, 2008, the Fremont County Sheriff’s officers received a call from Kristin where she said her husband had been missing.
The officers started looking for Jim and found his car abandoned in the Lone Pine Recreational Area at the edge of Fremont County. On July 19, 2008, the police found a body in the Arkansas River. The body had become bloated and disfigured and impossible to identify. The medical examiner used dental records to identify the body belonged to Jim. His autopsy report also showed blunt force trauma to the head and two bullet wounds in his skull.
Who Killed Jim Durgan?
The investigators started to look into Kristin Durgan as she gave a very disturbing picture of her marriage with Jim. As per the show, Kristin was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years after her marriage, and she had also developed a gambling addiction. A major reason behind the couple shifting back to Salida was to keep her away from casinos. However, the show mentioned, that Kristin had found a casino in Cripple Creek, and used to frequent there until her debt became too much that she was caught by her husband.
According to the show, Jim put Kristin twice in rehab, but her gambling addiction could not be mended. Instead, the financial burden became too much, and Jim was forced to take a second mortgage on their home to save them from going broke. It was further mentioned on the show that in March 2008, Jim came home to find his wife being unfaithful. It was the last straw for him. Jim subsequently moved out of the house and shifted to Wyoming, where he was dating a woman and planned to settle down with her.
Jim and Kristen were on the way to getting an amicable divorce. Jim still came home on the weekends to spend time with the kids but stayed in a hotel in Cañon City. He learned that Kristin’s boyfriend, Andrew Tanner, had moved into his house. When Jim stopped giving Kristin extra money, she was forced to take up a job in a local pizza place. There she met Andrew, who worked as a delivery driver for the restaurant. The police looked into Andrew to find he had past criminal convictions and even learned about Jim’s misgivings regarding Andrew having guns while his kids were around.
On July 22, 2008, Andrew was brought in for questioning. Initially clammed up, he soon started looking guilty under interrogation and eventually invoked his right to counsel. While the police had to let him go, they continued to dig into Andrew. They combed through his phone records to find suspicious late-night calls, some after 1 am, on the night Jim disappeared. The calls were to Brian Folsom, who was a parolee and consumed meth; he had a history of mental health issues.
The police soon found more connecting links when they discovered Brian was an ex-employee at Andrew’s workplace. He also had considerable criminal records. Brian broke down during the interrogation and confessed to playing a role in Jim’s murder. He claimed that Andrew paid him money to kidnap Jim on July 10, 2008, from the Lone Pine Recreational Area and take him to a remote area in Fremont County called Dirty Gulch, near Cotopaxi. Brian tied Jim to a tree with phone cables, handcuffed his hands to the tree, and duct taped his eyes and mouth shut.
Brian added that he then went back to Andrew, who came back later to shoot Jim and dispose of his body. While the police were processing all this information, Kristin called to say that she had some information about her boyfriend, Andrew. On August 28, 2008, she claimed that it was Andrew who had killed Jim out of jealousy. But the police had seen through her lies. Initially, Kristin had stated that Jim had been trying to reconcile with her, but Jim’s girlfriend in Wyoming stated otherwise.
The police also found that Kristin stood to benefit about half a million dollars if Jim died before the court settlement of their divorce. When confronted with all these facts, along with Brian’s confession, Kristin broke down and confessed it was she who had lured Jim to the Lone Pine Recreational Area using their kids as bait and implied to Andrew to kill her husband. Kristin, Brian, and Andrew were charged with and arrested for Jim’s murder in 2008.
Where are Kristin Durgan, Brian Folsom, and Andrew Tanner Today?
Brian Folsom pled guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping charges and was sentenced to 48 years in prison on July 10, 2009. He applied for post-conviction relief, but the motion was turned down in April 2014. The 43-year-old is presently incarcerated in a cell at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Crowley County, Colorado. His inmate records state his estimated parole eligibility date is August 20, 2040.
Andrew Tanner was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, and violent crime and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the chance of parole in September 2009. According to official court records, the 36-year-old is currently serving his sentence in a cell at the Limon Correctional Facility in Lincoln County, Colorado.
Kristin also pled guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping charges in April 2009 and also testified against Andrew at his trial. She was sentenced to 54 years in jail. As per official court records, the 54-year-old is presently incarcerated in a cell at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility (DWCF) in Denver, Colorado. Her inmate records state that her estimated parole eligibility date is March 6, 2043.