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The Vail Daily
January 3, 2009
ASPEN After he delivered bombs throughout town on New Year’s Eve Day, effectively placing downtown Aspen on lockdown, Jim Blanning walked around watching the mayhem unfold and then reflected on his 72 years of life before shooting himself.
That’s according to a letter written to Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, which was found in Blanning’s Jeep Cherokee at the North Star Nature Preserve on Thursday morning.
“I wandered around for hours this afternoon,” Blanning wrote. “God knows I have a long history Aspen school Airforce Nuclear Weapons Ski Patrol and Instructor ASC Sundeck/gondola/mining claim. More varied deed and property etc., recorded etc. that (sic) most anyone.”
What surprised Braudis the most was that his longtime friend Blanning intended to kill people, even though most who knew him said he wouldn’t hurt anyone. But it became clear that Blanning intended harm based on what Braudis described as “an addled rant from a tortured mind.” Blanning wrote the missive just hours before ending his life.
“Try to find a good author to study my story,” he wrote. “The main point of doing the killing was to make a statement and make sure I’m remembered but it seem (sic) to me I’ve done that.”
The fact that Blanning was on antidepressants, based on a statement made by his brother, Bill Blanning in other newspaper reports, could have contributed to his bizarre actions.
“He intended to cause death and destruction, which is totally out of character,” Braudis said. “It sounds like he was apologizing for mass murder that he intended here …
“Both professionally and personally, I have seen incredible mood swings from a pill, and it can cause suicidal and homicidal effects.”
In the letter, Blanning suggests that he was in a dark place.
“My body is short and the ongoing black depression has mush of my mind lately,” he wrote.
Blanning also credited Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, the late Pitkin County Judge J.E. DeVilbiss and former prosecutor Chip McCrory for ruining his life. Ireland was a reporter and Pitkin County commissioner during the 1980s and 1990s who scrutinized Blanning’s pursuit of obtaining mining claims around Aspen. DeVilbiss sentenced Blanning to 16 years in prison after McCrory filed charges of fraud relating to the sale of mining claims and land scams. In 1996, he was convicted of racketeering,
organized crime and fraud.
“There’s a cartoon in my office ‘Too Many People’ and I know I had a wonderful life until Mik Irland (sic) and JE got me,” Blanning wrote. “God knows I would love to have cut Irlands and Chip McCorey (sic) balls off before skinning them.”
Blanning suggests in the letter that death was a better option than prison, which surely would have been a reality since he was on parole.
While Blanning had extensive knowledge of explosives from his work in the mines growing up in Aspen, the damage he caused in Aspen could have been worse something Blanning acknowledged in his letter to Braudis.
“I came loaded for bear as you will see. I was going do (sic) just as the bomb note,” he wrote of the notes attached to the bombs left at Wells Fargo and Vectra banks. “Could have done some serious damage. Oh-well. Too tired to the bone.”
But he wasn’t tired enough to build four bombs that were packaged in Christmas wrapping paper and delivered to two banks, and two that were left behind the Gap in an alley. Those packages contained 5-gallon “plastic bladders” of gasoline that were fitted with cellular phone actuators and mousetraps.
“If he truly wanted to take out a lot of people he could have,” Braudis said.
It appears as though Blanning might have planned to take his life at a mining claim on the lower portion of Smuggler Mountain called Silver Brick. But Blanning wrote that he was interrupted.
“Some Caddlac (sic) came up near the Silver Brick and I had to move. Not sure where you will find me,” Blanning wrote. “Will/should be interesting to hear everyone (sic) tales (stories) about me.”
Blanning was found dead outside of his Jeep in the parking lot at the entrance to the nature preserve, about three miles east of Aspen. He apparently shot himself in the chin with a pistol. The Pitkin County coroner’s office on Friday evening confirmed massive head trauma from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head as the cause of death.
Other items were retrieved from the vehicle included a “hate list” of people Blanning considered enemies. Braudis said he has not yet seen that list, but said it’s in the evidence room at the sheriff’s office. He will likely look at that, as well as other items retrieved from the vehicle, on Monday. Items reportedly found in the car were ammunition, a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, camping gear and a six-pack of beer in a Christmas gift bag, which also contained the note.
The letter to Braudis also serves as a last will and testament, leaving Braudis and Aspen attorney Art Daly heirs to all personal records and property, including Great Wonder LLC., a corporation set up by Blanning.
According to the letter, Blanning appointed Denver attorney Malcolm Sewell as executor. Mining property, binders, books, records, maps and other related material should go to Kurt Hollberg and Mr. Plum of Gunnison True Value family, according to the letter. All rights to the maps, data, records and relocating of the “Star Hugh” project should go to Central City and the Fortune Valley Casino, Blanning wrote. Copies of the master folder on Blanning’s computer in his Denver office go to any person or organization that wants a copy for study, according to the letter.
Braudis said Blanning’s bitterness started when he was sentenced to prison over what many observers believe should have been a civil litigation matter with Aspenite Dieter Bibbig. Blanning learned that Bibbig allowed a corporation he created to expire with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The defunct corporation owned Bibbig’s property on Park Avenue.
Blanning was accused of resurrecting that same corporation. Bibbig learned that Blanning snagged his property and was forced into litigation to regain his property.
That’s when McCrory filed criminal charges and DeVilbiss was forced by law to uphold the lengthy sentence. After he was released early for good behavior, Blanning was barred from making land and real estate transactions.
“Blanning was deprived of his town, his freedom and his livelihood,” Braudis said.
Joanie Klar Bruce, who was married to Blanning in the 1970s, said his battle over personal property rights with the government obviously took a toll on him.
“He is the epitome of the political activist,” she said. “He was fighting the fight for all of us.”
The letter to Braudis
Editor’s Note: This letter from Jim Blanning was typed as received, and as best as we could decipher; no corrections were made nor was it edited. A copy of the handwritten version can be found at www.aspentimes.com/blanning
Guess I’m in your jurisdiction hands now. Sorry I did a hellacious lot of work on my two projects as see in my office. Just did not get lucky. My angle left me. Here, at least, I go close to Stephen.
I came loaded for bear as you will see. I was going do just as the bomb note.
Could have done some serious damage. Oh-well. Too tired. To the bone.
The only bad part is the hurt to some good friends in Denver who you will probably pick up on.
Please don’t let the Gestapo f*** their lifes. It was all me.
Try to find a good author to study my story. The main part of doing the killing was to make a statement and make sure I’m remembered, but it seems I’ve done that.
There’s a cartoon in my office “Too Many People” and I know I had a wonderful life until Mik Ireland & JE got me.
God knows I would love to have cut Ireland’s & Chip McCorey balls off before skinning them.
Five years of work down the tubes. I came so close and it was so very interesting. Tell the Gestapo to go to the “C” drive on my office computer, then to “Master” folder and you will see what I mean.
Addendum to Last Will & Testament which was on the envelope. If it shows up.
I appoint Malcolm Sewell Denver attorney my executor and you Robert Braudis and Art Dailey heirs to all personal records and property, including Great Wonder, LLC, which Gordon Thompson has had nothing to do with in any way. I put his name on the LLC. The records are in the office. Also all book rights, too.
All the mining property and binders, books, records, maps and any thing related goes to Kurt Hollberg and Mr. Plum of Gunnison True Valey family. My body is short and the ongoing black depression has mush of my mind lately.
All rights to the maps, data, records relating to what I call the “Star Hugh” project go to Central City and the Fortune Valley Casino. Master/Projects:
Copies of the Master folder go to any person or organization that wants a copy for study.
I wandered around for hours this afternoon. God knows I have a long history Aspen school Air Force Nuclear Weapons ski patrol & instructor ASC Sundeck/gondola mining claim, more varied deeds & property, etc. recorded, etc. than most anyone.
Some Caddlac came up to me near the Silver Brick and I had to move. Not sure where you will find me. Will/should be interesting to hear everyone tales (stories) about me.
Always has been interesting that life in prison is better than on early.
They have me. Good by.
Witness & Attested