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Marvin Heemeyer, The Man Who Was Pushed Too Far

Marvin Heemeyer finally had enough and decided to punish those who hurt him
Marvin Heemeyer finally had enough and decided to punish those who hurt him
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Marvin Heemeyer gained notoriety as an American automobile muffler repair shop owner in Granby, Colorado.

Heemeyer’s clash with Granby town officials, particularly regarding fines related to city health ordinances, fueled his resentment. The dispute originated when he purchased a property without a proper sewage system.

Over the course of approximately eighteen months, Heemeyer secretly reinforced a Komatsu D355A bulldozer with layers of steel and concrete.

On that fateful day, June 4, 2004, Heemeyer unleashed his modified bulldozer upon Granby. His targets included the Granby town hall, the residence of a former mayor, and several other structures. Tragically, Heemeyer took his own life after the bulldozer became lodged in the basement of a hardware store he was demolishing.

Who was Marvin Heemeyer?

Marvin Heemeyer, a man whose name would become etched in the dark chronicles of history, was born on October 28, 1951, hailing from the desolate lands of South Dakota. Eventually settling in the forlorn embrace of Grand Lake, Colorado, a mere 16 miles removed from the tranquil town of Granby, Heemeyer’s presence would loom ominously over the horizon.

Yet, despite his prolonged tenure in the area, no familial connections tied him to the interwoven tapestry of Granby-Grand Lake, leaving his origins veiled in an enigma.

Among those who crossed paths with Heemeyer and glimpsed the contours of his inner being, a friend named John Bauldree spoke of his amiable nature, describing him as likable. Ken, his brother, went further, affirming Heemeyer’s unwavering commitment to aiding others, going to great lengths to extend a helping hand.

Marvin Heemeyer in a file photo

Marvin Heemeyer in a file photo

However, a resident by the name of Christie Baker stepped forth to recount a chilling encounter.

In Baker’s account, the shades of affability and goodwill that swathed Heemeyer were cast into question. Entangled in a dispute over a muffler repair, her husband found himself on the receiving end of Heemeyer’s menacing threats when he refused to pay.

The discord echoes reverberated through their lives, a stark reminder of the duality that shrouded Heemeyer’s existence. Eventually, succumbing to fear, Baker’s husband yielded, offering $124.

Marvin Heemeyer’s Problems Begin

In 1992, a pivotal chapter in Marvin Heemeyer’s tale unfolded as he acquired a parcel measuring 2 acres from the Resolution Trust Corporation, a federal entity tasked with managing the assets of defunct savings and loan associations.

This acquisition aimed to establish a muffler shop on the barren soil, a haven for Heemeyer’s mechanical pursuits. The transaction, sealed with $42,000, solidified his claim to this modest piece of earth.

However, destiny’s hand intervened as Heemeyer’s path intersected with Cody Docheff, a man seeking to build a concrete batch plant known as Mountain Park Concrete. An agreement was struck, with Heemeyer consenting to sell his land to Docheff for $250,000.

Yet, the specter of greed loomed over this arrangement as whispers of a changing mind and escalating demands tainted the negotiation process.

Marvin's killdozer moving through the streets

Marvin’s killdozer moving through the streets

According to Susan Docheff, a witness to this transaction, Heemeyer’s intentions veered off course. He brazenly increased the price to $375,000 and, further still, to a deal hovering around the staggering $1 million.

These figures unfolded even before the rezoning proposal reached the attentive ears of the town council, casting a pall of uncertainty over the proceedings.

In 2001, the wheels of fate turned with a cruel momentum as Granby’s zoning commission, and trustees sanctioned the construction of the concrete plant, bowing to its inevitable manifestation. Yet, Heemeyer, consumed by a fervent conviction that his access to the muffler shop would be obstructed, embarked on a fruitless appeal to overturn this decision.

His pleas fell on deaf ears, and his claim to justice dissolved into the ether, leaving him bereft of recourse.

As the story unfolded, the scales of justice tipped against Marvin Heemeyer, subjecting him to the harsh consequences of his actions. A formidable penalty of $2,500 was imposed upon him, a direct result of his failure to comply with the septic tank requirement on the very property that housed his modest muffler shop.

Marvin Heemeyer Makes the Killdozer

Cloaked in improvised armor, the bulldozer stood as a menacing behemoth. Heemeyer’s ingenuity, or perhaps his delusion, led him to fortify the vehicle with a patchwork of protection.

Sheets of tool steel, procured from an automotive dealer in Denver, were fused together, encapsulating the cabin, engine, and sections of the tracks. Beneath this makeshift shell, layers of 5,000 psi (34 MPa) Quikrete concrete mix were intertwined, forming an ad-hoc composite armor, some regions boasting an impressive thickness of over 1 foot (30 cm).

Such impromptu fortifications rendered the machine impervious to the feeble attempts of small arms fire and resilience against the ravages of explosives. Even guns could not breach the bulwarks of this formidable creation.

Three external explosions, unleashed upon the bulldozer, were in vain, their impact feeble against the armored giant. More than 200 rounds of ammunition were fired, but none penetrated.

To ensure an unobscured view of his path of destruction, the bulldozer was outfitted with an array of video cameras, their all-seeing gaze piercing through the darkness. Ominously perched on the vehicle’s dashboard, two monitors provided Heemeyer with a haunting spectacle of his surroundings.

The cameras themselves became ensconced in a shield of protection. Like cold sentinels guarding their master’s vision, 3-inch (76 mm) shields made of clear bulletproof Lexan encased the exterior of each camera.

Within the confines of his unholy chariot, Marvin Heemeyer had taken precautions to ensure his comfort amidst the chaos that engulfed him. The oppressive heat of his relentless pursuit was met with the respite of onboard fans and an air conditioner.

The Killdozer's rampage as seen from air

The Killdozer’s rampage as seen from air

Amidst his armored cocoon’s comforts, Heemeyer devised a chilling gun-port arsenal. These sinister orifices were meticulously designed to accommodate the instruments of his wrath—a .50 caliber rifle, a .308 caliber semi-automatic rifle, and a .22 caliber rifle.

Each port was fortified by a formidable one-half-inch-thick (1.3 cm) steel plate, transforming the bulldozer into a mobile fortress of doom.

As the investigation delved deeper into the sinister machinery of Marvin Heemeyer, a chilling revelation emerged from the shadows. Authorities theorized that a homemade crane, discovered within the confines of his garage, played a pivotal role in his diabolical plan.

It was speculated that this device, carefully constructed by Heemeyer himself, may have been utilized to lower the impenetrable armor hull over the bulldozer, sealing him and his malevolent creation within its metallic grip.

Once ensconced within the fortified cabin, Heemeyer appeared to have forsaken any notion of escape. The words of one investigator reverberated with a somber understanding, conveying the grim reality of the situation. “Once he tipped that lid shut, he knew he wasn’t getting out,” they stated, capturing the chilling resolve that consumed Heemeyer as he embarked on his path of destruction.

The garage itself became a haunting site of interest for the relentless investigators. It was within these walls that Heemeyer was believed to have meticulously birthed his monstrous creation. A chilling discovery sent shivers down their spines as their searching eyes scanned the premises.

Cement and armor steel, tangible remnants of his dark craftsmanship, were unearthed, solidifying the connection between this ominous place and the malevolent machine that had wreaked havoc on Granby.

In a chilling display of audacity, Marvin Heemeyer’s written words resound with an unsettling revelation. “It is interesting to observe that I was never caught,” he penned. He disclosed that the creation of his mechanical nightmare had been a part-time endeavor meticulously pursued over one and a half years. The magnitude of his efforts is hidden beneath a cloak of secrecy.

Marvin Heemeyer Begins His Trail of Destruction

On that fateful day of June 4, 2004, the world witnessed extraordinary destruction orchestrated by Marvin Heemeyer. Guiding his armored bulldozer with unwavering determination, he plowed through various structures that held significance in his twisted narrative.

His targets included his former business, the concrete plant, the town hall, the office of a local newspaper that had criticized him, the residence of a former mayor and current widow, and even a hardware store owned by an individual embroiled in a legal dispute with Heemeyer. This calculated rampage left a lasting mark on the community.

It is worth noting that Heemeyer had already severed ties with his business, having leased it to a trash company and sold the property months before embarking on his path of devastation. Undeterred by this separation, he unleashed his wrath upon these buildings, a testament to his vengeful resolve.

The rampage stretched out over a daunting span of two hours and seven minutes. Thirteen buildings fell victim to the relentless force of his bulldozer, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Gas services to the town hall and concrete plant were disrupted, a truck was damaged, and a portion of a utility service center was obliterated.

Astonishingly, despite the extensive property damage, the event claimed only one life, Heemeyer himself, who succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The estimated cost of the devastation, however, stood at a staggering $7 million.

In the face of this cataclysmic event, the authorities made valiant efforts to safeguard the residents. Emergency dispatchers utilized the reverse 911 emergency system, alerting numerous individuals of the unfolding rampage within the town. The swift dissemination of information aimed to ensure the safety and well-being of the populace as chaos reigned.

While some supporters of Heemeyer insisted that he deliberately refrained from causing harm during his bulldozer rampage, emphasizing his conscious effort to spare lives, conflicting viewpoints surfaced. County officials, in contrast, attributed the absence of casualties not to benevolent intent, but rather to a stroke of fortune.

Unveiling the dark underbelly of his actions, it was revealed that Heemeyer had strategically positioned rifles within firing ports of the bulldozer’s interior. Firing fifteen bullets at power transformers and propane tanks.

As the destructive path of the armored bulldozer unfolded, the situation escalated into a harrowing confrontation between Heemeyer and law enforcement. Astonishingly, it was Heemeyer who initiated the violence, firing upon two state patrol officers before they had a chance to retaliate.

Shedding light on the chilling reality, the sheriff’s department revealed that eleven of the thirteen buildings Heemeyer targeted were occupied until mere moments before their obliteration. Unaware of the impending chaos, the innocent occupants found themselves thrust into this nightmare’s heart.

The terrifying turn of events disrupted even a children’s program at the town library.

A gif of Marvin's rampage

A gif of Marvin’s rampage

Law enforcement resorted to various tactics in their desperate bid to quell the rampage. One officer deployed a flash-bang grenade down the exhaust pipe of the bulldozer, yet its impact proved futile. Local and state patrol, including a determined SWAT team, cautiously approached the mammoth machine, firing intermittent shots.

However, their efforts proved ineffectual against the impenetrable armor encasing the bulldozer. Bullets ricocheted harmlessly off its surface, failing to breach its formidable defense. Even attempts to disable the surveillance cameras mounted on the bulldozer through gunfire proved fruitless, as the 3-inch (7.6 cm) bulletproof plastic shielded them from harm.

In a moment of sheer bravery, undersheriff Glenn Trainor dared to mount the bulldozer, clinging on like a skilled bronc buster, desperately searching for a vulnerability. However, he was ultimately forced to retreat, avoiding the onslaught of debris hurled in his direction.

At this critical juncture, local authorities and the Colorado State Patrol confronted the disheartening reality that their arsenal of firepower was rapidly diminishing, while Heemeyer’s destructive potential remained intact.

Fears began to mount that Heemeyer would soon target innocent civilians in Granby, leaving the authorities grappling for a solution. In a dramatic turn of events, Governor Bill Owens purportedly contemplated authorizing the deployment of the National Guard, considering options such as employing an Apache attack helicopter armed with a Hellfire missile or a specialized fire team equipped with a Javelin anti-tank missile.

The gravity of the situation demanded drastic measures. However, before such extreme action could be taken, fate intervened, trapping Heemeyer within the confines of the basement in a Gambles hardware store. At that moment, a collective sigh of relief reverberated through the town, as the immediate threat was momentarily contained.

In the aftermath of the intense standoff, debates and conflicting accounts emerged regarding the potential use of force to neutralize Heemeyer’s armored bulldozer. While Governor Owens’s staff adamantly denied any consideration of such measures as late as 2011, revelations from members of the State Patrol painted a different picture.

It was confirmed that the governor had indeed contemplated authorizing an attack; however, the ultimate decision was made against it. The concern for the potential collateral damage that a missile strike would inflict upon the heart of Granby outweighed the havoc Heemeyer could cause with his bulldozer.

As Heemeyer wreaked havoc upon the Gambles hardware store, several complications arose. The bulldozer suffered significant damage, with its radiator compromised and fluids leaking from the engine. Eventually, the engine failed altogether, leaving Heemeyer trapped as he inadvertently dropped a tread into the depths of the store’s basement.

Amidst the tension, approximately a minute later, a member of the SWAT team, closely monitoring the situation, reported the haunting sound of a single gunshot resonating from within the sealed cabin. It was later determined that Heemeyer had taken his own life with a .357-caliber handgun.

In the subsequent efforts to gain access to the bulldozer and retrieve Heemeyer’s body, law enforcement initially resorted to explosives. However, despite multiple attempts, these detonations proved ineffective in dislodging the stubborn steel plates encasing the machine.

Consequently, authorities turned to an oxyacetylene cutting torch, methodically slicing through the formidable barriers. It was a painstaking process, but ultimately, at 2 a.m. on June 5, Grand County Emergency Management Director Jim Holahan confirmed that they could access the bulldozer’s cabin and remove Heemeyer’s lifeless body from within.

Later Incidents and a Conclusion

Following the unsettling rampage, on April 19, 2005, the town decided to dismantle and dispose of Heemeyer’s bulldozer. To prevent the macabre collection of souvenirs, a meticulous plan was devised.

The bulldozer would be disassembled, and its pieces dispersed to various scrap yards, ensuring they would be separated and scattered.

Although the incident resulted in the loss of Heemeyer’s life alone, the modified bulldozer has since gained a haunting moniker: the “Killdozer.” The origins of this name remain somewhat uncertain.

It is debated whether it draws inspiration from the 1944 short story “Killdozer!” or its subsequent 1974 film adaptation, or if it emerged independently as a chilling descriptor for the menacing machine.

In addition to leaving inscriptions on the walls of his shed, Heemeyer meticulously recorded his thoughts and motivations in a series of audio tapes. Three tapes, comprising six separate recordings, were carefully prepared by Heemeyer and sent to his brother in South Dakota just before embarking on his fateful journey within the confines of the bulldozer.

Recognizing the significance of these recordings, Heemeyer’s brother handed them over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who then forwarded them to the Grand County Sheriff’s Department. Each tape spans approximately 2.5 hours, capturing Heemeyer’s state of mind during a critical period leading up to the tragic events.

The Killdozer parked in a scrapyard

The Killdozer parked in a scrapyard

The first recording dates back to April 13, 2004, while the final one was completed on May 22, thirteen days before the rampage.

In the initial recording, Heemeyer expressed a profound conviction in a higher purpose, stating, “God built me for this job.” He believed that his solitary existence, devoid of familial attachments, was part of a divine plan, enabling him to carry out the impending attack.

He firmly believed that God would bless him in accomplishing the construction of the formidable machine and driving it to fulfill the tasks at hand. He considered his actions a solemn duty, bearing the weight of a symbolic cross in the name of God.

Investigative efforts later uncovered a handwritten list of targets compiled by Heemeyer. Alongside the buildings he eventually devastated, it included the local Catholic church, which remained unharmed.

The list also contained the names of individuals who had previously opposed him in various disputes. The notes discovered after the incident revealed that the primary motivation behind the bulldozer rampage was Heemeyer’s fervent desire to thwart the construction of the concrete plant near his establishment.

His lingering resentment towards the zoning approval fueled his determination, as he wrote, “I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.”

RIP

Next, read about Carl Tanzler, the Man Who Tried To Bring his Love Back to Life, and then, about the Haunting of Kirby Road, Canada.

 

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Written By

Abin Tom Sebastian, also known as Mr. Morbid in the community, is an avid fan of the paranormal and the dark history of the world. He believes that sharing these stories and histories are essential for the future generations. For god forbid, we have seen that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marina Mariza Lonsky Reko

    September 12, 2023 at 12:03 pm

    The author clearly has a talent for writing and telling dramatic fiction stories. However, the story is about a real, not fictional event and a real historical person.
    People tend to believe the media, they don’t study history for themselves. the media is biased, they’re dancers for money. We end up with fiction instead of truth.
    As a matter of fact:
    1) Cody Docheff never offered Marvin a price of $250,000. On the contrary, when professional appraisers valued Marvin’s property at $275,000, Marvin wanted to sell it to Cody for $250,000. But Cody was hysterical, threatened Marvin, blackmailed him, and didn’t want to negotiate.
    2) Marvin couldn’t connect to water and sewer line exclusively bc of the Thompsons’ scam. They deliberately withheld the right to a simplified connection from him and fined him for the same. The Thompsons are an disgrace to Grand County, they’re criminals and murderers. Read, for example, the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Ben McClelland in 2018 and Dan Miller in 2023.
    3) “Оminously, sinister”???? Marvin was a very kind man. Too kind. They called him the Gentle Giant.
    All this heaping on of “scary” epithets is ridiculous and anti-historical. The word “chilling” is repeated too often. The reader, who knows how nice Marvin was, involuntarily begins to laugh.
    4) “Innocent occupants”?? Is that the Thompsons?! Only the buildings of the corrupt and the scoundrels were damaged. All the people had more than enough time to get out. The Kingdozer was moving slow.
    The point of the history is that evil and disgusting ppl killed a good and kind man. They didn’t even apologize to his relatives!
    But this man was a genius. And this man overcame evil with good. Today he’s loved and adored by millions of people in America and around the world. He’s a legend. They call him a Warrior of Justice and a King among men.

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