1982 blast in Modesto takes one life, consumes another

Modesto (Calif.) BeeFebruary 5, 2012 

MODESTO, Calif. -- Nearly 30 years ago, a small, red toolbox found in a field west of Modesto by kids looking for lizards turned out to be a booby-trapped killing machine when a curious young mother took a hacksaw to its small padlock.

The bomb that killed Jennie Holloman blew 3-foot chasms in the floor and ceiling of her mobile home, disemboweled her toddler and sent shrapnel into a neighbor's barn across the street. It also left her husband, Gary Holloman, a truly hollow man.

News accounts over the years have described the horrific homicide but never revealed its most painful secret, to Holloman, at least — that he was the prime suspect. For decades, he has struggled to turn authorities' suspicion elsewhere, even hiring his own private investigators.

He's estranged from the tiny daughter he pulled out of rubble. Pieced together by surgeons, she's now a woman with children of her own. She says her father is obsessed with the case and has let it ruin his life.

Disabled and retired at 57, Holloman continues chasing leads, reading books and trial transcripts featuring motorcycle gang members he suspects built and sold the bomb. He also maintains a Web site dedicated to solving the murder.

In case a shadowy figure familiar with vehicle ignitions doesn't appreciate his poking around, Holloman revs his pickup by clicking a remote starter from at least a block away, just in case. He blames a dozen short-lived relationships on his inability to allow anyone to get close, saying, "I'm always afraid they're going to die." After almost 30 years of mostly private frustration, Holloman said he no longer cares whom his questions offend, even if it endangers him.

In a series of interviews, including a visit to the now-peaceful site of the grisly blast, Holloman periodically wept, especially when fingering tattered bits of his wife's clothing he's kept all this time. He apologizes, saying he can't hide emotion as well since the onset of Parkinson's disease a few years ago.

"I don't want sympathy," Holloman insists. "I want justice."

Read the full story at modbee.com

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service