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E-mail Threats Were Enough to Make Victim Go to Police

January 6, 2001

GREENWOOD, Ind. — Linda Guge's computer was supposed to be her safety net.

Instead, the Internet might have played a role in her death.

Guge, 53, was found dead Jan. 1 along a mountain logging road near Westel, Tenn., about 24 hours after she left her mother's Greenwood home. Investigators said Guge had been dragged behind a vehicle several miles up the rugged, ice- and snow-covered road.

Four days before her body was found, Guge filed a report with Greenwood police saying she feared for her life because of threats she received via e-mail.

Cumberland County, Tenn., Sheriff Butch Burgess would not reveal Friday whether any of Guge's four computers were confiscated. Burgess said the investigation is in early stages and would not release any information about the probe.

Family members said Guge became interested in computers at the behest of her late husband, Jim.

"She loved it," said Helen Lunsford, Guge's sister-in-law. "But I didn't know anything about her ever getting into talking to other people on the computer."

Lunsford, 64, of Harriman, Tenn., said her brother purchased Linda's first computer because he was worried about how his wife would make a living "if something happened to him."

Within months, the former Air Force chaplain and lay minister was diagnosed with leukemia. He died in March at age 67.

"He used to joke about getting her into computers and sending her to school and, 'She was cleaning toilets,'" Lunsford said. Guge worked cleaning offices.

Lunsford said Guge had several computers.

"She had a big computer, and they had a huge living room and it took up one whole end," Lunsford said. "She could take it and pull something off TV and print it, played games and mostly she was making stuff and never would try to get a job using it."

Lunsford said Guge bought extra computer equipment, more than would fit into one room in the mobile home near Knoxville that she shared with another woman after her husband's death.

One threat was made directly at the Internet screen name used by Guge, "Steve McGarrett," a character on the long-running television show Hawaii Five-0 .

That message said it was "hunting season" and that McGarrett was "dead," according to Greenwood police reports.

Guge's mother, Laura Icenogle of Greenwood, has unanswered questions about the case. She wants to know what was in her daughter's car, which investigators found about six miles from the body. Where are the Christmas presents the family gave her?

Icenogle was uneasy about her daughter returning to Knoxville.

"I told one of my other daughters, 'I don't think I'll ever see her again.' " Among the gifts Icenogle received from Guge was a pair of slippers.

"I am going to take real good care of my bunny slippers," she said. "That's the last thing she ever gave me."

Contact Paul Bird at (317) 865-4909 or via e-mail at

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