Does anybody remember this? My little sister was at Red at the time and I was at Johnston. Mass killer counts down to freedom /Survivor painfully recalls '73 rampageHouston - Karen Kurtz's scarred right leg begins to ache every afternoon, and she has to use a cane to get around, every painful step a reminder of her brush with Houston's first mass murderer. She was walking home from Red Elementary School on a spring morning 25 years ago when Larry Delon Casey, angry following an argument with his girlfriend, drove intersection to intersection gunning down little girls with a .22-caliber rifle. After fatally shooting an elderly woman on that day in April 1973, he killed two schoolgirls and injured Kurtz and another girl. Two months earlier, he'd killed a convenience store clerk. Despite Casey's notoriety - Harris County prosecutor Bert Graham calls him Houston's "original" mass murderer - few Houstonians nowadays are familiar with his name. That probably is because the horror of his 1973 shooting rampage in southwest Houston was eclipsed just four months after it happened, when the entire nation learned how Dean Corll and two young accomplices had killed dozens of teen-age runaways here. But Kurtz, now 35 and living far from Houston, remembers Casey. In a recent interview - after insisting that her new address or married name not be published for fear the killer might find her someday - she recalled how the slug that shattered her right leg also shattered her life. "I've dealt with 25 years of leg problems because of him," she said. For Kurtz, the Casey shootings didn't fade away with the next Page 1 crime. Every few years, she gets a postal reminder that the stranger who shot her is alive, standard notices from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles that he is being considered for parole. The last letter she got on the subject arrived in mid-July, and sometime this month the board likely will make a decision about freeing Casey. Kurtz and Graham, who convinced a jury to sentence him to 99 years in prison, both expect the board to reject him for the fourth time in a decade. That is not what concerns them. Thanks to a pristine prison record and a lot of 3 -for-1 "good-time credit," Casey, 48, knows he must be freed on a mandatory release on Feb. 19, 2006. He will have no parole officer watching him, no letters warning his new neighbors about him, no legal limitations on him whatsoever beyond the rules all Texans face daily. Larry Casey does not look like a murderer. Gone is the cocky, smirking expression he displayed when Houston homicide detectives brought him downtown. "I guess I went out of my head for 15 to 20 minutes," he told a Chronicle reporter at the police station that day. "I just flew off the handle." Today, watching Casey interact with other prisoners and guards at the prison system's Wynne Unit outside Huntsville, he comes across as a pleasant, schoolteacher-ish sort of guy. He received a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University in 1988, and it shows in the way he talks. He is fully aware he would have been sent to death row but for a fortuitous twist of legal timing. At the time of the shootings, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled the Texas capital murder law invalid. A revision of the law went into effect two months after the girls were shot. If he committed his crimes today, prosecutors could seek the death penalty under several statutes - killing children under age 6, committing multiple murders and, in an unrelated offense, executing a 7-Eleven clerk during an $80 robbery. As Casey describes it, he was fresh out of the Army after two years in Germany as a radar operator, and he had "quite a chip on my shoulder" when he returned to Houston. By then, he had been accused of numerous minor crimes - theft, burglary, possession of marijuana, pretending to be a policeman, drunken driving, shooting up a mobile home and more. But the potential to hurt somebody was always present, he said, because he usually was armed. He said this was because his father, Theron Casey, 53, had been murdered by two junkies in New York City, a crime Larry Casey blames on his father's giving a Brazoria County man nine hot checks to cover gambling losses. Whatever the reason, Larry Casey had a pistol on Feb. 21, 1973, when he and his girlfriend, Yvonne Ellis, were at a 7-Eleven on Burdine Street. Casey said they got into a dispute with the clerk, Dorothy Jones Young, 48, about selling beer after hours, a fuss that Casey ended by shooting her three times. In an interview, he described it as a simple method of ending a problem. "If there would have been the death penalty when I was in the 7-Eleven arguing with the manager, I never would've pulled the gun," Casey said. "But I knew there wasn't any death penalty, and I figured I could get away with it because there weren't any witnesses around." In his confession, Casey did not mention that his girlfriend was there. He said he shot Young "because I thought she was reaching for a gun." That killing became just another unsolved Houston crime until the Red Elementary shootings two months later. According to Casey, he and Ellis - who he says visited him in prison just once, several years ago - were both hard-drinking pot smokers who supported themselves with a Houston Post delivery route. Both were on probation on April 18, 1973, and Ellis was increasingly unhappy that Casey was drinking while driving, fearing he would get her in trouble for violating probation. "Yvonne was mad at me about drinking and driving and wanted out of the car," his confession says. "She got out at the intersection of Bissonnet and Chimney Rock." His confession says he was mad and went to fetch his mother's .22-caliber rifle. "I left the house and drove across Willowbend and into the neighborhood," it reads. "I was near where my little brother (went) to school." The confession says he shot a woman standing in front of her house. But in the interview, he described how Beulah Davis saw him stop near her home and came over and saw weapons in the vehicle. She may have gotten a good look at Casey's license plate. "I felt threatened by her," he explained. "I'd just been put on probation, and I figured she'd call the law." So he shot her in the back. The confession jumps from that to his spotting a child riding a bicycle in a driveway 75 yards away. One shot and the child fell down. "I do not remember shooting at anyone else," the confession says. Prosecutor Graham has not forgotten the rest. After shooting Claire Jakubowski, 5, off her bicycle in the driveway at 10423 Green Willow, Casey drove two blocks and wounded Lynn Jean Tucker, 10, with a shot to the back as she walked home in the 10600 block of Willowilde. Next was Jana Whatley, 10, fatally shot through both lungs as she walked home in the 4700 block of Kinglet. Last was Karen Kurtz, 10, walking with her younger sister near Cliffwood and Stillbrooke. "I was on the street corner waiting for (Casey's) car to go by," Kurtz said. "I looked straight at him." Casey was arrested almost immediately, after he returned to the shooting scenes with Ellis and his little brother. Police had scant trouble getting a confession since Casey freely admitted to killing the 86-year-old and the 5-year-old girl, contending that he did not remember the others. Nowadays, he said, he does remember them. But he said the actual shooter was a man called "Rooster." Casey insisted he did not tell the police about Rooster to avoid being "a snitch." Kurtz, however, said no one else was in Casey's car when she was shot, and a man from the neighborhood positively identified Casey as the car's sole occupant. Graham argued that Casey alone did it, and that is what the jury believed. Casey's version of the events, it seems, has evolved over the years, polished perhaps to make it more palatable to his cellmates and others in a penal environment where tattletales are not popular. Though he somehow still blames Graham's "twisted lies" for the conviction that he set up himself with his confession, Casey now calls his prosecution reasonable. "I don't have a problem with them prosecuting me for the murders," Casey said. "If one of my family members had been shot, I'd want them to do what they did and what they're still doing. I just don't agree with why they're doing it. They're just getting revenge." Graham said Casey should be jailed forever simply because anyone who could get mad at his girlfriend and then go shoot up schoolgirls he did not even know remains too dangerous to be released.