BOGART, Ga. - It is hard to detect Laurie VanLandingham’s scars. There are faint markings on both hands and wrists, scarcely noticeable unless she points them out. There is a bump of sorts on the top of her scalp, but only her hairdresser pays it any attention. The ring finger on her left hand is disfigured, stuck crooked at almost 90 degrees so she must wear her wedding band on her right hand. But the finger doesn’t give anything away. She just explains to the curious that she injured it in an “accident.” Pretty and blond, she still looks like the California girl she once was. She doesn’t seem to have aged since pictures that ran in newspapers 20 years ago with the miraculous tale of her escape from death. Then there are the scars on the inside, equally hard to detect. They are scars that should ransack the soul. But she doesn’t let them. She’s built a life in this small southern town where friends and neighbors know nothing of her past. Here, they don’t know about the old Carolands Mansion in Hillsborough, Calif. The killer, David Allen Raley. Her dead friend, Jeanine. They don’t know how she climbed out of that steep, remote ravine on her elbows, her hands and body and skull bloody from knife wounds and blows from a hammer. They don’t realize Laurie VanLandingham is the rarest of people: a survivor of the crime of murder. She’s a mom and she’s married to former San Francisco Giants pitcher William VanLandingham. She lives in a large house that she and her husband remodeled. She runs a small shop in a strip mall that sells children’s clothes and toys. There are no signs of torment, and she is intensely proud of that. “I look OK, my life is good,” Laurie says now, curled up on a chair in her living room, safe from the stifling summer heat. “But I kind of feel like I made that part. I decided to make my life better. I could have wallowed.” 21 YEARS AGO The villain in her life is drawing close to execution, and the memories are flooding back. Laurie has been forced to relive them before, spending days in courtrooms under questioning from lawyers. But this summer, at a far different point in her life, she shared her recollections in a way she never before has done publicly. She didn’t cry. She didn’t tremble with anger. She just remembered, with a seemingly unshakable calm. She was Laurie McKenna back then. On Feb. 2, 1985, McKenna, 17, and her friend 16-year-old Jeanine Grinsell set out for a typical teenager’s day driving around. It was a sunny Saturday morning. Grinsell, fresh from getting her driver’s license, wanted to tour one of the old mansions of Hillsborough. McKenna, a Burlingame High School senior, was game. The two girls chose Carolands, an abandoned 100-room chateau built in about 1915 by the heiress to the Pullman family’s railroad sleeping car fortune, a popular spot for local teens. “We were two stupid girls,” Laurie says matter-of-factly. “We literally joked about two girls caught in a mansion, and we went in anyway. We didn’t understand the seriousness.” On that particular day, David Raley, a pale, pudgy, 23-year-old private security guard, was standing watch over Carolands. He was known to give tours to curious visitors, especially young girls. He readily opened the doors to McKenna and Grinsell. There isn’t much dispute about what happened during the next 12 hours. Raley confirmed most of the disturbing details when he was arrested. And Mc-Kenna testified to make sure the mansion’s walls didn’t lock away the secrets of that frightening day. After giving the girls a tour of the mansion, Raley used a ruse to lure them into a vault, claiming he heard police dogs. He told McKenna and Grinsell they’d be in trouble if police caught them inside. “If we’d have just not believed his ‘dogs are coming’ thing,” she says, rolling her eyes. “That was ridiculous.” Raley toyed with the girls from that point. He refused to let them out of the vault unless they removed their clothes. He handcuffed them at knife point, tying McKenna to a bench and leading Jeanine away. “I had no clue what was going on,” she recalls. “I was so clueless, even after hearing Jeanine screaming. I really thought we were getting out.” Later, Raley returned with Grinsell and led McKenna away, releasing her from the handcuffs. He tried to get her to perform sexual acts. He made her fondle him. The ordeal was only beginning. ‘I’M DEAD’ Convicted killers who wind up on death row rarely leave survivors. In most cases, only the families of the victims are left to mourn and remember. Laurie McKenna wouldn’t let it happen. Raley stabbed Grinsell dozens of times. He stabbed Mc-Kenna 35 times, hitting her over the head with a hammer handle when she tried to resist. She fended him off with her hands and arms, which probably saved her life. “When you get stabbed, you just think, ‘I’m dead,’” she says now. “All I could think about was my poor mother.” Raley tossed Grinsell into the trunk of his 1973 Plymouth, her hands bound with rope, then wrapped McKenna in a carpet and locked her in alongside her wounded friend. They remained there for hours while he drove to his house in south San Jose. Finally he let them out to stretch their legs, providing them with blankets when they complained of the cold. Soon, they were tossed back into the trunk. At about midnight, he drove them to a remote area and dumped them down a steep ravine, where they came to rest in a cold creek bed. The girls didn’t dare move, worried that Raley was still lurking at the top of the ravine. All night, they didn’t hear a car go by. They faded in and out of sleep. It started to drizzle, and that’s when Laurie says she finally began to cry. CRAWL TO SAFETY With her hands useless, Laurie says she “commando crawled” on her elbows to the top of the ravine when the sun came up that morning. There she just sat by the road, her hair caked with blood. Grinsell screamed from the ravine below. Two men in a pickup truck stopped to help. McKenna remained in the hospital for days, heavily sedated on painkillers, and her hands and wrists required surgery. But she soon began the process of rebuilding her life. Grinsell wasn’t so lucky. She died on an operating table. “The fact of the matter is, she’s not here. That’s the most important thing that most people forget,” Laurie says. “Should have got married, had kids, done it all.” TIME TO HEAL Raley was sentenced to death in 1988. A Santa Clara County, Calif., jury had found him guilty of murdering Grinsell and attempting to murder McKenna. That jury deadlocked on whether he deserved to die, but prosecutors pushed for the death penalty at a retrial and a second jury recommended he be executed for his crimes. Laurie says now that it wasn’t until she reached her 20s that her ordeal started to claw at her insides. Until then, she just tried to have fun. She lived near the ocean in Santa Barbara. She moved to Lake Tahoe for several years, opening a snowboarding shop in Squaw Valley, and then to San Francisco. While living in San Francisco, she met her future husband, William VanLandingham, then in the minor leagues and on his way to pitching for the Giants. Eventually, she had to tell him what happened, why she had tiny scars on her hands, why her finger was mangled. He couldn’t make it through the entire account before cutting her off. “He can’t bear it,” she says now. Nine years ago, with their first child on the way, the couple moved to Bogart, Ga., a quiet, muggy suburb of Athens. Other than she and William, the folks of Bogart know nothing about what happened 21 years ago. “It’s not something I want to hide, but yet it’s not something I want everybody to know,” she says. Then she adds with a smile that the subject is not exactly a “conversation starter.” “It’s so scary to other people,” she says. READY FOR CLOSURE The end could be drawing near for Raley, and that has made it tougher to push the memories away. In spring he failed in what probably was his last, best hope of avoiding execution when a federal appeals court unanimously upheld his death sentence. But California’s executions are on hold while a judge considers a challenge to the state’s lethal injection method. Laurie is not a fervent death penalty supporter, but she believes Raley deserves to die. Yet she does not feel the way families and friends of murder victims often do. She does not relish his death. “I don’t have that kind of anger,” she says. “It’s part of moving forward. I feel like I’ve had justice, I’ve lived my life, he’s out of my hair.” PUTTING IT BEHIND HER Laurie is 39 now. She’s picked up a hint of a southern accent. She understands that venturing into that old mansion changed her life. But she takes pride in how she’s resisted letting that day destroy her. “Most victims are not here, they are dead,” she says. “I’ve definitely been through an interesting life. I don’t know if I equate that with a survivor. I’ve done a good job putting it behind me.” More than anything, faced with the prospect of public attention on Raley’s execution, she worries about her daughters, now 8 and 6 years old. She doesn’t want to tell them, at least until they are adults. “I don’t ever want to have to tell them, to be honest with you,” she says. “At the same time, I feel like I’m hiding something. I don’t want to be a liar.” For now, it is not too difficult for Laurie to keep her story hidden from her daughters. She does not need to deceive. They don’t know what their mom endured or how she lost her friend. They can’t see the scars.