She never met him, but Allia Elms is as aware as a 9-year-old can be of how the man who would have been her adoptive father was killed 10 years ago.

Conley Elms, 34, and fellow Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer Bill Pogue, 50, were shot to death Jan. 5, 1981, by Claude Dallas Jr. They were at a remote Owyhee County trapping camp investigating a rancher's report that Dallas was poaching."She knows what happened to him. That's part of life," Elms' widow, Cheri, said tearfully of the baby girl who arrived from India six months after her intended father's death.

"From the minute she was able to talk, she's been told, `A man killed Daddy. He was doing his job and a bad man who was breaking the law killed Daddy.' "

Cheri Elms and Pogue's widow, Dee, have spent the decade coming to grips with their husbands' killings and the media maelstrom that followed. Family and the kindness of friends, and sometimes even strangers, have been a big help. And they have forged a bond from shared tragedy.

"It's helped a lot for us to have each other," Dee Pogue said.

But for Cheri Elms, little Allia has been more than a comfort.

"She gave me a reason to live," Elms said. "She was the continuation of our life together. She wasn't my child, she was our child, a child that was planned for, that was loved before she came, loved before Conley was killed."

Both women have succeeded in getting on with their lives, even finding themselves working in professions their husbands would have understood - Cheri for the Idaho Department of Law Enforcement, Dee as a part-time volunteer coordinator for the Boise Police Department.

They remain close to their old friends from Fish and Game, but their names are not as readily recognized now at the supermarket or bank. They avoided reporters for years, disdaining what they considered sensational stories about the charming, calculating "mountain man" who killed their husbands.

Elms canceled her newspaper subscription and gave away her television.

Besides, they found more satisfaction in privacy than in railing against what they feel was an irrevocable injustice.

The "bad man" remains behind bars. His earliest chance for release will come in July 2000. Bitter would be too strong a word to describe the widows' feelings toward Dallas. They seem to have gotten past that.

"Our energies are spent in living today and making plans and having hopes and dreams again for the future," Elms said.

But they make no attempt to hide or apologize for the hurt they have carried since Dallas was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than first-degree murder and became a staple of modern Western mythology.

Prison sentences totaling 30 years were cold comfort, and the women still shake their heads in disbelief when discussing the 1982 trial. Pogue remembers one of the jurors calling her later to ask whether she would consent to be interviewed for a book. She declined, prompting the juror to say, "Well, I hope you know this has ruined my life."

Pogue was speechless.

The verdict added insult to the injury of learning their husbands had been shot to death. It never occurred to either woman that Bill Pogue, a veteran officer who had survived any number of scrapes in the field, and Conley Elms, a soft-spoken bear of a man, would be gunned down on an otherwise routine poaching investigation.

"It's human nature to think that this can't happen to me," Dee Pogue said. "It happens to other people, it might even happen to somebody that you know, but it's never going to happen to us."

After it did, Dallas' surviving victims were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

Governors and congressmen offered help. Fish and Game officers wrote long, emotional letters. The owner of Boise's Little Professor Book Center donated his profits from a book about the case, "Give a Boy a Gun," to the reward fund for Dallas' capture after a 1986 escape.

A package arrived from a women in Alaska bearing gifts for the baby Allia. A U.S. Forest Service official got the agency to rename a trail after Bill Pogue along the Middle Fork of the Boise River.

And the widows found consolation in the knowledge that their husbands died doing a job they loved.

"I know Conley was happy until the minute he was gone," Cheri Elms said. "What more could you want out of life?"