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Candle light vigil for engineer gunned down in racial attack

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While a grand jury receives evidence in a racially motivated murder in 2009 that was connected to attacks in , friends and family plan to hold a candle-light vigil.

Candle light vigil remembering Andrew "Stitches" GrahamKirk Mitchell, The Post

Candle light vigil remembering Andrew "Stitches" Graham

The grand jury is determining whether sufficient evidence exists to file charges against several persons of interest in the murder of 23-year-old graduate student Andrew Graham, said Bruce Isaacson, investigator for the Sheriff’s office.

On Saturday, the second anniversary of Graham’s murder, a candlelight walk will commence at 6 p.m. at Willow Creek Clubhouse II, 8500 Mineral Dr., in Centennial.

Isaacson said on the night he was killed, Graham had travelled by bus and from Boulder where he was making housing arrangements for attending CU to the Park Meadows Mall, where he arrived about 11:40 p.m. on Nov. 5.

He was walking to his home, which was less than a mile away, when he crossed paths with several teens and young adults, Isaacson said. The same suspects had been involved in a series of racially motivated robberies and assaults in LoDo that year.

“We know who was there,” Isaacson said, referring to various suspects.

When asked whether the suspects had spoken to authorities, Isaacson answered indirectly, saying that often when multiple people are involved in a crime at least one of them speaks out.

He declined to say what evidence led authorities to identify the suspects.

“It was a ,” said his mother Cyndi Gelston-Graham.  “They attacked him because he was white and it looked like he had money. If they would have given him half a chance he probably would have given them his money.”

She said although no formal charges have been brought, five black youths have been under suspicion since shortly after the crime.

“I can only imagine that his last moments were horrific,” Gelston-Graham said.

His body was found at about 5:30 a.m. the next morning on Nov. 6 lying in the front yard of a home on the 8700 block of East Phillips Place in Centennial by a homeowner awakened by his barking dogs.

“He was in the back,” Isaacson said. “It was pretty cowardly.”

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kmitchellDP

College student’s remains dumped near Strasburg sunflower field

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It started as a missing person’s case.

The parents and family of Jennifer Sue “Jenny” Larsen desperately sought clues in her inexplicable disappearance.

 Jennifer Sue "Jenny" Larson

  Jennifer Sue “Jenny” Larson

Larsen was a reliable 21-year-old Metropolitan State College student who had a summer job working at the same plant that her father Earl worked at.

Her father told reporters of the Rocky Mountain News that he was nervous when she didn’t show up for work. When he went to her condominium and discovered that her cats had not been watered it confirmed his worst fears. She loved animals.

She was last seen at about 3 a.m. on Aug. 10, 1995 leaving the home of friends on the 17300 block of East Layton Drive in Aurora.

Aurora put out bulletins seeking information about the girl, who was 5-feet-8, 125 pounds, with hazel eyes and long brown hair and who sometimes wore glasses with metal rims.

They offered descriptions of her car, a red, two-door 1995 Toyota Tercel with Colorado license plate PAN-6380.

Her car was found abandoned in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 400 block of South Memphis Street, about a mile from her southeast Aurora condo, according to an article by former Post reporter Marilyn Robinson.

The car was unlocked. The keys were on the floor. Police also found her shoes and socks in the car, which apparently had been there for more than a week, Robinson reported.

Police intensified their search thereafter and asked for the public’s help in locating the pretty young college student.

Her father Earl Larson was beginning to lose hope. He told Robinson he was preparing for the worst possible outcome.

The last time he had seen his daughter was about 3:30 p.m. the day before she went missing as he was leaving his job at the Chrysler warehouse near Interstate 70 and Peoria Street.

Jenny was just arriving for her shift. She had been working there for a summer job. They always checked in with her.

Nearly two months later, a farmer was plowing his field southeast of when he found a skeleton lying on its back. It was a half mile north of Quincy Avenue on Road 161.

Jennifer’s decayed remains were found on the edge of a sunflower field southeast of Strasburg, about 10 feet from a barbed wire fence. She was face down in the dirt. Small animals and insects had fed on the body. There were no clothing near her remains. What was left of her body weighed 40 pounds. Her skin was mummified.

A large clump of her scalp hair was mixed with dirt, mold and plants. A necklace with a tear-drop shaped metal pendant with a floral design had been found in the hair.

Coroner Dr. Michael Dobersen determined that the cause of death was “homicidal violence of undetermined etiology.” The manner of death was .

A dentist used dental x-rays to identify her remains, according to Dobersen’s autopsy report.

Then Capt. Grayson Robinson said the evidence suggested that whoever her killer was had murdered her elsewhere and the body in the field of sunflowers. Robinson has since been elected sheriff, but the case remains unsolved.

Arapahoe County sheriff’s investigator Bruce Isaacson, who was assigned the case in 1995, is the cold case investigator on the case.

Jenny’s remains were cremated and later layed to rest in Kenosha, Wis., where she grew up.

Contact information: The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 303-795-4711. Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kmitchellDP

Body of Denver woman dumped in remote Weld County field

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lived a hard life.

She worked the streets of as a in the 1980s while raising a teen-aged daughter.

Valerie Meeks, 36 Sheriff
Valerie Meeks, 36

According to Denver court records, she was arrested for prostitution on Nov. 11, 1988.

Three years later the 36-year-old woman disappeared.

According to a Denver Post news story, her daughter called on July 3, 1991 and reported her missing.

Exactly two weeks later, the remains of a woman was found near Weld County Road 4 and Weld County Road 5 in a field near .

Weld County coroner’s office investigators identified the unclothed woman as Meeks. She had a plastic shopping bag over her head. Meeks had been .

Although detectives identified suspects they never had enough evidence to file charges.

William Hood is a retired investigator who works unsolved homicides for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office on a part-time basis.

In recent years he re-opened the Meeks case and tracked down leads.

He said he doesn’t believe Weld County was where Meeks met her killer.

Someone picked her up along the corridor in Denver or Aurora, killed her and took her body to Weld County and just her, Hood said.

Whoever killed Meeks drove her north into a rural area to put distance between where she was picked up to throw off suspicion.

It was a risky tactic, though.

“You’re hauling a dead body in a car,” Hood said.

But because the killer threw Meeks’ body in a remote area, it wasn’t discovered immediately and evidence deteriorated.

Initially, investigators who worked the case spoke with vice cops in Denver while looking for angles. The case has sadistic sexual overtones, Hood said.

The prostitution link was the strongest clue, although Meeks was also known to use drugs.

Twenty years after her murder, the trail is cold.

“You have to go back and find out who they had contact with,” Hood said. “You’re digging for any leads.”

The names of persons of interest and Meeks’ associates are in a thick binder in his office. It’s possible she was killed by a pimp or a John.

Hood hopes that if the killer talked, which they often do, that someone will come forward and tell what they knew to help solve the case.

Contact information: The Weld County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 970-304-6464. Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kmitchellDP

Yvonne Rabb comforted her sister before her own murder

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knew the perils of street life in 1981, back when William H. McNichols Jr. was mayor of .

The day Yvonne died she prepared her sister for what was about to happen to her. She was resigned to her own fate and only wanted to make the shock of her impending death easier for her, said Deborah Rabb, 58, her sister.

Yvonne RabbTara-Marie Rabb
Yvonne Rabb

Yvonne told Deborah that a woman who was jealous of her wanted her dead. She was in a toxic love triangle, aggravated by illegal drug ties.

“‘I want you to be strong,’” Deborah said her sister told her. “‘I’m going to be with our heavenly father.’”

That was Yvonne. She was always looking out for other people even when her own life was in jeopardy, Deborah said.

Years earlier, when Deborah had a drug problem, Yvonne took Deborah’s daughter into her home and was raising her. She selflessly helped a lot of people whenever she could.

Yvonne worked at a downtown Denver wig shop and loved to go shopping downtown for the latest styles of clothes.

“When she walked into a room everyone would turn to look. She was that beautiful,” Deborah said.

Yvonne loved music: James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Isaac Hayes. She would play records and sing and dance. She was well-liked and had lots of close friends.

Yvonne RabbTara-Marie Rabb
Yvonne Rabb

 

Yvonne took good care of her daughter, Tara-Marie Rabb, who was only 5, said Tara-Marie Rabb.

“When I was very young she taught me how to read and write,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better mom. She was just the sweetest person. Everyone loved her.”

There was a darker side to Yvonne’s life, though. She often took Tara-Marie to a baby-sitter and then worked as a .

Going by different aliases including Diane Thompson and “Buddy,” she picked up Johns in the area of Denver, according to William Hood, a part-time investigator with the Sheriff’s Office.

Tara-Marie said her mother worked the streets to survive and to take care of her. As rough as her life was her mother didn’t complain and always had a smile on her face and was upbeat, she said.

On the day Yvonne was killed Deborah spoke to her. Yvonne gave Deborah, her younger sister by only 10 months, a warning about what was going to happen and told her what she expected of her. She was resigned to her own fate.

She and another woman had been seeing the same man and the other woman had threatened her life. Because of her lifestyle she didn’t believe going to was an option, Deborah said.

Yvonne RabbTara-Marie Rabb
Yvonne Rabb

A witness last saw Yvonne Rabb entering an alley in the Five Points area near Big Al’s Bar with two suspects on Nov. 14, 1981, according to a Weld County Sheriff’s Office report.

The witness heard a gunshot in the alley. According to Weld County sheriff’s investigators her murder was possibly tied to drugs.

Yvonne Rabb’s body was found the next day in a ditch near Weld County Roads 8 and 11 just west of Dacono. She had been .

“They didn’t have to do her like that,” Deborah said. “Part of me passed with her. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.”

Tara-Marie wept as she recalled her effervescent mother. She was raised by her grandmother, a nurse.

Shortly before her grandmother’s death in 2007, she asked Tara-Marie to keep in contact with investigators until her mother’s killer was brought to justice.

“No one has the right to take a life in their own hands,” she said.

Contact information: The Weld County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 970-304-6464. Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kmitchellDP

 

Killer died before DNA pinned him to 5-year-old’s death

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It took 18 years, but finally determined conclusively who it was who snatched 5-year-old from her apartment at 200 W. Grand Ave. in .

Englewood police recently announced there was a match to a long-suspected neighbor,  32-year- old , who killed her, stuffed her body in a military-style duffle bag on May 18, 1993 and tossed her body beside a road.
   
   Four days after she went missing, a police named later followed her scent more than 10 miles to the mouth of and found Alie’s body.

Post reporter Kevin Vaughan describes how a detective put the cold case together.
  

http://cyberlib/proquestpublisher/pqp-common-docs/

Daughter sought answers to dad’s death with rifle

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Like many family members of murder victims, was frustrated that men who must have known who fatally her father on June 17, 1980 refused to speak up.

A few days later, frustrated that no arrest had been made in her father Simon’s death, the then 17-year-old girl had an idea how to help witnesses overcome their reluctance to say what they know.

She drove to her father’s house, retrieved something from inside the home, got back in her car and set the thing beside her. Then she headed for Richie’s Bar near the intersection of West 26th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

That was just like Joann.

She’d never been a shrinking violet. Joann was a bit of a tomboy. It was how she tried to lessen her father’s disappointment about not having the son he always wanted.

Joann was an only child. In some ways she was very spoiled. But her dad also didn’t coddle her.

Simon wanted to steel her for life, which at times could be very difficult.

Simon Amaro, 40 Department
, 40

Sometimes tragedies happened or there were bumps in the road of life, like getting fired from a job. Simon always told his daughter that’s why she needed to be prepared for hardships – always have a fall-back skill.

For example, when his wife pushed him to move inland from the California coast where Simon had a high-paying undersea welding job to Colorado where all her family lived he simply found a new welding job at in and started working on the side as a .

“My dad was a manly, ,” Joann said. “I was a tomboy. I hung out with my dad all the time.”

When Joann was very young, Simon took her to fields and helped her get a job harvesting vegetables. It wasn’t easy work. She toughed it out, working even when she got blisters and was exhausted.

When he asked her to drive a large pickup to tree farms to pick loads of trees to deliver to landscapers, she put her gloves on and did what she could.

“Not too many teen-age girls could drive a pickup truck carrying a large trailer loaded with trees,” Joann said proudly.

She was her father’s daughter.

But Simon didn’t forget that his daughter was a young woman. He frequently brought her bouquets of flowers and showered her with nice clothes, a car and electronic gadgets.

Things got tough after Joann’s parents split up about a year before his death in 1980, though.

Upset about their divorce, Joann ran away from home. She was pregnant when she returned. She talked about getting an abortion.

Simon encouraged her to have the baby. He would help any way she needed. He did exactly as he promised. When Joann had the baby – the boy he had always wanted – he bought her a house. Every Friday he drove to her house to see what she needed and brought roses or carnations.

“No way was his grandson going to be raised in an apartment,” he told Joann. “I was his little princess. He wanted me to have a better life.”

Simon was the consummate proud grandfather, constantly bragging about what the baby could do.

At the same time, Simon had a new girlfriend who moved into his house, but the relationship quickly soured and he was trying to get her to move out, Joann said.

Simon missed his wife and was lonely. He started drinking heavily.

On the day he was killed Simon went to Richie’s Bar. The man who worked as many as four jobs at a time and had recently invested $100,000 in a company that made large oil drilling bits, often carried wads of cash around.

Police would learn that during the evening he paid for a drink once with a $100 bill.

When Simon left the bar that night, he was accosted by three men, who demanded his money, Joann said police later told her. An argument erupted and one of the men shot Simon in the face.

That night, after she got the news, Joann had her boyfriend and his mother drive her to the hospital where her father’s body was. She was the next of kin and needed to positively identify him.

Joann Amaro

Joann Amaro

In the hallway, she collapsed to the floor. She refused to take medications offered to her because she needed to be strong for her father.

“I needed to know it was my dad,” she said.

She peered through a large window at his body lying on a metal table under a white sheet with only his neck and head showing. It looked like he was smiling at her, she recalled.

In the days that followed, Joann was battling her dad’s girlfriend, who had taken his furniture and clothes to a flea market to sell. She couldn’t understand how the case wouldn’t be quickly solved, concluding that there must have been many people who knew who the three men were who robbed and shot her father. At the least, the bartender would have known them, she concluded.

“I was a zombie because me and my dad were so close,” she said.

But no one was arrested. It made her feel desparate. Then she got an idea. Her father owned guns. She figured that if the bar owner was staring down at a gun barrel he would be less likely to lie and tell her he didn’t know who had killed her father. She also felt like she needed the gun for protection because her father had been murdered at the bar and it was possible his killer was in the bar.

When Joann drove into the parking lot. She got out of the car and saw that her dad’s blood was still on the parking lot. No one had bothered to wash it away.

Undercover police officers were watching patrons coming and going from the bar, thinking that the killers might return.

They watched a young woman, who was 5-feet-2 and only weighed 102 pounds, climb out of her car toting a rifle. They immediately recognized her as the young woman who had feinted in the hospital while going to identify her father’s body.

“I figured if they saw how upset I was maybe they would talk,” Joann said. “I was very angry.”

The two officers jumped out of their unmarked car and ran to the woman. They stopped her before she entered and told her that if she went inside they would have to arrest her.

She surrendered the rifle and police did not arrest Joann.

The officers assured her that they were working hard to solve the case. They later tracked down three men who had robbed a 7-Eleven in Golden the day before police believed they shot Simon. They believed they had also killed her father, she said. In fact, one of the three men had confessed, but later reneged.

Police never had enough evidence to charge them with murder, Joann said.

Joann said she hopes police will bring her father’s killers to justice. His murder devastated her life.

Her only solace as the years pass without resolution is in believing that the men who killed her father would be punished in other ways, if not directly for her dad’s murder.

 

 

American Red Cross worker shot behind ear in picturesque Colorado Springs park

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On sunny afternoons often drove a few blocks from the offices of the American Red Cross for a quiet lunch near in Colorado Springs.

Karen Kay Johns, 45Kirk Mitchell, The Post

Karen Kay Johns, 45

She’d eat a sandwich and enjoy the scenery in the upscale neighborhood.

That’s what the 45-year-old charity worker, who lived in an East Colorado Springs apartment, was apparently doing on May 21, 1991 after parking along Culebra Avenue.

At 2 p.m. a gunshot rang out.

Parents watching their kids at a playground in the park saw a car rolling down a grassy hill towards them, according to an article by former Rocky Mountain News reporter Dick Foster.

Inside the car was Johns. She was rushed to a hospital, where she was soon pronounced dead.

At first, believed Johns might have committed suicide. Three years earlier she had been divorced and her ex-husband had moved to Virginia, according to Foster’s story.

But as police continued to investigate, the facts didn’t support the self-inflicted gunshot theory.

First of all, the position of the large gunshot – behind the left ear – would have been a difficult for Johns to have made, former police Lt. Richard Resling had told Foster.

There was an even more telling fact – the gun was missing, according to a Denver Post article. Whoever shot Johns had fled.

The shooter had apparently snuck up behind Johns and shot her to death.

It’s possible that at the last minute Johns saw what was coming, frantically started her engine and was about to speed away when she was killed.

But she was apparently only able to get the car moving.

After she was shot the car rolled out of control, off of Culebra Avenue, over a concrete curb and into a tree.

It slowed temporarily but then built up speed as it rolled down the hill, startling witnesses, according to Colorado Springs cold case detectives.

Johns’ violent death in a picturesque area in broad daylight was baffling. Whoever shot Johns didn’t take her purse, so robbery apparently wasn’t the motive.

Johns’ coworkers were equally as perplexed.

The woman who helped people when fires ravaged their homes or flooding made their homes uninhabitable wasn’t your typical target for murder.

Police interviewed some of Johns’ co-workers who were at the park at the time of the shooting.

They spoke with many people who were at the park and others who weren’t there at the time but often visit.

Police had several leads but not that generated enough evidence to file charges.

Contact information: The Colorado Springs cold case unit can be reached by calling 719-444-7613

Follow Kirk Mitchell on Twitter for updates @kmitchellDP 

Adams County prosecutor gunned down outside home

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When was ambushed at his home on the 3300 block of West 36th Avenue on Aug. 27, 2008, one obvious clue seemed to be what he did for a living.

May, 37, had just been promoted to chief deputy district attorney in .

Sean May, 37John Prieto
Sean May, 37

 

After he was killed, a defense attorney came forward and told detectives that shortly before May was gunned down he received a phone call from May, who warned him that the family of someone the man had defended had made some threats.

May told the lawyer to be careful.

scoured the records of 1,000 felony and 3,000 misdemeanor cases for clues about who would have wished to kill May.

On Friday, more than three years after the slaying, Denver Lt. Matt Murray released photographs of two persons of interest captured by surveillance cameras in a 7-Eleven near May’s home at about the time May was .

 
Hispanic or white man identified as person of interestDenver poilce
Hispanic or white man identified as person of interest

 

 

 

 

Pedestrian identified as person of interest seen near W. 38th Avenue and Irving Street
Denver police
Pedestrian identified as person of interest seen near W. 38th Avenue and Irving Street

 

 
 
 
Two years ago, police also released a composite drawing of a man a witness had seen running away from the area May was shot shortly after it happened.

He was described as white or Latino in his late teens or early 20s who stood about 5 feet 11 inches and had a medium build. The man had medium-length dark hair and a dark mustache and goatee and was wearing a black baseball cap turned backward, a white T-shirt and khaki-colored, knee-length cargo-style pants.

Denver police
Composite sketch of man seen running from area of May’s home

 

 

May was shot in the back of the head and in the lower back.

He died at a hospital a few hours after he was shot, leaving behind his wife, Corin, who was pregnant with the couple’s first child, a son.

He worked in a big downtown law firm until 2001 when he took a huge pay cut to become a junior prosecutor in Adams County.

After May’s death District Attorney Don Quick implemented safety measures for prosecutors.

May’s murder was the first of a prosecutor anyone could document in Colorado and just the 11th killing of its kind in the country.

A $125,000 reward remains for information leading to the arrest and conviction of May’s killer.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.

Man finds solace learning about father’s fate

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Mike Kadow grew up hearing stories about a father he has no memory of.

The Craig Kadow he knew was to death in a remote Jefferson County cabin before he was 3 and what he knows about him he learned from his mother and grandmother. There was little emotional attachment, but a lot of curiosity.

So last summer when Jefferson County Sheriff’s cold case investigator Cheryl Moore came to his Littleton house and apologized that the investigators had failed to investigate the man who shot his father he wanted to learn as much as he could, even though they were terrifying details about his father’s last moments alive.

Mike Kadow wanted to read a description of why his father was killed and a point-by-point explanation of what happened. The explanation is cold. Edward Kelly Russom talks about carrying his father’s body around like it was a hazardous bag of garbage he couldn’t wait to discard.

Yet, as terrible as the circumstances are it adds to the meager details Mike Kadow ever knew about a father he can’t picture in his mind.

When asked, Mike Kadow also said he wanted his father’s cremated ashes.

Since he received them he has been on a mission to leave his father’s ashes in cairns across the state on trails leading to 14ers.

“It’s a tribute to my dad,” he said. “Some of the cairns save people’s lives.”

And for him it’s the first memories he’s had of doing something with his dad.

You can read a transcript of a taped interview in which Kelly Russom confessed to his role in the murder here, and read my full story about the lapses in the investigation of this murder on DenverPost.com.

Young beauty college student’s clothes buried

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Rebecca “Becky” Kellison was eager to get home so she could study for a final test at Lane Beauty Academy in  she was attending. She was only two days away from graduating.

The pretty 21-year-old woman with strawberry blond hair was about 5-feet-4 and weighed about 110 pounds. She had gone dancing at nightclubs with her sister Carol and her husband the night before on a Friday.

Rebecca Kellison, 21Aurora
Rebecca Kellison, 21

 

Early the next morning, before her sister awoke, she wrote a note, “I’m going home,” love Becky.

It was the last communication any family member or friend ever had with Becky. She left the note between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, 1976.

“I still have that note,” said her mother Margaret Kellison, 80, of Shasta Lake, Ca.

Becky’s car was then parked in front of her parent’s home in Aurora so she likely walked a few blocks and either hitchhiked or took a bus a few blocks from her sister’s apartment near City Park.

“She never saw any danger in that,” Margaret Kellison said.

Then next day, one of Becky’s classmates from the beauty academy called Becky’s mother, who was then 45, to see if she could catch a ride to the beauty school that Monday for the test.

“I had a lump in my throat because Becky had never come home,” Margaret Kellison said.

She immediately made a missing persons report with Denver and Aurora police, but was told that because Becky was 21 there was no alarm.

“She was just considered a runaway. There was nothing they could do,” her mother said.

But Margaret Kellison knew her daughter wouldn’t just leave. She had a test to take and would have never left her family like that.

For one thing, she had a close relationship with her father, who was debilitated after suffering a heart attack. She wouldn’t do something like running away – that would cause him so much stress.

After her father had his heart attack and couldn’t work, Becky had agreed to baby-sit her two younger siblings at night while her mother worked. She was 16 and 17, but she never complained. She was very responsible.

“She really became the second mother to my two younger children. She was just a real sweetheart,” Margaret Kellison said. “I knew something happened to her.”

Her daughter did have a temper and if riled in the right circumstances she could get very angry. Margaret Kellison worried about a scenario in which her daughter flashed her temper.

She called police every week or so but they acted like they didn’t want to hear about it.

“I assumed they would check with her friends to see if they had seen her that morning,” Margaret Kellison said. “I thought they would at least do something. They did not believe anything happened to her. It was a different time.”

But they never did. If she had known they weren’t going to check, she would have knocked on doors and done it herself, she said.

In December of 1977, a farmer was plowing a field in  on property where the Denver International Airport runway is located.

At the time the ground was rolling fields. The plow uncovered clothing. The farmer called the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators dug up the ground and found Kellison’s blue purse with her identification inside. They found her jeans, underwear, black boots, her shoes, brown suede jacket and her short-sleeved print shirt.

What they didn’t find, said Steve Conner, major crime/ unit detective, was Kellison’s body.

Margaret Kellison repeatedly went to the site to see what police were doing to search for her daughter’s remains. Although police said they had dug up the whole field looking for her daughter’s remains she never saw any sign of it.

She strongly believed that she was buried somewhere out there.

Years later, when the area was paved over for a runway, her remains were not found.

“When was built out there I think they covered up her body. I don’t think we’ll ever find her body,” she said.

Conner said that it’s possible after so much time had passed that, scavengers had carried her bones away, leaving no trace of her at the location where she was murdered.

Over the years detectives suspected Ted Bundy and another serial killer may have been involved. The case was never solved.

“I have long given up hope. I think it’s a dangerous, dangerous world.”

Contact information: The Aurora Police Department can be reached at 303-739-6151. Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com. For updates follow Kirk Mitchell @kmitchellDP

 

Party turns into shoot-out; two die

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They were teens trying to connect with other kids for a week-end party on March 19, 2006 at a home on the 200 block of Stuart Street.

and had invited girls over for a party at Hernandez’s house.

Ronnie Hernandez, 19

When most of the girls left, one said she knew a guy who could bring more girls.

Instead a roomful of guys showed up with one girl, according to an article by Post reporter David Olinger.

The unwanted visitors started boasting that they were , or members of a street gang.

When Hernandez asked them to leave, most did, but the one or two who didn’t pulled out their guns.

“Next thing you know we heard guns shooting,” Gomez said. “I ran to the door. Ronnie was down already. I turned, tried to run, fell to the floor. I didn’t even know I got at the time.”

Some of Hernandez’s friends returned fire, according to .

People who were outside joined the fray, firing bullets into the home.

Two people, Hernandez and Eulices Varges, 24, a member of the Northsiders, were fatally shot and three others including Gomez were wounded.

Eulices Vargas, 24Denver police
Eulices Vargas, 24

Gomez was shot in the back. The severed his large intestine, filling his stomach with blood, Olinger’s story said.

Police said suspects rushed away from the scene.

Priscilla Arzate, Hernandez’s mother, wonders why those who witnessed her son’s have not identified anyone involved.

Ronnie “was hit four or five times. The bullets pingponged, punctured his lungs, his spinal cord,” she told Olinger. “These girls who invited these kids obviously know who these guys are. I don’t blame them for being scared. I think they need to stand up.”

No one has been arrested in any of the .

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.

7-Eleven worker killed during fill-in shift

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was the kind of guy who was eager to help other people.

On March 25, 1994, his generosity cost him his life.

Scott Marcus, 37

He agreed to fill in for a co-worker during a at a at store near East Evans Avenue and South Holly Street.

Early that morning his killer entered the store with a gun to rob it.

It’s unclear what sparked the . There were no witnesses.

The store was not then outfitted with a surveillance camera. A still camera in the store must be triggered by the clerk and for whatever reason it was never pressed.

The killer fired at least one into his chest.

According to a Rocky Mountain News story at the time, the killer got away with less than $20. Money was strewn all over the floor.

Marcus had only been working at the store for three months, according to the story.

The next morning a Rainbo bread-truck driver discovered the body when he stopped to make a delivery at 4:45 a.m.

Customers said the father of a 12-year-old boy talked about a film career.

Marcus’ older brother, Dan, released a statement calling the crime “a senseless, brutal, non-thinking act of violence,” according to the News article.

“A robbery of a human life for a measly $20 to $30 – is this the price some sickos put on human lives nowadays? Well, this older brother of the victim says this (kind of) senseless crime has to stop or it invalidates much of the good in humankind,” he was quoted as saying.

say Marcus was raised in Kansas City, Mo., where his father worked long hours in an electric company and his mother traveled the country showing German shepherds.

Anyone with tips about who killed Marcus are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Call Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or follow him on Twitter @kmitchellDP.

Eleven-year-old boy shot minutes after New Year’s Eve

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At first it seemed 11-year-old was the victim of an errant fired by New Year’s Eve at midnight 1992.

Eric Villar, 11Special to the Post

Eric Villar, 11

But days later, an autopsy demonstrated it likely was something else, possibly intentional.

The trajectory indicated someone had fired directly at the student, according to an article by former Denver Post reporter Marilyn Robinson.

Eric hugged relatives at midnight and ran outside shouting “Happy New Year,” according to a Rocky Mountain News story.

He was outside enjoying the New Year’s Eve festivities with about 10 relatives.

They were setting off fireworks in a grassy area between the street and the sidewalk in front of 2539 Emerson St., a relative’s home.

Eric was on his hands and knees trying to light a firecracker when he suddenly fell over and grabbed his head.

At first the other kids thought he was playing a game. But when they saw he was bleeding, they told adults, according to Robinson’s story.

Someone aimed toward the children and fired. It’s unclear whether the shooter intended to hit one of the children or simply scare them.

According to a Rocky Mountain News report the following year, Eric’s mother Sylvia told three months after the that she saw a relative leave the house with a gun and bring it back to the house.

The relative denied the gun was his, said it was unloaded and told Sylvia to be quiet about the gun.

Eric had been killed with a large-caliber gun. No one has ever been arrested.

In his short life, Eric had spent a lot of time playing sports including basketball and football. He was often at Stapleton Recreation Center.

Anyone with tips about who killed Marcus are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Call Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or follow him on Twitter @kmitchellDP.

19-year-old stabbed when he opened his car door into someone

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It was a minor mistake.

Anthony “Tony” Marudas opened the door of his bug into someone’s leg. Words were exchanged. The person pulled out a knife and the 19-year-old to death. It was Nov. 10, 1979.

Anthony "Tony" Marudas, 19 Department
Anthony “Tony” Marudas, 19

The whole incident lasted less than a few minutes, but the consequences ended Anthony’s life.

A witness saw what happened and had been walking with the suspect but has never come forward and identified the killer.

Marudas grew up in .

His mother Patricia remembered him as an independent boy who always found things to do to occupy his time.

“I remember my brother as this little white-haired boy who excelled in sports of all kinds,” his sister recalled for a profile for Families of Victims of Homicide and Missing Persons. He and his friends made a bike ramp that they used for jumping with their stingray bikes.

 Tony Marudas attended Alameda High School.

He liked skiing, mountain climbing, basketball, football, wrestling, golfing and bowling, according to his family.

After graduating from high school he worked in construction with his father.

“He was trying to find out what he wanted to do,” Patricia Marudas said. “He didn’t want to go to college.”

On the night he was killed, Patricia Marudus got onto his son for buying so many gadgets for his prized dark blue Volkswagon that he kept in his closet and never installed. The car was always freezing inside because the heater didn’t work. But before he went out the door that night, she stopped him.

“I’m not mad at you,” she told him. “I love you. I’m so glad I talked to him.”

Tony had an appointment with his minister that night. He had been studying scriptures with him. But when the minister didn’t show up for the appointment Tony went cruising with two of his friends to Denver.

His mother believes Tony and his two friends had some beers. They wanted to find a place to use the restroom.

According to a Denver Post story at the time, Tony drove his car into an alley in the 1500 block between Glenarm and Tremont places.

As he opened his door, it hit one of two men walking together in the alley, Marudas’ friends later told police.

“It was a stupid mistake,” Patricia Marudas said.

There was an exchange of words.

The suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed Tony in the chest near the heart.

“There wasn’t even a fight,” Patricia Marudas said. “He just stabbed him. I wonder how he lives with himself.”

The suspects simply walked away and the killer has never been identified.

That night Patricia Marudas said she got a call from police and was told that Tony was at Denver General Hospital. When they arrived at the hospital they were told Tony was dead.

“I walked in and there was my son. He was behind a curtain. He was dead. I went into shock. I don’t remember that much about it.”

Over the years, Patricia Marudus has wondered what her son’s life would have been like. Who he would have married? What he would have named his children.

“It was so long ago. You never get over losing your kids.”

Anyone with tips about who killed Marcus are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Call Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or follow him on Twitter @kmitchellDP.

 

16-year-old runaway strangled, dumped in field

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Passersby remember a young girl sitting inside a car speaking with a husky blond man.

The next morning, on Aug. 18, 1979,  a man driving by said a   body of a young girl lying in a field near Interstate-70 and Gun Club Road about five miles north of . Her body was found about a quarter mile south of the highway.

Authorities believe the girl fought with her attacker near the road and was dragged about 30 feet into the field. She had been and . An autopsy report showed that she had puffed up eyes and bruises on her body.

She had a silver ring on the index finger of her right hand and a gold ring on the index finger of her left hand. She was partially undressed. A blue blanket was found near the girl’s body.

A sketch was done of the girl’s face to help identify her, according to a Rocky Mountain News story. She was wearing jeans, a plaid blouse and blue stockings.

Witnesses believed the car seen the night before was either a Chevrolet Nova or Vega.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office received about 200 calls from people with tips about who it might be.

Composite drawing of suspectArapahoe County Sheriff
Composite drawing of suspect

Ultimately, authorities determined that the remains were those of Kimberly Jean Grabin, a 16-year-old girl from Canon City, who had walked away from the Lookout Mountain School in Golden.

The girl was sent to the school in March of 1878 after running away from home. She was reported missing on July 23, after walking away from a work release program at the youth Conservation Corps at Chatfield Recreation Area.

She was supposed to be released from the school the following month.

According to a Canon City Daily Record article, Grabin began running away from home when she was 13. Over the next two years she ran away six times. She had three sisters and a brother.

She would stay away for about five days before returning home. She told counselors that she wanted to live at home but then she would run from school, home andjuvenile centers.

Sheriff’s investigators believe Grabin may have been hitchhiking when she was picked up, the Canon City newspaper had reported.

Woman vanished on vacation from Texas to see brother in Littleton

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She was going to be away for minutes. It’s been more than five years now since she walked out of her brother’s house briefly for a trip to the store.

Nonnie Dotson, 33.Courtesy of family
Nonnie Dotson, 33.

Today, it’s as big of a mystery as it was on Nov. 19, 2006. 

Nonnie Dotson was in Littleton with her 18-month-old daughter Savannah for a pre-Thanksgiving visit with her brother Tony Dotson.

The nurse was on leave from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. 

She said she was going out for a smoothie at a nearby store.

Beau Dotson once told me that his twin sister would have never left her daughter behind. She adored her.

Family members searched for her tirelessly. Beau had come home from a tour in Afghanistan to personally join the effort. They put up a $10,000 reward. No one has claimed it.
      
Savannah at first lived with her maternal grandmother in California, but has since gone to live with her natural father, Edward Vehle in Texas.

Vehl had been ordered to pay $900 a month in child support and $10,000 in back child support when Nonnie Dotson had custody of her daughter, according to Vehle’s attorney.
   
   Vehl had a contentious relationship with Nonnie Dotson. He gave two receipts proving he was in Texas when his former girlfriend disappeared.

   Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Nonnie Dotson is asked to call the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at 303-277-0211. Post reporter Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. Follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP.

Woman’s body found at massage parlor

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loved to perform native American dances.

Dawn DeHerreraKirk Mitchell, The Post
Dawn DeHerrera

She had a soft spot for homeless people and would often give up her lunch for someone she saw on the street, said her friend Jennifer Nelson. She loved cherries and pomegranates.

She was the “gentlest person I ever knew,” Nelson related to Families of Victims of Homicide and Missing Persons.

When friends were down or upset, she often said, “It’s all good, sista.”

DeHerrera disappeared in late December of 2002.

were called to a massage center near Federal Boulevard and Speer Boulevard in early 2003 on the report of a decaying body.

An autopsy was performed and it was determined that the remains were those of DeHerrera.

She died of asphyxiation, the coronmer concluded.

A service was held at the Denver Zen Center. No names of family members were announced in her obituary. Friends were asked to bring flowers and memories.

Anyone with information about DeHerrera’s is asked to contact at 720-913-2000. Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell can be contacted at 303-954-1206 or follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP

Trusting waitress strangled in her apartment

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was beautiful and had an effervescent smile. She was friendly and always happy.

Mary Showman, 28 department
Mary Showman, 28

Showman did so well waiting tables at Rick’s Cafe that is was more lucrative than using her accounting degree to get a job.

Her dream was to move back to tiny Windom, Minnesota and open her own restaurant. That way she could use her accounting and serving skills in the same venture. Mary also liked to read and write poetry. She had first started coming to Colorado in the mid 1980s to work at restaurants at mountain resorts to make enough money to attend Mankato State University.

Though she lived in a big city she was a farmer’s daughter and was very trusting, her sister said. Windom was a place where everyone in town knew each other and kept their doors and windows unlocked, said Inge Richter, 47, Showman’s sister.

Richter worries that her trusting nature may have led directly to her in May of 1989 inside her apartment at 1090 South Parker Road.

Richter was very reliable so when she failed to go to work a few days in a row without calling in sick or giving any explanation her coworkers became worried and went to her apartment, according to a Rocky Mountain News article.

When the manager opened her apartment door they found her body. An autopsy showed that she had been .

Richter was living in Texas at the time. The family buried her in her home town in Minnesota near the grave of her brother.

Showman’s murder happened about the same time that Richter gave birth to a daughter. As the years pass and her daughter grows older she can never forget the older sister who was so cheerful and loving. The pain never fades.

“It’s very important to me that they solve this case,” said Richter, who now lives in South Dakota. “The person who took her life; we hope that person is found.”

Richter has called detectives many times to see if they have a suspect. None has ever been identified. But about a year ago cold case detectives at the Department told her that they reopened the case and are examining her possessions to see if they can find DNA from the killer.

The Denver Police Department can be reached at 720-913-7867. Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. For updates on cold case profiles follow him on Twitter @kmitchellDP.

 

 

Nurse strangled to death near Park Hill Municipal Golf Course

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was a mother of two boys and a girl.

Lois Jenkins, 28 Department
Lois Jenkins, 28

She was a registered nurse and ran a large child daycare center in northeast . She always had a big smile and and cheerful disposition. She loved people and especially children. She could make people laugh.

“Our house was the house where all the the parties happened,” recalled her daughter Lyzette Ashley, 40.

But Ashley said it was also a place where she, her younger brothers and mother were abused by her stepfather.

Jenkins’ sister Lori Reynolds, 54, recalls Lois showing up for family gatherings with bruises on her body.

She always had an excuse. She had tripped and fell or bumped into something.

“I didn’t know anything about domestic abuse,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t know the signs.”

Reynolds’ older brothers did know about the abuse and wanted to her husband up but Jenkins pleaded with them not to because she loved him.

Reynolds later learned that her sister had been by her husband. Although they divorced they were still seeing each other, she said.

In April of 1981, Reynolds, who had been stationed in Japan for the Army, came home for a vacation. She was watching her sister’s children that night when she went out, some say to meet with her husband.

Reynolds was upset with her identification.

That night on April 12, Jenkins drove her mother’s car to a nightclub near the Park Hill Municipal Golf Course.

She never came home.

Reynolds recalled how difficult it was to sleep that night when it got late and her sister hadn’t returned home.

Her mother, who had six boys and three girls, seemed to know something was terribly wrong. Her daughter would have called.

The next morning the family filed a missing person’s report.

Three days later, Reynolds was still watching her sister’s children when a news bulletin about a body found in a car came on. She recognized her mother’s car.

Reynolds rushed her children out of the room. The phone rang – it was the coroner’s office, which had failed to contact the family before making a news announcement.

Just then, two people came to the door. They were asking questions about a Lori Reynolds.

When Lori said it was her, they told her that she couldn’t be. She then explained that her sister had taken her identification.

told them that Lois had been with a belt. But fingerprints on the belt were smudged. They questioned several people but no arrest was made.

“It tore my mother apart. She was never the same after that.”

Her sister was sorely missed, Reynolds said. She helped raise her sister’s children.

Family members have kept in contact with police over the years.

A few months ago Ashley spoke with a cold case detective at the Denver Police Department and learned that police recently used grant money to have her mother’s clothing checked for DNA.

“I’d really like to have closure,” Reynolds said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 303-913-7867. Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. For updates on this case and other unsolved crimes follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP.

 

 

 

A wedding celebration turned tragic in the summer of 2001

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In the past 11 years, every time Jacquelyn Espinoza sees a dump truck terrible images flood her mind.

Ricky Espinoza, 37Families of Victims of Homicide and Missing Persons
, 37

She sees the compactor crushing the body of her brother, Ricky Espinoza. She sees the truck arriving at the El Paso County dump in Fountain and dropping his remains in the trash.

“Every time I see a garbage truck I feel awful,” Jacquelyn Espinoza said. “I can’t believe they put him in a dumpster. You don’t even do that to dogs. I just have to shut my mind off and look the other way.”

She remembers the emotionally devastating time when she learned of her brother’s much too clearly. The events play over and over in her mind, clouding out her brother’s gleaming smile.

Ricky Espinoza was a bright and cheerful person that brought joy to her aging mother, Jacquelyn Espinoza said. Ricky had gone to school to become a . He was also a gourmet cook. He worked as a party planner for Double Tree by Hilton in .

 

Ricky, who once worked in a hair salon, would often style his mother hair, dying or trimming it and keeping her looking young, Jacquelyn Espinoza said. He would put make-up on her. He would often call his mother and tell her they were going out to eat. He had found a new restaurant that had opened up and they needed to try the food.

Ricky, 37, was a good dancer as well. He had once won a dance competition. His favorite rock group was the Red Hot Chile Peppers. He excelled at interior decorating and fashion as well, his sister recalled.

“I don’t know why they did that to my son,” said Doris Espinoza, 83, Ricky’s mother.

Though a stroke last year makes it difficult for Doris to remember a lot of things, she hasn’t forgotten the pain of losing her son.  That never fades.

On June 23, Ricky had traveled from his home in to Colorado Springs for the wedding of a cousin. When the family went home at midnight, Ricky wanted to go out to nightclubs.

Jacquelyn Espinoza said she got worried about him and went driving around town looking for him. But at 4:30 a.m. he called from a hotel room at J’s Motel. He was in good spirits, joking and laughing with his mother.

“That’s the last time we heard from him,” his sister said.

At first, family members believed Ricky may have decided to return to Denver. But his mother knew better. He would have never gone anywhere without his make-up box.

Days after Ricky disappeared TV news programs broadcast stories about a nude body found of a man at the county dump. The man had a severe head injury. At first the thought never occurred to the family that it could be Ricky. But after a week they started to wonder.

The family went to the ’s Office and reported him missing.

 They went to the El Paso County coroner’s office. At first they didn’t think it could be Ricky because the man’s hair was blond. But Ricky had bleached his hair blond. While the family was at the coroner’s office, authorities called in a therapist and medical emergency personnel.

When they announced that it was Ricky, Doris Espinoza started screaming.

“I tried to hold her down and comfort her,” Jacquelyn Espinoza said.

 Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at 719-520-733. Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. For updates follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP