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Recent divorcee served on hospital auxiliary, frequented singles bars


There were many theories about what had become of the woman who served as vice president of a hospital auxillary and frequented bars like “Thrills Bar & Grill.”

Linda Avery, 32Aurora Department
, 32

Linda Avery, 32, could have met a man at a bar and take him home to her basement apartment on a night her sister, who owned the house she was living in, was in Nebraska at a family reunion.

Then there was a man named “Steve” whom she had been dating at the time. Had he taken advantage of her on a night where there would be no one disturbing him?

On July 6, 1987, someone her on the floor of a basement family room and slit her throat repeatedly, according to an Aurora police report. The home was on the 3600 block of South Norfolk Way.

There were no signs that someone had broken into the home, which had not been ransaked. There were also no signs of a struggle.

Avery had weathered a difficult period of time when she was murdered in her home, according to an article by former Post reporter Jim Kirksey in an article he wrote nearly two years after the murder.

She had recently been and was living in a home with her sister and her husband, who were in the process of moving to the state of Washington.

Avery worked as a personal assistant at AMI Saint Luke’s Hospital and had just been elected as the vice president of the hospital’s auxiliary. She had worked in a program for youths with addiction and psychiatric problems.

Avery had a background in counseling drug addicts and volunteered at a Denver .

In her free time she was a freelance fashion designer, designing clothes under the name “Francheska.”

Family members contacted Kirksey in January of 1987 because they were doing a little bit of their own detective work.

They were passing out flyers in Aurora and Glendale at bars where Avery was known to frequent. Besides Thrills, she used to go to Neo, Paramount, Jackson’s Hole, the Gold Rush and Panarama Reds. The circulars offered a “substantial” reward to anyone who gave police information leading to Avery’s killer.

“Every time we pick up the paper and read about something happening, my wife and I wonder, ‘could that be the same person?” Avery’s father Melvin Wilson told Kirksey in 1989.

The murder traumatized Avery’s sister, who told Kirksey that what happened becomes all-too real for her.

“I can close my eyes and see him beating her and stabbing her,” Pamela Clark said.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to contact the Aurora Police Department at 303-730-6050.

Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. Follow him on Twitter for updates on this and other cold cases @KmitchellDP



Mother of 6-year-old boy abducted, stuffed in trunk

Darcie Anderson, 24Families of Victims of Homicide and Missing Persons

, 24

Darrell Criddelbaugh, then a delivery man for General Welding Repair Service at 1965 S. Bannock St., recalled noticing the yellow 1970 Oldsmobile parked in a muddy alley near the business.

The windows of the car were frosted over, an indication that it had been sitting there for some time, according to a Post article at the time.

The car seemed to match the description of one owned by a woman who had been missing from for several days. When he looked at the license plate, the number EJA-680 matched that of the woman, Darcie Anderson, 24, a mother of a 6-year-old boy.

When opened the trunk they found Anderson’s body draped over a toy she had purchased for her son three days before Christmas in 1986. She was wearing a black jogging suit but no shoes. Her right arm was lying over a box containing a Globe. Police found spots of blood inside and out of the car.

The body of the 24-year-old single Castle Rock woman had been discovered found six days after she disappeared and failed to show up for the two jobs she worked to take care of her young son, according to a story by former Denver Post reporter Steve Garnass.

She had been kidnapped some time either on the night of Dec. 16 or the morning of Dec. 17, and abandoned in her car on a muddy alley on the 1900 block of South Bannock Street in Denver. Her body was discovered on Dec. 22.  Bruises indicated that she had been , but no indication was found at the time that she had been sexually assaulted.

Her son Tony was found unharmed in their home. The case, which was widely reported, triggered an outpouring of concern by people who donated gifts to the child including a Teddy Bear that the boy named after his mother.

Detectives ruled out two boyfriends and her ex-husband Michael Anderson as suspects. They had divored in 1983.

Her father, Max Heacock, has said her former boyfriends had tempers, one from Wyoming and the other a state trooper who had worked in the Governor’s office. She had told her father that she could handle the trooper’s temper. 

Darcie Anderson liked sewing, Heacock, a contractor, said. She enjoyed making things with her hands. Her Dad, Max Heacock, still has some of her embroidery that he treasures. Darcie also loved the outdoors, especially horseback riding.

She worked six days a week from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. at the Castle Rock Country Bakery where she decorated cakes and made doughnuts and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a receptionist at a Glendale real estate company so she arose early each morning to go to work. 

On the morning she disappeared she left her purse in her house. Police had speculated that she was in her garage. She may have been warming her car up. She would put her son in a sleeping bag and carry him into the bakery where he would sleep while she worked.

Her boss at the bakery found Tony alone in his house. He had put on socks and jeans. He told the woman who found him that his mommy never left him.

Several newspaper articles appeared in The Denver Post while people searched for Darcie and her car. People were searching for her body in private planes. More than 300 women attended a karate self defense seminar in Castle Rock.

The article, written in 1988, two years after the murder, quoted a former Denver sergeant as saying that detectives had strong evidence that Anderson was kidnapped by a man who intended to hold her for a $80,000 ransom, which the suspect was to seek from her father.

A witness had come forward and said he was planning to kidnap Anderson and her son a week before Christmas in 1986, believing that the grandfather would want to see his daughter and grandson home by Christmas.

But prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence at the time to file charges. The suspect had an alibi. But the detective thought it was just too much of a coincidence.

No arrests were ever made.

Anyone with information that could help solve the case is asked to call Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867 . Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com. Follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP for updates on this case case and others.


Double homicide in 2006 haunts Aurora cop


Here’s a storyby Post staff writer Felisa Cardona that appears in the newspaper today on the sixth anniversary of the Aurora murders. It reflects how important solving homicides is to the detectives who work these cases tirelessly: 

Christopher LeAurora
Christopher Le

Six years ago today, two young men associated with the Asian Pride gang were gunned down in the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Aurora during a Cambodian New Year celebration.

The double homicide is one case Aurora police Detective Robert Wilson would like to solve. But silence from witnesses has so far prevented him from seeking justice.

“We want these families to know we haven’t forgot about them,”Wilson said. “From Day One, this is one of the most frustrating cases in my 24 years as a detective.”

One of the victims, Christopher Le, agreed to meet an associate of the Tiny Rascals Gang at the hotel for a fistfight. Earlier in the day, the two argued at a New Year’s gathering at the former Lao Buddhist Temple in Westminster.

The men had a personal beef with each other that didn’t have anything to do with their rival gang associations, Wilson said.

When Le arrived at the hotel parking lot around 11:30 p.m., his foe was waiting for him in the lobby and went outside to meet him, followed by a large crowd.

The rival took off his shirt and put up his dukes, but before he and Le could exchange blows, a dark truck pulled through the parking lot, and the occupants inside opened fire with two guns.

Le and a friend he brought with him to the fight, Quoc Phan, were each hit by gunfire and killed.

Quoc PhanAurora police
Quoc Phan

The man Le was about to fight looked on in shock as the shooters in the truck raced away.

Wilson said all the witnesses he has interviewed, even friends of Le, have told him the man who was about to fight Le had no idea a shooting was about to occur.

But Wilson doesn’t believe that no one at the celebration knows who pulled the trigger.

Hundreds of revelers

Hundreds of people celebrating the New Year were inside the hotel ballroom near Interstate 70 and Chambers Road. In another ballroom, members of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, a nonprofit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization, were also having an event. Some of the revelers from both ballrooms were either outside to smoke cigarettes or went outside to watch the fight.

“Two people jump out with weapons and nobody could see who they were?” Wilson said. “Fear is a factor when two groups associated with two known gangs are involved.”

Time was also working against Wilson because someone removed Le and Phan’s cellphones and wallets, and detectives didn’t identify them until 6 p.m. the next day.

Alcohol was served at both events in the hotel, which could have impaired what some of the witnesses saw. No surveillance video of the shooting was available either.


But Wilson is searching for two witnesses who are Tiny Rascal Gang members — Sam Nang Chhann, also known as “Hyper,” and Davy Pech, also known as “Bamboo.”

Chhann, 26 at the time, is from Southern California. He had warrants out for his arrest for a 2002 robbery in Pomona, Calif., and he came to Denver probably to avoid arrest there, Wilson said. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Aurora, but failed to appear at his court date, which was two days after the double homicide.

“I am the only cop who has queried him,”Wilson said of crime information database searches. “He has had no contact with law enforcement since 2006.”

Wilson said Chhann never had a passport and there is no record of him leaving the country.

Pech, who was 25 at the time, was born inThailandand all of his police contacts were inLong Beach,Calif., before 2006.

He has convictions for aggravated assault with a weapon and writing fictitious checks.

2 sought could be dead

Rumors are rampant that both men are dead,Wilson said. Some sources have told Wilson they fled to Cambodia and are hiding in the jungle. Wilson declined to call them suspects.

In the summer of 2008, a major Ecstasy drug ring was busted in Colorado, and many of the people indicted were members of the Asian Pride gang.

The Metro Gang Task Force allowed Wilson to interview some of the defendants to glean any information he could in order to solve the double homicide.

None of the 27 people indicted in the drug case were at the scene, and one who was later identified as being there claimed he wasn’t there,Wilson said.

While some in the Asian community have tried to help solve the case, most have been tight-lipped, and Wilson hopes that time may change someone’s mind about coming forward.

“I just want to know what they saw,” he said. “We are working for these two kids and their families.”

Watch video showing crime scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMrK-1b4HGs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Felisa Cardona: 303-954-1219 or fcardona@denverpost.com or Twitter @felisacardona

Witnesses sought

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Robert Wilson at 303-627-3149 or Detective Steve Conner at 303-739-6013. Anonymous tipsters may call CrimeStoppers at 720-913-7867.

Girl’s remains may be hidden in Idaho Springs gold mine shaft

Beth Miller, 14Colorado Bureau of Investigation

, 14

Elizabeth Ann Miller had just turned 14 the day she went jogging in the thin mountain air of that day,  Aug. 16, 1983. She was never seen again.

No bones have been found, although authorities have searched many of the thousands of gold and silver mine shafts that surround the mountain mining town.

It’s a mystery that has been investigated by scores of law enforcement professionals including Clear Creek County Sheriff’s deputies and Colorado Bureau of Investigation and  agents.

National TV programs have repeatedly featured the story. New theories about what happened to her that day have surfaced repeatedly over the years.

“That’s a tough case,” said Capt. Bruce Snelling of the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office. “We have received a ton of tips. That case is always perused by us.”

Snelling would love to catch whoever killed Miller, but the biggest barrior is simply finding the girl’s remains. Many strong suspects have been identified but without the body it’s tough, he said.

I don’t recognize many of the names of journalists, some who worked for The Post and others for the Rocky Mountain News. They wrote dozens articles about Beth’s disappearance.

Usually, Lisse Miller, 12, would go jogging with her sister, but not that Tuesday morning. Lisse Miller had slept in. When Beth asked her if she wanted to go running she said, “‘Well, go ahead and I’ll try to catch up with you,’” she would recall years later.

Beth Miller, 14Photo courtesy of 9 News
Beth Miller, 14

Beth, who was 5-feet-4 inches tall and weighed 105 pounds, had hazel eyes. She was wearing a blue T-shirt, white shorts and jogging shoes. She vanished that Tuesday morning after leaving her home to go jogging alone in the town that is 30 miles west of Denver on Interstate 70.

The girl, who was a popular freshman at Clear Creek Secondary School, was the middle child in a family of seven children. Beth had told family members in the past that people would follow her sometimes, older people around 21, her brother told reporter Kit Miniclier, who has since retired. She was a friendly girl who would often stop and give directions to strangers. A day earlier she had made a cake for her father’s 44th birthday.

 She was always happy-go-lucky. Her baby-sitting money she had earned that summer was still on a dresser.

That afternoon Beth wasn’t home and hadn’t left a note when her mother Ilene Miller Taylor returned from working as a clerk at the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, according to an article by Kevin Vaughan, a former Rocky Mountain News reporter. The newspaper is now defunct. When Beth didn’t return home her family began searching for her that night.

Witnesses would tell investigators that they saw a man in his 30s the previous weekend driving a small red pickup truck, a faded , with a white camper shell and out-of-state license plates. The man was flirting with Beth. He became angry when Beth refused to carry on a conversation with him. The pickup had black or blue lettering and a foot-wide brown strip along both sides.

The man was fair skinned, weighed about 175 pounds, with light brown or sandy blond collar-length hair parted on the right-hand side. He wore prescription glasses with blue-tinted photograde lenses and was neat in appearance. Her friends said he gave his name as Claude.

A search was organized the day after Beth’s disappearance. Volunteers knocked on every home in the town of 2,800 people. Men in hiking gear were calling “Beth, Beth,” as they combed nearby stream beds, mountainsides, trails and lovers’ lanes while two helicopters hovered overhead. Store owners put up persons posters in their windows. Many stores closed as the owners joined the frantic search. Beth wasn’t the type of girl who would run away from home.

There were more than 200 searchers including members of the Alpine Rescue Team.

“I just decided I wanted to be home,” Taylor told former Denver Post reporter Jane Cracraft. “If she was kidnapped, maybe she could get to a phone and call home. When you have a daughter missing, you just sit here thinking what might have happened to her.”

Beth’s father, Michael Miller, who had spent 13 years in law enforcement in South Dakota, moved his family to Colorado seven years earlier. He was an electrician at the Henderson Mine and was a town councilma in Idaho Springs. Her mother was a clerk for the Colorado State Patrol. Two days after Beth’s disappearance, people St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where Beth’s family worshipped, held a special prayer service. Michael held a televised appeal urging “anyone who has seen anything that would help us locate Beth.”

More than 100 people responded. They climbed the steep mountain slopes, going into abandoned mine shafts wearing rain gear searching for the girl.

“Now there are only eight people in our family,” Beth’s 15-year-old brother Thad said.

That Saturday, four days after Beth’s disappearance, officials were so desparate they were following leads by six psychics. The psychics all said she was being held against her will and was still alive. Some said she was being held on abandoned mine property.


Beth Miller, age unknownKirk Mitchell, The Denver Post
Beth Miller, age unknown

“We have been in contact with several psychics…and following up information we’re getting from them,” Then Idaho Springs Chief Bob Nowak said.

Volunteers were sweeping the side of the mountain south of Idaho Springs near Squaw Pass, an area 5 miles by 10 miles.  A $10,000 reward was offered by local businessmen.

The hunt for her body lasted two weeks. No sign of her was found. Right from the beginning, FBI and CBI agents tracked down many leads, including possible sitings.

At the end of August that year, a Pueblo fisherman said he saw a suspicious man with a young girl who looked scared in a faded red pickup truck with a white shell near the Pueblo dam.

FBI agent Don Gunnarson issued a nation-wide bulletin with a description of the vehicle.

Dorothy “Dotty” Bevard of Denver started a campaign in December of 1983 to send 32,000 reward posters around the country. She also designed Christmas cards with Beth’s picture and reward information. People were picking the posters up at four Denver radio stations and putting them up.

In late December police were seeking a man matching the description of the suspect, who had a small red Ford Courier pickup and a white camper shell. The man went into a Fort Morgan gas station and noticed the stack of 100 posters. He started acting funny before he suddenly snatched the posters and bolted.  

The gas station attendent took down a license plate that turned out to be a cancelled Denver plate.

The following summer law enforcement aided by 200 psychics from across the country searched for the girl. By than, 100,000 missing persons posters had been distributed across the country. Beth’s name was on thousands of bumper stickers. Parade magazine, which had a circulation of millions, did a story about the case.

On Aug. 9, 1984, a story by Rocky Mountain News reporters Dick Foster and Brighid Kelly identified a person of interest.

Robert Arnold Storm, 18,  was then being held in the El Paso County Jail, charged with the May 5 murder of Shawna Webb, 17, a co-worker at a movie theater. Her body had been found seven miles east of with a gunshot wound in the left temple.

Police questioned Storm about Beth for 90 minutes after police learned on July 24 of a message penciled on a metal partition at a westside car wash. The note, which begain “Hey Pigmen,” described the purported slaying of Beth Miller and the intention to kill Shawna Webb. It was signed by “Robert Storm.” The note asked whether police wanted to know where Beth’s body was .

The message, which included the number “666,” said that her body was near a King Soopers store and a Safeway store, but didn’t say in which city. A week earlier Storm had told his boss that he was going to sacrifice Webb to the devil, the article said.

Storm denied writing the message. He also said he knew another girl named Beth Miller. The partition was torn down and sent to CBI for testing. Police said they were not calling Storm a suspect in Beth’s murder, but they weren’t ruling him out either.

Because the story was transmitted across the country, Beth’s parents had to endure numerous false sightings of their daughter in Arkansas, Georgia, Utah, North Carolina and Florida at truck stops and shopping malls. Some appeared promising, only to lead to disappointment. 

“Parents came home with nothing – but tears,” said a Denver Post headline on Feb. 21, 1985 after a fruitless trip to Tampa, Fla. Police had detained a girl who claimed to be Beth. But she wasn’t. Two months later, a tip that Beth was being held hostage in a San Francisco apartment complex called Casa Grande also led nowhere. Police couldn’t find such a place.

That May, another lead developed after former Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Deputy James Albert Garcia, then 27, was arrested in an attack April 30, 1985 on a 17-year-old girl who had been hitchhiking. He drove her to a remote area near Empire and tried to strangle her.  He also hit her in the head before she escaped. He was arrested later that day when the girl described her assailant and his car.

It was the best lead so far. Garcia was set to stand trial in Adams County in a different case on charges of sexual assault on a child.

Investigators reported that in the area near Empire where Garcia had assaulted the girl  human and animal bones were found. At first, authorities said the bones were those of a child and adults, who died within the last 18 to 24 months. A later analysis proved they were all animal bones.

Garcia, who lived with his father in Dumont, was charged with attempted murder of the 17-year-old girl. Investigators interview dozens of Garcia’s associates to see if there was a link between him and Beth’s case.

He was still a deputy when Beth had disappeared and apparently was in the Idaho Springs area that day. Garcia attempted suicide in jail by hanging. He also cut his wrists.

Beth’s case was profiled on a network TV program that year. Another year passed. A drawing was made of what she might look like four years after her disappearance.

The Millers in 1987. The break up was partly related to Beth’s disappearance.

The girl’s disappearance had a profound impact on her siblings. Her sister Lisse Miller, who was two years younger than Beth, got a job as an intern in Jefferson County’s victim witness unit in 1988 when she was still a teen-ager. She and Beth had shared a bedroom and did a lot of things together. The two girls were often confused as twins.

When Lynn Miller Granger was 26 in 1990, she joined the Idaho Springs police force, saying that her decision to become an officer was spurred by her sister’s disappearance.

“I think her ultimate goal is to find her sister,” her mother was quoted at the time in a Rocky Mountain News article. “She has told me, ‘Mom, I’m going to find Beth.’”

Lynn told a reporter that she had followed tips by psychics for hours. Lynn told the reporter she never met a stranger and that was just like her sister. She thinks that may have been her downfall. Later she became a deputy with the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

On the 10-year anniversary of Beth’s disappearance in 1993,  investigators pursued a tip that had been circulating the past seven years that a man named Edward Apodaca had killed Beth and buried her body in a wooded area. 

By then, Apodaca’s wife Anne and her mother Frizelle Aguilar had killed Apodaca and were serving a prison term for the murder. Augilar would tell authorities that Apodaca had raped and then later married his 22-year-old daughter within three days when he was 56. Apodaca was an insurance scam artist.

An independent witness had reported that they had seen Apodaca talking to Beth while they were both sitting in a red or rust-colored pickup truck with a camper shell and New Mexico plates on Aug. 13, three days before she vanished. A license plate with some matching numbers was later found on Apodaca’s property.

Apodaca’s girlfriend had told several people she was with Apodaca when he disposed of Beth’s body. When the woman was brought in to the sheriff’s office for questioning she failed a lie detector test when she denied being with Apodaca.

Investigators were now taking a closer look at him after a tip gave more details about the incident. The girlfriend later allegedly divulged details of the kidnapping. She allegedly told authorities that after Apodaca picked Beth up, they drove west of town. The suspect took Beth out of the pickup camper. He got a shovel out of the back of the pickup and disappeared for about 30 minutes while the girlfriend waited in the truck.

The girlfriend, who allegedly helped dispose of a blood-soaked mattress that had been in the back of the pickup, led authorities to the dump area.

Four different hound dogs led authorities to the same spot near a pine tree.  It sounded like reports that had been made shortly after Beth disappeared.

Authorities started digging with a spoon, then progressed to trowels and hand shovels, then to backhoes. Lynn Miller believed her sister’s remains were soon to be found.

“This is it,” Granger said in a November 1993 interview. “I’m certain this is the answer.”


Lynn Granger, Beth's sister, on March 28, 2003Photo by Hyoung Chang, Denver Post staff writer
Lynn Granger, Beth’s sister, on March 28, 2003

A judge ruled her legally dead in 1994.

New generations of sheriff’s deputies, FBI and CBI agents and Idaho Springs police officers and county prosecutors have looked at new suspects. Their efforts were hampered by lost files. Some investigators also hadn’t written reports.

In 2006, Clear Creek County Sheriff Jim Alderden identified a 61-year-old grandmother as a suspect in Beth’s disappearance.

The woman, Viola Moya, was the girlfriend of Apodaca. She was denying the “nasty rumors.”  A story in the Rocky Mountain News said that Apodaca had allegedly confessed to the murder to a officer five years before his death.

Officials were talking about convening a grand jury to compel Moya and others to talk. In late 2007, the grand jury was held.

In November of 2007, a Clear Creek County grand jury issued a “scathing” report accusing law enforcement of “a clear lack of professionalism” in the investigation of the Miller disappearance, a Rocky Mountain News story said.

The jury also found insufficient evidence to indict anyone in the 24- year-old mystery, which has been investigated at various times by the Idaho Springs police, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, Denver police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

“Jurisdictional disputes were particularly at fault in slowing and eventually sabotaging the investigation,” the jurors wrote.

“It seems to me like it’s a dead end . . . unless somebody voluntarily comes forward with some evidence,” Alderden was quoted as saying.

And yet the investigation continues. One tip led authorities to once again search old abandoned gold mines.

After Garcia was released from prisonfor the assault on the 17-year-old girl investigators contacted him in southern Colorado, but he refused to speak with them, Snelling said.

There have been other suspects as well, he said. New tips continue to come in to authorities. The FBI and CBI are still tracking down leads, Snelling said. 

Anyone with information about this case should call the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office at  303-679-2376.

Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. Follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP for updates on this cold case and others.



Twelve-year-old Greeley girl vanishes while walking to birthday party


Twelve-year-old set out from her family’s apartment in the 2800 block of 28th Street in Greeley on the afternoon of March 28, 2010 to walk to a friend’s birthday party.

Kayleah Wilson, 12Courtesy of Kayleah's family

Kayleah Wilson, 12

She was wearing a white-and-pink shirt over a white tank top, blue jeans and white-and-red shoes. She was 5-feet-2 and weighed about 140 pounds.

The Brentwood Middle School sixth grader was supposed to meet a friend at the and together they were going to walk to the birthday party. Kayleah never met her friend and didn’t show up for the birthday party.

The peculiar thing about 12-year-old Kayleah Wilson’s disappearance was that she vanished in broad daylight in a heavily traveled area in Greeley. She was last seen at 3:40 p.m.

The path she would have taken includes heavily traveled roadways. requested an Amber alert throughout Colorado. But none was issued because there was no evidence she was a runaway, nor was there any obvious indication of foul play initially.

The next day, police began canvassing the neighborhood, including an area south of the Greeley mall. The investigation became very intensive. Police reviewed videotape of the mall and from businesses in Greeley to see if they could spot the young girl captured on surveillance cameras. They couldn’t find any.

It wouldn’t be long before the FBI entered the search. The idea that someone had snatched a child off the street was terrifying. The potential was that this was a rare case of a stranger abduction. Somebody could be preying on children and could do it again.

Kayleah’s stepdad Jesse Wilson speculated that the girl may have gone to California to be with her natural father.

Volunteers searched for Kayleah, often scouring the city in the evenings and on weekends. There was no sign of the girl.

Members of the Laura Recovery Center for Missing Children out of Friendswood, Texas. organized a search one Saturday.

A $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Authorities followed up many leads including the one that she may have gone to California but it did not pan out. As time passed it became more and more apparent that she had not gone voluntarily. This was more likely a case in which someone kidnapped Kayleah.

Chief Jerry Garner asked people to consider the possibility that they might know whoever intercepted Kayleah that day. He pointed out a list of possible signs someone they knew could be involved including unusual disappearances of a relative or employee on the day the girl disappeared or an unexplained absence from work the next day.

 The mystery of Kayleah’s disappearance became a national story.

 An irrigation ditch “rider” discovered a badly decomposed body in shallow murky water near a water gate at about 6 a.m. on Wednesday May 19, nearly two months after Kayleah disappeared. By 10 a.m., a body was removed from the ditch. Authorities scoured the ditch searching for evidence.

A team searches along ditch for clues after body found on May 19, 2010 in shallow waterPhoto by Post staff photographer RJ Sangosti

A team searches along ditch for clues after body found on May 19, 2010 in shallow water

People immediately thought of Kayleah. The body was discovered near 35th Avenue and 29th Street south of Sunset Memorial Cemetery and about a mile west of the Greeley Mall, which had been the focal point of a widescale search.

The body was found only a mile or so from where Kayleah was last seen.

The same area had been searched at least twice, including with dogs. Police were not certain whether someone had specifically searched the gate however. The possibility existed that someone dumped her body after Kayleah’s case became a high profile case.

A makeshift memorial near the ditch quickly formed. People left flowers, candles, stuffed animals and cards. A large crowd of people formed near the . Many had helped over the past several weeks to search for Kayleah’s body. A large candlelight vigil was organized.

The coroner’s office confirmed that the body was Kayleah’s and that she had been murdered. April Wilson, Kayleah’s mother, was both upset and relieved that her daughter’s body was found. 

The same day that the body had been found, Greeley police arrested Kayleah’s adult boyfriend for allegedly sexually assaulting her. No murder charge was filed but 18-year-old Robert Laurencio Montoya was considered a “person of interest.”

An arrest affidavit would reveal that Montoya admitted repeatedly having sex with the girl while he lived with the family in their apartment. But April Wilson kicked him out of her house and warned him not to return. He was later caught peeking in windows at Kayleah’s school. Kayleah called him a creepy stalker.

Robert MontoyaColorado Department of Corrections

Montoya was convicted the following year of sex assault and was sentenced 8 years to life in prison.

According to Colorado Department of Corrections records, Montoya is currently being housed at San Carlos Correctional Facility. The Pueblo prison is near the Colorado Mental Health Institute and is where inmates with mental health issues are kept.

He is eligible for parole in January of 2018.

No one has been charged in Kayleah’s murder.

Anyone with information about Kayleah’s murder is asked to contact Greeley police at 970-350-9600.

Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. Follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP for updates on Kayleah’s case or other cold cases.







Colorado Springs race car driver shot at bus stop

William Dieckmann, 32 Police Department

, 32

William Dieckmann loved to drive fast. Sometimes too fast.

He liked all cars but Chevies in particular. He was a big fan.

William Lee “Will” Dieckmann loved to work on cars and race them.

At a young age he picked up things in his father’s mechanic’s garage. As an adult he worked at the Springs Auto and Truck Service Center in Colorado Springs.

He had a natural talent for working on cars, his mother, Barbara Dieckmann, 58, said.

On weekends he liked to race a red Chevy  he painted with 10. He would go to a racetrack near Pueblo. He liked competing at a figure eight race track.

Dieckmann liked to make people laugh and would sometimes pretend he was tripped up.

Dieckmann was born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He had a daughter, Miranda, and a son, MacKenzie. The boy’s mother was his girlfriend.

His mother said he cared about other people and would do anything he could for other people. He liked to go camping in the mountains.

Dieckmann’s interest in driving fast got him in trouble quite often though. He had several speeding citations.

On July 12, 2004, Dieckmann got into the wrong kind of race with a police officer. He stole a car and tried to outrun a police officer. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

By the fall of 2006, he was living with his father.

He went out late on Nov. 28. That night he never came home.

The Department received a phone call at 6:19 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2006.  A bus driver had found his body lying next to a bench at the bus stop at Mallard Drive and Teal Court.

His body was covered with snow.

An autopsy report showed that Dieckmann had been shot multiple times in the chest.

Following his brother’s murder, John Dieckmann kept his brother’s car and occasionally he races it himself.

People with information about the case are asked to contact the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7613 or   CSPDHomicide@springsgov.com.

Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206 or follow him on Twitter @KmitchellDP for updates on this case and other cold cases.




Colorado Springs widow murdered, car stolen


When her husband Chris died of Cancer months earlier, dealt with the loss with hard work.

Yong Glenn, 56 Police Department
Yong Glenn, 56

She essentially ran two businesses in one: Yong’s Tailor Shop and Cleaners. She was a seamstress and a dry cleaner.

Glenn worked long hours at the store at 3825 Maizeland Road. Her customers said she was very friendly.

She also taught a class at her church. She had two sons and a daughter.

“She was well respected, well liked in her church,” said Lt. Jeff Jensen.

On March 8, 2010, someone entered her shop in the early afternoon and demanded the keys to her car, a tan or gold 2001 .

The killer fired a bullet into Yong’s head and fled.

It was unusual that the robber didn’t take cash Yong had at the store or her purse, Jensen said.

Only the car with a license plate of 584-OMI was taken.

Yong Glenn's 2001 Nissan PathfinderColorado Springs Police Department
Yong Glenn’s 2001 Nissan Pathfinder

Police canvassed the shopping center. Workers in a business that had a lot of customers next door said they had heard one loud bang but they figured something had fallen over and crashed.

Nobody had seen anything unusual.

“It happened in broad daylight next to a business that has a lot of customers coming and going all the time,” Jensen said.

Police sent Yong’s vin number, license plate and a discription around the country. Nothing has come of it though.

“I can’t remember another case like that,” Jensen said. “It hasn’t surfaced.” 

Anyone with information about Yong’s murder or who knows where her car is located is asked to call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000. Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. Follow him on Twitter for updates @KmitchellDP


Former Grand Junction cop still haunted by bizarre rash of homicides in 1975

Deborah Kathleen Tomlinson, 19Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Deborah Kathleen Tomlinson, 19

Former officer Doug Rushing can’t forget 1975.

His small hometown, known for lush wine vineyards and framed by red rock cliffs, sometimes goes years without a single .

But that year, one year shy of the nation’s Bicentennial, Grand Junction suffered an unprecedented rash of homicides. Eight people were murdered including three young children, several young women and young mothers.

“I thought this is so bizarre,” Rushing said. “This was a much smaller city at the time. But I-70 is a corridor for the nation. Sometimes you don’t know what the highway brings to town.”

On April 6, serial killer bought fuel at a gas station where Rushing’s brother worked, Rushing said. Coincidentally, a girl resembling many of Bundy’s victims, Denise Oliverson, disappeared while riding a bike. The next day her bike and shoes were found but not her, according to a Grand Junction Sentinel article.

Three months later in July a “ghost” murdered Linda Benson, 24, and Kelley Ketchum, 5, Rushing said. It would take decades before would identify the mysterious killer, who had never been on the radar for Rushing and two detectives while they tirelessly investigated the case in 1975 and the years to come. The man was suspected serial killer Jerry Nemnich .

Authorities arrested Nemnich in 2009. Nemnich became a person of interest in the  of June Kowaloff, a 20-year-old mathematics major at the University of Denver

On Aug. 22, Patricia Botham and neighbor Linda Miracle and her two sons Chad and Troy were murdered. Patricia’s husband Kenneth was later convicted of their murders and sentenced to life in prison.

Before the terrifying year was up there would be one more shocking homicide in the bucolic city of Grand Junction. It would prove to be the most difficult to solve.

Shortly before 6 p.m. on Dec. 27, 1975, a Saturday, the partially clothed body of Deborah Kathleen Tomlinson, 19, was discovered in the bathroom of an apartment at 1029 Belford Ave. She had lived alone in the ground-floor apartment a block south of , where she attended school.

Tomlinson’s hands were behind her back, according to an article that appeared in The Denver Post two days later. Evidence indicated she had also had been sexually assaulted, according to a Grand Junction Sentinel article. She had a gash on her head indicating she had struggled with her attacker, according to the article.

There were signs of a struggle in the apartment, former police Capt. Ed Vander Took was quoted as saying in the article. He added that the signs of a struggle were not extensive.

Deborah had been .

The sophomore had spoken to her parents, who live in Fruita, between three and four hours before her body was found.

Another resident had seen an open window screen to Tomlinson’s apartment and told the apartment manager. The manager knocked on the door and when no one answered he entered the apartment with a pass key and found the body.

The police captain did not say what was used to bind the student’s hands.

Police interviewed a California man who had scratches on his face after he was arrested on a drunken driving charge shortly after Tomlinson’s body was found. He told police he got the scratches in a bar fight.

Rushing, who was 25 at the time, helped investigate the case as well. He recalls Tomlinson’s apartment being in the southwest corner of the L-shaped complex that had a park area in the middle. 

“We had a myriad of maybes,” Rushing said. “You followed up on tips from friends and acquaintances.”

He interviewed postal carriers, trash collectors, carpet cleaners and neighbors.

“You just never know who it could have been,” Rushing said. “It could have been another ghost who stopped off in Grand Junction.”

In the years to come, oil shale discoveries would make Grand Junction a thriving community that quickly swelled in size. The local economy got stronger.

Rushing tracked down scores of leads but none of them materialized into a good enough lead to make an arrest. The apartment complex where Tomlinson lived was occupied by Mesa College students and young people who included a Grand Junction police officer who lived in the floor above her.

Two years after Tomlinson was murdered, Rushing quit the police department and he and a friend started a car business. Generations of detectives have since come and gone. A few have chased some strong leads in the Tomlinson murder but no arrests were made.

When he investigated the case, there was blood typing but no DNA testing. Over the past decades he has been anticipating that a DNA match would be how Tomlinson’s killer would be caught. It hasn’t happened, but he still thinks that is one of many different ways the case could be solved.

“It’s going to be a death-bed confession,” he said. Or a final key piece of evidence will surface like the pivotal card in a poker hand.

Days before he was executed in Florida, Bundy told authorities about a girl he had kidnapped, murdered and dumped in a river near Grand Junction. Officials believe he was referring to Oliverson. By the time Tomlinson was murdered in her apartment Bundy would have been in jail.

Grand Junction spokeswoman Kate Portas said currently there are no suspects in the Tomlinson case. But despite all the years that have passed she holds out hope the case will be solved some day.

“Nothing is impossible,” Portas said. “Look at the Nemnich case. It’s still wide open as far as we are concerned.”

She said Grand Junction detectives thoroughly investigated the Tomlinson case as recently as five years ago when the department began methodically reviewing unsolved murder cases. That initiative would lead to the Nemnich arrest.

Portas said detectives sent evidence from the Tomlinson case to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for review, but because it’s a cold case it gets put on a back burner. She said it took about three years to get results in the Nemnich case.

Of the eight homicides in Grand Junction in 1975, six have been solved. It’s widely believed Bundy murdered Oliverson, whose remains have never been recovered.

Today, the Tomlinson case is the only one from the year known in Grand Junction as “” that remains a mystery.

Anyone with information that may help solve the case is asked to call the Grand Junction Police Department at 970-244-3555.

Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206; Facebook.com/kmitchellDP or Twitter.com/kmitchellDP

Bail bondswoman may have been killed by out-of-state hit man


Patricia O’Neil wasn’t your typical .

Patricia "Patty" O'Neil, 42courtesy of family

Patricia "Patty" O'Neil, 42

Whenever “Patty” entered Linda Shimmin’s restaurant “Copperfield” in Downtown Denver she sparkled – and it wasn’t just because she was wearing a five-carat yellow pendant necklace.

“She was tall. She was blonde. She was pretty. She wore black leather and a beautiful smile,” Shimmin said. “She had legs that went on forever. You just noticed Patty. She was a lot of flash.”

Patty O’Neil was also known to kick off her high heels, hike up her skirt and chase down a bail jumper in the middle of the street. She’d cock and aim a like a Texas ranger.

“One riot – one ranger,” said Shimmin, 64, of Prescott Valley, Az. “She was that type of a person.”

Patty took great satisfaction in tracking down crooks who had the temerity to play hooky on their trial date and force her to write a big check.

“She was fearless,” Shimmin said. “The bail bonds business is tough enough for a man. If you took a blade and sharpened it and polished it you would end up with Patty O’Neil. She was all the great parts of wicked.”

But most of the time her clients didn’t disappoint her. Patty had an innate sense for sizing people up within moments after meeting them. She turned a lot of people down based on her instincts. She didn’t have time to go hunting some penny-ante bail jumper, Shimmin said.

Patty was funny, enchanting, sophisticated, well dressed and witty. But when she felt the occasion required it, “she could string together hyphenated obscenities like nobody else. Salty doesn’t begin to describe her language.”

Patricia "Patty" O'Neil's high school senior picturecourtesy of family

Patricia "Patty" O'Neil's high school senior picture

Patty also had a soft side for the young drug dealers, crooks and drunken drivers she bailed out of jail. She would give them a stern talking to and offer suggestions about turning their lives around. Many did with her help.

“I watched my mom help a lot of people. She had a heart the size of Texas,” said Patty’s only daughter, Rene Cook, 49, who recently followed in her mother’s footsteps and opened up her own bail bonds business. “I’m following the dreams she had for me.”

Patty wasn’t the type of person who would go to Safeways and buy a pot roast to cook for dinner. Her life was in perpetual motion. She often stopped by at an all-night diner for a steak and eggs meal – at 3 a.m.

Patty worked at all hours of the day and night. Her job demanded it. She and her husband Albert lived in an apartment at Acoma Bail Bonds Co. along Bail Bonds Row across the street from Denver headquarters at 1325 Delaware St.

Albert and Patty made a life together dealing with the seedier side of life. Their daily associates were robbers and child molesters.

But the two big personalities continually clashed.

“Albert O’Neil was a corpulent, coke-sniffing wiseguy fond of spending large amounts of money on whatever struck his fancy,” a Rocky Mountain News article said.

He would buy a bull dozer just so he would have one, not because he needed it, Shimmin said.

The bail bonding business allowed Patty to acquire a valuable collection of jewelry over time. She’d take diamonds for collateral when she bonded someone out of jail and keep the better pieces. She had a jeweler’s loop and knew how to appraise a diamond for color, cut and clarity, Shimmin said. She wouldn’t take any cloudy pieces.

Albert liked to boast about his physical exploits and Patty liked to deflate his ego. Sometimes, she got so distraught because of their marital spats that she would go to the homes of friends and cry. She talked about getting a divorce.

On March 11, 1986, it was Patty’s turn to work her Acoma Bail Bonds’ overnight shift.

Someone apparently called her out around 2:30 a.m.

Just as she climbed into her late model BMW someone opened the passenger side door and Patty in the head and neck with a .38-caliber hand gun. A bullet shattered the window, careened off the wall of a garage across the alley, hit a telephone pole and bounced back, landing in the middle of the alley.

Billie McCurdy told now retired Denver Post reporter Marilyn Robinson that she and a friend were at another bail bond business at 1315 Delaware St. when they heard what sounded like a car backfiring and then glass shattering.

Patty was found at 7:40 a.m., slumped over the steering wheel of her car. She was 43.

Because no one saw the shooter, speculation about who would have killed her ran wild.

The killer had shot Patty across the street from the Denver police headquarters building, then coolly stooped down and retrieved the shell casing.

Police speculated that the killer was a hired gun, who wasn’t interested in stealing anything from her. The killer left her wallet with cash inside behind. Patty was also wearing a diamond pendant necklace, Cook, her daughter said.

“It could have been some guy who flew in from Des Moines and did this and will never be back,” Shimmin said.

The bail bonds business was lucrative and Acoma got many of the upper end “gravy” deals with well heeled criminals.

The June before a bail bondsman had been arrested for putting out a hit on a competitor.

But with the criminals the O’Neils dealt with virtually every day of their lives there were many suspects.

“Patty ran in a pretty tough world,” Shimmin said.

Albert O’Neil also came under suspicion.

Police were puzzled that the family dog, an attack-trained Doberman, didn’t bark.

According to a Rocky Mountain News story, O’Neil refused to take a lie detector test for health reasons. People speculated that he could have hired someone to kill his wife or shot her in a fit of rage.

Albert O’Neil was Cook’s stepfather. She said her family are suspicious of him because he had threatened to kill her if she ever left him.

“We all feel he had something to do with it,” Cook said. “We do not think he pulled the trigger. He wouldn’t have gotten his hands dirty himself.”

Cook said she thinks her stepfather would have hired someone from out of state.

A year later, on Oct 11, 1987, Albert O’Neil died “of camel cigarettes, White Castle burgers and cocaine,” the newspaper article said.

“No one really knows who did it and why,” Shimmin said. “Probably no one ever will.”

Cook is still hopeful though. It’s possible that evidence collected when her mother was shot could help solve the case today if detectives analyze the materials again.

Even if Albert O’Neil contracted the there could still be someone out there that got away with Patty O’Neil’s .

“I can’t tell you how much that would mean to our family,” she said.

Accident or homicide? Case divided investigators and prosecutor


Names: Nancy Mason, 47
Location: Stream near St. Elmo in Chaffee County
Agency: Chaffee County ’s Office
Date died: May 30, 2004
Cause of death: Suspicious
Suspect: Dan Mason

Though they work side by side, and prosecutors don’t always agree about cases.

But usually they keep their differences to themselves. They don’t criticize each other publicly because they are on the same team and will have to work together in the future. They must maintain a working relationship.

Nancy Mason, 47Nancy Mason's family

Nancy Mason, 47

On the anniversary of Nancy Mason’s death on a Memorial Day weekend in 2004, I recount her case that was handled so differently than most.

In Mason’s case differences in strategy between the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney became a point of contention. It became a very visible battle. The two offices remain at odds.

Originally, Mason’s case was considered an accident. Mason was celebrating the holiday with her husband and his close friend Efren Gallegos who lived with them. She was on a rock ledge fishing upstream from Mason and Gallegos when she fell into the water and drowned.

Years later, when Chaffee County investigators looked into Mason’s case, they found many clues that they believed pointed to , not an accidental fall in a river. For example, Mason and Gallegos claimed they heard Nancy Mason scream after she fell into the stream, but an autopsy showed her neck was broken.

But the prosecutor disagreed. He believed that there was strong evidence including the original autopsy that indicated Nancy Mason died of natural causes.

District Attorney Thom LeDoux in 2008Pueblo Chieftain

District Attorney Thom LeDoux in 2008

Then began a very public dispute. The investigator called me in the spring of 2008 and asked if I’d be interested in doing a profile. I was. It was the first year that I had been writing stories about Colorado cold cases.

When I reached Dan Mason on the phone he told me an amazing story. He claimed his wife fell into a raging mountain creek while fishing during a Memorial Day weekend. He said he leaped into the water and tried to save her. During the attempt an angel literally pulled him and Nancy out of the water, he told me. But he couldn’t save her.

Subsequently, a bitter legal battle ensued between the sheriff’s office and the DA’s office.

The inquest resulted in a finding that Mason was the victim of a homicide.

A warrant was subsequently issued in the case for the arrest of two suspects.

But the Chaffee County district attorney Thom LeDoux  declined to file charges.

The sheriff’s office petitioned a judge to appoint a special prosecutor to file charges in the case, but the request was later rejected.

The story caught the interest of the national media.

Dateline NBC correspondent Dennis Murphy narrated a story in August of 2009 about the case called “Mystery at Chalk Creek: A mother’s ‘accidental’ death leaves behind clues that point to .’”

Be sure to follow Cold Cases or Like Kirk Mitchell on Facebook for the latest and more notorious Colorado cold cases.

Rye senior possibly kidnapped from gas station three days before graduation


It was Sunday morning May 30, 1976 when Andy “Joe” Lepley got up very early, a day after he had gone camping with his family.

Andy Lepley, 18Denver Post archives

Andy Lepley, 18

Joe, who had two older brothers and a younger sister, had long chestnut-colored hair that covered his ears and went below his shirt collar in the back. His friends nicknamed him “Taco” because of his copper complexion. He was 150 pounds and stood 5-feet-9.

His mother Betty Lepley said he was a happy-go-lucky boy who loved to be in the middle of action. Joe enrolled in a motorcycle mechanics course at the Area Vocational Center in Pueblo and loved to pop a wheelie. He had made the state finals in Cañon City as a , was a starter on the High School basketball team and played football. He was an honor student at school.

His father Bob Lepley was a plumber in the small foothills community of Rye.

That Sunday afternoon, Joe was going to ride his motorcycle with his brother Jim after he got off of work at noon. In three days Joe was to graduate from Rye High School where he had been a multi-sport athlete and scholar. In a little more than a month he would have joined in the nation’s bi-centennial festivities. Joe was planning to work as a plumbing apprentice for his father that summer. Then he wanted to enlist in the U.S. Air Force and go to Adams State College in nearby Alamosa.

Joe never got to ride his motorcycle that afternoon. He didn’t receive his high school diploma on June 2, 1976; nor did he work with this dad that summer, watch fireworks on the nation’s 200th birthday or go to college.

That Sunday morning he drove to the Crow Junction Texaco gas station 20 miles south of Pueblo just off of Interstate 25 in his 1967 pickup truck. He parked and left the keys in the ignition.

Joe opened the station at 6:30 a.m. He took a newspaper through a corridor to a restaurant adjoining the gas station and joked with a waitress.

He was last seen wearing a green Texaco shirt, blue jeans and hiking shoes under a gas station canopy near the gas pumps at 6:45 a.m. Witnesses at the restaurant also saw a middle aged man at the gas station at the time.

A saw the unidentified stranger driving off at 7 a.m. By then Joe was nowhere in site.

Customers who went to the gas station called the ’s Department.

Deputies discovered that a microphone to the gas station’s citizen band radio had been ripped out of the radio.

Someone had broken into a cash box that had held about $100.

Betty Lepley said she believes that her son caught whoever stole the money and when he went to call authorities he was attacked. Someone could have knocked him unconscious with a wrench or kidnapped him, she said.

Officers found Joe’s car parked at the gas station. His pickup truck keys were still in the ignition.

Joe was 18 at the time. He was never seen again. His remains have never been identified.

Andy "Joe" Lepley, 18, was on Rye High School basketball, track and football teamsCourtesy of family

Andy "Joe" Lepley, 18, was on Rye High School basketball, track and football teams

Joe’s family knew immediately that Joe had been kidnapped.

“For a few days we felt Joe could be up somewhere and would die if we didn’t get to him right away,” Bob Lepley told a Denver Post reporter in 1977.

At first, Rye High School officials talked about postponing commencement exercises while Andy was still . But that Wednesday night the ceremony went on without him.

“Joe would have wanted it that way,” a school spokesman was quoted in a June 1, 1976 newspaper article.

The Colorado City Lions Club donated $100 and an anonymous donor gave $1,000 to pay for a reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever kidnapped Joe. Within a week the reward climbed to $8,000 for Joe’s “safe return.”

The reward would later climb to $10,000 “leading to location of Joe regardless of the circumstances involving his disappearance.”

The joined the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office in the search for the young man. There was some speculation that Joe was kidnapped for ransom, but there had been no ransom note or other demands for money.

Volunteers searched for Joe’s body. For three days a helicopter was used to scan ranches and prairies around Pueblo.

Pueblo and Cañon City psychics participated. Some said he may be still alive and within 20 miles of Rye, which is 33 miles southwest of Pueblo.

People rode horses and four-wheel drive vehicles in a five-square-mile area in mountains south of Pueblo at the instruction of the psychics.

A psychiatrist hypnotized two waitresses who may have seen a witness to the kidnapping to see if the women could lead authorities to Joe.

The woman described the possible witness, who ate at a restaurant next to the gas station, as being about 47 years old; 5-feet-11 and weighing about 175 pounds. They said he was graying with sandy-colored hair, blue eyes, with a medium complexion.

The man had told the waitresses that he was waiting at the gas station to open while on a trip to Wyoming.

He was seen leaving the station only minutes after entering it. He drove away pulling what was described as an “odd trailer” that appeared to be homemade, according to a Denver Post article.

It was built of plywood, about four or five feet long and was covered with a tarp, the waitresses had said.

The car was “eye-catching,” a “flashy” late-model two-door hardtop, possibly a Grand Prix Pontiac. It was silver gray or white with maroon trim and a maroon laundau top.

The waitresses hadn’t noticed whether there was anyone else in the car with the driver.

Bob and Betty Lepley drove to Cheyenne, Wyo. and left posters. They went to stations along I-25 and spoke to and sheriff’s deputies about their son. They also went south on I-25 to Las Cruces, N.M. and Texas, speaking with officers along the way and leaving posters, according to a Denver Post article. They also spoke with officers as far away as Juarez, Mexico.

“There’s been lots of false leads and horrible rumors but nothing concrete,” Betty Lepley told former Denver Post reporter Glenn Troelstrup. “We just don’t have anything.”

A psychic named Dixie Veterian said the mystery man was a bisexual who hit Joe with a wrench and took the money on a spur-of-the-moment thing, according to a 1977 Denver Post article. She claimed the killer put the unconscious youth in his trailer, drove to a spot along the Republican River near Concordia, Kan., where he beat him to death and him.

Sheriff’s investigators searched along the river for the burial site but could not find Joe’s remains.

The sheriff’s office continued to receive false sightings in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah of the missing youth, but no useful tips.

In the coming years, Pueblo County deputies sent Joe’s fingerprints to South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia and Alabama when bodies of young men were found.

Deputies investigated numerous suspects with violent records.

The Lepley family hired a Colorado Springs private investigator named G.C. Erianne to search for their son. Nothing came of it. Reward posters were distributed in all 50 states and in Mexico and Canada.

New tips and theories continued to dribble in to the Pueblo Sheriff’s Department over the years. Investigators have tirelessly followed many of them.

A Colorado college professor who lived in the same county came under suspicion, said Jeff Lepley, Joe’s older brother.

Four days before Joe the professor’s wife vanished. The professor remarried and his second wife died under suspicious circumstances. The remains of the professor’s first wife was found four years after she and Joe had . The man committed suicide.

Betty Lepley said law enforcement officials including a group of retired FBI agents and detectives who reviewed his case in 2005 believe the professor is somehow linked to the case.

But Betty Lepley said she believes that it was someone her son caught stealing from the till.

“We don’t know,” she said.”It’s been awfully hard.”

About three years ago skeletal remains were discovered between Colorado City and Walsenberg. The Lepleys provided samples, but no could be extracted from the weathered bones, Betty Lepley said.

Whatever happened may remain a mystery forever.

But what tortures Joe’s mother are the factors that should have stopped it from happening in the first place. Joe went missing in broad daylight. It was a Memorial Day weekend so there were a lot of vacationers on the highway. People across the road at another gas station could have seen something as well as waitresses in the restaurant adjoining the gas station.

“This is something that absolutely should not have happened,” Betty Lepley said.

People with information that could help solve the case are asked to call the Pueblo Sheriff’s Office at 719-583-6125.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or Facebook.com/@kmitchellDP or Twitter.com/@kmitchellDP for updates on this cold case and others.

Glendale nightclub shooting leaves army reservist dead


The last day of his life, Sean France drove some close friends to a nightclub to meet another friend.

But shortly after he drove into the parking lot of Al’s Palace on the 4400 block of Leetsdale someone fired four shots into his car. One of the bullets struck him in the head and killed him. France left behind a wife and two young children. He was only 24.

His may have been the result of a rage incident involving a man who had just been thrown out of the nightclub.

Sean France, 24Courtesy Glendale Department

Sean France, 24

France had never been involved in gangs or gotten into trouble. He was the last person you would expect to be the victim of a , said his ex-wife, Tracy Snell, 42, who has since remarried and lives in Atlanta.

“He was a good guy,” said Sgt. Jim Bang of the Glendale Police Department.

He was clean cut and had a promising future ahead of him, Bang said.

Sean was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1968. His father, George France, 75, competed in the Pan American Games as a weightlifter and became Mr. Guyana in 1959. He said his son Sean was a jovial boy who always had a smile on his face and never got into trouble as a child. The France family moved to in the late 1970s.

George and Lynette France instilled a strong work ethic in their four children and taught them that they could do anything they out to accomplish. Sean was the oldest child. He was a good example to the other kids. In high school, Sean won numerous track awards while competing in speed races. He was competitive and ambitious, his father said.

From a young age Sean wanted to be an automobile mechanic. He earned a high school diploma in 1987 after taking mostly automotive classes. Right out of high school he joined the U.S. Army reserves and for the next seven years he maintained and repaired Army trucks whenever he fulfilled his monthly and annual military obligations. In the late 1980s he applied and was accepted at the Automotive and Diesel College in Aurora.

Sean met his wife at Celebrity Sport Center in Glendale. Tracy Snell said she was 17 at the time and was in the bowling alley when Sean made a humerous remark as she was walking by. They exchanged phone numbers and soon they were doing everything together. The practical side of her noticed that he had oil stains on his hands, marking him as a hard worker.

The couple soon married and started raising a family. First came a girl they named Passion and then a son, Sean France Jr.

Sean was always angling for a laugh. A running joke was that whenever Tracy said she liked something she saw like jewelry in a store Sean would tell her, “Oh, I’ll make it for you.”

“He was a real corn ball,” Tracy Snell said.

Sean France, 24, was a U.S. Army reservistCourtesy of Glendale Police Department

Sean France, 24, was a U.S. Army reservist

Sean told his wife that with hard work he could retire when he was 40. He completed his automotive education in 1991. Although they were a young couple they were well established with many friends that they often had cook outs with. He formed his own engine repair business called Superior Automotive.

He spent a lot of time with his children. Every morning he would make his children a warm breakfast. Often it was “porridge.” Tracy can still picture him hold his son in one arm and his daughter’s tiny hand in the other as he walked them to a preschool in the mornings in the East Denver neighborhood where they lived. She would also work.

“He took care of us. He paid the bills. We were building a life together,” Tracy Snell said.

On Feb. 20, 1993, Sean drove his family to a number of dealerships in East Denver. They had saved a few thousand dollars. They were hoping to get a good deal on an inexpensive car that Sean could keep running. They were back home at 9 p.m. when Tony, one of his friends, called. Tony and two other friends had followed Sean to Colorado from Brooklyn. Tony asked for a ride home from working at a hospital.

Sean said he would bring the friend to his house and they would hang out. He put on his jacket and hugged and kissed his wife good-bye.

“I love you,” Tracy said.

“I love you,” Sean responded.

When he picked up his friend they later met two of their other friends from New York City and they were riding around together. They told Sean that a friend of theirs was working as a DJ at Al’s Place that night. He hung out with the friends several hours that night.

Al’s had a reputation of being a rough where police would often be called for fights. Another was on the other side of the street. There were many people outside in the parking lot early the next morning when Sean and his friends arrived, as many as 75.

Sean drove his 1985 blue Buick Century into the parking lot at 1:15 a.m. Feb. 21. As he made a turn he nearly ran into a man who walking away from the nightclub. Police would later tell family members that the man had just been thrown out of the nightclub.

“He was in there and got into a beef with somebody. He was probably fuming,” Tracy Snell said.

Sean kept driving around the parking lot looking for a place to park. Suddenly shots rang out. The same tall black man that Sean had nearly ran into fired four shots, according to accounts of the other passengers. One of the bullets hit him in the head.

The car started rolling down a hill until it rammed another car. Several witnesses described seeing a car racing out of the parking lot, but different people remembered seeing different models of cars including a mustang.

Sean France's car rolls into vehicle in parking lot of Al's PalaceCourtesy of Glendale Police Department

Sean France's car rolls into vehicle in parking lot of Al's Palace

Paramedics rushed Sean to University Hospital.

Tracy Snell remembers getting a call from someone at the hospital saying her husband had been in an accident. She called a girlfriend, left her kids with a cousin and they rushed to the hospital.

Police met her in a waiting room and started asking questions. It frightened her.

“I was probably pretty hysterical. I said I wasn’t going to answer any more questions until they told her what had happened to Sean,” she said.

They finally told her that Sean had been . They asked her if Sean had any enemies and if he was involved in gangs. But there was never any hint of that. Late she saw him in a gourney and she passed out. Later doctors told her that he was brain dead and would not recover.

The next day she got dressed in her Sunday clothes and dressed her children in their best clothes and they went to the hospital.

Tracy whispered playfully in her husband’s ear that his feet were dry and cold. She rubbed lotion on his feet. Her kids asked what was wrong with “daddy.” She told Passion and Sean Jr. that their father was very sick and that he was going to heaven.

“They were too young to know what was happening,” Tracy Snell said.

Sean’s daughter Passion was 5 and Sean Jr. was 3. That night that Sean had gone out with his friends he hadn’t finished a beer. Tracy put it in the refrigerator and refused to move any of his things in the apartment for months. When she realized all the beer had evaporated out of the beer can she still saved it. When she later moved to Atlanta she brought it with her.

Over the years she has regretted that her husband couldn’t see everything that they have been able to accomplish. Passion is a nurse and a mother. His namesake is in college and only one year younger than his father was when he was murdered. Sean Jr. is a spitting image of him, she said.

The that may have been sparked by a rage incident has never been solved.

The night Sean was fatally shot, Sgt. Bang, who had about two years on the force, searched the parking lot for evidence that night.

Detectives looked into the backgrounds of Sean and his friends and found no indication they had been involved in gangs.

The small police force rarely has murders to investigate. Detectives spent several months investigating but there were no viable suspects despite the many witnesses.

Recently, Sgts. Bang and Greg Cazzell offered to open a cold case unit to investigate three unsolved murders including the Sean France case.

Both of them had personal memories of the case. They’ve interviewed family members and witnesses. For Bang, this case is what police work is all about. He hopes to find justice for a family that went without a husband and father all these years.

Bang said France had a young family and was working to make a good future for them.

He said that he hopes that someone who saw something back then will come forward and tell him or Cazzell what they know.

One of the suspects may have told someone about the shooting and now the relationship they once had with the killer has changed and they are willing to tell what they know.

Sean’s parents and former wife would very much like to see his killer brought to justice.

George and Lynette France said they miss their son terribly.

“He was a gem to us,” George France said.

Lynette France said police interviewed a suspect in prison last year, but nothing seemed to come of it.

Tracy Snell harbors intensely bitter feelings for her husband’s killer.

“He left us in shambles,” Tracy Snell said. “I think he should be punished. He had no right. Sean didn’t do anything to deserve this. I pray that he doesn’t have any peace the rest of his life. That’s how I feel and I won’t appologize for how I feel. I deserved to grow old with the man I fell in love with when I was 17.”

Tracy Snell said she believes that the killer may have come home that early morning and told someone “Hey, I think I may have killed someone tonight.” She hopes that person will come forward and do the right thing. It’s never too late.

As her son looks more and more like his father it gets harder to see the resemblance sometimes as much as she loves to see her son.

“It gets harder. He was one in a million,” Tracy France said of Sean Sr. “He was not a slacker. He had plans and goals. If he would have lived he would have realized all those goals.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Sgt. Jim Bang or Sgt. Greg Cazzell the Glendale Police Department at 303-759-1511.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or Facebook.com/@kmitchellDP or Twitter.com/@kmitchellDP

Boulder cocktail waitress found dead days after marriage separation


On any given Thursday night Angela McKennett Johnson would stand before a crowd in a and belt out Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battle Field.”

Angela M. Johnson, 27Courtesy Department

Angela M. Johnson, 27

Thursdays is night at Dark Horse, a Boulder bar founded in 1975, where Johnson also worked as a waitress.

The bar – packed with movie props and western antiques – is just east of the University of Colorado.

“She had an incredible voice,” said Johnson’s former roommate Corie Phillips. “She wanted to be a stage actress in musicals.”

Phillips said she lived in the same apartment with her friend and other roommates between 2000 and 2002. She knew her by her given name Angela Jennings. Her family was from the east coast but was estranged from her family.

“We were very close. She was such a fun person,” Phillips said.

Angela JohnsonCourtesy Denver crime stoppers

One time Johnson made an elaborate costume around Halloween and won $150 worth of drinks. The young women had a number of drinking parties at their apartment. Johnson’s favorite movie with The Matrix.

At one point that drove cross country to Phillips family home in Illinois. They had a lot of fun together. They often went to the Dark Horse when Johnson wasn’t working and played pool. Johnson was very good at it.

But things weren’t always rosy. Phillips didn’t have a job and wasn’t paying her share of the rent. Then she got very sick and had to return home for weeks.

While she was away, Johnson threw her belongings on the curb except for two garbage bags filled with some of her things and an Iguana. When she returned to Boulder and picked up what was left of her possessions she never saw Johnson again.

“We had a falling out,” Phillips said.

Johnson was soon married to Christopher Michael Johnson, 40, who was six years older than Johnson at the time.

The couple co-petitioned for separation on July 30, 2004.

Johnson was living alone in an apartment in the Peach Tree Apartment Complex, 6301 W. Hampden Avenue.

On Aug. 3, 2004, one of Angela’s friends went to her apartment and found Angela. She was dead.

Police investigate Angela M. Johnson's murder on Aug. 3, 2004Denver Crime Stoppers

Police investigate Angela M. Johnson's on Aug. 3, 2004

Her death was ruled a , according to a Denver police report. The report gives few details about the murder.

It said she was a “serious billiard player.” Angela Johnson was 27.

Years later Phillips tried to locate her friend. She hadn’t heard that she had been . She said she was stunned.

She pulled up a Colorado Bureau of Investigation website listing the state’s unsolved homicides and person’s cases and gasped when she saw her old friend’s picture.

“That’s her,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”

Anyone with information about Johnson’s homicide is asked to call the Denver Police Department at 720-913-2000.

Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. “Like” his Facebook page for updates on this and other cold cases: Facebook.com/kmitchellDP or follow him on Twitter.com/kmitchellDP.

Part 1 of 3: Boulder detectives still seek answers in JonBenét Ramsey case


3-part series to be published until June 30

On his death bed in August of 2010, famed Colorado Springs Det. could have spoken about the 200 cases he’d solved during a storied career going back three decades. Instead, he chose to talk about the one he hadn’t solved: the case of , the 6-year-old from found bludgeoned and in the basement of her own home on Dec. 26, 1996.

JonBenét RamseyZuma Press
JonBenét Ramsey

The case had become one of the most perplexing murder mysteries in the U.S. of the 20th century.

Though his work hadn’t put a killer in prison, as far as Smit was concerned it kept the innocent parents of the victim, John and , out of prison. And he said he believed that was one of the greatest achievements of his life.

His work also gave detectives a blueprint he hoped would guide them to JonBenét’s real killer or killers after his death on Aug. 11, 2010. But Smit’s opinion is just one of a plethora of theories about what happened to the tiny beauty queen.

Despite a public declaration by former Boulder District Attorney and found on the girl’s underwear and body that does not match anyone in her family, the parents of the young girl should not be excluded as suspects, according to some respected experts.

JonBenét RamseyAP
JonBenét Ramsey

Former lieutenant Jon Priest, a consultant who gives seminars around the world about evidence collection and crime investigation, said the DNA may not have belonged to the killer at all.

“Who knows how it got on her clothes,” Priest said in a recent interview.

Part 2 of 3: Boulder detective Smit questioned JonBenet Ramsey past investigation

John and Patsy Ramsey in 2000AP
John and in 2000

Continued series to be published until June 30

After had been working the case for some time he met with prosecutors and fellow investigators and confronted them with something startling.

“I hope I won’t offend anybody. Are we sure we’re looking at the right suspects?”

It was blasphemy. He said the room temperature dropped 20 degrees. Many officials were speechless.

authorities had made it crystal clear to international hordes of media swarming the college town for any tidbit of information about the case that one or more of the Ramseys JonBenét.

Smit said when he first heard details of the case it seemed like a rock solid case against one of JonBenét’s family members. Hand-writing experts had claimed that the so-called ransom letter.

One strong piece of evidence was that there was so much snow on the ground that an intruder couldn’t have made it inside the home without leaving footprints, particularly rimming the basement window where the intruder was supposed to have entered the home.

Boulder believe that the Ramseys left false evidence on the inside of the window of a break-in.

But when Smit saw photographs of the Ramsey home taken on Dec. 26, 1996, the driveway was clear of snow and offered a path directly to the basement window in the back of the home.

Smit found corroborating evidence that an intruder did break into the basement window.

He said crime scene photographs showed that there were leaves and dust on the outside window ledges of all the other basement windows but not the one where an intruder entered the home.

On the inside of other basement windows were cobwebs, but not the window where the intruder entered.

had concluded that the window was too small for a grown man to enter. Smit flashed pictures on his basement wall showing him crawling in through the window and than out again.

Smit investigated the backgrounds of the Ramseys. Even though he already knew a lot about the case that may have been the most publicized case in Colorado history, he was determined to look at it from a different vantage point.

He went through the Ramsey house looking at all the family photographs.

The public had a largely negative view of JonBenét’s heavy involvement in beauty pageants at such a young age. The belief was that Patsy was flying her around the country, obsessively forcing JonBenét to live out her dreams and expectations, depriving her of a normal childhood.

More darkly, the implication was that Patsy was so fixated on her daughter that if the girl acted out of line her response would be explosive, violent, Smit said.

But Smit had a different way of looking at that.

Part 3 of 3: Archived timeline of the JonBenét Ramsey case


Part 3 of three-part series

Chronology based on scores of articles in The Post beginning on Dec. 27, 1997, the day after ’s death in her home.

1977 named Miss West Virginia.

1990: Aug. 6 – JonBenet Patricia Ramsey is born in Atlanta.

1991 – The Ramseys move from Atlanta to Boulder.

1995 – JonBenet Ramsey crowned

1996 – JonBenet wins America’s Tiny Little Miss contest

Dec. 26: 5:52 a.m. – Patsy Ramsey calls 911 from her 15-bedroom, brick, Tudor-style home at 755 15th Street to report that her 6-year-old daughter JonBenet Ramsey, a student at Martin Park Elementary School, had been abducted. Someone had left a ransom note on a back stair case leading from the kitchen to the parents’ third floor bedroom demanding $118,000.

The Ramsey home has tall gables, dormers and mullioned windows on a large lot filled with mature trees. The residence was still festooned with bright decorations that seemed incongruous at a scene, according to a Denver Post article. A Santa Claus figure and sleigh rested at the end of the front walk, which was lined with large plastic candy canes, the story says. This year JonBenet had dressed up as a Christmas present and sung “”Jingle Bell Rock.”

JonBenet had one sibling living at home, Burke, who was 9. Another sibling who lists his address as the residence is stepbrother John Andrew Ramsey, then 20, a student at the University of Colorado. JonBenet also had a stepsister, Melinda, then 24, of Atlanta.

The Ramseys had been active in various civic philanthropic activities, including Opera Colorado and Junior League. While in
Atlanta, they were active in the Atlanta Symphony Black and White Ball, as well as the Phoenix Debutantes of Atlanta. The downstairs front section of their house was used to entertain guests – as many as 50 two days before Christmas – and included a catering kitchen.

1:30 p.m., president and founder of Access Graphics, a privately held subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, searches the house, discovers his daughter’s body in a little used utility room in the basement and carries her body upstairs in his arms, screaming and pulling off of her mouth. Police would claim that they hadn’t searched the house because they had no reason to believe the child was still in the home after receiving the ransom note.

The FBI is called into the investigation because the Ramseys discovered a ransom note.

Late in the evening: Police detectives and crime scene investigators began searching the house after securing a search warrant. Boulder assigns 30 officers to the case.

Dec. 27: Autopsy performed on JonBenet Ramsey’s body. The autopsy determined that JonBenet was bludgeoned to death. Boulder County Coroner John Meyer ruled yesterday that JonBenet died of asphyxiation caused by strangulation. He listed the child’s death as a .

Patsy Ramsey traveled around the country with JonBonet to attend her daughter’s beauty contests.
“They were so serious about this stuff, but they never put any pressure on her,” said Nelson Schneider,
another neighbor. “She had her own float in the Colorado Parade of Lights in December 1995, and Patsy walked along the side of the float the whole parade to make sure (JonBonet) was safe.”

World War II hero gunned down in Glendale


was an American .

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1939 and was soon flying combat missions during World War II. In all he flew 86 combat missions in the South Pacific.

Glenn Greening, 60 Police Department
Glenn Greening, 60


He won four bronze stars and an additional 20 awards.

“He’d seen so much,” said Sgt. of the Glendale police department. “I thought his military record was incredible.”

Greening retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1967 at the rank of senior master sergeant.

After his retirement he worked as a salesman. He was married and had one daughter.

Greening traveled to on Feb. 24, 1981 on a business trip. He met two friends in the bar of the for drinks around 5:30 p.m.

Greening went alone to the Colorado Mine Company in Glendale on the 4400 block of at 7 p.m. and was finished by 7:45 p.m.

He and his two friends met at the Landmark Hotel bar at 8 p.m. At 9:30 p.m., the three men went to the Rodeo Lounge on the 400 block of South Colorado Boulevard.

A few minutes later, Greening left the lounge. There likely were a lot of people walking around in the parking lot at the time, Bang said.

There were several nightclubs and bars in the area and people often walked from bar to bar at night, he said. Rarely did anyone get into trouble.

Greening’s body was found lying in the parking lot near the lounge at 11:25 p.m.

He had apparently been during a . His wallet was . He was 61.

“It’s a stranger crime,” Bang said.

He speculated that with Greening’s military background he may have resisted the robber.

“It didn’t go like the robber wanted and Mr. Greening got shot,” Bang said.

Bang said he believes someone must have seen something, but no one came forward. It’s possible someone saw what happened, got scared and fled.

Still, Bang said he believes the murder that he believes was a robbery could be solved.

The killer may have said something to a girlfriend or spouse and they later split. If that person came forward Glendale officers could solve the case, Bang said.

Greening was a hero, he said. He didn’t deserve his fate: getting shot in a parking lot some late winter’s night and left lying on the pavement.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Glendale Police Department at 303-607-2589.

Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206. Facebook.com/kmitchellDP or Twitter.com/kmitchellDP.

Englewood boy weighted down with cinder blocks, tossed in Platte River

Melvin Poole Jr., 14 Department

Melvin Poole Jr., 14

walked to his dad’s pickup truck, sat inside and waited for him to finish drinking beer in a with his pals on a Friday night.

By the time his father, Melvin LeRoy Pooley Sr., returned to the parking lot of Four Wheel Drive Pickup and Truck Sales on West Evans Avenue, where he had left his son, his green 1960s-model International pickup and 14-year-old son were gone.

It wouldn’t be for another three months before Pooley Jr.’s body was found, washed up on the bank of the South Platte River near the 2700 block of South Platte River Drive.

A steel band had been wrapped around Pooley Jr.’s neck and tied to . Poole said he believed that whoever stole his pickup had his son.

But he said didn’t agree, nor did they seem that interested in solving his son’s case initially when it was a person’s case. They also didn’t seem that interested even after learning his son had been weighted down and tossed in the river.

The detective told him there had been a lot of murders and not enough time to investigate them all thoroughly.

“He knew my son had been in trouble three or four times before,” Pooley Jr. said. “There wasn’t much of an investigation. They had other things they were working on.”

Lakewood trio killed in possible love triangle among Vietnamese immigrants


had run away from home to be with before she graduated from a high school, a decision that upset her family.

Thuy Nguyen, 21Lakewood Department

Thuy Nguyen, 21

Thuy had defied her parents’ wish to stay away from Le in violation of Vietnamese customs and failed to graduate from high school.

But ultimately the deaths of the young couple and a friend , 32, at an apartment at 7000 W. Nevada St. on Nov. 11, 1995 may have stemmed from unrequieted love, according to Lakewood police.

Lakewood police said that they ruled out the possibility that the murders were tied to drug or gang involvement.

The bodies of Nguyen, 21, Le, 20, and Do were discovered in Do’s apartment that Saturday morning. Each of the bodies were found in different rooms. They were all to death. All three victims were Vietnamese immigrants.

Young woman under 2 1/2 feet of water had braces


Children playing near a drainage ditch behind a Pepsi-Cola Company building on 38th Avenue and Arkins Court in came across a shocking scene that morning. It was Dec. 14, 1980.

The kids found the nude body of a young woman. She was lying in about 2 ½ feet of water.

The coroner’s officer released a statement later that day that the victim was a young woman with blue eyes and brown hair. She was 5-feet-4 and weighed 145 pounds.

She wore braces.

Julie Marchese, 18Denver Department

Julie Marchese, 18

The woman had been in the side of the head – execution style.

That day Salvador Marchese, who had been a military police officer in the U.S. Air Force before retiring and working in security, got a call at work.

The woman in the ditch was his 18-year-old daughter Julie Anne Marchese.

Julie had been missing a few days by that time.

It wasn’t that unusual.

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