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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

Outside help

Amanda Arthur
The Daily Times-Call
2001 Times-Call Publishing Co.

   LONGMONT They're still looking.

   Boulder police have been making recent strides in the three-year-old homicide of Susannah Chase, a University of Colorado student who was beaten with a baseball bat and left for dead near her Boulder apartment in December 1997.

   Police were called to 19th and Pearl streets by residents who heard moaning coming from the alley where Chase lay. A 40-foot trail of blood led police to her unconscious body.

     A bloody junior-sized baseball bat lay nearby.

     Chase died the next day from massive head injuries after her family decided to take her off of life support, police said.

   Police began working with world-renowned DNA expert Dr. Henry Lee in early January in hopes of generating some new leads in the case.

   Lee visited the crime scene on  Jan. 8, in addition to providing police with a list of possible measures to be taken during investigations.

   "We sent Dr. Lee a packet of information before he came (to Boulder), so it's not like he just stepped into the case today," Detective Chuck Heidel said.

   After investigating the crime scene and reviewing evidence collected by police, Lee left Boulder, but he has not finished his work with the case.

   "He said he still needed some time to digest everything we gave him," Heidel said.

   Following Lee's advice, a timeline of Chase's activities in the days and hours prior to her death has also been released, Heidel said, in hopes it will jog someone's memory.

    Police also have recently released photos of Chase and the baseball bat.

   Heidel said releasing such information strays from typical police protocol; they usually choose to keep secret any information that only police and the attacker would know.

   He said police have already received a dozen tips since releasing the information, and he believes more are on the way.

   "We've gotten tips from as far away as southern Colorado, so it looks like we're getting some pretty good coverage," he said.

   Since the beginning of their investigation, police have interviewed more than 500 people, according to reports, and Heidel said they plan to re-interview several people.

    "New leads have been coming in all along," he said. "This has been a tough case that you can't put away easily."

   Some of the tips police have received have pointed to areas or people they have already investigated, he said.

   One man, Kelly Ray Thompson, 30, claimed he killed Chase, but after investigation, police discovered he was in Alabama on the night of Chase's attack.

   Another man was also investigated by police after a baseball bat was discovered buried in the back yard of a Niwot home he lived in at the time of Chase's death.

     The bat was discovered by new residents of the home, buried and covered in rust.

    The bat was sent to Colorado Bureau of Investigation labs to distinguish what, if any, fluid was on the bat.

    The bat was not connected with the case, police said.

    Police do not believe Chase knew her attacker; DNA evidence found on her body did not match that of her boyfriend, Andy Heimerl.

   Reports indicate both Heimerl and his twin brother, Nick, were investigated and cleared by police following Chase's death.

   Chase spent the hours prior to her attack with the brothers, and allegedly had an argument with Andy just before she left to return home, police said.

   The brothers provided police with "non-testimonial" evidence, and neither man's DNA matched evidence taken from Chase, police said.

    Heidel said he is hoping the release of the new evidence will provoke witnesses to come forward.

   "We're hoping someone who may have been afraid to come forward or someone who knows something they thought was not important at the time will come forward," he said.

    Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective Heidel at 303-441-3339 or his partner, Jane Harmer, at 303-441-3381.

    Those who wish to remain anonymous may make a report to Boulder County Crime Stoppers at 303-440-STOP.

If you have information about this case or any part of the series, call Amanda Arthur at 303-776-2244, Ext. 215, or e-mail her at aarthur@times-call.com.