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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

Garrett murder remains 'on and off' investigation

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

   LONGMONT It's on the shelf, but it's not covered in dust.

   Police say they have investigated a decades-old unsolved homicide "on and off throughout its 21-year-history."

   Kathleen Alberta Garrett was strangled and sexually assaulted; her partially clad body found near a dumpster near 100 Bowen Circle on May 30, 1980.

   Police who initially investigated the homicide told the Times-Call they did not believe the 31-year-old Garrett was killed in the same area where her body was found.

   Officers said they had little evidence to go on aside from bite marks on Garrett's breasts.

   The case ground to a near halt when the prime suspect died in a motorcycle accident.

   Witnesses told police they saw Garrett with a white man in his 20s at several locations the night she was murdered.

   A police officer said he saw Garrett riding as a passenger with a man fitting that description the same evening.

   She was last seen with the unidentified man at about 3:30 a.m., leaving Frankenstein's Bar  in the 300 block of Main Street.

   Working with witness testimony, a police sketch artist created a composite drawing of the suspect, described as having a bushy mustache, glasses, wearing a blue bandanna and driving a dark-colored Harley Davidson motorcycle.

   After interviewing several local bikers, police narrowed their possible list of suspects to one man, who several bikers pointed out as a potential suspect.

   "All of the indications pointed to that suspect," Detective Cmdr. Craig Earhart said.

   That man, whose identity was not released, became police's prime suspect and was stopped by police months following Garrett's death.

   He was seen by an on-duty police officer while trying to start his motorcycle at Third Avenue and Main Street.

   He agreed to be interviewed by police and admitted to having been with Garrett that night.

   Police looked into the man's past, and found  he had been convicted of rape and given a deferred sentence.

   He was also a suspect in a rape in Elko, Nev., four years prior to Garrett's death; police said the crimes were strikingly similar.

   "The woman was strangled, tied up with her bra. He was generally sadistic to her," reports said. She wasn't killed.

   The man was arrested outside a truck stop where the woman said she was assaulted. He was later freed when the woman refused to press charges.

   The suspect provided police with both hair and semen samples, which were found to be "similar in a few, distinct characteristics," although police said they did not rule out that another suspect might have had the same hair and semen types.

   In addition, dental experts working on the case said dental information provided by the suspect appeared initially to match bite-marks left on Garrett's body; they said they were 98 percent sure the dental records matched.

   Witnesses also identified the suspect as the man they saw Garrett with the night of her death.

   The case came to a halt, however, when the suspect died in a motorcycle accident, Earhart said.

   He was never arrested or charged in connection with Garrett's death, Earhart said.

   "We didn't have enough probable cause to arrest him," he said.

   No other suspects have turned up and no other leads point to anyone else.

   So the case goes onto the shelf for the time being, he said.

   "Even if the case is inactive, we will still follow up on any leads that develop," he said.

   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.