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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

Teen-age tragedy

by Vickie Taylor
Daily Times-Call
2001 Times-Call Publishing Co.

   FORT COLLINS Seventeen-year-old Gay Dixon of Fort Collins had a messy break-up with her boyfriend at a high school keg party, according to her sister.

   A few hours later, she was shot three times in the back of the head and dumped along the road 16 miles into Rist Canyon, about 2 miles east of Stove Prairie School.

   The teen-ager's Jan. 20, 1982, murder remains unsolved.

   To this day, Gay's death haunts Dixon's sister, Laurie Wiedeman, 18 at the time, who doesn't understand why someone would so viciously steal her sister's life.

   Gay's face was badly beaten with a blunt instrument, hit so hard that her jaw broke in two places.

   One bullet grazed her cheek. Two bullets entered the back of her head, execution style, according to a Larimer County Coroner's office report.

   A passing motorist discovered the body shortly before 8 a.m. Gay was wearing a down jacket, jeans and socks. Her wallet, money and identification were with her. Her shoes were never found.

   The Larimer County Sheriff's Department last year reopened the investigation into the 17-year-old's death with hopes that new information would surface and lead to the arrest of her killer.

   To date, no arrests have been made.

   Gay's family wants people to know that Gay was more than a teen-ager struggling to transition into a grown-up's world.

   She loved babies and children. "She was caring almost to a fault," said Laurie, who was a year older than Gay.

   She loved daffodils and daisies, and her favorite color was yellow, Laurie said.

   She was athletic. She loved basketball, soccer, tennis and softball.

   She was an advanced swimmer. And she would spend hours, even days, playing backgammon with her 13-year-old brother Shawn.

   Gay's mother, Julia Dixon, remembers driving back to Fort Collins after spending a wonderful holiday with family in Cheyenne, Wyo.

   She looked in her rear-view mirror at two little heads, Laurie's and Gay's, resting on each other as they slept in the back seat of the car.  "I had hopes. I had all sorts of hopes for her," her mother said.

   Gay Dixon was 17 for only two months. At 16, she quit school and started working full time at the Sirloin Stockade in Greeley. She was spending more and more time with her boyfriend, seven years her senior.

   It was a turn in Gay's life that her mother did not support.

   Laurie won't say much about who she thinks is responsible for her sister's murder. "There are a couple of suspects in this area," she said. "I see them in town. It hurts but what if I'm wrong?"

   "We've tried hard not to form an opinion," she added.

   Laurie Wiedeman recalled the last night that she spent with her sister. She said she and Gay attended a birthday party in Fort Collins with about 250 high school friends.

   Laurie said Gay was supposed to catch a ride home with her. But at midnight, police broke up the party due to noise complaints.

   Laurie said she last saw Gay as she headed to the back yard. She never came back. "I went through the whole house looking for her. The cops were saying 'Leave!' And the ride that I had was leaving," Laurie said.

   Laurie said she figured Gay would catch another ride home, so she left.

   "Somebody else probably saw her getting into somebody's car," Laurie said. "Maybe there was more than one person in the car. We're hoping to trigger something. Be a friend. Come forward if you know something."

   According to Larimer County sheriff's investigator Andy Josey, Gay's boyfriend at the time remains a suspect and has been interviewed by authorities.

   Josey added that the Larimer County Sheriff's Department has sought advice from a Denver-based committee of retired homicide investigators who review inactive unsolved-homicide cases throughout the state. That committee suggested that Larimer County sheriff's investigators re-interview certain individuals and further explore some leads, Josey said.

   Authorities are requesting that anyone with information contact the Larimer County Sheriff's Department at 970-498-5160.

If you have information about this case or any part of the series, call B.J. Plasket at 303-776-2244, Ext. 451, or e-mail him at bplasket@times-call.com .