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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

Tragic secrets

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

    The names that follow will not be associated with amazing things these people may have done.

    They are not names of people who hold the secrets to financial prosperity or personal success.

    They are simply, tragically victims. They are beckoning from their graves for someone, anyone, to help bring them justice.

     These 30 people, victims of as-yet-unsolved homicides in Weld County, represent lost families, lost futures, broken dreams.

      In every single case, their perpetrators remain unpunished.

    And while high-tech computers can do a lot of things, they cannot question suspects, read minds or uncover hidden murder weapons that vanished years, even decades ago.

    "You need direct evidence. You need physical evidence," said Al Price, homicide investigator for the Weld County Sheriff's Department.

     Price said homicide investigations in counties like Weld are typically more difficult than homicides within cities because victims are often not found for a longer period of time. Often, victims are buried in clandestine graves, and often, victims are not local folks, he said.

    Price said his office is bridging the gap between old tracking methods, in which important details from unsolved cases were hastily scratched on index cards, to new technology, in which everything is stored in one electronic database.

    With a few strokes on a keyboard, officers plug into a national fingerprint computer database.

     Crime labs offer advanced testing of body fluids that often lead police to killers.

     Dead skin can be rehydrated for clues, even fingerprints.

    Autopsies whisper secrets to medical examiners when victims are silent.

     Still, the chances of solving Weld County's 30 unsolved homicides are slim, unless eyewitnesses come forward or murder weapons surface.

     Following is a glimpse at the few known details of the last moments of their lives:

Cora Rose Allyn

Allyn's is the longest unsolved homicide on Weld County's books. She was murdered on June 10, 1916 84 years ago.

      Allyn was shot four times in the basement of her Greeley home. One witness reported seeing a tall man leave through a back door of the home and disappear into an alley. Allyn's husband, who was working at the time, discovered her body shortly after the shooting. No suspect was ever named.

Mary Pierce

Pierce was a 23-year-old graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. On Aug. 24, 1977, she was clerking at a downtown Greeley 7-Eleven while waiting for her Navy enlistment papers to arrive.

      At some point during her night shift, she was abducted, raped repeatedly, stabbed 40 times in the back and dumped in a west Greeley cornfield.

     A bread-delivery man arriving at the store in the pre-dawn hours notified police that the store clerk was missing.

     While investigating the Pierce disappearance, the Weld County Sheriff's Department was contacted by a Utah parole officer who was tracking two brothers living in Johnstown at the time.

      The brothers, Juan and Jesse Bautista, were recent parolees from the Utah prison system. They had served time for kidnapping, raping and stabbing a convenience store clerk in Utah. That clerk survived to identify them.

      Investigators were convinced they had their suspects. Juan and Jesse Bautista were questioned. Both admitted they were in the 7-Eleven store the night Pierce was abducted. Jesse's blood matched a blood sample taken from Pierce's body, according to police reports.

      However, investigators had no murder weapon. And DNA testing was never completed because the Colorado Bureau of Investigation used all of the body-fluid samples taken from Pierce's body to match Jesse's blood. No fluid samples remained for further testing.

      Today, the Bautista brothers are serving life sentences in a Texas prison for another murder.

Teddie LeRoy Randolph

On a rainy night April 1, 1969, Randolph, 59, was working at a Greeley U-Pump-It gas station when he was attacked from behind and robbed. Investigators believe he was hit twice from behind with an iron bar, but he managed to walk home, where his brother found him near death. Randolph died during surgery.

     Three years after Randolph's murder, a local drunk told a Greeley police sergeant that two men covered in blood splatters carrying a bloody metal bar had visited his home that night and that they had dropped their bloody clothes and the weapon deep in the bowels of his outhouse. Police located those items and traces of human blood.

    Police identified two suspects, but they fled to Mexico 25 years ago and have not been located.

Evelyn Kay Day

    On Nov. 27, 1979, the body of the 29-year-old Day was found in her red Datsun on 20th Street in Greeley, just west of Aims Community College. She had been missing for five days.

     Day, who worked at Aims, was strangled with the belt of her trenchcoat. Her husband, Charles, reported her missing the day after Thanksgiving.

     Weld County sheriff's investigators uncovered evidence of a love triangle, according to police reports. Investigators suspect that Day was having an affair. Day's husband remains the "principal suspect" in the murder, according to sheriff's department reports. However, not enough evidence exists to arrest the suspect. Police say he has moved out of the state and since remarried.

Jose Valentin

Migrant worker Bonilla-Velesquez, age unknown, was found dead in a farm field on July 11, 1982, at Weld County Road 64, just east of U.S. Highway 85. He was shot to death.

      An arrest warrant was issued for a suspect, but no arrest was made. Investigators believe their suspect fled to Mexico.

     Bonilla-Velesquez is one of four Mexicans whose murders remain unsolved in Weld County.

Jacinto Cabello

It was a summer day on Aug. 25, 1983, when investigators discovered the body of the 31-year-old Cabello in a cornfield northwest of Prospect Valley. He was fatally stabbed.

      Arrest warrants were issued for two suspects, but no arrests were made.

Casimiro Trevino Morado

Morado, 29, was found on Oct. 25, 1983, fatally stabbed on Weld County Road 74 at Woods Lake, just west of Eaton.

     A suspect was arrested, but no charges were filed.

Patricia Blanco

Investigators suspect that an unhappy lover was to blame when Blanco, 25, was fatally shot while leaving a Fort Lupton nightclub on the arm of a man on June 4, 1984. Her acquaintance was injured but survived.

      Authorities issued an arrest warrant for a suspect, who is believed to have fled to Mexico. No arrest was made.

Ten of Weld County's unsolved homicides are the result of crimes that likely occurred elsewhere.

     Much evidence was lost when those victims were dumped in Weld County. Hopes have diminished through the years that perpetrators will ever be found.

Marjorie Fithian

     Fithian, a 23-year-old mother, was shot to death in June 1975 on Painter Road near Roggen.

     Authorities found her 18-month-old son, unharmed, at her side. According to investigators, the child's grandmother took over the job of raising the boy. No suspect was ever identified in connection with Fithian's murder.

Sheila Birl

     On Oct. 25, 1979, the body of the 19-year-old Birl was discovered along Interstate 76 near Weld County Road 51. Foul play was suspected. An autopsy on Birl's body failed to provide clues to her death. As a result, her cause of death was recorded as undetermined. No suspects were named.

Yvonne Rabb

     On Nov. 15, 1981, Rabb, 28, was killed in an alley at Five Points in Denver by a shotgun blast to the back of her head. Rabb, with a history of prostitution charges, was driven to a farmer's field near Dacono and discarded.

     According to Weld County sheriff's reports, a "strong suspect" was identified in Rabb's murder, but the case lacked sufficient evidence for a murder charge.

Mario Mendoza

     On Sept. 23, 1986, the badly beaten body of Mendoza was discovered floating in an irrigation canal southeast of Fort Lupton. Mendoza had been beaten about the head with a blunt, dirty instrument like a hoe or shovel. Investigators speculate that Mendoza was likely killed in Brighton or Adams County and floated into Weld County. No suspect was ever identified in the case.

Tracy Ragains

     On July 7, 1989, the body of Ragains, also known as Tracy Disbrow, a 17-year-old stripper from Colorado Springs, was discovered floating in an irrigation canal near Erie. Ragains suffered multiple stab wounds to her chest. No suspect was ever named.

Valerie Gail Meeks

     On July 9, 1991, the badly decomposed body of Meeks, 36, was discovered near a fence-line along Weld County Road 5, just south of Weld County Road 6 near Erie. A plastic sack was secured around Meeks' head and tied to her neck. An autopsy revealed that the Aurora woman died of blunt trauma to her head. She had been killed elsewhere and dumped where she was found.

     According to sheriff's reports, Meeks was a known crack cocaine user and prostitute. Her daughter had reported her missing six days before the body was discovered.

     The Weld Sheriff's Department identified a suspect, but due to lack of evidence, no arrest was made.

Tammy Lynn Cheeks

     On Nov. 14, 1992, a hunter discovered the nude body of Cheeks, 25, in an irrigation ditch near Weld County roads 20 and 51.

     Like Meeks, Cheeks had a plastic bag secured over her head, but no other physical evidence was found. No suspect was named.

     Weld County's unsolved-homicide case files include three victims who remain anonymous.

Three John Does

     Authorities have been unable to identify the bodies. What is known is that John Doe I, found Aug. 12, 1995, was a male in his late teens to early 20s who was shot at least two times in the chest. A farmer found his body in a deep grave near the intersection of Weld County roads 18 and 31. Authorities suspect the victim was killed 18 months to two years prior to discovery of the body.

     John Doe II, as he is called by authorities, was found May 16, 1998, a mile east of Del Camino on Weld County Road 24. The victim, believed to be in his late 20s to early 30s, was a Hispanic male. He was shot numerous times in the head and beaten.

      The remains of John Doe III, believed to be between the ages of 35 and 50,  were discovered Feb. 13, 2000, four miles east of Greeley on the banks of the Cache La Poudre River. Investigators suspect the victim was murdered, but they are not releasing specific information about the cause of death.

Janelle Matthews

     The disappearance of the 12-year-old Matthews on Dec. 20, 1984, has baffled Greeley police for 16 years.

     Matthews, who was adopted, performed in a middle school Christmas concert and was dropped off by friends at her Greeley home at 8:30 p.m. She was never seen again.

      According to authorities who investigated the disappearance, some speculated that Matthews was the victim of a sexual assault, and when she threatened to report the crime, she was murdered, her body burned to ashes.

      Other investigators suspect she was kidnapped and taken somewhere far away.

Tina Sandoval

     Sandoval, 23, of Greeley, disappeared without a trace six days before Christmas 1995. She had filed for divorce and informed her family that she was meeting her estranged husband, John Sandoval, when she finished her night shift at Greeley's North Colorado Medical Center, where she worked as a nurse. She was planning to discuss income taxes with him.

     Authorities know that Tina Sandoval arrived at her apartment shortly after her 7 a.m. shift ended. She changed clothes before heading out to meet her husband.

     Tina Sandoval's mother reported her daughter missing less than 12 hours later. Authorities staked out John Sandoval's home over night and caught John Sandoval as he jumped out a window in the back of the home.

     In his car, police found a muddy bucket and shovel, a flashlight on a rope and a gun with bullets missing.

Gerald Drieling

     Drieling, 40, may have had the unfortunate experience of surprising a burglar at his home at mid-day southwest of Fort Lupton.

      According to the Weld Sheriff's Department, Drieling was shot twice in the back of the head, execution style, with a .45 semi-automatic handgun on Aug. 27, 1986. Authorities have no suspects in the case.

Robert Moody

    Moody, a 57-year-old rural LaSalle resident, was charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of his 55-year-old wife five months prior to his death.

      Moody was free on bond and failed to appear for a court hearing Oct. 23, 1984.

      Officers headed to his residence to find out why he missed court and discovered he had been shot once in the head with a large-caliber weapon. Weld Sheriff's Department reports said his children were identified as suspects, but not enough evidence exists to prosecute.

James Vooris

Vooris, 42, was found by a maid in the Super 8 Motel in Del Camino on Nov. 22, 1996. He was beaten and bludgeoned to death with an undisclosed instrument.

     Authorities suspect Vooris was selling methamphetamines out of his hotel room, and he was robbed and murdered for the drugs.

       Investigators narrowed their list of suspects to a group of individuals living in Longmont, but not enough information exists to prosecute, according to Weld sheriff's reports.

Denise Davenport

     Davenport was a 20-year-old University of Northern Colorado co-ed whose nude body was found floating in the South Platte River on April 20, 1985.

      Due to extensive decomposition, an autopsy was inconclusive as to Davenport's cause of death. However, the suspicious circumstances surrounding her disappearance and the discovery of her body in the river led authorities to suspect foul play.

     Investigators believe the death might have been drug-related, as Davenport had a prior arrest for selling drugs. No suspects have been identified.

Allen and Doris Sorenson

The Sorensons were a friendly Windsor couple who ran Sorenson Jewelers for 25 years on Main Street in Windsor.

     Their lives tragically came to a halt on Halloween night 1984. Allen Sorenson, 79, and his wife, Doris, 66, were confronted either at their jewelry store or at their home five blocks away.

      According to police, the couple was tied up and strangled. Their dog also was killed.

      Yet, no motive was ever established. None of their jewelry at the store or their home was taken. No suspects have been identified.

Humberto Ramirez

     Ramirez, 32, was struck down while crossing U.S. Highway 85 in Evans on July 28, 1998. He died at the scene.

Sheryl Parker

    The life of Sheryl Parker, 41, spanned two counties. She lived and worked in Larimer County. She was murdered in Weld County.

   Parker, the mother of two young girls at the time of her death, was discovered in the St. Vrain River near Del Camino on July 25, 1996. Parker was beaten and died of blunt trauma to the head.

   Authorities have named her husband, whom she was preparing to divorce, as the main suspect.

Marjorie Corbin

    Marjorie Corbin was a grandmother living in an apartment in north Greeley when her body was discovered in December 1981. She was  stabbed once in the chest.

   Authorities suspect that Corbin's killer knew her because her apartment showed no signs of a break-in, and no signs of a struggle. However, no suspects have been identified.