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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

Investigative intuition

Travis Henry
Daily Times-Call
2001 Times-Call Publishing Co.

   LONGMONT Who is getting away with murder?

   According to a sheriff's investigator, Longmont resident Kevin Elmarr is.

   "There is no doubt in my mind at all that Kevin did it," Sgt. Bob Meals said about the 1987 homicide of 28-year-old Carol Murphy.

   The Longmont woman's naked body was found in Lefthand Canyon by hikers on May 23, 1987, partially hidden under aspen leaves.

   The coroner and investigators later ruled that she died of strangulation after having consensual sex with a male.

   While several individuals were initially considered suspects, the investigation quickly turned to Elmarr, Murphy's ex-husband who was engaged in a custody battle with the victim over their two children.

   According to an arrest affidavit sworn out by Meals in 1989, Murphy was last seen leaving her job at Miniscribe early on May 22, 1987, riding on the back of a custom Goldwing motorcycle driven by Elmarr, who is now 43.

   Murphy allegedly told several co-workers that she was going to the mountains to have sex with Elmarr and that morning several witnesses  observed a male and female pull into a clearing on a motorcycle that matched Elmarr's near where Murphy's body was found, according to the affidavit.

   Police said Elmarr acted "indifferent" at first when told of Murphy's death.

   Elmarr obtained a lawyer before he was ever informed about Murphy's murder and lied to investigators about his whereabouts on May 22, according to the affidavit.

   He told police that he had gone to look for a job on that day, but eventually changed his story when his alibi didn't pan out.

   He later told police that he had given Murphy a ride on the day of her death but "only around the block." He changed his story once again and said that the two went to McDonald's for breakfast, according to the affidavit.

   Elmarr's former attorney in the case, David Harrison, said that although Elmarr was told he was being interviewed by investigators on a "voluntary" basis when he made many of the alleged statements, sheriff's deputies had him locked in a room.

   Harrison said that when he showed up to represent Elmarr, they let him leave.

   "He always indicated to me that he was not involved in her death," Harrison said. "There was nothing I ever saw that indicated he was."

   Harrison said that while investigators combed through Elmarr's trash looking for clues and scoured for evidence, they could never directly implicate Elmarr.

   "They never got to the point where he was arrested or even charged," Harrison said.

   Several attempts to reach Elmarr for comment were unsuccessful.

   Other witnesses told police that Elmarr told them he knew who killed Murphy and that the police were attempting to frame him, according to the affidavit.

   Evidence outlined in the 100-plus page affidavit includes sperm taken from Murphy's body, an undigested pickle found in Murphy's stomach and soil samples taken from Elmarr's motorcycle consistent with soil found in the canyon.

   According to an autopsy report, the existence of the pickle but no other food proved that Murphy didn't eat McDonald's on the morning Elmarr claimed she did, but actually the night before.

   Other facts in the affidavit that Meals believed made the case against Elmarr strong was that his current wife knew details about the murder that were undisclosed and that traces of blood were found on Elmarr's motorcycle's saddle bag and trunk.

   But despite what Meals believed was a case that could be easily tried, the district attorney's office, under the watch of Alex Hunter, declined to sign off on the affidavit saying "probable cause" had not been shown. That is why Elmarr was never arrested for the murder.

   Meals believed the case suffered because of the DA's tendency to take only "100 percent" provable cases to trial.

   "Would this be an easy case to try? No," Meals said. "Would it take some serious talent to try this case? Yes."

   The biggest hole in the case, according to the district attorney's office and police, is the lack of identifiable evidence that links Elmarr directly to the crime scene.

   In 1987, DNA evidentiary procedure was relatively new and the sperm sample taken by police from Elmarr's body was considered at the time too small to get an accurate identification.

   Current District Attorney Mary Keenan said she would be happy to look at the case again and see what "advanced technology" could add to the case.

   "We can do more with limited samples than we used to," Keenan said. "We are always interested in reviewing old cases and see if we can do anything to strengthen it."

   But because the murder was 14 years ago, the preservation of the sperm evidence could be unsuitable for testing, police acknowledge.

   Sheriff George Epp said that unsolved cases are periodically reviewed and he would "absolutely" like to have the district attorney revisit Murphy's murder.

   Meals doesn't consider Murphy's murder "unsolved."

   "It is solved as far as I am concerned," Meals said. "It just needs to be cleared off the books."

   He said he believes there is someone out there who could step forward and provide the extra boost the case needs to go forward.

   "I can't imagine over the course of the last 14 years, Kevin hasn't said something to somebody," Meals said.

    If you have information about this case or any part of the series, call Travis Henry at 303-776-2244, Ext. 326, or e-mail him at thenry@times-call.com.

   

2001 Times-Call Publishing Co.