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A series examining nearly 100 unsolved murders in the region

About this series
   There are nearly 100 unsolved murders on the books in the northern Front Range counties of Boulder, Larimer, Weld and Adams.
   This series will examine many facets of these cases the lingering pain of victims' families who wait for justice, the frustration of police who continue to look for the killers and the absence of a centralized clearinghouse to assist law enforcement in solving homicides.
   The series, which will continue through Feb. 28, also will look at why homicides are being solved at a lower rate each year in spite of a downturn in the number of killings and will examine what can be done to help find the killers among us.

Special series seeks justice, change
   There is no greater sin than murder; no crime that pleads so loudly for justice.
   But far too often, those cries are not heard.
   Today, the Daily Times-Call begins a special investigation: " Unsolved : Who's Getting Away With Murder ?" Over the next several weeks, our stories will look at some of the nearly 100 unsolved murders in Boulder, Larimer, Weld and Adams counties.
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Escaping justice
   LONGMONT Who's getting away with murder?
   Last year, in Colorado alone,  about 80 people did just that.
   Nationally, more than a third of all murders are routinely escaping justice.
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Shared concern
   DENVER   Homicides are inherently difficult to solve and prosecute.
   Even the most remorseful offenders are unlikely to confess to a crime that  will either put them in jail for life or subject them to lethal injection.
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CBI covers Colorado
   DENVER While a majority of its population lives along the Front Range, much of Colorado remains rural.
  When major crimes hit smaller towns and cities, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation becomes the glue that holds the state's law-enforcement community together and provides resources otherwise unavailable.
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Lasting Legacy
   LONGMONT In 1996 Boulder County came under a national spotlight that was neither welcome nor flattering.
    The murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey brought talk-show ridicule to Boulder police, who admitted moving the child's body and who allowed dozens of people to taint the crime scene.
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Sealed in history
   LONGMONT Unsolved homicides are not just a modern phenomenon.
   In fact, it is impossible to determine how many murders went unsolved in the days before forensic science, sophisticated police record keeping and instant communication.
   One of Boulder County's first high-profile murders the Dec. 9, 1915, slaying of prominent Longmont citizen W.H. Dickens remains unsolved after 85 years.
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One that got away
   BOULDER They had him in custody 18 years ago, but let him go. Now, they're looking for him again.
    Boulder police say they have compelling evidence that links 41-year-old Thayne Smika to the 1983 shooting death of his  22-year-old onetime roommate, Sid Wells.
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Negative notoriety
   BOULDER  None of Boulder County's unsolved homicides has received more attention than the Christmas-night 1996 slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.
After more than four years of expensive investigation along with myriad fights between police and prosecutors, police resignations and civil suits not much has changed.
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Outside help
   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.
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Waiting behind bars
   LONGMONT Almost two years have passed since Bernadine Frost was strangled to death.
   Her killer is still out there somewhere. The police's prime suspect, however, is in jail for the time being.
   The 30-year-old Longmont woman's body was found April 22, 1999, in a walkway between apartment buildings at 1303 and 1309 Coffman St.
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Police have suspect, problem in 1998 Trostle slaying
   LONGMONT It's still unsolved, but Longmont police think they know who did it.
   The only problem: The suspect died a year ago.
   James Colomac Jr. was the prime suspect in the murder of 59-year-old Gerald Trostle in April 1998.
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Quiet case
 "It's been dead."
   So say Boulder police about the unsolved homicide of 48-year-old Marty Grisham, who was fatally shot as he opened the door of his Boulder apartment Nov. 1, 1994.
   No one saw anything.
   That fact is surprising to police Cmdr. Joe Pelle, who believes someone should have heard or seen something.
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Garrett murder remains 'on and off' investigation
   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.
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Family holiday turned deadly for
state trooper
   LAFAYETTE  Tom Carpenter spent the snowy Christmas of 1973 in Grand Junction, celebrating the holiday with his family.
    Carpenter's family, however, did not celebrate the New Year together.
   Phyllis Carpenter and her three children spent New Year's Eve in Longmont, attending a memorial service for their husband and father.
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'Net gains
   DENVER In recent years the public has become an active participant in the identification and apprehension of murder suspects.
   The Crimestoppers program which began in Albuquerque, N.M., nearly 20 years ago opened the door to public participation in the criminal justice system by offering rewards to anonymous callers who help solve crimes.
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Tragic secrets
    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.
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Without a trace
   GREELEY A 23-year-old Greeley woman feared her estranged husband, and told her best friend that she was afraid he might kill her.
   That was a few days before Kristina "Tina" Tournai Sandoval vanished.
   Five years later, Weld County District Attorney Al Dominguez says there is simply not enough evidence to prosecute John Sandoval for his wife's murder.
   Tina remains a name and a face catalogued in Weld County's missing-persons files.
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Mayo was found riddled with bullets
   GREELEY The most recent unsolved homicide to touch the lives of Weld County investigators is that of 40-year-old Steven Craig Mayo of rural Fort Lupton.
   Mayo, the father of two young children, was found Dec. 19, 2000, at his home on the corner of Weld County roads 18 and 25. His body was riddled with bullets, and numerous bullet holes dotted the walls of his home, according to Weld Sheriff's investigators.
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Missing pieces
   EL CAMINO Sheryl "Sherry" Hahn Parker was a mother of two teen-age girls, a payroll clerk for Larimer County and a wife.
  Now she's a statistic one of the worst kinds of statistics: She was murdered and her  killer remains free.
 The 41-year-old Parker was reported missing July 18, 1996.
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Sister's Quest
   MEAD The 1964 Chevrolet Super Sport is long gone, probably stripped years ago in a junkyard somewhere.
   Many of the people who lived in town back then are gone, too, having died or moved away.
   Even the tree itself has disappeared, torn down to make room for a parking lot at Mead Elementary School.
   All that remains from that day in 1968 are two sheets of paper listing the particulars of the death of 18-year-old Leroy Drieth.
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Internet boom has opened door for cybersleuths
     DENVER While law enforcement agencies increasingly utilize the Internet to help solve murders by putting up Web pages detailing unsolved cases, the general public is already there.
      The True Crime magazines and pulp-fiction crime stories have gone the way of rotary phones and typewriters, but amateur sleuths have more than made up for their absence.
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Familiar scenery
   Snow-capped mountains, rolling foothills and winding flatland pastures that run from just south of Berthoud to the Wyoming border make up Larimer County.
   Like any other Colorado county, it is not immune to homicides.
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Dog track regular had habit
of picking up hitchhikers
   LONGMONT Dairy salesman James H. Stribling changed jobs in the spring of 1960, moving from his room at the Carlton Hotel in Longmont to Loveland.
     Stribling, 59, loved dog racing, and his address change did little to change his passion for the running of the greyhounds. In fact, he visited Cloverleaf Greyhound Park frequently enough that many of the window clerks and security guards knew him by name.
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Teen-age tragedy
   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.
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Officer's doggedness made him unpopular in Jungles
     FORT COLLINS To police officers, perhaps no murder is worse than the killing of another officer.
    Police departments routinely leave no stone unturned when investigating the killing of one of their own.
     But when rookie Fort Collins Officer Joseph Allen was savagely beaten to death while on duty, his fellow officers could not find his killer.
    And they never will.
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Arson behind several of Adams County's unsolved homicides
   THORNTON Two arsons separated by 15 years account for eight of Adams County's 21 unsolved homicides.
   But police say they are optimistic they can solve one of those arsons the 1997 La Hacienda motel fire that killed five people as they slept away a cold January night.
   "We still feel strongly we can make this case," said Steve Pischke, who has headed the North Metro Fire and Rescue's portion of the probe since its inception.
   "It's still an ongoing, open investigation."
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Investigative intuition
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.
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State, nation need to share murder data
     During the past month, the Daily Times-Call has published the results of a year-long analysis of almost 100 unsolved homicides in Boulder, Larimer, Weld and Adams counties.  Some of these murders date back to the early 1900s, but many occurred in the closing decades of the last century some almost up to the present day.
     These unsolved murders have left psychological scars upon surviving family members, friends and the people of Northern Colorado.
     What can be done?
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  "Unsolved: Who's Getting Away With Murder?" is the result of more than a year of research, investigation and interviews. The Daily Times-Call reporting team included B.J. Plasket, Vickie Taylor, Amanda Arthur and DeeDee Correll, with research by Amy Munger. The project was directed by Editor Dean Lehman, Managing Editor Curt Anderson, Region Editor Morris Dinges and City Editor Pat Ferrier. Design Director Brian Clark has coordinated the presentation, and photographer Jeff Haller produced new pictures to illustrate several of the segments.

If you have relevant information about any of the unsolved murders we're covering here, you can contact these law enforcement agencies:

  • Boulder County Crime Stoppers  303-440-7867
  • Longmont Police Dept.  303-651-8533
  • Boulder Police Dept.  303-441-3300
  • Greeley Police Dept.  970-350-9665
  • Loveland Police Dept.  970-962-2212
  • Fort Collins Police Dept.  970-221-6540
  • Brighton Police Dept.  303-659-3322
  • Boulder County Sheriff  303-441-3600
  • Weld County Sheriff  970-356-4015
  • Adams County Sheriff  303-659-6400
  • Larimer County Sheriff  970-498-5100

If you have comments or information regarding this series, you can send us an e-mail at