Cold, but not forgotten

They number about 1,500 in Colorado.

Nine of the state’s cold, murder investigations are on or off the shelves at the Grand Junction Police Department, from the 95-year-old retired widower in Riverside, to the Mesa College sophomore co-ed, to the Grand Junction mother whose suspected killer remains at-large, possibly out of the country.

Because new crime often takes priority over old, and budget cuts and staff sizes limit the ability to pursue cold cases, Colorado law enforcement agencies, including the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, increasingly turn to volunteers, many of them retired lawmen, to work cold-case homicides.

For example, in December, a 27-member CBI volunteer team spent a day reviewing and making recommendations in the cold-case murder of 38-year-old Janine Ann Johler, the Aurora woman whose dismembered body was found in an apple orchard west of Glenwood Springs in 2009.

Evidence from the 1975 murder of Deborah Tomlinson in Grand Junction has been in the custody of the CBI’s Grand Junction laboratory for roughly two years and will be shipped to federal authorities for new testing.

The fresh look at the Tomlinson case was borne of the same effort in 2007 by Grand Junction police that resulted in the October 2010 conviction of 66-year-old Jerry Nemnich in the 1975 murders of Linda Benson, 24, and her daughter, Kelley Ketchum, 5.

Such developments, among other reasons, have prompted The Daily Sentinel to revisit a series of cold-case murders, starting with those specific to the Grand Junction Police Department.

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Click on the story links below for details in the cases:

Jose Rivas, 1987

Beatrice Montes, 1993

Denise Oliverson, 1975

Deborah Tomlinson, murdered in 1975

Gerald Burns, 1986

Clyde Peterman, 1979

Patricia Haywood, murdered in 1964

Vernon Muth, 1989

David Lavender, 1987


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