Patricia Haywood’s murder still haunts GJPD
Rod Haywood speaks of two lives lived, separated by a few hours in 1964.
He remembers standing in the driveway of the family’s former home at 1225 N. 16th St., eager to head out on his motor scooter July 1, but being interrupted by his parents pulling up the driveway in the back seat of a Grand Junction police patrol car.
His late mother, Florence, told him he fainted at the news. Rod can’t recall.
Over the following days Bill and Florence Haywood, separated pending a possible divorce, would be hospitalized or sedated from the events of July 1, 1964.
“There was June 30 and July 1, and it’s just that simple,” said Rod Haywood, one of two brothers of murder victim Patricia Haywood, 18, whose case haunts the Grand Junction Police Department after almost 47 years.
“The night she was killed, really, he killed the rest of the family,” Rod Haywood said.
Patricia Haywood was found shot in the head shortly after 9 a.m. July 1 in the alleyway to the rear of 1350 N. 17th St. Her underclothing and shorts were torn down to her ankles, a yellow blouse had been pushed up around her neck. No evidence of sexual assault was recovered from the scene, said Police Cmdr. Mike Nordine, head of the agency’s investigations division.
Several neighbors who heard possible gunshots that night told police they dismissed the sounds as premature July 4 firecrackers.
Authorities believe Haywood was walking to her mother’s nearby apartment at 1827 Bunting Ave. after a night out with a friend.
‘I might get jumped’
Shy with a penchant for laughs, Patricia Haywood graduated from Grand Junction High School the previous spring and planned to attend Mesa College in the fall for business classes. She dreamed of marrying and raising children and had a name for a daughter picked out, Shawntel.
Haywood and Rojean Chaparro, best friends since the fifth grade, often took walks to buy candy at a grocery store formerly located on 15th Street. Patty sometimes teased the clerk, Chaparro said.
“She was a character in her own quiet little way,” said Chaparro, 64. “She was very double-jointed and would walk up to the teacher’s desk, popping her arms. It freaked the teacher out. We thought it was funny.”
The Haywoods were together for the last time the night of June 30, eating out for dinner when Rod Haywood said his sister asked permission to take her father’s new Pontiac Catalina later that night.
Haywood and Chaparro took in a “boring” movie at the former Rocket Drive-in on North Avenue and left around 10:30 p.m., mindful of a midnight curfew imposed by Chaparro’s father.
They cruised North Avenue, before eventually stopping at a coffee shop. Haywood reportedly dropped off Chaparro at the Chaparro home at 2429 Orchard Ave, around 12:15 a.m., according to a Daily Sentinel account published in July 1964. While Bill Haywood lived with his sons at the time at 1225 N. 16th St., his wife had recently moved into a small apartment at 1827 Bunting Ave. Patty lived with her mother.
“She said, ‘I need to get the keys back to dad,’ but I told her just to get up in the morning and take them over there,” Chaparro said.
They laughed together when Patty said, “I’d walk, but I’m afraid I might get jumped.”
Authorities believe Haywood made it to 1225 N. 16th St. because the Catalina was parked July 1 in the driveway, its keys on a bookcase inside the home.
Five days after Haywood’s body was found, police said they had reports from 125 individuals and were conferring with authorities about other murders in the region. A man was killed June 30 near Green River along with another man over the July 4 weekend in Rangely, according to a Daily Sentinel account. Both were shot with small-caliber handguns, similar to the .25-caliber handgun police believe was used in Haywood’s murder.
Within weeks, all four members of the Haywood family underwent polygraph examinations, as did Chaparro.
Shortly after Chaparro’s 18th birthday in August, detectives showed up at her home and told her mother they would be taking her daughter in for questioning.
“They put me in this room, and this detective says, ‘You’re not leaving until you tell us who did this (Haywood’s murder) ... we’re certain you know who did this.”
When Chaparro’s father caught wind of the questioning, he drove to the Police Department.
“I don’t know what he said to them, but they let me go,” Chaparro said.
“You trust the Police Department,” she said. “Because they were so focused on us kids, I think they dropped the ball and didn’t do a big enough investigation.”
Six years after Haywood’s murder, with the Haywood family long gone from Grand Junction, a woman who lived at the former Haywood home at 1225 N. 16th St. recovered several pieces of nylon stocking wrapped in black electrical tape, which were stuffed in two liquor bottles. The bottles protruded from the ground near the home’s crawl space.
“We have not been able to tie that to anything,” Nordine said.
Police in March 1965 announced what remains the largest break in the case. Roughly 30 hours after Haywood’s murder, Irving Merle Shields, 40, was found slumped over in his parked car, shot three times in the head, in Placerville, Calif.
Comparing bullets from the two crime scenes, the California State Crime Laboratory concluded the slugs were fired from the same gun.
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Bryan Golmitz said Shields’ murder remains unsolved, and he acknowledged the agency was in contact with Grand Junction police as recently as the past few months.
“We sent copies of our reports to them, at their request,” Golmitz said, adding he is unaware of the specific nature of the reports.
Ballistics are still Grand Junction’s best and possibly only hope to solve Haywood’s murder, Nordine said.
While testable biological evidence breathed new life into the 1975 murders of Linda Benson, 24, Kelley Ketchum, 5, and Deborah Tomlinson, 19, when detectives reopened those cases in 2007, the hope isn’t shared in Haywood’s case.
Nordine said a recent “cursory” examination of evidence in the Haywood investigation showed no discrepancies between written reports in the case and the physical evidence on hand and in storage after almost 47 years.
“With a lack of biological evidence, it’s much more difficult for us to reach back in time and solve something like this,” Nordine said. “But there’s always the possibility that someone who didn’t talk to us in the past is holding a secret that could solve it.”
‘Sick, sad and lonely’
Rod Haywood, 61, holds little hope his sister’s killer ever will be known.
“I never had a great deal of faith the Grand Junction Police Department was on top of it,” said Haywood , now a New Hampshire resident.
Still fresh in his mind is sitting strapped to a polygraph machine at age 15, under questioning in his sister’s murder and shifting in the seat because the machine’s upper-arm band cut off blood flow.
“This detective asked me, ‘Why are you squirming around?’” Rod Haywood said.
The thought of it now elicits the response, “Are you kidding me?” And he acknowledges, “Yeah, I’m a little bitter.”
The family split, his mother bound for California, while Bill Haywood and sons were on the road to Austin, Texas.
“It’s just beyond comprehension to have everything going for you at one point, then you’re in Texas in August with no air conditioning,” he said. “I hated everything. My parents wouldn’t talk.”
Chaparro, meanwhile, stayed in touch with Florence, who took a job at a college while living in Santa Cruz. In September 1964, she mailed a scrap of dress fabric to Chaparro, writing on one side, “sick, sad and lonely.”
In Austin, Rod Haywood said his father took to sitting in the dark in the family’s new home, chain-smoking.