Bundy DNA is unlikely to clear GJ cold case

Accused murderer Theodore Bundy leans back in his chair and examines the various members of the media present in the courtroom as trial judge Edward Cowart outlined procedures the press would adhere to at the upcoming trial, Thursday, April 26, 1979, in Tallahassee, Fla.

In spring 1975, serial killer Theodore “Ted” Bundy came to town.

Authorities know he bought gas, as evidenced by a credit card receipt with his signature, showing a purchase at a now-defunct convenience store in downtown Grand Junction.

While the Grand Junction Police Department long has suspected Bundy was responsible for the disappearance of 24-year-old Denise Oliverson on April 6, 1975, they’ve never been able to close what is still listed by the department as an unsolved homicide.

Department leaders this week said that likely won’t change, despite the recent development of what is believed to be the first full DNA profile for Bundy, who was responsible for the murders of at least 30 women and is suspected in more.

“We are not blessed with a plethora of good or even bad physical evidence that might increase the long odds that a DNA match would or could be made,” Deputy Grand Junction Police Chief John Zen said of Oliverson’s case.

Bundy’s DNA was expected to be uploaded Friday to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), raising hope for law enforcement agencies that some unsolved homicides could soon be solved, the Associated Press reported this week.

The profile was developed from a vial of Bundy’s blood discovered at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department in Florida.

The blood was reportedly drawn from Bundy in 1978 when he was arrested in a connection with the death of a 12-year-old girl in Columbia County.

The DNA development means police nationwide can test biological evidence from unknown persons found at crime scenes against Bundy’s DNA, now among the millions of felon profiles stored in CODIS.

“I’m surprised it took this long to surface,” said Larry Bullard, a retired local law enforcement officer who studied Bundy’s slayings and assisted Grand Junction police in 2007 when they reopened a series of cold-case murders.

“You just might get a case closure out of it,” Bullard said.

He doubts any of those cases will come from Mesa County.

Before his execution in Florida in 1989, Bundy confessed he had dumped a body in a river outside of Grand Junction, but he offered no other details when pressed.

Police believe Oliverson left her home at 1619 LaVeta St. for a bicycle ride the afternoon of April 6, 1975. The bicycle along with her sandals were found the next day under the Fifth Street bridge near railroad tracks. Oliverson never was found, and police have said they have no information suggesting she left the area on her own.

Thirty-six years later, Oliverson’s sandals are the lone piece of evidence on hand at the department, according to Zen.

Once eyed for involvement in the December 1975 slaying of 19-year-old Deborah Tomlinson at a Grand Junction apartment, Bundy eventually was ruled out after authorities learned he was jailed elsewhere at the time of the murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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