Weary families hope for clues in old murders
Word of renewed focus on cold-case homicides by the Grand Junction Police Department generated little enthusiasm from one victim’s family, and surprise from another.
“It’s all well and good, and hopefully something will come of it for somebody, but I have no faith it will happen for us,” said New Hampshire resident Rod Haywood, 64. “I’m pretty cynical about the whole thing. After 50 years, you get cynical.”
His sister, Patricia, 18, was found shot in the head on the morning of July 1, 1964, in the alleyway behind 1350 N. 17th St. Rod, his brother, Don, and their father, Bill, moved to Texas after his sister’s murder. Their mother, Florence, separated from their father and she moved to California.
Haywood’s frustration with the police department was documented in a 2011 profile by the Daily Sentinel. Haywood said he was told evidence was “lost” or unavailable in storage when he tried to personally review it at the department. He believes Grand Junction mishandled the investigation from the start and “just kind of let it go.’ “
“Like, ‘Let’s put it on the shelf and maybe people will forget we screwed it up,” Haywood said, later adding, “I’m sure they did the best they could.”
The Daily Sentinel confirmed Patty Haywood’s murder is among the five cold-case homicides actively being worked by a team of eight Grand Junction police detectives, which was made possible by a grant received late last year by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The department is also taking a fresh look at the 1975 murder of Deborah Tomlinson, the 1979 murder of Clyde Peterman and the killings of Gerald Burns and David Levender in 1986 and 1987.
Police Sgt. William Baker said they’ve identified suitable evidence in two of the cases, Peterman’s and Levender’s, to be sent to CBI’s laboratory for DNA testing. Baker did not specify the evidence items, but added detectives are examining evidence kept from the other cases for identical testing.
Tomlinson’s father, Mack rancher Jim Tomlinson, said he learned about the new efforts focused on his daughter’s murder by reading Tuesday’s newspaper. On Dec. 27, 1975, he learned about the killing of his 19-year-old daughter when a Sentinel reporter called the family’s home.
“I’m glad ... maybe we can find something, somewhere,” Tomlinson said of the new effort. “I figured when (former Grand Junction Police Department Cmdr.) Greg Assenmacher passed away, that was kind of the end of it. I was assured it wouldn’t be.”
“Maybe we’ll find out something,” Tomlinson said.