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Murder case solved decades later after cops match DNA from suspect's garbage

Murder case solved decades later after cops match DNA from suspect's garbage

Investigators have solved a murder from 40 years ago thanks to DNA

A murder case which had left police baffled for almost 40 years was solved thanks to a piece of DNA found in the suspect's garbage.

On 6 January, 1982 two women hitchhiking through the town of Breckenridge, Colorado, went missing with their bodies later being found shot to death.

The murder cases of 29-year-old Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer and 21-year-old Annette Schnee were only linked after the discovery of Schnee's body six months after her death, where police found she was wearing an orange sock that had been a Christmas present from her mother.

The other sock had been found near Oberholtzer's body, which had been discovered on 7 January, alerting police that the two murder cases were connected.

A DNA breakthrough led to police being able to close the 40-year-old case.
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

However, police couldn't find the killer for 40 years and in a tragic twist of fate, it turns out that officers had actually rescued him on the day of the murders.

It would take years of advances in DNA technology for the culprit to be found and the full truth uncovered.

The major breakthrough in the case occurred after advances in DNA meant the investigation was finally able to identify a suspect.

DNA from a bloody glove belonging to Oberholtzer, which had been found by her husband while searching for his missing wife, proved crucial.

According to a statement from Colorado District Attorney's Council, the Schnee family hired an investigator who worked with forensic science company United Data Connect.

They were able to use the DNA from the bloody glove to narrow down the list of suspects to two brothers, only one of which lived in Colorado.

The DNA led them to former miner Alan Lee Phillips and investigators compared the DNA from the bloody glove with that some they found on fast food packaging in Phillips' garbage.

DNA from the garbage matched with the evidence and further tests confirmed the link, leading to Phillips being arrested in early 2021.

The 71-year-old was convicted in September and given two consecutive life sentences in prison.

And according to CBS, police had actually rescued the killer just a few hours after he committed the murders.

News of Alan Phillips being rescued from the snow was right next to the discovery of one of his victims.
Park County Sheriff's Office

Phillips had got his truck stuck in a snowdrift after murdering the two women and used his vehicle headlights to signal 'SOS' in Morse code.

The signal had been spotted by a sheriff who was in a commercial plane flying over the area, who then alerted the authorities and a rescue mission was launched.

When his truck was pulled out of the snowdrift a wound was spotted on the miner's face, which he claimed had been caused by falling down in the snow.

However, police now believe the injury had been caused by a brass keyring Oberholtzer's husband had made for her as a weapon in case she ever got into trouble while hitchhiking.

A lawyer for Phillips said his client claimed he was innocent of murder and that he had been wrongfully convicted.

Featured Image Credit: Colorado District Attorneys Council/Schnee Family

Topics: US News, News, Crime