Rick Van Duyn. Guy Morton,
It was a foggy October night about 9:30 with snow pelting the hood of Rick Van Duyn's Evergreen Security vehicle as he drove from the Safeway in Conifer to deposit two bags of cash at a local bank in the Aspen Park Village Center.
A few hours earlier that Sunday in 1986, the 27-year-old security guard had prepared the wood burning stove for a fire in the tiny cabin he shared with his wife, Leigh, on Genesee Mountain. That way when she returned home from work she could light it and stay warm in her bed along with her dogs Sadie and Geno. They were tight that way - doing the extra things couples do when they are deeply in love.
When he arrived at the Village Center, Van Duyn parked his car. He'd been a police officer in another county and hoped to land a job soon with local law enforcement to continue what he believed was his role in life, "to protect and serve."
Inside the former Mountain Valley National Bank, a cleaning woman heard loud noises from outside of the building. When she went to investigate, she found Van Duyn lying dead in the cold white snow. The left side of his head had been shattered by one or more bullets; his blue uniform and the snow beneath him were red with blood. The door of his car was ajar, his gun lay on the ground beside him, the bags of money still rested on the trunk.
A Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy patrolling nearby heard gunshots and pursued a medium-sized pickup that was leaving the area but lost it near the intersection of Highway 285 and North Turkey Creek Road. That's when he got word of the shooting over the radio and turned around to assist.
By the time Van Duyn's father, Russ, escorted law enforcement officials to Leigh's cabin - hard, as it was to find at 3 in the morning - they had imagined a number of possibilities for his death. Everything from a robbery gone badly to an execution-style murder based on hypothetical information he may have known about another crime. But none of the theories would pan out.
The case grew cold when investigators were unable to find the assailants or uncover sufficient information to pursue the case further. Van Duyn would become one of 51 "cold case" files in the criminal investigations division of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office that date back to 1950.
What the Van Duyn family didn't know, at the time of Rick's death, was that another family in Conifer also was wrestling with an unsolved murder.
Howard Morton and his wife, Virginia, who moved to Conifer in 1986, had lost their 18-year-old son, Guy, 11 years earlier. Hunters discovered his remains in the Arizona desert with a broken knife tip near the bones, but a medical examiner eventually incinerated the remains, due to a lack of space at his facilities, before the case could be solved.
In 2001, Morton and Greeley resident Mark Reichert started the nonprofit organization, Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons. Reichert's brother had been murdered in Denver in 2000 and the case remained unsolved. He and Morton met at the Front Range chapter of the Parents of Murdered Children a few months after his brother's death.
College students uncover cold murder casesFamilies of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons has engaged college students in recent years at the University of Colorado in Boulder to uncover the number of cold cases that exist in the state. So far, about 500 cold cases have been identified and Morton believes that figure will easily be more than 1,000 when the study is completed.
Anyone wishing to contact Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons should call 303-934-3690, or visit www.unresolvedhomicides.org
Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........
Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?
"Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight