Our cards this week are Stuart Simmons and Margaret Walden,
the Ace of Diamonds and the Ace of Hearts from Colorado.
With the help from the lead detective,
I’m gonna tell you the bizarre tale about these two people
who were murdered in the 80s
and went unidentified for almost 30 years.
And now, law enforcement needs your help to find their killer.
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
On September 19th, 1982, a rancher working his land
near the San Juan River on the border of northern New Mexico
and southern Colorado was out looking for a flock of geese
on his property when he saw what he thought was a dummy
on an island in the river.
The rancher’s name was Frank Chavez,
and he was riding his horse,
so he went down to the river’s edge to get a closer look.
When he got close and hopped off his horse,
he saw that it was actually a woman’s body.
According to reporting by the Pagosa Springs Sun newspaper,
initial reports described the woman as a 30-year-old white female,
5'5", with brown hair and a medium build.
She was wearing Wrangler blue jeans, a blue quilted jacket,
a purple halter top, a gold heart necklace,
and a horn-shaped pendant.
Frank immediately rode back to his house and called 911.
When officers arrived,
they realized they had a jurisdictional issue on their hands.
No one could tell for sure if the body was in New Mexico or Colorado,
because that area of the San Juan River could be in either state
depending on where you’re standing.
But they ultimately decided the woman’s body was a few yards
over the New Mexico state line,
so it was taken there for autopsy.
The New Mexico office of the medical investigator
ruled it homicide by strangulation,
but there was no ID with her to help them identify the woman.
From the autopsy report,
investigators learned that she was partially decomposed
and still had some skin and clothing on her.
When they searched her pockets,
they found a piece of paper with a woman’s name
and a Farmington, New Mexico phone number written on it.
Unfortunately, when police called the number,
the lady who answered couldn’t provide them
with any information about the woman they had found.
She also couldn’t recall any reason that her name and phone number
would end up in a dead woman’s pocket.
According to all of the research material we could find,
this woman from Farmington was cleared as a suspect pretty quickly.
Authorities sent out the usual bulletin
with the Jane Doe’s information on it to drum up leads,
but not much came in.
Then, a month later, on October 22nd, 1982,
a family walking the northern bank of the San Juan River
near Pagosa Springs, Colorado found another body,
this time a man’s, and it was badly decomposing.
He was about a mile further down the river
from where Jane Doe had been discovered a few weeks before.
He was fully clothed, wearing corduroy pants,
Converse tennis shoes, and a t-shirt with the words
Lazy B. Guest Ranch written on the front breast pocket.
The man was classified as a John Doe because he also had no ID on him.
The only thing investigators could try and use as a clue
was the writing on his shirt.
The man’s autopsy revealed he’d also been murdered,
but not the same way as Jane Doe.
John Doe was shot with .22 caliber bullets.
The medical examiner determined that his ribs
were likely broken before he was shot,
indicating he might’ve been in a fight shortly before his death.
Right away, police wondered if the murders were connected,
but it wasn’t until they released sketches
and started interviewing people around town
that they got their confirmation.
Some locals told police that they’d seen a man and a woman together
at bars and restaurants in the area,
but nobody knew their names.
Because of state-line jurisdictional issues,
any hope to find out who Jane and John Doe were
or who killed them was bleak.
Investigators did some more interviews and filed them away,
but a crime scene was never established.
Because of their location, though,
police figured the bodies were tossed off the nearby Caracas Bridge.
Not much evidence was collected,
and the bodies ended up being buried
in separate unmarked plots in New Mexico graveyards.
Back then, at least in New Mexico,
unidentified murder victims got buried,
but there wasn’t much fanfare to their funerals.
They usually just got buried in the cheapest way possible
due to the absence of family or loved ones
showing up to claim them.
Decades passed, and the John and Jane Doe’s cases went cold.
That is, until 2008, when in Pagosa Springs, Colorado,
a retired drug enforcement agent named George Barter
was considering getting back into detective work.
George had heard stories about the bodies
that were found in the San Juan River decades before,
and he wanted to take a crack at solving the case.
I got sort of, I don’t know if it was obsessed,
but I’d lay awake at night
thinking about these two kids under the bridge
and thinking about how to walk into the sheriff’s office
and say, hey, I want to work on this.
As luck would have it, George’s wife, Jennifer,
got a job as an office manager
at the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Department.
And after advising the department on some drug raid cases,
George got recertified as a law enforcement officer
and agreed to become the sheriff’s second detective
on one condition.
And I says, all right, but I want to work on the Cole case.
And he’s like, what Cole case?
George didn’t realize just how little work had been done
on the 1982 John and Jane Doe case
that was 26 years old by that point.
We started hunting around for this Cole case,
and they couldn’t find anything.
They couldn’t find a file.
They looked in their archives.
They looked in the basement in old boxes.
They looked in the storage room
that they couldn’t find anywhere.
George took on new murder cases and another Cole case
while he kept looking around for some sort of file
on the San Juan River Jane and John Doe.
And then one day, thanks to his wife,
he caught a lucky break.
There was an old office that had been unused.
It had been the patrol captain’s office,
and they were cleaning it out to make it into a file room.
And in the back of a cabinet there
they were going to haul off was a little brown folder.
And my wife ran into the office,
in my detective office, with this folder and says,
is this what you’re looking for?
And it’s tiny, you know?
But it was about that case,
and it gave me a really good start.
Inside the folder were initial scene reports
for both Jane and John Doe,
which included their initial autopsy reports from New Mexico
and some interviews with witnesses.
It was the beginning of how complicated this thing became.
George got in touch with a technician
at the New Mexico office of the medical investigator.
And luckily, they kept records that old.
The investigator sent George the full autopsy files.
But when he asked about the possibility
of doing new DNA testing to try and identify the victims,
the lab tech had some unexpected news.
The remains of John and Jane Doe had been buried
in unmarked graves in the 80s,
and their skulls were in a museum.
Now, if you think the fact that their bodies were buried,
but their skulls weren’t sounds weird,
that’s because it is.
And I’m like, why?
And he says, well, it turns out while we had the skulls
and we’re trying to do facial reconstructions,
they buried the remains of the two bodies.
And we didn’t really want to dig them up.
So we archived the skulls
with other historic bones found in New Mexico.
And I asked him, would you go get them?
And he went and got them.
And so I said, well, this is pretty cool.
Can we do two things,
have new facial reconstructions done
and submit them for DNA?
He says, I’ll take care of that.
While George was holding out hope
for science to do its thing with DNA,
he got busy investigating.
Knowing he might get DNA hits on the skulls
gave him new motivation.
After going back through the old reports,
he pieced together information
about a bus being the possible crime scene.
And thanks to media attention about him reopening the case,
he got a new tip about a fight
that actually went down at that bus.
So George developed a pretty good idea
of where he believed John and Jane Doe had been murdered.
I find out where I think,
where we believe the crime scene was.
It was in a bus, actually, in New Mexico.
And I had looked all over down there for it.
I didn’t really know where it was.
I’d driven down there hours, days, you know,
trying to find where this thing was.
That area of New Mexico and Colorado
is rural and vast.
There’s more forest and reservation land
than anything, and populated towns and cities
are few and far between.
But George and a New Mexico state police officer
eventually found the bus.
It had been abandoned
and was sitting in a field in New Mexico
for what locals told them had been nearly three decades.
So based on what George had put together,
he really thought that this was the initial crime scene.
So he applied for and got a search warrant.
When he finally got inside, though,
the bus was a mess.
Back there where the stove was knocked over,
there was still some bricks.
The stove might have gone on.
We find blood, what we think is blood.
George and the state investigator did a field test
on the area of carpet inside the bus
that had the dark stain on it,
and it came back positive for blood.
They also found four spent .22 caliber cartridge casings
in the bus.
So knowing that John Doe was killed with a .22,
they backed up the shell casings as evidence.
And for the first time in 28 years,
the San Juan River John and Jane Doe double homicide
had some physical evidence.
The only problem was George had a really hard time
finding a crime lab in Colorado
that would actually test the evidence.
Well, that ends up being a mess
because of the hantavirus.
CBI laboratories were like,
we ain’t touching that hantavirus.
You don’t bring that in our laboratory.
It takes us months to get someone
to take the stuff and process it.
Because the bus had sat abandoned in a field for so long,
its only residents had been mice.
And in that part of the West,
hantavirus, a disease that’s spread by rodents,
is a real concern.
George and other investigators even wore Tyvek suits
to execute the search warrant,
anticipating the virus might be present.
So that seriously delayed the new pieces of evidence
But finally, an FBI lab agreed to do it.
When the results came in,
the lab told George that the blood
was most definitely human blood.
But any further testing beyond that
was impossible because it was too old.
But the shell casings?
They came back as a likely match to the bullets
that had been found in John Doe during his autopsy.
George felt good about the progress of the case,
but then he got some not-so-good news.
The victims’ skulls weren’t producing any DNA results.
I think we submitted their skulls three times.
And when it finally came back the third time from the FBI,
they said, you know,
we don’t think we’ll ever get any DNA from these skulls.
Because of how facial reconstruction was done
in the 80s and because the skulls
were in a museum all those years,
it’s likely that they had been boiled, George said.
So there was no DNA left on them.
That meant George needed to get access
to the rest of Jane and John Doe’s remains
if there was going to be any hope
of figuring out who they were.
George got a court order to do an exhumation
of John Doe first.
And thanks to detailed autopsy records,
they sort of knew where to look.
But actually finding the right grave
proved to be challenging.
They said he’s the 11th grave
from the southeast corner of the county graveyard.
So the county graveyard’s in the back
of a commercial graveyard.
It’s just sand, tumbleweeds, grass.
The markers are basically a brick
with a John Doe or Jane Doe on it.
Cemetery workers said they preferred
to do the actual digging because they had a backhoe
that would be able to get the first few layers up.
After that, investigators did the last little bit
of digging by hand with shovels
until they finally brought up a body bag.
But there was a problem.
They opened the body bag and I’m going,
well, that’s not him.
No way, that’s not our John Doe.
And everybody’s arguing with me, you know,
like the cemetery, no, this is the 11th grave.
This is where it passed.
And I said, no, I can tell you why,
because there’s a skull in this bag.
And we have the skulls.
They’re not with the body.
George said they had to get another court order.
Because they dug up two more of the wrong John Does.
They’re like going to quit.
They’ll say, well, he must not be here.
And I’m going, leave me a shovel, go away.
I’ve got an order from my person.
I will dig him up myself if you’re going to quit.
And so they said, OK, we’ll do one more
and then we’re quitting.
So they went the other direction
from the direction they’d been going closer to the wall.
And that was John Doe.
They’d finally found him.
And they were sure of it
because the body bag had the correct markings
from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator
and the skull of the corpse was missing.
George sent off the bones for DNA testing.
And finally, in February 2014,
nearly 32 years after this man was murdered,
they found out his name.
John Doe was a 20-year-old sailor
who’d gone AWOL from the U.S. Navy.
His name was Stuart Eric Simmons.
I had spent hours and hours and hours on these websites
trying to find victims to go with my unidentifieds,
you know, missing people.
And his name never came up.
It never came up.
There was an interesting reason why his name had never come up.
And it wasn’t for a lack of trying on Stuart’s family’s part.
Back on June 7th, 1982,
in the North Atlanta suburb of Roswell, Georgia,
Joanne Simmons was home feeling a little anxious
because she had just gotten a call
from her 20-year-old son, Stuart,
who was at a U.S. Navy base in San Diego, California.
He’d hung up but told her he’d call right back.
But the minutes were dragging on and he wasn’t calling.
Those minutes turned into hours
and Joanne was now reaching her breaking point.
Stuart had called home to let his mom know
that he was on his way to the court marshal’s office
to find out what his punishment was gonna be
for getting into a little trouble with the Navy
a few months earlier.
After he completed boot camp in Chicago,
he took someone’s car for a joyride and ended up in jail.
That arrest made him unable to report to his base in San Diego on time.
Charges against him for taking the car ended up being dropped
and the Navy gave him another chance.
But he still had to be punished for the delay
and being what the Navy considered AWOL.
Through the grapevine,
Stuart heard that his sentence would be minimal
and he assured his mom she had nothing to worry about.
If there was one thing Joanne knew Stuart was consistent on,
it was that he always kept his word about staying in touch.
He constantly called home and wrote letters.
Despite being stationed more than 2,000 miles from Roswell,
the whole Simmons family, Joanne, her husband, Bill, Stuart,
and their two daughters,
who were just one in two years younger than Stuart,
were all really close.
When Joanne couldn’t stand waiting anymore,
she finally called the base back,
hoping to talk to Stuart
or at least find out what his sentence was.
She thought maybe the sentence
hadn’t been as lenient as Stuart thought.
Maybe the Navy had tossed him in jail on the base
and he didn’t have access to a phone.
After several attempts to try and reach someone with information,
Joanne got a hold of the officer assigned to Stuart’s case.
And when he answered,
he was not happy to hear from Joanne.
Joanne told our team
that the man immediately started screaming at her,
saying that the jailer had given Stuart permission
to move his motorcycle
and they had not seen him since.
They refused to discuss anything else with her and hung up.
That’s when Joanne became frantic,
trying to make sense of what she just heard.
Stuart was a good kid for the most part
and was pretty responsible.
She told us there were times
that he could be impulsive though
due to a head injury he suffered when he was four years old.
You see, he fell and hit his head
at a home construction site in their neighborhood
while his grandma was babysitting.
Joanne had been at the store
and when she came home,
there were ambulances there.
At first, doctors weren’t sure he would survive.
He bounced back,
but there was a part of bone stuck in a way
the doctor said was too dangerous to remove
and it could affect his functioning skills.
The Simmons family was relieved
when little four-year-old Stuart
seemed to be himself after recovering from the injury.
He seemed like the same nice little boy
that everyone loved.
His sweet demeanor remained throughout adolescence,
but his parents noticed
that Stuart would make impulsive decisions
without weighing the consequences.
He would understand the effects of his actions,
but only after he decided to do something.
Joanne said this trait followed Stuart into adulthood
and it’s why he had made some bad decisions after boot camp.
Joanne called the base the day after she was hung up on
to try and file a missing persons report for Stuart,
but they told her that they wouldn’t take a report
because at that point,
Stuart was considered a fugitive,
not a missing person.
Joanne said she begged them to be more understanding
and to try and help her,
but the office refused.
The entire day went by after that phone call
and Joanne had still not heard from her son.
As a last ditch effort,
she tried filing a missing persons report
with her local authorities in Fulton County, Georgia,
but because Stuart was an adult
who took off on his own in a different state,
the sheriff’s department said
that they couldn’t help her either.
Joanne felt completely helpless.
She and Bill kept hoping their son
would just call or walk through the front door,
but days and weeks went by and he never did.
Joanne said she felt like she might lose her mind,
like there was nothing at all she could do
to make sure her son was safe,
and she was especially worried
because of Stuart’s old head injury.
Because he’d taken off with no explanation
and had not called home,
Joanne worried that maybe he was suffering from amnesia,
like maybe he couldn’t remember their home phone number
or where they lived.
She grappled daily with the thought of her son
out there alone somewhere, lost and confused.
What was especially frustrating for their family
in those first few days
was knowing there wasn’t anyone looking for Stuart.
No law enforcement agency
would let Joanne file a missing persons report,
so there was no investigation going on
or any kind of search or any rescue effort underway.
Joanne had finally had enough
and decided to take matters into her own hands.
She and Bill hired a private investigator
the same week Stuart disappeared,
and that guy tracked down
and interviewed Stuart’s friends in California,
but she told us the PI was stonewalled
by the Navy and wasn’t able to turn up
much new or helpful information.
One night, a few months after Stuart vanished,
Joanne and Bill were watching TV
and they saw an episode of America’s Most Wanted.
The story on their screen
talked about an unidentified skull
that had been found in North Carolina.
Joanne figured it couldn’t hurt
to call and get more information.
I mean, they did have family in the Carolinas
and Georgia isn’t too far away from where it was found.
So producers for the show
connected her with Duke University researchers
who were handling the skull
and she sent them Stuart’s dental records.
After that, everyone waited and waited.
And finally, they found out the results.
The North Carolina skull did not belong to Stuart.
The Simmons felt both relief and frustration.
I mean, they were happy it wasn’t confirmation of the worst,
but at the same time,
they were hoping for some kind of closure
or answers to their questions.
Either way, Joanne said it felt good to at least try.
After that, she and Bill worked for months
to have enough vacation time and money
to hit the road and search for their son themselves.
As soon as Joanne and Bill
got their younger daughters situated at college,
they headed west.
They made posters with Stuart’s photo on them
and drove up and down the entire coast of California.
They even went down into Mexico searching for him.
They were willing to do anything to find him.
And during their weeks-long search,
Joanne had to think like her son.
One thing she knew for sure about Stuart
was if he did go AWOL from the Navy,
he would have gotten a job somewhere to make ends meet.
He wouldn’t just be hopping from town to town
without any income.
He had an impulsive streak, but according to Joanne,
Stuart was responsible and liked structure.
She said she knew her son was not a free spirit
who would abandon all responsibility
and be off partying somewhere.
After graduating high school,
Stuart had tried college,
but knew after just a few weeks of being enrolled
that it wasn’t right for him.
He spent a few months trying to find himself
and figuring out what his passions were.
To get by, he worked odd jobs
as a bricklayer and a waiter.
So because he had experience in those industries,
Bill and Joanne checked diners and restaurants
during their search.
Another big reason they thought he could be working
in the service industry
was because of something he told them
right before he went missing.
Stuart’s dad, Bill, said Stuart called home
from San Diego in the weeks leading up
to his disappearance and told them
that he was dating a woman he really liked named Margo.
During their conversation,
Stuart had mentioned that Margo was a waitress
and she was quite a bit older than him,
20 years older to be exact.
Joanne and Bill laughed when Stuart told them that
because that meant Margo was their age,
but they kept an open mind to the relationship
and didn’t lecture him.
From what they could tell,
their son was happy with this woman
and that’s all they ever wanted for their kids.
Despite their best efforts though
and scouring the coastline for weeks,
looking in restaurants,
Bill and Joanne came up empty handed.
In the years that followed,
Joanne became an amateur sleuth in her spare time.
As the internet came about,
she would search coroner’s websites
and look at photos of missing and unidentified people,
hoping one day she would see her son’s face.
What she couldn’t imagine though
was that hundreds of miles away in Colorado,
the answers that she’d been searching for for so long
were waiting with George Barter.
In 2014, after George got his positive ID on John Doe,
he called a detective in Roswell, Georgia
to notify Joanne and Bill Simmons
that their son had been found.
They called me a few minutes later
and were able to get him home to his parents.
It had been 32 years
since Joanne and Bill Simmons last heard from Stewart,
but they never gave up hope
that one day they would learn what happened to him.
They’d always wished that he would eventually
just walk through their front door
and explain that the last few decades
had just been some kind of wild mix-up,
but they knew deep down for a long time that he was dead.
They were in their late 70s
and they were relieved to finally learn the truth
before they themselves passed.
When they came out,
Meeting Stewart’s parents opened a lot of doors for George.
Six years of hard work had finally paid off
and he could tell that they were grateful to have some answers.
Learning Stewart’s identity also provided clues
as to who Jane Doe might be.
Joanne and Bill told George about Margo,
the girlfriend Stewart had mentioned
who worked as a waitress.
Now, there was no mention of a Margo
anywhere in George’s old investigation.
But when they finally found out,
Now, there was no mention of a Margo
anywhere in George’s old investigative files.
So with that new information in hand,
he ran with it and decided to do an exhumation
on Jane Doe’s remains too.
But first, he had to find them.
George tracked down the Catholic priest
who buried Jane Doe in an Espanola,
New Mexico cemetery in the 80s.
The priest told George on the day of her burial,
he was the only one there besides the gravedigger.
But he thought he remembered where they buried her
despite there being no markings,
no cross, no plot number, or anything.
The priest hooked George
and a New Mexico FBI evidence recovery team
to the graveyard and pointed to an area
he thought Jane Doe was laid to rest.
But the father’s memory was off.
And they sort of dig post holes around,
seeing if they can bring up a body bag
because we knew she was buried in the body bag.
And they find nothing.
And we’re failing on finding Jane Doe.
I mean, it’s just awful.
George was about to give up
when he went back to the church
to see if he could find anyone else who better remembered
where the unidentified woman had been buried.
He thought maybe a longtime member of the congregation
who donated to the burial at the time
might remember more specifics.
When he got there, another priest intercepted him
and insisted they pray about it.
But George was skeptical and honestly kind of annoyed.
He had prayed about the case before.
And up until now, nothing but persistence and science
had gotten him anywhere.
I’ve done every weird thing.
I stood on the Caracas Bridge talking to the victims.
You guys, if there’s anything left, help me.
George agreed to pray with the priest.
And when he left the church about 15 minutes later,
he called a local officer in New Mexico
who he’d gotten to know, just as a courtesy
to let him know that he’d be continuing
to poke around the graveyard
in their jurisdiction that weekend.
And the officer said,
wait, I think I know exactly where your Jane Doe is.
Turns out this officer and his cousin
had been digging a grave for their grandparents years before
and accidentally discovered an unmarked grave.
He says, when we were digging that grave,
we broke into a body bag next to it.
And I bet that is your victim.
And it was.
George checked the bag and it had the right markings
of the office that did Jane Doe’s autopsy.
And the corpse was missing a skull.
They sent off Jane Doe’s remains for testing.
And it was immediately clear
that she was going to be harder to identify
because there was no hit in CODIS,
a national database for DNA.
Then one day in 2014,
someone contacted George and it changed everything.
One day I get an email from a person
and it’s an amateur sleuth guy.
And there’s people that just get on those networks
and try to connect them.
And he says, I think your victim might be
Margaret Walden from California.
And here’s why.
And I look at it and I’m like, oh, yeah.
In May of 2014, George sent Margaret’s sister
photos of a jacket and necklace
that was collected when the body was found.
She called George the same day and said,
yes, those items belonged to her sister.
She specifically knew the necklace
because she’d been the one to give it to Margaret in 1973.
She also recognized Margaret’s jacket.
Margaret’s sister told George
they reported Margaret missing in the summer of 1982
after she left San Diego to go camping in Colorado
with her boyfriend and then never returned.
The last time they ever heard from her
was when she called home from Durango, Colorado,
asking for money.
She had told her family that she wanted some cash
in order to leave Colorado and come home.
When they reported her missing,
Margaret’s family didn’t even know the name of her boyfriend.
They guessed it was Steve.
So when her body was found in Colorado
and an investigation started,
there wasn’t enough information out there
to lead police to a missing person from San Diego.
George got more confirmation a few months after
first speaking with Margaret’s sister.
The New Mexico office of the medical investigator
said that they were able to get
a partial mitochondrial DNA match back.
And that showed with 98.27% probability
that Jane Doe was Margaret Walden.
And so we went to Victim’s Assistance in New Mexico
and they paid for the cremation and got her home.
And I think her sister has her.
With both of his Doe’s real identities confirmed,
George continued trying to piece together their story.
What he learned was that in June of 1982,
39-year-old Margaret Walden had been a waitress
near the Naval Base in San Diego.
She and Stewart started dating
and after he escaped serving his short stint of jail time
at the Naval Base,
they returned to the base one last time
and used Stewart’s military ID to check out some camping gear.
And then they drove to Colorado.
Margaret got a job as a waitress in Durango
and Stewart got a job with a traveling carnival
that was in Pagosa Springs for the 4th of July.
George said it was at the carnival
that Stewart got mixed up with a bad group of people.
Based on his investigative work,
George’s theory is that a group of people killed Stewart
over a small-time drug payment
and that Margaret was collateral damage.
George felt so strongly that this was the case,
just based on old interviews, new interviews,
and the physical evidence from the bus,
that he arrested two suspects,
33 years after the murders.
In 2016, 58-year-old Antoinette Palmer,
also known as Tina Madrid,
was arrested in Mesa, Arizona,
and booked on two counts of murder
and conspiracy to commit murder.
Also arrested was 70-year-old Martin Martinez,
who was picked up not far from the original crime scene
where he lived and he was booked on similar charges.
Tina ended up telling police during one of her interrogations
that Stewart had lived in her bus
for about a month back in the early 80s.
Except she told police his name was Richard Miller.
She talked about, you know, the things that happened in the bus
and she talked about knowing where they found the bodies.
She said, oh yeah, I know where those bodies were.
And that’s all in the interview.
Tina told police she had nothing to do with the double homicide,
but other witnesses told investigators
that Tina implicated herself several times.
She would tell people, yeah, if you mess with me,
I will kill you and throw you in a river
just like I did the other people I killed and threw in a river.
Ultimately, the charges against Tina and Martin were dismissed,
so they were never prosecuted.
George said the reason for this was because the district attorney
wanted more evidence before taking them to trial.
Stewart’s mom, Joanne, said they would like to see
their son’s killers prosecuted because as of now,
whoever killed Stewart and Margaret got away with it.
Despite the hurt of never getting justice for their son,
the Simmons were able to give Stewart a proper
and loving memorial service when they were given his remains.
He loved the water, so they got an eternal reef,
which is an environmentally safe reef with his cremation urn
that is placed on the ocean floor as a permanent memorial.
George and his wife were able to attend the ceremony.
You can actually see some photos of the memorial
on our website, thedeckpodcast.com.
It’s been 12 years since George decided to reinvestigate
the case of the San Juan River John and Jane Doe.
He might not have a conviction to show for it,
but knowing he helped two families find their lost
loved ones was a rewarding outcome.
You know, I just felt drawn to this from the beginning.
And even before I knew what happened and who they were,
I was drawn to them.
And I’d lay awake at night saying,
what can I do?
What else can I do?
And I’d say, okay, if you get stuck,
just open up from page one and go through it again.
Like all the cold case stuff tells you just,
you’ve missed something.
There’s got to be something more.
I just wasn’t going to give up.
And he’s not done.
Even now, here we are again,
and I still have hopes that somehow, you know,
there will be a risk made in this.
And I think what makes the best detective is not the
smartest person in the world,
or maybe geniuses aren’t that good of detectives.
I think it’s someone who doesn’t quit.
I think his tenacity is the main thing.
His tenacity obviously paid off,
because when Stewart and Margaret’s cold case cards
were printed on a Colorado unsolved deck,
it was back when Stewart had just been identified,
but Margaret’s name was still unknown.
So on the Ace of Hearts, she’s a Jane Doe,
with just the police sketch that was sent out
after her body was found.
If you or someone you know has any information
about the murders of Stewart Simmons and Margaret Walden,
even after all these years,
police want to know anything that could help strengthen their case.
The hope is that the agency can get enough concrete testimony
to finally be able to close the case
and criminally charge the people responsible.
So if you’re a possible witness,
you could be the missing piece of the puzzle
needed for prosecution.
Please call the Archuleta County Colorado Sheriff’s Department
The Deck is an AudioChuck production
with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work,
So, what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?