The Deck - Stewart Simmons and Margaret Walden (Ace of Diamonds and Ace of Hearts, Colorado)

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

being tested.

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.

And another.

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,

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

at 970-264-8430.

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?


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