The Deck - Marjorie Sue Fithian (Wild Card, Colorado)

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Our card this week is Marjorie Fithian, a wild card from Colorado.

It broke my heart when I first heard about what happened to Marjorie and her son,

so even though they’re not featured on a cold case card in Colorado,

I knew we had to tell you their story.

And not just because it is so devastating,

but because nearly 50 years have gone by since Marjorie’s murder,

and some of the stories surrounding her death are as confusing today as they were back then.

From a personal attack to a serial killer to drug conspiracies,

detectives need help closing this case.

It’s one that’s haunted them for decades, and they’re still desperate to solve it.

I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.

Around 9 a.m. on June 24th, 1975, Terry Furnish, a ranch worker,

was driving down a rural dirt road in Roggin, Colorado, toward work.

Terry was a few miles away from the ranch when he saw a car speeding by him,

heading in the opposite direction.

Now, it might not sound unusual to pass another car on your way to work,

but on this particular country road, it was.

Terry was on County Road 386, which is a dirt road sandwiched between two highways

with nothing but fields as far as you can see.

It’s not really a thoroughfare, so it was weird to see a little sedan way out there.

The car was going fast, and it kicked up dirt as it sped past Terry’s truck.

Terry thought maybe it was just someone who took the wrong exit off nearby I-76,

but further down, he spotted something on the side of the road.

When Terry pulled over and got out, panic rushed over him.

It was a woman lying on the side of the road, covered in blood.

Here’s former detective Jack Van Arsdall.

Back then, he was the only detective at the sheriff’s office.

He came across and he saw her face and described this blood gushing out of her face.

Jack is in his 70s now and has long been retired from law enforcement,

but despite it being almost 47 years later, Jack remembers that day well.

He remembers Terry saying that he was shocked at the sight of the bleeding woman,

but even more shocking was what the ranch worker saw next to her.

A toddler.

A little blonde boy who appeared to be no older than one or two

was sitting next to the woman, holding her hand.

In those first few moments, Terry had a hard time comprehending what he was looking at.

He couldn’t tell if the woman was even still alive.

She was wearing jeans, a blouse, and one of her sandals was off to the side.

She had reddish hair that was cut in a signature 70s shag.

Her feathered bangs were covered in blood from what looked like a gunshot wound to her forehead.

His adrenaline pumping, Terry ran back to his truck and got on his CB radio and called out for help.

His shaking voice went out over the airwaves and ranchers nearby heard him

say that there had been a shooting.

So they all dropped what they were doing and headed to where Terry said he was,

about four miles up the dirt road from I-76.

His radio call out also reached Colorado state troopers

and Weld County patrol deputies in nearby Greeley.

Jack said one of the state troopers got to the scene first

and he called for an ambulance because the woman still had a pulse

and a deputy, unsure what else to do,

picked up the boy and put him in the back of his patrol car.

Medics got there pretty fast, loaded the woman into the ambulance

and rushed her toward the hospital.

Jack remembers passing the ambulance on the way to the scene

and he stopped the medics to ask if he could hop in

in case the woman became alert and said anything.

But the EMTs told him that she had just died.

When she passed away in the ambulance, instead of going to the hospital,

the medics took her to the local mortuary in Greeley,

which was owned and operated by the Weld County coroner at the time.

We proceeded on down to this crime scene.

Pretty confusing mess.

A couple of state patrol cars, a couple of farmers,

a couple of ranchers, a couple of our guys.

So it was a lot of stuff going on right there on a little dirt road.

It was only 9.30 a.m.

Deputies wondered who the woman was

and why she’d been way out there in the middle of nowhere.

Here’s Weld County Sheriff Steven Reams.

Where this crime occurred is not easily accessible off the highway.

You don’t just take an exit ramp and turn.

You have to kind of go out of your way to get where they ended up at.

Even though there’s very little traffic here,

deputies shut down the road and secured the scene.

The first thing Jack noticed was shattered glass on the side of the road.

There was also a lot of blood and one of the victim’s shoes,

a brown leather sandal.

There was a jacket and a blanket on the ground,

both of which the first responders put on the woman when they arrived.

And most notably, there was no weapon anywhere to be found.

Jack asked Terry, the ranch hand,

if the woman had said anything when he first found her.

But he said that she was unconscious.

I mean, he thought that she was dead until law enforcement showed up

and took her pulse.

Terry told Jack about the car that he’d seen heading away from the scene

right before he spotted the victim.

He said he had no way of knowing if it was involved,

but he felt like it was a weird coincidence.

He described it as a yellowish brown sedan

with a black cloth top that was ripped in one spot.

Jack radioed back to dispatch and gave them the car description

so they could put out a bulletin for people to be on the lookout.

Our team also interviewed Detective Byron Castellon.

He’s the Weld County Sheriff’s investigator working the case today.

He said Terry unfortunately didn’t get a good look at the driver

or even the license plate.

And because it had blown by him so fast,

he wasn’t certain where exactly he’d pass the car on the dirt road.

County Road 386 is a pretty long road,

so I couldn’t really determine at what point he might have seen that vehicle.

That’s why it’s possible that it wasn’t involved,

but it’s certainly possible that it was.

When Jack turned his attention back to the scene,

he knew he needed to work fast because if the woman was shot

and she was still alive around 9 a.m.,

he knew her killer had to have struck shortly before that time,

which meant they had to still be in the area.

One of the ranch workers had seen tire marks nearby,

which he pointed out to police.

Deputies thought they looked fresh

and were really close to where the woman was laying,

so investigators took photos of them.

We were actually able to get copies of those

and other crime scene photos,

which you can see on

Those photos will also help you get a sense of just how rural this area is,

and our team said that it looks exactly the same today.

It still is a dirt road and everything.

As Jack and the other deputies sifted through the broken glass and dirt,

they found a spent bullet casing.

Deputies could tell that it had come from a .25 caliber round

and likely an automatic pistol.

They photographed the casing and bagged it up.

As they searched for more evidence,

Jack and other deputies at the scene grappled with what to do

with the little boy who was still sitting in the deputy’s patrol car.

The boy being with his mom when she was murdered

is something the members of the sheriff’s office

have never been able to shake.

Here Sheriff Reams again.

I’ve worked some ugly cases,

but I’ve never worked something where a human life was disposed of

on the side of the road and then their child was disposed of,

and almost the same method.

Only by the grace of God is the kid still alive or was his life spared?

Jack and the others decided they should take the boy to the sheriff’s office

and try to figure out who he was and who his mom was.

And honestly, at that point,

they knew so little that they were just assuming that the woman was his mother.

But even who she was was a mystery

because she didn’t have a wallet or ID on her.

Just then, deputies found something else about 20 yards down the road.

And that would be the key to not only finding out who the woman was,

but what she’d been up to before she was shot

and left for dead in the middle of nowhere.

There was a suitcase not even a hundred feet down the road

from where the woman was shot.

The luggage was sitting just off the road

as if someone had carefully placed it there.

Deputies opened it and found women’s clothing

and a few items they figured were the little boy’s clothes.

Under the clothing, they came across a small piece of paper

with a phone number on it.

Deputies took the suitcase and the boy

back to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office in Greeley,

about 45 minutes west of the crime scene.

That phone number led us to her mom.

The woman who answered the call from the Sheriff’s Office

was Betty Fithian.

Deputies asked if she knew a young woman with red hair

who had a toddler son.

And Betty said yes.

Her daughter Marjorie Fithian had red hair

and Marjorie’s son Sage was 18 months old.

Deputies asked Betty to come to the Sheriff’s Office right away.

When she arrived and learned about what happened,

she was devastated and had no idea

who would want to hurt her daughter.

While Betty was collecting Sage and his things,

the county coroner was still examining

Marjorie’s body at the morgue.

But investigators didn’t want to waste any time

waiting on the coroner’s official findings

to start a homicide investigation.

They wanted to know right away if Marjorie had any enemies

or why she’d been all the way out near Roggen with her son.

They immediately brought in Terry, the rancher,

for a sit-down interview

so they’d have a written statement from him.

They wanted to make sure he hadn’t forgotten any details,

maybe, about the car or the scene.

Terry still couldn’t recall any details about the driver.

And again, he just said the most significant thing

about the car was that cloth top that was ripped on one side.

He was certain of that.

Detective Castellan said deputies at the time

used every tool they had to try and track down cars

that fit that profile.

They did a lot of work on finding vehicles like that

through Colorado Department of DMV.

They got long lists of license plates

for vehicles that matched that description

and looked into where these vehicles were registered to

and who they were registered to.

Ultimately, it didn’t come up with any leads,

but not for lack of trying.

That same day, before Betty left with Sage,

they sat down with her to try and figure out

who her daughter had been with that morning

or even the day before.

Though Marjorie didn’t live with Betty,

she actually rented a house in Greeley,

Betty knew Marjorie had gone down to Denver

for the weekend to visit her aunt and uncle.

And she was supposed to return to Greeley that morning

because she had classes at the community college

the next day.

So the trip to Denver explained the suitcase,

but it also puzzled investigators

because Roggin is not exactly in between Denver and Greeley.

It’s much further east.

Like detectives, Betty had no idea why her daughter

would have been all the way out in the country

where she was found.

Deputies connected with detectives

at the Denver Police Department

and asked them to go interview Marjorie’s uncle right away.

And here’s where things get interesting.

Marjorie’s uncle said he dropped off Marjorie

and her son Sage at the bus depot

in downtown Denver around 7 a.m. that morning,

as in just a few hours before.

He said Marjorie and Sage were gonna catch the 7.30 bus

from Denver back to Greeley.

Given the fact that Marjorie and Sage

were in downtown Denver at 7 a.m.

and apparently alive and fine,

it was perplexing how she could have ended up murdered

just two hours later in Roggin, Colorado.

And I’m not just saying that it’s weird

because it wasn’t her original intended destination.

Roggin isn’t even on that bus line

and it’s a full hour drive away.

So that left a very small window of time

for the murder to take place.

The detectives pressed her uncle for more.

What did she do that weekend?

How did she seem?

Was there anyone else that she might’ve met up with?

And he said they had a nice visit with Marjorie that weekend

and that everything seemed fine

when he dropped them off at the bus stop.

For all he knew, Marjorie and Sage

were back in Greeley already.

But Marjorie’s uncle did mention someone else

that Marjorie saw that weekend.

He said while she was in Denver,

his niece had gone on a date with a man

that she’d been casually seeing.

The man had taken Marjorie and Sage to the zoo

and he said it seemed as if they all had a really nice time.

So the Denver detectives knew their next move

was to find the guy Marjorie was seeing

and then go to the bus depot to find out

if Marjorie and Sage ever actually made it

onto that 7.30 bus back to Greeley.

But if any efforts were actually made back then

to find the guy that she went on a date with,

there’s no documentation of it in today’s case file.

And that’s kind of all I have.

If you feel like me moving on in the story right now

leaves a huge gap, same.

But I actually will come back to this later.

While detectives were trying to track down people

at the bus depot, deputies in Greeley

tried to learn more about Marjorie’s life there.

Several people said that, you know,

she’s a free spirit, hippie chick,

very trusting, maybe to a fault, was a good mother.

You know, everybody seemed to like her.

Everybody I talked to couldn’t imagine anybody

that would want to kill her

because of anything that she did,

any argument that she had

or any problems that she had with anybody.

They found out that Sage’s dad wasn’t in the picture,

but he lived out of state

and was in fact out of state on June 24th.

So this wasn’t over any kind of custody dispute.

Betty didn’t know who killed her daughter or why.

So she had no way of knowing if Sage was still in danger.

Moreover, as she had to transition

from grandmother to mother figure,

she worried about Sage.

She had no idea what her grandson had witnessed

or if he understood anything that had happened.

She wanted to protect him as much as possible.

In Weld County the next day, June 25th,

Detective Jack Van Arsdale and the sheriff at the time

went back out to the crime scene on horseback.

They rode up and down the road looking for more evidence,

specifically looking for the murder weapon,

thinking maybe it had been discarded

somewhere near where they found her suitcase.

But all they found was more broken glass.

That day they also searched Marjorie’s house in Greeley,

but they didn’t find many clues there either.

The next day Marjorie’s death hit the local newspaper,

the Greeley Daily Tribune.

They announced funeral plans and a memorial fund

that had been set up for Sage.

The news of her death triggered a lot of people

to call the Weld County Sheriff’s office.

A few tipsters said that they thought Marjorie

had been involved in drug trade,

maybe as a mule moving drugs from Denver up to Greeley,

but that didn’t totally jibe for police.

When they searched her home,

they found very small amounts of marijuana residue,

but nothing to suggest drug trafficking

or any evidence of a high-risk lifestyle for that matter.

But Jack decided they should follow any lead that came in.

By then detectives in Denver told deputies in Weld County

that they found the bus driver

who would have driven the 7.30 a.m. route

on June 24th from Denver to Greeley.

They said when they showed the driver

a photo of Marjorie and Sage,

the driver was like, nope,

those two never even tried to get on my bus that morning.

Now detectives weren’t exactly surprised by this news.

There was no possible scenario for Marjorie

to have ended up dead in Roggen

if she had gotten onto that bus.

The timeline just didn’t add up, but they had to be sure.

So that led police to wonder if Marjorie had hitchhiked

rather than taking the bus.

So they went back to Marjorie’s uncle

to see if he had maybe seen her get in a car with anyone.

He said no, but he did say

that when he got back to his house that morning,

he found something interesting.

He went back in the room and saw some change on the floor.

And he thought maybe that had fallen out of her pants

when she was getting dressed.

So she may not have had enough money for the bus ticket.

That was his impression.

Maybe if she had accidentally dropped her money,

it forced her to hitchhike.

This was all before the days

of surveillance cameras everywhere.

So police had no way of knowing what happened after that,

unless they could find someone

who actually witnessed Marjorie getting into someone’s car.

By the end of June,

the Greeley Daily Tribune was running regular articles

about the murder investigation.

On June 30th, a headline read,

“‘Murder Probe Uncovers Little.’”

For the next several weeks,

Jack and five other deputies worked around the clock,

interviewing all of Marjorie’s relatives and friends

who were scattered all over Northern Colorado.

They needed to find out what motives

someone would have to kill her.

Some tips were coming in about a group of local men

who all had criminal histories,

mostly for drug-related crimes.

People around town were hearing that four of the men,

guys named Vernon, Robbie, Jerry, and Larry,

were involved in Marjorie’s murder.

Deputies decided to expand their interviews

to see if they could get any information

that would connect these men to Marjorie,

or if they could at least figure out

what the men were up to the weekend she was killed.

But deputies were already familiar with these men

because they had regular run-ins with the law,

and they didn’t think that any of these guys drove the car

that the rancher had seen leaving the scene,

though they were still determined to talk to them.

A few weeks later, police found out that two of the men,

Jerry and Robbie, had been arrested in a neighboring town

and were burning down their buddy Vern’s garage.

This made deputies even more suspicious

because they knew that these guys were close,

so this obviously meant there’d been

some kind of falling out with the group,

and they wondered if it had anything

to do with Marjorie’s murder.

So this is red flag number one.

Red flag number two was that in August,

a tip came in from a man who said that Jerry

was bragging about Marjorie’s murder.

The man even said that Jerry showed him proof

that he’d killed her.

Now, this guy, whose name was kept confidential,

told police that Jerry showed him photos of Marjorie

with gunshot wounds to her face.

According to reporting in the Greeley Tribune

from August 1975, the confidential informant said

Jerry showed him one black and white photo

and two colored photos of Marjorie, quote,

suffering from wounds.

Attributing to a court affidavit,

the Tribune also reported that Jerry allegedly told

two other people that he, quote,

shot that in the face.

So police took action.

They arrested Jerry for Marjorie’s murder

on August 27th, 1975.

They’d gone to Jerry’s house with a search warrant

to look for a 25 caliber weapon,

ammo, or photos of Marjorie,

but they didn’t find anything.

Now, the next day, the Tribune ran a photo

of Jerry being arrested,

and then Betty Fithian called

the Weld County Sheriff’s Office

saying something weird happened.

She’s called me and said that,

strangest thing, Sage just looked at that picture

and said, oh, there’s Jerry.

It’s the only person who’s ever identified

or said anything about me.

So that’s Jerry.

It gave Jack chills.

This was the first thing Sage had ever said

related to his mom’s murder.

Of course, he wasn’t even two years old

and couldn’t really speak in full sentences,

but it made Jack wonder if Sage recognized Jerry

from maybe a relationship with his mom prior to her death,

or maybe if Sage knew him from the day of the murder,

or maybe it was a total fluke.

Like maybe Sage had just heard Jerry’s name

on the news or something and was just repeating it

the way two year olds repeat everything they hear.

Until then, Jack had been skeptical

of the stories about Marjorie being involved

with Jerry and the other suspects.

He wasn’t even totally convinced of the informant’s story

about the photos of Marjorie’s murder.

And it was just one of those things

that he was gonna remain skeptical about

until he saw the evidence for himself.

So to build a stronger case,

deputies knew that they needed to get a confession

from the other men.

But before they were able to strengthen their case,

the district attorney filed a motion

to dismiss the first degree murder charge against Jerry.

According to reporting in the Greeley Daily Tribune,

the murder charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Jerry was still facing charges of criminal mischief,

assault and arson for burning down Vern’s garage,

but those are all misdemeanors.

So he was released from jail on a $5,000 bond.

Jack and the other investigators didn’t give up though.

They heard about a drug party happening on October 1st

that some of the suspects would be attending.

So they got a search warrant,

raided the party and arrested everyone there.

Jack pulled Robbie, one of Jerry’s buddies aside,

and he started talking.

He said, well, it was Vern Hudson.

I was in the car with Vern Hudson and Larry Joe Hernandez

when Vern shot her in the face.

At this point, police can’t figure out which way is up.

These guys have been pointing fingers

at each other for weeks.

Were they actually involved?

And if so, who actually pulled the trigger?

Was it Vern or Jerry?

Or were they just making up stories

because they all had beef with one another

and were trying to blame each other any chance they got?

Jack said that he never really bought any of their stories

because the only details they could recall

about the murder had been published in the news.

So they were public knowledge.

They still didn’t give any information

that only the killers would know.

Plus, Jack kept thinking about the two-hour window

in which Marjorie left Denver,

traveled to Rogin and was shot.

How would a group of men in Greeley

logistically pull that off

unless they were already in Denver?

I keep coming back to 7.30, she got on the bus.

The bus was there and she didn’t get on it,

but her uncle dropped her off there at 7.30.

And at 9.30, she’s on a dirt road out in Rogin.

I don’t think she could have called Jerry Walker

to come pick her up and get her a ride home

or Vern Hudson or…

And I don’t know that they would have been at the bus station.

I don’t think anybody knew

because she was just coming home from her uncle’s.

Spending the weekend there.

While Jack was looking for ways to verify

what Robbie had said about Vern

being the one to pull the trigger,

one of their key suspects turned up dead.

While he was out on bail, Jerry died at home.

According to a 1975 news report in the Greeley Daily Tribune,

his wife found him on their living room couch.

It was late morning on Sunday, October 12th.

Jerry’s wife called police

and first responders found lots of empty pill bottles

at the scene, which made the coroner rule it a suicide.

But some still consider Jerry’s death suspicious.

The Greeley Daily Tribune reported

that his death was ruled an accidental overdose

by the Weld County Coroner’s Office.

But some informants told police

that the death wasn’t accidental

and it was actually tied to Marjorie’s murder.

A captain with the Greeley Police Department

told the newspaper back then

that letters found in Walker’s house

indicated he had contemplated suicide in the past,

but had not discussed it recently.

With Jerry dead, Marjorie’s case stalled.

Here’s Jack again.

It was kind of a dead end for looking at people.

We weren’t getting any more information.

And every time I was told something

or was led to believe something,

I’d track it back and it was from Robbie Davis

who was talking about it.

I’m not going down that trail again.

Sorry, folks, you know, I just don’t believe the guy.

A year went by with little information.

They didn’t have any evidence

to actually tie Jerry or Vern to the shooting

and the other men kept going back and forth

with their stories.

They didn’t stop investigating though.

And in early 1977, they brought Larry,

one of the other men from that main suspect group,

in for a lie detector test.

But Larry passed the polygraph.

He told police that he had sold Marjorie marijuana

a few times and they went to the community college together,

but he did not kill her.

And he didn’t know who killed her.

With that, police tracked down Vern again.

At that time, he was in jail in Wyoming

facing drug trafficking charges.

He agreed to talk to the Weld County deputies

and denied having anything to do with Marjorie’s murder.

Police even gave Vern an opportunity

to turn on one of the other guys,

but he said the whole thing had been a lie.

And Vern was pretty much cleared.

Certainly didn’t have a motive for killing her.

This is when detectives paused and wondered

whether or not they just spent the last year and a half

on a wild goose chase,

working a lead that was completely made up.

So they started to consider other theories,

like a random murder of opportunity.

Maybe Marjorie’s killer was a stranger

was a stranger to her.

I think somebody picked her up at the…

Her dad said that she was pretty friendly gal.

I think somebody realized at the bus station

that she didn’t have any money and offered her a ride.

And he said, if that’s the scenario,

she would have taken the ride.

The thing about that theory is that it lacks motive.

According to former and current investigators

who have seen the autopsy report,

the coroner back then seemed pretty certain

that she wasn’t sexually assaulted.

Now there is the possibility

that whoever Marjorie took a ride with

tried to make a move on her and she refused,

which led to them killing her.

I mean, they’ve never been able to rule that out

as a possibility.

And they also said that robbery

seemed like an unlikely motive

because Marjorie didn’t have a ton of money

and wasn’t known to carry cash

or have cash just kind of like laying around.

But Sheriff Reams said two gunshots to the face,

basically execution style, doesn’t sound random to him.

To me, it always seemed like it was a very personal thing

to, I guess, circumstances surrounding Marjorie’s death.

Someone knew that she was gonna be traveling with her kid.

Now, could they have just picked that up at a bus stop?

Yes, but to kill her and leave her son behind,

it’s almost like there was a personal relationship

that was formed there, the anger involved.

That’s what comes across to me, but we just don’t know.

Obviously, it doesn’t necessarily take

that many gunshots to kill someone.

Typically, we would call that an overkill.

It would be referred to as an overkill.

It’s not necessary.

And again, just taking her out in a remote location,

she trusted whoever enough to at least travel with them.

Think about it from Marjorie’s perspective for a moment.

Maybe she realized at the bus depot

that she didn’t have the money for a ticket,

so she thumbed a ride with a stranger.

If she got in and told the driver to take her to Greeley,

there’s a point in that drive where she would have known

that the person was driving toward the middle of nowhere

instead of to her hometown.

How did her killer justify driving in the wrong direction?

She was trusting enough of someone

to not even try to get out of the car

at a stop sign or anything like that.

Tells me there was some kind of relationship

that was probably there.

And then, yes, the two shots, you know,

dragging her out of the car,

leaving her on the side of the road,

and then just sitting her kid and driving off.

That doesn’t speak to me of a stranger killing,

but, you know, I can’t rule that out.

There’s also a chance that Marjorie was unconscious already,

but police believe that she was shot

right where the killer left her

because there’s no other way

to explain the glass on the ground.

Here’s Jack again.

I think she was shot inside the car.

He went around, got her out,

and shot her a second time on the ground.

Weeks, months, and years went by

without any new information in Marjorie’s case.

It was heartbreaking to her family.

Then, in 1982, a serial killer came on police’s radar

who was claiming that he was responsible

for some murders in Colorado in the 70s.

Otis Toole was in prison for other murders,

and word got out that he had claimed

some Colorado killings from the 70s.

Otis was known to work with serial killer Henry Lee Lucas,

but he was also known to claim killings

that he didn’t actually commit,

according to Detective Castellan.

But it turns out Otis may really have been in Colorado

in the summer of 1975, so they went and interviewed him.

Otis agreed to be interviewed about Marjorie’s murder,

but he wasn’t exactly helpful.

He said, you know, he couldn’t remember.

The detective was like, well, trying to describe

where the murder happened, north of Denver,

northeast of Denver, and he was just noncommittal.

Like, yeah, I’m not sure if I was there.

I might have killed her, basically, he said.

According to the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colorado,

in a report from 1984,

Toole confessed to a 1974 murder in Colorado Springs,

but he later recanted.

Detective Castellan said it was thought

that since Toole knew that he was gonna die in prison,

he had nothing to lose when it came to claiming murders

that he wasn’t involved with.

He claimed to have killed people in Colorado,

but he was so vague in his statements that,

to my knowledge, he wasn’t really linked

to anything in Colorado.

He claimed to have been in Colorado,

and he claimed to have killed people in Colorado,

but that wasn’t verified yet.

The Otis Toole theory was never totally dismissed,

but he couldn’t be linked for sure,

and he died in prison when he was 49.

More years passed without updates,

but in the early 2000s,

investigators took another look at Marjory’s case,

and what they found by looking at it

through a modern-day lens

was honestly a little disappointing.

Sheriff Reams was working as a detective back then.

1975 in Weld County,

the resources probably were not as available

to work a case like this.

The manpower that would have been necessary

to track down those leads

and find people in Denver and various other areas,

it just, it seems simple now.

I wish we could go back and try it again,

and every year that goes by,

you realize it’s just that much farther

from probably having that likelihood.

So I worry about all that stuff.

To be honest with you,

when I went back and looked for this case file,

I was able to find a certain amount of information

that was stored on site,

and then once I got back from the FBI Academy,

I went out to a place where we store archives,

and I found another box of documents or evidence

related to this case,

some photos and whatnot,

that were in a place

where those items should have never been.

And so, yeah, I worry about what steps were done

and not properly documented or not properly retained.

I hate the idea of potentially saying,

hey, basic steps weren’t taken, if they were,

but if they were,

they certainly weren’t documented

in a way that we would expect by today’s standards.

Jack even admits that if he knew then

what he knows today,

the investigation would have been handled

and documented better.

We just didn’t have our act together very well.

We had not gotten our crime scene techs trained yet.

They weren’t in place.

So what we had was patrol officers trying to do their job.

Really didn’t know what they were doing.

They can’t go back in time

and give themselves the resources

or know how to ace the investigation.

But that’s why they’re still working the case today,

hoping for a break.

In order to stay motivated,

they just think about that little boy

on the side of the road,

holding his mom’s hand as she died.

Sage is grown today with a family of his own.

He was raised by his aunt and grandma,

and he no longer lives in Colorado,

but he actually agreed to talk to our team

over the phone for this episode.

He was too young to remember his mom,

and he doesn’t have any memories from the actual murder.

He only knows what he’s heard about his mother,

which was that she was artsy and liked music.

My first name is Dylan.

I’m named after Bob Dylan.

And then Sage after, I think, Sagebrush.

So, you know, definitely of that era and of that time,

I think she was a painter.

She wrote poetry.

So I have old scrapbooks of some of her work,

and we all have pictures or paintings that she had done.

Sage has some of his mom’s albums,

and he said while none of his children

got Marjorie’s red hair,

he wonders if they got her talent.

Yeah, there’s, you know, some of our kids

show some talent in that direction.

So it’s nice to think that we could attribute that to her,

you know?

Sage has heard the stories

about how the ranch hand found him at the murder scene.

He said his family did a good job of protecting him

from a lot of the details when he was growing up.

But I, you know, think about my children at that age

and just how that, yeah, that would be difficult for them.

But luckily, I had a good support system around me.

Sage still doesn’t know who killed his mom

or why they spared his life.

He said he’s tried not to obsess over the investigation

over his lifetime,

but it would be nice to know who did it,

if only for his grandma, aunt, and other family members

who were distraught over losing Marjorie.

He witnessed that heartbreak firsthand

when he was growing up.

Anytime someone would bring up his mom,

he’d see his grandma and his aunts

and his uncles just get sad.

I don’t think you can lose a daughter or a sister

or a mother and not be traumatized by it,

and especially when it’s the way that it happened.

So, you know, kind of putting those pieces together,

I think, again, this would bring closure for everybody.

In March 2020, Detective Castellan

started working cold cases full-time

for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

He knew there was a lot of pressure

to get this case solved,

so he absorbed all of the information possible

and got to work re-interviewing everyone

who was still alive today.

In April 2020, he revisited Robbie,

one of the only initial suspects who’s still alive today,

and Robbie admitted that he made up the story

about Verne shooting Marjorie

because he was mad at Verne for something at the time.

He said that’s why they burned down his garage, too.

In spring of 2020, Detective Castellan

even tracked down the man Marjorie went on a date with

in Denver in 1975,

and they went on that date, remember,

the day before she was murdered.

Now, he said the man was never a suspect,

but he remembered being interviewed by police

back in the day.

But again, there’s no documentation of that interview

in Detective Castellan’s files today,

but the man did say something to him that makes no sense.

He told Detective Castellan

that he dropped Marjorie and Sage

off at the bus stop on June 25th.

Obviously, that contradicts

what police always thought was the truth,

that Marjorie’s uncle dropped her off at the bus depot.

Detective Castellan said Marjorie’s uncle is deceased now,

and he was also never a suspect.

But there’s not really a way to reinvestigate

that discrepancy today.

Detective Castellan said he thinks it might just be

a memory mix-up on the part of the boyfriend.

When we asked him about the boyfriend’s car,

like did it match the one seen leaving the scene,

he said he didn’t know what kind of car he had,

and he doesn’t think that police ever searched it

or anything like that.

In fall of 2020, some news stories ran

about Detective Castellan taking on Weld County’s cold cases,

which actually prompted the last and most recent phone call

the department has gotten related to Marjorie’s murder.

It was a woman who said that a creepy thing happened to her

back in 1975, right around the same time Marjorie was killed.

She said that she was walking in north of UNC,

like maybe on 13th Ave or 12th Ave, somewhere around there,

back around this time, like in June of 1975,

and there was this guy in a van following her,

like slowly following her, and she’s walking down the road,

and she’s looking back, and he’s just staring at her,

and he looks super creepy,

and she’s not liking this at all.

So the van finally goes ahead and turns right.

So she keeps walking, and then as she’s walking,

she sees the van is parked on that cross street,

like waiting for her.

And so she starts walking up to this house.

So she’s like, maybe he’ll think that I live here,

and he’ll leave me alone.

Well, the van then starts up and comes over

and parks in front of the house.

So she goes into the house,

and she’s freaking out now.

She says, thank God the door was unlocked.

She goes into the house and closes the door,

and there’s this old couple in their 60s

sitting in their chairs, reading newspapers,

going, like, what is this lady doing?

She locks the door and hides behind the door,

and the guy comes up and starts banging on the door,

and he tries to open the door.

Thank God she locked it.

So this is a crazy story.

She didn’t get a license plate or anything,

but she wanted to give this information.

Detective Castellan said he can’t help but wonder

if there was someone targeting young women

in Northern Colorado in June of 1975.

He wishes he had DNA to work with,

but he knows that this is one of those cases

where it truly will take someone

who knows something to speak up.

That’s gonna take either confession

or somebody to get implicated.

Yeah, confession, probably the best thing.

That’s gonna get complete closure on it with a conviction.

This case will haunt Marjorie’s family

and the Weld County Sheriff’s Office until they solve it.

Sheriff Reams says if the right person hears this episode,

it could change a lot of lives, most importantly, Sage’s.

Only by the grace of God was that kid,

is that kid still alive or was his life spared?

And I can’t imagine what went through someone’s head

or how they could sleep from that day forward

knowing what they had done.

And even if we never solve it,

I hope that they burn in hell for the rest of their life

for what they did.

If you know anything that might help this case,

someone who owned a yellowish brown sedan

with a ripped soft top,

someone who even had a different car,

but the window was randomly shot out in June of 1975,

because remember, police think

that’s where the shattered glass came from.

Seriously, even the smallest bit of information could help.

You are urged to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office

at 970-304-6464.

The Deck is an AudioChuck production

with theme music by Ryan Lewis.

To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work,


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