Hey, listeners, before I get into today’s story, I just want to give a massive thank
you to all of you because today marks the one-year anniversary of The Deck.
Thank you for your support of this podcast as we dive every week into a new cold case.
And what I love most is that you all don’t just listen to these cases.
You are taking action, like with that letter-writing campaign we did for Awachiki Osceola that
got the Oklahoma AG’s office to re-examine her case, or the tips that you’ve called
in to several of these investigating agencies, or even the cases that you’ve recommended
for us to cover.
So thank you.
I appreciate all of you, and I can’t believe that we’ve been doing this for a whole year.
Honestly, it seems like just yesterday that I was dreaming up this podcast where we at
Audiocheck could do our own original reporting and shed light on the coldest of cold cases.
And here we are, 52 cases later.
It is unbelievable.
So I can’t say it enough.
And without further ado, let’s get into today’s case.
Our card this week is Oki Alkite, the Nine of Hearts from Colorado.
There are certain cases that I obsess over.
The ones that dig their way under my skin and keep me up at night, or just pop into
my head in the middle of the day unannounced, banging on my conscious, demanding answers.
And the 2004 case of Alkite is one of those.
This case is the definition of a mystery.
And for over 18 years, investigators have looked at this case from every angle, trying
to track down an elusive killer, but they have been stumped at every turn.
However, technology is changing, and investigators hope that that means their luck is changing
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
It was mid-morning on Monday, May 24, 2004, when a man named Philip was just realizing
that one of his employees, Al, hadn’t come into work.
They both worked in the office of a construction company in Aurora, Colorado, and Al was never
He’d been in accounting for years and took a lot of pride in his job, so his absence
stuck out like a sore thumb.
He went to his other co-workers, who, after a few hours, started to worry too.
At some point that morning, they decided to go ahead and call his landline just to check
on him and make sure that he was okay, but no one picked up.
They tried his cell phone next, and this time, someone did answer, but it wasn’t Al.
The man on the other end said that his name was Joe, and he had the phone because he found
it on top of a payphone in the neighboring city of Denver the night before.
It was at that point that Philip was convinced that something was wrong with Al.
The guy on the other end of the phone, Joe, offered to meet up with Philip and give him
the phone if he wanted, so Philip and another one of his employees went to meet this guy
at a Safeway grocery store in Denver.
When they got there, they learned Joe was experiencing homelessness and wanted to sell
the phone back to them.
Ten bucks got the deal done, and once they went their separate ways, Philip and the other
employee immediately started going through the phone.
I’m not sure exactly what they were looking for.
I’m not sure if they even knew what they were looking for.
But eventually, they found Al’s contacts and came across his sister, Barbara.
So they called her to try and get some answers about where Al was, but she didn’t know what
was going on either.
She hadn’t seen or spoken to Al recently, and she actually lived in Virginia, so it’s
not like she could just meet up with them and help figure things out.
But she did think that they were right to be concerned, so she suggested that they call
the police to do a welfare check.
Both Philip and Barbara called the Aurora Police Department, and by 4 p.m., two officers
arrived at Al’s townhome to poke around.
Al lived in this area called Chambers Ridge.
It’s middle class and kind of the residential center of Aurora at the time.
It was also a really low crime neighborhood, so at least outside, they weren’t surprised
to see that everything was normal.
Al’s front door was locked and the windows were secure, same with the garage door out
They went back to the front door and knocked, but there was no answer.
They knocked again, still nothing.
By then, I’m not sure what they were thinking.
Maybe that Al had a medical emergency and needed help, or maybe there would be something
inside that could clue them in as to his whereabouts.
But basically, they called Barbara back and asked for her permission to enter his house,
to which she said yes.
They had to pick the lock, but once they got the door open, they stepped inside.
And again, everything looked totally normal.
Al was a rather organized person, so all of his stuff in the small living room space,
bedroom, and bathroom was neatly put away and looked untouched.
But when the officers got to the kitchen, they noticed something a little strange.
All of the knives from a butcher block on the counter and a set of keys were soaking
in the sink, and the liquid that they were soaking in smelled a lot like bleach.
Unsure yet what they were dealing with, officers didn’t touch the knives, and they continued
through the house, making their way towards the basement.
Down there, they found a finished space like this little living room.
There was a bathroom, a storage closet, and then another room.
But what was once probably a bedroom didn’t look like a bedroom anymore.
It looked like a scene from a horror movie.
There was blood everywhere.
It was splattered on the walls, and it was pooled on the carpet floor, and it was even
spotted across the ceiling.
And there, in the middle of all of it, was Al.
He was fully clothed, lying face down on the floor with his feet slightly under a bed frame
in the corner of the room.
His head and upper torso were covered by a small blue bath mat.
But one look at him among the carnage told the officers that he was already deceased.
They removed the mat, and it was immediately clear that the majority of the damage on Al’s
body had been done to his head and upper torso.
What they could see of his face was bruised and covered in bloody injuries that continued
down to his neck and shoulders.
He had one huge laceration on the back of his head, and based on pieces of drywall scattered
around his body, they believed that at some point the killer had swung a knife so hard
at Al that they had hit the wall on the follow-through, which caused it to chip off.
His throat had also been cut so deep that it looked like he was almost decapitated.
Upon closer inspection of his body, they found what looked like ligature marks on his arms
And as they scanned the room, there wasn’t any sign of whatever had restrained him.
But they did notice a mattress leaned up against the wall, covering the only window in the
room, with two pillows tucked between it and the window to make sure that nobody could
Once they confirmed Al was deceased, and that there was no one else in the house, officers
exited the townhome and called their supervisor.
And it was around this time that Agent Tom Sobieski with the Aurora Police Department
was assigned to the case with two other detectives.
Once all three of them arrived to the scene, though, they quickly realized that none of
them had ever handled a case like this before.
We actually called the Arapahoe County coroner to the scene because this was something that
we had never seen before.
So he walked in there and I walked in there.
We walked down the stairs directly to the victim.
And we had a CSI person with us and we took video and photographed and then we removed
the victim from the scene without processing everything else.
And he went to the coroner’s office.
Once Al had been removed, they were able to do a more thorough search of his home, starting
with the basement bedroom.
And that was when Agent Sobieski found about a quarter inch of rope on the carpet near
where Al’s body had been.
Considering where it was found, Agent Sobieski believed that the killer had likely used rope
to restrain Al, and maybe he just missed that little bit when they were cleaning up.
Other than all the blood, and there was a lot of blood, there wasn’t much more in
the way of physical evidence there in the basement bedroom.
They searched what remained of the lower level and didn’t find a scrap of evidence
in any of the other rooms, so they decided to go back upstairs.
But just as they were heading up the stairs to the first level of the townhome, something
caught their eye.
It was what looked like a blood transfer spot on the very bottom step, and it stuck out
to them because it was the only visible trace of blood outside of the bedroom.
So they collected a sample of that, too, before they headed upstairs.
Next, they took a close look at all those knives in the sink, and confirmed that they
were in fact soaking in a mixture of water and bleach, which immediately dashed any hope
of getting evidence off of them.
But they weren’t left without any clues in the kitchen.
When they checked the keys in the sink, they discovered that they unlocked Al’s front
Now, they weren’t sure yet if those were Al’s main set of keys, or maybe a spare
or what, but at least they knew what they went to.
So then they moved on to the trash, and in there, they found a signed rental agreement
for that basement living space where Al was just found.
It seems like Al was going to be renting it out, and a man named Robert Cooper had signed
a lease for it.
The document was dated almost a week before, May 18th, and even though there weren’t
any personal items in the basement to suggest that someone had already moved in, officers
started to wonder if they should be looking for a roommate.
In the trash, they also found one of Al’s bank statements.
It was kind of torn up, but that’s okay because the statement itself wasn’t what
They were interested in a note that Al had scribbled near the top of the paper.
It was a phone number along with the name Robert.
They figured it had to be the same Robert from the rental agreement, so they assigned
someone to go track this guy down.
While all of this was solid evidence to have, it was really the things that they didn’t
find that stood out to them the most.
For instance, Al’s wallet and vehicle were both missing, and they couldn’t find a container
where the bleach in the sink came from.
Some of the towels in the bathroom were missing, which made them think that the killer had
taken a shower or maybe cleaned up before they left.
Police also didn’t find evidence that Al owned rope or any other items that could have
been used to restrain him or caused his injuries besides the knives, so they began to suspect
that the killer might have brought a sort of murder kit with him.
And chillingly, they noticed some clothes missing as well.
Okie was very, I mean, everything was in its place from his office to his closet, and there
was one pair of pants missing, one shirt missing from his closet, and we couldn’t find just
the empty hangers.
This indicated that the killer had likely changed out of whatever they were wearing
and left Al’s house wearing the clothes of the man that they had just murdered.
Now I also want to point out that a lot of the online buzz about this case says that
the killer slept at Al’s, but Agent Sobieski said that that wasn’t true.
Obviously he spent a lot of time in the home during and after the murder, but they didn’t
find a trace of evidence that indicates the killer slept there at any point.
With their initial search completed, Agent Sobieski told us that their next step was
to canvas the neighborhood.
But just as they were getting ready to head out, a neighbor actually came right to them
with a tip.
They knew where Al’s car was.
The neighbor told Agent Sobieski and the other officers at the scene that they were just
driving home for the day when they noticed Al’s GMC pickup truck parked about a block
and a half down the road from his place.
They said that they didn’t think much of it initially, but then when they pulled around
the corner and saw all the cops at his home, they decided to pull up and say something.
So Agent Sobieski sent a team of officers to find the truck, and sure enough, it was
right there where the neighbor said it was.
And then a canvas was done of where Al’s truck was found because it’s parked right in front
of a whole row of townhomes and apartments, and nobody saw anything there that was substantial.
They thought it’d been there a couple days.
When the officers got into the vehicle, they didn’t find anything significant right off
Again, Al was an organized guy, and that extended to his truck.
But as they looked closer, they noticed one thing that stood out.
There were a few strands of medium-toned brown hair.
Now Al did have darker hair, but the 53-year-old had developed a lot of grays, too, kind of
a salt-and-pepper look.
So whoever’s hair this was, it likely wasn’t Al’s.
And since they weren’t aware of anyone else having access to his truck, Agent Sobieski
suspected that this could be the killer’s hair, so they took samples to test later.
The rest of the evening, investigators talked to as many people as they could to learn more
about Al and the people he associated with.
Investigators told officers that they hadn’t heard or seen anything suspicious the entire
weekend, and friends and family were able to give them names of his best friend as well
as a former roommate who had just moved out a month prior.
Although no one was aware if Al had ever had issues with either of them.
And when it came to Al himself, everyone had the same things to say.
Al was a very well-liked man.
We couldn’t find anybody that would say a bad thing about him.
He was divorced.
He joined some singles clubs.
He recently had a new girlfriend.
He liked NASCAR.
He liked hanging out and watching NASCAR on Sundays.
Other than that, he was a hard worker.
He traveled the world pretty much as an accountant.
Al’s loved ones told investigators that he loved to cook.
He was always a gentleman.
He had great relationships with all of his neighbors, and just like Agent Sobieski said,
he had just started a new relationship with his girlfriend Linda.
Because Al was so well-liked and so well-known, his murder was a total shock to his community.
Again, this area was not used to even petty crimes, much less such an intense act of violence.
And while people were devastated about Al, they were also unsettled by something else.
Whoever did this to him, they were still out there.
Detectives were thinking the same thing, so they were pulling on whatever loose thread
they could find to try and unravel some answers.
And their strongest lead so far was still this mystery roommate, Robert Cooper.
And luckily, the people that they interviewed were able to shed some light on this guy.
It turned out that Al had talked about him quite a bit to his friends and family.
Neighbors were told that Robert had responded to Al’s rental ad for the basement space
and agreed to be the new tenant.
Al told people that Robert was from the East Coast and transferred to Aurora with Wells Fargo.
One person was even able to remember exactly which Wells Fargo Al had mentioned.
It was the one that was only about six minutes from Al’s townhome.
Yet another neighbor even claimed to have seen who they believed to be Robert.
They said that several days before the murder, they noticed a man with a cane walking into
He had dark hair, he was well-dressed, and he looked to be maybe in his early 50s.
Now even if this Robert guy had nothing to do with Al’s murder, Agent Sobieski still
had men on his team trying to track this guy down, because witness or suspect, either way,
he could hold valuable information.
But as their search for him continued, Al’s autopsy results came back and uncovered the
true horror of what he had gone through.
Now before I even go into the autopsy, I just want to say that what Al endured is going
to be hard to hear.
But I think it is important to include as much detail as we can without getting too
graphic in order to show you what kind of monster the investigators are looking for.
And I personally think that this MO seems so specific that maybe the key to catching
this guy is in the details.
So that being said, the first thing that stood out to the coroner was the sheer amount of
ligature marks on Al’s body.
Once he removed his clothing and analyzed the full extent of the marks, he determined
Al had been hog-tied with rope, likely the same kind of rope as that small piece found
near his body.
We actually had, we simulated how the markings were on, from the bruising of the ropes, arms
behind his back, legs tied together, his ankles tied to his wrists, and they were wrapped
several times, and there was different cross patterns.
It would take over 40 foot of rope to do that.
It was quite an elaborate pattern, it was all perfectly spaced out, and the crosses
where the ropes crossed were all perfect, so I’m sure that was part of the ritual or
the thrill of the suspect got.
The position would have left Al’s feet exposed, and the coroner found that they were severely
bruised from having been beaten.
Severe bruising of different sizes on the rest of his body also indicated that he was
beaten with several different blunt objects, but that wasn’t even the worst of it, not
Al had a total of 11 stab wounds on his body, in his ears, in his eyes, on the tops of his
shoulders and his upper torso.
The coroner at the time thought that the torture went on for several hours because it had time
for his eyes to bruise and actually close shut, and with the blood evidence in the room,
if you’re dead, your heart’s not beating, you’re not throwing blood all over.
So it went on for several hours.
The knife wounds were so deep, the coroner determined it would have taken an immense
amount of force to do that kind of damage.
But despite how disturbing it was, Agent Sobieski was hopeful that this particular
act of violence might be the killer’s undoing.
If you’re cutting somebody and stabbing them with kitchen knives and they get bloody, any
investigator will tell you that your hand slips up to the blade of the knife and you’ll
And with the number of cuts and the stab wounds, we felt that he had to have done it, had to
have cut himself.
There was also the gaping laceration on the back of Al’s head that the officers who first
found him had seen.
But you see, none of those wounds ended up being fatal.
It was the cut to his throat that the coroner believed finally ended his suffering and his
So my theory is we had a witness who saw Robert Cooper walking with a cane go into Okeechite’s
townhome a few days prior, probably the day he rented the place.
With the injuries, the lacerations to the back of his head, I think Okeechite may have
been walking down the stairs in front of him and he starts striking him with this cane,
causing those large lacerations.
I think there was two or three of them to the back of his head.
I don’t know if it knocked him unconscious, but it might get him to submit, you know,
to being tied up.
The coroner declared the manner of death as homicide, but it was the time of death that
was a little trickier to figure out.
They couldn’t determine an exact time, but they knew that he had been dead for at least
So combine that with the fact that they knew he had been at work on Friday, well, that
narrowed it down to some point between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.
That is a lot of time to try and cover.
So if they couldn’t narrow in on a small window, they would narrow in on what the autopsy
told them about their killer.
We wanted to get as many people that were in his inner circle, coworkers, friends, family,
because the amount of torture that Al had, we knew the suspect would probably have cuts
to his hands from punching or from the knives.
So we checked everybody’s hands, looked for injuries, got alibis for everybody.
Agent Sobieski talked to his former roommate, but they didn’t have anything useful to add,
and that person didn’t have any noticeable injuries.
Tom also talked with Al’s ex-wife, but the same thing, and she was quickly cleared too.
They were on good terms, and she no longer lived in Colorado.
We had no information that she had been back or that there was any bad blood between them
Agent Sobieski just kept going down his list.
And next was Al’s best friend.
And this guy actually said that he had been with Al on Saturday.
He said that he was working with Al on a construction project in Denver, but they wanted to go out
So they decided to wrap things up at around three and go home and get cleaned up.
Just before they went their separate ways, he said that Al told him he was also meeting
with his new roommate before they went out.
And of course, Agent Sobieski’s ears perk up at hearing this.
But he still just doesn’t know enough about this Robert guy.
And he’s even more interested when Al’s friend says that was the last time he saw Al, because
Al never showed up for their plans that night.
The next person that Agent Sobieski wants to go talk to was Linda, Al’s new girlfriend.
And little did he know that she would actually be the one that could give him the most information
yet on Robert Cooper.
Linda told Agent Sobieski that she had also last heard from Al on Saturday, sometime between
3.30 and 4.
She had had a flight out of town that morning, and he had taken her to the airport.
On their way, they had decided to officially become boyfriend and girlfriend since they’d
been seeing each other for a couple of months.
So when Linda finished her travel and got to her hotel, she called just to check in
Now, he picked up the phone, but she said that something felt off.
She couldn’t really tell why at the time, but when she learned what had happened to
Al, she believed that Al’s killer was in the house as they were speaking.
She said he seemed different.
He didn’t seem like himself.
I don’t remember her exact wording, but she thought there was something different about
him when she talked to him.
But in my opinion, and it’s just my opinion, there is no way that a killer who went to
this elaborate scenario to set this all up would ever let him talk on the phone for any
reason to anyone, because he says two words to her and, you know, call 911 or help me
or whatever, and suddenly he’s got to leave, the police are coming or whatever.
So I don’t see that as a scenario at all.
Regardless of whether the killer was in the house by then or not, the call and Al’s best
friend’s interview were important because it let the coroner know that Al was at least
alive at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Agent Sobieski also asked Linda if she knew anything about a guy named Robert, and just
like so many other people he’d spoken to, she was like, oh yeah, his new roommate.
Not only did she know about this guy, but she also said she saw him too.
Linda said that on May 8th, she went over to Al’s, and when she arrived, Al was giving
Robert a tour of the basement.
She called out to Al to let him know that she was there, and he called back that Robert
was there, and he wanted them to meet.
Now she needed to use the restroom first, and by the time she got out, all she caught
was just a little glimpse of Robert going out the front door.
As soon as he hears another witness, he’s getting out of there.
I don’t know what he told Al to leave that quick, but from the time she went up the stairs
till she came out of the bathroom, he’s up and out, going out the door.
From the quick look that she got, Linda was able to give a vague description of the man
She said he was white, had dark brown hair, he was well-dressed in a suit and tie, and
notably he didn’t have a cane.
Now she was also able to confirm that Robert had gone back to Al’s to sign that rental
agreement on the 18th, and when he was there, he paid $1,000 for half a month’s rent and
a deposit, and he took a key to the house.
When she describes the key that he took, investigators are certain that it is part of the same ones
that they found in the sink.
But what struck her as odd was that after he left, he didn’t come back.
Like he had had a key, he had paid, he just never showed up again, at least not to move
Now this is definitely weird, and when Al talked to Linda about it, he said something
about some furniture that Robert had that wouldn’t fit down the stairs, so he was like
waiting to figure it out.
And I know that’s super vague, but Linda told Agent Sobieski that she couldn’t remember
the exact details of that conversation, so we’ll never really know what Robert’s excuse
was for the delay in moving in.
Either way, at this point, investigators were convinced that Robert had something to do
with Al’s murder.
So the first week of their investigation was a mad dash to just track this guy down.
They obviously started with that rental agreement, which, besides his full name, included Robert’s
He also had two references, there was a social security number, a driver’s license number.
But every single thing on there turned out to be bogus.
The address was an elementary school about 24 minutes from Al’s.
The references were made-up names.
The social security number led them to an 81-year-old woman named Veronica who was living
in the Midwest.
And the driver’s license number didn’t even lead them to a real person, it was just a
jumble of numbers.
The name Robert Cooper was almost definitely fake, too.
But for the sake of clarity, I am going to continue using it when referring to the suspect.
So the only thing about this document that seemed to be legit was the date written at
The victim’s handwriting wrote the date 5-18-04 up in the right top corner of that application
is I guess when he completed it.
We did handwriting analysis on it and they could tell us based on, we gave them samples
of Al’s handwriting, back then everything was handwritten, and they could tell us what
on that application form that the victim had filled out.
And then the rest of it was filled out by Robert Cooper.
They can’t tell me if it was right-handed, left-handed, or anything.
Now if you are screaming at me right now, yelling, call the number on the bank statement,
please, already done and looked into.
And like everything else about Robert Cooper, it’s smoke and mirrors.
The phone wasn’t in service anymore.
And when they got the records, they learned that it was attached to an AT&T cell phone
and was registered at the same fake address that Robert put on the rental agreement.
Now the phone was prepaid for 90 days of use, but this isn’t a total bust because along
with getting the records on Robert’s phone, they had also requested Al’s cell phone
records and his landline records.
And those showed that both cell phones were used after Al’s murder.
Detectives were so grateful for this data because even though they had Al’s cell in
their possession, as far as physical evidence went, it was kind of a bust.
The screen was cracked, it had been damaged, and the guy named Joe had handled it and two
co-workers had touched everything, trying to find phone numbers.
So forensically, it was not worth doing anything to.
So looking at Robert’s data first, a lot of the usage on the phone after the murder
A lot of them to the same number, which they learned belonged to a woman living in West
We do a traffic stop on her, we confront her with, you know, who’s this guy who’s calling
He could be a suspect in a murder.
And she tells us that it’s a homeless man that she knows that lives at the Good Samaritan
homeless shelter in downtown Denver.
So we get a description of him, he doesn’t match the Robert that we were looking for.
They did track down the man just to be sure, though, and they learned that his name was
Acid Rio Rios.
He was Latino and much older than even the oldest description of Robert.
He had gotten the cell phone from a local guy who was known in the area for selling
goods at low cost to people experiencing homelessness.
But when Agent Sobieski asked him for the phone, Acid said that he couldn’t give it
He said once the phone quit working, he threw it in the Platte River, so we never did recover
They tried to track down the guy Acid said sold him the phone.
But after doing so, they determined that he wasn’t involved at all either.
And Al’s phone usage after the murder was a dead end as well, because investigators
already knew that the activity that they were seeing on the phone records was from that
man named Joe, who had sold the phone back to Al’s boss after he’d found it.
But the fact that both cell phones, Okie Kite’s and Robert Cooper’s cell phones, got into
the hands of homeless people threw us off for a week during the investigation, because
we had detectives writing court orders for phone numbers for both phones trying to figure
out who our victim was calling and who our suspect was calling.
Well, it was because the homeless people had these phones and they were letting other people
use them and it really messed us up for a week.
If we’d have known that, we would have, we could have been doing a lot of other things.
But this doesn’t mean that the phone was a dead end by any means.
Phone records from before the murder show Robert had called Al 10 times over several
weeks, but Al hadn’t been the only one.
Robert had made dozens of calls, all to people who had spaces available to rent.
Agent Sobieski took on the tedious task of contacting every single number, which ended
up being over 100 calls to people renting out their homes, and he found some interesting
connections between them.
But I’m going to have to tell you about that in part two, which you can listen to right now.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
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