After almost four decades, a 70-year-old Colorado man has been arrested in connection with the brutal murder of two women who were most likely hitchhiking when they disappeared.
Alan Lee Phillips was arrested on murder charges for the 1982 deaths of Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara “Bobbi Jo” Oberholtzer, 29. Authorities say both women, who didn’t know each other, had been working in Breckenridge, Colorado. They went missing on Jan. 6, 1982 after hitchhiking.
Oberholtzer was found less than a day after she went missing but it took authorities six months to find Schnee. Authorities found an orange bootie sock near the crime scenes of both women, according to local media reports.
While authorities have not formally charged Phillips, he remains in custody at the Park County Jail. Court records show he’s also facing charges of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon with offense dates that match both cases. Park County Combined Court confirmed that Schnee and Oberholtzer are the victims.
It wasn’t immediately clear what new information led investigators to Phillips in a case that has remained cold for almost a decade. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is expected to hold a briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
“I have no problem working it to the bitter end,” private investigator Charlie McCormick, who has been working on the case since 1989, told Denver 7 last year. “You can’t walk away from it, or I can’t. Haven’t wanted to. Tomorrow’s another day, and you got stuff to do, and you see what might happen.”
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Authorities say Oberholtzer was last seen at 7:50 p.m. on the day she vanished, leaving a local pub after having a drink with coworkers. The next afternoon, she was found lying on her back in a snow bank near the Hoosier Pass summit, which is over 11,000 feet in elevation.
The 29-year-old was shot in the chest and right breast, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation stated. “The shooting occurred outside in a rural, isolated, mountain area next to Colorado Highway 9. It would have been dark, possibly snowing, and very cold (-20 degrees F),” the bureau added.
Investigators found her backpack and purse about 20 miles from the crime scene, along US Highway 285. Nearby Oberholtzer’s body, authorities found her key chain with a hook and an orange bootie sock, according to Denver7. The murder weapon, a .38/.357 handgun using a Remington/Peters copper jacketed hollow point bullet, was never recovered.
Six months later, a young boy found Schnee near Fairplay—about 30 minutes away from where she was last seen leaving a store in Park County. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said she was found face down in a small stream and was most likely shot outside in a rural “isolated mountain valley area where there would be no witnesses.”
“The area where Schnee was found, you’d almost have to have known it was there,” Jim Hardtke, an agent with the bureau, told Denver7 last year. “You’d have to be a local of some sort.”
While she was found fully clothed, her clothing was in disarray, authorities said. According to Hardtke, Schnee was also wearing an orange bootie sock on her left foot. Authorities never recovered a weapon but concluded she died from a gunshot wound to the back.
Items from her backpack were also found near Breckenridge, including a photograph of a man that has never been identified.
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