Ten more unsolved Denver murders: Read victims' personal stories
In May, we shared a post featuring personal stories of victims in ten unsolved Denver murders, with the information provided by Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, an organization devoted to making sure no case or loved one is forgotten.
Unfortunately, there are many more tragic events of this type -- and, presumably, a corresponding number of killers still walking free. Read about ten more victims below, and click on the links for additional details, including law-enforcement contact info to use if you know something that can help solve these crimes.
Gregory Scott Stone, 37, graduated from Brentwood High School near St. Louis then joined the US Army in 1974. Scott achieved the rank of Sergeant and received an honorable discharge in 1978.
Sports minded, the 6'3" Stone played basketball on a German team as well as baseball. Scott loved to fish and hunt. Everyone loved him. "He was everyone's friend," said Scott's mother, Imogene Stone, of Aldrich, MO. He also loved animals and had dogs of his own.
A friend with whom Scott served in the Army told of his family's pizza and trucking business which led Scott to go into trucking after his service.
Scott married Sharon and they became the parents of twin girls, Lisa and Monica. They settled in East Alton, Illinois near St. Louis.
He bought his own Kenworth tractor and hauled cross country for Mayflower Transit.
In moving furniture and household goods, Scott would frequently hire help from a labor pool in the city of delivery. But he befriended a man by the name of Lance W. Wright and gave him a job helping on the truck.
In November 1992, Scott was headed west, hauling a load to California, with Lance on board. They encountered snow and decided to overnight in Hays, Kansas. Scott, who kept a gun in the truck for protection, cashed "com" checks for over $1000. He was murdered early in the morning of Nov 25. His body was found June 6, 1993 wrapped in a moving blanket under a bridge on 144th Street near Brighton, Colorado by a farmer.
Imogene Stone believes Lance Wright murdered her son, stole his money and his truck, then dumped his body near Brighton. "Lance had been at my house and eaten at my table." Mrs. Stone has made many trips from her Missouri home to Colorado to urge investigation of her son's murder and prosecution of those responsible. On a September 2003 trip, personnel from the sheriff's office and District Attorney did meet with Mrs. Stone and explain their work on the case. Mrs. Stone made another trip in 2005. She is helping authorities by supplying information developed by a private investigator.
"I remember the last time Scott called. He said "I love you, Mom."" When asked how she could find closure, Imogene replied: "There'll be closure when they close the lid on my coffin." Imogene Stone is one of FOHVAMP's most persistent family members in seeking justice for her son.
Scott also is survived by a sister, Pamela Grabulski of Missouri.
Michelle Mellema-Witherell, 24, had been in 4-H since she was 9, raising sheep and building a flock that won widespread acclaim. She also showed Arabian horses. Raised in Parker, CO, Michelle graduated Ponderosa High and became a licensed real estate agent in business with her parents, Everett & Cathy Mellema.
She married Jeremy Witherell in September 1992. The newlyweds moved to Pennsylvania where Jeremy went to work with his brother who was starting a new publication. But all was not well between Michelle and Jeremy. In a phone call to her mother, in which she disclosed she planned to return to Parker, Michelle said "I don't think it is God's will that anyone live in an abusive situation."
On December 20, 1992, her body was found lying in the middle of a driveway near the apartment where the couple lived. Jeremy explained that "following an argument" a portion of the balcony wall, on which Michelle was leaning, gave way causing Michelle to lose her balance and fall. In spite of injuries inconsistent with a jump or fall, the coroner ruled the cause of death "undetermined."
Everett & Cathy Mellema posted a $50,000 reward, hired experts, sought second opinions and pressed an unwavering campaign to learn the truth. Finally, in January 1998, a coroner's inquest changed the official manner of death to homicide. Subsequently, Jeremy Witherell stood trial for causing Michelle's death but was acquitted.
Richard Walter and the VIDOQ Society reviewed the case and determined there was an inadequate investigation. Together with a Philadelphia law firm, they have presented their findings to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rebecca Bartee was born in Topeka, Kansas and graduated from Hayden High School there. Rebecca earned her undergraduate degree as well as her Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas. After graduating in 1984 she worked for Kansas Legal Services as a staff attorney. Rebecca enjoyed hiking and the outdoors. Her dream was to live in Denver. She received accolades for her work in child support enforcement in Western Kansas while living in Hays. Rebecca moved to Colorado on May 14, 1999 to accept the job of Assistant District Attorney in Arapahoe County running the child support recovery unit. She told her sister, Peggy Brockington, "You know, moving is hard, but I'm looking out my window at the mountains; life couldn't be better." Peggy called her sister "The spark plug of our family." Rebecca was last seen driving home from work on Friday, June 4, 1999. Three days later her body was found in the bathtub of her home. She had been strangled. Becky's survivors include her daughter, Kate (who was 13 years old multiply handicapped and adored by her mother), three sisters, three brothers and her mother. If you have any information regarding this murder, please call Investigator Bruce Isaacson, 720-874-4022.
Casey Scott Berry, 25, was last seen at approximately 9:00 am, February 14, 2007, leaving his residence with a friend to go to the home of an acquaintance in a very rural area near Blanca in Costilla County, CO.
He has not been seen or heard from since. Casey is 6'1'', weighs 150 lbs, blue eyes, blonde hair.
Law enforcement considers this a suspicious disappearance. Informants are urged to contact Sgt. Rick Needham, Alamosa Police Department, 719-589-2548.
Nancy Lyn Begg Shoupp, 27, was born in Littleton, CO and raised there until she was 13 when she moved to Meeker with her sister, brothers and mother. She graduated from Meeker High School then came to Denver where she graduated from Metro State.
Married to Steve Shoupp, she had two children, Geoffrey, 3-1/2, and Mattie, 2. Nancy worked for a Boulder company planning computer conventions. Steve worked at a convenience store at Broadway & Dry Creek (now C-470). Nancy & the children lived in an apartment complex on Hinsdale off Dry Creek between Holly & University. Steve had left Nancy and was living alone. There was an issue of domestic violence.
Over a weekend in late April 1990, her mother, Sue Kirkham, then living in Grand Junction, tried unsuccessfully to reach Nancy at her Littleton apartment. Sue called Nancy's work Monday but she wasn't there. The employer became alarmed because Nancy would always call if she were going to be late. Sue called Nancy's father and step-mother who went to the apartment. Both Steve's and Nancy's car were there, but no Nancy.
The Arapahoe Sheriff was notified. Steve was interviewed but no arrests have been made. Sue & her husband undertook an investigation of their own. Sue believes Nancy's body may have been dumped down a missile silo near Byers. A psychic accompanied the couple to Deer Trail and they approached the silo which is on private property owned by a buffalo rancher. The site is a party place for teens and shows signs of being a satanic ritual ground. The land owner would not allow her to search because of liability issues. Sue Kirkham now lives in Meeker, CO. Steve Shoupp lives in Troy, Ohio with the children. Nancy also leaves a sister, Diane Hutchins, and two brothers, Doug & Mike Begg. Nancy's father, Ron Begg, lives in Cortez, CO and Sun City, AZ.
If you have information about this case, please contact investigator Bruce Isaacson, (720) 874-4022.
Marilee Burt, age 15, was walking home from school in her cheerleading outfit.
She made it 1/2 way home and disappeared.
Her nude body was found the next day in Deer Creek canyon.
She had been struck once in the face with enough force to cause unconsciousness. She was raped and strangled.
If you have any information on this crime, please contact Detective Bruce Isaacson, (720) 874-4022.
Vicki Clements Carpenter graduated from Denver's Temple Baptist Academy in 1978. The following year she married Paul Carpenter. Their son, Justin, was born in December 1981. Vicki was employed by King Soopers as a Secretary at their store on Montview in Aurora. A popular, outgoing individual, she enjoyed country-western dancing. Separated from her husband in August 1984, Vicki and Justin lived with her mother, Lynette Clements.
On the evening of February 18, 1985, Vicki went to Knicks Restaurant and Saloon for the first time to participate in a fashion contest. At about midnight she left Knicks and headed home. She never showed up and her mother reported her as missing the next day. Witnesses at Knicks later stated they saw Vicki get into her white and maroon, 1967 Buick by herself. The car was later found abandoned and disabled only a half mile east of Knicks, in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
Vicki's partially submerged body was found in the Cherry Creek Spillway on April 2, 1985. Authorities believe she was strangled. If you have information that might be related to this crime, please call Investigator Bruce Isaacson at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office -- 720-874-4022 -- or e-mail him at BIsaacson@co.arapahoe.co.us
Alice Jane Nethery Hensley, 35, was born in Lexington, KY. She was the mother of Jennifer Hartman, 13, and the daughter of Bob Nethery of Lakewood, CO. Her natural mother, Judith Lanman, died in 1978. Alice was raised by her step-father, Joel Watson. She graduated from Ashland (KY) High School. Alice Jane was employed at a Family Resource Center.
She was divorced in 1995 from Donnie Hartman of Ashland. Donnie was the father of Jennifer and he and Alice Jane continued to share a special bond and remained friends until her death.
But Alice Jane was infatuated with Buck Hensley. They had dated during her early high school years. She married Buck in 1996.
Their relationship had problems during the five years they were married, according to Buck Hensley. According to Bob Nethery, she decided to walk away from her marriage, quit her job, and return to college. She was excited, relieved and felt a new hope for her future.
After having spent the evening out with her husband (Buck said they had been drinking) Alice Jane was shot in the head with a 38 caliber gun in her home in Ashland. She died shortly after being taken to the hospital on March 3, 2001. The coroner ruled the death a suicide.
Her parents were called by Donnie in the early morning hours of the 3rd.
In their grief her family was dismayed to learn there was no crime scene investigation, no autopsy and no formal investigation until 12 days after her death. The Boyd County sheriff's dept. and/or the coroner accepted the husband's story that Alice Jane had shot herself in his presence.
Anyone with other information about this death should call the Kentucky State Police.
Gary D. Johnson, 47, was born and raised in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. He attended college in Bloomsburg, PA graduating with an accounting degree. Very sports minded, Gary played semi-pro baseball and at one point was signed by the Detroit Tigers organization. Gary served three years in the army working in Staff Communications. While stationed at the Pentagon he met his future wife, Charlotte, a Coloradoan who was working for the FBI in Washington. After discharge from service, Gary went to work for Geico in Maryland. When the company relocated their headquarters to Colorado in 1970, Gary & Charlotte (and now son, Ted) moved too.
Charlotte describes Gary as a free spirit who didnt like being tied down to a desk. He sought financial independence. But in 1972 (the year daughter Michelle was born) their adjusted gross income was only $3,000. They got their break in 1974 when the opportunity presented itself to buy three acres of land in Lakewood that was zoned for townhomes. But this opportunity carried with itincredible challenges. The little family lived in a two bedroom shack on the premises of the project. Over the next 15 years, they built 350 townshomes. At the outset, Gary still worked as an accountant, putting in ten hours per day, then met people at the project in the evening and on weekends. That year, he accepted an additional job teaching accounting at Metro State. By 1976, their adjusted gross income had grown to $350,000! But the bank took most of it to pay off construction loans.
Stress wore on their marriage. Gary & Charlotte separated, then got back together in 1977. They built several more projects including 110 units in Lakewood and 300 units in Littleton. Gary & Charlotte bought Heritage Square Shopping Center for $10 million in 1986. A few months later, the center went into receivership after a rent strike and disputes over maintenance. Friends saw Johnson as an unflaggingly competitive and entrepreneurial spirit. Even after bankruptcy and a divorce, he was still working on a comeback project, a set of condominiums in Arapahoe County.
Friends say Johnson's dream was to own a professional football team. The closest he came was founding a girl's softball league called the Colorado Expos.
During the housing boom of the early '80s, Johnson often dug into his own pocket to fund a league in which his daughter played. When times turned hard, the league turned to bingo to raise funds.
Friends said Johnson would work late into the night on the bingo operation then show up early the next morning for softball practice.
The day Gary D. Johnson died, November 8, 1990, he lived the way he always had: real estate deals to push, people to see. One of them may have been his killer. Arapahoe County investigators tried to reconstruct how the once-wealthy Lakewood developer spent his final hours before his execution-style slaying in a field off E. Arapahoe Road in Arapahoe County. Two sets of footprints took a meandering path on the soft earth to the cottonwood, where a teenager found Johnson's warm body. He had been shot once in the back of the head. Investigators did not find the bullet. This crime remains unsolved. If you have any information regarding this crime, please contact Investigator Bruce Isaacson at 720-874-4022.
Marie Bazzinotti Nicholaides, 36, graduated cum laude from Emmanuel College in Boston. While in school, she worked part time at Digital Equipment Corporation as a computer programmer. Marie was described as a quiet girl, intelligent and very sincere. But she came out of her shell when she went to work. Following graduation she was employed full time by Digital as an account manager. She gave seminars for her employer. There she met her future husband, George Nicholaides. When Digital moved its headquarters to Colorado, the Nicholaides moved here too. George was involved in construction, building homes. In June 1990 they had a son, Stephen. Marie enjoyed the outdoors. She liked hiking, camping and horseback riding. But she loved the ocean and missed it after moving to Colorado. On May 23, 1991, Marie went home early from work. At 5pm, her husband reported to the Arapahoe County Sheriff that he found her dead inside the door still clutching her purse and car keys. Marie had been hit on the head several times with a blunt object. This murder remains unsolved. If you have information about this crime, call Arapahoe County Sheriffs Investigator Bruce Isaacson, (720) 874-4022.
More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Ten unsolved Denver murders: Read personal stories of the victims."