More than a decade before the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, Boulder's most notorious unsolved murder was the 1983 slaying of Sid Wells, a handsome CU student who'd been dating actor Robert Redford's daughter, Shauna.
Now, more than 27 years later, an arrest warrant on view below has been issued for Wells's ex-roommate, Thayne Smika -- but no one knows where he is.
A Boulder Daily Camera piece on this development notes that Smika was suspect number one in the execution-style slaying from the jump. However, then-district attorney Alex Hunter -- well known to followers of the Ramsey case -- declined to press charges, saying he didn't have enough evidence.
Boulder cops lost track of Smika three years later, but they didn't give up on the case, as documented in the fascinating and comprehensive arrest warrant. The investigation was reopened in 1997, with additional analysis of evidence taking place in 2001 and 2009. In the end, the key items collected turned out to be shotgun pellets in the shell that killed Wells and those found in two live rounds recovered from Smika's residence. Dr. Robert Bardwell, a consultant on the case, compared them and came to the following conclusion.
The rarity of these alloys is 1 in 526 to 1 in 119,617.
The rarity of shells with 2 alloys is 1 in 2.45.
The rarity of 70/30 split of 2 alloys is 1 in 2.45.
The overall rarity of the 3 shells in this case (shell that killed Mr. Wells and the two shells recovered from the Smika residence in Akron) is 1 in 2,925 to 1 in 665,250-Concluding that the 3 shells have the same signature (number, type and proportions of alloys).
That was enough for current Boulder DA Stan Garnett. But bringing Smika to trial will be damnably difficult. Conflicting reports have placed him in California and Mexico, both big places with plenty of room to hide -- and a proposed reward of $1,000 for information about his whereabouts is unlikely to loosen lips presumably sealed since the Reagan administration. Still, there's more hope for justice now than there's been in a long, long time.
Here's the arrest warrant:
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Can abolishing the death penalty help solve cold cases?"
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