Tragic Stories of Unsolved Murders on National Day of Remembrance for Victims

Today, September 25, is the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

This somber occasion will be marked at 11 a.m. at the Webb Building Atrium, 201 West Colfax. In addition to scheduled speakers, the family and friends of murder victims will be encouraged to "bring a picture of their loved one and a representative from each family may present the name, date of birth and date of death of their loved one at the microphone."

The pain felt by all loved ones of murder victims is immense. But there's a special agony when such crimes are unsolved — or if the person involved simply vanished without a trace and is feared dead.

Periodically in recent years, we've shared the personal stories of victims as collected on the indispensable Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons website. Find links to five of them below.

Continue to learn about ten more mysteries, featuring photos and personal stories of the victims as featured on the FOHVAMP site, and click on victim names for more details, including law-enforcement contact info if you can help finally bring their killers to justice. Included among them is the tragic case of Kelsie Schelling, about whom we've written on several occasions since her disappearance in February 2013, shortly after learning she was pregnant.

In the meantime, our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of murder victims everywhere. We remember.

Kamara Young

Kamara Gabriel Young, 18, was born at Keefler AFB near Biloxi, Mississippi where his father, Frank Young III was serving in the U.S. Air Force. He was the youngest of three children. Kamara was very talented displaying a flair for art at an early age. He was also blessed with a beautiful singing voice. While living in Colorado Springs, Kamara attended Widefield High School. In February 1992, he moved to Phoenix to be with his mother who had left his father. There Kamara graduated from East Valley High School in Mesa where he was an outstanding athlete starring in track, football and basketball. In the early morning hours of October 1, 1994, Kamara caught a ride with four friends. They became involved in a gang-related dispute with the occupants of another car. Gunfire erupted and Kamara was shot five times. The shooter was arrested and released. None of the witnesses would testify. If you have information on this murder, please call Phoenix Police Department. 

Eric Ortiz

Eric Ortiz, 27, spent several years of his childhood in foster care. Then his grandmother cared for him. Eric attended high school in Colorado Springs. He worked mostly in construction. Eric enjoyed boating with his friend, Tommy Phillips. An outgoing person, he had lots of friends according to his uncle, Brian Ortiz. An artist, Eric did a lot of sketching and worked with stencil and water colors. Eric had three children: two boys and a girl. But he was separated from his wife at the time of his death. On August 19, 2007, Eric was headed home when he received a call asking for help. When he arrived at 731 E. 3rd in Pueblo, he was shot in the left eye and died. No one has been charged with Eric’s murder. If you have information about this crime, please call Pueblo Police at 719.553.2538 .

James L. Hamm

James L. Hamm was a native of Pueblo and lived there all his life. He attended Centennial High School then married Louis Takash in December 1964. James and Louise had three children: Lynette Hamm, Jim Hamm and Louise Fowler. The couple divorced in 1979.

James Hamm loved riding his motorcycle. A very sociable individual, he had many friends. James was very mechanically inclined. He took pleasure in fixing cars and then selling them. He enjoyed his career as a janitor and he became custodian for Centennial High School. James worked for District 60 for more than a dozen years. His children say he was very content with his life.

Saturday was James' night out so on June 15, 1991 he started out to have a good time. But this Saturday would end in tragedy. Riding his beloved motorcycle, the 46-year-old came to a stop sign at Beulah & W. Arroyo Avenues in Pueblo.

As James turned left onto Beulah, a shotgun roared five times. James Hamm's son, Jimmy, who lived a few houses away, heard the gunshots and ran to the scene. He saw a vehicle make a sharp right turn and disappear. Jimmy found his father lying in the street near his motorcycle. The victim died a short time later.

If you have any information relating to this murder, please call Deputy Chief John Ercul at the Pueblo Police Department, 719-240-2329. Or, if you wish to remain anonymous, call Pueblo Crime Stoppers at (719) 542-7867. 

Gloria Madrid

Gloria Madrid was born in Pueblo February 16, 1952. She attended Centennial High School but dropped out to marry Charles Madrid in 1968. The couple had two sons, Steve and Michael Madrid.

Gloria worked as a clerk for the Sheriff's Department from January 1978 to February 1982. She enjoyed camping and had many friends. Her family describes her as a "free spirit" who liked to be around people.

Tragedy struck the family in 1989 when Charles, who worked for the city of Pueblo, was hit by a city truck and killed. Gloria worked for the Target Warehouse at Pueblo Airport for several years. She drove a fork lift.

On December 2, 1991, her body was discovered in her apartment by family members. Gloria Madrid had been strangled. Her 1990 Chevrolet Corsica was found three miles southwest near Lake Minnequa. This murder has never been solved.

If you think you may have information regarding this crime, please call the Pueblo Police Department at (719) 553-2538. Or, if you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at (719) 542-7867. You may be eligible for a reward. 

Adam Velez

Adam and his wife, Dana, had two children, Devyn & Desirae. Dana says Adam had a heart of gold and made friends where ever he went. Adam worked as a waiter in Pueblo for Rosario's, B Street Cafe and Cactus flower. A musician, he played bass guitar for a band called "Build Up." They played all over Colorado. Adam was always willing to help people no matter who they were or what they needed. But in September 1997, Adam Velez was gunned down in an alley in the 1900 block of E. Sixth in Pueblo. No one has been arrested or prosecuted for this murder. It is a cold case. If you have information about this crime, call John Ercul, 719-549-1200. 

Benjamin Clark

Ben Clark disappears October 2009; skull found 2.5 years later. Coroner undetermined; family believes homicide.

Marie Blee

Marie Blee, 15, was the youngest of five children. She was in the 10th grade at Hayden High School looking forward to getting her driver's permit. Active in 4H and a former Girl Scout, Marie enjoyed the outdoors and had just obtained her ski pass for Steamboat. In September of that year, she went to Germany with her parents, Paul & Ramona Blee of Grand Junction, CO. There they took a Rhine River cruise, enjoyed sightseeing in Lichtenstien and Switzerland, and took in the Octoberfest in Munich. On November 21, 1979 Marie attended a party at a private residence in Craig, Colorado. She never returned home. Marie's parents reported her missing the next morning to police and within days they received a ransom call demanding money for her return. The caller was soon identified as Monty Dean Doolin, who was an acquaintance of Marie and the last person she was seen with. Doolin pled guilty to telephone harassment and was released on probation claiming he had no knowledge of Marie's whereabouts. In 1999 the Routt County Sheriff's Office organized a Marie Blee cold case task force involving Moffat County SO, Craig PD, Hayden PD, FBI, Routt County SO, and Paul & Mona Blee to resolve the teen's disappearance/homicide. Marie has not yet been located. No one has been charged in her disappearance/homicide. But the task force continues to gather valuable information. As an example, DNA belonging to Marie was gathered from her orthodontic retainer after twenty one years. This could be valuable in comparing any unidentified remains found that might be Marie's. If you have any information that might relate to this case, please contact Investigator Ken Klinger at 970-870-5503 or e-mail him at [email protected] 

Barbara Snyder

Barbara Ruth Snyder, 26, was born in New Jersey. Precocious and artistic, she wrote poetry and played the French horn in several youth orchestras. Her early interest in the Beatles was the key to a close friendship which led to Barb and her friend leaving home in their mid-teens only to return. Later Barbara moved to San Francisco to live with a cousin, Jane. Barbara’s mother, Jeanne Snyder, said her daughter was attracted to Jane’s “hippy” lifestyle.

While in San Francisco, Barbara became involved with a man named Luther who had previously been in trouble with the law.

Barbara Snyder went missing November 27, 1983. Her body was found nine days later in the East Bay Regional Park District. She had been strangled. Barbara was misidentified at first. It took another week for her parents to be notified.

If you have information which might be helpful in this case, please call Detective Sgt. Tyrone Davis, 510-881-1833.

Charles Hutchins

Charles "Tom" Hutchins graduated West High in Billings, MT 1977. He enjoyed playing the piano and accordian as well as just hanging out with friends. The oldest of four children, "Tom was" in Denver studying to do blood work for hospitals. He was a clerk at the Adult Palace on So. Santa Fe Dr. which he opened at 9 am, July 5, 1986. Two hours later Charles Hutchins was found dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. If you have any information about this victim or this murder, please call Sgt. Anthony Parisi, 720-913-6320. If you wish to remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers, 720-913-7867. There is a reward. 

Kelsie Schelling

Laura Saxton had this to say about her daughter: As far as what Kelsie is like, she is a little gal with a big personality. She has a beautiful smile and a laugh that is so contagious, you have to laugh with her. She is pretty tough on the outside, but has a very, very soft heart. She is someone who fights for the underdog. She tries to see the good in everyone and doesn't judge based on race or stature. She was excited to be a mommy. She is very loved and very missed. Kelsie Schelling was 8 weeks pregnant when she went to Pueblo to visit boyfriend Donthe Lucas, at his request. Kelsie's mother says her daughter "was addicted to her cell phone" always either texting or talking to friends and family. No one has heard from her after her February 4, 2013 disappearance. On February 5, 2013, $400 was withdrawn from Kelsie's account by a person who appeared to be her boyfriend. Thirty minutes after the ATM video Donthe was seen parking Kelsie's car in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Donthe has reportedly refused to cooperate with authorities.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts