PARK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Park County authorities announced a major development in a 39-year-old cold case on Wednesday. Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw announced that Alan Lee Phillips was arrested in the 1982 kidnapping, assault and homicides of Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer and Annette Schnee.
Phillips, 70, was arrested last month in Clear Creek County and taken to the Park County Jail where he remains in custody on first-degree kidnapping, assault and homicide charges.
Phillips was arrested in Clear Creek County because that's where he was living on Feb. 24.
Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer and Annette Schnee were believed to be hitchhiking separately from Breckenridge to Park County on Jan. 6, 1982 when they were killed. The women's deaths rocked Summit and Park counties, and their killer had not been found until now.
Both women had been shot, their bodies left in the snow. Olberholtzer's body was found on the summit of Hoosier Pass the day after her disappearance. Schnee's body was located six months after her disappearance in a rural area in Park County in July 1982.
The case got a big break from forensic genetic genealogy investigators in 2020 to identify a potential suspect in the case.
"That investigation resulted in investigative leads potentially connecting Alan Phillips to these cases. We began investigative work that's been going on for the past six weeks with agents from CBI, we greatly appreciate their assistance, the FBI also we greatly appreciate their assistance, and the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Albert, we definitely appreciate him," said McGraw. "This arrest is the culmination of technology, extraordinary police work, and an unwavering commitment to justice for Bobbie Jo, Annette and their families."
Surveillance crews began their investigation about 5 weeks ago before officers moved in on Phillips. He was taken into custody during a traffic stop.
Phillips had been living in Clear Creek County and was a semi-retired mechanic. He has lived in other areas of Colorado but isn't believed to have lived much outside of Colorado.
As for whether Phillips may be connected to other unsolved crimes, investigators said they will continue to follow up.
"Anybody that can commit a crime like this of killing these two beautiful women, I think could have the tendency to commit other violent acts. But we're following up on everything," said McGraw.
For that reason, authorities have released a photo of Phillips from when he was younger and set up a tip line about the 1982 murders or any information related to the suspect: 720.248.8378.
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