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Denver Police Learn There Was A Serial Killer In Town When DNA Links Cold Cases Together

DENVER (CBS4) - In 1981, Aurora teenager Antoinette Parks had her whole life took look forward to. She was high school student who attended Gateway High School in Aurora.

"She was young vivacious, she loved children, she was a good student," said her brother George Journey.

Antoinette Parks
Antoinette Parks (credit: DPD)

He and their brother Karl Journey say they think she would have eventually opened up her own daycare.

"If you brought your kid over to be watched, you probably weren't getting them back," said George.

She was pregnant with a child of her own and her family says she was excited to begin her family and finish school, but she never got that chance. She was stabbed to death in January of 1981. Denver Police say Joe Ervin killed her and at least 3 other women.

Another one of his victims was 33-year-old mother of 2 Madeleine Livaudais. She was at her northeast Denver home when Ervin came to her door and confronted her. The suspect then forced his way inside her home and stabbed her to death.

Madeleine Furey-Livaudais
Madeleine Furey-Livaudais (credit: DPD)

Her family says she was a writer and an editor on the beloved children's magazine, Ranger Rick.

Her daughters Molly and Ariel Livaudais say Joe Ervin robbed them of their life with their mother.

"We didn't get to grow up with her and hear her stories and witness the contributions she would have made to the world," said Molly.

Those were just 2 of his 4 victims. Denver police call Ervin a serial killer who took the lives of 4 women in 3 years between 1978 and 1981.

Joe Ervin in 1981
Joe Ervin in 1981 (credit: CBS)

He killed 53-year-old Dolores Barajas in 1980 when she was walking to work. According to the CBI cold cases website, she was working in Denver temporarily at a hotel in Downtown Denver and was preparing to return home to El Paso, Texas when she was killed.

Ervin killed 27-year-old Gwendolyn Harris in December of that same year. According to Denver police, she was found stabbed to death on the corner of E. 47th Avenue and Andrews Drive in Denver. She was last seen the night before at the Polo Club Lounge located in downtown Denver. Police say Harris was found within a "one-block vicinity of Joe Ervin's residence at the time of the murder."

Gwendolyn Harris
Gwendolyn Harris (credit: DPD)

Ervin's reign of terror came to an end when he was pulled over by Aurora Police officer Debra Sue Corr on June 27, 1981. She was his final victim. Ervin broke free as she attempted to arrest and handcuff him. Ervin then took Corr's weapon and shot her.

APD Officer Debra Sue Corr (credit: CBS)

As this was happening, Aurora Police Explorer Scout Glen Spies was passing by and tried to intervene. Spies was shot in the back but survived.

Aurora Police Explorer Scout Glen Spies in 1981 (credit: CBS)

Ervin was arrested at his home in Aurora as he tried to saw the handcuffs from his wrist. Officer Corr was the first Aurora police officer killed in the line of duty and she was married to a Denver police officer at the time of her murder.

"With her sacrifice she prevented him from killing anyone else," said Molly Livaudais

Ervin killed himself while in custody soon afterward.

Denver Police say DNA science solved this case. As early as 2013 officers began linking the cases. Then through a genealogical DNA search they identified Ervin as a possible suspect and then gathered DNA from his exhumed body to confirm it.

The families of Antoinette Parks and Madeleine Livaudais are grateful.

"It is a great relief to our family to finally have this resolution," said Molly Livaudais

"We finally got the closure for you and for us and it's just wonderful," said George Journey.

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