DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man has been convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the cold case slayings of two women whose bodies were found near the mountain resort town of Breckenridge in 1982.
Alan Lee Phillips, 71, was arrested last year in the mountain hamlet of Dumont, west of Denver, after local, state and federal authorities using DNA evidence identified him as a suspect in the killings of Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara “Bobbi Jo” Oberholtzer, 29.
A Park County jury in Fairplay deliberated for just five hours before convicting Phillips of eight counts late Thursday, including first-degree murder after deliberation and first-degree murder involving felony kidnapping and robbery, Rob McCallum, a spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Department, said Friday.
Phillips faces life in prison when he is sentenced at a hearing set for Nov. 7.
Local, state and federal authorities used DNA testing to help identify Phillips as a potential suspect. A miner and automobile mechanic, Phillips had lived in the area over the past four decades. He was arrested in early 2021.
Authorities said the two women, whose bodies were found in separate locations, had no connection. Both were believed to be hitchhiking outside Breckenridge, a ski resort town about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southwest of Denver, when they disappeared on Jan. 6, 1982.
Friends and family discovered Oberholtzer’s body the next day in a snow drift on the summit of 11,542-foot (3,463-meter) Hoosier Pass, near Breckenridge, one day after she disappeared. Schnee’s body was discovered six months later, fully clothed, by a boy fishing in a creek in rural Park County. Both women had been shot.
Investigators said Phillips was rescued the night that the women disappeared from the top of nearby Guanella Pass when his truck got stuck during a snowstorm, KUSA-TV reported. The victims did not know Phillips or each other.
“Bobbi Jo was a fighter and is a hero. She fought back and because of that we were able to get DNA evidence to convict Annette and Bobbi Jo’s killer after all this time,” Linda Stanley, district attorney for the 11th Judicial District, said in a statement.
“This absolutely gives hope to people,” said Deputy District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who helped prosecute the case. “This case being so old, this (verdict) shows there’s no case that can’t be solved.”
Phillips was represented by the public defender’s office, which does not comment on cases.