The two women were last seen hitchhiking separately on January 6, 1982, in Colorado, but were found dead later, on different days, with similar wounds.
After almost 40 years, two cold cases have come to an end thanks to modern technology. A 70-year-old man was arrested in February 2021 for the deaths of two women in 1982, and genetic genealogy is the reason he was found out all these years later.
The two women, Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara Oberholtzer, 29, were last seen hitchhiking south of Breckenridge on January 6, 1982, Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw of Colorado told 9News. Alan Lee Phillips, 70, was arrested on February 24, 2021, for the two crimes committed almost four decades ago. He will be charged for kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and murder after deliberation.
"When I became the Sheriff in January of 2019 we had four unsolved murders," the sheriff said. "Now we have one unsolved murder and that is the case of Maggie Long," he added, as per KDVR.
The women were not together and had been hitchhiking separately out of Breckenridge toward Park County. Barbara's body was found the next afternoon on January 7, 1982, near Highway 9 south of Breckenridge whereas Annette's was found on July 3, 1982, in Sacramento Creek.
21-year-old Annette was last seen hitchhiking about 4:45 p.m. on January 6, 1982, according to the cold case database from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Her body was found in rural Park County, about 20 miles south of Breckenridge, according to CBI. She had been shot in the back at the location where she was found, according to information from the database.
She was in an "isolated, mountain valley area where there would be no witnesses. It would have been dark, possibly snowing, and very cold (-20 degrees F). The death was due to loss of blood from a single gunshot wound to the back, and appeared to have occurred at the location where the body was found." She was found face down in a small stream, fully clothed, but with clothing in disarray. She was likely shot with a .38/.357/9 mm handgun. However, "no bullet was found in the body."
29-year-old Barbara was last seen at 7:50 p.m. on January 6, 1982, as per the database. Her body was found about 3 p.m. the following day near the summit of Hoosier Pass. That area was also isolated and mountainous. She also died due to the loss of blood from a gunshot wound. She was shot in the chest with a "second grazing wound to the right breast, and appeared to have occurred at the location of the body."
Her body was "found approximately 20 feet off of the highway, down a snow embankment, and was lying on her back. Items from Ms. Oberholtzer's back pack/purse were located approximately 20 miles from the crime scene along US Highway 285 south and east toward Denver, Colorado. The weapon used was a .38/.357 handgun using a Remington/Peters copper jacketed hollow point bullet."
Their families had been waiting for answers all these years. Private investigator Charlie McCormick, who began working the case in 1989, helped in solving it as well. "I have no problem working it to the bitter end," McCormick said in 2020, as per TheDenverChannel. "You can't walk away from it, or I can't. Haven't wanted to. Tomorrow's another day, and you got stuff to do, and you see what might happen."
Eileen Franklin, Annette's mother, also sought answers for decades. "I’ve been waiting," the 87-year-old woman said in 2020, "but my time is running out."
She doesn't need to wait anymore as Alan is being held in prison without bail so he could be charged.
Cover image source: Colorado Bureau of Investigation | In Photo: (L) Annette Schnee (R) Barbara Oberholtzer