The new FOX show, “The Following” follows a former FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a network of serial killers. For real life investigators in Aurora and Arapahoe County, it’s not far from reality.
They now believe dozens of young women, murdered in the 1970s and 1980s, could’ve been victims of a serial killer. They are making a new plea for help solving these cold cases.
Detective Steve Conner of the Aurora Police Department started connecting the dots on these cases a few years ago.
He said, “Wherever the bodies were found, we just plotted them on a map and that was kind of an 'ah-ha' moment.”
That news was a shock to families of victims like Stephanie Bauman. She was a 15-year-old runaway.
Her family says she got hooked up with the wrong crowd and she disappeared in 1979.
Her uncle, Tim Bauman, still remembers vividly the frantic search for her and the call that she had been found dead.
He said, “It was kind of like she walked off into oblivion. The door shut behind; there were no trails or anything. For me, I’ve had horrible fantasies about what I’d like to have done to that person. Murder is personal. What he did to her, he did to all of us... all of us who loved her.”
Investigators never found Stephanie’s killer. Or Karolyn Walker’s or Gayle Page Johnston’s or dozens of others.
Det. Conner said, “Most of the similarities are in the physical features of the victims and the location of the bodies after they were killed.
Investigator Marvin Brandt of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office added, ”They were displayed. By displayed I mean their legs spread apart, and visible from the road, not hidden on the edge of town.”
Brandt was the original homicide investigator on a few of the cases.
He said, “It brings back some old memories... think about things I should've done differently. Maybe I should've done but I didn't do, of course we didn't have technology that we have now.”
Investigators have tested some DNA evidence, but they still have not been able to identify the killer.
Det. Connor said, “That’s not the cure all for the cases. We need more than DNA. We need witnesses. DNA is great... we need other forensic evidence. If a suspect confesses, that's even better.”
Investigator Bruce Isaacson of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office added, “Solving these cases is like a big puzzle and you may have a piece that is really important and you don't realize how it fits with all the other pieces. People need to not be afraid to come forward.”
If you have any information, you can call Crime Stoppers or any of the police departments. You can remain anonymous.
Stephanie Bauman’s family is happy investigators haven’t given up. Tim Bauman said, “Resolution would be wonderful, to the person responsible, especially if they are a serial killer, we’ve got to get him off the streets. It has hurt us so bad.”
To read more about some of the 1,500 unsolved murder cases in Colorado: