COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Nearly 40 years later, a Colorado mother is still searching for answers about who killed her husband, a father of two young boys. Police and the victim’s employer and his family have come to FOX31 Denver, hoping to get the word out that solving this murder case is still a priority. Joann Tornow’s husband, Victor McClendon, was the manager of the Safeway store in West Colorado Springs. She said, “He was very well liked, worked at Safeway for a long time.”
In the early morning hours of January 11th, 1975, police say someone got into the store, robbed Victor and then kidnapped him.
After a seven-day search, some kids playing in the area near 54th and Franklin in North Denver found Victor's body in a barn. That barn is gone and the area has changed a lot over the years.
But one thing has remained the same. The determination by Victor’s family and detectives to find out who did this. Detective Michael Montez is with the Colorado Springs Police Department's Homicide and Cold Case Unit. He said, “I still think there are people here in Denver that know about this crime and I hope they will maybe come forward and get some closure for the family.”
Victor’s son, Teague McClendon doesn’t remember much about his father. He was killed when he was just three years old.
He said, “It’s just time to bring it to an end. Growing up, me, my mom, my brother had this dark cloud over us because of this. There’s no closure.”
But he’s never given up hope of finding his father’s killer or killers. He said, “This is starting to become something we could possibly finish.” With recent advancements in technology, investigators began retesting evidence ... going over everything with a fine tooth comb.
And then came this announcement from Safeway: the company would offer a $10,000 reward.
Kris Staaf is the company’s Denver spokesperson. Staaf said, “Safeway is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. We stepped up and helped nearly 40 years ago, we absolutely will help again. We care about our employees and it was just the right thing to do. The end goal utimately it is about creating awareness and help solve this case. The detectives have been working on this a long time, if we can do anything to help, we certainly want to do that.”
Investigators believe the reward and the passage of time may actually benefit them in this case.
Detective Montez said, “I think friendships and relationships change over the years, that helps us. Sometimes people are angry at the people they knew back then, they know they committed a crime and they come forward.” Investigators say it takes just one person to come forward with the right piece of information.
Teague McClendon said, “It's been 40 years. But I’m hoping someone is still around that is around and can do something.” And his mother added, “For his sons, my grandchildren, for his family, my family, please come forward. Anything of information might be what it takes to solve this. Been unsolved for too long. It would bring us a lot of closure and a lot of peace.”
If you have any information, call Colorado Springs Police at (719) 444-7000 or Detective Montez directly at (719) 482-7179. For more information: https://www.springsgov.com/Page.aspx?NavID=3731