Police solve cold case murder; suspect may have been serial killer

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Cold Case graphic

(Photo: MGN Online)

By: Paula Vargas

BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder Police say they’ve solved a cold case murder. They believe the killer is John Argue, a man who died in 2009 of an accidental drug overdose.

In a statement released by police Thursday, investigators say Argue murdered Susan Becker in 1982.

“The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has concluded its “cold case” investigation into the 1982 murder of Susan Becker,” said Sgt. Jason Oehlkers.

Technology advances definitively linked Argue to the 1982 murder, a technology unavailable at that time. The Larimer County Sheriff’s office announced the DNA evidence and comparison in 2010.

Boulder County Sheriff’s detectives said Argue lived in Longmont at the time of Becker’s 1982 murder.  Investigators linked Argue to several cases involving assaults to other women in the Boulder- Longmont area, including the death of his neighbor, 94-year-old Orma Smith.

“Boulder County investigators, working with Larimer County and Illinois law enforcement officials, re-evaluated Argue’s potential involvement in Ms. Becker’s death,” said Oehlkers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Behavioral Analysis Unit continues to investigate Argue having been involved in other homicides as a possible serial killer.

Argue, previously convicted and sentenced to serve 20-50 years in Illinois prison for killing his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Susan Marion in 1966, was paroled in 1982 after serving only 16 years. Upon his release, Argue initially moved to Boulder and then to Longmont shortly thereafter.

In the summer of 1982, Police say Argue was accused and considered a person of interest in the murders of Becker and Smith. But they never had enough evidence to arrest him.

According to police records, a woman’s decomposing body was pulled out of a ravine near Boulder Canyon Drive by several fishermen on July 1, 1982. The body was later identified as 20-year-old Susan Becker.

“Argue figured as a person of interest in the investigation, however, declined to cooperate with investigators,” said Sergeant Jason Oehlkers. Statements provided to investigators by Argue’s family placed him in the hiking area where Becker’s body was found.

“There was not enough evidence to link him to Ms. Becker’s murder,” said Oehlkers.

On July 9, the body of 94-year-old Orma Smith was found in the Big Elks Meadows area, 26 miles from her Longmont home.

Several days later, Argue was arrested and convicted for attempting to abduct a 26-year-old University of Colorado female student at knife-point July 15, 1982.

After serving his sentence in the Colorado Department of Corrections for the abduction, Argue was returned to Illinois in 1984 to complete the sentence for murdering his sister-in-law.

His arrest and conviction in of kidnapping in Colorado was a violation of his parole in Illinois.

FBI investigators reviewed the cases involving Argue and concluded that it was highly probable that he was responsible for Susan Becker’s murder, said Oehlkers.

“They agreed that there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Argue was responsible for Susan Becker’s death and, that if he were still alive, they would pursue murder charges against him.”


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