Decades-old Buena Vista murder cold case solved

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Audrey Hurtado

BUENA VISTA, Colo. — Officials said Thursday that a 39-year-old murder cold case in Buena Vista had been solved.

The case of Audrey Hurtado, who was 17 when she was found stabbed to death in a Buena Vista field in 1977, was reopened in 2009 by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

On July 28, 1977, Hurtado, was reported missing to the Buena Vista Police Department. She had been visiting her sister from her home in Trinidad. Hurtado told her sister she was going for a walk with a young white male. She never returned.

A 15-year-old California boy named “C.K.” became the prime suspect in the death. C.K. was visiting family in Buena Vista at the time of the homicide, staying with his family about one block from where Hurtado was staying.

The investigation revealed C.K. had stolen a knife from a local sports store a week before the homicide. The knife was consistent with the type used to kill Hurtado.

C.K.’s family discovered he had stolen the knife and made him return it before the homicide. It was later learned a similar knife had been stolen again from the local sports store the day of the homicide.

Although C.K. was questioned in Hurtado’s death, there was never sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against him. He was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1981.

The case went cold and remained unsolved.

During the initial investigation, Buena Vista police Chief Campton collected biological samples from Hurtado and packaged them in a way that was exemplary, especially for 1977 protocols.

Over the years, the evidence was preserved in hopes that advances in technology might yield new results. Additional items of evidence were then resubmitted to the CBI forensic laboratory for additional testing.

The biological samples taken from under Hurtago’s fingernails in 1977 were submitted to a laboratory for analysis along with DNA samples from known relatives of C.K.

The two samples were compared and the results indicated there was a match identifying C.K. as the killer.

The case was presented to the Chaffee County District Attorney’s Office, which determined the case was solved.

Officials met with Hurtado’s relatives to tell them about who her killer was and how they identified him.