AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — An Aurora family has waited for four decades to find closure in the death of Williard Johnson. They say they’re still holding out hope that someone will come forward with a tip that can finally solve the murder case.

Who killed Willard Johnson?

Police reports show Johnson, who was age 48, was murdered on July 14, 1980. His body was found in what was then a vacant field near the 2700 block of Welton Street. Johnson had been shot to death.

Johnson’s granddaughter, Gayonda Trimble, said not finding closure is beyond heartbreaking.

“The last we heard he was not around, and then we find out he was killed and just left dead. And that was it, there were no answers,” she said.

Johnson’s niece, Debra Trimble, said the U.S. Air Force veteran was admired and cherished by those who knew him as a man with a kind and giving spirit.

“He was always open-hearted. He always helped somebody when they needed help,” she said.

Tyler Goracke of Metro Denver Crime Stoppers said cold cases present a special challenge, but no case is ever too old to deserve every effort to have it solved.

“It’s just important to provide them with some closure of what happened, who was involved. We know somebody out there knows something,” Goracke said.

The Denver Police Department told the Problem Solvers it is especially important to come forward with information in cold cases, even if it seems insignificant, because many leads from years ago have been exhausted.

Anyone with information should contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.

Colorado Cold Case Task Force

There are hundreds of unsolved homicide cases, long-term missing person cases, and unidentified remains cases in Colorado where at least three years have passed since the crime happened.

The Colorado Cold Case Task Force created a list of those cases dating back to 1970. The Problem Solvers are working to highlight cold cases in our state.

See other cases we’ve highlighted: