ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) -- Who killed Marilee Burt? It’s a question that has puzzled detectives for decades. The teenage cheerleader was brutally killed half a century ago and there are still no arrests in her case.
Wednesday marks 50 years since Burt was killed. Her family is still desperate for answers. But after all of these years, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office said recent tips have come in that have now made Burt's death a top priority for the Cold Case Unit.
“She was so vibrant. So full of energy,” said Marrin Burt, Marilee's niece.
It was the night of Feb. 26, 1970. Fifteen-year-old Marilee Burt was a cheerleader and performed at a basketball game at Goddard Junior High. After the game, she walked toward her home in Columbine Valley.
“She had her little Goddard cheerleader uniform on and her hair in pigtails and started on her walk home,” Marrin said.
The family said Marilee’s brother, Raymond, happened to be driving home around that time and saw a girl with pigtails. But they said he didn’t recognize the girl was his sister because she rarely wore her hair like that.
“I believe my dad had been further up and had seen Marilee in his rear-view mirror and had seen her stop to talk to a person in the vehicle. But it was far away and he didn’t realize if it was her or not,” Marrin said. “She turned to speak with to the person in the vehicle which in theory we have always said we think it was someone she had known.”
The next day, Marilee’s body was found in Deer Creek Canyon. Detectives said she had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Her killer has never been found.
The case has perplexed Arapahoe County Sheriff’s detectives for decades. Police did pull DNA off Marilee’s body but have yet to find a match in any local or federal database. But her family is hoping continued advancements in DNA testing may help.
“We’re hoping with the ancestry and all the new DNA, that some of these cold cases are being cracked left and right and we get a little bit hopeful. We’re getting more hopeful again that someday, someday we will get a hit and have some closure," Marrin said.
Marilee’s parents died without ever getting justice. Now, the torch has been passed to younger family members to help keep her memory alive.
“Time does heal things but it never leaves your soul,” Marrin said. “It would just be such a beautiful thing to have closure for Marilee.”
“There’s got to be someone out there that knows something,” Marilee’s nephew, Trevor Burt said.
Contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers with information at 720-913-7867. Tipsters can remain anonymous.