An orange sock is found at the crime scene of two different murders.
On January 7, 1982, a woman’s body was found five miles south of Breckenridge, Colorado. She had been shot twice. The only two clues at the scene were a set of house keys and one orange sock. The keys belonged to the dead woman, but the orange sock did not.
Six months later and 13 miles away, another woman’s body was found. She had also been shot to death. Police were stunned when they discover that she was wearing the match for the orange sock.
The murdered women were both locals: 29-year old Bobbie Oberholtzer and 21-year old Annette Kay Schnee. They both disappeared on the same day and both had been shot with a medium caliber revolver. The crime scenes were miles from one another and the bodies were found six months apart. And yet police believed that both women were murdered on the same night and by the same man. The prime suspect became Bobbie’s husband, Jeff Oberholtzer:
Bobbie and Jeff were married on July 1, 1977, four-and-a-half years before Bobbie was murdered. Jeff ran an appliance repair business, and Bobbie worked as a receptionist. According to Jeff, the day of Bobbie’s death began as usual, she left home at 7:15 A.M. and hitchhiked to work:
At 6:20 that evening, Bobbie called to tell Jeff she was having drinks with friends after work:
Jeff drove into Breckenridge to look for Bobbie. Her friends told him she had left the bar around 7:30 pm. When Jeff reported to police that Bobbie was missing, they told him it was too early to file a report. Finally, he drove back home to wait for Bobbie.
The next morning, a farmer who lived 30 miles outside Breckenridge found Bobbie’s driver’s license on his property. When Jeff and two friends went to pick it up, they made a disturbing discovery:
With the backpack was one of Bobbie’s gloves, spattered with blood, and several bloody tissues. Jeff’s friends helped him organize a search. Two hours later, they found Bobbie’s lifeless body more than fifteen miles from where her backpack was discovered. At the scene, police found three intriguing clues. The only footprints near the body were Bobbie’s. A plastic cord was tied around one of her wrists. And the single orange sock was found nearby.
The same day Bobbie’s body was found, another woman, Annette Schnee, was reported missing. Annette was a cocktail waitress in Frisco, Colorado, and like Bobbie, often hitchhiked to work. From the start, police believed that the two cases were connected. Former Colorado Bureau of Investigations Agent Jim Hardtke investigated the case:
Jeff claimed he had once picked up Annette when she was hitchhiking and he had given her his business card, but had never seen or heard from her since that day.
On July 3, 1982, six months after she disappeared, Annette’s body was found. Police were stunned when they discovered she was wearing the other orange sock. Jeff’s business card was found inside her wallet. Park County Sheriff Robert Harrison believed the connection was obvious:
Authorities pieced together a scenario for the two murders. Annette Schnee was last seen in Breckenridge at 4:00 P.M., involved in a serious conversation with a dark-haired woman. Police believe that around 5:00 pm, Annette left to hitchhike home. The killer picked her up and drove 20 miles south of Breckenridge. He took Annette down a short dead-end road and sexually assaulted her. Richard Eaton is the Summit County Sheriff:
Police believed the killer then drove back to Breckenridge and found his second victim: Bobbie Oberholtzer. The killer drove Bobbie ten miles south of Breckenridge, to a scenic overlook, where he apparently attempted to rape her. When Bobbie escaped from the vehicle, the bootie fell out. The killer then chased her down the road and shot her twice as she turned away. According to Jeff Oberholtzer, he believed his wife knew her killer:
Two months after his wife was murdered, Jeff Oberholtzer took a polygraph exam and passed. From day one, Jeff insisted that he had a rock-solid alibi. He said that at the time the murders were committed, he was at home visiting with a friend. But Jeff was unable to produce the witness for police. Then, finally, in December of 1990, Jeff’s friend surfaced. Sheriff Eaton interviewed the man:
Jeff Oberholtzer has always maintained his innocence:
The Summit County Sheriff’s Department has cleared Jeff Oberholtzer as a suspect in the murder of his wife, Bobbie Jo, and Annette Kay Schnee. The investigation remains open.
UPDATE: In March 2021, Clear Creek County authorities tailed a 70-year-old Alan Lee Phillips as he was driving near his home in Dumont and pulled him over. Using a DNA sample from the crime scene to create a family tree, authorities were able to connect Phillips to the two murders. Phillips was arrested, and tips are still encouraged to support the investigation.