After two men go drinking at a bar, one is later found drowned in a nearby river with wounds that indicate foul play.
On October 15, 1995, private investigator Phil Harris heard a disembodied voice after he fell asleep in his easy chair. The voice said: “I’m David Chase. I was murdered. I want you to investigate my murder. Go buy the Sunday paper.” It seemed crazy, but Phil searched the morning paper for any mention of a David Chase. According to Phil’s friend, Janet Harris:
David Chase was a local cabinetmaker who had drowned four months earlier. His wife was convinced he had been murdered. Phil Harris believed that, for some reason, he had been “chosen” to solve the case. When he met with David’s widow, Judi Chase, Judi said she was skeptical, until Phil began to talk about things only David could have known:
Phil and Judi struck an unusual deal. For one dollar, Phil agreed to investigate the case until it was solved.
David and Judi Chase had lived in Evergreen, Colorado, for eighteen months. They had no children but were planning to adopt two foster kids who were living with them.
On June 6th, 1995, David was scheduled to work with a local handyman named Matt Orahoske. They needed to finish a roofing job and clear away brush from the local Elk’s Club. By noon, the work was done. The two men went to lunch, then stopped at the bank, where David cashed a check for $1800. Then he and Matt went to a local bar.
Judi was concerned when David didn’t come home that night, and by the next morning, she knew something was wrong. She immediately drove to Matt’s house. Matt told her he had left David at the bar shooting pool. Later that morning, Judi claimed, Matt’s girlfriend called her:
The Bear Creek River runs right by the bar where David and Matt were last seen together. By this time, Judi didn’t believe anything Matt had to say, so she went to the police. When Sgt. Brian Scott of Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department questioned Matt, he told the same story he had told his girlfriend:
Six weeks later, David’s body was found in the Bear Creek River, three miles downstream from where he was last seen. The autopsy supported Matt’s story. The coroner ruled that the cause of death was “consistent with drowning.”
But Judi said some of the coroner’s findings made her suspicious. For instance, even thought Matt claimed they had been drinking all day, the autopsy didn’t show that David was drunk at the time of death. Sgt. Scott said David’s neck was broken and there were unusual cuts on both of his legs:
Matt’s girlfriend Judi suspected foul play:
Police questioned Matt again. This time, he changed two important details in his story.
It was three months later that Phil Harris contacted Judi to say that David had been speaking to him from beyond the grave on a regular basis. Phil said that the voice gave him details about what happened the day David disappeared. These are the exact words he heard:
Phil went on to say that Matt had an accomplice who helped get rid of the body and the bloody clothes. Phil said that David’s voice told him the cuts on his legs came from a knife belonging to the accomplice:
On June 7, 1996, exactly a year and a day after David’s death, Phil took Judi to the local reservoir. He pointed out the area where he believed the murder weapon and the bloody clothes had been dumped. Phil recalled what David had told him about the murder weapon:
A week later, Phil died of a massive heart attack, leaving Judi to carry on their investigation alone:
Sgt. Scott said more evidence is need before an arrest can be made:
Matt Orahoske declined to be interviewed for this story. It’s important to remember that he has not been charged with any crime and the source of the accusations against him is highly questionable.
According to Phil Harris, the voice of David’s spirit told him there was, in fact, a witness to his murder. If true, police are hoping that person will come forward.