Jones murder investigation continues via media exposure
An article that appeared in the Sun Advocate last week about a 40-year-old murder case has created a few new leads and has led to some information the Carbon County Sheriff's office didn't have before it ran, said County Sheriff James Cordova on Wednesday morning in a phone conversation.
"I would say it generated about eight calls with a couple of them with some solid information," he stated. "We will keep looking for more information in the case and hope that further exposure will lead some people that may be shy about coming out to talk to us."
The crime that took place on one of the last days of July in 1970 has perplexed many for years. It involved the murder of Loretta Jones, a 23 year old resident of southeast Price. Found by her four-year-old daughter Heidi, who ran to a neighbor's for help, the woman had been raped and stabbed 20 times.
Cordova and County Detective David Brewer, the main investigator in the present case, hope that further exposure by a television piece that ran on Tuesday night on KTVX television concerning the crime will also generate some solid leads involving the case that has gone from cold over the years to basically frozen in time.
During the ensuing four months after the murder in 1970, a 30 year old named Tom Egley, who lived in the Newhouse Hotel in Helper, emerged as the main suspect. But due to a number of problems with the case and what the judge deemed as lack of evidence, the judge, Tom Platis, dropped the charges and had Egley released.
Since that day in November 1970, the case has remained relatively silent as far as official investigations are concerned until last year. During the Helper Arts Festival in 2009, Brewer ran into Heidi Jones, who was then 43. She had gone to high school with him and they started to discuss what they had been doing. When Jones found out that Brewer was a detective with Carbon County she told him she wanted to have a conversation with him about her mother's death.
After Jones related the story to Brewer it ate at him. It seemed there was evidence in the case, but it had just been dropped and no one pursued it. He approached Cordova about reviving the investigation and the Sheriff gave his go ahead.
Brewer searched for information, evidence and court records. Over the years almost everything was gone except for two short court transcripts and some articles that appeared in the Sun Advocate at the time of the murder and the suspects initial appearances in court. He basically had to start from scratch.
"We checked every county building for records and found very little," said Cordova during the initial interview two weeks ago.
After a year of hard, painstaking work however, Brewer has found a number of people who remember what they saw and heard. He also found one key witness who has given him information that it appears investigators at the time did not have.
While the sheriff's office works to find more information, much of the case has been turned over to Gene Strate, the Carbon County Attorney for review.
"We are looking at what the sheriff's department has brought us," said Strate on Wednesday morning during a phone conversation. "In fact we just got some of the transcripts from witnesses a couple of weeks ago, so everything is now under review."
Any movement in the case or new information could turn the non-filed case into one that could bring charges against a suspect.
Cordova is hopeful that the case will be brought to trial and the person responsible is brought to justice.
"We are just looking to solve this and bring justice forward for the family members and for the area," concluded Cordova.
For Brewer's part, he just says the investigation has led him up the right path.
"I am sure I know who did this," he said. "One hundred percent sure."