On January 6, 1982, Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer and Annette Schnee went missing in Breckenridge, Colorado. Both women were avid hitchhikers. Bobbie Jo was last seen leaving a bar and heading to the hitchhike station, while Annette was last seen leaving a pharmacy. Bobbie Jo’s body was discovered near the Hoosier Pass, about 10-11 miles south of Breckenridge, with signs of a struggle. She had been shot twice at close range and had a zip tie on her wrist. Her backpack, wool glove, and a bloody tissue were found nearby.
Annette’s body, on the other hand, was found in Sacramento Creek, south of Breckenridge, with apparent signs of sexual assault and a gunshot wound to the back. Interestingly, an orange sock found at Annette’s crime scene matched one found at Bobbie Jo’s crime scene, suggesting a possible connection between the two murders.
During the investigation, Bobbie Jo’s husband, Jeff Oberholtzer, became a prime suspect. Investigators discovered one of his business cards in Annette’s jacket pocket, and Jeff admitted to giving her a ride in November 1981. Additionally, Jeff had a premonition that Annette would be found near his house, raising suspicions. However, his DNA testing did not match the DNA found at the crime scene blood, and he was subsequently cleared as a suspect.
Two other potential suspects, Thomas Luther and Tracy Petrocelli, were also investigated but ultimately cleared of involvement. Luther was convicted of another murder in Colorado and received a life sentence, while Petrocelli tested negative for any connection to the case.
After years of searching for answers, the breakthrough in the case came in 2021. DNA evidence from Bobbie Jo’s glove and the tissue was sent to the forensic genealogy company United Data Connect, which provided law enforcement with the names of two brothers, Bruce Phillips and Alan Phillips. Alan Phillips, who was living near Breckenridge at the time of the murders, became the primary suspect.
Alan Phillips had a history of violence and criminal activity. In 1973, he was arrested for assault and burglary, and a signed confession was found in his arrest record, where he admitted to assaulting a female hitchhiker. However, he only received a six-month jail sentence for that crime.
Law enforcement put Alan Phillips under surveillance for weeks, discovering that he was an introvert who rarely left his house. Unable to obtain his DNA due to his reluctance to throw out his trash, investigators seized an opportunity when Phillips visited a Sonic fast food establishment. They retrieved a discarded napkin and the DNA extracted from the napkin was a match to the DNA found on Bobbie Joe’s glove.
Alan Lee Phillips was arrested in February 2021 and charged with two counts each of first-degree homicide, kidnapping, and assault. He was only 31 years old when he committed the crimes in 1982. A jury found him guilty and he was sent to a Colorado prison.
On February 27, 2023, at the age of 73, Phillips took his own life in prison, leaving some unanswered questions and closure for the victims’ families.
Research, Writing, Editing, Audio Production, and Sound Design by Renee Lynn
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