GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Three decades after Ted Bundy's execution in Florida, there's been a resurgence of public fascination with the serial killer, ranging from a Netflix series to an upcoming movie. Regardless of Bundy's recent attention, Grand Junction investigators said they have never stopped looking into a local cold case surrounding a young girl Bundy claims to have killed.
24-year-old Denise Oliverson was last seen in the afternoon on April 6, 1975, near the 5th Street Bridge. The next day, officers found her shoes and bicycle less than a mile from her home. "That crime occurred many years ago, but they're still a human being to us, and they're still a face to their family," said Detective Sergeant for the Grand Junction Police Department, Sean Crocker.
The FBI learned Bundy was in Grand Junction at the time of Oliverson's disappearance. "I know that there were strong investigative ties, or leads, connecting the disappearance of Denise Oliverson to the time that Ted Bundy was in Grand Junction, Colorado," said Detective Sergeant Crocker.
Oliverson is still considered a missing person by Grand Junction Police Officers, despite Bundy making an apparent confession to killing Oliverson before his death. Those at the Grand Junction Police Department have never heard the recording of Bundy's claim. "I spoke with retired Detective Matt Lindvall, from Vail P.D. He said Vail may have some of those recordings. It sounds like retired detective Mike Fischer from the 9th Judicial District Attorney's office, he was an investigator there, he was their lead investigator, some of those recordings may be there with them... From there we don't know, but the body has never been found, never been discovered, of Denise Oliverson. So, she's still, that's why it's still missing," said Grand Junction Police Commander Clint Newton.
Some old articles state that recording closed the case, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation even lists her as both a missing person and a homicide. But without tangible proof at the Grand Junction Police Department, Oliverson's case will stay open. "If we could find those recordings, if we could find that evidence, that would lead to his confession or to his whereabouts or his direct knowledge of that case, we might be able to close this case out," said Detective Sergeant Crocker.
Bundy apparently said he put Oliverson into the Colorado River. The Mesa County Coroner said if that were true, the body could have traveled all the way to Utah and the time of year may have played a role in the disappearance. "During the spring when the river is running full force and there's a lot of runoff, there's a better chance of them being washed away and never found," said the Coroner of Mesa County, Victor Yahn.
When searching through old newspaper clippings for information about Oliverson, it's hard not to notice a trend. "A lot of times with these type of cases, they focus a little bit more on the person who was the perpetrator as opposed to the victims, especially with the Theodore Bundy case," said Erin Schmitz, the curator of collections and archives at the Museums of Western Colorado.
Commander Newton and Detective Sergeant Crocker said they will not give up on Oliverson. "It takes an old, salty investigator that had to put in the blood, sweat, and tears, of doing good police work, not relying on Google, not relying on the internet to solve things. You have to get out and talk to those people, you have to get out and re-interview those people, and take a good hard look at the evidence you have in front of you," said Detective Sergeant Crocker.
Those with the Grand Junction Police Department said they have several cold cases right now, and Commander Newton said he would assign the cases out full time if he had the necessary manpower.