Sep 26, 2022 - News

Colorado rural murder mystery gets renewed attention

Marjorie Fithian and her son, Sage. Photo courtesy of the Weld County Sheriff's Office

One of Colorado's coldest murder cases is drawing new interest.

Why it matters: The renewed spotlight on the mysterious and gruesome killing could help detectives finally crack the case and bring closure to the victim's family.

Driving the news: Popular true-crime podcast "The Deck" recently devoted an episode to the 1975 murder of 23-year-old Marjorie Fithian.

Catch up quick: She was supposed to board a 7:30am bus with her 18-month-old son from downtown Denver to Greeley — but was found shot in the head less than two hours later on a dirt road in northeast Colorado with her baby beside her, holding her hand.

  • The 42-minute podcast reexamines each twist and turn using old and fresh interviews but ultimately ends where it began: with no leads.

What they're saying: "[N]early 50 years have gone by since Marjorie's murder, and some of the stories surrounding her death are as confusing today as they were back then," podcast host Ashley Flowers explains.

  • Further complicating the case, authorities say, is the possibility that detectives at the time may not have taken basic steps and followed protocols expected by modern standards, resulting in key information gaps.

Details: Around 9am on June 24, 1975, what first surprised 24-year-old ranch worker Terry Furnish was the sight of a yellow-ish-brown sedan with a ripped, black cloth top barreling down County Road 386 — because the area was seldom-traveled, particularly at that hour.

  • The second surprise was what he saw up the road, where Fithian lay drenched in blood with a blond baby boy beside her. The rancher called for help and held the toddler until authorities arrived.
  • At the crime scene, investigators found little evidence beyond tire marks, shattered glass, Marjorie's suitcase and a spent .25 caliber bullet casing.

Of note: Fithian traveled from Greeley to Denver to visit her aunt and uncle, who told investigators he dropped Fithian and her son at the bus stop around 7am to return to Greeley.

  • He also said when he returned home, he noticed Fithian forgot some of her money, which may have meant she didn't have enough to ride the bus and potentially hitched a ride.
  • The bus driver assigned to that route that morning told authorities she never boarded his bus.

The big picture: Detectives spent years on several wild goose chases, following dozens of leads — and making one arrest — but have never come to a conclusion.

  • Considering friends described Fithian as a "free spirit, hippie chick," investigators' best guess remains that she hitched a ride with someone — and that person killed her.

State of play: Byron Kastilahn, Weld County sheriff's investigator working the case today, tells Axios Denver the latest national attention has yet to spur any new tips.

  • Nevertheless, officials say the department is grateful for the heightened awareness.

How to help: Anyone with information about Fithian's murder should call the Weld County Sheriff's Office at 970-304-6464 or contact Detective Kastilahn at 970-400-2827.


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