Norma Halford, 21, 8/24,1979
Date Missing: 8/24/79
Date of Death:
Jurisdiction: Clear Creek County
Local Case Number: 79-0948
CBI Case Number:
Case Status: Unresolved
Case Type: Missing Person
Detective Name and Phone:
Last edited by Texaskowgirl; 01-08-2010 at 06:46 PM.
Re: Norma Halford, 8/24,1979
Rocky Mountain News (CO)
April 15, 1990
MURDER SUSPECT VICTIM LIST
PROSECUTORS PUT HOPES ON LINE IN SLAYING CASES SOLUTION TO PUZZLE PROVING ELUSIVE
Author: MARK BROWN
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS STAFF WRITER
Pam Montgomery's death was the typical good luck/bad luck that police faced in the prostitute murders.
The good luck: The only witness in the case almost never gets up at 5:30 in the morning. The one time he did, he saw the murderer.
The bad luck: "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to positively identify the man that was in the alley," he said. "That's probably the reason the case fell apart. It would have been great if I'd have gotten a license number."
Thus, Vincent Darrell Groves will probably never be charged with that death, even though investigators still believe he did it, and possibly a dozen more. It was the metro area's longest killing rampage, stretching from 1978 to 1988.
The only break in the string of murders was a five-year interruption that coincided with Groves' prison sentence for a 1981 murder. They stopped after his Sept. 1, 1988 arrest. The victims, mostly prostitutes, were picked up, strangled and dumped.
The string was followed by one of the metro area's biggest and most intense investigations.
But 20 months after Groves' arrest, police all over the metro area are hitting road blocks and dead ends. He's charged with only two of the 15 murders linked to him. He's been cleared in two others. Frustrated investigators will probably never be able to prove the others.
Now, investigators say confidentially that they'll be grateful just to prove the two pending cases.
The Montgomery case fit the pattern - a young Colfax Avenue prostitute, strangled, dumped.
But it was too dark on that Sunday morning in August 1988. The witness, who asked that his name not be used, was up before dawn to run in a triathlon. As he loaded his gear in his car, another car pulled up in the alley behind his white brick Park Hill house.
He peered over the fence and could make out vague shapes - a blue car, headlights off; a tall, black man getting out of it. He couldn't see the man's face.
The driver didn't see him and nervously opened the car's trunk. He lifted out what the witness thought was trash, then in horror realized was a woman's body.
He sprinted inside to call police. He vaguely heard the driver's door slam and the car pull away.
"It's kind of a constant frustration," said Denver Homicide Lt. Tom Haney, who headed up the 12-agency, 25-member task force that worked the crimes. "Everyone would like to solve all their cases, especially these murders. But it's also satisfying to see at least one or two of them coming to trial. That's the ultimate test of the investigation."
That ultimate test is finally here. After nearly two years of investigation and conjecture, Groves will be back in court on April 30. Eleven days after his 36th birthday, he's finally going to trial on a murder charge.
Groves is being held without bond in Douglas County Jail.
Steven Gayle and Robert Pepin, Groves' attorneys in Douglas and Adams counties, declined comment and denied interviews with Groves.
Why so few charges? Was it the randomness of the crimes? Bad witnesses? Bad luck?
Or was the murderer - whoever it was - just very good at what he did?
"It was a combination," Haney said. "The overall thing is to try to make a determination whether they were all committed by the same person. It would appear so."
And it would appear that Groves is linked. If nothing else, he had a lot of female friends with bad luck. He was the last person seen with at least five of the slain women. He knew others and lived with more than one of the women, according to court records. DNA testing has connected him with two more.
Groves also allegedly told police they "might find hair from some of the murder victims in his car because he frequently picked up women, including some of the murder victims," according to court documents.
Montgomery's frustrating 1988 murder was a replay of the frustration Jefferson County detectives experienced a decade earlier.
When Jeanette Baca was killed in 1978, Groves, her pimp, was an instant
suspect, police said.
"One of the things that got them on Vincent Groves was they interviewed him for three or four hours and caught him in, they said, hundreds of lies," said Jefferson County Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Potter.
Groves' cousin "never came out and said Vincent did it, but he corraborated things only the killer could have known," Potter said. "For instance, this cousin says that right after the night of the murder, Vincent Groves came back and had black charcoal soot all over his clothes. The murderer burned Jeanette Baca's clothes in a picnic area."
"Put those things together with his lies, and though we can't prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, we're confident he's the one who did it," Potter said. "We have no information or evidence to lead us elsewhere."
Even the crimes Groves is charged with are shaky. In the Adams and Douglas county homicides, DNA supposedly links Groves to the two dead women. That's a strong start, investigators said, but will have to be combined with other evidence to prove he was their killer rather than their lover.
When it gets to court in both Adams and Douglas counties, "it'll definitely be the battle of the DNA experts," said Douglas County Lt. Bill Walker.
And the other evidence is conflicting. In Adams County, an oil puddle that investigators hoped would link Groves' car to the murder scene tested negative. Other people supposedly admitted to the murder, either over drugs or a lesbian love triangle.
And much of the Adams County case hinges on Michael Crawford Wilson's word.
Unfortunately for prosecutors, Wilson is in the Ohio State Correctional Facility in Lima, Ohio.
It was while in jail in Denver in 1988 that Wilson "learned from Mr. Groves that Mr. Groves had been put away, his life upended, because he killed a prostitute," according to court records. "He then roamed the streets, seeking his revenge."
Even if he's convicted, the unsolved cases will never be marked "closed."
"We're not going to officially write them off as him. If any information comes in pointing to anybody, any new evidence, we'll actively pursue that," Haney said. "We're always looking for that one witness, the one who may have talked to the killer or seen the victim leave with somebody. We'll see if we can't put that last piece of the puzzle together."
Below are the 15 deaths that Vincent Groves has been linked to during 10 years of investigations. He's charged in only two of the cases. In the others, police say they have no leads.
* Juanita Lovato, 19, of Denver - Found in Adams County on April 29, 1988. Groves is charged with first-degree murder.
* Diann Mancera, 25, of Denver - Found in Douglas County on July 26, 1988. Groves is charged with first-degree murder.
* Rhonda Fisher, 30 - Found in April 1987 in Douglas County. Investigation continuing, but no charges imminent.
* Pamela Montgomery, 35, Denver - Found Aug. 14, 1988, in a Denver alley. No charges expected.
* Carolyn Buchanan, 35 - Found Aug. 12, 1988, in rural Denver. No charges expected.
* Joyce Ramey, 23, of Denver - Found July 4, 1979, in a field east of Stapleton International Airport. Charges unlikely.
* Faye Johnson, 22, of Denver. - Found in Arapahoe County on Jan. 30, 1988. Charges unlikely.
* Jeanette Baca, 17, of Denver - Found June 11, 1978, in Jefferson County. Charges unlikely.
* Zabra Mason, 19, of Lakewood - Found September 1987 in Lakewood. No charges to come.
* Robin Nelson, 25, of Denver - Found in June 12, 1988, in Fort Lupton. Turned out to be an accidental overdose with no connection to Groves.
* Karolyn Walker, 18, of Aurora - Found July 5, 1987, in Aurora. Groves was initially a suspect, but later was cleared.
* Juanita Mitchell, 25, of Waco, Texas - Found in April 1981 in an Aurora motel room. No charges likely.
* Pamela Morgan, 17, of Denver - Found June 2, 1981, in an Aurora motel room. No charges likely. Morgan's and Mitchell's deaths were initially linked by Aurora police.
* Norma Jean Halford, 21, of San Jose - Body never found; car abandoned in Clear Creek County in August 1979.
* Cynthia Boyd, 19, of Denver - Found in Feb. 1980 in Adams County. No charges filed; case still open.
* Detectives also think Groves tried to rape a woman in Adams County in 1982 and tried to kill a prostitute in Denver in 1988. He was never charged with rape and was acquitted of attempted murder. He has a previous second-degree- murder conviction in Lakewood for the 1981 strangulation of Tammy Woodrum, 17.
Vincent Darrell Groves faces trial in two of several baffling murder
cases in which he's a suspect. By Rocky Mountain News
A CASE IN JEOPAREDY: Evidence scarce in string of slayings
SEE END OF TEXT FOR INFOBOX
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