A man rescued from a snowdrift in the Rocky Mountains in 1982 after calling for help has been charged with the murder of two women he allegedly killed hours before his own rescue.
Alan Lee Phillips, 70, was arrested for the cold case murder in March, but has since been charged with the murder, kidnapping and assault of two women. KUSA reported.
Phillips, then 30, was rescued on January 6, 1982 after a local sheriff on a United Airlines flight to California saw him flash the headlights of his truck ‘SOS’ in Morse code as the plane flew over the Guanella pass.
Harold E. Bray, the former Jefferson County sheriff, notified the captain of the flight – who radioed to officials on the ground, the Washington Post reported.
Alan Lee Phillips, pictured left in 2021, has been charged with the murder, kidnapping and assault of two women just hours before he was rescued from a snowdrift in 1982. He is in the picture in the eighties.
Barbara “Bobbie” Jo Oberholtzer is pictured before she was murdered in 1982 while hitchhiking in Colorado
Annette Schnee is photographed for her murder in 1982, while hitchhiking in Colorado
Dave Montoya, then the Clear Creek County fire chief, recalled rescuers driving up the 10,000-foot mountain pass at -20 degrees to rescue Phillips – whose pickup truck was stranded in a snowdrift.
The next day, the body of Barbara Oberholtzer, 29, was found at Hoosier Pass – not far from Guanella Pass – after she went missing in Breckenridge. The body of Annette Schnee, 22, was found six months later.
Oberholtzer and Schnee were said to be hitchhiking home separately when they were reportedly kidnapped and shot. Both women worked in the Tenmile Range of the Rocky Mountains.
Oberholtzer’s family found her body in a snowstorm just south of Breckenridge on Hoosier Pass. Schnee’s body was found by a boy who came across her body, fully clothed, in a creek near Fairplay.
“We ended up picking the man straight from hell,” Montoya said.
The daring rescue and the cold case murders were not linked until genetic genealogy revealed Phillips as the prime suspect in the cold case murders.
The rescue was the ‘craziest thing’ he’d ever heard of, Montoya told KUSA.
“Sure, there he was in his little pickup, and he saw me and he said, ‘Oh, God, I’m saved,’” Montoya said.
He said he was drunk and decided to drive home. And I said, “Did you get over the pass?” And he said, “Well, it seemed like a good idea.” I thought, How the hell did this guy get so lucky that all the stuff fell into place? ‘
Montoya said he found Phillips with a big bruise on one side of his face. Phillips is said to have told him he got out of his truck to relieve himself when he was blinded by the snow and hit the corner of the truck with his head.
“He got his grace, he got saved, he got his life saved, he didn’t die up there, but he did bad things for that and he has to pay for it,” Montoya said.
A photo of the file shows the crime scene where Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer’s body was found on January 7, 1982
Evidence photos show the partial contents of an Annette Schnee backpack
Annette Schnee was found wearing both shoes, but with an orange sock on her left foot
Annette Schnee was found wearing both shoes, but with a long striped sock on her right foot
The second orange sock had been found at the Oberholtzer crime scene six months earlier
Oberholtzer’s bloodstained woolen glove and a bloodstained tissue were found near her body
A photo with evidence shows Oberholtzer’s backpack and some of its contents, which were found near her body
A pair of 18-inch zippers were found on one of Oberholtzer’s wrists, suggesting someone tried to tie her
Annette Schnee’s second long striped socks were found in the pocket of her blue hooded sweatshirt
Oberholtzer’s key ring, with a metal hook as a defense weapon that her husband had made for her, was found in the parking lot at the top of the Hoosier Pass
Among the items found in Annette Schnee’s backpack was a photo of a man who has never been identified
At the time of his arrest, Phillips, a father of three, lived behind a popular rest stop off Interstate 70 in Dumont – just 20 miles from where he was rescued.
Court records show that Phillips is being held in Park County Jail and will appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 13.
Told Sheriff Tom McGraw of Park County The Denver Post in March that he was “not shocked” that Phillips still lived nearby.
He said Phillips was under surveillance when he was arrested without incident at a planned traffic stop.
Schnee’s mother, 88-year-old Eileen Franklin, had maintained some hope that someone would provide more information after her family endured “39 years of hell,” she said. KMGH-TV.
‘I thought there would be no closure. I thought I might be gone before I closed this case. I’m ready to go when it’s my time now, ”she said.
She noted in a statement that the case was featured in episodes of the hit true crime and investigative series Unsolved Mysteries, About the case with Paula Zahn and Sensing Murder over the years – thanking the TV teams for their help.
Evidence related to both murders was found all over Colorado
Oberholtzer’s husband Jeff said in a statement after Phillips’s arrest that he is “finally in the hands of the judicial system.”
He said he hopes the arrest will “bring closure and peace to this horrible nightmare for myself, along with all the lives he has terribly affected by his actions.”
Unsolved Mysteries noted in its 1991 episode that Jeff Oberholtzer had once been considered the “ prime suspect ” by the police handling the case.
Police at the time noted to Unsolved Mysteries that a single orange sock was found near Oberholtzer’s body and backpack that belonged to her.
Police found Schnee with the other orange sock when her body was discovered six months later, with Jeff Oberholtzer’s business card in her wallet.
Former Colorado Bureau of Investigations Agent Jim Hardtke, who investigated the case, said Jeff Oberholtzer initially denied knowing Schnee when asked about his connection to her.
“It was a few days later, after seeing her photo in the newspaper, that he came up to me and said he knew Annette and that he gave her a business card,” Hardtke told Unsolved Mysteries.
Annette Schnee is depicted in an undated photo
Jeff Oberholtzer claimed he once picked up Schnee while hitchhiking, but never saw or heard from her again.
He later passed a polygraph test and was determined to have a “ rock-solid alibi, ” which resulted in his acquittal as a suspect in the investigation.
The cases went unsolved for decades, while Schnee’s family hired retired Denver Detective Charlie McCormick as a private investigator. He remained involved in the investigation of the case for the next 32 years.
“We were in charge of two or three serial killers in Montana and Idaho, so we spent a lot of time investigating and going there,” McCormick told KUSA.
He added during a press conference that it was “difficult to define his emotions after hearing the news that the suspect had finally been found.”
‘I never thought I’d see the day. It has been a long journey, ”he said in March.
Oberholtzer’s daughter Jackie Vucas Walker said in a statement obtained by KMGH-TV that she can ‘rest knowing that justice will be served.
“I’ve been living with a monster in my head since I was 11 years old, and now I can trust that justice will be served,” she said.
This content was originally published here.