Are you familiar with these murderers and famous serial killers in Colorado?
Though some killers traveled around to different states to commit their sinister crimes, at least one of their murders occurred within Colorado's state lines.
From murderous stories spread on the local level to nationwide media coverage let's explore the most popular killers of Colorado's dark past.
Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, moved from Washington to Salt Lake City in 1974 for law school, and by 1975, his killing spree had bled into the state of Colorado.
On January 12, 1975, 23-year-old nurse Caryn Eileen Campbell disappeared from her hotel room in Snowmass Village, Colorado, and weeks later she was found dead on a dirt path near the inn.
In March, Bundy used a pair of crutches to trick ski instructor Julie Cunningham into helping him carry his skis to his car. He kidnapped her, strangled her to death, and left her remains in Rifle, Colorado.
Minutes before his 1989 execution, Bundy confessed to killing Denise Lynn Oliverson, a Grand Junction woman who went missing in April 1975.
Though she was never found, serial killer Ted Bundy claimed he killed her and threw her body into the Colorado River.
Nathan Dunlap: The Chuck E. Cheese's Killer
On December 14, 1993, a horrifying tragedy unfolded at a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant in Aurora, Colorado. Nathan Dunlap, a former employee who had been fired five months earlier, embarked on a brutal rampage that left four employees dead and another seriously injured. Dunlap's motive was a desire for revenge against the establishment that had dismissed him.
Entering the restaurant at 9:00 p.m., Dunlap initially appeared as a regular customer, ordering a ham and cheese sandwich and playing an arcade game. However, his sinister intentions soon became clear. He hid in a restroom, emerging after closing time at 10:05 p.m., armed with a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
Dunlap callously shot five employees. His victims included Sylvia Crowell, 19, who was cleaning the salad bar, and Ben Grant, 17, who was fatally shot while vacuuming.
Colleen O'Connor, 17, pleaded for her life but met a tragic end with a gunshot to the head. The only survivor, Bobby Stephens, 20, returned to the restaurant after a smoke break, where he was shot in the jaw.
Dunlap then forced the store manager, Marge Kohlberg, 50, to open the safe before ruthlessly shooting her as well. After looting the safe of $1,500 and game tokens, Dunlap fled the scene. The horrifying incident sent shockwaves through the community.
In 1996, Nathan Dunlap was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery, and burglary, receiving a death sentence and an additional 108 years in prison. However, his legal battle continued for years.
Appeals were made, with arguments concerning Dunlap's mental health issues and child abuse. In 2013, an execution date was set for mid-August, but Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a temporary reprieve, postponing Dunlap's execution.
In 2020, Colorado abolished the death penalty, and Dunlap's sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole. He remains incarcerated at the Colorado State Penitentiary, serving a life sentence for a crime that shocked the nation.
Chris Watts isn't a serial killer, but he committed one of the most notorious, cold-blooded murders in the history of Colorado. On August 13, 2018, Chris's pregnant wife Shanann returned from a business trip where Chris strangled her in their home.
He buried Shanann in a shallow grave at his employer's remote oil-storage site, then strangled his two daughters and threw their bodies into the oil tanks.
The investigation is well documented in the Netflix true-crime release American Murder: The Family Next Door.
In the documentary, you can see the police bodycam footage during their visit to the Watts' home before Chris was a suspect. It also shows the arrest, the confession, and the sentencing.
You can check out our 'Chris Watts is Trash' shirt here.
The Killer of Adolph Coors III
The most high-profile case on this list is the kidnapping and murder of Adolph Coors III, the CEO and heir to the Coors beverage empire.
On February 9, 1960, Coors disappeared on his way to work, and his station wagon was found abandoned, with blood evidence nearby. Joseph Corbett Jr. was suspected of involvement, and a manhunt ensued, where he ended up on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list.
On September 11, 1960, Coors' remains were found in a wooded area near Pikes Peak. Corbett was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 1980, Corbett was released on parole and committed suicide in 2009.
Scott Lee Kimball
Scott Lee Kimball is currently serving 70 years in prison for the second degree murder of 4 people in Colorado and Utah. He committed check fraud and while in prison, arranged a "supervised release" in exchange for being an informant on a drug ring.
While on release, Kaysi McLeod, Jennifer Marcum, LeAnn Emry, and Kimball's uncle, Terry Kimball, went missing.
The remains of McLeod, Emry, and Kimball were found in remote regions of Colorado and Utah while Marcum's body had never been recovered. Kimball has often bragged to friends about other murders but has never been charged.
Bruce Carroll Pierce
Bruce Carroll Pierce was an assassin and co-founding member of the right-wing terrorist organization, The Order. In 1984, Carroll killed talk radio DJ Alan Berg with a MAC-10 machine gun, shooting him 13 times in front of his Denver home.
The Order had marked Berg for assassination after hearing the DJ speaking out against white supremacists on his radio show.
Pierce was on the run for 9 months before he was arrested in March 1985 and sentenced to 252 years in prison for the murder of Berg and other crimes. At his sentencing, Pierce was unremorseful and did not apologize for the murder.
Pierce later died from natural causes while serving time at age 56.
The inspiration for Cannibal! The Musical, Alferd Packer was a wilderness guide, known as the Colorado Cannibal. In 1874, Packer led 5 men through the San Juan Mountains on an expedition.
When only Packer returned, he first claimed to have been deserted by his companions, then eventually admitted to killing the other people and surviving off their flesh.
Packer was arrested but before he could be convicted, he escaped and was on the run for 9 years. Once recaptured, he was eventually found guilty of premeditated murder and would get a 40-year sentence.
Packer died from a stroke in 1907 and his skull became part of a traveling sideshow. It is now on display at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! museum in San Antonio, TX.
During a 9 month period from March 1979 to July 1988, Vincent Groves killed at least seven people in Denver, Colorado. Groves began his criminal career as a pimp in the late '70s. While camping in August 1981, he strangled 17-year-old Tammy Sue Woodrum and was sentenced to 12 years for second degree murder.
Groves was paroled in February of 1987. In 1990, he was arrested for the 1988 murder of Juanita Lovato and Diane Mancera and was convicted using DNA evidence and sentenced to life.
He was connected to well over twenty more murders in the Denver area, but never convicted. He died in prison of complications from Hepatitis C and liver failure in October 1996.
Thomas Edward Luther
After serving a decade in lockup for beating a woman with a claw hammer, Thomas Edward Luther was released in 1993. Shortly after, he shot 20-year-old Cher Elder in the back of the head and dumped her remains into a shallow grave in Empire, Colorado.
During the same time, he attacked Heather Smith, stabbing her 5 times and breaking her neck.
Luther was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 48 years in prison for his crimes. He told psychiatrists he targeted his victims because they reminded him of his abusive mother.
Luther is still a suspect in the 1982 murders of two hitchhikers, Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer and Annette Schnee, but has not been charged.
Joseph Dyre Morse
On July 6, 1966, Joseph Dyre Morse, a janitor at the University of Colorado, savagely killed 20-year-old student Elaura Jeanne Jacquette on campus in the Mackey Auditorium.
He lured her into the west tower where he raped and beat her so viciously, many of her teeth were missing and blood spatter went 7 feet high on the walls. He tried to light her on fire, but the amount of blood wouldn't allow the fire to ignite.
Morse's family saw him disposing of bloody clothing and his bloody handprint was left at the scene. He was imprisoned for life and maintained innocence until 1980 when he finally confessed to the murder.
The Mackey Auditorium site is notorious for this murder case and draws attention to the school from horror hounds across the country.
The End of Colorado's Rocky Past?
These are just a few of the countless other American serial killers in the history of Colorado, but there are many others. What famous gruesome murders or serial killers do you remember?
If you geek out about serial killers or are a true crime addict who can't get enough murder in your diet, check out our serial killer collection and add some carnage to your closet!