June Menger is too ill to make the journey, but her two older sons, Rob and Sam Wells, will head into the Colorado mountains Thursday to memorialize their youngest brother, Sid.
They'll visit places he loved, places they sprinkled his ashes, and they'll remember the brother they lost 30 years ago Thursday.
"We still miss Sid; that is for sure," said Menger, of Longmont. "I will not be going anywhere, but he will certainly be in my thoughts."
The Aug. 1, 1983, execution-style shooting of Sid Wells remains one of Boulder's most infamous unsolved murder cases.
The 22-year-old University of Colorado student, preparing to enter his senior year, was found dead by his brother Sam in the apartment they shared in the Spanish Towers complex with friend Thayne Smika.
Smika, 24, was arrested a few months later, but citing a lack of sufficient evidence, then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter and a grand jury declined to indict him.
Smika slipped off the radar in 1986, and although Boulder police collected more evidence -- and current DA Stan Garnett was able to obtain a warrant for his arrest on murder charges in December 2010 -- he has not resurfaced or been captured.
"It's hard to believe that this much time has passed, but we finally got an arrest warrant for the perpetrator, so that was big news for us," Menger said. "We still haven't brought him to justice, which we would love to do, of course."
Wells was studying for a career in journalism at CU. He also was part of the school's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. An ROTC dance was his first date with Shauna Redford, the daughter of actor Robert Redford.
It was Wells' connection to the actor that helped make the case national news in 1983.
Menger said that although Shauna has a family of her own now, she will likely call the house Thursday, as she does almost every year on the anniversary of Sid's death.
Another person Menger still hears from regularly is Boulder deputy police chief David Hayes, one of the original detectives on the case and a man she says is "almost like one of my sons now."
Hayes had been with the department for five years when Wells was killed. He said Wednesday he has stayed close to the case because he was just a few years older than the Wells brothers at the time Sid was killed, and the family was very supportive of the department through the investigation.
He said he keeps in touch with Menger and her family at least every few months, even if there is nothing new to report on the progress of the case.
"You never go into it thinking that it would go on this long," Hayes said of the case. "Justice has kind of stood still in this case, and not for the lack of trying, but justice wasn't designed to stand still. It's overdue, and nobody should have to wait this long. Not the Wells family. Not the Smika family."
Hayes said he doesn't fault former DA Hunter for not pursuing the case in 1983, noting it has become a much more "perfected case" in the years since. He said better forensic investigative techniques and technology allowed detectives to link shotgun pellets recovered from Wells' body to shells found at the Smika family residence.
"When we presented this case to Mr. Garnett, we had done a lot of work in the intervening years," Hayes said, crediting Garnett for his willingness to listen to the new evidence.
Garnett has put an emphasis on pursuing "cold cases" like the Wells slaying, as evidenced by last year's conviction of Michael Clark in the 18-year-old murder case of Boulder city official Marty Grisham.
Garnett said he has a tremendous amount of respect for Menger and her family, and he hopes the efforts of the police department and his office can bring them closure.
"It's a very sad case, and anybody who lived in Boulder at the time remembers the case, as they do with every homicide," Garnett said. "I really am committed to using the resources of our office and to working closely with law enforcement to seek appropriate resolution to these cases. We hope to be able to bring that to Mrs. Menger and the loved ones of Sid Wells."
Hayes remains committed to finding that resolution, as well. He thinks Smika may be hiding somewhere in the United States under a fake identity. He noted that in 1983, it was much easier for people to disappear and re-emerge with falsified information than it is today.
"At this point, with this anniversary pending, it's really time to find Mr. Smika," Hayes said.
Menger, for her part, thinks Smika has had help in evading police all this time. She said if he was not guilty, he would have come forward long ago.
"I think that if he is not guilty that he should come back here and clear his name, and the fact that he hasn't makes me think he knows he is as guilty as we feel he is," she said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.