The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said DNA evidence has identified a man who died in 2019 as the person who likely raped and murdered a 23-year-old Denver woman in 1970.
According to a release, Betty Lee Jones was found dead on March 9, 1970, by two Colorado Department of Transportation workers down an embankment on Colo. 128 near the Boulder and Jefferson county border.
Investigators said Jones, a mother of two, had been bound, sexually assaulted, strangled and shot.
Jones was last seen alive at her home in Denver the day before her body was found following an argument with her husband. Witnesses said Jones left the home and tried to flag down cars, eventually getting into a blue sedan.
The case was reopened in 2006 and DNA evidence found on Jones’ body was submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, but it did not match any profiles in a national database or any known suspects, including Jones’ husband.
In 2019, the DNA was provided to a private lab, Bode Technologies, which was able to use genealogy to develop a family tree and narrow the suspect down to a Denver family.
A member of the family, Paul Leroy Martin, was found to have died in June 2019. His body was exhumed, and his DNA matched that of the profile found on Jones’ body.
Martin had no known link to Jones, but Martin’s family believed he drove a blue sedan.
“In addition to our sincere thanks to CBI, the FBI, and all the contributing scientists and investigators, I would like to personally thank Detective Steve Ainsworth for his diligent work and tenacity for solving this very cold case, which was so brutally committed,” Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a statement. “Steve has a long career, much of it dedicated to cold cases, and he does a wonderful job for these victims and their families.”
A probable cause statement was submitted to the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office on May 26, and a murder charge would have been filed had Martin been alive today.
“Every cold case homicide represents a tragic and unexplained loss,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement. “These victims deserve justice. Their families deserve answers and some form of closure, but the investigative trail has gone cold — unless and until someone like Detective Steve Ainsworth takes it up. Detective Ainsworth did an outstanding job working this case over many years. Today’s announcement by the Sheriff’s Office is the culmination of years of hard work by Steve Ainsworth and the investigative team.
“Because of their tireless efforts and perseverance as well as the recent advances in DNA analysis, if he were alive today, Paul Martin would be charged and prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office for the tragic murder of Betty Jones. “