Man Rescued in Colorado Mountain Pass Is Accused in 1982 Murders

On a January evening in 1982, Alan Lee Phillips was discovered shivering in his pickup, caught in a snowdrift on a treacherous mountain go in central Colorado.

A rescue employee tracked him down after Mr. Phillips, then 30, used his headlights to blink the Morse code sign for SOS and caught the eye of a passenger on a airplane flying overhead. Asked what he had been considering, taking such a harmful street in subzero temperatures, Mr. Phillips, trying dazed, mentioned he was getting back from a bar, in line with the police.

“You find out how lonely it is really quick,” Mr. Phillips later mentioned, in line with a newspaper article from the time. “I thought about walking to a ski area nearby, and went about 200 yards and thought, ‘No way.’ It was too cold.”

Nearly 40 years later, the police now say they know the place Mr. Phillips was actually coming from that evening, and what might need precipitated him to take the perilous route. The authorities say he had simply shot two younger ladies and left them to die close to the mountain city of Breckenridge.

“It’s one of those cases that you just can’t put it down,” Sergeant Kipple said. “You have to find out why and who.”

Ms. Oberholtzer, 29, was a meticulous planner. She often carried around a notebook full of plans and budgets for a horse corral that she and her husband planned to build on their property in Alma, Sergeant Kipple said. She had a daughter, who was 11 at the time of her mother’s death.

Ms. Schnee, 21, cleaned rooms at a Holiday Inn in Frisco, Colo., during the day and was a waitress at a bar at night. She wanted to become a flight attendant, according to her mother.

She was last seen around dusk on Jan. 6. She had gone to a pharmacy in Breckenridge to pick up a prescription, then went out to hitchhike home to Blue River, about six miles away.

She never made it there, the police said.

Later that night, Ms. Oberholtzer went to a Breckenridge bar with some friends. She had been promoted from secretary to office manager and wanted to celebrate, Sergeant Kipple said.

Her friends had told her they could give her a ride, but Ms. Oberholtzer decided to leave earlier and hitchhike back to Alma.

On Feb. 24, after surveilling Mr. Phillips for weeks, the police arrested him during a traffic stop in Clear Creek County.

The police said they did not know whether Mr. Phillips knew either woman, or what a possible motive may have been.

Ms. Oberholtzer’s husband, Jeff, said in a statement that he prayed the arrest “will finally, after all these decades, bring closure and peace to this hideous nightmare.”

Eileen Franklin, Ms. Schnee’s mother, said she was relieved that she had lived long enough to see an arrest.

“I just thought before I leave this earth I would like to see some closure,” Ms. Franklin, 88, said in an interview. “It’s been a rough 40 years.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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