Park County News Extra

May 7, 2006


Followup Story: NEW LIFE IN OLD CASE (June 3, 2006)

Sacramento Creek - Schnee crime scene Park County, Colo.- A 24-year-old double murder case that started in Summit County and ended in Park County caught the interest of Discovery Channel producers working on a new series called Sensing Murder. The show, scheduled to air the episodes later this year, features the use of psychics in the investigation of unsolved homicide mysteries. According to Producer Lisa Bloch, the psychics are not informed about the cases prior to their arrival in the area. Their first contact with the investigators is done on-camera as is their first exposure to any evidence.

Psychics Laurie Campbell and Pam Coronado are the stars of the new show. Campbell has worked with Allison Dubois, the psychic on whom NBC's hit show Medium is based. She is also involved with psychic research experiments and has consulted on numerous cases with law enforcement. Coronado has worked with law enforcement on such famous cases as the Washington DC snipers, and is a licensed Private Investigator in Arizona.

Coronado and McCormick at Oberholtzer scene Photo by Park County Bulletin - Filming at Oberholtzer crime scene on Hoosier Pass

The film crew and psychics arrived in the first week of May and were exposed to the uncertainties of springtime in the Rockies. The cast and crew found itself working in cold wind and blowing snow during the outdoor filming. The adverse weather on Hoosier Pass and Sacramento Creek gave the psychics and crew a small taste of the conditions on that winter night of January 1982 when Barbara "Bobbie" Jo Oberholtzer and Annette Schnee disappeared.

The show's producers and director flew in from New York for the filming. Though some admitted to feeling the effects of the serious altitude adjustment, it didn't slow down the project. Working long hours with remarkable focus and intensity, Producer Lisa Bloch, Associate Producer Ryan Miller, and Director Darcy Dennett, all from New York, forged ahead with a grueling schedule in spite of the challenges of altitude and weather. Director of Photography Mark Petersen of California seemed to notice nothing but the work at hand, quickly adapting to the changing conditions that the Hoosier Pass and Alma areas threw at the crew.

Coffee break in Alma Other crew members were hired from local associations and were accustomed to our Colorado springtime and thin air. Camera Assistant Randy Price, Sound Mixer Scott Terhark, Hair and Makeup Artist Heather Zelinsky, and Production Assistants Kirsten Ginnity and Tyler Weisz are all Colorado residents.

The simple rule in observing a working film crew, according to Associate Producer Ryan Miller, is to "stay behind the camera." It's not always as easy as it sounds. With one small move of his camera arm, Petersen would swing a half dozen people behind him to the opposite direction. From a distance, it appears as a fishtail effect, or a game of crack-the-whip. It keeps the crew on its toes, especially in some of the rougher terrain of the crime scenes involved in this case.

The murders of the two young local women in the unforgiving high country have remained unsolved for more than two decades, despite the intense efforts and tenacity of investigators. In 2005, the 11th Judicial District Homicide Task Force published a website to generate renewed interest in the case, in the hopes of bringing in new tips. It was this website that attracted the attention of the Discovery Channel producers this year. Investigators Charlie McCormick, Jim Hardtke, Richard Eaton and Betty Royse are not giving up hope that the case will one day be solved. Hardtke and McCormick interviewed the psychics and then walked with them through the crime scenes. According to McCormick, they were "astounded" by the accuracy and potential usefulness of the information provided by Campbell and Coronado. They plan to follow up on the new ideas, but will not discuss the details of the investigation.

McCormick, now a private investigator from Summit County, keeps an active and open file of all details of the case from the first investigation forward. He's been involved in the mystery for more than 20 years. Hardtke was the original agent from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation assigned to the case when it occurred. He now lives and works in Washington State, but flew back to take part in the new approach. Royse, currently the investigator for the District Attorney's office in Fairplay, was not involved in the early investigation, but attended the filmed interviews and is involved in the pursuit of new leads. Richard Eaton, formerly with the Summit County Sheriff's Department and closely involved in the early investigation, has been serving in Iraq and was unavailable for the filming.

Part of the Park County Sheriff's Department squad room (photo left) was transformed into a set for the filming of interviews with investigators and psychics. Sheriff Fred Wegener commented on the events, saying, "I'm excited at the prospect of getting a new lead off this exposure and hoping that this case can finally be cleared. It's admirable that Charlie McCormick stuck with the case all these years." Most observers of the process agreed that this Discovery Channel crew were pleasant, polite and respectful of the case and their surroundings. Local opinions of the project ranged from outright disbelief in psychic ability to an open-minded willingness to accept any possible leads that could put the case finally to rest. According to Bloch, future progress on the case may be featured at the end of the episode when it airs.

Please visit Rocky Mountain Cold Case for case details

Followup Story: NEW LIFE IN OLD CASE (June 3, 2006)


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