Grand Junction, Colo. – Two small boys, whose bodies were found in the Gunnison River near here along with the bodies of their mother and neighbor, were shot to death, Sheriff Dick Williams of Mesa County reported Thursday.

Williams declined to say where the fatal wounds were, how many there were or what caliber weapon was involved.

Not Far Apart

The four decomposed bodies, each weighted down with railroad iron, were found not far apart about 26 miles southeast of here between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.

The victims, who had been missing since the night of Aug. 22, were Mrs. Linda Miracle, 24; her sons, Troy, 5, and Chad, 3, and Mrs. Patricia Botham, 25.

Williams said tests still were being made to determine the cause of the women’s deaths.  They hadn’t been shot, according to Dist. Atty. Terry Farina.

The sheriff said investigators are examining several weapons belonging to Mrs. Botham’s husband, Kenneth.  But, Williams noted, Botham “is not a suspect any more than anyone else.”

River Area

He said investigators from his department, the Grand Junction Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are continuing their search of the river area for clues.

Both women have been positively identified through hair, teeth and other physiological features, but identification of the boys remains tentative, investigators said.

Both Botham and Mrs. Miracle’s husband, Delbert, reported they were away at the time the four disappeared – Miracle, a truck driver, on a trip to Los Angeles, Calif., and Botham on an overnight trip to Ouray, Colo., to conduct business for his electronics firm

Found Sons Alone

Botham told police he arrived home the afternoon of Aug. 23 and found his two sons, Thad, 2, and Thayer, 5, alone.  His report to the police led to the discovery that Mrs. Miracle and her children were missing.

The Miracles were separated pending a divorce hearing Sept. 8 and Miracle was living with his parents.  He was informed of the disappearance when he returned to Grand Junction from California.

Police said they found no signs of a struggle in either the Miracle of the Botham homes, and their investigation into the disappearances turned up no evidence of foul play until the bodies were found.

Reward Offered

However, the Miracle family offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the return of Mrs. Miracle.  Relatives said they especially were concerned because she had almost been strangled during a struggle with a man in her home in June.

In a report to police at the time, Mrs. Miracle said she didn’t know the man and that he was an intruder in her home.


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