Grand Junction (UPI) – A county judge Tuesday refused to bar reporters from the preliminary hearing of a Grand Junction man charged with murdering his wife, a neighbor and two children.

Judge Harold Moss refused the defense request saying he believed reporting of the slayings had been responsible and because closing the hearing would “limit the public’s right to know.”

Kenneth Botham, 27, was arrested in October for the slayings of his wife, Patricia, 25; Linda Miracle, 25, and Mrs. Miracle’s two sons, Chad, 5, and Troy, 3.  He was being held under $500,000 bond.

Mike Smith, a police investigator, testified Mrs. Botham and Mrs. Miracle both were strangled and said the boys were shot in the head before the bodies were pushed off a bridge into the Gunnison River south of the city.

Smith said traces of blood were found on the bridge by investigators.

The women and children disappeared from their suburban homes Aug. 23.  The bodies, weighted down with railroad iron, were found during a search of the river in late September.

Prior to the hearing, Sheriff Richard Williams of Mesa County said a pair of bloodstained wirecutters found in Botham’s car linked him to the slayings.  He said Botham reported to his job regularly before his arrest but spent nights at his parents’ home rather than return to his own residence.


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