The intensive investigation that lead to the arrest Saturday of Kenneth H. Botham, Jr. on four counts of murder climaxed close to the spot where it had begun.
Botham, 27, was arrested late Saturday morning just a few miles from the isolated area south of Grand Junction where the bodies of his wife, another woman and the woman’s two young sons were found weighted down in the Gunnison River slightly more than a month ago.
Mesa County Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina said Botham will be formally charged Monday with the four murders.
Both Farina and Mesa County Sheriff Dick Williams termed the coincidence involving the location of the bodies’ discovery and Botham’s arrest an “irony.”
Botham was being held in the County Jail Saturday night and bond for his release had been set at $500,000 by District Court Judge Harold Moss.
Williams said Botham’s arrest came as the result of a “hard and intensive investigation with long hours and no days off” for many law enforcement officials since Sept. 26.
It was on that day the body of a young woman, later identified as Linda Miracle, 24, was found near Bridgeport in the Gunnison River just north of the Mesa-Delta county line.
About a week later, the bodies of Patricia Botham, 25, and Mrs. Miracle’s two sons, Troy, 5, and Chad, 3, were found in the same section of the river. All four bodies had been weighted down by pieces of railroad iron tied to them.
Authorities revealed about a month ago that the two boys had been shot. They have refused, however, to release the cause of the two women’s death.
Mrs. Botham and Mrs. Miracle, neighbor women on the 1900 block of Ouray, and the two boys had all mysteriously disappeared Aug. 23.
The discovery of their bodies touched off a massive investigation headed by the sheriff’s office and involving members of the district attorney’s staff, the city police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
After hundreds of interviews and examination of what Farina called “a lot of physical evidence” gathered at various locations, authorities began to move toward the arrest of Botham in the middle of last week.
Farina said that authorities, working “night and day,” spent about two-and-a-half days preparing an affidavit providing a “factual basis” for issuing a warrant for Botham’s arrest.
The affidavit was completed shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday and Judge Moss issued the warrant for Botham’s arrest on the four murder counts, Farina said.
Williams, reconstructing the details of the arrest, said law officers had placed Botham under surveillance Friday night.
Williams said the arrest came at about 11:45 a.m. Saturday when Botham, driving his car south on U.S. 50 about 20 miles from Grand Junction, was stopped by two cars containing Undersheriff Hod Hutchinson, Sheriff’s Investigators Milo Vig, Bob Silva and Mike Smith, and police lieutenants Ron Smith and Bob Evers.
Williams noted Botham’s car was pulled over about one-quarter mile before the turnoff to the Bridgeport area.
Riding with Botham were his two sons, Thayer, 5, and Thad, 2, and a woman who Williams declined to identify. The two boys and the woman were not detained by authorities.
Williams said he did not believe Botham was attempting to escape at the time of his arrest. The sheriff noted that no suitcases were found in the car and added, “I think he was just going out for the day.”
Botham, however, had told the Sentinel in late September, before all of the four bodies had been discovered, that he believed he was a suspect in what was then still a disappearance case.
And in the recent edition of Ouray County newspaper, Botham placed an ad seeking a man who could confirm he was in Ouray at about midnight, Aug. 22.
The pastor of Botham’s church, Rev. O. J. Holler, visited Botham in jail Saturday. When he asked if he thought Botham was surprised by his arrest, Holler replied, “I don’t think so.”
Williams and Farina would not go into the details of the evidence that caused authorities to seek Botham’s arrest.
Farina explained, “To go into the details of the case might make it difficult to keep the venue (the site of the murder hearing) in Mesa County.” The district attorney added later, “We would like to have the hearing in this community.”
Williams said law officers have “still a lot of investigating to do” in the quadruple murder case. He said part of that work would include checking into any possible connections between Botham and the late July slayings of Linda Benson, 24, and her daughter, Kelley, 5, in their Grand Junction apartment.
Botham, employed as vice president by Tri-Star Corp., which make auto ignition systems, is being represented by local lawyer Warren Reams.
A 1967 graduate of Grand Junction High School, Botham has lived in the area for about 13 or 14 years, according to his father, Kenneth Botham, Sr., also of Grand Junction.
The elder Botham told the Sentinel Saturday afternoon he had not been informed by the authorities of his son’s arrest but that his wife had learned of it from a friend.
The elder Bothams were caring for their two grandsons Saturday after the boys’ father had been arrested. The elder Botham said he did not know the woman who was riding with his son at the time of the arrest. The woman brought the youngsters to the grandparents after the arrest.
According to Patricia Botham’s parents, who now live in Greenville, S.C., their daughter married Botham on June, 14, 1969 in Grand Junction.
At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Williams said he wanted to “publicly commend and thank” the staffs of the district attorney’s office, the police department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Williams said the arrest of Botham could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of these agencies.
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