Sheriff’s investigators ruled out two missing Grand Junction woman today after comparing their dental charts with the remains of a woman’s body found Friday in the Gunnison river near Delta.

At a press conference held this morning Sheriff Dick Williams said Patricia Botham, 25, and Denise Oliverson, 24, are both eliminated from the investigation.

And the autopsy of the body is continuing today in Montrose as experts attempt to reconstruct finger tips and compare brown hair samples with that of other known missing women.

Williams said the department will go back to the point where the body was found and attempt to locate missing teeth they believe fell from the jaw of the murder victim after death.

Members of the press were shown pictures of the victim’s remains to demonstrate the hardship involved in identifying the woman, believed to be in her 20’s or 30’s.

The body was found with a piece of railroad iron tied around the pelvic area.  It was so badly decomposed experts estimated the time of death anywhere from three weeks to months.

Another missing Grand Junction woman, Linda Miracle, 25, who disappeared from her home Aug. 23, is still under investigation and Williams said a forensic dental expert will compare incomplete dental charts of the woman with the body.  The results may take a week, he said.

“The fact that she has never had much dental work on her teeth has not given us enough identification on her yet,” Williams said.

He explained that further test results are also needed before a cause of death can be determined.

Since the body was found in partial remains investigators are unable to determine the exact height or weight of the victim.

Dr. Thomas Canfield, forensic pathologist for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, explained to a newsman Tuesday that the more decomposed a body is the less precise the autopsy will be in determining the time of death, cause and means.

And Williams said he was not sure whether investigators can pinpoint an identity.

The Sheriff’s department is continuing to receive inquires about a missing woman in Denver, Salt Lake City, Gunnison and the DeBeque canyon area.

Until the identity of the woman is made, Williams said he had no way of telling whether the murder was a one incident crime or part of a murder spree.

Although he isn’t certain the fingertips of the victim can be reconstituted, if they are authorities may still find the information insufficient to pinpoint an identity.

Canfield pointed out that few women have been fingerprinted and prints by themselves are not very useful.  But possible broken bones on the body can be used to help the identification process.

Williams said Tuesday he has “no idea” where the murder may have happened.  But since “considerable” railroad irons were found in that area of the river, he believes that is where the body may have been weighted down. 

He felt it was improbable the body floated down the river.

He added that once the Miracle woman is ruled out the department will be required to check out more missing women from other areas.

In July of 1974 the nude body of a woman was found in DeBeque canyon and it took Sheriff’s investigators until January to gain an identity.  The woman was from Wisconsin.


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