Authorities have identified the bodies of two women found in the Gunnison River as housewives who vanished from their neighboring Grand Junction homes Aug. 23.

Sheriff Dick Williams of Mesa County said officers are continuing their search of the river for the bodies of the two small sons of one of the victims.

Williams said a body found Thursday has been positively identified through dental charts as that of Mrs. Patricia Botham, 25.

The first body has been identified tentatively as that of Mrs. Linda Miracle, 24, he said.  But that identification won’t be positive, he added, until a study of teeth by experts is completed.

Both bodies were decomposed, the sheriff said, and identification had to be attempted through dentistry.

The missing children are Mrs. Miracle’s sons, Troy, 5, and Chad, 3.

No Solid Evidence

The women lived across the street from each other.  When they vanished, Grand Junction police said there was no solid evidence to indicate foul play, although neither woman took extra clothing or used the family cars.

Food that had been prepared and served but not eaten was on the table in the Miracle home, and a kitchen range burner was left on.

Mrs. Botham’s husband, Kenneth, found his two sons, Thad, 2, and Ther [Thayer], 5, playing [sic: in] the back yard when he arrived home.  Mrs. Miracle and her husband, Delbert, were separated.

Mrs. Miracle’s body was found Sept. 25 about 15 miles southeast of here.  The body of Mrs. Botham was found about half a mile upstream.

The sheriff said both bodies were weighted down with a 15- to 20-pound railroad iron attached by ropes.  Evidence indicated the bodies had moved downstream in the Gunnison.  There is a bridge about a mile upstream, Williams said.

The first body was in the more advanced state of decomposition, Williams said, and several teeth were missing, apparently lost during decomposition.

The sheriff said he and deputies returned to the river Thursday in hopes of finding a spot at the site where a bulldozer could be used to change the river channel so searchers could look for the teeth and perhaps establish positive identification.

The river level had just dropped, he said, and the officers instead found the second body.

The sheriff said Grand Junction police, district attorney’s investigators and Colorado Bureau of Investigation personnel have joined the investigation.

Mrs. Miracle was tentatively identified through hair and dental work.

A pathologist in Montrose, Colo., hasn’t established the causes of the women’s deaths.  Williams said the bodies bore no obvious wounds.


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