Grand Junction, Colo. (AP) – When two young women and two children disappeared in August, law enforcement officials in this town of 21,000 persons took no particular notice.

But a month later the waters of the Gunnison River receded, and the body of Linda Miracle, 25, was recovered.  Six days later the waters receded more, yielding the body of Mrs. Miracle’s across-the-street neighbor, Patricia Botham, 25.

A day after that came and new and grimmer development when the bodies of Mrs. Miracle’s two sons, Chad, 3 and Troy, 5, were found in the river.

The bodies had two things in common.  Each was weighted with a piece of railroad iron and all were near a pile of iron similar to that tied to their waists.

No longer investigating a routine disappearing persons case, Mesa County Sheriff Dick Williams said, “The greatest thing that could happen is to catch the person who did this.”

The dozen men working on the case have interviewed 200 persons, but Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina said, “I wouldn’t say we have any suspects.”

The case began on Aug. 23 when Mrs. Miracle and Mrs. Botham disappeared from the Miracle house.  Police found uneaten food on the kitchen table but saw no trace of any disturbance inside the house.  The family car was parked outside.

Several weeks later members of Mrs. Miracle’s family disclosed the young woman had almost been killed by strangulation at her home in June.  She recovered in a hospital after the attack, but apparently never told her family who was responsible.

Authorities working on the case have disclosed the two boys died of shotgun wounds, but have refused to reveal the cause of death of the two women.

“We want to keep this information for possible use in interviewing suspects,” Farina said.

Compounding the mystery and the town’s concern are two other confirmed slayings in the community since summer.


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