This article was originally written during the time period between the two trials by Meg Clark, a concerned citizen who lived in Grand Junction Colorado at the time of the murders and has now passed away. This article includes additions by Ken Botham himself, and contains thoughts and opinions from both authors. The article has been slightly changed from its original version by adding various stated facts from witnesses who were involved, and names of people referred to herein.
Is circumstantial evidence strong enough to condemn a person to die in the gas chamber?
Virtually all states with
the death penalty prohibit the death sentence solely based on circumstantial
evidence. In those states, law
officials can arrest and charge with 'murder one' but cannot hold in excess of
72 hours without an eye-witness or confession.
If they cannot get that, they must release the suspect, or charge him
with 'murder two' or less. Colorado
is not one of those states.
following is a case in point. December,
1976, in Grand Junction, Colorado, thirteen months after arrest for the murder
of his wife, his neighbor, and his neighbor's two small sons; an eight-woman,
four-man jury found Kenneth H. Botham, Jr. guilty of first degree murder in the
death of his wife, Patricia, 25 and guilty of second degree murder in the deaths
of Mrs. Linda Miracle, 24, and sons, Troy, 5 and Chad, 3.
The Mesa County jury found no mitigating factors and two aggravating
factors, obligating Judge William Ela, bound by Colorado law, to sentence Botham
to die in the gas chamber. All the evidence was circumstantial.
four bodies, missing since August 23, 1975, were found six weeks later in the
Gunnison River about twenty-five miles southeast of Grand Junction.
The victims, weighted with nearby railroad iron, tied with coaxial cable,
had been thrown from the condemned Bridgeport bridge.
The children, hands tied behind their backs, were shot through the head;
the women, asphyxiated. The women
had struggled, their windpipes crushed.
police and sheriff's departments, already burdened with numerous recent unsolved
homicide cases of a similar nature, were under tremendous community pressure to
make an arrest. The trial clearly
revealed from the beginning that Botham was the only major suspect.
Investigation of friends and relatives of victims revealed that Mrs.
Miracle's estranged husband was en-route from California that weekend.
Her gentleman caller, Norman Wilhelm, of that evening
passed polygraph (lie detector) tests given by the prosecution and
were said to be "cleared". Linda's
husband, Dilbert Miracle, and Botham's lie detector tests were said to be
"inconclusive" and efforts were intensified towards Botham.
Polygraph experts say the "operator" can easily achieve any
desired result; that a valid test cannot exceed 20 minutes.
Botham was "wired" and interrogated five straight hours in a
effort to obtain some response that could be used against him.
The CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) examiner threatened, badgered,
and swore, finally telling Botham that he (examiner) did not know how a man like
him (Botham) was allowed to walk around, and to get the hell out.
Botham had come at their convenience, eagerly, taking time off from work
to do so. Observing the CBI
examiner's interrogation of Botham through a one-way mirror, a police department
investigator, James Fromm, was upset enough to file a report with a superior officer saying
that the test was a hoax. Following
the test, that same officer extended apologies to Botham. For obvious reasons, polygraph results are not admissible in
had no difficulty passing additional tests given by defense polygraph
experts. When the court ruled that
the polygraphs had to be exchanged, over the prosecution's vehement objections,
it was found that the "alleged" incriminating responses on the
prosecution's tests were either made "while the tape was being
changed" or for one reason or another, "illegible".
Botham was arrested and charged with four counts of first degree murder.
[Botham was given two polygraph tests, one by the DA,
one by the Defense. ~Thayer Botham]
[Botham was given two polygraph tests, one by the DA, one by the Defense. ~Thayer Botham]
claimed he was in Ouray, Colorado; that he arrived around 9:00 p.m., August 22
and returned home about 4:00 p.m., August 23 (because of bad weather).
He found his young boys, aged 2 and 5, alone - his wife gone.
Although it was proven he checked in to the motel in Ouray about 9:00 p.m., he could
not find a witness who saw him in the area after 10:30 p.m.
Botham claimed he went to bed. The
motel owner testified the bed was slept in, linen and shower, used.
District Attorney, Terry Farina, contended Botham could have driven his 4-wheel
drive Toyota Land Cruiser back to Grand Junction, arriving around 1:00 or 1:30
a.m. August 23 to kill his wife; that her murder was "after
deliberation", and that the Miracle family, who lived across the street,
were also killed, in order to "throw authorities off his trail".
to establish motive, prosecution developed the theory that Botham wanted freedom
to marry his girl friend-model-employee. The
"other woman" theory sounded good, until she testified.
Though Botham had spoken of his affection, she said that marriage had
never once been brought up, and she in fact married a sheriff's deputy a few
months following Botham's arrest, proving the affair was "casual".
attorneys presented the theory that Linda Miracle was the intended victim and
Pat Botham went across the street to help as she had often done with Linda's
domestic problems. Much of the evidence the defense needed to use was disallowed
by Judge William Ela. He simply
asked the jury to leave the courtroom - at least a dozen times - heard evidence,
ruled it out or told the witnesses what could or could not be said.
action probably reached its height when the testimony of Linda's sister-in-law
pertaining to a telephone call was totally barred. Linda's sister was with Linda when the call was received
around 4:00 p.m. The call was
another boyfriend, Truman Haley, a sheriff's deputy, saying he would
be over at 11:00 p.m. and that her date that night, Norman Wilhelm, had better
not be there. Could this be why her
date left at around 11:00 p.m. rather than spend the night as was his custom?
Linda's sister stated Linda was very upset.
The prosecution strongly objected to this testimony, saying this was just
Botham, disguising his voice. The
judge agreed, certainly that's who it was, and disallowed the testimony.
pieces of evidence figured strongly in the trial.
a .22 caliber holstered revolver belonging to Botham. At the request of officers, he turned in all arms except this
one which he normally kept loaded and locked in the family safe. A .22 automatic
that was carried in the Land Cruiser was willingly turned in.
The following Monday night while servicing his furnace, he hid the
revolver in the crawl space under his house claiming that he had purchased a
stolen gun. Departmental
investigation proved the gun to be stolen, but Botham was not allowed to tell
the jury. The District Attorney
theorized this was the "murder weapon" with absolutely no shred of
proof, as allegedly no bullets were ever found for ballistic tests.
And, although there was no ballistics match ever recorded, the
prosecution pathologist definitely established the murder weapon (for the
children) as a .22 caliber.
Tom Montgomery, an officer of the Grand Junction Police Department, was a principle investigator in the Botham case.
(This officer was originally assigned to investigate Linda Miracle while
another officer had been assigned to
Pat Botham. The two men were later
reassigned, the first changed to Pat's investigation, the other to Linda's)
This investigator told the jury that Mrs. Botham had phoned him, crying
and hysterical, afraid that her husband was going to harm her, and asked if he
would pick up his guns. Further
testimony revealed he had picked up several firearms, but later brought them
back, having had no legal grounds to hold them.
story was different. He claimed his
wife told him the investigator had seen numerous arms while there and wanted to
check them for theft; that Pat Botham gave the officer those arms she did not
know the origin of. What is
interesting is, if Montgomery is telling the truth, why did he collect
only a few weapons? Departmental
records show he collected three weapons, and left four, including the stolen
revolver in the safe.
Montgomery's vehicle, a
Ford Bronco, was the same color scheme
and similar shape as Botham's Land Cruiser.
The Bronco is "short and square backed", the investigator
was tall, dark-haired, and slender. Montgomery
divorced his wife and left Grand Junction immediately following the trial.
the wire used to bind railroad irons to the bodies was traced to the Botham
household. CBI laboratory tests
proved two of the eight ends were cut with wire cutters normally carried in
Botham's Toyota. Tests showed these
specific ends showed oxidation, indicating they had been exposed to air from
being cut much earlier than the other six ends.
The tool which cut the other six ends was not found.
(Later, during the second trial in 1981, a second pair of wire cutters
showed up, allegedly having been found in Linda Miracle's car.)
The prosecutor tried to show Botham knew the bodies were tied with wire
before the authorities had released that information.
Testimony proved, however, virtually every wire dealer in town had been
contacted, many with whom Botham did business.
Botham's friends, employees and business associates were asked weeks
earlier if Botham owned this type wire. Botham
maintained the wire was cut by his wife to tie up sunflowers. After describing the wire to the police, he was asked to look
for it; but the whole roll was gone.
established, by Tim Tyree, a personal friend, that Botham had a hobby of running
river rapids and that he had spent much time on the rivers of western Colorado.
Tim himself had been down the Gunnison river with Botham many times,
including that same summer of 1975. Botham
seldom took his wife with him as she could not swim.
Botham knew first hand how low the river was; and since he frequented the
high country and was highly skilled with 4-wheel drive, wouldn't it would have
been more logical, if he were the legitimate perpetrator, for him to have
disposed of the bodies in one of the countless ravines, canyons, or abandoned
mine shafts in the area?
third major category of evidence was blood.
A CBI forensic serologist, Marion Kamen, examined the evidence from
Botham's Land Cruiser, from the Bridgeport bridge, and the wire cutters.
She examined a tiny spot found of type "A" on a mat from the
back of the Land Cruiser, and quantities too small to type on the wire cutters
and tailgate. Mrs. Botham, Mrs. Miracle, and son Troy had blood type
"A", while Mr. Botham and Chad Miracle had blood type "O".
had no explanation for the blood found on the mat. On the afternoon he reported his wife's absence, police
department detectives questioned him on a badly skinned knuckle.
He then took them to his vehicle's tailgate and showed them a broken
hinge assembly, explaining that he had broken it on his trip and injured his
finder replacing the tailgate. They
recognized the problem and advised him to have the entire hinge assembly
replaced. The blood on the hinge was
there, but the blood on the mat was not.
claimed there could be blood on the wire cutters, but not "human".
He normally took his 200 lb. St. Bernard, "Florence", with him on such
timberline photo assignments. In
July, she had come out of the losing end of a porcupine match (as was her
custom), and Botham cut each quill in two with the cutters, to release the
quill's hermetic seal making the spines easier to pull out with less pain to the
dog. In spite of the prosecution's efforts, the serologist
testified the blood on the cutters may well have been "animal".
story does not end there, however, even with the blood on the mat.
His dog had had eye surgery the first week in September, and as the vet
did not have a kennel large enough, suggested that she be taken home
immediately. By the time they
arrived home, Florence had scratched open the incision and was bleeding
steadily. After calling the vet,
Botham placed a large cardboard disc-collar over her head.
Testimony showed that the mat, sides, headliner - the entire cargo area
was thoroughly blood spattered. Botham
cleaned the inside, removing the mat, washing it with soap, water and brush.
Two weeks later, Botham again cleaned the interior in the same fashion,
after hauling firewood.
this time frame, the vehicle was searched 5 times over a 6 week period by the
Grand Junction and Sheriff's Department laboratories, vacuum cleaner sweepings
were sent to the FBI laboratories in Washington. Spending days at both departments, Botham willingly and
eagerly turned over the vehicle when and where they asked. Nothing was found - until the day of Botham's arrest.
At the prosecution's
request, the Toyota remained in department custody.
Lab personnel testified that on that day, type "A" blood was
found in the middle of the mat in plain sight.
The blood was fresh, and they just didn't know how the spot was missed so
many times. The Botham vehicle was
the only vehicle ever searched, even though Pat Botham's
shoe was found in Linda Miracle's car, and a quilt normally carried therein was found
near the bridge at Bridgeport. [I think the
statement that Pat Botham's shoe was found in Linda's car may be in error as it
is inconsistent with court records-appellant brief.
[I think the statement that Pat Botham's shoe was found in Linda's car may be in error as it is inconsistent with court records-appellant brief. ~Thayer Botham]
jury heard only that the type "A" blood could not be explained; that
there was blood on the wire cutters and human blood on the tailgate.
The witness testimony on the bleeding dog was made to be a lie by the
prosecution. He had little
difficulty as Judge Ela would not allow the veterinarian records admitted,
because the vet was "out of town" and not available for cross
district attorney maintained Botham left Friday evening, August 22, went to
Ouray, 100 miles away, checked into a motel, talked casually with a man in
downtown Ouray at 10:30 p.m., drove back to Grand Junction, suffocated two women
and shot two children, transported them to the old Bridgeport bridge, somehow
got the bodies over the high, locked gate; weighted and threw the bodies off
into the Gunnison River, returned to Grand Junction late afternoon August 23
after killing time all day, feigned surprise that his children were alone, wife
gone, and the reported her missing to the police.
the condemned bridge was protected by a high fence and high, locked gate, this
fact was not brought out in court. The
difficulty in getting four bodies, railroad irons, wire, etc. over this barrier
boggles the mind. It would be
interesting to know who had access to the gate key.
neighbors appeared as witnesses, saying they had seen or heard screams, pops and
bangs, dogs barking, lights coming on in windows, a square-backed vehicle with a
tall, slender man carrying something into or out of the Miracle's house around
1:30 in the morning. Medical records showed one witness, Cora Heiner, ten times
legal blindness just prior to these events, sedated, deaf, and in her 80's.
She told not only what she saw, but what she heard, changing her story
three times. She heard two bangs at midnight, thought the Miracle's were
moving furniture, had Botham's children, 2 & 5, playing in the backyard at
11:30 p.m., and their St. Bernard annoying the neighborhood with her barking.
(Why would the St. Bernard bark if it was Botham?) The climax in her testimony came when the district attorney
asked her to identify the man she saw that night.
She immediately and positively identified a captain with the Mesa County
Sheriff's Department. Botham had
been her next door neighbor for over three years and had spoken to her 30
minutes before she testified, as they rode to the courtroom together, in the
with the exception of the above star witness, all neighbors agreed what they
heard took place around 1:30 a.m. August 23rd., although no one called the
police, even though an attempt had been made to strangle Mrs. Miracle in June.
Wilhelm, one of Mrs. Miracle's boyfriends, testified he arrived around 7 p.m.,
August 22, ate a spaghetti dinner with her and the kids around 8:30 p.m., went
home around 11 p.m. where he remained the rest of the night.
He had paid her for her abortion, performed the day before and apparently
came by to see how she was doing. Truman Haley
went looking for Wilhelm immediately after talking to Linda in
the hospital, following the attempt on her life in June, but maintains that
Linda had said nothing about the identity of her attacker.
two Miracle boys, Chad and Troy, had eaten dinner with the adults.
The CBI pathologist stated more food remained in the stomachs of the
Miracle family than in Mrs. Botham's. He
made numerous statements during weeks of autopsy that it was consistent with the
digestive process that death had come one to two hours after eating since the
stomach normally voids completely in four hours.
This would set the time of death around 11:30 p.m.
Botham, in a desperate attempt to locate a man he'd spoken to the night
of September 22, ran an ad in the Ouray newspaper.
The phantom witness came forward, discrediting accusations by all
departments that Botham was lying. Immediately,
the prosecution's paid pathologist changed all earlier statements, saying he now
felt death occurred two to four hours after eating, placing the fateful moment
between 11:30 and 1:30 a.m. A
second pathologist, testifying for the defense, stated that most probably death
came for the boys within two hours after eating.
This placed the time of deaths around 11:00 p.m., and certainly prior to
the many missing facts, the time of death has to be the most important.
No one knows when Pat Botham ate her last meal, but the autopsy report
confirmed she had eaten earlier than the other victims.
According to the autopsy data, the murders must have happened well before
1:00 in the morning, making it impossible that Botham could have driven
back from Ouray to kill these people.
There was an attempt on Mrs. Miracle's life in June. About 12:40 a.m. someone tried to strangle her. Botham claimed he heard her scream, observed her stumble out of her house, and pass out on the front lawn. He gave her artificial respiration, told his wife to call the rescue squad, and carried her to his home. The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction's newspaper, carried the story, saying she was unable to identify her assailant; that the attack happened while she slept in front of her TV. The paper also carried a report of a similar attack on another woman at 10:00 p.m. the night before. This woman got away unharmed. This last incident was not mentioned in court. The D.A. tried to establish Botham as Mrs. Miracle's attacker. Problem was that Mrs. Botham had, however, told her clergyman that same morning every detail of the incident, having even gone to the hospital with Linda. The minister's statement was in the D.A.'s files, just as he gave it, months before Botham's arrest. It confirmed Botham's story to the letter. With the jury excused, the minister testified. The judge barred the testimony, saying this was hearsay from the dead victim. The jury did hear other neighbors' testimony; but only that Linda had screamed, that when they looked out Botham was bent over Linda, that he carried her across the street, and that they had seen no one else present.
Miracle spent several days in the hospital, during which time Haley, the deputy
friend of Mrs. Miracle, investigated the incident. Immediately, Haley called on Wilhelm, whom she had
entertained the evening of August 22. It
was learned that this deputy went to Linda's home and removed her
diary without her knowledge (he later said that he had meant to
bring it back). Truman Haley
later testified that he read through it and destroyed it by burning and
throwing it in the Colorado river. The contents and conversations were not
admissible without the diary, but the deputy testified Botham's name was not mentioned in
was asked to resign, taking a position in the court house at no loss of pay or
benefits. On August 22-23, this deputy worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
This was the only shift he worked, on department record, where he made no
radio contact the entire eight hours. Haley
had no proof of his whereabouts, but stated he worked "Uranium Downs".
A year later, two weeks before the trial, he managed a witness (fellow
officer, unknown at this date) who swore he had ridden with him that night, in
Fruita, Colorado, some 15 miles from Uranium Downs.
This man also sold his .22 caliber handgun 2 weeks after the
disappearances, testifying he "just got tired of it".
Often, this deputy was seen late at night coming/going to his patrol car,
parked on 20th street while he visited Mrs. Miracle.
is a statement taken by the police in the D.A.'s discovery files, that a police
cruiser was seen in the dawn hours parked on the main highway near the
Bridgeport turnoff. This was not
established as fact .
Miracle's mother-in-law usually kept the two boys, Chad and Troy, on weekends,
but this particular weekend she was out of town. A late night visitor might not have known the children were
in the house, but Botham knew. He
helped Linda start her car that day, just before he left town.
His oldest son was playing with Chad and Troy when he left.
alley behind the Miracle house led east to a vacant parking lot two houses away,
making a good observation point as well as easy access to the rear of her house.
Notwithstanding neighbors' reports of lights coming into windows,
square-backed vehicles going without lights, tall, a slender man entering
through the front door carrying carpet with a bulge in it, common sense dictates
any nefarious activities would be conducted via the alley.
The back yard is screened from view by a high unkempt hedge on the east,
a carport on the west, and a high wooden fence with a gate opening south on the
alley. Across the alley are fenced
backyards of houses facing a cul-de-sac half a block away.
an intentional effort was made to incriminate Botham by using materials around
the premises. It's possible there
was more than one murderer since it is extremely rare for a killer to change
"modis operandi" by using two different killing methods in the same
killer(s) must have known the victims, their families and the area well.
Why kill children unless they can identify the assailant?
Botham was known to have .22 caliber guns and some people thought Botham
was Linda's attacker in June.
Botham spent time the year round on the river. As these events are
examined, it begins to look as though these murders are related to the many
others of this same time. July,
1975, Steven Benson returned from out of town to find his wife and
5 year old daughter dead. Linda Benson, Pat
Botham and Linda Miracle were friends.
Botham, a photographer, musician, seamstress; Mrs. Miracle, easy living,
many friends connected with law enforcement, wife.
Mrs. Benson, same age, knew the other women.
What went on is anyone's guess, but a powerful motive existed to get rid
of these and other women in the community.
Perhaps Linda Benson knew who threatened Linda Miracle.
Perhaps Pat Botham knew also. Did
she go across the street wearing housecoat, nightgown, tennis shoes and glasses,
all missing, in answer to a phone call from Linda, as was her custom?
Did the Botham St. Bernard wake her up, to investigate something?
Who turned the lights on in the Botham carport shed, leaving doors wide
open displaying valuable equipment? Why
did Linda Miracle change clothes from the jumpsuit worn earlier to the bra and
t-shirt she had on when found, her jumpsuit left by her bed? Why were the children clothed except for shoes, when they had
been put to bed? What happened to
Linda's underwear and slacks - and to Pat's housecoat and tennis shoes, etc.
A quilt kept in the Miracle's station wagon was found near the old
bridge. Why wasn't Linda's car
searched as a possible mode of transporting bodies?
Botham's doctor testified she had been treated on numerous occasions for bruises
and beatings, attributing them to Botham. The D.A. could not substantiate this with other testimony.
The judge said testimony would be allowed, if substantiated by medical
records. The D.A. said the records
were "out of town". This
time, the jury heard the "out of town" testimony.
Records arrived a day or so later, actually showing no such treatment. The jury wasn't advised.
The doctor was, by his own testimony, Mrs. Botham's very close, very good
friend. It seems unusual that a
doctor's records should be "out of town".
Botham was arrested and charged, court-appointed lawyers spent an entire year
trying to gain venue change, claiming there was no way this man could receive a
fair trial with an unbiased jury in Mesa County.
Ela allegedly made a statement at an east slope conference prior to Botham's
arrest, that Botham was guilty and should be locked up and choked until he
confessed. He later denied the statement.
Another judge, Richard Green, who heard the statement notified defense
lawyers and submitted written testimony. Another
lawyer, Rollie Rogers, present at the same time and heard Ela's statement, also
testified as to what he heard him say. Ela
now stated that if prejudiced in the past, he could now put these feelings aside
and sit the case fairly. Defense
lawyers did not agree, going to the Colorado Supreme Court, asking that Judge
Ela be required to step down. Botham
waited months in solitary confinement to hear the high court say they did not
have time to read the request. Using
another avenue, same issue, again Botham tried in desperation to have another
judge. More waiting, same ruling,
the Colorado Supreme Court was too busy to read it.
prosecution released to the media every piece of seemingly incriminating
evidence on Botham. As this was
repeated at every newsworthy opportunity, teams of female deputies were sent to
community supermarkets, restaurants, banks, etc., obtaining over 500 signatures
stating Botham could receive a fair trial locally.
keeping with legal ethics, the defense attorney's office released NO statements
during the long months of waiting. All
the newscasts and front page articles were from the prosecution.
third attempt was made to the Supreme Court.
The last effort to gain venue change was denied.
They did not have time. They
did have time for Claudine Longet, who was serving a 10-day jail
sentence. Although she did not request venue change, it was awarded to
her, along with a new judge, in a matter of hours.
located one witness, Steven Norris, who identified him has the man spoken to in Ouray, August
22, a man who had never before seen Botham.
For nearly a year he claimed the time was near
midnight (11:30), but on the
witness stand, sixteen months later, he was positive it was 10:30 p.m.
This helped the prosecution's attempts to establish time of death for
1:30 a.m. Even so, the projected
time table is very shaky. The Land
Cruiser was filled with nearly 500 pounds of large format photographic
equipment, some Botham was seen unloading into his Ouray motel, two witnesses
(Norman and Pauline O'Dell; who also testified that Botham's Land Cruiser was at
the motel the next morning) testified to that.
Toyota Land Cruiser's are not fast.
He would have had to unload at least some of the equipment in order to
transport the bodies, go back, load up again, all totally unseen.
claimed the weather was bad in Ouray that night, the following morning and
Saturday at higher altitudes. The
D.A. made Botham to be a liar, introducing testimony showing it was beautiful
blue sky, sunshine, no wind, and no rain. The
defense called motel patrons (one of which was Lorna Greene), who testified
exactly the opposite. When the
defense countered with a National Weather Service satellite photo displaying
extensive cloud cover exactly where Botham said he was, at exactly the same
time, the D.A. quickly agreed (while the jury was gone) not to mention the weather again if
the defense wouldn't. A 40 x 50
inch enlargement mysteriously disappeared from the defense lawyer's office just
prior to the trial. Nothing more
was said on the weather.
night of August 22 was overcast in Grand Junction (in spite of the full moon,
visibility was not great) as printed in the Daily Sentinel weather report.
Botham's Toyota had a bad shimmy at 50 mph.
To take care of the gruesome business at hand, he would run into daylight
hours as the sun rose at 6:34 a.m. on August 23, 1975, getting light well before
that time as well as heavy tourist traffic, especially in the Grand Junction,
Montrose Ridgeway and Ouray area. Hundreds
of men would be out before dawn because the big game bow hunting season opened
began to see that the evidence, as proclaimed, would not be enough to
convince the jury of his innocence. When
the guilty verdict came in, he attempted suicide, making lateral cuts in the
veins of his upper arm, then poisoning the cuts.
Knowing that after unconsciousness came, his blood pressure would
decrease minimizing blood loss, but that the poison would induce a rampant white
blood cell count. It took awhile,
but the medical staff found the problem, administering hundreds of units of
penicillin in a desperate attempt to bring him back to life, so he could be
killed. Semiconscious and
delirious, he steadfastly denied having anything to do with the murders.
D.A. waited at the hospital in vain for a much wanted confession.
Terry Farina then lied to the people of Grand Junction again, through the same
media that convicted Botham, saying it was a publicity stunt, just some
scratches on his wrist, the weight of guilt.
The attending physicians story was different.
psychiatrists examined Botham.
who saw him twice in November, 1976 and once in the intensive care unit, said
"he is obsessive-compulsive, tends to isolate emotion, not to show
warmth"; that he was significantly impaired in his ability; that there was
insignificant inner duress which contributed to significant impairment.
He believed "the man bordered on psychotic depression and may indeed
have been psychotic on August, 23, 1975". This doctor didn't meet Botham
until after he lost his wife, was arrested and charged with the most hideous
crime in Colorado's recent history, spent a year in a county jail in solitary
confinement (a dirty steel box, three steps long, and arm span wide).
He had spent more than 40 days without a light.
One meeting was conducted in the hospital while in shock, his hope of
second psychiatrist interviewed Botham only once while in intensive care.
He characterized Botham as having "an obsessive personality with an
orderliness, thoroughness, and concern over details most of us wouldn't
have". Diagnosis was based in
part on the note Botham left before attempting suicide.
It contained social security, selective service numbers and that he
wanted his body donated to science. There
was no admission to guilt.
description of Botham's penchant for details doesn't fit the alleged actions of
the accused. Although one
psychiatrist brought out Botham's compulsive lying, saying the man "covers
one lie with another in order to look better in everyone's eyes", he
offered no opinion on Botham's mental state in August of 1975.
Ironic that after being grilled for more than nine hours on the witness
stand, answering in detail every question, there could be found no holes in his
testimony and not one single lie.
compulsive personality would be compelled to tidy up everything.
Many people who knew Botham have said the murders were too sloppy for him
to have done. The back yard lights
were left on, garage doors open, Botham's 10 speed bike was left on Miracle's
lawn, derailleur bent, his gas can beside it, quilt left at
the bridge site, stove left on in Miracle's kitchen, etc.
of the D.A.'s case was an assassination of Botham's character.
However, the prosecution was not able to picture Botham either as the
"cruel" or "violent". He
presented a few wrinkles commensurate with the extent of the investigation.
Commenting on his above average intelligence, Farina stated that Botham
behaved rationally before and after the murders. The only aggressive behavior
Botham exhibited was directed toward himself in his suicide attempt.
from Botham, there were no arrests, no suspects reported.
But why was it the police department continued to interrogate suspects in
the Botham/Miracle case, months after Botham was arrested and jailed?
events that occurred in Grand Junction in 1975 are impressive compared to other
years past. Some of these events
are as follows:
Oliverson, 24, missing since April, 1975. Bicycle
and shoes found under the Fifth Street Bridge (Colorado River).
She was not known to be despondent, but dabbled in drugs.
She lived just blocks from Benson, Miracle and Botham.
Van Lane, early June, shot once in the head.
Had moved his family to Colorado Springs after his home mysteriously
burned in Grand Junction.
24 year old mother and her infant child in Whitewater, near Grand Junction,
found shot, her infant wounded in the head, classed as tragic murder-suicide,
June 7. Police, reinvestigating
after August 23rd murders, stated it was just that.
The woman's mother disagrees. The
dead woman knew both Linda's. Allegedly
involved with drugs.
14, someone attempted to strangle a woman at 10 p.m.
15, shortly after midnight, someone nearly strangled Linda Miracle.
June, a young soldier was gunned down with an automatic weapon while returning
to station. His brother was
allegedly serving on a narcotics squad at Fort Carson.
20-21, a drug scandal broke publicly in Telluride, involving public officials.
25, Linda Benson, 24, and 5 year old daughter, brutally stabbed to death.
She knew Pat Botham, Linda Miracle, having been friends with Linda since
High School, drugs involved.
The previous year (July 1974) Linda Benson's older sister, Judith Ketchum, is found dead at a campground just outside of Aspen (Pitkin County). Authorities ruled it a drug-overdose. The head sheriff, however, was investigating a plane crash and Judith's body was suspiciously whisked away and embalmed before family members could request an autopsy.
22/23, Miracle and Botham murders occurred, Linda Miracle involved with drugs
Oct 5, 1975, teenage girl Tracy Freitas, found dead in a local pond. She babysat for Linda Benson and Linda Miracle, and possibly experimented or used illegal drugs.
Junction area citizens were heard to say after Botham's arrest, "it sure
had put a stop to the murders". It
had not. On December 27, 1975, with
Botham jailed, Debra Tomlinson was found dead in her bathtub, just blocks from
the Benson home. She had been
strangled and raped. All the dead women allegedly used drugs to varying
degrees, with the exception of Mrs. Botham.
public would like to believe lawmen are on their side, but with a turnover rate
far in excess of the state average, sexual involvement of nearly a dozen
officers (that can be proven) with some of the victims, when the same officers
being assigned to investigate their murders when they admittedly alter and
destroy evidence, and when the police chief of that time, partied with the
victims before their deaths, a feeling of uneasiness tends to develop.
police chief Ben Meyers was forced to resign shortly after the Tomlinson murder,
and was allegedly
extensively involved in drug traffic. Botham's investigators found numerous
large deposits in account in two banks, but the D.A. objected to a court order
for all Meyers bank records and Judge Ela denied it, saying it was irrelevant.
Immediately, the chief resigned, clearing all accounts.
This man took an undersherrif position in Aspen, Colorado, resigning after Ted
Bundy escaped from the Aspen jail. During
the Bundy trial, a witness identified Myers as the man she saw leaving the dead
nurse's apartment at the time of her murder . . . the nurse Bundy was accused of killing and leaving frozen
in the countryside.
continued to vanish from Grand Junction, but the killings stopped.
There are no official statements, but the police have some 24-26 year old
persons listed as "runaways". Denver investigators were unable to
obtain compiled police data on unsolved murders while preparing for the Botham
trial, saying "every trail ends at the Grand Junction Police
does one investigate? The only
private investigator in town was retained and paid thousands by relatives of
Linda Miracle. At that same time,
he was "special advisor" to the sheriff's department, and
"special investigator" for the district attorney's office, all paid
positions. The day he was hired, he
latched onto Botham.
admitted in court lying to the "other woman" so she would not worry
over is home situation. That withstanding, the D.A. could point out no lies, not
one. If Botham is all lies, why did
Judge Ela order he not be allowed to speak to the press?
After issuing the permanent gag order, what did Judge Ela mean when he
said to the sheriff, "I think we'll have a lot less problems that
way"? He then said, "Now
let us continue with our wonderful little adventure".
Botham not once talked to the media after his arrest.
Not once did he ever say an unkind word towards the Judge, prosecution or
departmental personnel. What could
Botham possibly say that has these people so worried?
know the honesty of our elected officials should be impeccable. Why would the district attorney and the police department refuse to turn over compiled
police data on the other murders? You
would think they would have welcomed the Denver investigators.
Knowing it to be cheaper to do it "right" the first time, why
did Farina fight so hard to retain venue with Judge Ela?
Why would the D.A. instruct all officers not to talk to defense lawyers?
district attorney emphatically stated he had no political aspirations (although
he was in the middle of his own election campaign), and proceedings were delayed
while he attended the Democratic National Convention.
We know he is not interested in publicity because that is what he says.
But why would he tell a local attorney he would never accept a federal
judgeship because there was not enough publicity?
would the D.A. lie so many times in the affidavit presented to an unsuspecting
county judge, in order to obtain an arrest warrant? Could it be that he knew the same judge would set the
preliminary hearing, and never reverse his own earlier decision? The D.A. knew the affidavit never had to be legally proven,
but when asked about those lies at trial, his enraged answer was, "but what
about the things that are true?" while waving the wire and a revolver (those
items were circumstantial, the gun proving to be not involved).
would the D.A. lie to the jury about the weather, the Miracle strangulation in
June, that only Botham knew it was wire and then call numerous witnesses,
knowing they were going to lie before they even testified?
Why would he encourage witness after witness to testify there was no
garden in Botham's backyard, making Botham a liar, when color photos in Farina's
files, taken by the sheriff's
office showed that there indeed was a garden there?
some witnesses were obviously lying during testimony, the defense lawyers asked
perjury charges be brought. The
judge agreed, but said he would do so only if the jury recommended it.
They were out of the courtroom at the time.
did the D.A. release all court presented prosecution data to the media before
trial and why would he want to show color photos of the decomposed women and
children lying in the river, so many times?
prosecution's character assassination, all evidence could have been presented in
a days time, all of it circumstantial. When
it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the crime, the core of any crime has not to
do with character flaws. The core is who, beyond reasonable doubt, was sufficiently
motivated and in a position to commit the crime, and in fact did do so.
It requires more than proving that a crime took place.
In a murder case, it seems imperative that the murder weapon and the
motive be identified and proven, or a confession obtained.
motive presented in the Botham case was weak and not clearly defined.
The murder weapon was not identified for lack of ballistics, the type of
gun involved is most common, .22 caliber weapons were police issue at that
time. Circumstantial evidence could have been easily developed against any
number of other
people, known or unknown. The case
comes out like a giant jigsaw puzzle with significant key pieces missing.
Perhaps law enforcement officials acted in good faith, avoiding public airing of private ills, feeling obligated to handle its own can of worms to protect its facade - which is all well and good, provided it isn't the "good ole new York Shuffle". Shakespeare once said, "there's nothing either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so". How much buried prejudice is in the minds of eight women and four men when despicable, cold-blooded murders are committed? What part does fear play in the minds of witnesses giving evidence, how does it color memories when testimony is given 16 months after the crime was committed, when witnesses are faced with the possibility the man may be turned loose to live in their own community?
To what lengths will a community go in pressuring law enforcement for conviction when preconceived ideas about the guilt of the accused man, possibly a scapegoat, chosen as a relief valve for a pressure cap of fear building to explosion? The defense attorneys appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court for a new trial. The transcripts are in. What happens next? Time will tell. But if this man Botham could be convicted and executed on the basis of circumstantial evidence like this, you who march to a different drummer better take heed. It could happen to you.
Where do you go now?
See some of the evidence
home case overview book background evidence trial notes ken's journal entries - 1 2 3 4 people
news clippings questions & answers - 1 2 mitigating & aggravating factors appellate brief
Colorado Supreme Court's response juror prejudices contact us