On March 09, 1970, Colorado Department of Transport workers made a grim discovery down an embankment at the side of highway 128.
At around 08:30 AM the body of a young woman was found near the county line between Boulder and Jefferson. She would later be identified as 23-year-old Betty Lee Jones, a newly wed and mother of two from Denver.
Autopsy would reveal that she had been bound, raped, shot and strangled before being cruelly discarded down an embankment at the side of the highway. Although a DNA sample was collected from the victim, there was not much that could be done in 1970 to trace it back to Betty Lee’s killer.
Betty Lee Jones was last seen alive at around 3:30 PM the day before she went missing, outside of her home on 12th and York Street in Denver, around 40 miles from the site her body would be found. She lived at the residence with her husband and had lived there less than a year before she was found murdered at the hands of an unknown assailant. Although she had reportedly only been married for just over a week, the marriage had been described as tumultuous and she and her husband were often heard arguing. March 08, 1970 was no different, only this time Betty Lee would not return after the fight.
Her two children, a son and daughter, would not find out what happened to her until they were teenagers. They would not remember much about that day, beyond the “chaos” of it all, and were sent to live with their grandparents. They had very few memories of Betty, just faint snapshots of celebrations they shared together, but their grandparents were sure to tell them how much of a warm and loving woman Betty Lee was.
After an argument on the afternoon she disappeared, her husband, Robert Ray Jones, hopped into his vehicle and left. Betty Lee ran outside and waved down a passing car, a blue sedan, and got into it. That would be the last time anyone would ever see her alive.
Her body was discovered early the next morning.
Police canvassed, questioned and interviewed those in the area but unable to identify a suspect, the case soon went cold. It stayed cold until 2006, when DNA from the victim’s body was obtained by the CBI and ran through the CODIS federal database, however there were no results. For a time, Betty Lee’s husband was a suspect, but he was seen leaving in his vehicle before his wife was even missing and would later be ruled out by DNA.
In 2018 the DNA sample found on the victim was submitted to Bode Technologies and for the first time in almost 50 years there was a lead. Using a family tree created with the help of the DNA sample that had been entered into a genetic genealogy database police went about eliminating suspects based on their gender, age and where they lived at the time of the crime. They were left with the profiles of two brothers who would have been in their twenties at the time of Betty Lee’s murder, one of the brothers was already deceased. During an interview, the surviving brother told officers that he had another brother whom he was not close to and had not seen in years. Although he could not provide police with an address, he did recall that his estranged sibling owned a blue Plymouth Fury Sedan back in the seventies and provided them with a name.
Investigators with the Boulder County Sheriff’s office worked to track down the whereabouts of the other brother to discover that he died in 2019. In April 2020 they exhumed his body from Fort Logan National Cemetery to test his DNA against that found on the victim almost half a century ago. It was a match.
The man was soon identified in the media as a Mr. Paul Leroy Martin. Martin is believed to have no prior link to the victim and what exactly happened that day is a secret he took with him to the grave.
Reports describe the murder as opportunistic and although a mugshot of the perpetrator exists, there has been no reports of his criminal history. There are a handful of unsolved homicides with female victims committed around the time of Jones’ murder however the details of the cause of death for most cases are not publicly listed. A family member of Betty Lee Jones confirmed that they were not familiar with her killer’s name and were sure they had no connection prior to the murder.