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Colorado man convicted in 40-year-old murder case

Alan Lee Phillips, 71, was convicted Thursday of the murders of Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara Oberholtzer, 29.

PARK COUNTY, Colo. — A Park County jury has found a man accused of killing two young women last seen hitchhiking near Breckenridge 40 years ago guilty of first-degree murder.

Alan Lee Phillips, 71, was arrested last year for the January 1982 shooting deaths of Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara Oberholtzer, 29.  

In addition to the murder charges, court records show Phillips was found guilty of kidnapping.

Schnee was last seen on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 1982, according to the cold case database from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Her body was found about six months later in rural Park County, about 20 miles south of Breckenridge, according to CBI. She appeared to have been shot in the back in the location where she was found, according to information from the database. 

Oberholtzer was last seen on the evening of Jan. 6, 1982, and her body was found the next afternoon near the summit of Hoosier Pass, about 20 feet off the highway and down a snow embankment. 

Credit: CBI
Barbara Oberholtzer (left) and Annette Schnee (right)

She had been shot in the chest, according to the cold case database. 

Investigators said Phillips was rescued from the top of Guanella Pass after his truck got stuck during a snowstorm the same night the two women disappeared. The victims did not know Phillips or each other.  

Phillips was tied to the murders by genetic genealogy, and the semi-retired mechanic from Clear Creek County was arrested during a traffic stop near his home in February 2021.

RELATED: Genetic genealogy leads to arrest of 70-year-old man in 1982 killings of 2 women near Breckenridge

Credit: Colorado Bureau of Investigation
A picture of Alan Lee Phillips from the 1980s.
Credit: Park County Sheriff's Office
Alan Lee Phillips

Genetic genealogy is a relatively new technology where DNA samples from crime scenes are specially sequenced and then uploaded to public DNA databases for comparison with the hope of finding a possible relative of the suspect. From there, investigators work through family trees to eventually come up with the suspect's identity.

RELATED: Judge orders trial for 70 year-old suspect in 1982 Breckenridge double murder

Phillips' DNA matched blood found on Oberholtzer's glove, which was found the day after she disappeared.

He faces life in prison when he's sentenced on Nov. 7.

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