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

Alan Lee Phillips of Dumont was arrested in February. He is accused in the 1982 deaths of Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara Oberholtzer, 29.

FAIRPLAY, Colo. — A Park County judge has ordered that Alan Phillips stand trial for allegedly killing two young women last seen hitchhiking near Breckenridge in 1982. The ruling followed a two-day preliminary hearing this week.

Phillips, 70, was arrested in February of this year on the following charges:  

  • Kidnapping
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Murder after deliberation

Phillips is accused of killing Annette Schnee, 21, and Barbara Oberholzer, 29. Both were shot to death.

During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that they said linked the two murders: An orange sock that Schnee was wearing when her body was found. A matching sock was found near Oberholtzer's body a few miles away.  

PREVIOUS: Sheriff on United flight spots SOS on Guanella Pass in 1982, decades later the rescued man's charged in a double murder

Prosecutors also presented evidence about the way the victims died.  A former agent for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation testified that Oberholtzer had apparently broken free from her attacker before dying in the snow on Hoosier Pass. She had a single zip tie on her left wrist and had been shot in the chest.

Schnee's body was found face down in a creek a few miles away with a single gunshot wound in her back.

The lead detective on the case for the Park County Sheriff's Department then testified about Phillips being rescued from the top of Guanella Pass after being stuck in a snowstorm. It happened just a few hours after Schnee and Oberholtzer went missing, and not far from the areas where their bodies and belongings were eventually found.

The same detective also testified that Phillips' DNA matched the blood found on a glove of Oberholtzer's, which was found the day after she disappeared.

For their part, Phillips' lawyers tried to cast doubt on the reliability of the DNA evidence in the case. They also repeatedly suggested that the real killer was Jeff Oberholtzer, Oberholtzer's husband. His business card was found in Schnee's pocket when her body was discovered. Jeff Oberholtzer told investigators at the time that he had given the card to Schnee when he picked her up hitchhiking sometime in the past.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Jeff Oberholtzer was a suspect during the early stages of the investigation but that DNA testing had excluded him as the possible killer. 

Phillips is being held without bond. A trial date has not yet been set. He's due back in court on December 13.

Credit: KUSA file photo
Annette Schnee
Credit: KUSA file photo
Barbara Oberholtzer
Credit: Park County Sheriff's Office
Alan Lee Phillips
Credit: Colorado Bureau of Investigation
A picture of Alan Lee Phillips from the 1980s.

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

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