Breckenridge, Colorado is a small ski resort town with year round outdoor tourists visiting for hiking, fly fishing and more. The quiet and scenic little town had an odd and distressing day on January 6, 1982.
For starters, a local man got his truck caught in a snow storm in Guanella Pass in the area. The back end of the truck sank down into the snow. He flashed S.O.S. and a passing plane noticed the signal. Calling air traffic control, emergency services was able to be contacted and rescued him.
Unfortunately, that event wasn’t the only thing that happened that night. Two young women also disappeared from the town.
Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer was a 29 year old receptionist at a real estate company. She was known to be a meticulous planner, both personally and professionally. She had notebooks and ledgers of savings and plans for a horse corral with her husband and 11 year-old daughter from a previous relationship. That day, she was promoted into the role of Office Manager. She called her husband Jeff to tell him that she was going to grab a drink with friends from the office to celebrate.
At the time, hitchhiking was extremely common, especially with townsfolk who knew each other. Bobbie Jo said that she would just hitch a ride home even though Jeff offered to come pick her up.
Even though hitchhiking was popular, he did worry for her safety. He made her a heavy key ring with a large clip on it to be used as a weapon for self-defense if ever needed.
Jeff called the police when Bobbie Jo didn’t arrive home that night, but was told it was too early to file a missing person’s report. At this point, he drove into town and talked to the friends she was celebrating with. They said she left the bar around 7:30. At that point, he hoped they crossed paths or something, and he returned home to wait for her.
On the morning of January 7, a farmer 30 miles away from Breckenridge found Bobbie Jo’s driver’s license on his property. Once alerted, Jeff and one of his friends went to retrieve it. On the ride there, Jeff saw a blue backpack in a field. And it looked just like her backpack. They pulled off the road and checked it out. With the backpack were bloody tissues and one of her gloves covered in blood. This prompted Jeff to organize a search with friends, family and police.
15 miles away from the backpack and 5 miles away from Breckenridge, Bobbie Jo’s body was found. The crime scene was odd to police. She was shot twice, but the only footprints in the area were hers. Her house keys on the heavy ring were found near the body along with a single orange sock. A large zip tie was around one wrist, assumed to be a restraint of some sort.
Annette Kay Schnee was a 22 year old with two jobs: a housekeeper at the local Holiday Inn and a cocktail waitress at local bar called Flip Side. On January 6, she left work early at the Holiday Day Inn due to feeling sick. She visited her doctor and picked up a prescription from the pharmacy before hitching a ride home.
Annette was young and said to be happy and fun to be around. When she wasn’t seeing after January 6, a friend called the police a few days later to file a missing person’s report.
Anette would not be found until July 3, 1982. A boy found her decomposed corpse while he was fishing in an area approximately 13 miles away from where Bobbi Jo was found. Annette was also shot on January 6, and she was wearing one orange sock. This sock was the identical partner to the one found with Bobbie Jo.
Additionally, in Annette’s wallet, police found the business card of a local appliance repair business. The name on the card? Jeff Oberholtzer.
Now the police had a prime suspect but no physical evidence. When they interviewed him, Jeff told them he had once given her a ride and he would give his business card out to anyone he allowed to hitchhike in order to possibly get new customers. But he had an alibi! He was at home with a friend that evening.
However, police couldn’t find the friend or get an official statement from them…for nine years. They were able to get a statement, but not all of the times matched up to Jeff’s story, and he remained a suspect.
Police had a theory on how the two women were linked with these orange socks. It appeared that Annette was grabbed in the afternoon of January 6 and sexually assaulted inside the killer’s vehicle. Afterward, she redressed in a rush, only grabbing one orange sock and not fastening all her clothing properly. Finding a moment of opportunity, she tried to escape and that is when the perpetrator shot her in the back and left her body near the creek.
The driver then returned to town and abducted Bobbie Jo. She also was able to escape, and the extra orange sock from Annette’s assault got stuck in her clothing as she ran away. The man then shot her twice and once again, just left the body.
Almost 40 years would pass with the case officially cold. It was broadcast in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries (Season 6, Episode 15), but the break in the case would not happen until 2021.
Police used the DNA profile from Bobbie Jo’s glove to compare with samples through genetic genealogy. And that blood was not Jeff Oberholtzer’s.
A pair of brothers matched the sample, and only one ever lived in Colorado. Police finally had a lead and a name: Alan Lee Phillips.
So, who was this guy? A mechanic in Breckenridge, he had an arrest on his record from 1973 for assault and burglary, and he lived in the area. So police started digging into the case with gusto once again. They knew they needed to secure a sample of his DNA direct from the source to compare to the evidence for it to stand up in court.
It took weeks. Phillips didn’t leave the house often, and even going through his garbage resulted in no viable samples. Then, one day he stopped at a Sonic Drive-In, and threw away his trash in a public receptacle. They immediately grabbed it and took his discarded food packaging to be tested. They had a match.
Soon, his alibi started to fall apart.
On January 6, 1982, Alan Lee Phillips was the man in the pickup truck stuck in a snow storm up on the mountain. Locals would know not to drive up there, so why was he in this remote area when he knew it was dangerous? The local fire chief, Dave Montoya, was the one to rescue him. Phillips said he got drunk and took the mountain pass to avoid traffic.
When Chief Montoya asked about the large gash over his eye, Phillips said he hit it on the truck trying to get it out of the snow. At the time, it seemed stupid, but not suspicious. However, knowing his blood was all over the evidence shed a new light on his flimsy story.
Alan Lee Phillips was apprehended on February 24, 2021. He was then convicted of two counts of First Degree Murder After Deliberation, two counts of First Degree Felony Murder Involving Kidnapping, two counts of First Degree Murder Involving Robbery, and two counts of Second Degree Kidnapping. These convictions came with a sentence of two consecutive life terms.
On February 27, 2023 at 71 years old, Phillips took his own life while serving his sentence at an Arkansas maximum security prison.