A murder case has many layers: the victim, the crime, and the investigation. To truly understand it, you need to dissect each piece of a tragic puzzle. Join Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger every Wednesday for an insider’s perspective, as they reveal to you the Anatomy of Murder.
Thu, 04 Mar 2021 14:30
A breaking update in the case involving the 1982 murders of Annette Schnee and Bobbi Jo Oberholzer. A major development in this 39-year-old unsolved, double homicide case. You can find our original episode at https://anatomyofmurder.com/murder-in-the-mountains/ Bonus Episode recorded March 3, 2020. For episode information and photos, please visit https://anatomyofmurder.com/
I'm Scott Weinberger, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. I'm Anna Sige-Nikolasi, former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of investigation discoveries through conviction. And this is Anatomy of Murder. This is our first AOM bonus episode and what a way to start. We are so excited to be giving you this update on a story that we covered. We're talking about the murder in the mountains episode that was released back on November 25th, 2020. It's an unsolved double homicide that happened outside of Breckenridge, Colorado back in 1982. The two young women, one a Nechny, she was 21, and two, Bobby Joe Oblehozer, who was 29 years old. It's a huge spoiler alert here. If you haven't already listened, we recommend that you listen first because what we're going to tell you will be that much more meaningful. And with that, here we go. Take it away, Scott. And I say to police in Colorado today, held a press conference to announce the arrest in this incredible case, 39 years later, of Alan Lee Phillips. He's 70 years old today, but at the time of the crime, he was 31 years old. And here's how we know how police were able to gain the evidence. Now back in 1982, there were two separate crime scenes, and they were able to collect some DNA from each scene. But at that time in 1982, science wasn't at a place where it was even four or five years after that. They weren't able to use any of that information. And it wasn't until 1998 that they felt they were able to collect enough from the 1982 scene, or the 1982 sample that they collected, to be able to use it. For forensic comparisons, but still in 1998, they had nothing. Let's go to 2020. That's when a company in Colorado worked with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and began their work on those samples once again. But this time they were using forensic genealogy, and they were able to develop sort of a family tree, and that family tree was an investigative tool to be able to lead them to Allen Lee Phillips. And Anisega, you and I have done a number of these forensic genealogy cases, and it's so interesting how they do it. And of course, at this time, it's only being announced today. So as you would imagine, investigators and prosecutors aren't really giving a lot of information out because he's arrested, but it won't be formally charged until a couple of days from now. And before we talk about more of what was learned during the press conference and some of our thoughts that we want to discuss with you about what this all means, let's just go back because maybe it's been a while if you have heard the episode just to remind you a little bit about this case. You know, as Scott already said, it was January 6 of 1982 when both these women were last scene. Bobby Joe had been out with friends. He just got in a promotion, and she, people said they thought she had hitchhiked, and then she just disappeared. Now a net was last scene leaving a pharmacy. As far as everyone knew, these two women had nothing to do with one another. They both just disappeared. Now, as Scott said, when Bobby Joe's body was recovered the next day, what was seen is that she had been shot in the back. There was a zip tie around her wrist, and there was a bright orange sock nearby. Now a net's body wasn't found for almost six months later. She was found July 3rd of 1982. Also, a gunshot wound to the back, one orange sock on, and one missing. Now both of them have been thought to perhaps been hitchhiking, but that was never confirmed. There was evidence of sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault, at least as to one of these young women. So let's now talk a bit more about Scott. How that all factors into what we learned from the press conference about this arrest. Well, clearly we're able to determine that Allen Lee Phillips, according to the indictment, would be the person who was the direct connection between these two victims. They didn't know each other. Remember, they disappeared on the same day, but as it turns out, a net's body wouldn't be located until six months after the crime was occurred. You know, Bobby Joe O'Barriser was found in the snow, and a net's knee was found in the middle of July in a lake. So they were able to connect these two crimes, not only with the booty that was found on a net's knee and the booty that was located near the body of Bobby Joe. They were also able to do it through DNA and the tried link, so to speak, to victims and a suspect is Allen Lee Phillips. Now, I thought it was really interesting during the press conference again. I'm not giving much. He has not even been formally charged in front of a court. He has just been arrested on these charges. And the arrest charges are two counts of first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping in the first degree, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. And we have to start and then end again later with saying innocent until proven guilty. These are just charges. So the story is far from over. But what I really kept thinking about, I was listening, they talked about this genetic genealogy and we've all been hearing about this right ever since the Golden State Killer case. And just if you're like, well, okay, I get it, but I don't really get it. For purposes here, basically what that means is they take this information, the DNA and they put it into a database and it's sequenced. And from their companies or usually private companies, they search public databases to see if they can get to that suspect. And without telling us that, the fact that they had one of these companies, it's united data connect. And they see it when you look up this case. They stood up there and talked about the process and they talked about all these cases they have been solving with genetic genealogy. You got to believe that that is what we are talking about here that they partnered together and that all these different agencies working together. They finally made some headway to get to this result because against Scott, like this is not even a name that we read in any of the reports that we had when we covered this case. I mean, it is fascinating as part of that press conference, they described really in a sense, again, they couldn't give too much information, you know, because they hold a lot of this, you know, anesthesia you and I understand that close to the vest. You know, the reporters were asking the questions, who is Allen Lee Phillips? And this is what they were able to tell us. Once they got the information that he may be connected to the case through DNA, they began a month after month surveillance of Allen Lee Phillips. And in a sense, they made the decision just last week to make a traffic stop while he was driving. And you know, that is what we always call a control takedown. He's in a vehicle, they surround it, they bring him out, they handcuff him, they render him safe. That's when they made the decision to make the move because it was a control takedown. What we learned about him is his criminal history, you think maybe violent assaults, you think maybe even homicide in his past? No, the only thing he's ever really had is a traffic arrest. They told us he's a retired mechanic. He has three children from a previous marriage and also at the point of arrest. And since then, he has made no statements, which obviously is his right, but he has said nothing to the charges that he's facing right now. But when the sheriff was asked that how unusual would it be for someone to be charged in these two homicides from 39 years ago, not to commit any other crimes? The sheriff would only say this and I'm going to quote him and say, anyone that would commit a crime like this may be responsible for more. So while it's soon to be seen and innocent until proven guilty, as Aniseka says, it was fascinating to hear someone who committed these allegedly committed these heinous crimes 39 years ago to lead a pretty normal life up until now. And as I was learning this news and Scott first got wind of it. And then when I was listening to this press conference, I kept thinking about this is why it always has to be not our gut, not our instinct, but the evidence that is leading us down the road to get where the case ultimately ends up. Because if you think back to the episode and if you think back to this case and if you look, have looked anything up about it, Jeff Oberholzer, he is the husband of Bobby Joe. He was looked at as a suspect for many, many years. And there was a lot of suspicion surrounding him and just think about that for a moment. Not only did he lose his wife, but then he and friends, as you may remember, they went out and they were the ones that ultimately found some of her belongings and found her. And that was looked at as very suspicious. I myself found it quite suspicious when I was reading about it. So my heart goes out to him and it is one of those casualties, if you will, along these cases that sometimes run their course and just how amazing for him one number one to get some hopefully, some closure or at least starting to get those answers for his wife. But just think about it from his perspective. It was looked at as a suspect for years and what relief he must feel as he is hearing this nose that he is no longer being looked at in this case of suspect. You know, Anastica, a fixture in this case since 1989 has been trolley McCormick and he's a retired Denver homicide detective and who was brought into this case in 1989 to help try to solve it and he is the one that you and I talked to in murder of the mountains. And I have to tell you as part of the conversation, he said to us, listen, I'm 80 years old and this is when we interviewed him last year. I want to solve this case. This is, you know, all my cases are important and I can understand that feeling, but this one was so heinous and these two beautiful women their lives were taken in such a horrible way that he felt like it was his destiny to solve this case and to see him today at that press conference was an emotional moment for me. I'm sure for you as well. Seeing this man, this member of law enforcement who has spent decades of his own time, just not giving up. It was emotional and yet a reminder of why so many men and women choose to do these jobs and to have dedication just like Charlie McCormack. And it was just, it was amazing to watch him and just think of what it must feel like. You know, he said that while he was never going to get up, he really didn't think at this point that it was ever going to be solved because he just kept hitting dead ends and how amazing from that perspective. Now, there is one thing that I think amongst the many things that are still remain to be seen and for us to find out was that they are still looking for the public's help. Now they have released that they have someone in custody that Alan Lee Phillips is under arrest and there are photographs out of him not only now as his current age, but as a much younger man. And the sheriff said that they are looking for the public's help and they actually put out a tip line that I'll put out right here. That tip line is seven to zero two four eight eight three seven eight if by chance when someone looks at that photograph. It triggers a memory or they think maybe they do have some information clearly. As we have said time and time again, just because there is an arrest, these cases are far from over so often there is still so much more investigative work to do that they are looking for anyone's help who may give them something that aids them on this path that they are just now starting to go towards ultimately to see where this case goes now that there is an actual prosecution. I mean, I would invite our listeners to go to our social, which is at at a seagull in Nikolasi and at Weinberg, or media because we are always staying on top of these cases. We are connected to these families. We are connected to these members of law enforcement and often we're able to give information out as well as the fact that anatomy of murder.com, we will have a picture of Alan Lee Phillips at his age at the time, which was 31. And as Anna Seagas said, there is still more work to be done in the prosecution in this case, still more work to be done before justice is finally served with the families. And I just want to leave it here for me, Anna Seagas, is something that was mentioned in the press conference because family members were not at the press conference and that's not unusual that this would be an investigator driven press conference because they are giving limited information about the person they have arrested in this cold case. But it's something that Bobby Joe's daughter said and she had thanked Charlie through the sheriff in this press conference and the fact that she looks in her, her daughters blue eyes, which was the same color of her mother's eyes and knows that on this day, her mother is resting in peace, which I felt that to be a pretty moving tribute. And knowing that we are all about the victims, I think that's exactly the place for us to end this here today. Now this case, as we've said, is far from over, innocent until proven guilty. Alan Lee Phillips has been charged. We will be following it. There's an arrest, but yet we don't have any final conclusion. There's a lot more to come out, either by plea or something that happens during the trial. So we will keep you posted. Cune in next Wednesday when we'll dissect another new case on Anatomy of Murder. Anatomy of Murder is an audio chuck original, a wineburger media and forced immediate production, Cune in David is executive producer.