Task force might disband | SteamboatToday.com

Task force might disband

Officers left with weak leads on 20-year-old case

Gary E. Salazar

— The end may be near for a multijurisdictional task force investigating the disappearance of a Hayden girl who has been missing for more than 20 years.

The Marie Blee Investigative Task Force may be disbanded after two years of work on the case, said Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg, a task force spokesman.

“This summer we have not done a whole lot,” he said. “There are not a lot of leads left. There are some weak leads we may look into.”

The task force was created in June 1999 through the cooperation of numerous law enforcement agencies.

The task force is comprised of the FBI, Moffat and Routt county sheriff’s offices and the Craig and Hayden police departments.

In the time the task force has been investigating the case, they have been able to get a lot of information about the disappearance but unable to get the break they have needed to crack the case.

“We have done close to 400 interviews,” Hoberg said. “We have done a lot of searching. It’s frustrating the case is not solved.”

At the time Blee disappeared in 1979, she was a 15-year-old sophomore at Hayden High School. She was last seen at a party in Craig.

Blee would have celebrated her 37th birthday this past April.

As the investigation continues, authorities are planning to search areas identified by a psychic, Hoberg said.

Earlier this summer, a psychic from Denver was brought in and met with Blee’s parents, Paul and Ramona Blee.

“The psychic drove around the area with Paul and Ramona,” Hoberg said. “The psychic identified a couple of places we might want to search. We will probably schedule these searches in the next three weeks.”

The task force will meet with the Blees in Hayden Aug. 14. At that time, Hoberg expects to discuss the searches and the future of the task force.

If the task force is terminated, the case will not be closed, Hoberg said.

“It will remain an open case,” he said. “If leads come in, they will be investigated.”

At the inception of the task force, authorities were optimistic they could solve the case.

After 26 months of working on the case, optimism has slowly disappeared.

“We can talk to all the people at the party all we want,” he said. “We need someone to come forward. Twenty-two years is a long time.”

Earlier this year, investigators were hopeful an arrest of a Craig man connected to the case could provide them with information.

Last September, Stephen Skufca, 42, was arrested and is serving time in the Moffat County Jail.

Earlier this year, investigators sat down and talked to Skufca for two days.

The talks did not produce anything worthwhile for the investigation, Hoberg said.

Investigators also talked to a second man, Monty Doolin, who is also suspected of having a role in the girl’s disappearance.

Blee was last seen with the two men and a third, Max Abel Garcia.

“Although the case is not solved, the work we have done has been rewarding because the different agencies have worked well together,” Hoberg said. “We have given a solid effort to solve this crime. We made a commitment to this case. Unfortunately, it was 20 years later.

“If nothing else, we have put some pressure on some people.”

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