Man convicted in 1982 murder of Breckenridge hitchhikers gets two consecutive life sentences

Alan Lee Phillips, 71, of Dumont, was found guilty Thursday, Sept. 15, for the murder of two hitchhikers in 1982.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation/Courtesy photo

A Park County judge handed down two consecutive life sentences to the man found guilty of kidnap and first-degree murder related to two hitchhikers who disappeared from Breckenridge in 1982.

Alan Lee Phillips, 71, of Dumont, was arrested during a traffic stop in February 2021 and convicted in September after DNA analysis connected him to the 40-year-old case.

Barbara Oberholtzer, 29, was found dead on Jan. 7, 1982, near Hoosier Pass with a bullet wound through her chest along with a zip tie around her left wrist. A tissue, bloody glove and her backpack were located 7 miles north of Fairplay.

Six months later, Annette Schnee, 21, was found a few miles away from the location of Oberholtzer’s body. Schnee’s body was discovered face down in Sacramento Creek in Park County with a gun shot wound through her back.

Both were reportedly hitchhiking separately from Breckenridge before their disappearance, and evidence in both cases included a pair of orange socks, one found on Schnee’s body and one found near Oberholtzer’s body.

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The case went from cold to active after United Data Connect, a Denver-based forensic genealogy service, identified two possible matches on Jan. 9, 2021 from the evidence — Phillips and his brother.

Phillips was monitored for nearly two months as investigators looked for DNA gleaned from napkins, food scraps and trash that Phillips may have discarded, according to past Summit Daily News reporting with lead investigator Wendy Kipple.

Kipple says DNA recovered form a Sonic bag in 2021 matched the DNA obtained from blood on Oberholtzer’s glove. Oberholtzer’s reportedly carried a “big brass hook” with her when hitchhiking for self defense, and investigators say Phillips was recovered after sending out an S.O.S. signal while stranded on Guanella Pass.

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