Police still working 2002 Vail Valley cold case
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – More than seven years after the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call near Camp Hale where a woman was found murdered, the case remains unsolved.
Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Det. Doug Winters has worked the case from the beginning, and he said he won’t give up.
Murders aren’t common in Eagle County – there’s one about every three years, said Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly. Unsolved murders are even less common, Winters said.
“This is the first murder (in Eagle County) that I’m aware of that’s unsolved,” Winters said.
Melba Ginther was 57-years-old and lived in Keystone. She worked at a bakery at the Keystone Resort and lived in employee housing. She was estranged from her family and lived a quiet, private life, Winters said.
Ginther borrowed a green Dodge Dakota truck on the day she was murdered. She drove to Glenwood Springs and went shopping. Police aren’t sure why Ginther was driving along Highway 24, between Minturn and Leadville, since the route wasn’t one she would have likely taken to get back to Keystone, Winters said.
There are many mysteries in the case. Ginther appeared to be involved in some kind of witchcraft, based on books police found. She didn’t have any credit cards or a checkbook and paid for everything with cash, Winters said.
She was divorced and had lived with one of her daughters until about two years before the murder. Police looked into all possible leads, but they all led nowhere.
“There was no apparent motive,” Winters said.
The Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which helped with the investigation, haven’t ruled out robbery or sexual assault as a motive, although Winters said there was no evidence of sexual assault.
Ginther had previously lived in Minturn and was familiar with the area along Highway 24, Winters said.
Witnesses reported seeing a white or light-colored full size Dodge dual pick-up truck near the gravel road off Highway 24 where Ginther’s body was found. The truck was reportedly parked right next to the green Dodge Ginther was driving – next to the spot where her body was found just behind that borrowed truck.
Ginther had been shot once in the head. The Sheriff’s Office got the call May 20, 2002, around 7 p.m. Winters said Ginther was shot sometime earlier that afternoon, probably between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., although police say the window could be anywhere between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to a flyer police have been passing out throughout the area.
The crime scene was on the gravel road at the Pando Railroad Interchange, at mile marker 157.5, off Highway 24. Witnesses reported two men in the white Dodge truck that was reportedly next to the crime scene.
Winters said there’s a four-wheel drive trail nearby as well as an area where people target practice.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director of Major Crimes Steve Johnson said cold cases are always frustrating for investigators and family members alike.
“This (case) is especially hard because the family was so estranged,” Johnson said.
Winters said cases get more and more difficult to solve as time goes on, but he’s hopeful. Anyone who has even the slightest piece of information – something a person might think is insignificant – could crack the case and turn out to be valuable.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com