If you lived in Englewood Colorado in the late ’60s and to some extent in the very early ’70s you know who Connie Paris was. Well it looks like the Englewood Police are once again looking in to the cold case. I was about 12 at the time.
It was the first really awful thing that happened that I was old enough to understand. Things like abductions, killing, kidnapping they all happened in far way places. Not in Englewood. Englewood was the kind of place that people let their kids play out until the street lights came on then there was a mad rush to get home before your parents would stand and yell out your name, your FULL name, embarrassment topped only by ringing of an old cow bell that my Mom had on the back porch.
They were summer days spent smoking cigarettes in the little fort that we made up against a neighbors stone fence. We would ride our bikes, and even a little motorcycle someone had. But nobody ever got kidnapped or killed until Connie Paris. The park where they found her body was over in Bear Valley, about five miles away. I remember the whispers that would stop when ever us kids came into the room. We all figured enough out that something awful had happened and that Connie Paris, was gone. Nobody to blame, nobody to hold accountable and no real evidence. It was real enough even to us kids.
My Aunt Betty and I were going to Weight Watchers in the Bear Valley caferteria of May D&F (remember them?). Well this one night I was dropped off at the store and I went up to where I was supposed to meet my Aunt. I guess I had forgotten that the meeting had been cancelled due to a holiday or something. I tried to get to my ride before they left, but I didn’t make it. My Dad and the boys cleaned a church across from the Bear Valley Shopping Center. Their schedule had been changed due to the same holiday. So the church was closed. I stood there for a while trying to figure out what to do. These were the days before cell phones and I never had any money for a pay phone even if I had known were to find one. My 12 year old brain thought it would be a good idea to start walking. Aunt Betty was obviously not coming and Dad wouldn’t be back until about 9PM. So I set off walking.
My Aunt had called my Mom to remind me that we were not going to have a meeting about 30 mins after we left. Again no cell phones. But by then Dad and the boys had made it back and Mom was calling everybody. Our neighbor, Sandi, who was about 8 1/2 months pregnant, Came running. Dad took off in his car and Ronald L. Moe had a drivers permit and a car…sort of. Mom was trying to call the police. Sandy decided that If she was in the car Ron could drive and they went looking for me. My Aunt Jo, came in her car and decided that if she went looking too, they would find me quicker. So Dad, Ron & Sandy, Aunt Jo AND Aunt Betty were all looking for me. I in the mean time was walking. Several cars honked but no one stopped. Until Ron and Sandy came up behind me. I was so thankful that I even hugged my brother.
Still no cell phones. I got home and then we had to send out search parties for the search parties. Mom, was screaming “YOU WERE WALKING RIGHT BY WHERE THEY FOUND, CONNIE PARIS!!” After the hugging got done – I got grounded for two weeks. Mom was crying the Aunts were crying I think even my Dad shed a tear to two just out of relief.
I wrote this story and my Son read it. His comment was “You seem to think that all of this happened to YOU.” In a way it did. Schools gave time to discuss the possibility that it might happen again. It was the first really bad thing that happened in our own community. I really hope that even as long ago as it has been, I hope they find the person who tore away the innocence of a whole community. The discussion that had FaceBook abuzz for a while was that the police were willing to take another look. I just hope that the science has progressed enough that the person who did this is caught. If you have any information no matter how small or old you think it is PLEASE step forward.
Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, denverpost.com/coldcases or twitter.com/kmitchelldp