PRICE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A brutal crime made headlines in a quiet rural Utah community. That was forty years ago. Now, the people of Price may be soon see banner headlines again, that the crime is close to being solved.
"It was a horrific crime and extremely violent," says carbon County Sheriff James Cordova as he strides in front of the house where Loretta Jones died four decades ago.
Only two people can say what happened here that night - Loretta's killer and her daughter.
Heidi was four years old.
The little girl hid behind this door and peered through the keyhole as she witnessed the crime. She waited quietly for the man to leave and ran to the neighbor's house for help.
“I don't think I'll ever forget that," says Sue Ann Horvath who discovered Loretta’s body and called 9-1-1.”
“I saw her lying on the floor, in blood. I mean she just almost looked like a ghost. She was just white. It isn't anything I'd want to see again."
"She was stabbed to death,” says Sheriff Cordova. He pauses and says, “Multiple times."
Loretta was raped before she was killed. A suspect was arrested. Charges were filed. Then, at the end of a preliminary hearing, he was released.
The case quickly went cold, until one day last year.
"I ran into an old friend on the street,” says Detective David Brewer. “She called me by name. I went over to talk to her. I went to high school with her. She told me quite a tale.”
It was a chance meeting between Brewer and Loretta Jones' daughter, Heidi. The only witness to the crime told Detective Brewer what she saw through the keyhole last night.
That and a few newspaper clippings were all brewer had.
"There were no files to be found, not even a case file. Nothing.”
This case was colder than any cold case he’d ever seen.
“Colder than cold. Freezing,” he says.
Detective brewer started interviewing people, first in Carbon County, then throughout Utah, then to Colorado and New Mexico.
"I had people who'd never seen each other ever in their lives telling me the same story," he recounts.
He goes on.
“The biggest break came when we located a girlfriend of a suspect we had. That's when it really took off. She had some amazing details that no one could know."
Brewer compared stories and built a time line, each step of the way moving closer to being able to prove the killer's identity.
"I'm pretty sure I know who it is," he says.
He won’t say whom he thinks killed Loretta Jones. Nor will he share much of the information he has gathered over the past year. There are certain details only he and the killer know about. He doesn’t want to compromise the case for himself or for prosecutors.
“I'd rather not say that right now but I know who it is."
Neither can the Carbon County Sheriff’s office allow ABC 4 to speak with Heidi Jones. She knows too much. She’ll likely be one of the key witnesses in the prosecution of the case.
But authorities need to speak with anyone who may still have information that would help strengthen the case.
Sheriff Cordova sums it up, perhaps for the entire community:
"Whether it was forty minutes ago, forty hours ago, forty weeks ago or forty years ago we take all crimes seriously and we're going to do whatever we can to help the family put closure to this crime."
If you think you can help authorities complete their investigation into who killed Loretta Jones, we're making it easy for you.
Contact Detective David Brewer at: