Mayhem in the ValleyIt seems two different sets of human remains were discovered in the San Luis Valley during the early fall of 2008. One set of human bones was found in a shallow grave at the foot of the Mount Blanca massif near the Oasis Campground just south of the Great Sand Dunes. A man out hiking notified authorities after his dog came back to him with a human bone in its mouth. The partial skeletal remains are still unidentified. There was speculation about a man from Costilla County named Jack Springer, who had gone missing some 20 years earlier.
Posted: Thursday, Oct 2nd, 2008
By ERIC MULLENS
ALAMOSA — As autumn descends on the Valley with falling leaves beginning to leave trees bare for winter, criminal investigators hope the change of the season will also lay bare answers to mysteries new and old in this usually peaceful place.
The second set of remains was found on September 20, 2008 after being stuffed into a barrel and set ablaze. This skeleton was identified by DNA evidence as that of Saguache resident Brenda Kay Shepard who was last seen on September 19, 2008. Shepard's murderer has still not been identified.
From the Valley Courier November 5, 2008, one month later:
“Based on a missing persons report received on Sept. 22, 2008, as well as other evidence, on Thur., Oct. 30, after extensive DNA analysis, the victim in this homicide has been identified as Brenda Kay Shepard, a 45-year old female from Saguache,” [Saguache County Sheriff Mike] Norris said in a press statement released Tuesday night.On February 4, 2009, the Alamosa Courier reported that:
"The Saguache County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Bureau of Investigation are still working on the homicide case of Saguache area resident Brenda Kay Shepard, 45, whose body was recovered from a burning barrel on September 20 of last year."
On January 8, 2013, a man by the name of Daniel Bessey was arrested in Oklahoma and charged with first degree murder in the case of Sarah Beasley and John Salazar of Monte Vista, Colorado, murdered in February of 2012. It seems that Bessey was an ex-boyfriend of Sarah Beasley. As it turns out, Bessey also was reportedly romantically involved with Brenda Kay Shepard at the time of her murder. Although he has not been charged with her murder, interest in him as a potential suspect in the Shepard case has certainly been renewed, as reported in the Salida Mountain Mail on January 18, 2013 (emphasis added):
"Bessey was arrested on a Rio Grande County warrant charging double homicide for the unsolved deaths of John Salazar, 54, and Sarah Beasley, 29, Feb. 13  in Monte Vista. Bessey was also charged with first- and second-degree burglary, criminal mischief, three counts of child abuse and reckless endangerment.
Saguache County Sheriff Mike Norris said, “In 2008 I had a homicide case in my county. It was referred to as the ‘lady in the barrel.’”
Brenda Kay Shepard’s body was found chopped up and burning in a barrel on a county road in Saguache County Sept. 20, 2008. Norris said at the time Shepard was Bessey’s significant other and they were living together.
While the Saguache County case remained unsolved and ongoing, Norris said investigations had been inactive for some time. “With the latest information, it makes us interested in pursuing more information to find out if there are any correlations (between the two unsolved cases),” he said. Norris said Bessey had been considered a person of interest and had been interviewed [previously]."
Although Jack Gordon's disappearance did not garner much local news coverage in the shadow of these two more spectacular coinciding discoveries, there are some parallels. The take-home message is that human remains have a way of coming to light, even years later, and although the wheels of justice may grind slowly, they do grind. Time is ultimately on our side.
R.I.P. Brenda Kay Shepard
R.I.P. John Salazar
R.I.P. Sarah Beasley