Excerpts from the Grand Junction Police Department’s case file on Denise Lynn (Nicholson) Oliverson. Ted Bundy confessed to Denise’s murder on the day of his execution in 1989. Her body has never been found.
Special report dated 04-07-1975. I was sent to the area under the 5th St. viaduct to check on an abandoned 10 speed bicycle. It turned out to be a yellow Coast to Coast 10 speed, serial number 2C174568. As I was checking it an engineer in a passing locomotive hollered at me and said it had been there since yesterday and that there were some clothes on it and it could have been stolen or something. I checked the immediate area and all I found was a light brown rolled up women’s belt. I checked the bike for stolen and it had not been stolen. Brought the bike to old city shop and filed an abandoned property report and put a found property tag on bike. No further investigation at this time.
Missing Person Report 04-08-1975: Mr. Nicholson stated his daughter is living with Mr. Romero. They came by [her parents’s home] on 04-05-75 at approximately 1300 hours and went to Lincoln Park. Denise saw a friend at the park named Fred. Fred didn’t speak to her. Denise and Steve then returned to [their home] 1619 LaVeta. Denise then stated that she was going for a ride on her bicycle and has not returned. Subject had no coat. It is possible she went back to the park to see Fred. He is believed to live in Delta. Complainant will contact friends and advise of any new information. Parents want picture returned.
Special Report dated 04-19-1975: At 0514 hours, I was dispatched to 1615 LaVeta to investigate a “loud noise complaint.” I arrived at that address at 0518 and contacted a Jeff Burns. Mr. Burns said that he had heard what sounded like a gun shot about 15 or 20 minutes prior to calling the police. He had looked out the window but saw nothing wrong and went back to bed. A few minutes later he heard a man’s voice moaning and crying. He again looked out and saw a man lying in the driveway rolling back and forth and moaning so he decided to call the police. I drove next door, south, to 1619 LaVeta and checked the driveway and the yard in front of the house but did not find no one there. There was a light on in the house. I approached the front door and looked in. I saw a dog that immediately came to the door and barked. There was a Spanish male lying on the floor. He appeared to be asleep. I knocked on the door several times. It took one or two minutes to arouse the man. He finally got up and opened the door. He appeared to be crying. I explained to him that I was investigating a gun shot report and a man lying in the driveway. He said the he knew nothing about a gun shot but that he was the one who was in the driveway crying. I asked if I could be of any help and he said that the police weren’t able to help, because they could not or would not find his girlfriend. He said the reason he was crying is that his girlfriend, Denise Oliverson, was missing and he feared she would never be found, and she was probably dead. I asked him why he thought she was dead, and he answered that it was just a feeling he had. The man, all during this time, was crying and very disturbed, so I asked if I could come in and look around. He agreed. I walked around the house and saw no other people, or anything that aroused my suspicions. Although I felt he did probably shoot a gun outside I did not see one in the house. I then asked for his name for my report and left. He did not show me any identification but said his name was Steven Romero.
Special Report dated 5-25-1975: I was requested to do a follow-up on the above case. Complainant (Nicholson) called and wanted to know if anything had been done. Marie Parish is a good friend of the missing person. She last saw the missing person 4-04-75. She contacted Steve Romero on the 04-27-75 and asked if she could help in any way, to find Denise. Steve told her it was none of her business but if she found out anything she better get in touch with him and not her parents. Marie stated Steve was very angry. On the 18th of May Marie saw Steve on a yellow boys’ 10 speed bicycle, approx. 3 blocks away from his house. She stated that Steve would not look at her. She also believes it was the same bicycle that belongs to Denise. The few times she has talked to him that he has a very bad temper, also that he is very jealous of Denise. Marie Parish also stated that Denise was hung up on a guy named Fred from Delta. A couple of days before she was reported missing she saw him in the park and found out he had gotten married. This upset her. Also that Denise had talked about Fred in front of Steve several times and it seemed to upset him.
Special Report dated 05-27-1975, interview with Robert Nicholson (father): I was talking with Mr. Nicholson, and he stated that Marie Parish could probably tell me more about Denise’s personal life than he could because his daughter had not lived with them for some time and he didn’t always know what she was doing. However, it was a regular practice of hers to come by every Friday and usually on Sunday. She had been married to Joe Oliverson, an insurance agent here in town, and divorced from him. Mr. Nicholson further added that on the 6th of April 1975 that she disappeared and that it was a Sunday and that was after seeing Tim and Fred Gallegos at Lincoln Park. Renee Nicholson is in Pueblo State Hospital for some unknown ailment. The father stated that she had turned herself in to them for treatment. I have checked through Marie Parish about Oliverson showing up at that Hospital to see her sister Renee with negative results.
Special Report dated 05-28-1975, interview with Steve Romero: In an interview with Mr. Romero, who goes by the name Steve, he stated that Oliverson has been missing for some 52 days at the time of this interview. He stated that they had gone to the park and had seen persons whom he didn’t know (Fred Gallegos). Steve stated after going through the park, they had gone to several different places in the downtown area just looking·around and had returned home. He stated that she had been upset because the person in the park would not talk to her, and she had also stated to him that she could not talk to him about it. She was also upset about that person in the park getting married and her not knowing about it and just “finding out” about the marriage. She had been attached to Mr. Gallegos at one time. Her relationship with Mr. Gallegos had been an intimate one. When they got home, she said she was going for a bicycle ride. She said she would stop at her mother’s house before returning home. Mr. Romero stated that he has not seen her since. He also stated that when she left that night she was wearing a new pair of Levi’s, a long sleeved shirt with green indian patterns on it and red wood sandals.
Property Report dated 05-29-1975: Found red pair of wooden clogs near the 5th St. viaduct near found bicycle. Possibly connected to missing person case.
Special Report dated 05-29-1975, interview with Kathy Roberts: I asked Miss Roberts if she had seen or heard from Miss Oliverson, and she said she had not seen or heard from her in about a year. Roberts had written Oliverson, but a reply was never received. I asked Miss Roberts about Oliverson’s habits, the number of people she knew, who she ran around with. Roberts replied that when she had known her, Roberts and Parish were the only ones who ran around with her. Oliverson was considered by Roberts as a recluse, not having very many friends. Roberts knew Oliverson all through high school. Miss Roberts also stated that it didn’t seem like Oliverson to just up and leave without telling anyone where she was going.
Special Report dated 05-29-1975, interview with Joe Oliverson (ex-husband of missing person): Mr. Oliverson works at Steel Fabricating. Oliverson stated that the last time he had heard from her was about a year ago. She had a boyfriend almost all the time and it was always a different one. He also stated that she had a boyfriend in Portland or Seattle but could not remember his name or had never heard it. She also has a couple friends here in Grand Junction. He stated that he had married Denise Nicholson late September 1970 and had divorced her in the middle of March 1972. He remarried shortly after that and is still married. He also stated that she is a very independent person and would just take off. She is also a very gullible person and would have faith in something that someone would tell her.
Special Report dated 05-29-1975, interview with Fred Gallegos: I contacted Fred Gallegos by telephone. I mentioned Denise Oliverson to Mr. Gallegos and he denied knowing her at first or did not recall the name– at least the last name. I refreshed his memory somewhat, concerning his relationship with her and he remembered her. He stated that he had talked with her in February and that he seen her in the park in April– the early part of April, but he had not talked to her, the reason being that he had gotten married and he didn’t want anything further to do with her. I also asked him if she had returned to the park that night in early April to see him and he stated that he did not think she had because he never saw her again. He stated that during their relationship he had seen her once or twice every two or three weeks. He did know that she had a heavy mental problem and she was seeing a doctor about that. He stated that she had always seemed to be looking for an escape from her problems.
Special Report dated 05-29-1975, interview with Lynn Kaufman: Mrs. Kaufman stated that during the time she had known Denise Oliverson she has taken off before on occasions but she has usually called her mother or returned home in a short period of time. She did not know where Denise might have gone; however she thought it possible she might have gone to California as she had been there before. Mrs. Kaufman also stated that Oliverson did not drive at all; that she did not have a driver’s license, and she had not learned to drive.
Additional information: Concerning the disappearance of the Oliverson girl, Mr. Nicholson states that on the morning after her disappearance an unidentified person called the house early in the morning and asked if Denise was there. Mr. Nicholson replied “no” and asked the caller to identify himself. That person hung up without answering. The next morning- a Tuesday- the same person called again and asked if Denise Oliverson was there. Mr. Nicholson again replied, “No, she is not.” Mr. Nicholson again asked who was calling, and this time the caller said, “This is Steve.” (That being Romero). That same morning Romero had stated to Nicholson over the phone that she had been hurt by a car. This could be speculation on Nicholson’s part because he is very upset about his daughter. This officer believes Romero may have had something to do with the girl’s disappearance.
Special Report dated 05-29-1975: During the investigation of this missing person I have come to the conclusion that the probability of foul play in the disappearance of Denise Lynn Oliverson is very real. I have checked with the people who knew her well and no one has seen or heard from her since her disappearance. The girl is perhaps unbalanced and very gullible.
From a statement from Mr. Oliverson he has known her to use drugs in the past and she might have just taken off. However, her record in the past one year it would not seem to be like her. The possibility of her just taking off, I feel, is slim. She may have been pressed very hard by Steve Romero, who had apparently moved in as a protection measure against [an ex-boyfriend]. I don’t believe Romero’s motives were entirely for that of protection against someone’s entering maliciously, but rather simply a way to get into the house. Oliverson from all appearances has had a good relationship with Romero until recently when she stated to Parish that she did not want him there any longer. However, he still resides there. Also Oliverson’s dog, Toma, is still at that residence.
In an interview with Romero he appeared quite broken up and concerned about Oliverson. However, he refused to allow me to look through the house for something which might give me a lead in this case. Mr. Romero seems to be an unbalanced person, perhaps it is because of the disappearance of Oliverson. He may not have had anything to do with her disappearance, but this officer believes otherwise.
Additional information: On the 7th of April 1975 the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad called the Grand Junction Police Department- caller is unknown at this time- and advised the Department that there was an abandoned yellow Coast to Coast 10 speed bicycle under the 5th Street viaduct up close to the railroad tracks. At that time Officer Lew Fraser was dispatched at 0848 hours to that area. An Engineer passed Officer Fraser in a train while the officer was recovering the bicycle and stated that he had seen some clothing and some shoes sitting on the seat of the bicycle. He returned to the spot at a later time and he mentioned the items were gone. He found the bicycle and a brown cloth belt- a more tannish color- rolled up and probably 20 feet away from the bicycle. Officer Fraser does not recall what he did with the belt. The bike was taken to the Old City Shops to be stored marked as “unknown owner.” To this date I have not been able to find that bicycle in the Old Shops storage area.
Special Report dated 06-02-1975, interview with Wilbur M. Class: Contact and interview of railroad engineer who had found the Oliverson bicycle under the 5th Street bridge viaduct near the railroad tracks. At approximately 0730 hours on the morning of April 7th 1975, Mr. Class noted a yellow bicycle, he thought it was a 10 speed, leaning against a pillar of the 5th Street viaduct. He said it had snowed that night and the bicycle was sitting there with some shoes- looked like sandals- on the seat. I showed Mr. Class the shoes that we had found where the bicycle had been located and he identified them as those he had seen on the seat of the bicycle. The same shoes had previously been positively identified by Steve Romero as those of the missing person. Mr. Class said that on the previous day- the 6th of April- the bicycle had not been there; meaning to this officer that perhaps Mr. Class overlooked the bicycle that day which he felt surely he did not do, or that someone may have put the bicycle there in the dark hours of the evening pr the early morning hours of April 6/7.
Special Report by Officer Lew Fraser, dated 6-03-1975: Upon my arrival responding to a found bike call, the bike in question was pointing north, the ground was very muddy as it snowed that night. I don’t recall if it was still snowing or not, I just remember not wanting to get my boots muddy. I loaded the bike after running a stolen check on it (came back clean); the bike wasn’t muddy or anything because I remember handling it as I didn’t want to mess up my uniform. After loading it I noticed some shoes lying on the ground sort of south-westerly from the bike’s position. I just threw them in the floorboards not taking much notice as they didn’t look like good shoes to me. I don’t remember anything peculiar as to the area’s condition (like a crime scene) as it was just another found bike to me. I made a property report and tagged the bike with a Lost & Found tag and placed it in the Old City Shop (just inside the sliding door to the right of it).
Special Report dated 06-03-1975, phone conversation with father: On this date Mr. Bob Nicholson indicated that he would call the Colorado Mental Health Center and give his permission for the release of any records they might have concerning Denise. Mr. Nicholson also stated that Denise didn’t like swimming and did not like water at all.
Special Report dated 06-03-1975, interview with Steve Romero:
Officer Fromm: Steve the day that Denise disappeared do you remember what day of the week it was?
Steve Romero: It was Sunday.
OF: It was definitely a Sunday?
SR: Definitely… at 3:30, about 3:30 pm.
OF: There was no possible way it could have been a Saturday?
SR: No sir, it was a Sunday.
OF: Did she take any money with her when she left?
SR: She might have had about $8, cause we went to go get her some shampoo for her hair, but that’s all if anything, that’s all, no identification at all.
OF: Was she wearing earrings?
SR: No she wasn’t, she was wearing only… all the jewelry that I can think she was wearing and maybe I’m not for sure, she was wearing a small band ring. It’s a silver ring. She was wearing it on her… I think it was her right hand. And she might have had a St. Christopher medal on.
OF: Around her neck?
SR: Yeah, she might have, I don’t know. She had a long shirt. She might have had it on, because it was mine you see and it had my name on it. It was gold. The whole thing is gold, the chain and the St. Christopher medal.
OF: It is my understanding that you and Denise were living in the same house is that right?
SR: Yes we were.
OF: Did you ever go to bed with her?
OF: Did you ever make a pass at her?
OF: Did you ever go out and get drunk together?
OF: Party together?
OF: Did you have another girlfriend Steve?
SR: Yeah, I know a lot of girls you know. I don’t know how to say it, I know she wanted someone to help her out with the rent so, and I didn’t want to stay at home anymore, so I moved over there.
OF: Are you actively seeing any doctor right now?
SR: Not since I got out of the service. I had a foot injury and that was about it.
OF: When you were in the service did you see any psychiatrist or psychologist or anything like that? Are you actively seeing one now?
SR: No, never, never, never. Never have.
OF: Did Denise entertain any boyfriends while you were living with her?
SR: I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that really. She liked other people, she liked other dudes. We’re just good friends. She didn’t like me in particular, you know, not as a boyfriend. We had a mutual understanding. We could communicate with each other.
OF: When you were living with her, were there any guys who came over and spent the night?
SR: No, but there were some who wanted to. You see, that’s why she wanted me to move in. There was a cat that was bothering her and he was scaring her pretty bad I guess.
OF: While you were over there was there anyone going to bed with her that you know of?
SR: No, she wasn’t like that.
OF: Can you think of anybody she might have taken off with?
SR: No. I thought the guy from Delta (Gallegos), but it wasn’t.
OF: Did Denise take any other clothes with her when she left?
SR: No, just what she had on.
OF: Do you remember what kind of day it was?
SR: Yeah, it was a nice day then all of a sudden it was really cloudy and ugly. I didn’t report it for about three days because you know, we got into a hassle one time. She went out and told me she was coming home that night and I got worried about her when she didn’t come home that night. So I says, okay, you know, this chick took off on her bicycle and I figures she is 24 years old so she knows what she is doing. So I didn’t bother to report her until the third day. Then I went and told her parents.
OF: Did she take off with her girlfriends often and not come back at night?
SR: It happened before. I never knew her that well. I didn’t spend that much time with her but she did do it that one time so I figured I won’t call in because she… you know… she might get mad at me.
OF: Ok Steve, that will do for now.
SR: I’ll be glad to help you out, cause I’m concerned too. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.
Special Report dated 06-18-1975, telephone interview with Lois Kanaly: Mrs. Lois Kanaly is a counselor for the Dept. of Social Services. Mrs. Kanaly indicated that on Monday, March 31, Denise Oliverson kept an appointment with her and that in Mrs. Kanaly’s opinion she had at no other time seen Denise in a better mood than she was on that date. Denise was accompanied by her boy friend Steve Romero. Mrs. Kanaly asked me if we had found Denise. I told her that we had not, but would accept any ideas she had concerning the circumstances of her disappearance. Mrs. Kanaly stated that she didn’t know her that well, however, she thought Denise was probably in the river, indicating that the circumstances surrounding Denise’s bike ride that afternoon would have been sufficient for her to believe that Denise had jumped off the 5th Street bridge.
Special Report dated 06-25-1975, interview with Fidel Lopez, railroad employee: Mr. Lopez stated that it was he who had found the bicycle and shoes under the 5th Street viaduct and had placed that bicycle and pair of shoes against the pillar. Mr. Lopez does not remember the day that he found these two items there; however he says the time was about 6 o’clock in the evening. He stated that while switching an engine he had seen the bicycle and the shoes laying across the railroad tracks under the viaduct. Mr. Lopez picked the bicycle up and placed it against the pillar and the shoes he placed on the bicycle seat. When asked to describe the bicycle and shoes, Mr. Lopez answered that to the best of his recollection the bicycle was yellow and the shoes were sandals. Mr. Lopez told me he found the bicycle with the front wheel pointing north, laying across one rail of the far south railroad track. Both sandals had been found between the two rails of the same track, one on the east side of the bicycle and one on the west side of it. Mr. Lopez said that he did not see anything else present. He did not take notice of anything indicating a struggle having taken place in the area. Records of the railroad department were checked and they showed that Mr. Lopez had reported finding the bicycle and shoes on April 6, 1975. Mr. Lopez told me that at the time of finding the bicycle he had not seen anyone in the immediate area. He said in his opinion the bicycle had not been on the tracks very long, as it would have been immediately removed by someone else.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Report, dated 7-21-1975: Polygraph Examination of Raymundo Esteban (“Steve”) Romero. The examination was conducted in an effort to determine if the subject knew the whereabouts of Denise Lynn Oliverson, and to what might have happened to her, her location at this time, or if she was harmed by him or someone he knows. Mr. Romero stated that on Sunday, 4-6-75, himself and Denise went to purchase her some shampoo from a drug store on North Avenue. He stated they then went to the park and saw several friends. He stated that Denise and himself just messed around town. He stated they then went home, when she advised him she was going to go for a bike ride. She got her bike out from the front room and left approximately 3:30pm. She advised him that she was going to go by her parents home before coming back. He stated that is the last time he saw her. He stated that he doesn’t know where she is. He didn’t harm her. He feels that something bad has happened to her. It is the opinion of the polygraphist that the subject was truthful concerning the disappearance of Denise Oliverson from Grand Junction, Colorado.
Unsigned ‘psychic friend’ letter postmarked 2-10-1976: Lieutenant: In the Denise Oliverson [case], further analysis indicates, in addition to being kidnapped, raped, and murdered and body thrown in river in Dubuque Canyon, that Denise suffered violence to her head (steel or iron) and that her hands were bound (steel or iron) when she was thrown into the river. Friend mentioned auto was involved in the crime. Friend now says that body of Denise Oliverson will not be found for a very long time— if ever. Body now a long ways downstream from where it was thrown in.
Special Report dated 07-16-1976: At 1100 hours, this sergeant was contacted by Mr. Nicholson at the Grand Junction Police Department detective bureau. Mr. Nicholson related that he and his wife would like to have their daughter’s bicycle if at all possible. I advised Mr. Nicholson I would have a detective transport his daughter’s bicycle to his residence this afternoon. At 1430 hours, this sergeant reviewed the Denise Oliverson case and located the property report under which the bicycle was placed into the City Shops on 04/07/75. On contacting Detective Rushing and requesting him to transport the bicycle in question to Mr. Nicholson’s residence, the undersigned was advised by Det. Rushing that the bicycle had been removed from the City Shops by person or persons unknown sometime last year. On checking with several officers of this department, it was found to be common knowledge the bicycle had been possibly stolen and that Mr. Nicholson was never informed of this nor a report written on this incident. On checking the case, the undersigned narrowed the theft of the bicycle to between April 07 – May 25, 1975. At approximately 1600 hours this sergeant contacted Mr. Nicholson at his residence and he was advised of the above. Upon hearing this, it was noted Mr. Nicholson became very depressed and indicated that he should have been informed of this prior to now. The undersigned advised Mr. Nicholson that the Chief of Police was not made aware of the theft until today and that the Department apologized for not keeping him informed. In the event the bicycle is located it will be returned immediately to him. With this, Mr. Nicholson thanked the undersigned.
Transcript of a Recording by Theodore R. Bundy, dated 1-24-1989, Florida State Prison: To the ah… Mike Fisher and the, the Colorado detectives ah… the last girl they wanted to talk about, Denise Oliverson, I believe, I’m not sure… out of Grand Junction that Mike Fisher wanted to discuss… ah, I believe that the date was in April 1975. Ah… the young woman’s body would have been placed in the Colorado River about five miles west of Grand Junction. It was not buried. That’s all the uh… the ones that I can help you with… it’s all the ones that I know about that uh… no missing ones outstanding that we haven’t talked about.
Denise Lynn Nicholson Oliverson
Rest in Peace.
Many thanks to Chris Mortensen for his financial contribution towards purchasing copies of the case file.