"A blue-white gibbous moon hung above Ute Pass on Jan. 18, 1949, and Walter (Joe) Parsons, an 18-year-old waif who did painting and other chores for his board and room at the picturesque Cascade inn, had plenty of light to see by 9:30 p.m. when he left his employers house to walk 50 paces to his cabin," wrote Bernard Kelly, in the Denver Post's Rocky Mountain Empire Magazine, Sunday, May 1, 1949.
"Ivan Waugh, proprietor of the inn, and his wife, Florence, heard the crunch of his feet on gravel, gradually fading. Although they didn't know it then, that sound in the crisp winter air was the last they'd hear from the youth they had befriended.
The Waughs had been good to the boy. He usually ate his meals with them. that night they had whole corn for supper. It was good, and Parsons had eaten well.
Next morning Waugh went to wake the boy when he didn't appear for work. He found the cabin door open and the heater going. But Parsons wasn't there. and his bed looked as if it hadn't been slept in.
Not alarmed, because Parsons often left the resort for a day or so without leaving word, they wondered where he had gone.
"He had gone into eternity. Two days later, on Jan. 20, a Colorado Springs couple, driving toward the city from Garden of the Gods, saw a chalk white on a hill slope before them.. They stopped the car. The woman screamed...," by Kelly's account.
This is how Carl F. Mathews described it in a paper he wrote for the Denver Westerners in March, 1962, about unsolved murders in the Pikes Peak region. Mathews was superintendent of the Bureau of Identification in the Colorado Springs Police Department for more than 32 years.
"Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Boyer were driving on Garden of Gods Road when Mrs. Boyer looked up the embankment toward the top of the mesa. and saw what appeared to be a body of a person or animal; they then reported the find to the Police Department, but before officers could reach the spot, members of the road crew working nearby, and curious motorists had ruined whatever clues might have been picked up," wrote Mathews.
Chief Bruce stated in the Gazette, Feb. 4, 1949, "In the first place, after Parsons body was found, a great host of people descended on the spot, obliterating tire marks with the tires of their own vehicles and mussed up whatever marks were adjacent to the body."
Coroner Henry Maly and police and sheriff's officers came to the scene. There was a body, nude except for a pair of white socks. It was Parsons and he had been strangled to death.
His clothes were neatly tied in a bundle and thrown out beside him. They showed no violent usage. the strangulation weapon was not found. It was believed to be a rope.
"His clothing, part of which had been just laundered and never worn since, had been stuffed into the trousers he had been wearing and thrown next to the body, according to Mathews in his paper. "He had been wearing blue Levis, a white undershirt, tan, army-type shirt and red plaid jacket. (Strangely, his shorts were missing,)" by Mathews account.
From Henry Maly's Coroner preliminary examination of the body, he said there were two possible causes of death: a blow on the head and strangulation.
"Around the youth's neck was a narrow crease and the impression of a rope. he had been struck on the left side of the head with a heavy instrument. An autopsy could not be performed until late in the afternoon, the body being frozen," reported Mathews. The temperature Tuesday ranged from 13 to 19 degrees above zero; on Wednesday night, 6 to 8 degrees above. "Dr. Maly said he had been dead somewhere between 24 and 48 hours., and thought he had been dead when tossed or carried to the spot. Deep scratches were found on his back, evidently caused by his 15-foot slide down the embankment. Maly also said the scratches had not bled, indicating that he had been dead when dumped.
The strange discovery touched off one of the greatest manhunts in El Paso County in recent years. Police Chief I.B. (Dad) Bruce and Sheriff Norman Short both joined the search and were assisted by Special Agent Michael J Grant of the Santa Fe Railway, a noted and successful sleuth. Dozens of persons were questioned, according to Kelly's story in Empire.
Mathews says a Green Mountain Falls man, Ralph Elder, was questioned as a suspect by police officers and sheriff's deputies; police said a bloodstained lariat was found in his car. He was released after two days, having satisfied officers as to his whereabouts previous to the tragedy. The Waughs actually ran the Red Cloud Inn, in Cascade, according to Mathews account.
After a more extensive autopsy performed at Blunt's mortuary on Friday, Jan. 22, provided the following findings: 1. Parsons died from strangulation. 2. He was strangled by a rope, marks of which were found on his neck. 3. He was unconscious when strangled 4. The blow on the left of his head was caused by a heavy instrument but not sufficient to cause death. 5. The blow on the head did not cause a fracture. 6. The brain was not damaged and there was no hemorrhage. It was also shown that his last meal was composed mostly of corn. From that rate of digestion of the corn, it was determined that Parsons must have died before midnight.
"The blood on Ralph Elder's lariat was proved by laboratory tests to be that of an animal and he was clear from complicity. Elder admitted he had served eight years in San Quentin on two morals charges," reported Mathews.
Feb. 6, a waitress from the West Side of Colorado Springs, claimed she had talked to the killer and "Almost drove her employers crazy by her running around and talking it over with everyone. So they called the police and she was brought in; when questioned she stated that a man calling himself 'Bill Osgood' had asked her to drink with him, and that, over their beers, he had said he was the murderer. After talking with her, Chief Bruce stated he was confident she was lying but until something definite came up, she would remain in jail. Two day later, she admitted to Chief Bruce and special Agent Mike Gran, that her story was a lie, claiming she was tired of working and she wanted publicity," wrote Mathews.
Rewards for information about the case from various businesses and groups totaled more than $600, but failed to turn up much.
According to Mathew's paper, "Rumors that Parsons had been involved in sex affairs caused the arrest of a number of perverts of one kind or another and charges of sex offenses were lodged against some of them. No real clues to the killer of Parsons have ever been found."