Cold case: Suspect in 1979 disappearance of 15-year-old Craig girl dies

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Stephen Skufca

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Paul and Mona Blee/Courtesy

This is a photo of Marie Blee, who disappeared Nov. 22, 1979, at the age of 15. Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of her disappearance and 30 years since her parents last saw her.

A 51-year-old man long considered a suspect in the death of a 15-year-old Craig girl in 1979 fell down a set of basement steps and died Thursday, his mother confirmed.

Stephen Skufca was on parole for a drug dealing and harassment conviction and was engaged to be married, his mother Ruth Skufca said Saturday.

"We're just devastated," Ruth Skufca said. "He was just getting his life together."

Ruth Skufca, 76, expressed bitterness that her son had been hounded for years about a crime she said she is confident he didn't commit.

"They made him the worst criminal that ever hit Craig," she said of authorities who investigated her son for the death of Marie Blee.

Blee had gone to a 4-H dance at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion in Craig the night of Nov. 22, 1979, the day before Thanksgiving.

She then went to a party at a mobile home just outside of Craig with Monte Doolin, then 18. Then she vanished.

A thorough investigation didn't begin until 20 years later, when Frontier Magazine publisher Jenny Johnson, then 31, wrote a story with a headline blaring: "Obstruction of justice."

A task force was formed and eventually everyone at the party was tracked down and interviewed, at least 25 of them for the first time. But none of the leads generated the kind of evidence authorities needed to file charges.

Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz previously identified three persons of interest that may know details that could help solve the case: Doolin, Skufca, and Max Abel Garcia, 51. All denied involvement in her disappearance. No arrests have ever been made in the Blee case.

The allegations destroyed Stephen Skufca's life, and the lives of his entire family as well, Ruth Skufca said.

"They never let him have a life," she said. "They thought Steve would make a good patsy. It's haunted us. It's ruined our lives."

She said that, shortly after her son was named as a suspect, she told her husband she couldn't tolerate living in Craig any more. They moved to Lakewood.

Three years after the task force formed, Stephen Skufca was convicted of drug and menacing charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released on parole three years ago and has been living with his mother ever since.

On Thursday, Stephen Skufca returned home just before 6 p.m. just as his mother was coming in the door with groceries. He said he would take something downstairs and come back upstairs to help her.

Ruth Skufca said she heard a loud noise and called to see if he was OK but his face had turned blue and his skull was cracked. She said she is going to have his remains cremated.

"I know Steve was home that night," she said. "He was a good kid doing stupid things. He's the kindest person you would ever meet."

Family members have complained that because the real investigation didn't start until 20 years too late, the chances of ever solving the case are slim.

Comments

Tammy Showalter 2 years, 7 months ago

Are you kidding me???? Oh no of course not...only in Craig Colorado would anyone print such a disrespectful piece of trash as this article. You should be ashamed, and someday you too will be judged by the one who counts.

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WrestlinRockies 2 years, 7 months ago

Some mighty fine investigative work from back in the Good Ole' Days....

It is clear that local law enforcement has always been incompetent in these here parts!

What a gross injustice to that poor girl and her family.

I don't know who killed her and am not going to even speculate that fact....what I do know is anyone on the legal side of the case during that time should feel the ramifications in this life or the next for they are just as responsible in this forever being a cold case.

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Becky Plummer 2 years, 7 months ago

Maybe now is the time for people to come forward and tell the truth about what they know happened. Give her parents some long needed closure and the ability to bury their daughter like she should have been a long time ago.

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Michelle Hale 2 years, 7 months ago

I knew both, Skufca, and young Marie. Bottom line there are people out there who have NO idea what happened to their daughter. Being raised in small towns, (I was born and raised in Meeker) things get over looked, and swept under the carpet. It's more about who you are, and who your related to. It always has been. I would hope that some day the Marie's family find out what happened.

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RyRyin303 2 years, 7 months ago

To Kirk Mitchell,

You Sir, are a horrible Reporter. Steve was one of my best friends and you slandered him and his name and his family in a report you did about a crime he was "suspected" of commiting over 30 YEARS AGO! They had NO evidence on him and nothing relating him to the crime, yet u made him out to be a bad person when no court of Law found him in any fault for what you believe he... did. Stephen Skufca was a spiritual leader to me and helped strengthen me and my faith in God. He was the kindest person ive ever met, we prayed together, and were close enough that i know he could never hurt anyone. I loved Steve like a brother and i wouldnt be a close to Jesus Christ as i am today if it wasnt for Steve. We read the "Purpose Driven Life" together over a 30 day period. I KNOW hes in Heaven now. It was wrong of you to try to make a good story about someone right after they died, by slandering them and bringing up the past, even though HE WAS NEVER EVEN CHARGED. Your artical was poorly written and didnt have many facts at all, and was difficult to understand at parts, You just brought more pain to his mother and family. I hope you can even understand what you did, and learn from your mistakes.SHAME ON YOU!!!!

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Michelle Hale 2 years, 7 months ago

Some simple things are being over looked.

  1. THIS IS ABOUT A MISSING 15 YEAR OLD GIRL. Her parents have no idea what happened, where she is, and why. Place yourself in that painful place!!!

  2. There are people who know more than what they are telling and those people have said time and time again that the names mentioned know something.

3 Out on parole.....for dealing drugs and HARRASSMENT...... Not the first visit to a jail by a long shot. Everything is about conscious choice. There is shame here for sure. Shame on those who know something and not come forward. Shame on those who did not look deeper........BUT NO SHAME is asking why of these questions, or to question a person who wrote the story. ITS ABOUT A MISSING CHILD. Shame on you RyRyin for "overlooking" that.

Maries story and life is worth more than hurt feeling and the question of someone's character traits. Where is the compassion for the missing child??? Where is your spiritual moral compass on this?

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WrestlinRockies 2 years, 7 months ago

RyRyin is clearly being overly defensive...

If you need to keep saying that over and over Ry....that means you are trying to prove it to even yourself.

I also love all the stories passed around this town and state about this guy ratting out everyone he could....YOU DON'T GET OUT EARLY FOR FREE!!!

And yeah...I am sure he is in Heaven....he seemed to love him some "gates"!!! HA!!!

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