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Colorado Cold case linked to Las Vegas Cold Case

Westminster police solve 1975 cold case after exhuming suspect's body

January 31st, 2024

DENVER (KDVR) — The Westminster Police Department said Wednesday they've solved a murder case from 48 years ago.

The case was first reported by a couple riding their motorcycles who found Teree Becker's body on Dec. 6, 1975. According to a release from Westminster police, Becker's body and some personal items appeared to be dumped in a field near 100th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard in Westminster.

At that point, Becker hadn't been seen since she hitchhiked to see her boyfriend in the Adams County Jail two days prior on Dec. 4, 1975.

An autopsy reported that she had been raped and named asphyxiation as her cause of death.

Investigators worked and reviewed the Teree Becker cold case several times over the years. In 2003, technological advancements made it so the Colorado Bureau of Investigation could extract DNA from a piece of evidence to be analyzed.

The DNA test results generated an unknown male, and a profile was entered into a DNA database. However, there was no match, and no more developments surfaced in the case for another 10 years.

Investigators learn about another victim

Fast forward to 2013, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department was reviewing a cold case from 1991 in which a woman was found raped and murdered in her apartment. DNA from that case matched the unknown DNA profile in Becker's case.

Westminster police said that is when investigators determined that the person who murdered Teree Becker also murdered the woman in Las Vegas. But it would be another 10 years or so before they figured out who that was.

In 2018, the genetic profile investigators developed made a good candidate for Genetic Genealogy, comparative DNA analysis which measures how much DNA is shared with other profiles and uses traditional genealogy research to infer relationships, Westminster police said.

Five more years of research passed CBI identified a suspect: Thomas Martin Elliott.

Elliot was dead and was buried in Las Vegas. In October 2023, LVMPD got permission to dig up his body based on the probability that he was the suspect in both homicide cases. A detective with Westminster police was there and watched as Elliott's bones were collected and submitted for analysis.

The results came back in December, confirming that Elliot was who the police were looking for in both cases.

The murderer was in prison between murders

"Thomas Elliott spent a large portion of his life in and out of the prison system," Westminster police said.

Shortly before he murdered Becker, Elliott committed a burglary in Lakewood. He was convicted and spent six years in prison before he was released in Las Vegas in 1981.

The crimes continued after he was released. He got another 10 years for committing a crime against a child and was once again released in Las Vegas in 1991.

Then, WPD said, he murdered the woman in Las Vegas. On Oct. 30, 1991, Westminster police said Elliott killed himself for unknown reasons. He was buried in the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery due to a short enlistment he had with the military.

With this one solved, nine other cold cases remain unsolved in Westminster.

The took how much?
Keep checking for old evidence
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