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Unsolved Mysteries: 3 Southern Colorado Officers Murdered

By James Jarman, Weekday Evening Anchor/Target 13 Investigator, j.jarman@krdo.com
Published On: Nov 01 2012 11:39:38 PM CDT

Officers in Southern Colorado solve most murder cases, but sometimes the killers are never caught, and three of them killed officers.

There are nearly a hundred victims in the Pikes Peak region whose killers remain a mystery.  Including murder victim CC Benefiel-Cipriani - she was an El Paso County Sheriff's Lieutenant.

Benefiel-Cipriani was murdered November 16, 1990  in her Ivywild home. Her body was found underneath the dining room table, she was shot at least twice.

"Has her gun belt on and her gun snapped in the holster, so it didn't look like she'd been in a struggle with anybody," says Cold Case Investigator Bill Lidh.

Benefiel-Cipriani was a day away from finalizing her divorce, her husband was a Colorado state trooper.

"He's interviewed extensively, I guess it would be correct to assume he was the prime suspect at the time," says Lidh, "but no forensics, no statements by him tie him to the crime."

Another officer was found murdered on December 18, 1975.

Manitou Springs Detective Sgt. Don Laabs was found murdered on I-25 in Colorado Springs, his fellow officers found him.

"He's still sitting there in his car with the engine running and he's been shot multiple times," says Lidh.

Laabs was heading home from work, when for some reason he pulled over to side of the interstate

"Speculation is it could be someone who had a grudge against him for a criminal case he was working, or maybe somebody he was about to arrest," says Lidh.

Thanksgiving 1953, a person driving by Bijou & El Paso Street sees Colorado Springs Police Officer Richard Birchfield slumped over in his police car.

"Officers immediately go out there and find Officer Birchfeld dead in his car," Lidh tells us, "he'd been shot 9 times with a 22 cal. pistol."

Also in the car, a robbery victims wallet.  Officers think Birchfeld caught a robber who hit several stores, but the robber killed him.

Lidh, a retired detective, is one of 3 retired officers who investigate the cold cases in Colorado Springs.  

"Sometimes you are able to find that evidence, sometimes you're not.  Doesn't mean you stop looking."

For more on each of the cold case victims visit the cold case unit online.

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