Real Names: Barbara Jo Oberholtzer and Annette Kay Schnee
Nicknames: Bobbie (Barbara)
Location: Breckinridge, Colorado
Date: January 6, 1982
Details: On January 7, 1982, the body of twenty-nine-year-old Bobbie Oberholtzer was found near a scenic overlook, five miles south of Breckenridge, Colorado. She had been shot twice. Her house keys were found at the scene, along with an orange sock. However, the sock did not belong to her. Six months later, police found the body of twenty-one-year-old Annette Schnee on a side road of the highway, thirteen miles away. She had also been shot to death. Incredibly, police discovered that she was wearing the match to the orange sock. The women had vanished on the same day - January 6 - and had both been shot with a medium-caliber revolver. Police are certain that the women were murdered on the same night by the same individual. They believe that the killer most likely lost Annette's sock after he killed Bobbie.
The prime suspect in the case is Bobbie's husband, Jeff Oberholtzer. However, he maintains his innocence. The couple married on July 1, 1977. Jeff ran an appliance-repair business while Bobbie worked as a receptionist in Breckenridge. They lived in Alma, fourteen miles away. According to Jeff, the day that she vanished started out as a normal day. She left at around 7:15AM and hitchhiked to work. At 6:20PM, she called and told him that she was out with friends. He asked if she wanted him to pick her up, but she told him that she would get a ride home.
Jeff made dinner and waited for his wife to come home. At some point, he fell asleep. He woke up around midnight and discovered that she had not returned. He waited for her until after 2AM, when the bars closed. When she still had not returned, he began searching. He learned from her friends that she left the bar at 7:30PM; they assumed that she had gotten a ride home. Jeff tried to report her missing, but was told that it was too early to file a report. He decided to go home and wait for her.
The next morning, a farmer, who lived thirty miles outside of Breckenridge, found her driver's license. Jeff and two friends went to pick up the license. On the way, he spotted something blue-colored in a snow-covered field. It was Bobbie's backpack, which she always had with her. A blood-spattered glove and some bloody tissues were found with the backpack. Jeff's friends started a search for Bobbie. Two hours later, her body was found, fifteen miles from where her backpack was recovered.
Strangely, police only found Bobbie's footprints at the crime scene. A plastic cord was tied around one of her wrists. The same day Bobbie's body was found, Annette was reported missing. She was a cocktail waitress from Frisco, Colorado; she also hitchhiked to and from work. Because of the similarities, the two cases were immediately connected by police. They questioned Jeff about her. At first, he denied knowing her. However, after seeing her picture on a news broadcast, he recalled meeting her once. He claimed that he had picked her up one day and gave her his business card. He denied any involvement in her disappearance or Bobbie's death. Six months later, on July 3, 1982, her body was found. Jeff's business card and the orange sock that matched the one found with Bobbie were also located.
Authorities tried to determine what might have happened the night of January 6. Annette was last seen in Breckenridge at around 4PM, in deep conversation with an unidentified dark-haired woman. The woman was described as a white female, 5'4" tall, and slender build. Police believe that she left to hitchhike back home at around 5PM. The killer picked her up and drove her twenty miles south of Breckenridge. He took her down a small, dead-end road, where he sexually assaulted her in his vehicle. While she was putting her clothes back on, she forgot to put on the other orange sock and attempted to escape. He then shot her in the back, leaving her body in the snow.
He apparently returned to Breckenridge where he picked up Bobbie. He drove her ten miles south to a scenic overlook, where he also tried to rape her. However, she apparently fought back and tried to escape his vehicle. As she attempted to escape, the orange sock fell out of his vehicle. She was shot twice as she escaped over a snow embankment at the side of the highway. She also died in the deep snow.
Jeff later took a polygraph test and passed. He claimed to have had an alibi for the night of the murders. Police still consider him a suspect, and he continues to maintain his innocence. The cases remain unsolved, however DNA has been recovered from evidence.
Suspects: Police considered Jeff Oberholtzer a suspect in both murders. They felt that it was more than a coincidence that he had known both victims. Two months after the murders, he was given a polygraph examination, which he passed.
From the beginning, he insisted that he had an alibi and a witness corroborating the alibi. During the time that the murders were committed, he was with an acquaintance who had dropped by to visit. For nearly nine years, no one could find this man. However, in December of 1990, he finally surfaced and was questioned about that night. He said that he had visited Jeff; however, his time and Jeff's time of the visit did not match up.
Jeff believes that Bobbie was killed by someone she knew. He does not believe that she would have gone with a stranger, because he had given her the option to be picked up by him.
Police would like to question the unidentified dark-haired woman last seen with Annette on January 6. She was described as a white female, 5'4" tall, and slender build.
The weapon used was a .38/.357 handgun using a Remington/Peters copper jacketed hollow point bullet. It has never been located.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 1, 1991 episode. It was also featured on Sensing Murder on Discovery Channel on May 22, 2006. It followed the perceptions of psychics Pam Coronado and Laurie Campbell. They suggested Annette had not died where she was found and separately came up with the same first name of the killer.
Some sources spell Bobbie's name as "Bobbi".
This case is not to be confused with Orange Socks, a nickname for an unidentified murder victim.
Results: Unresolved. For years, the blood found on Bobbie's gloves and the tissues with her backpack was believed to have belonged to her. However, in the early 1990s, DNA testing determined that it came from a male. The testing also determined that Jeff had not left the blood. As a result of this and other evidence, including several alibi witnesses, he was eventually cleared as a suspect in the murders. However, the real killer has never been caught.
Police have since looked into several different suspects in the case. One was Thomas Edward Luther, who beat and raped a hitchhiker after picking her up in Breckenridge in February of 1982. While in jail, he allegedly bragged about being responsible for the murders. He also failed two lie detector tests when questioned. Investigators learned from his girlfriend that he did not come home the night of the murders. He also did not show up for work the day before and after the murders. When questioned, he lied and said he was at work. However, his DNA was not found at the scene. Despite this, investigators have looked into the possibility that he had an accomplice whose DNA was at the scene.
Another suspect was Tracy Petrocelli, who shot his fiancee to death in Seattle, Washington, in October of 1981, and then went on a multi-state crime spree. During this time, he stayed at the Holiday Inn in Frisco, which was the same place where Annette worked. Although the DNA at the crime scene did not match him, investigators noted that he often picked up male hitchhikers which he used as accomplices for his crimes. He is believed to have killed these accomplices. It is possible that the DNA belonged to them.
Despite this, investigators believe that the killer is someone else, someone who was familiar with the rural road where Annette’s body was discovered. Officially, the murders remain unsolved. In January of 2015, investigators asked the public for help with the case. It is unknown if any new leads were uncovered.
- Bobbie Oberholzer and Annette Schnee on Unsolved.com
- Rocky Mountain Cold Case - Website on the Orange Sock Murders
- Rocky Mountain Cold Case - Evidence Map
- Cold Case: Two young women disappear within three hours of each other in 1982
- 25 years after women died, psychics shed a little light
- Breckenridge: Female hitchhikers kidnapped and murdered
- Investigators ask for help in 1982 double murder of Barbara 'Bobbie Jo' Oberholtzer, Annette Schnee
- Breckenridge investigator looking for new clues in unsolved 1982 double homicide
- Annette Schnee and Bobbie Jo Oberholtzer: New Effort to Solve Their Murders 33 Years Later
- Reddit Discussion of the Orange Sock Murders
- Annette Schnee on Find a Grave