Real Name: Eva Berg Shoen
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Telluride, Colorado
Date: August 6, 1990
Details: Forty-four-year-old Eva Shoen was the wife of Sam Shoen, a U-Haul heir. The couple lived in Telluride, Colorado, with their two young children. Sam's father Leonard Samuel "L.S." Shoen created U-Haul shortly after World War Two. As his company grew, so did his family. Between 1945 and 1974, he had seven sons and five daughters. He gave each of them a large chunk of U-Haul stock at birth. By 1980, he had turned over 92% of the company to his children. However, six years later, his children turned on him; on November 8, 1986, a majority of his children voted to remove him as president and CEO of U-Haul. He was forced out of the corporation that he had built from scratch. However, Sam remained loyal and later joined L.S. in a lawsuit to regain control of the company.
The Shoen family remains in a bitter dispute and some claim that it has led to murder. On the morning of August 6, 1990, Sam and Eva's two young children ran to a neighbor and told him that their mother was in their house badly wounded. When police and paramedics arrived, they found Eva dead. She had been shot once in the back hours earlier. Sam had been out of town on business. When he received the tragic news, he immediately rushed home to be with his children. His daughter explained that she had went to show her mother a new trick she had taught their dog when she found her laying at the top of the main staircase.
Later that day, detective Kim Pound questioned Sam about his business trip to Phoenix, Arizona and what he had done when he arrived there. He said that he had talked to one of his business partners on the phone and had gone to bed around 11:30PM after speaking with Eva on the phone. Pound also asked Sam if he had any enemies. He mentioned the dispute in his family regarding U-Haul.
Meanwhile, detectives searched the house for any clues. They were baffled by the lack of apparent motive. There was no evidence of attempted burglary and the autopsy showed no signs of sexual assault. Only one important piece of evidence was found: a distinctive pair of sunglasses near the house. It was determined that the sunglasses were only sold in twenty-eight stores in the United States. The stores were located primarily in California and Arizona.
Detectives learned that Sam's business trip was last-minute and that he had taken Eva's car. His car remained in front of the house. The Shoen house is extremely isolated, well off of the main highways. It could only be reached by way of winding country roads. As a result, authorities believe that the Shoens were targeted and that the murder was not a random act of violence.
They also believe that the killer or killers watched the Shoen family from the wooded area surrounding the house. Sam suspects that the intruder(s) caused the dogs to start barking outside. He believes that Eva brought the dogs inside and locked them in a room to keep them from upsetting the neighbors with their barking. He and the authorities believe that the killer(s) waited for Eva and the children to go to bed before entering the house through an unlocked door.
It is believed that the killer(s) then went upstairs and into Eva's bedroom. They then shot her while she was laying in bed. One of the children recalled hearing a "thud"; they looked at the clock and noticed that it was 2AM. They then heard another thud. Authorities, however, do not believe that they were woken up by the actual gunshot. After she was shot, Eva managed to stagger out to the staircase where she was later found.
Detective Pound believes that the killer(s) targeted Eva specifically. Sam disagrees; he does not believe that anyone knew that he was not supposed to be home that night. He believes that whoever planned the crime thought he was home. Detectives looked into Sam's history at U-Haul. In 1987, he resigned from the company to protest his father's ouster. He moved to Telluride with his family. Two of his younger brothers, Joe and Mark, engineered L.S.'s removal; they also took over the company.
In 1988, Joe and Mark brokered a stock sale to solidify their position as majority shareholders. Sam, along with four of his sisters, his brother Mike, and their father firmly believed that the sale was illegal. They filed suit against Joe, Mark, and a third brother. Within six months, L.S.'s pension had been cut off. According to several witnesses, the family bitterness turned violent on March 4, 1989 at a shareholder's meeting in Reno, Nevada. Mark and Joe denied that there was any violence. However, Sam claims that they attacked Mike. According to L.S. and Sam, Mike had brought a recorder to the meeting. Mark and Joe wanted to take it away, but he refused. This ended in the brothers punching Mike repeatedly.
There was obvious speculation that Eva's murder may have been related to the Shoen family dispute. Detective Pound questioned Mark and Joe about the murder. Joe was reportedly very hostile during the interview and made several bizarre statements. However, Pound cannot say for certain if they were involved in Eva's murder. Sam and his children left Telluride after Eva's murder and have not returned since. However, they continue to search for answers in the case.
There is one final clue that may help solve the case: on the night of the murder, a white Jeep Cheroke, unfamiliar to the permanent residents of Telluride, was sighted several times on the secluded roads near the Shoen house. The car and its occupant(s) have not been located.
Suspects: Sam Shoen was ruled out as a suspect because he was not in Telluride at the time of the murder. He believes that his two brothers may have played a role in Eva's murder. He believes that they may have hired someone to kill him, but the killer shot Eva instead. However, they deny any involvement.
A pair of Pacific Eyes and T’s sunglasses with a neck cord were found on the Shoen property. The sunglasses are sold only at Pacific Eyes and T’s stores, all of which are in Arizona and California. Detectives believe that they may have belonged to the killer. Also, a mysterious white Jeep Cheroke was seen several times on the roads near the house on the night of the murder. The driver and the car have never been located.
Detectives also want to talk to a man who visited the Telluride Chamber of Commerce information center on the day of the murder. The man was described as in his early 40s or 50s with a medium build, 5'10" or 5'11", with short brown or black hair with strands of gray. He was wearing khaki pants and a plaid golf shirt. The center’s receptionist said the man asked to see a map of an area that included Telluride Ski Ranches, an exclusive development where the Shoen cabin is located. They do not consider him a suspect but would like to question him.
Detectives examining the bullet that killed Eva found that the gun used had a design flaw. They were able to determine that the bullet came from a .25 caliber Locrin handgun. However, they were unable to find the murder weapon.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the December 2, 1992 episode and was updated on the January 5, 1994 episode. After the case was solved, it was featured on Cold Case Files and Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice. The former of the two series explicitly references the involvement of Unsolved Mysteries.
Some sources spell Eva's last name "Schoen".
Results: Solved. A viewer called the telecenter after the segment was repeated and claimed that his brother-in-law, Frank Emer Marquis, was the killer. Marquis had previously served time for several burglaries and rapes. He had told the viewer that he was involved in the murder and "covered up" all the evidence against him. Authorities were able to record this conversation. After that, a detective went to Santa Fe and questioned Marquis's boss at the time. His time cards showed that he missed work on August 5 and 6, 1990. The boss also recalled that Marquis and another employee, Jeff Beale, had gone to Telluride for a music festival around the time of the murder.
Authorities questioned Beale, who confirmed that they had gone to the music festival in Telluride on August 5. He also confirmed that Marquis had borrowed a gun from another co-worker and brought it with him to Telluride. The other co-worker confirmed that he had given him the gun, which was a .25-caliber Locrin handgun. Earlier, detectives had determined that this specific type of gun was the murder weapon. However, someone (presumably Marquis) had caused damage to the inner barrel of the gun, preventing a positive match through ballistics.
In July of 1993, Marquis was arrested and charged with Eva's murder. In February of 1994, Beale was re-questioned about his trip to Telluride with Marquis. He remembered that, while driving back to Santa Fe, Marquis acted strangely and threw some of his clothing out the window. With the help of Beale, two detectives were able to locate some of the clothes. A hair found on one of the shirts belonged to Eva.
At first, Marquis denied any involvement. However, in October of 1994, he confessed to Eva's murder. He claimed that his gun went off unexpectedly while he and Eva struggled. He had planned to burglarize the home and had not expected her to be in the house; when she had told him to leave, he killed her. However, authorities believe that he really planned to rape her that night. Marquis pleaded guilty to manslaughter in November of 1994. He was sentenced to twenty-four years in prison and was paroled in November of 2011.
Authorities have ruled out any connection between Eva's murder and the U-Haul feud.
- A Death in Telluride
- The Long, Strange Trip of the U-Haul Family
- Sunglasses, Jeep and traveler clues to slaying in U-Haul clan
- Small clues intrigue investigators
- Telluride not sure arrest solves slaying of U-Haul heir's wife
- The Sordid Saga Of A Dysfunctional Corporate Family
- Slaying arrest rebuts U-haul conspiracy theory
- Man denies killing wife of U-haul heir
- Alleged killer of heir to stand trial
- Man Tells How He Killed U-Haul Heir
- The U-Haul Tragedy
- Brothers say rough road is past for U-Haul
- No Reward Prompts Tipster's Lawsuit
- Shoen v. Shoen
- Cold Case Files: Terror in Telluride
- Eva Shoen at Find a Grave