BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – A man convicted of killing his teenage sister-in-law in Illinois is also suspected of killing a 20-year-old woman in Colorado in 1982, and the FBI is investigating whether he was involved in other deaths as a serial killer, Boulder County sheriff’s officials said Thursday.
The suspect, John Agrue, died in 2009 after an accidental overdose of prescription medication. A year later, Larimer County sheriff’s officials in Colorado said DNA evidence linked him to the 1982 death of his 94-year-old neighbor, Orma Smith, whose body was found in a stream near Estes Park.
On Thursday, Boulder County sheriff’s officials said that if Agrue were still alive, prosecutors would likely pursue murder charges against him in another 1982 slaying: that of 20-year-old Susan Becker in Boulder County.
A friend last saw Becker in Boulder on June 20, 1982. Fishermen found her body on July 1, 1982, in a ravine. She had 13 stab wounds to her torso and neck.
Detectives learned Agrue had hiked in the area where Becker’s body was found, but they couldn’t find enough evidence to tie him to her slaying.
Agrue, who was convicted of killing his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Susan Marino, in Illinois in 1966, had moved to Boulder after he was paroled in 1982. He later moved to nearby Longmont.
On July 9, 1982, a little more than a week after Becker’s body was found, Smith’s body was found south of Estes Park in northern Colorado.
On July 15, 1982, Agrue attempted to abduct a woman at knifepoint on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. He was convicted and sentenced, then was returned to Illinois to serve the rest of his sentence for killing his sister-in-law because his parole was revoked after the Colorado conviction.
After his death in 2009, relatives found women’s purses and jewelry in his home along with news articles about the attempted Colorado abduction and the homicides of Smith and Becker.
Larimer County sheriff’s officials said in 2010 that technology advances allowed them to tie DNA evidence in Smith’s death to Agrue. Boulder County investigators then took another look at Becker’s death.
Boulder County Sheriff’s Detective Steve Ainsworth told the (Longmont) Times-Call there were no usable DNA samples from Becker’s case.
However, Marino, Becker and Smith all died of multiple stab wounds in the same area of the body, and all were found in or near mountain streams, Boulder County sheriff’s officials said. They said their investigation into Becker’s death is now closed.
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