Deputy delves into Garfield County dismemberment cold case
For Megan Alstatt June 12, 2009, is the most memorable day of her law enforcement career.
That day she and fellow Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies walked slowly in a long line through an apple orchard five miles west of Glenwood Springs in a grid search for body parts and evidence. The case was the most gruesome homicide investigation of her career — the dismemberment murder 38-year-old Janine Johler.
Seven years later, Alstatt, who now leads the Johler unsolved homicide investigation, brought the case from a mountainside to Colfax Avenue where Johler worked as a prostitute.
“I’m starting from ground zero,” Alstatt said in a recent interview. “We went to where she walked and lived and breathed. I tried to see the world through her eyes.”
There are many possibilities of how Johler crossed paths with her killer. He might have been a regular client. Or she might have met him the day she was killed.
Colfax Avenue has a checkered history. It’s where serial killers including Vincent Groves, who killed as many as 20 women, and Richard Paul White, who killed five, both trolled for prostitutes to strangle. The murders of dozens of other prostitutes who disappeared along the Colfax corridor remain unsolved.
Alstatt recently canvassed Colfax from the state capitol to Aurora, showing photographs of Johler to business owners, prostitutes and passersby.
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Current Basalt officials say the town government has violated the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Right by increasing the property tax mill levy over the prior years 10 times since the mid-2000s. Two former mayors contend the mill levy could be adjusted in any given year as long as it didn’t exceed the mill levy in 1994. It’s a $2 million question.