Her brother-in-law, Jake Ehlers, of Seattle, writes that she was also smart and funny - and with him she shared an interest in murder mysteries.
"We liked surprises, but we also liked it when the surprises fell within the logical progression of a well-written mystery," he writes. "In a mystery there is always a reason for things happening, although it's not always apparent until the end."
Tragically, she became a murder mystery herself. She left a party in Jackson late at night in June 1984 and drove south. Her body was found in Hoback Canyon, just across the county line, on June 21, 1984. She had been shot twice.
It took nearly 26 years, but justice is now being served. A jury recently found Troy Willoughby, 46, guilty of the murder. Evidence at the seven-day trial indicated that Willoughby shot the woman because she had not paid for drugs he had supplied her. The type of drugs in question was not specified at the trial, although both marijuana and cocaine were found in her purse.
The early and mid-1980s were a time of widespread use of cocaine in mountain towns. Sometimes, the cocaine use led to death by poisoning. Police files in Vail and other nearby towns contain several cases of people who died after several days of frightening paranoia and desperate hallucinations.
Several murders in the Vail area were also tied to cocaine, and it was at least a background issue in several unsolved murders.
In Aspen, Steve Grabow went from living the ordinary life of a quasi-ski bum to having a lifestyle fit for a king - until, in December, 1985, a bomb blew up his Jeep Cherokee as he started it after a workout at the Aspen Athletic Club. At the time, he was facing trial for distributing cocaine.
Suspects in the death of Grabow have never been named, and for a long time it appeared that the murder of Ehlers in Wyoming would never be solved. It wasn't for lack of a suspect. Within a few days of the murder, a Crimestoppers phone call had tagged Willoughby.
But police in Sublette County didn't have the proof. They didn't forget, though. One break came in 1996 when a former friend of Willoughby's told Idaho investigators that he had seen Willoughby commit the murder. Afraid of being prosecuted, he later recanted the statement. In late 2008 and early 2009, the case finally started coming together. Stories of witnesses jibed, and new evidence was revealed.
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