Possible serial killer named as suspect in 1982 stabbing death, investigated in other slayings

BOULDER - Investigators believed they have solved a 1982 cold case murder, and the suspect, who died in 2009, is now being investigated as a possible serial killer.

In 1982, 20-year-old Susan Becker was reported missing in Boulder on June 20. Fishermen found her body on July 1 of that year, in a ravine near the 32,000 block of Boulder Canyon Drive. She had 13 stab wounds to her torso and neck.

At the time, Sgt. Jason Oehlkers of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office wrote in a press release, detectives identified John Agrue as a person of interest. He declined to cooperate with investigators, however, and there was never enough evidence to link him to Becker's murder.

Agrue had already been convicted of one murder, the 1966 slaying of his 14-year-old sister in law, Susan Marino, in Illinois. He was paroled in 1982 after serving 16 years of a 20-50 year sentence.

Oehlkers wrote Agrue was again investigated but not successfully linked to a murder discovered on July 9, 1982. On that date, 94-year-old Orma Smith's body was found in the Big Elk Meadows area, south of Estes Park.

Just six days after that, Agrue attempted to abduct a 26-year-old student at knife point while she was sitting in her car on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. She flagged down a passing university employee for help and he was eventually convicted of the crime.

Agrue was returned to prison in Illinois in 1984, after serving time in Colorado, because his parole had been revoked. He remained in prison until 1989.

He lived in Illinois until his death from an accidental drug overdose in 2009, Oehlkers wrote.

After Agrue's death, family members found several women's purses, jewelry and other items in his home, along with newspaper clippings about all of the crimes in Colorado.

In June 2010, DNA evidence was announced by the Larimer County Sheriff's Office that linked Agrue to Smith's murder. That prompted a reevaluation of Becker's killing in Boulder County.

According to Oehlkers, the three homicide victims all died from stab wounds inflicted to the same area of the body. Additionally, the bodies were all found in or near mountain streams.

The Sheriff's Office worked with the FBI and concluded Agrue was likely responsible for Becker's death.

"They agreed that there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Agrue was responsible for Susan Becker's death and, that if he were still alive, they would pursue murder charges against him," Oehlkers wrote. "The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit is also investigating the potential of Mr. Agrue having been involved in other homicides as a serial killer."