LITTLETON, Colo. — A reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) involved in the 1970 sexual assault and murder of Marilee Burt was increased Sunday to up to $30,000.
Burt was only 15 years old when she was abducted. She was last seen alive walking home after cheering at a basketball game at Goddard Junior High School in Littleton on February 26, 1970.
Ramon Burt, Marilee’s older brother, remembers driving home the day she was abducted. He said it was dark and there was a lot of traffic when he noticed someone walking but didn't think much of it. He recalled a van flashing their bright lights and looking in his rear view mirror and saw the driver in the van talk to the person walking.
He would later make the connection; it was his sister, Marilee.
"I went right back to that same spot, and she was gone," Ramon said in February. "She had been abducted in a matter of five minutes."
Investigators found Marilee's naked body the day after she disappeared in Deer Creek Canyon. She was raped and brutally strangled to death. Detectives with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office collected evidence and interviewed witnesses; 15 years after her death, they discovered DNA on her body. Testing ruled out at least seven suspects by 1998, but it didn't yield a match for the killer.
"We do have DNA in this case, and we have some indicators that will help us identify the suspect. We are not revealing that information at this point because it's very critical with this case," Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office Captain Jared Rowlison said in February.
He confirmed that a new tip came in recently, making the case a top priority. The case has puzzled investigators.
The last time Ramon saw his little sister haunted him for years.
"I just went over and over in my mind like, 'Why didn't you stop?'" Ramon recalled.
He said the day Marilee went missing, she called her other brother to ask him for a ride, but he said he couldn't pick her up.
"I think that is what is so hard for him today; he's just never got over the guilt," Ramon said. "The fact that my mother wasn't there either pretty much ruined the rest of her life, she never got over it."
Burt was close to his sister. They were both dancers.
"She was active in everything. She was very athletic. She was a very good swimmer, a skier, full of life," Ramon said.
Marrin Burt, Marilee's niece, said her grandmother chased justice for Marilee until the day she died. She now hopes to bring her family peace.
"My dying wish? I hope to bring closure, so she has closure, and my grandmother has closure," Marrin said.
She is now pleading with the killer to come forward and seek redemption, so her family can find peace.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867.