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Denver Police say Joe Michael Ervin was a serial killer who murdered 5 women more than 40 years ago

<i>Denver Police Department/KCNC</i><br/>Gwendolyn Harris
Denver Police Department/KCNC
Denver Police Department/KCNC
Gwendolyn Harris

By Michael Abeyta

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    DENVER (KCNC) — Denver police have identified a serial killer who murdered five women more than 40 years ago: Joe Michael Ervin. Four murders were unsolved and the families of those victims have lived with uncertainty for decades.

DPD revealed in a news conference on Friday morning that DNA evidence and genealogy helped investigators link the cold cases together.

Police say Ervin killed four women between 1978 and 1981. Those four female victims are as follows:

– Madeleine Furey-Livaudais, 33. She was stabbed to death at her home on Poplar Street in Denver on Dec. 7, 1978

– Delores Barajas, 53. On Aug. 10, 1980, her body was found lying in the street on the 500 block of East 17th Avenue after being stabbed to death.

– Gwendolyn Harris, 27. On Dec. 21, 1980, her body was found lying in the street near East 47th Avenue and Andrews Drive in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood after being stabbed to death.

– Antoinette Parks, 17. On Jan. 24, 1981, Adams County deputies found her body in a field near 64th Avenue and Broadway. She had been stabbed multiple times.

The killings stopped when Debra Sue Corr, an Aurora police officer, pulled Ervin over in June 1981. Ervin used her own to gun to kill her in what was the first line-of-duty death for the Aurora Police Department. Soon after that Ervin took his own life while in custody on murder charges.

Initially investigators were working on each cold case separately. But eventually DNA evidence helped them link the four victims to the same killer. Next, they used DNA to find a living family member of the suspect.

Next, they exhumed the body of the suspect and used DNA to confirm he had killed the four women.

In a news release, Denver police described that sequence of events as follows:

– Between 2013 and 2018, these four cases were linked together by DNA evidence, and three separate searches for familial links in Colorado occurred during this time. – The Denver Police Crime Laboratory began in-house Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) work in 2019, which led to a positive ancestry link to Texas. – A familial search was conducted in Texas in the summer of 2021, which resulted in the identification of a close biological relative of the yet unidentified suspect. – Investigators identified Joe Ervin as a potential suspect, and an exhumation of his remains was conducted in Texas in late 2021 to obtain DNA samples for direct comparison to the crime scene evidence. – The identity of Joe Ervin as the suspect in these four related murders was confirmed through DNA analysis in January of 2022.

The daughters of Furey-Livaudais and the brothers of Parks were present for the announcement on Friday and spoke to reporters. They said they were experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions after finding out who killed their family member.

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