How did she die? Who killed her?
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In August 2006, teenage mother Candace Hiltz was murdered in the family car in Fremont County, Colorado. The seriousness of the murder stunned the country and the police faced numerous challenges, including a very personal one. The killer(s) are still at large despite a decade of investigation. The killer could be someone, according to Candace’s mother, but according to the police, it could be someone else.
The difficult case is closely followed in “Valley of the Damned: Impossible Perpetrator” on Investigation Discovery, which also lays out the facts for viewers to understand. We are here for you if you are curious and want to know everything about the case. So let’s get started, shall we?
How did Candace Hiltz die?
Candace Colleary Hiltz was born on December 22, 1988 in Canon City, Fremont County, Colorado. She was enrolled in an online program at Brigham Young University and was close to graduating. Dolores Hiltz, her mother, recalled Candace’s ambition to attend Stanford Law School and eventually serve as a judge on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 16-year-old had a daughter named Paige with her boyfriend Jesse Weaver. She was also a teenage mother. Paige was born with hydrocephalus, an uncommon condition.
Candace was stubborn, which often got her into trouble, despite being witty and intelligent. Even though they might have been upset, she had a knack for telling people what she really thought of them. Dolores thought it was a big part of her horrible murder. On August 15, 2006, Jesse arrived at Candace’s caravan in the Copper Gulch community to find his daughter crying in her bed. Candace lived there with her mother and daughter. He also saw blood in the hallway of the trailer. When Dolores arrived, she discovered her daughter’s practically decapitated body tucked away under a bed.
When Fremont County Sheriff’s officers arrived on the scene, they found the woman’s body wrapped in a green blanket and seven gunshot wounds. Five shots in the back of her skull, one in the face, one in her left chest. According to the autopsy report, three separate firearms were used: a 45 Long Colt for the face, a 22-caliber shotgun for the skull, and a 410 shotgun for the face. Police say there are no indications of an assault or theft.
Who Killed Candace Hiltz?
After Jesse Weaver was acquitted, James “Jimmy” Hiltz, Candace’s brother, was named as the prime suspect in the murder. Jimmy, who was charged with a number of local burglaries, had a number of psychiatric problems that left him estranged from his wife and children. He used to live in the hills behind the trailer where Candace lived as a homeless person with her mother and daughter due to his social anxiety.
A three-day manhunt was launched after a murder when Jimmy was not discovered, and he was eventually taken into custody. However, the detectives were unable to link him to his sister’s death. Jimmy was a regular at the Colorado Mental Health Institute. He was found not guilty of a burglary charge due to mental illness, and as a result he was sentenced to be re-admitted to the mental institution. The case quickly went cold as there were no new leads or suspects.
But ten years later, in December 2016, Rick Ratzlaff, a resident of Canon City, bought a warehouse that once belonged to Lieutenant Det. Robert Dodd, a detective working on the Candace murder case. Rick was reading the material when he came across a manila package labeled “Evidence,” containing a bloodstained rope, an ax and bloodied socks. The Colorado Bureau of Inquiry launched an investigation after receiving the package, which was believed to contain information related to Candace’s murder.
In 2018, Robert was found guilty of tampering with public records and an official misdemeanor and given a 15-day prison sentence. Dolores initially held her son Jimmy responsible for the murder, but eventually blamed the police. Dolores was questioned by a deputy sheriff about Jimmy’s possible violation at the Hiltz residence on August 10, 2006, which led to an argument with Candace. The Hiltz family discovered their dog’s body three days after the altercation in the woods behind their trailer.
Dolores insists it was the police who allegedly killed her daughter and the dog and botched the investigation to cover up their crime. However, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office vehemently refutes the charges and has even provided evidence linking Jimmy to the murder. The testimonies of Jimmy’s ex-wife and Jesse, who both described Jimmy’s sporadic acts of violence, were available to police. The murder weapons were one of the items recovered in a series of local burglaries of which Jimmy had been a suspect.
The most damning evidence, however, is a bone fragment that the detectives discovered near the house where Jimmy lived at the time of the murder. The detectives have presented their case to the prosecutor and it is a match with the DNA of the victim. Dolores vehemently disputes circumstantial evidence that her son is involved in her daughter’s murder as police await action in the investigation, alleging authorities had something to do with her daughter’s death.
Background information about Candace Hiltz