May 28, 2020
Public Information Unit, 303-441-1500
1970 rape and murder case of Betty Lee Jones has been solved
The suspect in the case died in 2019
Boulder County, Colo. - The 1970 case of the rape and murder of 23-year-old, mother of two, Betty Lee Jones has been solved. Jones’ body was found just after 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 9, 1970, by two Colorado Department of Transportation workers, down the side of an embankment on Highway 128, near the Boulder County/Jefferson County line. She had been bound, sexually assaulted, strangled and shot.
Ms. Jones was last seen alive at about 3:30 p.m. the previous day in the street in front of her home in Denver at 12th and York Street that she shared with her husband of nine days, Robert Ray Jones. The two had been together for less than a year, and had been arguing for two days, culminating in Robert Jones leaving the residence in his car, and Ms. Jones trying to flag down cars in the street near their residence. She got into a blue sedan that had stopped and was last seen in that car going southbound on York Street.
In 2006, the case was reopened and evidence which was recovered from Jones’ body was submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A male DNA profile was developed, but the suspect’s profile was not in the national Combined DNA Index System database. Six potential suspects were then developed, which included her husband, Robert Ray Jones, and DNA was obtained from each, through personal items, direct swabbing, or, as in the case of Robert Jones, from his parents, as he had died in 2000. None of those profiles matched the suspect’s DNA.
In 2019, the suspect DNA was submitted to a private lab, Bode Technologies, where a profile was developed. With the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Denver Field Office, the FBI’s Forensic Genetic Genealogy Team was enlisted to assist with the forensic genealogy aspect and helped develop a family tree. The suspect’s generation in that family tree was identified and more fully developed. All offspring were identified and eliminated, except one daughter, who was seen in a 1957 Denver directory, but no other identifying information was found.
The CBI, also working on the forensic genealogy, identified the woman, her husband, and her two sons, who would have been in their twenties at the time of the murder, and who lived in Denver at the time. One son was still living, but the other was deceased, in 1977. The living son was interviewed, and DNA swabs obtained. He then identified an estranged third brother, Paul, but did not know if he was living or dead, nor knew his whereabouts. The living brother’s DNA profile was compared to the suspect DNA and came back as “closely related” to the suspect. The FBI’s Genetic Genealogy Team was able to identify the closest common ancestors on the father’s side, focusing the investigation narrowly on the three sons.
The missing brother, identified as Paul Leroy Martin, was found to have died in June 2019, with no identified next of kin, except the living brother, and had been interred in Fort Logan National Cemetery. The court authorized an exhumation, and on April 8, 2020, the exhumation was conducted at Fort Logan and biological material collected. On April 9, 2020, Martin’s biological sample was sent to the CBI Lab, where a profile was developed, and a comparison made of Paul L. Martin’s DNA to the suspect’s DNA. On April 24, 2020, the CBI Forensic Sciences Biological Unit notified the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office that the sample collected from Betty Jones’ body and Paul L. Martin were a match, quantifying it by stating that the probability of selecting an unrelated individual from the general population who matched at the identified 18 loci was 1 in 3.2 sextillion.
Martin has no known link to Betty Lee Jones, and a close family member, who was living during that time, said the Martin name was not familiar to her and she did not recall Betty dating anyone by that name. The name was not in any of the original reports or in the original officers’ notes. Martin, according to his brother, did drive a blue, mid-to-late 1960’s Plymouth Fury sedan.
A Probable Cause Statement was submitted to the Boulder County District Attorney and was approved on May 26, 2020. In a murder case, such approval is required for the filing of murder charges against an individual. A murder charge will be filed if the District Attorney determines that it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on the evidence and DNA analysis produced through this investigation, if he were alive today, Paul Martin would be charged and prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office for the murder of Betty Jones.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office wishes to acknowledge and thank for their invaluable assistance: the FBI Denver Field Office, the FBI’s Forensic Genetic Genealogy Team, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Bode Technologies, Forensic Pathologist Dr. Daniel Lingamfelter and the Fort Logan National Cemetery. Without their assistance, the case of Betty Lee Jones would likely have remained unsolved.
“In addition to our sincere thanks to CBI, the FBI, and all the contributing scientists and investigators, I would like to personally thank Detective Steve Ainsworth for his diligent work and tenacity for solving this very cold case, which was so brutally committed. Steve has a long career, much of it dedicated to cold cases, and he does a wonderful job for these victims and their families,” Sheriff Joe Pelle.
The associated Boulder County Sheriff’s Office case number is #04-808.
/s/ Detective Steve Ainsworth