Crime Trackers

Sep 30, 2013 11:23 PM by Lupita Murillo

1996 cold case baffles detectives

TUCSON - A 17-year-old cold case may be heating up.

Pima County Sheriff's Cold Case detectives have sent in items for DNA testing. They're hoping the public will contact them if they have information concerning the murder of Virgil Harper. The 72-year-old retired from the military. He was shot to death on March 19, 1996.

Harper was last seen driving a blue Ford Taurus he picked up at Budget car rental in Denver, Colorado on March 10th. He was supposed to turn it in five days later in Florida. He never did.
Det. Mark O'Dell is currently investigating his murder. He says Harper died a violent death.

He was found dead in the desert by a man walking his dog.

Harper made his living driving cars across the country for rental companies.

Then homicide detective Patty Amado took the case to America's Most Wanted. Viewers helped identify a man who was with Harper in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 14. Investigators say he was hitchiker. Detectives caught up with him in New Hampshire. He told them Virgil Harper was alive when he last saw him.

Detectives traced Harper from Florida, to Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Arizona. He was also in Utah, Colorado and Kansas, all in 11 days. He left a trail of receipts.

Even after all these years detectives aren't giving up finding his killer. Detective O'Dell says, "Any incident like this is not going to be closed and put away. We're never going to stop looking for them. They're going to have to constantly be looking over their shoulder."

If you have information call 88-CRIME or 911. If you have a story email: crimetrackers@kvoa.com.

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