The Cold Case Unit’s mission is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves by seeking answers and justice for the victims and their families. The unit was started in 2009 by the then Sheriff Steve Waugh. What began with one volunteer, the unit has since expanded to five volunteers with one detective assigned primarily to cold case investigations.
The volunteers include college students, retired business professionals and retired law enforcement officers who focus on reviewing unsolved homicides, unresolved suspicious deaths, and missing person cases.
In addition to reviewing the case files, volunteers assist in non-confrontational research and interviews, clarifying vague information, communicating with the various private parties and institutions that assist law enforcement with pairing missing victims or suspects with other cases across the country and maintaining social network sites. Cold Case Volunteers maintain the social network sites with the consent and permission of the victim’s family members.
It is the goal of The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case unit to bring closure to each of these cases. If you have any information to share you are urged to call the Cold Case Unit at 928-777-7293 or Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232
The following homicide cases are currently unsolved:
# 1 Francis Varney, 80-year-old victim = Francis was last seen in early 2005 at her home in the 2800 block of Indian Wells Drive in Prescott Valley. She was living with her son at the time and he is suspected of being involved in her disappearance. Although her son has been questioned about the disappearance, the Cold Case Unit is still seeking information from relatives, friends or anyone who may have had contact with Francis during this time. The victim’s son has been convicted for fraudulent use of his mother’s social security income and is currently in-custody. Based on the investigation to date, detectives suspect foul play in Francis’ disappearance.
# 2 Travis Riddle, 19-year-old victim = Travis was last seen in October of 2005 in the Congress area and detectives have classified his disappearance as mysterious and likely involving foul play. Detectives have interviewed several possible suspects but are still seeking anyone who knew Travis or has information regarding his whereabouts in 2005. Travis frequented the Wickenburg and Congress areas and occasionally resided on Coleman Drive in Congress.
# 3 Pamela Pitts, 19-year-old victim = Pamela was last seen on September 16, 1988 at a party in the Forest outside Prescott. This area is known as “Gordo’s Pit” or “alto Pit”. Her body was found on September 29, 1988 by Sheriff’s deputies at Gordo Pit. Miss Pitts was a resident of Prescott, Arizona.
# 4 Jean Candelaria, 21-year-old victim = Jean was found shot to death five (5) miles west of Seligman off Highway 66 in the morning hours of July 26, 1977. She was last seen in San Bernardino, California. It was determined she was traveling with a friend to California from Albuquerque, New Mexico in the days prior to her death.
# 5 George Gonterman, 77-year-old victim = George was found stabbed to death in his home outside Yarnell, Arizona on the night of October 19, 1975. Investigators believe this may have been an attempt burglary. In the years prior to his death, Mr. Gonterman retired to Arizona from Colorado where he was a carpenter by trade.