Man Who Killed Young Police Officer in 1981 Was Serial Killer Who Murdered 4 Other Women, Cops Say DNA Reveals

Serial Killer Victims (l-r) Anotoinette Parks, Gwendolyn Harris and Madelyn Furey-Livaudais
Denver Police

Joe Michael Ervin killed himself after being arrested for the 1981 fatal shooting of Aurora police officer Sue Corr. He is now believed to have killed Madeleine Furey-Livaudais, 33; Dolores Barajas, 53; Gwendolyn Harris, 27 and Antoinette Parks, 17.

A man responsible for cold cases killings of four Colorado women dating back more than 40 years and the murder of a young Denver police officer has been identified, officials said.

Joe Michael Ervin, who killed himself in 1981 after being arrested for the fatal shooting of Aurora police officer Debra Sue Corr, is now believed to have killed Madeleine Furey-Livaudais, 33; Dolores Barajas, 53; Gwendolyn Harris, 27 and Antoinette Parks, 17; between December 1978 to January 1981, the Denver Police Department announced on Friday, CBS News reported

Three of the women were killed in Denver. The fourth woman was found in a field just east of Denver in Adams County, Denver Police Commander Matt Clark Major Crimes Division said, during the press conference

Clark said all the women were stabbed multiple times. 

“While we recognize that identifying the suspect will not bring these ladies back, we hope it provides closure and healing for their loved ones and the Denver community,” Police Chief Paul Pazen said in a statement, The Denver Post reported

On Dec. 7, 1978, Ervin forced his way into the home of Madeline Furey-Livaudais, who was feeding her children breakfast, and stabbed her to death, officials said.

Furey-Livaudais’ two daughters, Molly and Ariel Livaudais, spoke at Friday's press conference. They remembered their mother as a writer and an ecologist with a passion for the natural world.

“Tragically, we didn’t get to grow up with her and hear her stories and witness the contributions she could have made to the world,” Molly Livaudais said, appearing emotional. “It’s been a lot of information to absorb so suddenly after all this time.”

On Aug. 10, 1980, Dolores Barajas was visiting family in Denver and working at a downtown hotel when she was killed by Ervin as she walked to work, police said. It was supposed to be Barajas' last day of work before returning to the grandmother home out of state, the Post reported.

According to Denver police, Barajas’ family members were still processing the news that Barajas' killer has finally been identified, after all this time. 

“Ms. Barajas’ family still misses her very much and requested privacy as they process the emotions brought on by the closure of the case,” Denver police said in a news release. 

On Dec. 21, 1980, Ervin struck again, killing Gwendolyn Harris. Harris was found stabbed to death on a street corner, approximately one block from Ervin’s residence. 

Harris was described by family members as a bright, soft-spoken woman. She was a mother, sister, aunt, niece, and granddaughter, her family said. Her loss, the family said in a statement, has been “devastating” and “unimaginable." 

“Gwen will forever in our hearts and always our JOY," the Harris family said. 

On January 24, 1981, teenager Antionette Parks, who was pregnant at the time, was found stabbed to death several miles north of downtown Denver. Detectives believed the teenager was stabbed 23 times, The Denver Post reported. 

At the press conference, Parks' two brothers stood together in solidarity. Parks' older brother, George Journey, said all of his sisters had died. He said he lost one sister last year from cancer. Another sister was killed in a car accident in 2018, and a third from a “broken heart” over the loss of her siblings.

But now, he said, his family finally has closure. “We can finally have peace knowing who did this to my little sister,” Journey said. 

Joe Michael Ervin led by officers to Adams County Court on June 1, 1981; Aurora PO Debra Sue Corr killed by Ervin in 1981 - The Denver Post-Getty Images/Aurora Police Department

In June 1981, Ervin killed Aurora Police Officer Debra Sue Corr, 26. Corr tried to arrest him during a traffic stop when he grabbed her gun and shot her, The Associated Press reported.

“With her sacrifice, [Corr] prevented him from killing anyone else, and it’s clear he wasn’t going to stop on his own,” Molly Livaudais, a daughter of Furey-Livaudais, said during Friday’s press conference, 

Using DNA technology, genealogy investigators were reportedly able to link Ervin to all four murders through a biological relative. Earlier this month, the authorities exhumed Ervin's body from a cemetery in Arlington, Texas, and found that his DNA matched the evidence collected from the four slayings, Clark said during the press briefing. 

Denver Police Department Detective Kari Johnson of the Cold Case Unit, and one of the team members who worked on the case, said before the close of the press conference, in part: “Families can finally know what happened to their loved ones. I don’t know if I would use the word closure for them, but it is answers and resolution, and it is an end to a story that they never wanted to be a part of.”

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