Tracy Marie NeefTracy Neef

Tracy was a 7 year old girl that lived with her loving parents. They lived in Colorado. Tracy was dropped off at school by her mother late on March 16, 1984. That would be the last time Tracy would be seen alive. Tracy would disapear while trying to find a way into the school. Because she was late some of the doors would have been locked. At around 2:45 Tracy's mother was waiting outside the school for Tracy. She would waite for a little while before driving home to see if her daughter had walked home. When Tracy wasn't at home her mom drove back to the school and spoke with Tracy's teacher. Her teachers told her that Tracy was never in class that day. Tracy's parents would drive around until 4pm looking for their daughter. They would then call 911. At 4:45pm a couple would find Tracy's body. She was lying sideways with her knees bent together and hands palm down on her belly. Her school supplies were scattered around her. Tracy had a scrtach on her right cheek and another one above her left eye. The scratches were thought to be caused by a fingernail. Tracy also had ligature marks on both wrists. It is thought her hands were bound with some type of rope. Tracy's autopsy showed she had died of asphyxiation. Two hairs were found on Tracy but both peices of evidence were lost. Tracy's killer still has never been caught.

First-grader vanishes after mom drops her off at schoolBy Kirk Mitchell
Share Names: Tracy Marie Neef, 7
Location kidnapped: Bertha Heid Elementary School in Thornton
Agency: Thornton Police Department
Date disappeared: March 16, 1984
Cause of Deathasphyxiation
Suspect: None identified

Seven-year-old Tracy Marie Neef was wearing a t-shirt that said "I don't look for trouble" when she ran through a gate at Bertha Heid Elementary School on March 16, 1984 and vanished.

The mystery of who intercepted her that day has troubled Thornton homicide detectives, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and FBI agents and Boulder County sheriff's investigators for 24 years.

Tracy's body was found in a small grassy area between rocks a quarter-mile west of Barker Dam near Nederland, between a dirt road and the reservoir.
Since her death, the circumstances leading to Tracy's murder have been scrutinized by more than 100 local, county, state and federal investigators.
Detectives looked at every known sex offender in Colorado.
But key evidence that might have led to the killer was either destroyed or lost, Thornton Crimes Against Persons Det. Doug Parker said.
"Many circumstances worked against the investigation from the beginning," he said.
On the day she disappeared, Tracy watched cartoons in her home, which was about six blocks from school. She went with her mom as Susan Neef delivered newspapers to neighbors.
At 8:16 a.m. Susan Neef drove her daughter to school. Because she was 10 minutes late, there were no other kids outside on the north side of Bertha Heid, Parker said.

Because she was late, the door on the north end of the school was locked, Parker said.

Susan watched Tracy run to an opening in the chain-link fence surrounding the school, carrying a red school bag with her Pacman lunch box inside.

Susan Neef watched her daughter walk through the gate to the front entrance on the south side of the school.

Watch video: Aerials of Bertha Heid Elementary

She never entered the school. Tracy likely met her killer while trying to find a way into the school, Parker said.
"There is nothing to indicate that anyone from the school had anything to do with it," he said.
Poze Boulevard is a heavily traveled street that curves around the school. In all likelihood, someone who knew her called the girl to a car or a stranger grabbed her and forced her into their car, Parker said.
Tracy's father, Gary Neef, of Commerce City, a carpenter who remodels homes, said it is possible that someone who knew Tracy met her there.
"Tracy wasn't the type who would go to somebody she didn't know," he said.
A few weeks earlier, she had called him when his wife was late picking her up, Neef said. When he got to school Tracy was standing next to her teacher, sobbing.
At 1:30 p.m. the day Tracy disappeared, a man found her red school bag next to a dirt road at Barker Reservoir in Boulder County.
At 2:45 p.m., Susan Neef drove to school to pick her daughter up. She waited for a few minutes then drove home to see if her daughter had walked home. Then she drove back to the school and spoke with her daughter's teacher, who said Tracy had never come to school.
Gary Neef's boss paged him and he called his wife, who was crying. Together they drove around the neighborhood until 4 p.m., and then called 911, Gary Neef said.
The investigation of Tracy's disappearance started after all the teachers and students had gone home for the day, Parker said. It wouldn't be until Monday that police were able to question them about anything they may have seen. Nobody had seen Tracy disappear, Parker said.
A couple discovered Tracy's body at 4:45 p.m.

Tracy was found lying sideways with her knees bent together and her hands lying palm down on her belly. Her school supplies were scattered around her body.
"It appeared like she was placed there and not thrown there," Parker said.
Tracy had a scratch on her right cheek and one above her left eye that appeared to be caused by a fingernail. The marks may have been caused as the kidnapper tried to control Tracy after pulling her into his car.
Tracy had ligature marks on both wrists indicating she had been tied with a rope or cord, Parker said. Some rapists and killers carry abduction tools like rope with them in their cars, he said.
She waswearing her jeans and t-shirt.
It was a key piece of evidence along with other signs that Tracy may have died before the kidnapper could sexually assault her, Parker said.
A ligature mark on her right chin that may have been caused by a coat strap is another clue. While trying to silence Tracy, the killer may have tied her coat so tightly above her mouth that she could not breathe, he said. While her kidnapper may have intended to kill Tracy from the moment he saw her, killing her may have been an act of desparation or a mistake, Parker said.
Tracy's autopsy later showed that she died of asphyxiation, Parker said.
Although there were signs that Tracy was molested, the attacker did not remove her clothes or rape her, indications the kidnapper may have changed his plans after killing the girl prematurely, Parker said.
The fact that Tracy's body was left so close to a well-traveled road, Highway 119, may indicate the killer panicked and quickly disposed of the body.

Watch video: Aerials of Barker Reservoir, where Tracy's body was found.

Tracy's school bag was found about 100 feet from her body. It may have been thrown out the window of a car as the killer was driving away and realized he still had it with him, Parker said.
Homicide detectives estimated Tracy took her last breath between 10:30 a.m. and noon based on accounts of people who drove on the dirt road that day and when her school bag was seen.
A coroner discovered two hairs that could have belonged to the killer during an autopsy.
One found on Tracy's shoe was lost while it was handled over the years by Thornton detectives, FBI experts and Denver crime laboratory investigators, Parker said.
Another found near Tracy's pubic area, was contaminated during DNA testing in 1998. The testing only proved useful in 2006 when a Denver University DNA expert was able to exclude two longstanding suspects, he said.
There are no other suspects, Parker said.
Gary Neef said investigators never told him about the hairs.
"That's all the evidence they had," Gary Neef said. "Now with no DNA we'll never know who did it unless the killer confesses."
Over the years, he said he coped by telling himself that the killer likely committed more terrible crimes, got caught and is rotting in prison.
Tracy's death led a year later to her parents' divorce, Gary Neef said.
"We kind of blamed each other and grew apart," he said.
He said his wife Susan left the state with his 6-year-old son and he didn't hear from them for 10 years.
Parker said police have not received any new leads in the case in many years.
It will take someone coming forward who heard the killer talk about the murder, he said.
Contact information: Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Det. Doug Parker at 720-977-5080. You can also contact Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell at 303-954-1206 or

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