Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Elderly Missouri Couple Arrested for Cold Case Murders of 40 Years Ago

Gerald and Alice Uden

Gerald and Alice Uden

So maybe opposites don’t always attract. A Missouri couple, both in their 70s, both arrested in late September 2013, is awaiting extradition to Wyoming each for killing their former spouses, and in the case of the man, for killing his adoptive sons too. How much each knew about the other’s past is still unclear.

Alice Uden, now 74, married U.S. Army veteran Ronald Holtz in September 1974 in Wyoming. Sometime later that year or early the next, Holtz disappeared. Uden filed for divorce in February 1975, and got it by July because agents of the court never found Holtz to serve him papers.

Recently, however, a witness uncovered by cold-case investigators in Wyoming related a confession that Alice had made years ago about shooting Holtz in the back of the head while he slept, stuffing his corpse into a cardboard barrel and dumping it down an old mine shaft. Police investigated and in late August 2013 found Holtz’ skeleton in an abandoned gold mine in Laramie, Wyoming. The autopsy confirmed the identity of the victim and the witnesses’ account of the murder. A warrant was issued for the former Mrs. Holtz, who had since married a Gerald Uden, moved to Missouri and raised two children.

Investigators tracked Alice Uden down. Since moving to Missouri 30 year before, she and her husband had reportedly kept mostly to themselves, but had made a good impression on their neighbors, even attending church regularly.

Police arrested Alice Uden for first-degree murder.

Then, according to a statement made by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Cold Case Team, “As a result of the investigation, more evidence was obtained in reference to that homicide and Gerald Uden was arrested and charged with the three other homicides that occurred around 1980 in Wyoming.”

From left: Ronald, Virginia and Richard Uden

From left: Ronald, Virginia and Richard Uden

Gerlad Uden, now 71, married Virginia Uden, 32, in 1974, also in Wyoming. Uden adopted her boys in 1975. Then in 1980 all three vanished. According to cold-case detectives, who interviewed Uden at his home on September 27, 2013, he confessed to having taken his wife Virginia and her children Richard Uden, 12, and Reagan Uden, 10, to a rural area saying that they were going bird hunting. Once the three got out of the car, Uden allegedly confessed to fatally shooting them, Virginia first and then the boys.

Alice and Gerald Uden will be extradited to Wyoming to face murder charges. Investigators do not know if Alice and Gerald knew each other before the murders, but court documents do not mention either knowing of the fate of the other’s former spouse.

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