ALAMOSA — Searchers on Mount Shavano this weekend uncovered remains believed to be those of a woman missing for 38 years and whose death is believed to have San Luis Valley connections.
The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office stated on Sunday that along with the Salida Police Department they had completed “excavation for clues regarding the death of Beverly England on Mount Shavano.”
The case of England, 32 at the time of her disappearance on June 12, 1980, was investigated as a homicide by Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze in 2016 when he stated that he had identified a suspect “and we are investigating it as a murder,” and “the suspect lives in the San Luis Valley.”
Spezze did not subsequently identify the suspect, however, and no arrest has yet been made in the alleged murder that occurred nearly four decades ago.
The excavation of remains believed to be England’s lasted five days this past week, and the sheriff’s office stated “it proved to be very successful in that numerous human remains, believed to be that of Beverly England, along with several items believed to be associated with her death, were recovered and collected as evidence.”
Along with the sheriff and police departments, the operation was conducted in cooperation with the Chaffee County Coroners Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also assisting with the search were multiple cadaver dog teams and multiple anthropologists.
The sheriff’s office stated that all of the human remains that were recovered will now be sent to the University of Northern Texas where they will be analyzed for identification.
“There were several remains that displayed possible damage and this could possibly reveal a cause of death,” the sheriff’s office stated.
England, whose two children were 5 and 8 at the time of their mother’s disappearance, was reported missing the summer of 1980 by her husband Dale, a teacher who was ruled out as a suspect. Her car was recovered soon afterwards in a Salida park.
Bones believed to be those of England were confirmed through DNA testing in September 2015. Those bones had been recovered from the Mount Shavano area in 1992 but were misidentified and given to Colorado College where they remained until 2014 when they were tested with advanced DNA technology that had not previously been available. A positive match was made to England.
This past weekend, more remains and clues were uncovered in the same area on Mount Shavano.
According to recently unsealed search warrants obtained by Fox 31, law enforcement officials and relatives of the victim believed that she was having an affair with Steven Abeyta, who was married with a son and a second child on the way at the time.
According to the Fox 31 report, on the day of her disappearance, England dropped off her son and daughter with a babysitter and told her she was on her way to meet with Steven’s wife, Mitzy, who was seven months pregnant at the time.
England never came back from the June 12, 1980, meeting, and her car was found abandoned with her purse and shoes inside.
Fox 31 added that in 2015 after England’s remains were identified, Mitzy Abeyta allegedly admitted to a detective that she and Beverly England got into a “pushing match” and claimed that England picked up a broken bottle and cut her on the leg so she ran away.
Sheriff Spezze recently pushed for a grand jury to be convened, but 11th Judicial District Attorney Molly Chilson declined to convene a grand jury at that point because she had doubts that information obtained through a grand jury could lead to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
England’s daughter, Bricia Patterson, told Fox 31 she was convinced Mitzy Abeyta, now 65, knows what happened to her mother.
Sheriff Spezze has stated that his office is still working on this cold case.