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DNA Links Unsolved Serial Killings To Man Who Killed Cop During 1981 Traffic Stop

DNA and genetic genealogy has identified Joe Michael Ervin — who died by suicide after shooting Aurora Police Officer Debra Sue Corr in 1981 — as the killer of four victims, including 17-year-old Antoinette Parks.

By Gina Tron
Joe Michael Ervin

As investigators in Denver utilized genetic genealogy to find a serial killer responsible for four murders, they zeroed in on a man who died by suicide after fatally shooting a cop.

The Denver Police Department announced on Friday that Joe Michael Ervin was the serial killer behind the killings of three adult women and a 17-year-old girl between 1978 and 1981.

He was 30 when he died by suicide in Denver jail in 1981 after fatally shooting Aurora Police Officer Debra Sue Corr during a traffic stop. She was the very first officer of the department killed in the performance of her duties.

Through the “continued determination of investigators, DNA evidence, investigative genetic genealogy and familial DNA search,” police linked the four victims — whose cases were determined to be connected via DNA evidence between 2013 and 2018 — and their killer, according to the Denver Police.

Police now say that that it was Ervin who forced his way into the Denver home of Madeleine Furey-Livaudais, a 33-year-old wife and mother of two, in 1978 before stabbing her to death.

“Her greatest joys in life came after the birth of her two daughters, whom she cherished beyond anything,” her family said in a statement. “She was a loving wife and mother of two at the time of her death.”

Then, in 1980, police say it was Erwin who fatally stabbed Dolores Barajas, 53, as she was walking to work in Denver. She was both a mother and a grandmother.

“Ms. Barajas’ family still miss her very much and requested privacy as they process the emotions brought on by the closure of the case,” police state.

A few months after Barajas’ death, Gwendolyn Harris, 27, was found stabbed to death in Denver — just one block away from Ervin’s then-home.

“According to her family, Gwendolyn Denise Harris was a mother, sister, daughter, aunt, granddaughter and niece,” her family states, according to police. “Gwen was a bright, soft spoken, athletic young woman who enjoyed life and always had a smile on her face.”

In 1981, Antoinette Parks, who was only 17-years-old, was found stabbed to death in Adams County. She was between six and seven months pregnant at the time of her murder.

Gwendolyn Harris, Madeleine-Furey-Livaudais, Antoinette-Parks

“According to Antoinette Parks’ family, she was high school student who attended Gateway High School in Aurora,” police state. “The youngest of six, she grew up in Denver with her family and loved to sing and listen to music. She was caring, determined and loved children.” 

Ervin's string of killings was seemingly halted by his capture in 1981 — but only after he shot Corr. She had pulled over Ervin for a traffic violation in Denver’s famous Colfax Avenue. 

“Ervin broke free as she attempted to arrest and handcuff him,” Denver police state in their release. “Ervin then took Corr's weapon and shot her. As this was happening, Aurora Police Explorer Scout Glen Spies was passing by and tried to intervene. Spies was shot in the back but survived.” 

Ervin was arrested at his home in Aurora as he attempted to saw the handcuffs off his wrist. 

Police did not immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment about Erwin’s motive for the slayings. Police did state that they hope the announcement brings some closure to the families of the victims.

"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," Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said in a statement.