Tuesday, September 26, 2000
Hayden The recent arrest of a Craig man who is suspected of being involved in the disappearance of Marie Blee has raised the eyebrows of a task force investigating the 1979 case.
Officials aren't optimistic, however, that the recent arrest will lead to a break in the decades-old missing person case.
Stephen Skufca, 42, was arrested last Thursday night on charges of menacing. He also faces drug charges for allegedly having marijuana and methamphetamines on him at the time of his arrest.
Skufca is one of three men a task force has identified as suspects in the ongoing investigation into Blee's disappearance 20-plus years ago.
At the time Blee disappeared, she was a 15-year-old sophomore at Hayden High School.
Skufca is a suspect along with Monty Doolin and Max Abel Garcia.
"We are interested in this development with Skufca," said Jerry Hoberg, Moffat County undersheriff, who is a member of the multi-jurisdictional task force. "If he wants to come forward and clear his conscience, we are always willing to listen. We are not going to make any deals."
Skufca was arrested by the Moffat County Sheriff's Office for allegedly trying to run over a man with his car. He faces charges of criminal menacing, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
"He is facing some serious charges," Hoberg said. "We are hoping that, due to his arrest, something good will come out of this."
However, Hoberg is not optimistic Skufca will come forward with information that might help the task force solve the case.
One reason is Skufca's criminal history, he said.
"He has been in trouble before," Hoberg said. "We are not optimistic that he will spill his guts. It has been 20 years. I'm not fired up that he will come forward now."
According to an arrest warrant, Skufca is on probation for a witness tampering charge that occurred last April.
He also has been charged with 47 different crimes that include a felony firearms violation, menacing, intimidation, assault, driving under the influence and multiple marijuana possession and distribution charges, the warrant shows.
Witnesses have put Blee with Doolin, Skufca and Abel the night she disappeared from a party in Craig.
For more than two decades, Blee's disappearance has been a mystery for local authorities.
In June 1999, a task force comprised of law enforcement officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Moffat and Routt county sheriff's offices, and Craig and Hayden police departments was formed to re-examine the case.
Since the task force's inception, numerous interviews and searches have been conducted, Hoberg said.
This summer, about six areas in Moffat and Routt counties were searched, he said. In September 1999, about seven areas in the two counties were searched.
"We have found nothing so far," he said. "It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We are looking at a whole lot of country out there. We are going to have to get lucky, or we need for someone to come forward."
The task force, which meets about once every two weeks, will continue its investigation into the winter months.
"If we come up with a specific site, during the winter, we will search it," he said. "We will also continue to conduct interviews, which lead to other interviews. We are trying to tie up all the loose ends."
Currently, Skufca is being held in the Moffat County Jail. His bond has been set at $30,000.
He is scheduled to appear in a Moffat County courtroom at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3.
To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail email@example.com