Undersheriff Ray Birch retiring after 39-year career
August 24, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Undersheriff Ray Birch is retiring after a nearly 39-year, storied career in law enforcement.
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins has named Lt. Doug Scherar as the acting undersheriff.
"I'm humbled that the sheriff considered me, and I'm fortunate to have learned and been mentored by Ray," Scherar said.
Birch spent most of his career in the Los Angeles area, where he was a detective on more than 100 homicide cases.
Some are more memorable, such as the murder of Elizabeth Reid, who was found bound with coat hanger wire. She died from asphyxiation.
"This is one case of the 100 — the one case that never leaves you," Birch said.
After identifying the girl, Birch met with her father.
"He looked right at me and said, 'You're going to find out who did this, right?'" Birch said.
Birch was not able to give the father a definitive answer.
"It was a who-done-it body dump," Birch said.
It took five months and trips to Louisiana and North Carolina for Birch to gather the evidence he needed to arrest Mitchell "Pickles" Moore.
Moore was suspected of killing other people in Louisiana, also by wrapping them with wire.
"You could say he was a serial killer," Birch said. "He was going to keep killing until he was stopped."
The stories surrounding how Birch discovered certain pieces of key evidence are remarkable.
"Sometimes, I think God is up there and directing you," Birch said.
Birch's work on the case earned him a Congressional commendation.
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In 1997, Birch gave up the fast-paced California lifestyle and moved his family to Colorado.
He worked for several agencies and was the Hayden police chief for four years before becoming undersheriff in 2011.
"His resume was quite extensive, and his training and experience seemed like a nice fit for a new RCSO administration," Wiggins said.
In addition to law enforcement, Birch had a career in the military.
While working at the Routt County Sheriff's Office, he was a reservist and did one tour in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq.
He retired with the rank of chief master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
Birch's last day at the Sheriff's Office will be Sept. 1, and he is going to miss his colleagues.
"These are some of the finest people I've worked with," Birch said.
In retirement, Birch plans to spend a lot of time traveling with his wife, Marlene, and visiting their four kids and five grandchildren.
He wants to focus on reconnecting with his kids and connecting with his grandchildren.
"Being in the military, and as a cop, you miss a lot of stuff," Birch said.