FF12 Cold Case: 1980s murder gets another look in Dodge City

DODGE CITY, Kan. (KWCH) A decades-old unsolved murder in Dodge City is getting another look thanks to one Lieutenant with the police department. Lt. Colleen Brooks-Francis has spent the past six years combing through and uncovering evidence in the case of June Bidleman. Even after 34 years, Lt. Brooks-Francis believes someone in the community may hold important information in solving the case.

June Bidleman was 58-years-old when she was murdered at the "Welcome Inn" motel in March of 1985. Her son, Marcus Coover, remembers her as a good mother and an animal lover.

"She was a lot of fun to be around and I didn't know her to have an enemy in the world," said Coover.

Coover says he and his siblings remain determined to find out who killed their mother 34 years ago.

"I personally believe that somebody knows something," said Lt. Brooks-Francis.

Lt. Brooks-Francis received a call from one of June's sons in 2013 asking about the status of his mother's case. Brooks-Francis, a veteran with the department, had never worked the case or been assigned to it.

"But as the bureau commander I told him that I could research it and see what the status was," said Brooks-Francis.

Six years later, she's taken on the case as her own. She's even spent much of her personal time compiling binders filled with every piece of information on the case.

Another employee of the motel found June the morning of Mar. 23, 1985 in the front office building. She was sexually assaulted, robbed and strangled to death. Lt. Brooks-Francis says there's no doubt her murder was sexually motivated based on "the scene and what was found."

Brooks-Francis says it was evident June fought her attacker. She lost a fingernail in the struggle which was later recovered by police. Brooks-Francis says the scene would be handled much differently by today's standards.

"They weren't trained in DNA, they didn't know about DNA. They didn't know about wearing latex gloves, changing latex gloves and cross contamination," said Brooks-Francis.

The name of the motel has changed several times over the past three decades but the building remains along Wyatt Earp Blvd. Brooks-Francis says the last person to check into the hotel that night may have seen the person who killed June.

"The last person that checks in sees a man who's described as about 30-years-old, white, stocky build, couldn't remember if he had glasses or not, couldn't remember if he had facial hair," said Brooks-Francis, "That man is at the end of the counter when the last person to check in walks in. That man has never been identified."

Eyewitnesses told police that unidentified man disappeared behind the counter into the office area where June's body was found the following morning. Brooks-Francis says it's possible that man had something to do with her murder, and she's asking anyone with information to speak out now.

"My biggest driving force in this case is to get answers for her kids and to give them closure because they're walking around with this burden," said Brooks-Francis.

Coover says he can still see his mother's face. But admits the situation becomes less hopeful as more time passes.

"It seems like the more years you put on the more desperate you are for the finality of it and the closure of it," said Coover.

Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip through the "Tip411" app, call (620) 225-8126 ext. 1218 or email Lt. Brooks-Francis at colleenf@dodgecity.org.