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Motives murky in Wyo. cold-case exes, kids slaying

  • Article by: MEAD GRUVER
  • Associated Press
  • October 1, 2013 - 12:15 AM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Prosecutors say Alice Louise Uden shot her ex-husband in the back of his head as he slept and dumped his body in an abandoned gold mine on a ranch in the southeast Wyoming high country.

Five years later, her then-future husband Gerald Uden allegedly shot his ex-wife on an outing to hunt birds in the farm-and-ranch country of central Wyoming, prosecutors said. He then shot her two kids and hid the three bodies, according to authorities.

Gerald Uden, 71, and Alice Louise Uden, 74, were quietly living out their senior years in the rural Ozarks near Springfield, Mo. Now they face extradition to Wyoming — to answer allegations authorities say have gone unpunished for more than 33 years.

What role their own relationship may have played in the slayings remains murky. Court documents have yet to hint at motives or indicate at what point Alice and Gerald caught each other's eye and authorities are tight-lipped about details of their investigations.

But the cases are likely to stir up old sentiments out in Wyoming's open spaces. Earlier this year, the mother and grandmother of the Fremont County victims died without seeing any resolution in that case.

"Mrs. Martin spent the remainder of her life with the hope of learning what happened to them," read the April 11 obituary in The Riverton Ranger for Claire "Peg" C. Martin, 92.

Gerald Uden is accused of killing 32-year-old Virginia Uden, and her two children, Richard Uden, 12, and Reagan Uden, 10. He was arrested Friday and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

Virginia Uden and her children were last seen in Fremont County in central Wyoming in 1980.

According to an affidavit, Gerald Uden confessed to an investigator at his home Friday that he'd shot Virginia Uden and her two children with a .22-caliber rifle that Virginia Uden had brought so they could all go bird hunting.

Uden allegedly said he'd picked up the three on Sept. 13, 1980, and drove them to an area near Pavillion in Fremont County. All four got out of the car and Uden shot his ex-wife, then both boys, according to the affidavit.

He then allegedly proceeded to conceal the bodies.

Deputy Fremont County Attorney Patrick J. LeBrun declined to comment on any details of the case, including whether the bodies of Virginia Uden and her two children were ever found. Court documents also didn't show when Alice and Gerald Uden met or indicate that their relationship played a role in the killings.

Alice Uden is accused of killing her ex-husband, Ronald Holtz, 25, who disappeared in 1974 or 1975. She was arrested Thursday and charged with one count of first-degree murder.

Holtz's remains recently were found in an abandoned mine in Laramie County in southeast Wyoming.

As long ago as 1989, somebody told police that Alice Uden had confessed in 1975 or 1976 to shooting Holtz in the back of the head while he slept, according to an affidavit.

The affidavit did not identify the witness. Alice Uden allegedly told that person she'd wrapped Holtz's body in some blankets and placed his body in a cardboard barrel.

Alice Uden allegedly told the witness she'd then dumped the barrel in an abandoned gold mine on a ranch where she'd been living as a caretaker in the mid-1970s.

Relatives of Holtz told investigators they hadn't seen or heard from Ronald Holtz since Christmas of 1974. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs records show Holtz was released from a VA hospital in Sheridan on Dec. 24, 1974, according to the affidavit.

Alice Uden and Ronald Holtz married on Sept. 17, 1974. Alice Uden filed for divorce on Feb. 5, 1975, and the divorce was granted because Holtz was never located to be served with divorce papers, according to the affidavit.

In 2007, the witness allegedly showed investigators where to find the mine where Alice Uden said she'd dumped Holtz's body. An excavation in August uncovered human remains 40 feet down the mine shaft and DNA testing showed they were Holtz's, the affidavit states.

Holtz had been shot in the head.

Neither Gerald nor Alice Uden had an attorney. Messages left Monday with the Christian County Sheriff's Department seeking interviews with them were not returned.

Danny Herd, a neighbor of Gerald and Alice Uden, said the couple and several of their adult children had lived on about 60 acres of land in the Chadwick area, near the Mark Twain National Forest, for at least 15 years.

He said the Udens worked as long-haul truckers and were rarely home. The couple's rig was towed off the property Monday morning, he said.

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