Denver Police Say Man Who Killed Cop 40 Years Ago Is Also Responsible for 4 Women's Murders

Joe Ervin stabbed his victims multiple times between 1978 and 1980, authorities concluded through DNA evidence

Gwendolyn Harris, Antoinette Parks, Madeleine Furey-Livaudais
Gwendolyn Harris, Antoinette Parks, Madeleine Furey-Livaudais. Photo: Denver Police (3)

Denver police say a man who killed a police officer 40 years ago is also responsible for the serial slayings of four women.

Joe Michael Ervin was linked to the killings of Madeleine Furey-Livaudais, Dolores Barajas, Gwendolyn Harris and Antoinette Parks through DNA evidence.

The murders took place between 1978 and 1980 with each victim suffering multiple stab wounds.

Furey-Livaudais, a 33-year-old nature writer, author and ecologist, was found stabbed to death at her home in Denver around 6:15 p.m. on Dec. 7, 1978.

Seven months later, on Aug. 10, 1980, Barajas, 53, was found lying on a Denver street just after 7 a.m. She was walking to work when she was attacked, 9News reports.

According to police, Barajas was in Denver that summer to visit family and was working at a hotel. The day she was killed was supposed to be her last day of work before moving out of state.

Harris, 27, was found lying in the street in Denver's Montebello neighborhood around 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 21, 1980. According to 9News, Harris lived within a block of Ervin's residence and was last seen at the Polo Club Lounge the night before her death.

Parks, 17, was found in an Adams County field on Jan. 24, 1981. She was six to seven months pregnant and a student at Gateway High School in Aurora, 9News reports.

Ervin's reign of terror ended when he fatally shot Aurora Police Department rookie officer Debra Sue Corr after she pulled him over for suspected drunk driving in June of 1981, UPI reports.

He was arrested after police traced his license plate number to his Aurora home, according to UPI. At the time, he was wanted for murder in Texas, UPI reports.

Debra Sue Corr
Debra Sue Corr. Aurora Police Department

He committed suicide while in custody, CBS4 reports.

Police initially investigated the cases separately, but between 2013 and 2018, the four women were linked by DNA. However, the perpetrator was unknown. In 2019, the Denver Police Crime Laboratory found a genetic genealogy link to an ancestor of the suspect in Texas.

Authorities then conducted a familial DNA search in the Texas databank of felons the summer of 2021, which resulted in the identification of a close relative of the killer. They identified Ervin as a possible suspect and his body exhumed in Arlington, Texas. He was linked through DNA to the killings this month.

"We can finally have peace knowing who did this to my little sister," said George Journey, Parks' brother, at a press conference Friday. "We have closure. I wish my sisters and my mom could all be here to see this. Unfortunately, they didn't live long enough to see this, but I know they're here with us in spirit."

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"She was a loving wife, sister, daughter and mother to two very young girls, but in 1978 she had that bright future ripped away from her," said Molly Livaudais, a daughter of Furey-Livaudais. "Tragically, we didn't get to grow up with her and to hear her stories and to witness the contributions she could have made to the world. We found out that this man murdered four more women, assaulted an uncounted number of others."

"In addition, to learn about the line of duty death of officer Debra Sue Corr has been personally very impactful," she said. "She was out doing her job when she attempted to arrest this serial killer for an unrelated crime, and in the course of his arrest she was murdered herself. But with her sacrifice, she prevented him from killing anyone else. And it's clear he wasn't going to stop on his own. She stopped him. The police stopped him back in 1981."

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