The Serial Homicide Case of the Day, from "Hunting Humans, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Serial Killers" , by Michael Newton
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Tom McCormick owned one of the largest spreads in Colorado's Kit Carson County, sprawling over some 2,900 acres of wheat, corn, soy beans and grazing land for livestock, with a feed lot on the side. Valued at more than $2 million, the ranch kept McCormick busy, and he saw little of his neighbors. In fact, he was fiercely antisocial, chasing locals off his land and driving all the way to Denver for migrant workers at harvest time. Financial problems struck in 1980, forcing Tom to sell off giant tracts of land, driving the feed lot into bankruptcy, and he began to cast about for new sources of income. One of those, operated with son Michael, was a "chop shop," dealing in stolen cars and trucks.
On August 30, 1983, 60-year-old Herbert Donoho failed to keep an appointment with friends, at a truck stop in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. A phone call demonstrated that he never made it home to Caldwell, Idaho, and so authorities began their search for missing man and truck. By January 1984, prosecutors at Fort Morgan, Colorado, were hearing McCormick's name in connection with hot-car investigations, but state police failed to pursue the allegations at that time.
Seven months later, in mid-July 1984, Herbert Donoho's truck was identified - in spite of altered serial numbers - by an alert inspector at Roseburg, Oregon. The new owner had purchased the rig in Phoenix, around December 1983, and further checking led detectives back to Mike McCormick. Indicted on various felony counts in June 1985, McCormick fled into hiding, but was captured in Nebraska during January 1986. On February 4, he struck a bargain with the prosecution, offering Donoho's body - and his killer - in return for leniency. McCormick named his father as the murderer and linked him with the deaths of six or seven other men, identified as migrant workers, allegedly killed at the ranch over the past ten years.
On January 30, 1986, investigators followed Michael to a field near Byers, Colorado - some 100 miles from the McCormick ranch - and there unearthed the corpse of Herbert Donoho. Descending on the ranch with heavy road equipment, deputies recovered three more skeletons in early February. All had been dispatched by gunshot, with the oldest slain a decade earlier. Harsh weather stalled the search for more remains, but spokesmen for the local sheriff's office estimated the toll might reach an even dozen before they were finished.
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