'The Hunt': Thayne Smika

'The Hunt': Thayne Smika
smika sot hunt_00013102

    JUST WATCHED

    'The Hunt': Thayne Smika

MUST WATCH

'The Hunt': Thayne Smika 01:37
Got a tip? Call 1-866-THE-HUNT (In Mexico: 0188000990546) or click here.

(CNN)This story was originally reported August 10, 2014.

In the summer of 1983, 22-year-old Sid Wells was living with his older brother in their family's Boulder, Colorado, condominium and studying journalism at the University of Colorado. Sam and Sid Wells needed a third roommate to help with rent, so they posted an ad which was answered by 24-year-old Thayne Smika, a Colorado State University graduate from Akron in eastern Colorado.
"They felt like he was a good candidate for a roommate," the brothers' mother June Menger recalled. But, after Smika moved in, they realized he wasn't very sociable and, Menger said, "I think he was having trouble coming up with the rent money."
Thayne Smika, 55

  • Suspect in the killing of his roommate
  • On the run since 1986
  • Could be in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

On August 1, 1983, Sam Wells returned from a camping trip to find his brother lying face down on the floor inside the apartment. He immediately called police, his shock apparent in the 911 recording. Sam Wells still struggles with talking about that day. "There was just no sign of life whatsoever," Wells said.
    For the past three years, Wells had been dating Shauna Redford, daughter of actor Robert Redford, and she had seen him just a few hours before he was killed. She was devastated, June Menger recalled.
    "Shauna quit college. She grieved in ways that I can't even imagine," Menger said.
    Wells had been shot in the back of the head at close range. After police ruled his brother out as a suspect, they began to focus on Smika. Wells' friend told police that the morning of Wells' death, Smika "was supposed to return some money to Sid," according to former Boulder County deputy chief Dave Hayes. "And in addition to paying the rent (he) was also going to give Sid some additional money and some cocaine." Wells' friend told police that Wells had been selling small amounts of cocaine in recent months, according to Hayes.
    After testing the crime scene, interviewing Smika at his mother's home, and finding a 20-gauge shotgun there -- the same weapon Wells had been killed with -- police arrested Smika on October 6, 1983, for first-degree murder.
    Roommate missing after killing
    Roommate missing after killing

      JUST WATCHED

      Roommate missing after killing

    MUST WATCH

    Roommate missing after killing 01:21
    "We heard Thayne Smika had been arrested, we were elated, and I thought, 'Oh, you know, got the family settled down and law enforcement did their job. Boom, we're going to get the rest of the story now and really find out what happened to Sid,'" his brother Rob Wells said.
    Then they learned that prosecutors had declined to charge Smika with the killing, saying there wasn't enough evidence.
    Hayes never gave up on getting justice for the Wells family and, in 1997, Boulder police reopened the case. With the FBI's help, they established new forensic and ballistic evidence linking Smika to the murder.
    In December 2010, the Boulder County district attorney signed off on an arrest warrant accusing Thayne Smika of first degree murder, but he has yet to be located. Boulder police believe he may have a new identity and he may be working as a bookkeeper or accountant. Recent information indicates he may be living near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
    June Menger, who is suffering from a terminal illness, is hoping to see Smika brought to justice for the murder charges against her son.
    "I don't know that I'll live long enough to see a resolution in this case, but I would hope that I can, and I've never given up hope," she said.