Death in a Small Town

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There is new information coming to light in a 20-year-old death investigation in Alamosa. Three months ago, KKTV 11 News reporter Jeff Marcu first told the story of Edna Van Der Veen. Back in 1984, investigators determined she took her own life. But her children say, Edna’s boyfriend murdered her.

Since this story aired in Februrary, a former paramedic has come forward. Andy Jackson says she was on the scene that night when Edna Van Der Veen’s body was found. And Jackson has some surprising details about what she says really happened. Here is more, in an 11 News Exclusive Investigation.

On the night of April 18th, 1984, police found 34-year-old Edna Van Der Veen, mother of three, lying dead on the bedroom floor. When paramedic Andy Jackson walked into the house, she says there were definite signs of a major fight. "Furniture was up-ended. There was broken glass around."

Edna’s death was officially ruled a suicide. And that seemed to be a “closed case” at the time. But now, law enforcement and crime scene investigators say they don't think she really killed herself.

Sgt. Harry Alejo is with the Alamosa County Sheriff's Department. He has been investigating this case, and while he can't prove anything, he has his theories. "I lean towards a homicide, yes."

Former paramedic Jackson agrees with Sgt. Alejo, especially after what she saw at the scene 20 years ago. "He walked up to the dead woman, took a damp towel that was lying on the floor next to her, and starting washing her hands." She is talking about Edna's boyfriend at the time---George Cottrell. He was the only other person in the house the night Edna died.

Edna's daughter, Barbara Waldron, has been searching for answers in her mother's death for 20 years. "I know in my heart that George Cottrell murdered my mother."

Those are strong words that a number of law enforcement investigations have not been able to prove over the last 20 years. But it’s a theory former paramedic Jackson supports.
When asked, "Do you think George killed Edna Van Der Veen?” This was her reaction: “Oh, yes, personally, absolutely. No question."

Jackson says she is convinced because of what she saw the night of the death. "He rinsed the towel and came back and washed her forehead and her face, and of course, she had an entry wound here. And I'm looking at the sheriff, and I said, ‘Aren't we going to bag those hands?’ And he said, ‘No, it's okay. We see what happened here.’”

Now you may wonder why this information has not helped investigators. Jackson says she talked to local police about what happened, but nothing ever came of it. We tried to contact the former sheriff and others who were in charge at the time, to find out why these claims were not investigated. They could not be reached for comment.

We also found George Cottrell. He's now living in New Mexico. We asked him if he was connected to Enda Van Der Veen's death. "Did Edna Van Der Veen commit suicide?
After a pause, he replied, "She was going to."

But Cottrell told police something different the night of her death. He said Edna Van Der Veen did commit suicide.

Now, 20 years later, the Colorado Burueu of Investigation is trying to re-construct the moments leading up to Edna Van Der Veen’Ss death to see if she committed suicide or was murdered. And there's a possibility former paramedic Andy Jackson can help authorities figure out what really happened. The CBI is still investigating. Once that is complete, the district attorney in Alamosa will decide if there is enough evidence to look further into the case.

If you have any information about this case, call this special Crime Stoppers number: (719) 589-4111. You will remain anonymous and could earn a cash reward.