#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean
Ice Cold Killers Season 2, Episode 4, Hitchhike to Hell
February 1994, Thornton, Colorado
This show, Ice Cold Killers, holds an extra appeal for me, because of my love of cold, snowy weather. Things are even creepier when it’s dark and icy. All of the episodes I’ve watched so far have been interesting.
In the early morning of February 1994, Jaquie Creazzo is on her way to pick up her father for breakfast. She sees two cars pulled off to the side of the road with a man and woman standing outside them. She slows, and the woman runs toward her car. The woman isn’t screaming, but she has a look of desperation and fear on her face. Jaquie picks her up, and the woman says the guy rammed her car and kidnapped her and raped her for two hours.
Jaquie speeds off as fast as she can on the icy roads. The man comes after them. They are almost to the Thornton Police Department when he pulls up beside Jaquie’s car and fires several shots, hitting Jaquie in the knee, spine, and face. She loses control of the car and swerves across the median onto the lawn of the police department. The man parks and approaches the car. He and Jaquie exchange looks, but she is paralyzed and can only move her eyes. He is out of bullets so he can’t kill Jaquie, but he warns her that if she tells anyone what happened, he’ll kill her. He pulls Rhonda from the car and drags her away. Police and EMTs arrive and begin giving Jaquie aid. She tries to tell them about Rhonda, but they are focused on saving her life. Later, in the hospital, she is able to tell the police about the kidnapped woman, and they begin searching for Rhonda and her abductor.
Rhonda Maloney is a married mom, working at a casino and planning to become a police officer. The authorities question her husband, however, in addition to not fitting the description of the suspect—a young, clean-cut black male—he is genuinely distraught. He has a solid alibi and is quickly eliminated as a suspect.
One of the detectives who wasn’t available during the initial visit to the crime scene wants to check it out. While there, the officers hear a buzzing sound and locate a pager in the snow. It contains a pre-recorded message with instructions to turn the pager into the Denver PD if found. Authorities are shocked as they consider the possibility that a police officer might be behind the murder. As it turns out, the owner of the pager is a twenty-year veteran and does not fit the description Jaquie gave. The detectives look into his background and discover a prior incident where he shot his wife in the stomach, but she survived and it was ruled an accident. He has a son and a nephew who have both been in trouble with the law. His son, Robert Harlan, had shot a man to death but only served five years. Police bring him in for questioning. At first, he claims he knows nothing about Rhonda. Then he finally admits he was with her. He states that she bought cocaine from him. They partied and did the cocaine together, then parted ways, and he has no idea what happened after that.
Detectives bring a photo lineup to Jaquie that includes Harlan. She identifies him without hesitation. She tells the detective that she survived so she could help stop him. She says that, when she was in surgery, she saw a white light. A voice said she could go into the light or stay. She said she knew she had to stay because she could identify the killer.
They continue to investigate, looking for evidence to tie Harlan to the crime. His father turns in a bag of evidence, including a gun. The search for Rhonda continues. They still don’t know if she is alive, but in the ice cold weather, her chances of survival are slim. A week after the incident, Rhonda’s body is found. She has been badly beaten and shot three times. The ballistics are a match to the gun Robert’s father turned in. Autopsy reveals no drugs in her system, proving Harlan lied about the two of them doing cocaine together.
Harlan is found guilty of the kidnap, attempted first degree murder, and first degree murder of Rhonda Maloney, and the attempted murder of Jaquie Creazzo. During deliberations on the sentencing, some of the jurors brought Bibles into the jury room, consulting the passage from Leviticus about an “eye for an eye,” that says: “He who kills a man shall be put to death.” They determined that the death sentence was an appropriate sentence. Later, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that bringing in Bibles was improper. It overturned the jury’s verdict, sparing Harlan the death penalty and leaving him to serve life in prison without parole.
Jaquie is a hero. Not only for risking herself to try to help Rhonda, but for fighting to survive so she could stop a killer. I’m not sure how many of us would have put our lives in jeopardy to help a stranger. Do you think you would have stopped for Rhonda?
Isn’t it crazy how lucky the police were? What if the detective hadn’t wanted to go back to the scene and/or the pager hadn’t buzzed while there? They might never have found it and never been led to Harlan. It is believed that Harlan is responsible for other murders and no doubt he would have killed again had he not been caught. Poor Rhonda was not so lucky. Can you imagine how it must have felt for her to think she’d been rescued, only to be dragged back into hell and further tormented before she was killed?
Interesting side note; in 2002, Jaquie was at her daughter, Hannah’s, house. Hannah’s former fiancé showed up, a gun in each hand, waving them around at Jaquie and her daughters. Jaquie told her daughters to get in the house and pulled out a gun she kept in a bag in her wheelchair and shot him in the leg. He survived and was arrested.
[I love true crime shows, and I watch them every night. (Since I write suspense, thriller, and mystery, it’s not a waste of time…it’s research, right? 🙂 ) I love Investigation Discovery and watch many of the various shows, although some are a little too cheesy. However, there are plenty of shows that are done well enough to feed my fascination with murder. Each week, I’ll blog about some of the recent episodes I’ve seen and I’d love to know your thoughts.]