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Four Colorado women were found dead 40 years ago. Their alleged killer was just identified.

Joe Michael Ervin took his own life in 1981 after he was accused in a fifth homicide, the fatal shooting of a police officer.
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Authorities identified a man Friday who they say killed four women in the Denver area four decades ago after a technological breakthrough helped solve a series of cold cases that had long eluded investigators.

The man, Joseph Michael Ervin, 30, died by suicide in jail in 1981 after he was accused of killing a police officer in suburban Denver.

Denver Police Department Cmdr. Matt Clark identified the four women Friday as Madeleine Livaudais, 33; Dolores Barajas, 53; Gwendolyn Harris, 27; and Antoinette Parks, 17.

Image: Matt Clark
Denver Police Commander Matt Clark speaks about identifying a suspect in 4 homicides that date back more than four decades.KUSA via YouTube

The slayings occurred between December 1978 and January 1981. Three of the women were killed in Denver. The fourth was found in a field just east of Denver, in Adams County, Clark said.

Each woman died after being stabbed multiple times, he said.

Clark said there was an "underlying sexual component" to the killings but declined to provide additional details.

The police officer, Debra Sue Corr, 26, was fatally shot after she pulled Ervin over during a traffic stop in Aurora on June 17, 1981, NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported. A 19-year-old passerby who tried to help Corr was also shot but survived his injuries, according to the station.

Ervin took his own life while awaiting trial in the case, according to KUSA.

Investigators did not initially believe that the killings of the four other women were linked, Clark said. But after DNA evidence collected from two of the slayings connected them in 2013, investigators later linked the same DNA to the other two cold cases, he said.

Using genetic genealogy and the DNA evidence, investigators identified Ervin as the possible killer, Clark said. Earlier this month, authorities exhumed his body from a cemetery in Arlington, Texas, and found that his DNA matched the evidence collected from the killings.

"These women were not forgotten," Clark said.

Speaking to reporters Friday, an older brother of Antoinette Parks, George Journey, said that all of his sisters had died — one from cancer last year, another in a 2018 car accident, a third from a "broken heart" over the accident, and Parks in 1981.

"With that being said, I'd like you guys to know we have closure," he said, adding: "We can finally have peace knowing who did this to my little sister."

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.