Real Crime Blog

Cold Case of the Week: The 1987 Murder of Cathy Sposito

Thumb Butte in Prescott, Ariz., after a spring snowstorm.

The Victim
Catherine Sposito, 23, who had attended high school in Brooklyn, New York, had relocated to Prescott, Arizona, to attend Prescott College. She was an avid hiker and artist who had made many friends in her new home.

The Crime
On Saturday, June 13, 1987, Sposito rode her mountain bike to the Thumb Butte Trail, a steep path through pine forest, to begin a hike. Some other hikers heard her screams and found her body near the trail. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

The Evidence
Detectives are reportedly using new investigative techniques to examine DNA evidence.

The Investigation
She reportedly told friends the night before at dinner at a local restaurant that she was planning to hike Thumb Butte the next day. The Sheriff’s Office says it is possible but not certain that the attackers were waiting for her.

Where it Stands
Last year, Cathy’s brother Sal Sposito visited the crime scene with detectives and asked that people come forward with any information. A high school classmate of Sposito’s recently wrote in an email to fellow alumnae: “I hope you’ll forgive the grim posting, but I’m sharing it here in the interest of generating prayers and hopes for closure for one of our lost friends, Cathy Sposito. You may recall from past discussions here that Cathy was brutally murdered in 1987 and the case was never solved.” The alum had been in Prescott and saw a large poster with Sposito’s photo in a shop window. “I happened to be in Prescott, AZ this past weekend with my husband, and of course she was on my mind. While strolling out of one of the downtown shops, I was stopped in my tracks by a large poster in the window, with Cathy’s photo. Apparently, the police there continue — all these years later — to search for her killer(s), and from what I’ve read and the discussion I had with the very kind shopkeeper, some new leads have recently emerged that have revived hope of solving the case. We saw the same poster in a number of local windows throughout the town, and I was glad — if that is the right word — to see that her memory and the quest for justice remain alive. I thought that you would want to know about it, and to keep Cathy’s soul, and this case, in your prayers.”

This June will be the 30th anniversary of Cathy Sposito’s death. There is a reward of $10,000 being offered by Yavapai Silent Witness, an organization in Yavapai County and the state of Arizona to help the flow of anonymous information in solving crimes.

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(Image: AP Photo/The Daily Courier, Tom Hood)

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