I recall hearing about the disappearances of Virginia Uden and her two young sons, Reagan and Richard, while I was driving alone in Wyoming during the early 1980s, interviewing residents for my first book. I thought at the time that a serial killer was roaming the state’s highways because a fellow photojournalist also disappeared during that time period, his car found still running with the driver’s door open and one of his socks on the ground. As far as I know, that case has not been solved.
The couple was arrested this week in rural Missouri, where Gerald Uden confessed that he had shot and killed his former wife and her two sons when his current wife, Alice Holtz-Uden, was arrested for the murder of her 25-year-old former husband. She allegedly tossed his body down an abandoned gold mine shaft during the mid-1970s after filing for divorce a few months after the wedding. Shooting him in the back of his head while he slept, she reportedly hid the body in a barrel until she later disposed of it in the mine.
The two killers apparently didn’t know each other when they committed their crimes but later met and married. They then moved from Wyoming to Missouri where they raised two children and were respected members of the community. Members of their local church, they’ve been described by neighbors as good people, “the kind of neighbors you leaned over the fence and talked about your chickens with," Allen Bishop said. “They were just the old neighbors next door."
Another neighbor told a local TV station: “I was in disbelief. They are old people. They don't do things like that."
Now in their 70s, the couple is in custody in the Chadwick, Missouri jail, awaiting extradition to Wyoming. According to a law enforcement source, someone Alice Holtz had confided in 30 years ago about her husband’s death finally came forward to tell what had happened, Ronald Holtz’s remains were subsequently found. However, the whereabouts of the bodies of Virginia Uden and her sons has not been revealed.This gruesome story may sound like a work of fiction but the truth is definitely stranger. And in this case, much colder than the average murder mystery.
~Jean Henry Mead