Oakey "Al" Kite
In the morning of May 24th, 2004, 53-year old Al Kite failed to show up for work. Later that day, investigators would search his house... and found the remains of Al in his own basement. He had been brutally and methodically murdered by an unknown assailant... who had likely posed as a potential roommate the week before.
On the morning of May 24th, 2004, an engineering consulting firm in Denver, Colorado named Carter-Douglas noticed the absence of an employee. The employee, a man named "Al" Kite, was a warm and friendly guy, who was normally a beacon of responsibility. He was rarely late, let alone without prior warning.
When minutes began to turn into hours, the co-workers of Al began to grow worried. They decided to give Al's home and cell phone a shot, hoping he'd pick up and explain his absence on this Monday morning. Multiple calls yielded no results, and the office finally decided to phone Al's emergency contact.
His emergency contact was his sister, Barbara - who lived thousands of miles away, in Virginia. Barbara answered the call, but insisted that she had not heard from Al or anyone else that morning. So she began trying to contact her younger brother, trying to reach the same phone numbers the office had tried beforehand.
So, in desperation, Barbara turned to the one resource she had: the police. She knew that this absence was very unlike Al, so she got in-touch with the Aurora Police Department to pay her brother a visit and perform a welfare check.
Later, that afternoon, Aurora Police responded to Al Kite's residence. It was a residential townhouse, which didn't looked too abnormal. They knocked at the door multiple times, which earned them no response. Fearing that Al may be in some kind of danger, officers made the decision to enter the home.
Inside, these police officers would find things to be pretty normal. Things looked where they should be, with some notable exceptions, but they continued their search of the home into the upstairs bedrooms, before deciding to head down to the basement.
There, these officers would make a horrifying discovery unlike any other.
This is the story of Oakey "Al" Kite.
Oakey Albert Kite, Jr. was born on May 7th, 1951, in Nash County, North Carolina. His parents, Oakey Albert Kite, Sr. and Edith Davis Kite, had one other child: a daughter, named Barbara.
Growing up, Oakey, Jr. began going by the nickname of "Al," probably to differentiate himself from his father.
Oakey Kite, Sr. was a well-renowned dog trainer in the area, who was a co-founder and partner in a North Carolina dog-training company called Oakey and Hunter Grove.
His mother, Edith, actually passed away pretty early in Al's life. She was only 48 years old, and when she died - in January of 1970 - Al was only eighteen.
Despite that, Al went on to be a very well-adjusted young man. He had grown up in Halifax County, North Carolina - an area known primarily for tobacco and cotton-farming. He attended Weldon High School, in the town of the same name, where he would befriend a young woman named Gail Kay. The two would remains friends for the next couple of years, while Al went away to school.
For college, Al didn't go far - he went about an hour south, to Wilson, North Carolina. There, he attended Atlantic Christian College, where he majored in Business Administration.
In 1971, Al began working for Stone & Webster - a large engineering services company. He would end up working for this company for over thirty-one years, in some form or another, in a variety of jobs that took him throughout the United States.
He began his Stone & Webster employment by working at the Surry Nuclear Plant, about an hour-and-a-half southeast of Richmond, Virginia. There, he started out at the time-keeper, before being promoted to an accountant position; eventually, he would become a Department Head.
In 1976, Al would marry his high school friend, Gail Kay. In the interim handful of years, she had been in a relationship, but the timing was right for them to reunite. She brought with her a daughter, named Julie - who would become Al's step-daughter. Even when Al and Gail divorced over a decade later, Julie and he would remain close.
Al's job took him all over the United States - in fact, even the world.
He spent time as a project accountant for positions in Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Nevada, Wyoming, and Tennessee. In fact, he even spent a short period of time as a senior time keeper on a project in the North African country of Algeria.
As I already hinted at, Al and Gail would divorce in 1988. Their separation seemed to be amicable, as Al carried on a loving relationship with his step-daughter, but it was at this point that Al became a bachelor.
In the early 1990's, Al became a manager of accounting procedures in California, which meant that he took on the task of working on finances for multiple projects: this included the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, San Francisco's International Airport, and Bay Area Rapid Transit.
It wasn't until 1998 that the proposition of moving to Colorado surfaced. Al was given the opportunity to accept a job there, and - since he enjoyed doing all kinds of outdoor activities, such as golfing, biking, hiking, camping, and skiing - he jumped at the opportunity.
Al Kite moved to Aurora, Colorado - an area on the outskirts of Denver's metropolitan area.
Al bought a property in Aurora, along South Helena Street. The home - which is roughly halfway between Cherry Creek State Park and Buckley Air Force Base - is just a stone's throw away from Interstate-225.
The house itself was a a two-story townhouse, which had a lot of room inside. Al often joked that it was more room than he needed, especially as a middle-aged bachelor that liked to spend lots of time outside.
At some point in the early 2000's, he decided to turn the finished basement into a standalone apartment. Doing so would allow him to help pay the mortgage, while also filling up some space that he wasn't using.
This came in handy in 2002, when Al's parent company - Stone & Webster - decided to downsize. Al was let go, but was able to obtain employment again just a short time later, when he began working for Carter-Douglas, a consulting firm.
For the next couple of years, his life proceeded in a leisurely, casual way. He had very few commitments, and was able to spend his time as he saw fit. He got in plenty of golfing, hiking, and skiing, and made full use of the area's climate to accommodate his outdoor activities. At work, he became known as a comforting, helpful presence that was always willing to go the extra mile for anyone that needed his help. Al's warm, welcoming smile became a common sight among not only his friends and relatives, but among his coworkers.
It wasn't until 2004 that things in Al's life began to change.
First and foremost, he began dating a woman named Linda Angelopulos. The two seemed to hit it off really well, and while they two played it pretty casually for a month or two, they started to float the idea of making it a more serious thing moving forward.
Then, earlier in 2004, the tenant that had been renting out Al's basement apartment for a couple of years told told Al that they were planning to move out in a few months time. As such, they wouldn't be renewing their lease.
This tenant did move out in May of 2004, and Al began making plans to find another tenant. He put an advertisement in the local papers shortly thereafter, and would receive a couple of interested parties... but one who seemed more interested than others.
One man responded to Al's advertisements for a roommate on May 19th, 2004.
This man, who identified himself as "Robert," wanted to move in almost immediately. He was willing to provide Al with a security deposit and the first month's rent in order to make it happen quickly.
Al told his girlfriend, Linda, about this potential tenant. Al stated that this man had just moved from the East Coast, that he had taken a job at Wells Fargo - in an unknown capacity - and was temporarily staying at the home of his sister's. Hence, why he now needed a place of his own.
Al's girlfriend, Linda Angelopulos, never saw this potential tenant's face. She later stated that the only time they were nearby one another, she had to duck in to use the restroom, and in the minute or two she was in there, this mystery man - "Robert Cooper" - found an excuse to leave.
In her words:
"He did not want me to see him at all."
Despite Linda being unable to get a look at this mystery tenant's face, she was able to describe the kind of clothing he was wearing. She said that he dressed very well, wearing a nice pair of pants and a suit coat.
In addition to details that she witnessed and/or gained from conversations with Al, this mystery man was described as being in his 40's; had dark, wavy hair; stood about five-feet-eight-inches tall; and weighed around 180 pounds.
Also, most uniquely, he walked with a limp. Likewise, he carried a cane to stabilize himself.
However, Linda gained most of this information in a brief glance of the mysterious man, as she exited the bathroom and looked out the window at his profile. She later said:
"I just saw him for an instant."
In addition to Linda's lone sighting, there were a group of unrelated witnesses that recall either seeing - or even encountering - the man named "Robert Cooper."
A local professor, from the University of Colorado, owned a property that she was renting out. A man matching the exact same physical description of this "Robert Cooper" met with her to discuss the property, however... this man did not have a limp, nor did he carry a cane. And, in fact, he even spoke to her with a Romanian accent.
And before you ask, I wondered this myself: apparently, this professor was pretty familiar with eastern European languages, and could differentiate between different dialects, such as Hungarian and Romanian.
This man had apparently approached several potential renters in the days and weeks leading up to him responding to Al Kite's advertisement. At least three of these renters recall having encounters with this mysterious man, and - peculiarly - all recall him having different characteristics. He had different accents, mannerisms, etc. It was as-if he was putting different personas on-display, and was playing a new character for each potential witness.
One of these potential renters described this man as being in his mid-30's, while another described him in his early 50's... just to give you an idea of the range being displayed. In one case, a cane and a limp was present... whereas in another, he walked totally fine, without any needed assistance. In some cases, he had an accent... but in others, he spoke very sparsely and said little in a quiet American voice.
One of the renters, an older woman, recalled getting creeped out by the way this strange man moved throughout her home. She said that he seemed to examine the windows very thoroughly, but said very little. After a moment, she recalled getting an odd feeling from the man, and his very presence began to make her feel uneasy.
This is right around the time that "Robert Cooper" responded to Al Kite's advertisement, in May of 2004.
One of Al's neighbors recall seeing this man leave Al's home on May 19th, so police pinned that down as the first time he made contact with Al Kite.
Over the next day or two, at least two of Al's neighbors recall having odd encounters with the man:
A male neighbor tried to approach this "Robert Cooper," but was completely and utterly ignored. In another case, a female neighbor said that she encountered this man on a nearby walking trail, but recalled him seeming to stare through her without talking.
She also said that, when she encountered the man, he was walking without a limp.
At the time these strange incidents were happening, hard-working Al Kite was totally unaware. Just a day or two after meeting Al Kite, the two reached an agreement: in addition to a security deposit, this man - named "Robert Cooper" - would provide half of the first month's rent and would move in shortly.
On the morning of Saturday, May 22nd, Al drove his girlfriend, Linda, to the airport. She was leaving on a week-long trip, and made plans to call him when she arrived at her destination.
Sure enough, at around 3:30 PM, she landed and gave Al a call. She told him that she had just landed, and Al seemed to be in a good mood on the other end. He told Linda that he had just fixed a pipe in the basement, along with a neighbor, and seemed to be having a productive Saturday.
They soon wished each other a nice weekend, and said goodbye.
That would be the last time that anyone knowingly spoke to Oakey "Al" Kite.
It was two days later - Monday, May 24th - that Al's absence was noted at work.
His employer then contacted his sister, who got in-touch with Aurora P.D., and arranged for a welfare check to be performed on Oakey "Al" Kite.
Police entered the home, after receiving no response to their repeated knocking attempts. They performed a cursory glance around the home, and then began stepping into the basement - where Al's mysterious new roommate was going to be moving any day now.
Down in the basement, these responding officers found the body of Al Kite lying facedown, in a crime scene that looked incredibly gruesome from the get-go. There was blood spatter located along the wall and the floor around his body, indicating that his death had not been a peaceful one.
Detective Thomas Sobieski, of the Aurora Police Department, responded to the call and would become one of the lead investigators for the case. He later described the crime scene as "the worst [he'd] ever seen."
Investigators and analysts noted a wound on the back of Al's head, which indicated that he had been hit from behind; most likely, they theorized, this had happened when he was walking down the basement steps.
Most disturbing, though, was the realization that this poor man had not died painlessly, or even quickly. Police soon discovered that Al's had been bound with a cord; not only his hands, behind his back, but his feet as well - which were tied to his wrist ligatures. He had, in essence, been hog-tied. And from there, the person that had attacked Al Kite had proceeded to mercilessly torture Al for hours, at the very least, using a number of sharp instruments to do so.
Based on the information that investigators could surmise from the gruesome scene, they theorized that when relief came for Al Kite, it came in the form of twenty-two stab wounds. He appeared to have died just hours after speaking to his girlfriend, Linda, on the evening of Saturday, May 22nd, 2004.
It was unknown if the killer had been invited in or somehow broke in, but investigators theorized that the killer had struck when Al Kite was walking down to the basement.
Public statements from Detective Sobieski and Al's loved ones seem to indicate that earlier in the week, when Al was talking to his mysterious new tenant, they had made mention of a recliner in the living room, which Al wanted to move down into the basement. The two had spoken about it being unable to fit through the stairwell, and it was theorized that - perhaps - Al was living up to his kind reputation by helping his new tenant move a reclining chair downstairs for his comfort, when his very nature was betrayed by this unknown subject.
Due to some evidence that Detective Sobieski and other investigators were able to find, it appeared that - following the brutal torture and murder of Oakey "Al" Kite - that the killer had then proceeded to eat food from Al's kitchen, took a shower in the master bathroom, sleep in Al's bed, and even wore articles of Al's clothing.
A statement from a neighbor seemed to indicate that this mysterious killer left early Sunday morning, but not before conducting a thorough cleaning of Al's home.
The house had seemingly been wiped down for fingerprints, and bleach had been poured down the shower drain - to destroy any of the killer's forensic evidence. In addition, the killer had soaked multiple knives in bleach afterwards.
When police arrived at the scene, and discovered Al's body in the basement, they made note of several items in the sink. The drain had been plugged, and in the sink were anywhere between six and twelve knives, as well as a number of household items, including a drinking glass, a pen, a dishwashing scrubber, and Al's car keys. The sink had then been filled with Clorox bleach.
Immediately, investigators began working on a motive for the crime. Originally, it had seemed to be a crime of passion, only because Al had been physically tormented before his death. But there was no one in Al's life who had a reason to pick a fight with him, let alone torture him for hours on-end.
They then began to develop a theory that this as a methodically-planned robbery, as police would soon learn that a couple of Al's items seemed to be missing from his home. Namely, his vehicle and his cell phone.
As police began orchestrating a search for those items, they hoped that they'd be able to latch on to the killer's path soon enough.
Later in the day of Monday, May 24th, Al Kite's blue-and-gray GMC pickup truck was found. The vehicle had been parked a little over a block-and-a-half away from Al's home, along the street.
As investigators conducted a search of the vehicle, hoping to uncover some forensic evidence of the killer, they also began a thorough search of Al's home. They were able to find trace amounts of DNA, presumably left behind by the killer, and that would be submitted to a forensic database shortly thereafter.
However, while looking through the garbage can in Al's kitchen, investigators found a discarded rental application. This application, which looked to have been hand-written by the mysterious tenant moving into Al's basement, contained this stranger's name, mailing address, social security number, and phone number.
The name on the rental application read "Robert Cooper."
The address, which was supposed to belong to the sister of this "Robert Cooper," was actually a building on the University of Colorado's Medical School campus.
The social security number, when looked up, turned out to belong to an unrelated woman who had no connection to the case.
And then there's the phone number on the rental application, which was an active number. However, the phone didn't belong to any phone line; it was a burner phone, the prepaid kind that you can find at convenience stores and such.
When police organized a trace of this phone, as well as Al Kite's cell phone, they were surprised to find both of them moving through the Denver area.
A search for the phones was able to find both of them; however, neither were in the hands of this unknown killer. Police would soon learn that both phones - the burner phone belonging to this mysterious "Robert Cooper," and Al Kite's cell phone - had been abandoned in the Five Points area of Denver, Colorado. In particular, they had been left behind in an area where the homeless often hung around; presumably, the killer knew that the phones would be picked up and used by unknown transients.
A further investigation into the burner phone used by this "Robert Cooper" determined that the phone had been purchased nearby the University of Colorado Medical School - a second connection to the campus. Detectives also found that this phone had been used on several rental applications, and had been used by the suspect to make dozens of outgoing calls to potential renters.
This tentative connection to the nearby University of Colorado Medical School would become one of the very few leads that investigators had to work with. In addition to the mailing address on Robert Cooper's rental application bearing of a school building, there was now a burner phone being purchased just off of the campus itself. Also, as police would later learn, some of the rental properties that this mysterious "Robert Cooper" applied to had been advertised on flyers within the University of Colorado library. They hadn't been posted anywhere else: not on the internet, nor in newspaper ads, etc.
Despite this lead becoming a very troubling one, connecting the murder of Al Kite to the nearby U of C medical campus, police would soon have their hands full investigating another urgent matter.
A quick check of Al Kite's financial history showed that his credit cards had been used "substantially" after his supposed time-of-death, but his ATM card had also been used on the night of his murder - Saturday, May 22nd.
When they discovered Al's GMC pickup truck, parked roughly a block-and-a-half away from his home, they found ATM receipts on the front seat.
Investigators were able to track down the specific ATM that the card had been used on, at a nearby Wells Fargo. This ATM had a built-in camera, and was able to give police a glance at the killer.
Obscured by a ski mask, the killer had been driving Al's GMC pickup truck when he made the withdrawal from the ATM. Only a small portion of his face can be seen, including his eyes, the bridge of a long nose, and a small portion of his upper cheeks.
Unfortunately, the killer had also been wearing gloves when he visited the ATM, so police were unable to find any kind of fingerprints on the machine or in the truck itself.
One of the things that made police disregard this case as a robbery is that, while at the ATM, the killer withdrew "an even thousand dollars." However, Al Kite had much more than a thousand dollars in his bank account, and the killer had access to all of it throughout that weekend. However, they only made this one stop, and decided to withdraw no more than a grand.
It is believed that, after visiting this ATM, the killer then drove Al's vehicle to the street it was later found on, leaving the ATM receipt on the seat next to him. He then took the keys back to Al's home, where they were soaked in bleach, along with an assortment of knives and other household items.
Within days of the murder, the potential motive of robbery was disregarded, due to a couple of pretty pronounced reasons. Namely, that the killer could have withdrawn more from the ATM than they did; however, police also noticed that nothing of value seemed to be missing from the home of Oakey "Al" Kite.
In addition, investigators didn't believe that the torture of Al had been done to obtain any information, such as the pin number for his bank account. Police, after speaking to Al's loved ones, determined that he would have given any thief the information they needed; thus, making the torture excessive and gratuitous.
Linda Angelopulos, Al's girlfriend, said about him:
"If somebody would've said, 'Give me all of your money,' he'd ask why, but he'd give it to you."
This information seemed to paint a terrifying and bone-chilling explanation for the death of Al Kite: that the killer had planned everything out in-advance, and had likely committed the heinous crime for the mere sake of murdering someone.
Barbara Hanna, Al's sister, said about the killer:
"It's so hard to imagine why it was done. This guy was doing it for the thrill.
"He just wanted to find people to kill, he brought his own little torturing kit.
"He knew he had all the time in the world."
Police believed that the killer targeted Al because he lived alone, and didn't have many friends or family in the area. And, because of his kind nature, he was probably easy to take advantage of.
This was confirmed by Al's sister, who stated that Al was:
"...very compassionate, very trusting (which may have led to his death; he had a goodness about him."
Al's killer had likely come prepared to murder the man, and had taken precautionary steps to not only leave very little trace of himself. He had also planted seeds of confusion, which led to the investigation struggling to keep track of the various threads: such as withdrawing only a thousand dollars from the ATM, planting the cell phones in a hot-spot for the homeless, etc.
Because of all of this planning, police theorized that the killer had likely killed before. The methods used in this violent crime indicated that he might be some kind of methodical serial killer; in fact, many online posters have pointed to this man coming across as a Keyser Soze-esque villain, who was able to change his personal appearance and mannerisms at-will.
However, unlike Keyser Soze, this man did leave behind some evidence at the crime scene. Police were able to discover fingerprints and a small amount of DNA, which they used years later to create a digital image.
Following the murder of Al Kite, police put together a list of characteristics that may have been exhibited by his killer. The following may or may not be true, but became connected to the case in one way or another.
The killer may have been from the East Coast; in particular, from the area of or around New Jersey.
He may have have some connection to the banking industry; specifically, working for Wells Fargo.
He may have been familiar with the University of Colorado Hospital, in Denver, Colorado.
He likely dressed professionally, on a regular basis.
He may or may not have had a mother, sister, or other female relative that lived in the Aurora, Colorado area.
And, finally, he may have - at one point - attempted to become a police officer. Investigators theorized that this kind of behavior - violent crime followed up with mind games perpetrated against the police - may have come from a denial or failure to become a police officer.
Based on neighbor sightings and the pictures taken from the Wells Fargo ATM that the killer visited, a composite drawing was made. You can find this image online if you look for Al Kite.
It is believed that this killer stood about 5'10" tall, weighed around 175 pounds, and had wavy, dark hair. He is believed to be in his mid-40's, but - again - it is believed that he could have been younger or slightly older than that. Some witnesses recalled him being in his late 20's, while others described him as being in his early 50's.
While investigators struggled to figure out what had happened to Al, his family and friends struggled to deal with his loss.
Later in May, his remains were released to the custody of his loved ones, and flown back east, to his hometown of Halifax, North Carolina.
Funeral services took place on June 2nd, 2004, commencing at around 2:00 in the afternoon. Overseen by Reverend Stan Lewis, Al was memorialized and remembered by those that knew him best: his girlfriend, Linda; his sister, Barbara, and her family; his step-daughter, Julie; and a number of friends and other relatives.
Later that day, Oakey "Al" Kite was buried in the church cemetery, where he rests to this day.
There have been a number of theories and related cases that have cropped up over the years, but almost all of them tie into some possible connection of the case. These include three specific avenues that investigators and police have looked into.
The first is that this case has some kind of connection to the work Al was involved in, as a lead accountant and department head for many large engineering projects, such as the Surry Nuclear Plant in North Carolina, or the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in California.
The second is that this crime has some connection to the real estate market, considering that Al had just put his basement apartment up for rent, and this crime may or may not bear a resemblance to another crime I just covered on Unresolved.
The third - and potentially most terrifying of the possibilities - is that this may have been a "practice kill," in which a contract killer or a burgeoning serial killer decided to make Al Kite a victim for no apparent reason.
For each of these possibilities, I'll share with you one related story, to help explain why investigators have looked at these avenues, and why these three avenues are so often linked to the story of Oakey "Al" Kite.
Lee Scott Hall was an employee of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and he happened to work at the facility throughout the 1990s - at the same time as Al Kite.
Lee Hall lived a very private life. He had been married twice, but was long-divorced by the time he began working for the California-based institute. His two marriages had resulted in just one child - a son, who had already reached adulthood - but employees of the National Lab had no idea. They say that Lee Scott Hall kept to himself, and focused exclusively on work when he was there.
Records showed that throughout 1999, he had made no phone calls, and had no personal emails sent from his accounts. In fact, despite remaining slightly-active at a golf course nearby his home - where he kept a 10-handicap - he was an incredibly private individual. In addition to having no outgoing phone calls or personal emails, he had, in fact, been ducking phone calls from his son, Michael, a real-estate developer that lived in Portland, Oregon.
In 1998, Lee Hall was part of a team that discovered a flaw with the project he was working on. He worked as a lead designer for the National Ignition Facility, a very large-scale project whose stated purpose was to achieve nuclear fusion.
The flaw, which Lee Hall and his team helped discovered, was a five-degree difference regarding a laser's alignment. Mind you, when I mention a laser's alignment, it goes without saying that this facility dealt with some of the largest - and most expensive - lasers in the entire world. It was a project that cost upwards of $1.2 billion, so any fixes - no matter how big or small - could easily cost somewhere in the millions of dollars.
By the following year, the project was five years late and approximately $350 million over-budget. So, of course, with Energy Secretary Bill Richardson demanding results, the recommendation by Hall's team fell on deaf ears, and the project proceeded as-planned.
But in September of that year, 1999, the fix proposed by Lee Scott Hall and his team moved up the ranks, and was approved. The cost to fix the issue was estimated to be around $1 million.
Coincidentally, around the same time, Lee Scott Hall received a pay raise that was "substantial," according to one news report.
About a month later - on Wednesday, October 20th, 1999 - Lee Hall failed to show up for work. Some fellow co-workers decided to pay him a visit to make sure that he was okay, and drove to his house. When they got there, they found his front door unlocked. And most unusually, the side gate on his house had been left wide open. You see, Lee was a very attentive person, and had to make sure that everything in his home was neat, tidy, and working efficiently... and that included the front door and the gates.
Hall's co-workers entered into his home, and were surprised to find that his glasses had been left in the kitchen. In addition, the TV in the living room had been left on.
They scoped out the rest of the home, eventually finding Lee's body lying facedown on his bedroom floor. They originally thought that he might have just fallen and hit his head on a nearby nightstand, but a closer examination revealed a particularly gruesome crime scene.
The subsequent investigation showed that Lee Scott hall had been brutally beaten and stabbed. He had been hit one in the right temple; a blow that might have knocked him unconscious. His face contained an odd scratch, which indicated the killer had worn abrasive gloves or had some kind of ring. Another strike from his assailant had broken Hall's Adam's apple, and he was then stabbed ten times. One kidney and his liver were perforated, and his heart was allegedly nearly severed.
The scene - Lee Hall's house - showed no sign of a struggle. The bedroom was not disturbed, as was the rest of the house. It all seemed normal. In fact, Hall's toxicology reports indicated that he had consumed alcohol earlier in the evening. This led investigators to theorize that the killer might have been someone he knew or visited with; but, because he lived such a private life, tracking down this person proved damn near impossible.
A neighbor told police that they had heard gravel moving on the side of Hall's home, a sound similar to crunching under moving car tires, somewhere in the vicinity of 1:00 AM on October 18th. This became Hall's approximate time-of-death.
In a striking similarity to the murder of Al Kite five years later, Hall's vehicle - a 1992 Acura Vigor - was found about a block away from Hall's home. The car, which was usually parked in Hall's garage, proved an intriguing clue for investigators, as Hall's wallet was found inside, with none of his items within having been stolen. His car keys were never recovered.
The death of Lee Scott Hall remains a mystery. Because he led such a private life, it was tough for investigators to create any strong suspects. And because nothing of value was stolen from Hall's home, robbery was eliminated as a motive entirely. This seemed personal... or professional.
In the aftermath of Hall's death, employees of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories seemed to withhold information from investigators. At the time, they were under an increasing amount of pressure from the Energy Department, and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson had ordered a full-scale investigation into the projects delays and the administration of the project's funding.
To investigators, this provided a possible motive for the killer. After all, Hall had just received a substantial raise at around the same time a million-dollar fix was proposed by his department, and some might have taken that the wrong way.
Detective Charlie Garrison, who handled the case and tried to question Laboratory employees, stated:
"We're not skeptical, but on the other hand we're told that he discovers a major problem that he had tried to bring forth for a year... and it wasn't until a month before his death they said, 'Hey, we do have a problem.'"
The murder investigation of Lee Scott Hall remains unsolved, but some consider it a possible lead into the death of Oakey "Al" Kite. They both worked for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the same time. Both died in their own homes, due to causes that seemed excessively brutal. The killers stole very little from each, and parked their cars a block or so away from the crime scenes. And in both cases, the killer has never been found, let alone identified.
Another similar case is one that I covered just recently on the podcast: that of real estate agent Mike Emert.
Mike Emert was a forty-year-old real estate agent that worked in Kirkland, Washington - an area just north of Seattle. On January 4th, 2001, he met a client in a parking lot, and the two drove to an isolated house in the nearby suburb of Woodinville. There, Mike Emert was brutally beaten and stabbed by an unknown attacker.
DNA testing would later pinpoint a potential attacker: a former-police officer-turned-bank robber and career criminal named Gary Krueger. However, Krueger had died after a failed home invasion in 2010, and was never able to be questioned or interrogated, so Mike Emert's case remains unsolved.
In both cases, a real estate dealing provides the background, and the very little information provided about the potential client or tenant points to a similar suspect.
In both the murder of Al Kite and the murder of Mike Emert, the man they were dealing with was described as being in his mid-40's or early 50's, who walked with a limp and carried a cane. In both attacks, the victims were struck from behind, and then brutally beaten and stabbed to death. Then, the killer had proceeded to thoroughly eliminate almost all of their trace evidence from the crime scene.
In addition, both crimes saw the killer drive the victim's vehicle to a third location, and - most unusually - they left the victim's personal belongings in strange locations. In the case of Mike Emert, his cell phone and wallet were found in strange public locations; meanwhile, in Al Kite's case, his cell phone was stolen and then abandoned in an area of Denver populated by the homeless.
And, for what it's worth, both crimes seemed to be methodically planned-out by the attacker. The killers had managed to avoid being seen by eyewitnesses, and were described as "odd" and "weird" by those that had briefly run into them.
Despite this, though, Aurora Detective Thomas Sobieski - who handled the investigation into Al Kite's murder - has told interested parties that he investigated this lead shortly after Al's murder in 2004. He has stated that he got in-touch with the King County investigators that handled Mike Emert's case, and discussed the similar and different avenues of their investigations, in the hopes of finding a striking similarity.
Detective Sobieski has stated that, due to evidence which has not been revealed to the public, that he has a strong reason to believe that the crimes are not related. And I am more than willing to take his word for it: there are aspects of this case which are unlikely to ever see the light of day, and police want to hold onto those details to make sure that any potential confessions bear truth.
Despite Detective Sobieski's comments, many still question whether or not the crimes are related.
The third, and perhaps most terrifying possibility, is that there was no rhyme or reason to the murder of Oakey "Al" Kite. That he was targeted by someone, for the mere sake of perpetrating violence upon someone that didn't have a very active social circle. That by merely being kind and generous, he was deemed an easy target by a wandering predator.
Police found it unlikely that the killer had zeroed in on Al Kite from the get-go. Based on their movements in the weeks before Al's murder, it seemed like they were judging different apartments, houses, and landlords. They were scoping out each potential victim, and grading them on a number of attributes. Since Al lived alone, his girlfriend was gone for a week, and he had a big house to himself, the killer likely picked him out, and then decided to strike.
It is very likely that a candidate for this terrifying murder is none other than a wandering psychopath that I have covered on this podcast beforehand: Israel Keyes.
In case you haven't listened to that episode of Unresolved, I'll give you a very brief summary on Israel Keyes. Starting sometime in the early 2000s - perhaps even earlier than that - Keyes began weaving a crime spree that federal investigators have yet to untangle. He traveled throughout the country, often times flying in to one airport, getting a rental car, and then driving thousands of miles out of the way in order to commit heinous murders against unwitting victims.
Israel Keyes idolized Ted Bundy. And, just like Bundy, he portrayed himself as an happy-go-lucky every-man, who appealed himself to everyone in his social circle.
Keyes didn't pop up on the radar of authorities until he made an impulsive decision to abduct, rape, and brutally murder a young woman named Samantha Koenig in Anchorage, Alaska. This was in February of 2012. After this incident, police were able to determine that Keyes was the man responsible for the murder of Samantha Koenig, and he was arrested in March of that year.
While detained, Keyes partially-confessed to committing many murders over a decade-long span of time, stating he had victims all over the country: ranging from his home of Washington state, to New York, to Vermont, etc. He was also linked to a series of bank robberies in the northeast, and home invasions from various locations around the U.S.
For almost all of Keyes crimes, he had no identifiable motive. His crimes were random, and he often used disguises and various bits of misdirection, to mislead investigators. He would pay for trips in cash, to leave no paper trail, and would often turn off his cell phone to avoid pinging any radio towers.
When Al Kite was murdered in Aurora, Colorado, Israel Keyes was twenty-six years old; which makes him young to be the mysterious "Robert Cooper." However, when we factor in the possibility of Keyes using some kind of disguise and gimmick to make himself look older, it's possible that we end up with a wide age-range.
In fact, many who view the ATM footage of Al Kite's killer see a striking resemblance to Israel Keyes, which is hard to look past.
Unfortunately, Israel Keyes committed suicide while in police custody. When he killed himself in December of 2012, he took his own secrets to the grave; and many investigators have been struggling to determine all of the crimes committed by Israel Keyes in the years since.
Despite there being many promising angles for investigators to look into, the lack of any real evidence has brick-walled them at every turn. A few years ago, in fact, they were forced to change the case status of Al Kite's murder from "unsolved" to "unresolved."
However, detectives remain positive that they will be able to find and prosecute whoever committed this particularly heinous crime. Hopefully, even sometime soon.
In June of 2017, my friend Nina Innsted of the Already Gone podcast put out an episode about Al Kite and his murder, and that helped attract a lot of much-needed attention to the investigation. By no surprise, just a few months later - in December of 2017 - police used DNA found at the crime scene to update the description of their suspect.
The DNA, which police believe belonged to the killer, was used to create a new genetic-based image. This image was created by Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs, and used "DNA phenotyping" to create the composite. It brought new life to a case which had been cold for over thirteen years.
Anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to Detective Thomas Sobieski of the Aurora Police Department, whose phone number is 303-739-6710.
As of this episode's recording, the story of Oakey "Al" Kite remains unresolved.