Cassandra Rundle and children

Thirty-five years after the killings that rattled the community, investigators and close friends still hold on to hope that the mystery will be solved and justice served.

Before her name became linked with a notorious Colorado Springs triple-murder, Cassandra Rundle wrestled with the idea of death.

She set down her questions in a poem, wondering what it sounded like.

How it smelled.

How it felt.

“Does death begin with broken dreams

Or simply slip behind you in the night

Does it start with deflated hopes

Or lurk beneath the crevices in the floor

Can you smell death —

Or does it burn your nostrils

Or is it odorless as hate

Can you taste death —

Does it sour like salt

Or does it choke your throat

Or is it as tasteless as fear

Can you hear death —

Does it sound like thunder

Or is it a whisper

Or is it silent as love"

Rundle wrote years before she and her two children, 12-year-old Detrick Sturm and 10-year-old Melanie Sturm were killed in her Ivywild home on Feb. 14, 1985. 

Thirty-five years after the killings that rattled the community, investigators and close friends still hold on to hope that the mystery will be solved and justice served.

In the past five episodes of Colorado Cold Case, a podcast reported and produced by The Gazette, listeners have learned how police homed in on personal ads Rundle placed in the Colorado Springs Sun, trying to figure out if her family was targeted by someone she met for a date.

Police interviewed dozens of men and hundreds of items were collected from the home.

In the sixth and final episode, listeners will hear about a suspect identified by Cassandra Rundle's late father, Richard G. Rundle.

The man he identified, former Fort Carson soldier Philip Wilkinson, today sits on North Carolina’s death row, having confessed to murdering a family of three in Fayetteville, N.C., under eerily similar circumstances six years after the Colorado Springs killings.

Richard Rundle, an attorney in West Virginia, told a Colorado Springs newspaper in 2005 that police failed to take the lead seriously, believing that Wilkinson was in South Korea at the time. Colorado Springs police detectives declined to be interviewed for the podcast. 

But military records obtained by Colorado Cold Case appear to prove that Richard Rundle was at least half right: Wilkinson wasn’t out of the country at all.

He had been assigned to Fort Carson in February 1985, just weeks before the murders of Cassandra and her family.

Listen to the final episode on gazette.com/colorado-cold-case.

Seasons 1-4 of Colorado Cold Case can also be found on iTunes, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts. 

Reach Olivia at olivia.prentzel@gazette.com.

Twitter: @oliviaprentzel

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