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The Shocking Murder Case of Candace Hiltz

Nabeela has been an online writer for more than two years and has a particular interest in true crime.

Candace Hiltz

Candace Hiltz

Background Information on Candace Hiltz

Candace Hiltz was born December 22, 1988, in Cañon City in Fremont County, Colorado. Her father passed away when she was around five years old. She was considered a child prodigy at an early age and was actively performing calculus at age 11.

Her friends described her as a tomboy, a likely result of growing up with several older brothers. Her friends and family also spoke about how she was passionate about standing up for people who had been mistreated. She would stand up to bullies, even if they were taller than her 5'2" frame. Her interest in justice led to her wanting to become a lawyer and attend Stanford Law School.

College and Pregnancy

She was enrolled in Brigham Young University and, aged just 17, was in her third year of college. However, a lot changed for her that year as she found out she was pregnant. (I couldn't find any information on the father of her baby, but please share in the comments if you know.)

She wanted her child to be her primary focus and even thought of taking a few years' break from her studies. Taking a few years off to raise her child would not hold Candace back academically; in fact, it would put her back in with the people her age.

She decided to enroll in Brigham Young's online program, which allowed her to carry on studying whilst also being a mother. She later received acceptance to Stanford Law.

Birth of Her Daughter

Candace gave birth to a baby girl named Paige. Unfortunately, baby Paige was born with hydrocephaly, the primary characteristic of which is excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. The fluid in this case is cerebrospinal fluid. Candace was told that baby Paige would live a very short life.

Obviously, this news was very upsetting, and she wanted to make the most of her time with her child. She treated every week like it was Paige's birthday, spoiling her. Paige lived until she was seven, but then passed away from her disease. However, as short as Paige's life was, she did outlive her mother.

Candace's Older Brother

Candace had an older brother named James who suffered from many psychological issues, such as an extreme case of paranoia around other people. It was often described as a phobia and affected his interactions with his own family.

He actually moved out into the woods behind the family house because he did not want to communicate with anyone. Candace was very overprotective of her brother and did not like anybody speaking ill of him.

The First Incident with Robert Dodd

In 2006, Fremont County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Dodd arrived at the Hiltz family home. He was looking for James to question him regarding a trespassing incident. Candace's mother spoke to Dodd with Candace present. There are no official records of what was said, but Candace did not like Dodd's line of questions or how he was treating her brother and mother.

She decided to step in and began shouting at Officer Dodd. He responded by warning her he would arrest her if she carried on. It is reported that Candace actually held her wrists up and challenged Officer Dodd to arrest her.

Candace then took it further and told Dodd that she had seen him around town accepting envelopes from known drug dealers and would happily make the other sheriff's deputies aware of his activities. Dodd left the house agitated and never returned to the home.

The Missing Dog

One night when the family was returning home, they noticed their dog was missing. They lived in a woody area, so they thought an animal, most probably a mountain lion, had taken their dog. It is reported that Candace actually went to the sheriff's department to report their missing dog, but got into another altercation with a deputy believed to be Deputy Robert Dodd, but this is unconfirmed.

Even though the family wanted to find out what had happened to their dog and searched around their land, they weren’t overly concerned and thought that maybe their dog would return on its own. However, the family couldn't help but feel like something suspicious may have occurred.

Candace's brother, James Hiltz.

Candace's brother, James Hiltz.

Sheriff's Deputy Robert Dodd

Sheriff's Deputy Robert Dodd

Murder and Inquiry

On August 15, 2006, Candace Hiltz was murdered. Candace's mother Dolores left the house at noon to run errands, not realising this was the last time she would see her daughter alive.

A little while after she left her daughter and granddaughter at home alone, she felt something was wrong and asked her neighbours to check in on Candace. There is a report that suggests the neighbours never did check in on Candace.

Dolores didn't return home until around 3:30 in the afternoon. She entered her home to find Paige, who was eleven months old, screaming and crying in her crib. Dolores also found pools and spatters of blood but no sign of Candace. She ran to the bedroom to pick up Paige but made a shocking discovery: There appeared to be something under the bed, wrapped in a green comforter.

Dolores immediately felt sick to her stomach with all the blood and with Paige screaming and crying. She unwrapped the green comforter to find Candace's lifeless body with multiple gunshot wounds.

It is reported that around 75% of her head was no longer visible because she had been shot so many times. Dolores held Candace's hand until the police showed up. The 911 call between Dolores and the police has not yet been released. Two people have tried to contact the police to see if they would release the tape, but they refuse to do so, as this case is considered an ongoing investigation.

Deputy Briscoe and Deputy Dodd were the two deputies assigned to this case. According to Dolores, the two detectives did a horrible job of surveying the crime scene. They did not tape off or secure the crime scene, and it was quite easy for other people to walk in and potentially contaminate evidence.

The Hunt for James and the Discovery of the Dog

Almost immediately, the officers pointed the finger at Candace's brother, James. A manhunt was organised to track him down. In the early stages, many investigators combed through the wooded area surrounding the Hiltz residence, looking for clues or evidence.

But many people believed that they were actually just looking for James. The officers didn't even have an alternative theory, and their main focus was finding James Hiltz.

It was at this point in the investigation where the family dog, who had gone missing just days before Candace's murder, was found. He was tied up to a tree and had been butchered with an axe.

Some people believed the dog had been taken and killed so the murderer could get into the house easily, without the dog barking or alerting the family to his presence. Others believed the dog had been taken and killed to taunt the family.

Investigators began to question the family on James' whereabouts and if he had any friends or workmates. The family became concerned about the direction of these questions as James' mental illness did not allow him to interact with his own family, let alone any outside associates.

Dolores explained this to the officers, stating that he also had no history of violence and was always in and out of the Colorado Mental Health Institute. Dolores further explained that James didn't even own or have access to a firearm, but officers disregarded this and carried on questioning Dolores about her son for over four hours.

Unmarked, Overlooked Evidence at the Crime Scene

After the officers completed their 'investigation', the family were allowed back into their family home. Dolores and her sons had found several pieces of evidence that had just been unmarked and left behind:

  • A shotgun shell in the baby crib
  • The green blood-soaked comforter
  • A computer monitor stained with blood
  • Bloodied towels outside of the home believed to have been used by the killer
  • The blood-stained shirt Candace was wearing that day

Dolores stated they took only 15 items from the family home, including a small piece of carpet and a piece of paneling. She was more shocked because Officers Dodd and Briscoe weren't rookie investigators. They should have known that anything left behind could be vital to the case.

Dolores and her sons decided to gather up the evidence, log it and photograph it all. Dolores went down to the sheriff's station, but didn't get to talk to anybody. A little later, Deputy Briscoe came to their home with a search warrant and took the evidence the family had collected.

Charges Against James

The Sheriff's department issued a statement saying they were looking for James and warned the public that he may be armed. They found James three day after Candace's murder. Despite their ongoing case against James, he was charged with first and second degree theft and trespassing. According to the Sheriff's department, James had broken into a house and stole hatchets and flashlights and he was held on a $500,000 bond at Fremont County jail.

James had never actually been charged with anything to do with Candace's murder case; however, he still appears to be at the top of the sheriff's department suspect list. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was instead sent to Colorado Mental Health Institute.

The Autopsy Report

The 11-page autopsy, when released, showed that Candace was brutally murdered with malicious intent. Dolores had two major problems with the autopsy, the first being the crime scene investigation part of the autopsy. In the autopsy, it said Candace's boyfriend actually entered the house and saw that the baby was alone, so he took the baby outside to his wife.

Then he went back inside and saw that Candace was unresponsive. Dolores states that Candace did not have a boyfriend and that she was in fact the person to find Candace herself.

The second problem she had was that she believed Candace had only been shot with two separate guns, not three. In the autopsy, it said that Candace was shot was a shotgun, a medium caliber and a small caliber handgun. Dolores says that when she and her sons were picking up the evidence left behind, they only found shell casings from two guns, a shotgun and a .22 caliber.

Five months after Candace's death, Dolores filed a complaint at the Colorado Attorney General's Office as she believed the case was not conducted correctly. She even showed the pictures she had taken of the evidence with her sons, as proof that the case was mishandled.

10 Years Later: December 2016

Rick Ratzlaff, who had many negative encounters with the Fremont County Sheriff's department, was at an auction for storage units. He managed to buy a unit for $50.00. The unit had some police lights, old police uniforms and some case files in it, and Rick even managed to find some pieces of evidence.

He discovered an axe, blood-stained rope, and a pair of bloody socks. They were all sealed in separate plastic bags which were in a manilla envelope labelled evidence.

It turns out these pieces of evidence were from the Candace Hiltz murder case. Why would there be evidence from an ongoing investigation in a storage unit? Rick managed to find out the previous owner—who happened to be none other than Deputy Officer Dodd's unit.

Having had previous encounters with the whole Sheriff's department, Rick did not feel comfortable just handing over the evidence so he called police officers to come look at his storage unit.

When the police showed up, Rick's wife recorded the conversation between Rick and the police. Rick mentioned his conversation with the officers was quite threatening and they forced him to keep his mouth shut about the evidence found in the locker.

The evidence found in the locker is actually now with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, who say that they are looking into all the misconduct and unsolved cases of the Fremont County Sheriff's department.

The Hiltz family believe they will finally get some closure and hope the CBI will look over all the evidence and come to some sort of conclusion to Candace's case.

In April 2017, Officer Dodd left the force to retire and in May 2017 he was charged with two counts of misconduct. A little while later, video evidence was found in a landfill that connected him to a sexual assault case.

Robert Dodd's Misdemeanour Charges and the Case

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My Thoughts

I definitely do not think James Hiltz had any connection to Candace's murder and think that the Fremont County Sheriff's department were just pointing the finger at him because he was an easy target.

I do think Robert Dodd is a number one suspect. He was threatened by Candace because she could testify against him and she was evidence that he had been working with drug dealers. First was the altercation Candace had with Officer Dodd, then the fact that he was an investigating officer of her death, and also the fact that there was evidence found in a storage locker under his name that had been locked up and left there.

There are a lot of people who believe that maybe the father of Candace's daughter Paige murdered her, but I couldn't find any information on him at all. Another theory is that Candace was murdered by strangers, and although it seems a little odd, it does happen.

To my surprise, this case is still ongoing! It's been a year since the case was taken over by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and there hasn't been any new information regarding this case.

Update: 03/04/2020

Officer Dodd had been found guilty of Abuse of Public Records in 2018 with two counts of official misconduct. This was related to the storage locker under his name containing evidence. He is scheduled to serve 15 days in jail. I am unsure of whether this has been served or where.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you think the murder of Candace Hiltz may have been Sheriff Dodd? It seems to me it may have been.

Answer: I think Sheriff Dodd is the most likely suspect, although it is a question of whether he actually committed the murder or had people do it for him? Either way, if detectives are still looking at this case, he should be top of their list.

Question: Do you think Candace Hiltz had this coming to her for threatening a police officer, as I think she did?

Answer: Personally, no.

But I also probably would not go around threatening Police Officers or anyone in any form of power. That's just me. I think she saw injustice and took it upon herself to try correct it. Kudos to her for having the gut to do it. I think she was clever enough to know her actions would possibly have consequences.

I will never condone Dodd's actions.

I mean if he was in some form of an affiliation with Gangs, because remember this is all a part of the rumour mill with this case, then he should, as a police officer, own up to that.

At the end of the day a young woman lost her life and a very young child lost her mother. My personal views will always be that. Unless evidence suggests otherwise I don't think my views will change.

Question: Are you planning to stay on top of this case? It reeks to high heaven.

Answer: Hopefully. I have been checking for updates regularly, unfortunately nothing as of yet has come out the woodwork. I think it is sad that many of these cases just go cold. I can only suggest checking the comments of my article because I know some readers paste links to current news articles relating to this case.

Question: It seems almost obvious that Dodd killed her, do you think there are any real clues to suggest it may have been other individuals?

Answer: Currently, Dodd is the most likely suspect there is a mountain of evidence against him including those incriminating tapes found in the storage locker. However, research does suggest that any number of gangs who sold drugs in the area and were in alliance with Dodd could also be suspects.

However, I personally think if gangs were involved it was under Dodd's guidance.

The other suspect, Candace's brother, may well still be a suspect in this case. When writing this article I was pretty sure her brother was wrongly accused. However, I have recently learned more about Mental Health and the problems her brother had. If her brother was having a particularly rough day, yes he could be responsible. Mental Health affects every person differently. I am still on the fence about her brother.

Would love to hear your thoughts and thank you for your question.

Question: Do you think that Robert Dodd and the drug dealers possibly hired a crew to murder Candice?

Answer: It is possible. Anything I know about gangs comes from watching crime dramas on TV, so I'm not sure how reliable that information is. But I just assumed all drug dealers were willing to end the life of anyone who got in the way of their business.

© 2018 Nabeela Pathan


Maryn Wood on July 21, 2020:

This is definitely plagiarized, word for word, from Trace Evidence

Adam on July 08, 2020:

Can't put Dodd as number one suspect until you clear the baby father. Also the story about her seeing dodd take envelopes of money is to vague and could be anything. To me that sounds like someone who is shit talking to the police. Canon City is a small town of mostly corrections officers. Not a huge drug market. Also the drugs that do come up go thru the prison so Dodd would have no control. So no reason to pay him. The family is hiding something. Could be her brother cuz people with mental illness have killed family before so it wouldn't be some long shock. Also she had numerous brothers so maybe it one of her brothers friends who did it. Just to say Dodd did it is to lazy. Why would he kill her. He could of pulled her over planted drugs on her and the case would be closed. Gotta have motive. Dodd wasn't a dealer so he didn't have motive. Some people never been in streets and just think they know crime from movies. You can't name anyone a prime suspect until you can clear the father. The spouse is always always mentioned and investigated. Why not here? Is the family protecting the father? Was the child fathered out of an abusive relationship?

Fran Boucher on June 06, 2020:

I just want to add a further concern here:

What about the evidence from Dodd's house wich was found at the dumping site? It clearly means that somebody got away with molesting and/or sexually assaulting a minor. Is nobody concerned about that? Could also be Dodd.

I really hope that something happens so that justice could be served for Candice and her family as well as who ever were sexually assaulted.

The Scales of Justice on March 09, 2020:

I’m am so angry regarding the case about Candace Hiltz. I just watched Valley of the damned on ID and I am absolutely fuming right now. I am outraged that this case still after all this time and all the crap found in that corrupt ass Dodd’s storage unit that the police dept where this all happened is really going to act that stupid and let this POS get away with this, ARE YOU KIDDING ME ???? I’m angry that this young girl got her life taken so young, for speaking up to a POS corrupt cop who called her mother a liar. Candace lost her life she was mutilated, it was overkill, my god who does that to someone with their baby there . I’m Hella angry over the dog. Why is this story still unsolved ? It is so obvious who’s to blame here, hello DODD. This infuriates me and I do not live in that town but I want justice to be served for her family, for Candace, their dog it isn’t fair and I will be damned to sit back and let this corrupt ass detective get away with some misdemeanor charge and get his retirement for being a cold blooded POS cop corrupt murderer. Ya know He makes officers everywhere look bad and the ones who know what happened and are turning their heads, a blinds eye are disgusting and are pussies. I’m so mad right now I have got to stop my ramblings but I promise you this is not the last of this story I’m gonna put everywhere and make everyone I know and don’t know aware of what happened and hopefully someone somewhere can give everyone who has been hurt by this pig to get real justice and put him where he belongs in prison not collecting his retirement sitting back laughing thinking he got away with murder. He thinks like he’s the smartest guy and everyone else is stupid because you all are letting him but really he’s a fucking fool and any investigator who doesnt see this, your not a very good investigator and you can bet he’s laughing at all of you thinking he got away with this and there’s nothing you can do cuz you all are stupid. And if you let him get away with this then you are all stupid. God help you!

Lisa norek. To who ever said she had it coming to her ( ur sick). Besides dodds n the rest of that corrupt police force. There the only suspects,! Common sense ppl come on... this has got to be the m on March 08, 2020:

My 1st comment is you believe she had it coming to her? Wow. There is no other suspect's but dobb

Mike on November 27, 2019:

Why not the fbi involved? Ofcourse its a drugdealer and this Dodd person who have killed her. Dig deeper. Give me 5 minutes with Dodd. Just 5 minutes. words for such police investigation.

Laura on October 27, 2019:

I have to say that internally, Dodd has had a record full of problems. If you foia his records you will see what I am referring to. He has been “reprimanded” several times over his career for things such as conduct not becoming or mishandling of evidence. Certainly these should be a red flag for citizens but I do not believe that they knew because the department covered up much of it. You should be able to get most of it though by now.

Nabeela Pathan (author) from England, United Kingdom on October 10, 2019:

That's quite interesting. From what I have read about Dodd it doesn't seem he's the type to do any of the dirty work. However he should be top of the suspect list.

Tam on October 09, 2019:

I would say Dodd and some of the dealers he worked with possibly.

A.H. on October 08, 2019:

My opinion is that it is Robert Dodd. Sadly, I think he's gotten away with murder.

Mia Maples on September 11, 2019:

I fully agree with your thoughts on this case! There is nothing else I could think of when I read this but that it had to be officer Robert Dodd. I hate when things like this happen:(. Thanks you for filling us in on the information!

Astrid McClymont from Glasgow, Scotland on March 16, 2019:

Didn't know about this case at all. Thank you for posting. I'll have to look deeper into it.

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