Fifty-two years ago today, an escaped prison inmate named Joseph Corbett Jr. murdered Coors heir and company president Adolph “Ad” Coors III during a botched kidnapping on a remote Jefferson County bridge. The murder—Coors’ body was later discovered in a Douglas County dump—sparked what was then one of the largest manhunts in United States history and ended with federal agents tracking Corbett to a hotel in Vancouver, Canada.
Corbett was convicted of murder, served only part of a life sentence, and was released in 1980 after turning himself into a model inmate. He was 80 years old and living alone in a Denver apartment when I knocked on his door in January 2009. That moment is memorialized in my story on Coors’ murder, which ran in 5280 three years ago:
“As Corbett stood in the doorway, he looked much the same as he did in 1960. He was slim, with a long face and gray eyes. His shoulders and his back were hunched slightly, his slender, wrinkled arms extending from the sleeves of a white T-shirt. He was wearing a worn-out pair of light-blue dress pants. At first glance, he looked more like a grandfather than the man the FBI once chased across two countries.”
Corbett committed suicide later that summer. A report at the time said he had been diagnosed with cancer.