Q6 Cold Case Files: "The Evidence Room"

STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - It was August of 1977, just outside of Chewelah. A state game employee found bones, human bones. They were scattered across a few acres. Detectives determined they belonged to 19-year-old Robert E. Lee of Deer Park. The investigation into who was responsible for his death quickly went cold.

Because Lee's remains were some of the only evidence prosecutor's had, his bones were held in the evidence room for more than 20 years before they were released for a proper burial.

A retired Steven's County Sheriff's Office employee can't stop thinking about the case, and the teen who has seemingly been forgotten.

"It's just one of those things you can't get out of your mind," said Sally Paramore.

Paramore worked in law enforcement for 30 years. She spent time in dispatch, the jail facilities, and the evidence room. The evidence room was her clear favorite.

"I enjoyed the organization of it all," she said. "Everything had its spot. My husband and I have even volunteered there since we retired. We help out when we can when they need us."

The evidence room is where she became committed to trying to help get some movement in Lee's case.

"I don't know a lot about him," she said. "I know he was born in Germany and came over when he was about three. Then at 19, he was murdered."

Reports state his skull had two holes in it consistent with a shooting. Robert's bones were found in a rural wooded area.

"It's remote," she said. "It's 11 miles out of Chewelah. Years ago, it was a path like a deer path. You look at the view, you're up on a mountain, it's peaceful. But, then you think of the other half of the story."

There is very little to find on this case. Paramore was able to dig up an article from the Statesman-Examiner from 1977. It stated that Lee was last seen in the spring of 1976 in Oregon where he was attending a Job Corps camp. His remains weren't found until August 24, 1977. Detectives had their hands full trying to place him during that unaccounted for period of time.

"To the best of my knowledge, no one called," Paramore said. "All the other cases had people who cared, friends, family calling (the deputies) wanting to know. As a mom myself, it's like you never give up on your children. You try to help your children through tough times."

Paramore said she felt like Lee needed someone to help push for justice.

"I'm trying, I'm trying," she said. "I just hope someone comes forward."

Paramore says Lee's remains were held in evidence for years before he was finally released to a local cemetery.

"He was in there longer than he was alive until his body was released and given an appropriate burial," she said.

Paramore is hopeful after all these years, someone who knows something is ready to get the truth out there.

"It's been a long time," she said. "Hopefully someone has a conscience."