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Names: Kathleen Logar, 53.
Location: 4160 Perry St., Denver
Agency: Denver Police Department
Date killed: April 14, 2004
Cause of death: Strangled
Suspect: family suspects Bill Polhemus
Thirty years after her adoption, Teri Jo Silbert began searching for her birth parents when she was pregnant with her first daughter in 2001.
Her quest soon led to reuniting with her birth parents. But ultimately her success in finding and then meeting her parents became tainted with sadness and suspicions.
After being the catalyst for a renewed romance between her birth parents, Kathleen Logar, 53, and William Polhemus, 59, Silbert says she fears it was her father who strangled her mother to death in the early morning hours of April 14, 2004, in her home at 4160 Perry St.
She hopes she is wrong. The murder has never been solved.
Bill Polhemus, left, Teri Jo Silbert, center, and Kathleen Logar, right, when birth parents and daughter reunited in Spring 2002
“Part of me is like, God, if I hadn’t met her, she probably wouldn’t have been murdered,” Silbert, 36, said in a phone interview from her home in Cave Creek, Az. “Every day I think about that. If Bill truly did it, I wish they could nail him.”
The Denver cold case detective in charge of the murder investigation was not available for comment.
Logar was 15 when she met Polhemus in 1966 at a party she attended while on a skiing trip in his home town of Frisco, Silbert said. Their on-again, off-again romance would last several years until Logar became pregnant in 1970 at the age of 19, according to Logar’s sister Regina Bailey, 58, of El Jebel.
Silbert said her mother didn’t think Polhemus would make a good father. She would later say he had betrayed her and lied. Also, he was 21 and anxious to join the Navy, Bailey said.
Logar decided to give her daughter up for adoption.
Kathleen Logar’s high school senior picture
When Silbert, who owns a house-cleaning business, was pregnant with her daughter in 2001, she decided it was time to seek birth parents. She paid a company about $500 to file the paperwork and do the research. The company found her mother within a month.
Logar was living in the same home she had been living in when she was a teen. She had never gotten married and so her name was the same.
When she called her birth mother, Silbert learned that Logar had just notarized paperwork to begin the process to find her daughter.
Bill Polhemus’ high school senior picture
“They were both looking at the same time,” Bailey said. “They did find each other.”
Silbert said she was ecstatic to speak with her mother, an effervescent and loving woman.
Logar told her daughter about her obsession with Elvis Presley. She had an impressive collection of Elvis memorabilia. She loved to sing at karaoke bars and her dream was to go to Nashville and become a country star.
She also was very spiritual and compassionate. She was well versed in the Bible and joined the Marilyn Hickey Ministries as a “prayer warrior,” calling people on the phone undergoing tough times in their lives like arrests or unemployment and praying with them. She was known for giving away bookmarks, cards or candy “just to brighten someone’s day,” according to a ministry newsletter.
Neighbors said Logar would take Easter baskets to neighbors and play music on her baby grand piano.
Silbert and Logar began mailing pictures of family members back and forth.
“We decided to start seeing each other,” Silbert said.
She said she asked her mother about her father but was more interested in meeting her than him.
Logar wrote a lengthy letter in which she mentioned that her boyfriend, whom she had not seen since the late 1980s, had a troubled background but was a good man.
It is unclear how much Logar knew about her Polhemus’ past. Silbert said she thinks she knew things about him that she wouldn’t share. As a Christian, Logar was willing to forgive him for his past.
“I don’t think she wanted to tell me anything that would have pushed me away,” Silbert said. “I think I should have known about that before I led him around my family.”
Silbert said knowing about her dad’s past wouldn’t have kept her away from her mother.
As it turns out, her father had a violent criminal history.
In 1982, Polhemus was arrested in Breckenridge for kidnapping, assault, two counts of sexual assault, and menacing with a weapon, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity on March 18, 1983, and sent to the Pueblo state mental hospital.
After Polhemus was released from the state mental hospital, he was arrested for third-degree sexual assault in 1997.
When Logar called Polhemus, who was then living in Colorado Springs, in January 2002, he was thrilled, Bailey said. He, too, was eager to meet his daughter.
So two months later in March 2002, Polhemus, Logar and Silbert all met at Bailey’s home in El Jebel for five days, she said.
Polhemus told family at the reunion that learning about his daughter may have saved his life. He was in a tailspin of drug and alcohol abuse.
“He said it was just in time because he was considering suicide,” Bailey said.
Though he was glad to meet his daughter, it appeared to many that he was equally excited about reuniting with Logar, his high school sweetheart, Bailey said. The affection seemed mutual, Silbert said.
Silbert’s mother called after that first meeting and told her a romance had reignited between the former lovers.
“She said, ‘maybe we’ll have another child,’” Silbert said.
It is also unclear whether Logar knew about Polhemus’ continuing missteps with the law, including a harassment arrest in Fountain on May 22, 2003, two months after that first meeting.
Kathleen Logar and Bill Polhemus at Regina Bailey’s house in Spring 2002 when they reunited with daughter Teri Jo Silbert
The following September, the high school lovebirds traveled together to Arizona to meet Silbert’s husband and 5-month-old daughter. They stayed for about five days, Silbert said.
Silbert noted some friction between her parents. Polhemus liked Logar’s hair to be straight. Logar, who had always spent a lot of time on her hair since her teen years, liked to curl her hair, she said.
“It drove him crazy it took so long to curl her hair,” Silbert said. “He liked her hair a certain way.”
There was also a hint that their expectations about their relationship were different. Although they slept in the same hotel room, they had separate beds.
“He made one or two comments that he wasn’t getting anything,” Silbert said. The comment had a clear sexual connotation, she said.
Nevertheless, Polhemus began making regular trips from his home in Colorado Springs to Denver to spend time with Logar.
In August of 2003, Polhemus invited Logar to his high school reunion in Frisco, Bailey said. But the event didn’t go very well.
“He got so drunk and obnoxious she got embarrassed,” Bailey said.
Logar cooled the relationship down after that, she said. The Bible-quoting Logar began looking at her hard-drinking ex-boyfriend in a different light, Silbert said.
Yet the contacts between the two continued. They set up three-way phone conversations between father, mother and daughter.
Occasionally, Polhemus drove to her house on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, his days off from a warehouse job in Colorado Springs, she said.
Logar started talking about moving to Arizona to be close to her daughter. But she made it clear Polhemus was not going to come with her.
But the week before she was killed, Logar asked Polhemus for $800 for rent, Silbert said. She needed the money by the next week.
The request for money may have caused additional friction in the wavering relationship, Silbert said. She spurned a romance, but was asking for a lot of money, Silbert surmised.
On Saturday April 10, 2004, Silbert sent boxes of gifts and cookies to each of her natural parents.
The following Friday she got a frantic call from Polhemus who said he hadn’t been able to reach Logar since midnight Tuesday, April 13, when he spoke to her on the phone.
“He also mentioned that ‘I will be a suspect, but they can get my phone records and they’ll see I called her home at 6:30 on Wednesday morning,’ ” Silbert quoted him as saying.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays had always been the days Polhemus would visit Logar, because they were his days off from the warehouse, Bailey noted.
That Friday night, Polhemus called Denver police and asked them to do a welfare check on Logar’s house.
When officers went to the home, they discovered Logar’s nude body in her bathtub with her “beautiful” hair hacked to a stubble, Bailey said.
She had bruises and small cuts on her back and arms. Her jaw was broken as well as bones in her neck. A coroner’s report would later indicate she was strangled to death. She was 53.
Over time, police would question Polhemus six times in lengthy interviews, Bailey said. Initially, they brought him to police headquarters and had him undress to see if he had any bruises or cuts on his body.
Polhemus called Bailey to talk to her about the interviews, telling her that police did not find any injuries on his body, she said.
Police gave Polhemus a polygraph. When he failed the lie detector test, he called Bailey again and told her that he had failed, Bailey said. He denied killing Logar.
There wasn’t enough physical evidence to file a murder charge, Bailey said she learned from police.
Silbert said that after her mother was killed there were things Polhemus said that seemed odd to her.
After it was reported that Logar’s hair was cut off, Polhemus called her.
She said he told her, “’I hope they didn’t use my hedgetrimmers to cut her hair.’”
After the conversation “I picked up the phone and called police,” she said.
The hedgetrimmer, which Polhemus had brought to the home to do yard work, has never been found, Bailey said.
A few days after Logar’s body was found, Silbert asked Polhemus if he had told his family about her death. He responded that his sister’s phone number was in Logar’s address book in her house.
“It was weird to me,” she said. “What did the address book have anything to do with whether he had called his family?”
Logar’s address book was not discovered in the house, Silbert said.
Months later, Bailey got into trouble in Colorado Springs.
According to CBI records, he was arrested for two counts of sexual assault, kidnapping, menacing and assault in Colorado Springs.
A Colorado Springs Gazette article says that in April 2005, a year after Logar was killed, Polhemus struck a 30-year-old woman in the head with a mallet when she went to his house to pick up clothes she had left there. Polhemus repeatedly raped the woman.
Bill Polhemus following rape, kidnapping convictions, courtesy Colorado Department of Corrections
The woman escaped by crawling through a bedroom window nude and calling police.
A second woman testified during his 2006 trial that he hit her with a crowbar and tried to rape her, the Gazette reported.
“A mallet is the last thing I see when I go to sleep at night, and the first thing I see when I wake up,” the newspaper quoted the 30-year-old victim as saying during Polhemus’ trial.
Polhemus was convicted of nine felony counts and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, according to CBI records.
Silbert said the evidence in her mother’s murder suggests to her that whoever killed her was motivated by rage and personal issues.
“You usually don’t get too many murders where they hack your hair off.”
Contact information: Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Denver Police Department at 303-739-6000. Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org