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Joe Michael Ervin: The Serial Killer Who's Crimes Didn't Surface Until 40 Years After His Death

Joe Michael Ervin committed suicide while awaiting trial for the murder of a police officer in 1981, due to DNA and genealogy advancements he has been found responsible for a number of other cold case murders.


Serial killer Michael Joe Ervin
Serial killer Joe Michael Ervin

In 1981, Joe Michael Ervin was pulled over by a Colorado police officer named Debra Sue Corr on the suspicion of driving under the influence. Corr was completely unaware that the man she was stopping was actually a brutal serial killer - or that she was about to become his next and final victim.



Ervin managed to overpower Corr and shoot her in the head with her own gun. He then shot a passerby who had stopped to try and help the officer, before he fled from the scene of the crime. He was later arrested at his home while trying to saw off the handcuffs that Corr had put him in, Ervin would never have to face justice as he hung himself before he was sent to trial.


It wasn't until after his death that Ervin became a major suspect in four unsolved murder cases that had taken place between 1978 and 1981. Due to more recent developments in DNA and genealogy services, we now know the true extent of Joe Michael Ervin's horrific crimes.


The Early Crimes Committed By Joe Michael Ervin


Joe Michael Ervin was born on June 25, 1951, in Fort Worth, Texas, he had murdered his first victim before he even reached adulthood. While hanging around outside the Berry Bowl bowling alley on August 8, 1969, the Kirkpatrick High school student wandered over to the driver's side of a parked car, shooting the 21-year-old passenger Rodney Bonham in the neck before quickly fleeing the scene.


The victim, a Tarrant County Junior College student died four days later from his injuries, instigating Fort Worth police to issue a statewide warrant for Ervin.


Victims of Joe Michael Ervin
Gwendolyn Harris, Antoinette Parks, and Madeleine Furey-Livaudais.

Unbelievably, Ervin had made a phone call to the father of Rodney Bonham after he heard that he had died, and said: "I'm sorry he's dead, but we all have to go sometime. I'm sorry I shot him."


With a $650 dollar reward on his head, Ervin fled and went to Denver, Colorado, and changed his name to Joe Michael Erwing.



Between 1970 and 1977, the runaway murderer committed even more violent crimes, including rape, burglary, and assault, landing him a short spell at a Colorado State Hospital. However, he was quickly released back into society to continue his killing spree.


His next victim was a 33-year-old magazine editor and mother of two by the name of Madeleine Furey-Livaudais. On December 7, 1978, Ervin knocked on the door of her home, forced her into her bedroom, and stabbed her to death. Her death was never investigated due to an "overwhelmed police department".


The next murder would come two years later when Ervin stabbed 53-year-old Delores Barajas, a resident of Denver who had just left home on her way to work at the Fairmont Hotel, her body was discovered several hours later dumped in a nearby alley. It was the victims' last day at work before she was due to return to her home out of state.


Then, in December 1980, 27-year-old Gwendolyn Harris vanished from a lounge in downtown Denver, with her body being discovered on December 21. But perhaps Ervin's most despicable crime was the horrific stabbing of 17-year-old Antoinette Parks in a field on January 24, 1981. She was six months pregnant at the time of the murder.


The Crimes Of Joe Michael Ervin Finally Surface


Ultimately these murders all became cold cases for decades, even though Ervin was arrested within a few months of his last killing. On June 27, 1981, Joe Michael Ervin was pulled over in Aurora for driving under the influence, during the arrest Ervin grabbed officer Corr's gun from its holster while handcuffed and fired three shots at her, two of which were fatal.


Debra Sue Corr Murdered
Debra Sue Corr was 26 years old when she was murdered by Joe Michael Ervin

The passerby who stopped to try and help Corr was 19-year-old Glen Spies, who was shot in the back by Ervin before he fled the scene. Thankfully Spies survived the incident.


The police traced the registration plate of Ervin's car back to his home address and arrested him, however, the cold-hearted killer managed to evade justice once again on July 1, 1981.



Ervin was indicted on first-degree murder and attempted murder, but while being held in solitary confinement at the Adams County Jail he was found dead in his cell. He had written a note confessing to the murder of police officer Debra Sue Corr before hanging himself.


It wasn't until January 29, 2022, that the Denver Police Department brought some closure to a number of grieving families. Authorities announced that, based on DNA samples and genetic genealogy services, they were sure that Joe Michael Ervin was the killer in the murders of Furey-Livaudais, Barajas, Harris, and Parks.


He might have escaped the courtroom, but the world now knows that Joe Michael Ervin was a brutal murderer.


Now you have read about the crimes of Joe Michael Ervin, make sure you read of the chilling story of Kendall Francois: The Sickening Story Of "The Poughkeepsie Killer" Who Brutally Murdered 8 Women