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Continued Work By YCSO Investigators Help Solve A 40-Year-Old Cold Case

Mike Lee 1978 - img003

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A cold case dating back to 1980 has been solved. Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials say the body of then 29-year-old Michael E. Lee was found on a two-track road off Highway 179 in Yavapai County in October of 1980. Lee was found with several gunshot wounds to the head. He was an ironworker from Indiana who was visiting the state. Cigarette butts were found at the scene, but the investigation floundered with no resolution. In June of 2018, a cold case volunteer looked over the case and sent the cigarette butts in for testing. Two butts came back connected to David Ellsworth Widmer, who was 31 at the time. He had an extensive criminal background and was not mentioned in the initial investigation. A detective was then assigned to the case. Widmer was further tied to the victim through additional DNA findings. A second suspect was recently identified. Rocky Crabtree is believed to have been an accomplice of Widmer in Lee’s murder. The investigation established Lee knew both suspects. The motive appears to be robbery. The investigation tied both to Lee’s murder, however, Widmer died in early 2019 and Crabtree died in 1990. Had they been alive, detectives are confident both would have been arrested and charged in connection with Lee’s death. Lee’s family has been notified and was appreciative in the continued work to find a resolution to the case.