by Silvia Pettem (published in the Daily Camera, October 8, 2006)
In the summer of 1966, Elaura Jaquette was murdered in an organ recital room in Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado campus. Her murderer died in prison without showing any remorse or explaining the details of the day that ended the CU student’s life.
“Although questions remain, it’s more important to honor Jaquette’s memory, rather than dwell on what happened,” said long-time Boulder resident Alan Cass who recently mounted a brass plaque on campus in her honor. At a 10 a.m. dedication Saturday, Cass will be joined by a family member from Grand Junction, as well as friends and a small group of people who have followed the case, to reflect and remember the victim on her 61st birthday.
Cass never met Jaquette, but he literally grew up in the auditorium. His father was the building’s director, in charge of the physical plant, and Cass, then a recent alum, worked as stage manager. At the time of Jaquette’s murder, he was out of state on a family vacation. When the news broke on his car radio, he (with his wife Sue and their infant son) drove all night to get home.
Joseph Morse, a CU custodian, somehow had lured the young zoology major into the auditorium. She had been sitting on the grass on the west end of the quadrangle. One theory is that Morse may have appealed to her for help in caring for an injured bird. Instead, after taking her to a tower room, he beat, raped, and murdered her, then tried to set the room on fire.
Jaquette’s remains are buried in Grand Junction where she has a gravestone. But Cass felt that something needed to be done at CU, too. He arranged for the plaque to be mounted on a sandstone boulder in the place where Jaquette was sitting before her murder. It was a place, Cass believes, that she was really comfortable, a place where she liked to go.
The young woman had dropped off two children she had been babysitting at a movie on the Hill, then she spread out her school books on the grass while waiting for the movie to end. Later in the day, police found her lunch, books, and a billfold with money at the plaque site. Most likely, she cooled her feet in an irrigation ditch next to the natural woody area between the Guggenheim and Hale buildings.
Wording on the plaque simply states, “Elaura J. Jaquette, 1945-1966” followed by an inscription chosen by Sue Cass. She, like Jaquette, has an interest in nature. Sue quoted poet Theodore Roethke who wrote, “It is neither spring nor summer, it is always.”
Alan Cass currently is the curator of the Glenn Miller Archives. His office is in Macky Auditorium and just happens to be below the tower where Jaquette spent the last moments of her life. The plaque was purchased with private donations and set in place in May. If you would like to contribute or would like more information on Saturday’s event, contact Cass at 303-494-5345.
Of the placement of the plaque, Cass said, “People have a need to know about other people. It’s an association with life, and it’s long overdue.”