A new break in Phoenix Police Department's oldest cold case homicide

Posted at 10:18 AM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 06:22:25-05

PHOENIX — It's a murder mystery from 1975. A gas station clerk killed in what's now the oldest cold case the Phoenix Police Homicide Unit is actively working.

A months-long ABC15 investigation is now helping in the process, tracking down a witness and connecting them with police.

"The news came on and they said a female service station attendant had been shot at the station at 32nd Avenue and Roosevelt," says Vickie Goulette, daughter of Nancy Hartley.

Vickie Goulette has never lost sight in the search for her mother's justice.

Nancy Hartley's murder dates back to 1975. It's the oldest active cold case currently being investigated by the Phoenix Police Department - Homicide Unit.

"I would like to face them and tell them what they took: you took a mother, and a grandmother, and now a great grandmother…great, great grandmother," says Goulette.

A devout Baptist, Nancy was planning to attend church after work on March 12, 1975. Phoenix police say that evening a robbery attempt turned deadly at the Pasco Self-Service gas station in West Phoenix. Never-before-seen photos were given exclusively to ABC15 by detectives. They paint a picture of what looks to be a struggle. Hartley was later found by customers in the garage bay area - bound and shot.

"I'm sure she panicked, which in turn, made them panic," says Goulette.

Nancy was murdered at 47 years old. Next month will mark the same length of time her case has sat cold. Detectives tell us they believe the attackers were two teen boys who may have attended Carl Hayden High School, just right down the street. Still, not much is known about the moments leading up to the shooting. But, after weeks of our own investigation, ABC15 was able to track down a witness all these years later. We're protecting her identity for her safety.

"They had a flannel, a beanie, a white belt," says the witness.

The woman says she and her sister, who were teenagers at the time, were approached by the same young men that very same day.

"They grabbed my sister and I… and then I, you know, just shoved them off and we went on our way. They were standing there looking at us walk right into the house," says the witness.

Just 15 minutes later, they heard sirens, and that woman found out Hartley was shot. She also reported their encounter to police.

But, days later, she says she was told the boys were caught. She believed that all this time, until speaking with us. We've now connected her with Detective Dominique Roestenberg.

"Do you think you'll be able to sit down with her?" asks ABC15 reporter Ashley Paredez.

"Oh, 100%. So, after this interview is done, I'll hopefully be able to get that information. That's something that I can look into immediately," says Detective Dominique Roestenberg with the Phoenix Police Department - Homicide Unit.

Watch our full sit down interview with Detective Roestenberg in the player below:

Full interview with homicide detective after a new break in Phoenix Police Department's oldest cold case homicide

Detective Roestenberg took over the case a year ago. He says they've followed up on every lead but, no arrests so far. Still, he remains hopeful.

"I feel like we will get this into a courtroom. We need people to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the witnesses coming forward and testifying," says Det. Roestenberg.

What could help now is advanced forensic technology. Roestenberg has submitted four pieces of evidence, with DNA profiles, to a crime lab.

"I am going to look at the case like it was a member of my family that was murdered," says Det. Roestenberg.

The hardest part - is more waiting.

"Somebody has to know something," says Goulette.

If not in her mother's case, then for the countless other families seeking justice.

We did follow up with the lead detective who says he has interviewed the witness found and received good information to help in the case. He will be interviewing other family members as well.

If you know anything about this murder mystery, you're asked to call Phoenix PD or Silent Witness.