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Police Seek Killer of Divorcee, Children

February 26, 1985 GMT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ After two failed marriages, Cassandra Rundle took out a classified ad looking for ″one good man.″ She described herself as petite, well-educated and wanting to enjoy life.

On Valentine’s Day, the bodies of the 37-year-old woman and her two children were found bound and strangled in her home, and now police are interviewing the 85 men who answered the advertisements.

But Ms. Rundle’s second husband, Douglas Peltzer, who discovered the bodies when he went to her house bearing a holiday gift, thinks the killer may have been someone she met in a bar just hours after he saw her last.

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Police say neither Peltzer nor Ms. Rundle’s first husband is a suspect.

Peltzer, who remained friends with Ms. Rundle after their divorce in 1983, had taken her to dinner on the evening of the murders, Feb. 13, and later telephoned her, according to a neighbor, Dave Boardman.

It was Boardman’s telephone that Peltzer used the next day to call police after discovering the bodies.

″He (Peltzer) said she had someone there (when he called her) and she would try to get rid of him,″ Boardman said Peltzer told him. ″It must have been late because she apparently picked someone up at a bar and brought him home. At least that’s what he seemed to think.″

Peltzer, who operates a tattoo parlor here, has gone into seclusion and could not be reached for comment on Boardman’s account of their conversation. Repeated calls to his home and business went unanswered.

″I told her it was dangerous business running those ads, but she said she thought it was fun,″ Peltzer said in a recent newspaper interview. ″She was a shy person and thought this was a good way to meet some men.″

Police say they are working around-the-clock to find the killer.

″The odds are we are talking about someone she knew, but we don’t know who did it at this time,″ said Sgt. Joe Kenda, who is heading the investigation.

Ms. Rundle was found nude and bound with electrical cord on her bed. She and her 10-year-old daughter, Melanie Sturm, who was partially clad and bound, were sexually assaulted, the coroner’s office said. Her son, Detrick Sturm, 12, was found clothed and trussed up.

Dr. David Bowerman,the El Paso County coroner, said the three were strangled and beaten with a hockey stick sometime during the night of Feb. 13.

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Ms. Rundle was divorced twice. Her two children came from her first marriage to Steve Sturm, her high school sweetheart in Morgantown, W. Va. She divorced Sturm in 1974, and he now lives in Dayton, Ohio.

The following year, she met Peltzer when they were students at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo. They were married in 1977, the year Ms. Rundle graduated with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science. They moved to Colorado Springs the following year and were divorced in 1983.

Last summer, Ms. Rundle placed her first classified ad.

″Blonde, green eyes, 5-feet-2 inches, 95 pounds, seeking a rugged individualist. Am a free spirit, independent, well-educated, somewhat shy, sensitive and enjoy life. Am a one-man woman looking for one good man. Please send photo and short letter,″ read one of the ads.

The other, which ran two months later, read, ″Warm, together, bright, beautiful and modest lady seeking friendship with a gentle man of quality and character, 30-40 years old.″

Friends of the woman said she ran the ads ″just for a lark″ and had luncheon dates with about a dozen respondents.

Kenda said about 85 men who responded to the two advertisements are among the many people police are questioning.

Last Thursday, the cremated remains of Ms. Rundle and her children were placed in a white burial vault in Morgantown, on a chilly hillside overlooking West Virginia coal country.

″She was a beautiful girl,″ said Ms. Rundle’s mother, Elsa Rundle. ″She was a very beautiful girl who was full of love.″

Classmates in Morgantown High School’s Class of 1965 remembered that one of Ms. Rundle’s best friends in school was also killed with her two children. The woman’s husband was convicted and is serving a life sentence.