|This case has remained unsolved for 40 years, 8 months, and 13 days.|
The city of Weatherford, located about 25 miles west of Fort Worth, is often called the Peach Capital of Texas. It’s a sunny town with high temperatures that are great for growing big, juicy peaches, hence the nickname. Also considered a relatively safe town to live in, no one could have anticipated that two teenagers would be murdered — and that the case would remain unsolved over forty years later.
When 16-year-old Vincent Tijerina Jr. didn’t come home one Friday night in 1983, his father went out searching for him. He combed the town all night, eventually finding the family’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo the next morning. What he found inside haunted him for the rest of his life: both Vincent Jr. and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Shelly Colliflower, were shot to death. But who had done this?
Vincent Jr. and Shelly were considered good students, and not the sort to get into any sort of trouble like messing with drugs or alcohol, and yet they ended up murdered. Despite decades of investigation by numerous law enforcement agencies and a profusion of rumors and theories, the case remains unsolved to this day. Who murdered Shelly Colliflower and Vincent Tijerina Jr.?
Table of Contents
About Michelle “Shelly” Colliflower Couch
Michelle “Shelly” Colliflower Couch was born on June 20, 1968 in Clifton, Texas (TX). She was raised primarily by her mother, Johnetta Nitcholas, and her stepfather, Ronald Colliflower. She also had a younger sister named Chrystal.
Popular and Well-Liked
In 1983, Shelly was 14 years old, a freshman honor student at Weatherford High, and well-liked and considered popular among her peers. She enjoyed listening to music and playing outside, as well as taking care of her registered quarter horse named Dancer. As for future plans, Shelly aspired to become a cosmetologist, or perhaps even a cosmetology teacher someday.
“[Shelly] was a sweetheart, she smiled all the time and had a really, really kind heart,” her mother said. Ronald, Shelly’s stepfather, described his daughter as “sweet and pure — wouldn’t hurt a soul.” There was no indication that Shelly would ever end up in any sort of dangerous situation, let alone one where she lost her life.
About Vincent Tijerina Jr.
Vincent Tijerina Jr. was born on July 7, 1966 to parents Vincent Sr. and Carolina Tijerina. Like Shelly, Vincent Jr. also attended Weatherford High and was an honor student, although he was a grade above her as a sophomore. He enjoyed martial arts and also participated in the Future Farmers of America.
The Tijerina family had moved to the Weatherford area a few years earlier to be closer to Vincent Jr.’s grandmother, as his family was very close. They regularly gathered for family reunions, swimming, and barbecues. Vincent was also said to have built a dollhouse for his sisters, fashioning it with miniature wooden furniture for them to play with.
As for the future, Vincent Jr. wanted to go into the Air Force and become a pilot. “[Vincent Jr.] was the kind of boy who didn’t get into any trouble. He didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. He didn’t pick fights,” said his father of his slain son. By all accounts, Vincent Jr. was on track to become a productive member of society and was a typical teenage boy.
Vincent Jr. and Shelly had met at a Future Farmers of America group, and bonded through their mutual love of animals. Vincent Jr. was raising some registered Brahman cows and Shelly had her horse, Dancer. The two hit it off and started dating, although Shelly’s stepfather, Ronald, didn’t approve of the relationship for unstated reasons. All in all, there is no reason that these two intelligent teenagers should’ve ended up dead, much less that the case should remain unsolved four decades on.
The Night of the Murders
It was a Friday on March 25, 1983, and many high school students were looking forward to the weekend. Shelly’s mother, Johnetta Nitcholas, last saw her daughter when she dropped her off for school that morning. “[Shelly] got out of the car and she looked down at me and she said, ‘Bye momma, I love you,’” Nitcholas told a news outlet. She and her husband, Ronald, were headed to Brownwood for an anniversary trip starting that day.
Since Shelly’s parents were out-of-town for the weekend, Shelly was staying with a friend of her mother. She was allowed to go out to see some friends, but she instead went out with her boyfriend, Vincent Tijerina Jr., as so many teenagers do.
Neither Teen Returns Home
That night, Vincent Jr. had the family car, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and picked up Shelly so the two could spend some time together. He was supposed to have been home by midnight, his curfew, but he never returned. Since, it was odd for Vincent Jr. to miss curfew, his father went out looking for him despite a pouring rainstorm. Vincent Tijerina Sr. spent all night searching for his missing son, worried that something had happened.
Shelly Missing as Well
On the morning of March 26, 1983, Shelly’s mother, Johnetta Nitcholas, received a call from the friend that Shelly had been staying with to inform her that Shelly had never come home that night. This was odd behavior for Shelly, and Nitcholas immediately became concerned that something was seriously wrong. She and her then-husband Ronald rushed home early from their trip to figure out where their daughter was.
A Grim Discovery
Around 7 AM that morning, Vincent Sr. spotted his family’s car in an area off Tin Top Road and Cleburne Avenue near an abandoned school. The area was locally known as “Piss Hill,” although I wasn’t able to find any information about why it’s called that.
When Vincent Sr. walked up to the car, he saw that the two teenagers — his son, Vincent Jr., and his girlfriend, 14-year-old Shelly Colliflower — had been shot to death. Authorities were immediately called to the scene and an investigation began.
The Weatherford Police Department (WPD) arrived at the scene quickly, and noted that Shelly had been shot in the back of the head while Vincent Jr. had been shot once over the left eye. Authorities searched the nearby area for any clues as to who might’ve committed the crime, but it was difficult due to the prior night’s rainstorm.
Rain Made Things Muddy
A pouring rainstorm during the night had washed away a lot of tire track evidence at the site of the murders, according to the WPD. Even the tracks to the victim’s car had been washed away, so there was little-to-no hope of finding a perpetrator’s tire tracks left behind if they’d come in a car, or even any footprints if they’d come on foot.
Robbery Not the Motive
Little information was released to the public, but it seems that the teens hadn’t been robbed the night they were murdered. “They weren’t robbed,” Vincent Tijerina Sr. told a news outlet back in the 80s, “What little money they had, they had. Their car wasn’t stolen. They weren’t beaten up.” But if robbery wasn’t the motive, what was?
An Odd Note
An odd note was found left in Shelly’s purse during the last period of classes at some point before the murders. Nitcholas explained the note to the media:
“It told [Shelly] she was too beautiful and that he wanted her but that she was so beautiful he knew he couldn’t have her and one day he would have her.”Johnetta Nitcholas (Source: 5NBC DFW)
It’s not clear exactly how long before the murders that this note was found, but Nitcholas thinks it might somehow be connected. “[The crime] wasn’t random. It was someone who knew them well,” she told a news outlet.
Connection to Another Shooting?
There was another shooting in the weeks prior to the teenagers’ deaths: a couple was found shot to death near Lake Weatherford. However, authorities did not think the killings were connected and had charged a suspect in those homicides. It does not appear that the killings were connected in any way based on publicly-available evidence.
Colliflower Family Breaks Apart
Two months after the death of Shelly, her parents ended up divorcing. It seems that her parents were already in talks regarding divorce, but the tragedy put even more strain on their marriage and they ended up splitting. One can only imagine the sorrow that comes with losing a child, especially in such a horrific way. In that way, it’s not surprising that many couples end up splitting after the death of a child.
Not a Random Killing
There were rumors swirling that the slaying of the two teens was a targeted attack, and some authorities apparently agreed with this assessment. The police chief at the time later revealed that he’s convinced it wasn’t a random attack. However, there is not much concrete evidence that points to any one potential suspect, and rumors abound as to who might’ve committed the crime.
Newspapers at the time reported that the WPD was following a number of leads and rumors in the case. Authorities interviewed hundreds of people and many more were given polygraph examinations.
Law enforcement agencies also admitted that there are suspects in the case, but they have never publicly been named. It seems that authorities were never able to gather enough evidence to arrest, much less prosecute anyone.
Other Agencies Join the Investigation
Other law enforcement agencies joined in the investigation efforts into what happened to Shelly and Vincent Jr., including the Texas Rangers, the Fort Worth Police, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Despite the help, it seems that they were unable to solve the mystery of who murdered the two teens.
Vincent Sr. Searches for Answers
According to newspapers at the time, Vincent’s father, Vincent Sr., went around town asking people if anyone knew what had happened to his son. He is described as conducting “many late night interviews in out-of-the-way places.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that he was able to find any answers to who might’ve killed his son.
Anonymous Phone Calls
Johnetta Nitcholas, Shelly’s mother, revealed that she’d received some anonymous phone calls in the months and years after the murders. On one of the calls, the caller stated that the teens had witnessed a drug deal go down and had been killed because of it.
Police eventually managed to track down who was making these calls, and they traced it to a man who was ruled out as a suspect or person of interest. It’s unfortunate that in so many cases like this one, there are people who get involved, know nothing about the crime, and end up wasting law enforcement’s time (and taxpayer money).
An Inadequate Investigation?
Some have accused authorities of not investigating the double-murder properly. According to some of Vincent Jr.’s family, the police didn’t do their job: “[Vincent Sr.] told me the police did a lousy job of investigating. It was never worth a damn to them.” Similarly, Nitcholas, Shelly’s mother, claims that the police lied to her from the get-go:
“Some of the things I’m finding out now and hearing now makes a whole lot more sense… It’s showing it’s not as real as how they handled it back then.”Johnetta Nitcholas (Source: Weatherford Democrat)
Both mothers of the victims (Johnetta Nitcholas and Carolina Tijerina) also stated that communication from the WPD was lacking.
Additionally, there were some discrepancies in what law enforcement was telling the public and what publicly-available evidence was showing. For example, the media was told that both teens were shot while in the car. However, news video from the time shows two distinctive blood stains on the ground near where the car was located.
It’s possible that some blood may have dripped out of the car and pooled on the ground. However, since it was raining that night, shouldn’t the rain have washed these bloodstains away?
Case Goes Unsolved for 40 Years
Four decades later in 2023, the case still remains unsolved. It seems that we’re no closer to solving the case than we were back in 1983.
Theories on What Happened
Perhaps because of the age of this case, there are a number of theories out there regarding who might’ve killed Shelly Colliflower and Vincent Tijerina Jr. ranging from drugs to racism to a cover-up by law enforcement. Let’s examine these theories.
The Teens Saw Something They Shouldn’t Have
One of the theories in this case is that the two teens were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is, they were near the abandoned school and saw something that perhaps they shouldn’t have, and ended up dead because of it.
For example, perhaps there was a drug deal going down near the abandoned school, the teens saw it happen and saw the people involved, and since the dealer didn’t want to be implicated or reported to police, they shot the teens instead.
Another Student had a Crush on Shelly
One of the other theories is that another student had a crush on Shelly and because he couldn’t date her, he ended up killing both her and her boyfriend at the time. This is possible, and some investigators have agreed that the murders weren’t random. A detective working on the case said that the killer was “somebody that knew them or had familiarity with that area.”
Drug Deal Gone Wrong
Many have speculated that the two teens were murdered because of some sort of drug-deal-gone-wrong scenario. However, the families of both teens have always been adamant that neither was involved in drugs or alcohol. Because the autopsy reports were never released, we can’t know for sure if either had drugs or alcohol in their system.
A Former Official was Involved
Others suggested that this case wasn’t fully investigated because the perpetrator was either involved in the police force or local government. At first, I was unable to find any information that might corroborate this (aside from rumors), but with a little more digging, I found some interesting documents and information.
In 2022, Ronald Colliflower requested information regarding his daughter’s case including the autopsy report, police report, and additional reports relevant to the case to give to private investigators. The city denied the request, along with other requests for information regarding some city employees. In part, they wrote:
“Because the requestor has not indicated to the City [sic] that he is seeking the documents on behalf of a criminal justice agency, the City believes it must withhold any responsive information regarding criminal history of a current City employee.”City Response (Source: Justice for Michelle (Shelly) Colliflower/ Vincent Tijerina).
Furthermore, a lawsuit has been filed by some former officials against certain people making public comments regarding the case. The plaintiffs claim slander, libel, and defamation against a number of people — at least five people stated in the original petition — and request monetary relief of over $1,000,000, as well as restraining orders against the named defendants. I find these actions bizarre, and I will discuss them later in the opinion section of my article.
Racism Played a Role
Still others have suggested that racism might’ve played a role in the teens’ deaths, given that Vincent Jr. was of Hispanic origin and Shelly was White. I don’t know what the political climate was like in Texas back then, but I’m sure that some people might’ve had a problem with a young White girl dating a Hispanic boy.
What Do I Think Happened?
Really old cases like this one are always so hard to comb through. A lot of the information that we have now comes from old newspaper articles and some modern articles trying to dig up more information in the pursuit of justice. As with every case I cover, I can’t know for sure, but I can speculate about what might’ve happened here.
Student Crush Possible
One of the main theories is that whoever wrote that strange note and left it in Shelly’s purse might’ve been the one to commit the crime. Maybe they were so jealous of Shelly’s relationship with Vincent Jr., they followed the couple to Piss Hill and ended up shooting them. Cases like these aren’t exactly rare.
Here are a few cases from recent months to illustrate my point. In March 2023, an alleged stalker killed a woman and her husband in their Seattle-area home. The suspect became obsessed with the woman after meeting her via social media, and allegedly ended up killing the couple when he couldn’t have her. In April 2023, a stalker in Kansas removed his ankle monitor and allegedly killed the woman he’d been convicted of stalking, stabbing her to death with a pickaxe or other sharp tool.
A simple Google search will bring up many, many more cases like these. Therefore, a situation where an obsessed crush might’ve killed Shelly and Vincent Jr. is possible, however insane it might sound to the rest of us.
Was This a Coverup by Officials?
A more popular theory in this case is that someone either in law enforcement or who was a city official was somehow involved in the murders. A lot of evidence hasn’t been released to the public, so I can’t say for sure whether or not there really was a coverup, but there are a number of things going on in this case that I find strange.
Firstly, why hasn’t the autopsy report for either victim ever been made public? Many modern cases have the autopsy reports released to the public in the interest of transparency, so why hasn’t that been done in this case? They’ve had forty years to release it and still haven’t done so.
Secondly, why is the WPD so tight-fisted about the information they have? Look, I understand keeping certain things about cases close to the chest and there are good reasons law enforcement operates that way. That being said, again, they’ve had forty years to solve this case and they haven’t. What possible harm is there in releasing the reports to private investigators hired by Ronald Colliflower, as he requested and was denied? If the WPD is trying to avoid controversy, they’re going about it the wrong way.
Lastly, some former officials filing defamation lawsuits against people on social media seems very bizarre to me. Granted, I haven’t seen all the evidence in the case and it’s possible that people did indeed participate in defamation. However, go to any true crime YouTube channel (or any true crime Medium article) and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds of people stating their opinions about cases in the comment sections.
I’ll be the first to say that web sleuths shouldn’t go around harassing people. Still, people are also allowed to have their opinions about cases like these. Stating their opinion (ie. “I think Bobby Joe killed Billy Sue”) does not constitute defamation, slander, or libel. If it did, we’d need to charge the hundreds of thousands of people who have commented similar things on all sorts of true crime media. Time will tell as the case works its way through the court system.
Will This Case Ever Be Solved?
One of the biggest issues with some of these older cases is the lack of technology present back then. Today, the teens just driving through town would’ve been caught on surveillance footage from a number of personal homes and businesses.
Back then, there were no household doorbell cameras and if businesses had security cameras, they were probably very low resolution. If someone was following the teens, the perpetrator’s car might’ve been picked up on these security cameras. However, trying to determine a make and model back then might’ve been impossible.
Furthermore, advancements in DNA technology have allowed even the smallest traces of DNA to be tested and analyzed. I’m not sure if any DNA evidence was recovered at the scene in this case, though. Many people seem to think that it was, and if that’s the case, then the WPD (or another law enforcement organization) needs to make testing and comparing that DNA a priority. Forty years is long enough.
I suppose my point is if this case had happened today, I believe it would have been solved within a few years’ time. Given the four decades that have passed, the chances that it will be solved unfortunately grow slimmer with each passing day.
Shelly and Vincent Jr. Deserve Justice
Regardless of theories, rumors, and speculation, forty years is long enough. This case needs justice, and Shelly and Vincent Jr. deserve it after so many years. Tijerina’s family, along with other loved ones, continue to beg the public for answers: “Somebody knows something and please, for the sake of my family, for the sake of me, just say something.” It’s time for justice to be served.
There have been a number of updates in this unsolved case, but there are still few answers, and no arrests have ever been made.
February 1986: Vincent Tijerina Sr. Passes Away
Vincent’s father, Vincent Tijerina Sr., passed away in February 1986. He never learned who killed his son.
November 2021: Case Officially Reopened
The double-murder case of Shelly Colliflower and Vincent Tijerina Jr. was officially reopened in November 2021. “This case, these victims and their families, they deserve for this to have another look with fresh eyes,” one of the new investigators told a local paper.
2022: GiveSendGo Set Up
In 2022, Ronnie Colliflower (Shelly’s father) set up a GiveSendGo, a crowdfunding campaign, to try to raise money for private investigators. The fund’s goal is $25,000 and as of July 2023, it is still far short of that.
October 2022: Rally Held
A rally was held in October 2022 to call attention back onto the more than four-decade-old cold case. Shelly’s niece (whom she never met) was present and said, “We want the people that are still alive and were involved to pay for it. Justice needs to be done.”
Do You Have Information?
There is currently a $15,000 reward being offered for information in this case. If you have any information about who murdered Shelly Colliflower or Vincent Tijerina Jr., please contact the Weatherford Police Department at (817) 598–4310 or Parker County Crime Stoppers at (817) 599–5555.
Cold Case Questions
- What do you think the motive was for the murder of Shelly Colliflower and Vincent Tijerina Jr.?
- Was there a cover-up by law enforcement in this case?
- Do you think this case will ever be solved?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
Thanks for Reading!
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