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"We want your help to protect

America's Children."

—  Richard F. Berrelez,  ALIE Foundation, Inc.   

ALIE Foundation, Inc.
Since 1993
5800 Tower Rd #104
Denver, Colorado 80249

Our Mission

Our mission is to educate families concerning the

danger of child abduction and provide bloodhound dogs to

Police K-9 Units to locate missing abducted children.

ALIE Foundation, Inc.


Reflections on covering the Alie Berrelez case

By Tom Munds

Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 10:33 am

The May 27, 1993, Englewood Herald headline over my story about the crime, “Death stuns city” accurately describes the feelings around the city in response to the kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Aleszandra “Alie” Berrelez.

People throughout the community seemed shocked that this crime could happen in Englewood. Apparently, the police felt the same way as they launched one of the most intense investigations in the city’s history.

The little girl was reported missing about 7 p.m. May 18 from in front of 200 W. Grand Ave. where she lived in an apartment with her mother, Marivel, and her two younger brothers.

I got the information and began coverage of the case that evening, but other than a police search, not much was happening.

Early the next day I stopped by the Englewood Police Department building and I was “volunteered” to be a member of one of the search teams looking for the little girl. 

Police officers from Englewood, Littleton and Cherry Hills, a couple Englewood firefighters and several volunteers were in my group. We stretched out in a line to do a detailed search of part of Belleview Park and later did the same type of search along a portion of the east bank of the South Platte River.

The countless hours of searching turned up nothing, so on May 21, the decision was made to ask the Aurora K-9 unit for help. J.F. Nichols brought the bloodhound Yogi to the Union Avenue address. The bloodhound was given Alie’s scent from pieces of her clothes and began tracking the girl.

Members of the press were allowed to follow the dog. It was amazing to watch the dog work as Yogi seemed to have no trouble following the girl’s scent south along Broadway to the Dairy Queen in Littleton and then continued south, eventually turning west on C-470.

The dog kept on the scent for 14 miles to the C-470 intersection with Wadsworth where the exhausted animal could go no further. But it proved to be close.

The next day, members of the Arapahoe Rescue Patrol searched the heavily wooded areas along Deer Creek Canyon and found the little girl’s body stuffed in an Army-style duffel bag.

Reporting on the girl’s death was hard, but I was fortunate the family agreed to allow me to talk and interview Marivel and the girl’s grandparents, Richard and Leticia.

They also allowed me to be among the more than 400 people who attended Alie’s funeral. It was wall-to-wall people in the funeral home in Littleton with almost as many people gathered outside to pay their respects. 

The funeral was at Chapel Hill Cemetery. Alie’s casket was taken to the grave site in an antique 1800s horse-drawn hearse and a line of cars almost a mile long followed.

Later, family members talked to me about their feelings and how they were dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Marivel granted me an interview about a month after the little girl was found, and she explained she had to move out of the Englewood apartment.

“It was too much for me to stay there,” she said during the interview. “It seemed everywhere I looked, I saw something that reminded me of Alie. I had to get out of there.”

Richard Berrelez spearheaded the establishment of the Abducted, Lost, Innocent, Enough (Alie) Foundation. He organized a candle-light vigil and a march to the state Capitol. He also began seeking donations to buy bloodhounds and donate them to police departments in hope the dogs might find lost or abducted children before they were harmed.

“Oh, you try to get back to normal but normal isn’t normal now,” Richard said in a July 1993 interview. “Alie is gone. We won’t sing together again, we won’t go to the zoo together again and it hurts. It hurts even more because I fear it will happen to another child.”

In late July 1993, the foundation bought a bloodhound that Richard named Alie and donated it to the Cherry Hills Police Department’s K-9 unit since Englewood didn’t have a K-9 unit.

Cherry Hills Police Officer Glenn  Riley became Alie’s handler. He helped train her and she lived at the Riley home. He said he loved the dog but she had one big problem, she slobbered constantly. 

About four months after Alie completed training, Riley and the dog found a little girl that was lost in a snowstorm and were credited with more than likely saving the girl’s life.

The foundation continues and donates purchases and bloodhounds to police departments all over the country. To date, they have donated about 450 bloodhounds, and Richard said he has two more who will go to police departments when they are old enough to begin training.

Additionally, he has spoken to children all over the United States about being aware of strangers and urging parents to be careful when it comes to knowing where their children are and where they are going.

“The foundation helps me focus my effort to try to help children and to keep them safe from abduction,” Richard said in a July 1993 interview. He made similar comments at the Sept. 13 news conference.

Covering the story involved getting to know the lead detectives on the case, Mary Beth Chandler and Rick Forbes.

The two worked tirelessly for days, weeks and months, trying to track down the person who kidnapped and killed Alie.

In an August 1993 interview, Chandler said she was tired and went on to explain her comment.

“I’m not tired of the case, I’m tired of the long hours checking and rechecking facts and details,” she said. “I feel the hurt and the pain of the Berrelez family and that hurt fuels me to push harder to try to find out who did this to Alie.”

Chandler, who is now retired, was at the Sept. 13 announcement that DNA identified Nicholas Stofer as the prime suspect in the case.

“When I heard the news I was absolutely elated,” she said. “We always felt sure Stofer was the one and this just validates all the work we did. We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working on this case and it is good to know the case is closed.”

Personally, the press conference and DNA announcement were not the way I had hoped this would end. I always held out hope the criminal would be identified, tried, convicted and punished for his crime.

But perhaps Richard Berrelez summed the circumstances up best on Sept. 13 when he said he “knows God has (Stofer) now and I hope that man is suffering for what he did.”

Tom Munds is a staff writer for Community Media of Colorado.

" Our thanks to everyone that worked and volunteered on Alie's case for hundred's and thousands of hour to the very end.  We are so grateful that to this day and each person that has been touched and moved still continue to be extremely supportive in every possible way."   Richard F. Berrelez,  ALIE Foundation, Inc.  June 12, 2019. 


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