Denver Post

Colorado Springs woman gunned down on Christmas Eve 2008

By Kirk Mitchell - The Denver Post - July 16th 2013

Margaret “Mae” Sweet had a secret life and an alias.

The Colorado Springs woman, who was 38, occasionally went by the alias Shelby Jamison when she was meeting people online.

It’s as much a mystery to her family as to anyone.

“There’s a lot about her life that I didn’t know about,” said Jim Egger, her father.

Whether the alias and her secret life had anything to do with her murder on Christmas Eve, 2008, is part of the cold case murder investigation.

On that night at 11 p.m., a neighbor on the 1300 block of Fosdick Circle in Colorado Springs heard an argument around 11 p.m. A man was yelling obscenities, the neighbor later would tell police.

Then a shot rang out. The neighbor did not call 911.

The next morning, Egger drove home after spending the night at the hospital with his wife.

He and his daughter had been taking turns staying with his wife Penny Egger, who was Sweet’s stepmother. Penny was recuperating at a hospital following surgery.

When Egger drove home in the darkness he spotted something odd beyond a white picket fence.

His daughter, who had been staying with him and his wife, was crumpled on the side of the porch with one leg in a basement window well.

Egger, who is a retired U.S. Air Force, ran to her body. Her skin was cold. Blood had pooled in the window well.

It was 5:50 a.m., Christmas day.

Sweet was declared dead at the scene, according to Colorado Police Department.

Police had Egger sit in a patrol car for two hours. The officers later did tests on his hands to see if gun powder residue was present.

“I told them anything that will help them decide I didn’t commit the murder, so they could look somewhere else, I was willing to do,” Egger said.

Colorado Springs detectives searched the Egger home for clues and took several items for evidence.

Egger said police took her cellular phone and her computer.

Ballistic testing was done on the bullet slug taken from Sweet’s body. It had been fired from the same gun used to injure a man in a drug deal gone bad in 2007. The victim in that case survived the shooting, but no suspect had been arrested in that case, Egger said.

An autopsy and toxicology report revealed that Sweet had not been using illegal drugs and she had never been involved in the drug trade before.

That same Christmas morning, Colorado Springs police knocked on the front door of Sweet’s former boyfriend, Jere Dale Batts, 56, who was 13 years older than Sweet.

Sweet had obtained a restraining order against him on May 13 of the same year. She had told a judge that Batts, a car-repair man, had followed her from Nashville, Tenn., where they had met a few years earlier, Batts said.

Egger said his daughter moved back to Colorado to get away from Batts and that he followed her to Colorado Springs. At one point, Batts said he flew to Colorado Springs and left a stuffed Teddy Bear, a dozen red roses and a diamond engagement ring on her car’s front hood.

“I moved to Colorado Springs to see if we could try again to make our relationship work,” Egger said.

Batts acknowledged that he and Egger had had a stormy relationship but he denies he ever stalked Sweet as she claimed and hadn’t physically assaulted her.

He said Sweet got the restraining order after one night when she came to his apartment drunk. She started slugging him with her fists and he only grabbed her wrists to prevent her from striking him.

“Mae was a good person with a good heart, but in a bad place,” Batts said. “I think mentally she was not in a good place. She wasn’t herself.”

Weeks after a judge signed a permanent restraining order against Batts, Sweet arranged to go to Batts’ house to pick up her belongings, including clothes and pots and pans, he said.

“She had some characters with her that day. It was not a nice situation,” Batts said. “She had a really young boyfriend with her.”

About a month before her death, Batts said he arranged for Sweet to meet a mutual friend of theirs from Tennessee, who was visiting him. It started a limited text correspondence between Sweet and Batts.

Batts said there was some discussion between him and Sweet about getting back together but he told her that unless she had the restraining order removed he couldn’t see her again.

On Christmas Eve, the night Sweet was murdered, Batts said he had a date with another woman.

When police came to his house the next day they asked him to take a lie detector test, which he took and passed, he said. They also tested his hands for gun powder residue and determined he hadn’t fired a gun, he said.

“I just wanted to clear myself one way or the other. I have nothing to hide,” Batts said. “I wish they could find who did this. I’m trying to move on with my life.”

Batts said he was married several years after Sweet was murdered.

Egger said his daughter had always been independent, just the way the chief master sergeant had raised her.

Sweet was born in Montana and moved around the country with her military father.

“She loved music, especially going to live shows, working with animals, going to Air Force Academy Football games, and was always quick to help a friend in need. She was most at peace when white water rafting in the mountains or on the beach in Destin, FL.,” her obituary says.

But there were also some tough times.

Sweet was married and divorced twice. She told her father she got a divorce from her first husband after she was abused. She worked at a restaurant.

Egger said since his daughter’s murder he has tried to move on with his life but several things make it very difficult.

“It painfully boils up on her birthday, which is around Easter, and at Christmas,” he said.

He said he hopes police will find the connection they need from an unusual caliber of bullet used in her murder and solve the case. But that won’t bring Mae back, he said.

“There’s really nothing that can take the pain away,” Egger said.

Anyone with information that could held solve the case are asked to call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000 or email with tips.

Denver Post staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-954-1206 or


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Colorado Springs woman gunned down on Christmas Eve 2008