Death takes a holiday: Unincorporated Jeffco seeing longest murder drought since late 1940s

-A A +A
By AJ Vicens

On July 23, 2007, a Realtor arrived at a home he was selling on Scenic Drive just west of U.S. 285, about halfway between Indian Hills and Aspen Park.

A body was on the lawn. Robert Alurac, a 41-year-old Lakewood man, had been murdered.

There hasn’t been a murder since then in unincorporated Jefferson County, a stretch of 590 days as of March 4. That’s the longest Jeffco has gone without a murder since the late 1940s, when there were no murders between November 1948 and February 1951.

“We’ve been very fortunate in Jefferson County to not experience any homicides in that number of months,” said Jacki Kelley, spokeswoman for the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office. “It’s difficult to say why (the lack of murders) has occurred. We’ll be happy each day we don’t have one.”

Kelley said the “down time” gives the sheriff’s five homicide investigators time to work on other projects, including preparing for several murder trials recently.

“The down time has given them the opportunity to prepare for those cases,” Kelley said. “The team is not sitting idle.”

There have been several murder trials in Jeffco in the last few months. David Miera was convicted of first-degree murder Feb. 11 for shooting Jonathan Roman MacLagan at a Dec. 17, 2006, South Jeffco house party. Miera was part of a graffiti gang and was trying to kill a member of a rival gang when he shot MacLagan, according to court testimony.

On Oct. 31, 2008, Adam Zamora and his younger brother Aaron were sentenced to life in prison without parole and six years in prison, respectively, for the April 2007 murder of Dylan Newman. Adam Zamora shot Newman during a brief struggle in a botched marijuana deal.

In September 2008, Billy Reid was convicted of murder in two 20-year-old slayings. He killed Lisa Kelly in 1988 and Lanell Williams in 1989, and both bodies were found in unincorporated Jeffco. On Dec. 11, 2008, Reid was sentenced to two life sentences plus 48 years.

Homicide investigators respond to every reported death in unincorporated Jefferson County.

“We still respond to any suspected death or suicide,” said Sgt. Brian Fleming, head of the sheriff’s homicide unit. “Every one of those they go out on they treat as a homicide.”

Kelley did cite a few recent serious cases, one not involving a death, another within a city’s limits and two others thought to be suicide.

In December, a sheriff’s investigator responded in the case of 2-year-old Zoe Edwards, who had been shaken so hard she went blind. The boyfriend of Zoe’s mother boyfriend, Shane Kendall, 27, has been arrested and charged with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Zoe is recovering, but Kelley said the young girl almost died. Kendall was advised of the charges against him March 2.

On Feb. 11, three people were arrested in Lakewood on murder charges after leading Lakewood police on a high-speed chase. When their car was stopped, the body of 19-year-old Soloman Mendoza was found in the trunk. The three suspects in the case — Derrick W. Blake, 32, Phillip F. Montano, 21, and Angela C. Sanders, 33 — were advised of the charges against them Feb. 11 in Jefferson County Court.

And the most recent case involving deaths for Jeffco homicide investigators came Feb. 24, when the bodies of a couple were found in the Marriot West Hotel on Denver West Boulevard. Sheriff’s investigators believe the couple had decided to end their lives and committed suicide.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.