Agency In Disarray

Via The Gazette:

For years Delores Hiltz railed about shoddy work by Fremont County sheriff’s investigators after her 17-year-old daughter’s body was found stuffed under a bed in their Cañon City-area home.


The grieving mother couldn’t understand why detectives left a quilt she says her daughter “bled out on” after being nearly decapitated by gunfire in 2006, along with bloody clothes, when they searched the house.


She questioned how they could miss the shotgun shell that landed in her 11-month-old granddaughter’s cradle, or the small-caliber shell casing behind the couch in the living room.


After seeing her claims of a botched investigation shrugged off by sheriff’s officials for the past decade, Hiltz says vindication arrived in December – an ax, a bloody rope and other evidence in her daughter’s still-unsolved murder was found in a self-storage unit rented by the lead detective in the case. The contents of the storage unit had been auctioned off for $50 after former sheriff’s Lt. Robert Dodd stopped paying the rental fee.


Dodd, a veteran investigator, retired and left town amid the fallout. He was charged in early May with official misconduct, and the case against him is pending.


“It was God’s work,” Hiltz said, calling Dodd’s alleged blunder a “break” that bolstered her longstanding complaints, while bringing renewed attention to the unsuccessful hunt for Candace Hiltz’s killer or killers.


As Colorado’s prison capital, Cañon City has always been a law-and-order place. Anyone thinking of straying has only to glance at the penitentiaries’ high walls topped with razor wire and guard towers to see the consequences. Lately, though, residents have had to wonder if that message isn’t getting through to those whose job it is to uphold the law.


The discovery of bloody evidence from an unsolved murder that was auctioned off at a Cañon City storage lot was just the first in a string of embarrassments for the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.


As the Colorado Bureau of Investigation looked into what appeared to be improper handling of evidence, Sheriff Jim Beicker’s office was hit with new scandals that led to suspensions of four more deputies accused of misconduct. Among them was Sgt. Arin Hart, who was accused by a Colorado State Patrol trooper of fabricating evidence against a drunken driving suspect.


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