Denver police: Finding homeless mens' killer(s) a "priority" FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 17:00:45 -0700 (PDT)


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FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Oct 28, 1999 06:51

WEBB ASKS POLICE TO MAKE FINDING KILLER OF HOMELESS MEN A PRIORITY

DENVER (AP) _ Five police detectives have been assigned to the
unsolved slayings of five homeless men in Denver's Lower Dowtown
district, a police spokesman said.

Homicide investigators say they have not found any evidence
linking the five deaths dating back to Sept. 7. But they are not
discounting the possibility that a pattern might emerge.

``There's really nothing, other than the double homicide, that
links any of them,'' said Sgt. Jon Priest. ``So we have a series of
deaths or a big coincidence, I don't know.''

The latest slaying prompted Mayor Wellington Webb to ask the
police department to make the case a priority. Webb said he's not
sure if the killings are the work of a serial killer or just a
coincidence.

``It is certainly suspicious to have that many homeless men
dying under these circumstances,'' Webb said. ``I have grave
concerns about it. I've asked (Police Chief) Tom (Sanchez) to put
all his efforts into finding who is involved. We have to catch
someone.''

Priest, a veteran homicide investigator, is coordinating the
work of four detectives who have been assigned to find the killer
or killers. A fifth detective is reviewing all of the cases,
looking for common patterns.

Priest said detectives are also working with patrol officers in
the area around Coors Field where the bodies were found, but
declined to provide details.

The slayings have created fear among the homeless, some of whom
are alcoholics or drug users, said Jay Earl, an employee at the
Denver Rescue Mission.

``There's some paranoia going on, heightened by the chemicals,''
Earl said.

John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the
Homeless, said five killings and four assaults in less than two
months is the most violence he has seen in 14 years of working with
the homeless.

``It seems like it's much more than a coincidence,'' Parvensky
said.

The victims were Kenneth Rapp, whose body was found last week;
George Worth and Donald Dyer, found Sept. 7; Melvin Washington,
found Sept. 8; and Milo Harris, found Sept. 26.

``Nobody wants to solve these crimes more than the Denver
Police,'' said Butch Montoya, Denver's manager of public safety.
``There's a lot of awareness out there about the killings. These
individuals deserve as much attention and protection as any other
citizens.''

AP-WS-10-28-99 0752EDT
Received  Id AP99301694E9C02 on Oct 28 1999 06:51

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