The Saguache County Sheriff's Office could get a break in a cold case involving a gruesome 2008 murder outside the mountain town of Saguache.
Oklahoma's Beckham County Sheriff's Office arrested Daniel M. Bessey on Saturday for his connection to a double homicide in Monte Vista last February.
The Saguache County Sheriff's Office said Bessey could possibly be connected to Brenda Kay Shepard's murder in September 2008. Shepard's remains were found in a burning barrel 15 miles from Saguache. She was reported missing two days after the remains were found.
Lt. Dan Warwick with the Sheriff's Office said Bessey was living in Saguache at the time of the murder. He said Bessey and Shepard knew each other.
"Everyone that's had any connection with her has been a person of interest, we've looked at everybody throughout different times during this entire case. Any time a new suspect comes in or anything comes in that developed for us, we still look at them as suspects also," said Warwick.
Residents told KRDO NewsChannel 13 this murder has hung on this community like a black cloud.
"This has been a big burden on this county, on the people, this has been something that they've been so heartbroken about and so concerned about for so long," said the resident that did not want to give her name.
Warwick said even though the case has gone cold until now, it weighs heavily on law enforcement.
"This has been something that has affected everybody in the Sheriff's Office that has been a part of this case. We've constantly re-looked at the case and see if we can find any new avenues that we can pursue, so it's always been on all of our minds to continue with this," said Warwick.
The Saguache resident said she was grateful to hear about the new lead and she said other community members will feel the same way.
"We don't have any crime, we have regular little, small-town little things, nothing like this happens. It was such a shock, it still is a shock, people still talk about it a lot, like it happened 30 days ago," said the resident.
Warwick said the case has been challenging because of the lack of evidence and the state of Shepard's remains.
"We remain hopeful at all times, new information keeps our hopes up so that we can put closure to this case. Does it always pan out? No. But it does give is renewed hope to continue with this investigation and hopefully bring closure to the family on this case," said Warwick.
Bessey is being held in Beckham County, Okla. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the homicides last February of 54-year-old John Salazar and 29-year-old Sarah Beasley. The two were living together at the time in their home in the 500 block of Lyell Street in Monte Vista.
Beasley was a mother of three boys and Salazar worked as a custodian for the Monte Vista School District.
Bessey also faces charges of first and second-degree burglary, criminal mischief, three counts of child abuse, and reckless endangerment.