FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. - Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker says one of his deputies is on leave while the Colorado Bureau of Investigation looks into reports that evidence in a 2006 murder case was found in a storage unit.
In a brief statement Monday, Beicker said that he became aware of the issue in late December. He said he and another sheriff's office employee went to take a look at the items that were purchased from the storage unit. Beicker said that after looking at the items, he contacted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and then cataloged and photographed the items before placing them into evidence.
Lt. Robert Dodd with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office was placed on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is now being handled exclusively by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The information that Beicker provided during the news conference matches the information that Rick Ratzlaff previously provided to our partners at The Pueblo Chieftain.
Ratzlaff told The Chieftain that he bought the contents of two storage units that were up for auction due to a lack of payment by the owner on December 17.
After searching through the units, Ratzlaff said he discovered Fremont County Sheriff’s Office gear and equipment including uniforms, sirens and lights off of cop cars. After further digging, he found evidence envelopes.
“There were manila envelopes that had evidence across them in big black letters and a stamp for a case number, but there was no case number. The big one had a bloody rope; the smaller manila envelope had two female blood-soaked socks, and the medium one had a weapon fall out the bottom of it. It was a chrome ax that also had blood on it,” Ratzlaff said.
“I knew it was Robbie Dodd’s unit because his uniforms had name badges on them and there were pictures of him in the unit,” Ratzlaff explained to the Pueblo Chieftain.
On December 30, Ratzlaff was contacted by Beicker. Ratzlaff said that Beicker admitted over the phone that the evidence was connected to the 2006 murder of Candace Hiltz. Beicker then asked to meet Ratzlaff at the storage unit.
Ratzlaff’s wife recorded their meeting at the unit. You can listen to that full recording here. Warning: There is inappropriate language in the recording.
“Ten minutes after I left, he called me and asked how to get out of the (locked) gate” at the storage unit. So I told him, and then I went back and sure enough everything was gone,” Ratzlaff stated.
Ratzlaff kept some of the evidence and handed it over to CBI Agent Julie Petterson.
Assistant District Attorney Thom LeDoux, who initially prosecuted the Hiltz case, said he and District Attorney Molly Chilson “have not been informed of anything recovered by CBI or the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office” in connection with the case.
CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina told the Pueblo Chieftain, “I’m coordinating with the (Fremont County) SO on who is the lead on the media piece.
Petterson refused to comment.
On January 14, Sgt. Megan Richards, Public Information Officer for the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, sent out the following statement regarding the investigation:
"The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was requested by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office to investigate an incident involving apparent evidence discovered at an off-site facility in December 2016. Because this is an active investigation, the CBI will not offer comment on the work being conducted by agents from the Bureau’s Pueblo Regional Office."
Candace Hiltz, 17, was found fatally shot in the Copper Gulch area on Aug. 15, 2006.
To read more on this story, visit the Pueblo Chieftain.