Local News

Defendant in Cañon City triple killing charged with 14 counts of murder

Prosecutors file total of 36 charges against Jaacob Vanwinkle

Triple Murder Defendant Formally Charged in Ca?on City

CAÑON CITY, Colo. - The man accused of murdering a mother and two of her children sat with his head bowed in a Fremont County courtroom Thursday, possibly feeling the weight of the case against him.

Prosecutors revealed the charges against Jaacob Vanwinkle, 31, during a two-hour hearing in Cañon City.  The charges include 14 counts of first-degree murder, two counts of child abuse resulting in death, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, a count of first-degree assault, nine counts related to sexual assault, and a count of unlawful sexual contact.

Fremont County District Attorney Thom LeDoux explained why prosecutors filed so many murder charges.

"There are different ways to commit first-degree murder," he said.  "There's (murder) with intent and deliberation.  There's also felony murder -- which, in a general sense, is (someone) committing a crime and an individual dies in the course of that crime."

Vanwinkle also is charged with six crime of violence counts and a count of habitual sexual offender against children.

The victims were Mandy Folsom, 35; her daughter, Marissa, 9; and her son, Mason, 5.  Their bodies were found in their home on Phay Avenue the night of March 9.  Vanwinkle was arrested there.

In addition to the murders, Vanwinkle is accused of sexually assaulting the woman's teenage daughter, who survived and escaped the home to call for help.  Authorities said Vanwinkle and Mandy Folsom had dated and he was living with the family.

Authorities have not revealed a motive for the crimes, nor the victims' cause and manner of death.
Vanwinkle was convicted in Indiana of child molestation and other sex crimes involving girls as young as 5 and 7 in 2004.  He failed to register as a sex offender after moving to Cañon City, and authorities were trying to find him before he was arrested in the killings.

Most of Thursday's hearing was spent with Judge David Thorson considering motions from defense attorney Daniel Zettler and LeDoux regarding questions and concerns about the collection and processing of evidence in the case.

A Cañon City police detective and an investigator with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation testified about evidence gathering and processing procedures.

Zettler declined comment after the hearing.

Vanwinkle's next scheduled court appearance is April 28.

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