Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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June 29, 2007
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Glenwood police still agonize over unsolved 2002 murder

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. " Elation by Glenwood Springs police over the quick arrest in a murder case this week is being tempered by the fact that a 5-year-old homicide remains unsolved.

Police arrested Jesus Hernandez de Jesus on Tuesday in Monday's shooting of Ricardo Navarette-Prudencio at the Ponderosa Lodge. Glenwood police chief Terry Wilson said police are relieved that this murder case wasn't able to grow cold, unlike the shooting death of employee Tom Lubchenco at Wal-Mart on Father's Day, June 16, 2002. No arrest ever was made in that shooting.

This week's arrest also is bittersweet because of the frustration the police department continues to feel over not being able to find Lubchenco's killer, Wilson said.

"It's extremely disappointing. Believe me, the topic has been talked about a lot here over the last three days," he said Wednesday. "It's just because we still have one unsolved case out there that eats at all of us."

Wilson said it's one thing if no arrest occurs in a property crime. But when a serious crime against a person occurs, such as this week's murder, he always worries that it could go unsolved, as the Lubchenco case has.

"It's something that you really feel a strong need to offer something to the victims, and that is catching the person that did it," he said.

Lubchenco, 56, was shot late at night while working as a stock clerk. Wilson has speculated that Lubchenco may have gone to get some store items when he came across the armed intruder.

Witnesses had described the killer as a 5-foot, 10-inch white male with a thin build who was wearing a black baseball cap and a black jacket.

Lubchenco, an accomplished artist who was working at Wal-Mart as a side job, was survived by his wife, Ruth, and a young son and daughter.

Ruth has since remarried, to Tom Trowbridge, and still lives with her family in Glenwood Springs. She said she continues to believe an arrest may occur.

"I tend to think there's always hope that the suspect's out there and something's going to come out, something's going to happen," Ruth Trowbridge said.

Police have a person or two of interest in the case, and Wilson also continues to hold out hope that some tip or piece of evidence will break the case open.

"It's definitely a solvable case," Wilson said. "It's going to be one of those ... where it comes down to that one piece of information."

He said help may come at the state level, where there is talk by state lawmakers of creating a cold homicide case review team through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

"Sometimes just having a fresh set of eyes looking at an old problem can give you some direction," he said.

Meanwhile, Lubchenco's widow Ruth Trowbridge was chagrined to hear of yet another gun-related murder in Glenwood Springs this week. Tom Lubchenco had been a gun control advocate, and Trowbridge continues to write letters to congressmen and newspapers and send money to the Brady Campaign, which promotes gun control. But she is frustrated about the amount of gun violence that continues, despite efforts by people such as herself.

"It's extremely tiresome to me that it goes on and people aren't doing anything about it. The police want handgun control and the NRA (National Rifle Association) continues to work against that goal. I feel quite powerless," she said.

Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119

dwebb@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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The Post Independent Updated Jun 29, 2007 02:21AM Published Jun 29, 2007 02:21AM Copyright 2007 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.