Body found in orchard |

Body found in orchard

John Colson Post IndependentInvestigators and other law enforcement can be seen near an apple orchard where a body was found Friday morning.

CANYON CREEK – State and local authorities are investigating the possible murder of a person whose body was found Friday in an orchard near the Canyon Creek exit off Interstate 70, about five miles west of Glenwood Springs.

The body was found between 10 and 11 a.m. by a local young man who was working in the orchard, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, which was releasing little information on the case Friday evening. According to some sources in the community, the man who found the body actually was a local teenager doing work in the orchard.

The woman who reportedly owns the property where the body was found, Kirsti Steiner, declined to discuss the matter when contacted by a reporter, although she did say that Friday was “the worst day of my life.”

Vallario was quoted as telling the Denver Post that the case had become a homicide investigation, but he told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that “all unattended deaths are treated as homicides until we get evidence otherwise.”

Multiple sources who have some connection with the matter, who refused to be identified, told the Post Independent that the body was found in a bag of some sort, but the sheriff declined to confirm or deny that claim.

He also said he could not confirm a report in the Denver Post, which cited a Colorado Bureau of Investigation spokesman, that the victim was female, or say how long the body had been lying in the orchard.

But, he said, “The condition of the body suggests that there was probably foul play.”

Throughout Friday afternoon, the rumor mill in Glenwood Springs ran rampant, with tales that the body was anything from a 5-year old girl to a teenage girl whose father’s body also was found in the orchard, and callers to the Post Independent wondered if there was cause for alarm in the community.

“People should not necessarily be afraid,” said Vallario. “We do not have any reason to believe we have a maniac running around killing people.”

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis said as of 5 p.m. that the county coroner had not completed his examination of the scene nor made a report to the sheriff. She also reported that a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team had joined the coroner in his examination of the scene.

In addition, she said, victim’s advocates were on hand to talk to the young man who initially called in the grisly find, and to any area residents having trouble with the situation, McGinnis said.

She also said there was nothing to a rumor that she had heard, in which the sheriff’s department was said to have arrested the mother of the dead girl and to be searching for the father.

“Not true,” she said emphatically.

In the early afternoon, Colorado State Patrol troopers were on hand helping to direct traffic at the interstate exchange. Sheriff’s deputies were stopping any traffic from entering the Canyon Creek neighborhood except those who live there and, in one case, a truck stopping to pick up workers on a job at a local home. The troopers were gone by around 2:30 p.m., though the deputies continued to screen traffic coming off the interstate.

McGinnis said 9th Judicial District DA Martin Beeson also was on the scene in the mid-afternoon, and that, as far as she knew, there were no unsolved recent missing-persons cases in Garfield County that might be connected to Friday’s discovery.

And while residents were allowed to drive to their homes up County Road 137 in the first couple of hours of the investigation, at approximately 2:15 p.m. the road was closed to all traffic and remained closed until at least 5 p.m., according to McGinnis.

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