Suspected serial rapist in Denver caught in Glenwood
By Dennis WebbPost Independent StaffBrent J. Brents is a big-time criminal, a convicted felon accused of committing a string of recent rapes in Denver.About 10:30 p.m. Friday, he was being pursued by members of a small-city police department. The biggest arrest by Glenwood Springs police in recent months may have come Dec. 18, when they caught two men accused of stealing sewing fabric and knickknacks from downtown stores, arresting one suspect as he tried to escape via an alley. When it came to experience with serious crime, Brents had the edge on Glenwood Springs police. But they had one big edge over him: He was on their turf, not his.As Brents fled through the streets of town Friday night in what police say was a stolen Mazda, he chose a route that officers knew offered him no exit. Heading east on Donegan, he turned up Traver Trail, and then onto Transfer Trail.This time of year, motorists wont get far up that road unless theyre on snowmobiles.Brents made his real serious mistake in trying to zoom up Transfer Trail, police chief Terry Wilson said.It was the wrong place to try to get away in a little car. … It was a bad call on his part, a lack of local knowledge.It was that, and some other things as well: a good tip from Denver police, and what Wilson and others say was good basic police work by his department. In December, such work led to the arrest of small-time burglary suspects. This time, it brought about the arrest of an accused serial rapist who was the subject of a massive manhunt.I think our police department did an outstanding job. Obviously they knew he was coming but somebody was on the ball, said City Council member Joe ODonnell, a retired Denver police lieutenant who lives in the Traver Trail area, near Transfer Trail.Wilson credits Sgt. Mike Young with deciding to deploy officers after Denver police said they were tracking a signal from a cell phone that Brents had reportedly taken, and believed he was headed west on Interstate 70.He acted on it. They did things right. They had people positioned properly. He managed the pursuit safely and properly, Wilson said.Several young officers played major roles in the arrest, Wilson said. When police deployed in north Glenwood to look for the stolen vehicle, officer Bo Harrison first spotted it. Luke Andre then provided backup to Harrison.Wilson said officer Matt Gronbeck was training a new policeman, Guy Ryan, and they joined in the pursuit quite a training exercise for a brand-new guy, Wilson said.Wilson said Brents drove west on I-70 to West Glenwood, then got off and headed east down Donegan.The chase ended on Transfer Trail when Brents put his car into reverse and bumped a patrol car, Wilson said. He said it was unclear if Brents was trying to ram the car or just elude police.At that point additional officers had arrived and he gave up quite peacefully, Wilson said.Brents was unarmed, Wilson said.He said neither car suffered much damage.It was a real low-speed thing, Wilson said.Wilson decline to release the name of the woman who was in the car with Brents when he was arrested.Wilson said he had no indication why Brents was driving through Glenwood Springs.After consulting with the local District Attorneys Office, Glenwood police decided to hold off on filing Glenwood Springs charges against Brents, so he could be returned to Denver to face rape charges.Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said Brents left the county jail to be returned to Denver Saturday morning.A former Glenwood Springs officer, Vallario is glad for the role local law enforcement played in delivering Brents into the hands of police in Denver.If feels good because obviously we dont want this guy out victimizing other people, Vallario said.Vallario went to a 4-H conference in Larkspur this weekend and said chaperones locked the doors because Brents was still on the loose.Its like one person could terrify a whole community or a whole state. … Im just glad hes off the street, Vallario said.Brents is about as high-profile a criminal as either Vallario and Wilson can recall being involved in arresting during their lengthy careers in local law enforcement.Vallario remembers a case about 14 years ago of a bank robber from Colorado Springs who wound up in the Silver Spruce Motel in Glenwood before being apprehended.We deal with those and then we just kind of move on to the next thing, he said.For Vallario and Wilson, Brents arrest is a reminder that while Interstate 70 has positive benefits, a fair number of unsavory characters drive through local communities on it.A lot of people refer to that as the main sewer line in Garfield County, Vallario said.He sees it as a pipeline for drug traffickers and other criminals.Wed probably all be surprised if we were somehow actually able to survey all those people who come through, he said.Said Wilson, Its pretty spooky at times if you really think about it. Its kind of like if you ever sit on the railroad track and see all the hazmat stuff on the tankers. Youve got a lot of hazmat stuff going by in cars too.Weve caught some really seriously bad people who were passing through on I-70, he said.He remembers a case of a man who stopped by police asking for help with gas money. Wilson ran a criminal check on his name and arrested him after learning he was wanted in Denver for an assault on a woman who had been left for dead.It feels really good to help out with something like that, Wilson said. Garfield Countys record is mixed when it comes to handling high-profile criminals. In 1977, serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from the county jail, enabling him to go on and commit more murders.This time, local law enforcements actions may have kept a rapist from striking again.Wilson also credits Denver police for their role in putting out the information that led to Brents arrest.This is the way its designed to work, with communications and information flow between agencies. Thats what we do for each other, Wilson said.ODonnell said hes glad no one was hurt in the arrest.This was a certified bad guy. He is a sicko, ODonnell said.Vallario has some advice even for a seasoned criminal like Brents.If you dont know the town you should stick with the main roads, he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org Associated Press DENVER (AP) – A convicted rapist who is a suspect in a series of rapes in a city neighborhood was returned today from Glenwood Springs where police had captured him, allegedly driving the car he had stolen from a rape victim.Brent J. Brents was taken into custody in Glenwood Springs late Friday, about 150 miles west of Denver, according to Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman. He was being held on $25 million bail.Brents, 35, is suspected in the sexual assaults on five women and girls earlier this month in Denver _ nearly three months after he was questioned by police in Aurora about claims that he inappropriately touched a former girlfriend’s 8-year-old son.Residents of the Denver neighborhood where the five attacks occurred planned a rally Saturday at a business owned by one of the victims. Aurora police interviewed Brents about the allegations Nov. 23, and he told officers the boy was telling the truth. An arrest warrant wasn’t issued, however, until Jan. 26. Aurora Police Chief Ricky Bennett said Brents was allowed to leave after his confession because additional investigation was needed. “Our goal, again, is to achieve a successful prosecution here, not to make a quick and hasty arrest,” Bennett told a news conference Friday. This month, Brent allegedly attacked five women, including two 11-year-old sisters and their 67-year-old grandmother. Women aged 29 and 44 were also attacked in separate incidents, according to an arrest warrant filed Friday in federal court. He is also a suspect in a sexual assault on a woman in a Denver alley in October.”He is a repeat sex offender and pedophile who doesn’t differentiate between men and women, boys and girls,” Whitman said. The assault and robbery Friday evening occurred in the same area where the other five assaults were reported. The victim, who police say was brutally beaten, was in serious but stable condition at a Denver hospital Friday.”I was personally surprised he was so close,” Whitman said. Whitman said a cell phone stolen in Friday’s assault helped lead to the capture. “We were tracking the victim’s cell phone up through (Interstate 70), notified the (State Patrol) and local jurisdictions that the car, or at least the cell phone, was on its way up there,” he said.Brents was released from prison last July after being sent to the state hospital for about three years and then to prison for 14 years for raping a young boy and a girl. Karen Steinhauser, who prosecuted Brents for two rapes in 1988, said she put together a deal in 1988 in which Brents pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to one of the rapes so he could get treatment. “The whole intention was to get him off the street for a very lengthy period of time. And during that period of time, the intention was also to get him help,” said Steinhauser, now a professor at the University of Denver Law School.
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