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Area law enforcement group stranded in London

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – It looks as though two Ninth Judicial District prosecutors and two Garfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be stranded in London until Sunday at the earliest.

District Attorney Martin Beeson, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Cheney and the deputies, Commander Bill Middleton and Detective Eric Ashworth, remain stranded along with thousands of travelers across most of Europe.

The group spent the weekend feverishly working to obtain alternate travel plans, according to Beeson.



The airport closures came amid the eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland. Strong winds have carried ash and dust particles over most of the continent during the past week, closing most airports in Europe since Thursday.

The local group left for London on April 10 to attend the extradition hearing of accused homicide suspect Marcus Bebb-Jones, 46, and to interview potential witnesses in the case, according to Beeson. The group had been scheduled to return on Saturday, April 17.




Bebb-Jones is accused of murdering his wife, Sabrina, and dumping her body near Douglas Pass in rural western Garfield County, north of Grand Junction. The couple owned the Hotel Melrose in Grand Junction before Sabrina’s disappearance in 1997. Her skull was found by a rancher in 2004.

Beeson is prosecuting the case and heading the extradition case against Bebb-Jones; Beeson made the decision to travel to London for the hearing.

In an e-mail message Monday, Beeson said he and Cheney had managed to reserve return flights scheduled for Sunday, April 25.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Phil Strouse also confirmed Monday that both Middleton and Ashworth were able to schedule return travel dates on that date – “if flights aren’t unduly delayed.”

“Our revised travel plans are contingent upon air space opening up and remaining open,” Beeson said. “If the volcano increases its activity, then we may be back to square one.”

Airspace in Scotland, northern Ireland, and the north of England was scheduled to reopen at 7 a.m. (British summer time) Tuesday, according to reports from the BBC News. However, the news station later reported that a new ash cloud was spreading to the UK, causing uncertainty for air travel once again.

Beeson was hopeful that they will still be able to depart Sunday, but with an overwhelming number of stranded travelers seeking accommodations, he was concerned with having a place to stay until then.

“We do not know if we will have a hotel room after Wednesday night,” Beeson said. “We are still working on that.”

Bill Brunworth, office administrator for the district attorney’s office, called the delay an inconvenience but said it did not have any major effects on the office. He said the office is fully equipped to operate as usual in the absence of Beeson and Cheney.

“There are people who can cover everything that needs to be covered while they are gone,” Brunworth said. “We’ve got systems in place to take care of everything with them not being here.”

Beeson said court dockets are being covered, and cases are being handled in the normal course of business.

“I have been in steady communication with the office and am satisfied that all is well on the home front,” Beeson said.

jgardner@postindependent.com


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