Autopsy provides few clues in death of Steamboat Springs resident Matthew Shelters |

Autopsy provides few clues in death of Steamboat Springs resident Matthew Shelters

Matt Stensland
Steamboat Pilot and Today
Matthew Shelters
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A tattoo on a body found Wednesday along Soda Creek helped confirm that it belonged to 38-year-old Matthew Shelters, but the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death remain a mystery.

Investigators, friends and family were eagerly awaiting the findings from an autopsy performed Thursday, but it yielded few answers.

“There was nothing obvious in the autopsy that indicated any injury or that there was any foul play or anything like that,” Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said.

Toxicology tests will be done to help determine a cause of death and whether Shelters had toxins or other substances in his body. Ryg said toxicology results could take three weeks.

Shelters was last seen leaving Back Door Grill on Oak Street in downtown Steamboat at 12:20 a.m. April 24. Friends and family combed Routt County and thoroughly searched the Yampa River to find him.

On Wednesday, Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski was hiking with friends near her house on the north side of Old Town Steamboat when she discovered the body.

It was badly decomposed and was likely at least partially submerged in water at some point.

The body was found along the bank of Soda Creek about 25 yards upstream from a barbed-wire fence that serves as a property boundary for an 800-acre parcel known as the Atwood Ranch as well as the end of Steamboat city limits.

The land is leased by local ranchers, and they use it for cattle and hay operations. The ranchers emphasized Thursday that it is private property and trespassing is not permitted.

Because Shelters was discovered outside city limits, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Steamboat Springs Police Department to investigate his death.

On Thursday, Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins visited the area where Shelters was found, and he also wants to know how Shelters ended up there.

“That’s anybody’s guess at this point,” Wiggins said. “I had the same question. Why would he be here? We may never have that answer.”

Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said family members are struggling with the news, and he is hoping toxicology test results will provide more answers.

“Toxicology may or may not offer us some insight,” Christensen said. “We’re wondering, just like everybody else, why he was where he was.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


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