El Jebel man is charged with murder
The man suspected of beating his best friend to death in an El Jebel-area apartment Saturday night will face a second-degree murder charge.
Bond was set at $150,000 for Russell Kyle Thompson, 37, who is being held in the Eagle County Detention Center.
The victim in the beating death was identified as Timothy “Chico” Destromp, 44. The cause of death was ruled as blunt head trauma and suffocation, according to Eagle County Deputy Coroner Jim Stryker.
Authorities said Thompson allegedly beat Destromp to death with his hands. No weapon was used.
Eagle County District Attorney Michael Goodbee argued in court Monday for a higher bond than is typical for a class II felony, which includes a second-degree murder charge. Typically the bond would be set at $25,000, but Goodbee argued for a higher amount because of Thompson’s prior criminal convictions.
Goodbee said Thompson was convicted of aggravated robbery in the early 1980s in Colorado Springs and served time in prison. He also had scrapes with the law for offenses such as DUI, third-degree assault and false reporting, according to the prosecutor.
Goodbee also pressed for a higher bond because Thompson “has no ties to the community” and may be a flight risk. Thompson came to the Roaring Fork Valley in late 1998 and has lived in various places. Authorities believe he was living in Glenwood Springs before his arrest.
Bond was set by Eagle County Judge Terry Diem. `Best friends’ Thompson and Destromp apparently worked together in the construction industry. Acquaintances said Destromp was a trim carpenter who originally came to the valley more than 20 years ago.
Investigators said the two men ended up at Destromp’s apartment at 485 Valley Road, near the Summit Vista subdivision, sometime Saturday night. They are believed to have been alone.
An argument broke out, and Thompson allegedly beat the other man to death. He then left the apartment and went to a nearby home to seek help. Thompson spoke to a police dispatcher and allegedly said he had “killed his best friend,” according to Eagle County Detective Scott Hunter. He was arrested without incident at about 10:30 p.m.
Hunter said a motive is still being investigated. Goodbee said the relationship between the victim, the suspect and a woman believed to be the victim’s girlfriend is being explored.
Hunter videotaped an interview he conducted with Thompson Sunday night in Eagle. That videotape was reviewed by Goodbee Monday and was used to help determine the second-degree murder charge.
“We think we have some insights as to why” the beating took place, said Goodbee.
Officials familiar with the investigation said Thompson may have been visited by Destromp’s girlfriend as she departed the area last week. He initially reported having contact with the woman, and police in the valley attempted to locate her Saturday night after Destromp’s body was discovered.
The woman was found in Texas, and authorities don’t believe she was in El Jebel at the time Destromp was killed. The woman was en route to Florida when her van broke down, according to authorities. History of violence Hunter confirmed that the victim had been previously convicted of domestic violence in a Pitkin County case. There had also been a previous 911 call from his residence in Eagle County, but the nature of the call couldn’t be determined Monday.
A Carbondale woman who claimed to be a friend of Destromp’s girlfriend said domestic violence was nothing new to the relationship. She said the girlfriend had fled before but had always returned.
The woman said she used to live next to Destromp and his girlfriend, who she knew only as Debbie, on Highway 133 south of Carbondale. She severed ties to the couple, she said, because of their excessive drinking and behavior.
The woman, who didn’t want to reveal her name, said Destromp should have been behind bars long ago for what he did to his girlfriend.
“I know somebody who beat him up because of what he did to her,” the woman said. “I don’t know how many people wanted to kill him because of that.”
She said Thompson’s actions might have ended up saving the girlfriend’s life because she always ended up coming back to Destromp.
Goodbee said a formal charge will be filed against Thompson today or Wednesday. If Thompson is found guilty of second-degree murder, he could be sentenced to 16 to 48 years in prison.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.