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Homicide victim had violent past

In addition to the arrests, deputies were called to their former residence on Highway 133 south of Carbondale at least three times, records showed.

“They just drank a lot and fought a lot,” said a source who knew the couple for years. “I was afraid they were going to kill each other.”

The source said Destromp, 44, a trim carpenter and musician, was an extremely nice person when he wasn’t drinking, which had become increasingly rare. Arrest reports showed that the girlfriend said Destromp “got mean” when he drank vodka.

Destromp was arrested in February 1997 for domestic violence and again for third-degree assault in March 2000. The March arrest stemmed from November 1999, when Destromp beat his girlfriend with his hands and her work boots for allowing leftover turkey to get too dry, according to a police report.

The girlfriend received facial injuries severe enough that a doctor examined her to determine if her cheekbone was broken and if reconstructive surgery was necessary.

Her friends intervened and convinced her to move to Florida to be with family.

“[She] left twice for Florida and said she wasn’t coming back,” a source said. “She kept coming back.”

The girlfriend moved back to be with Destromp in March 2000 and didn’t want to pursue a criminal charge. Nevertheless, there was enough evidence for the Pitkin County District Attorney’s office to seek a conviction for third-degree assault, records show.

Destromp pleaded guilty on April 4, 2000, but failed to show up for sentencing later that month.

Two sources said the couple was evicted last spring, then lived in their van through the summer. Avalanche Creek was one of their favorite camping sites. They rented one apartment in a funky old A-frame along Valley Road adjacent to Summit Vista subdivision last fall.

It couldn’t be determined if they had any contact with law officials in Eagle County, where the A-frame was located, before deputies found Destromp in a pool of blood on Feb. 10.

The girlfriend hasn’t been named as a suspect in the case. Authorities said she was in Texas at the time Destromp was killed.

Investigators confirmed they are exploring the connection between Destromp, the girlfriend and Russell Kyle Thompson, 37, who has been charged with second-degree murder. Thompson, whose last known address was 928 1/2 Pitkin Ave. in Glenwood Springs, is being held in Eagle County Jail on $150,000 bond.

Investigators have explored leads that the girlfriend fled from Destromp again during the week of Feb. 5 and possibly conferred with Thompson as she left town with a friend.

She has been interviewed, according to Eagle County District Attorney Mike Goodbee. “She gave information we expect to be relevant to the case,” he said.

He wouldn’t disclose that information, nor would he discuss the substance of Thompson’s interview with investigators.

“He was very cooperative,” Goodbee said of Thompson. “He gave a number of statements about what happened that night.”

Thompson declined comment when reached at Eagle County Jail by The Aspen Times. He said he had been instructed “not to talk to you guys.” His attorney, public defender Elizabeth Espinosa, couldn’t be reached.

Authorities divulged last Sunday that Thompson and Destromp got into an argument at the A-frame apartment. Destromp was beaten to death without use of a weapon. The official cause of death was blunt head trauma.

Thompson allegedly went to a nearby home, got on the phone with authorities and disclosed his location. Deputies claimed that Thompson said “something to the effect of, `I’ve killed my best friend.’ “

A deputy found him intoxicated, crying and cooperative when she arrived on scene. Thompson was arrested without incident and taken to jail.


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