Mayor helped crack robbery case |

Mayor helped crack robbery case

Aspen Mayor Rachel Richards played a key role in helping police crack the Clark’s Market robbery and figure out a Twining Flats burglary despite her son’s alleged involvement in the crimes, according to Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis.

Richards discovered one source who identified for authorities the players in the Aug. 5 holdup of Clark’s, Braudis said. Richards also brought two sources to police who pinpointed where her son and three other suspects were hiding out in British Columbia, authorities said.

“In my mind, Rachel Richards was a catalyst in this information coming together in the apprehension of the suspects,” said Braudis. “She provided us with information that in no way, shape or form helped her son, but she did the right thing.

“There wasn’t even a hint of Rachel asking for special treatment for her son.”

Richards didn’t want to discuss her role in detail, but said, “My only thought – and I think of everyone involved – was to get the boys safely back to Pitkin County and get this thing sorted out.” Mother’s intuition Investigators from the Aspen Police Department and sheriff’s office learned that Jacob Richards, 18, might have been involved in a burglary at 770 Twining Flats Road after Nathan Morse was arrested Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Boulder for driving a vehicle stolen from Aspen.

Morse, 18, of Aspen, allegedly confessed to his role in the burglary and provided police with details, according to Pitkin County Sheriff’s investigator Joe DiSalvo.

Rachel Richards’ assistance with the investigation began the next day by a fluke. Braudis said Richards came to his office to discuss unrelated matters when she confided that she was concerned about her son because he hadn’t been acting like himself.

Braudis said he felt it was necessary to be honest and tell her that Jacob was a suspect in the Twining Flats burglary, in which a Range Rover and three shotguns were stolen.

Together, they started calling Jacobs’ friends at the University of Colorado in Boulder to try to track Jacob down. Richards eventually got through to a source who allegedly informed her that Jacob was not only involved in the burglary, but also the robbery at Clark’s, Braudis said. The source also identified other alleged players in the crimes.

Braudis asked The Aspen Times not to use the source’s name.

Despite her devastating discovery, Richards called Braudis that same night and told him what she had learned about the robbery and burglary.

Braudis passed the information on to DiSalvo and later that night, the investigator confirmed everything the source told Richards. The source also disclosed some of the suspects were on their way to Canada.

DiSalvo alerted border authorities and aired a Be On the Lookout, or BOLO, report for the vehicle the suspects were believed to be in.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, Richards produced another prime lead for investigators. She brought two sources to the sheriff’s office, one of whom disclosed the name of a woman the suspects were visiting in Whistler, B.C., according to DiSalvo.

Investigators obtained a cellular telephone number for the person at a house in the woods near Whistler, called and asked to speak to the suspects. None would take the call, DiSalvo said.

Richards left for Whistler that same day, along with the mother of suspect Yuri Ognacevic and the father of a youth who was with the suspects but not believed to have played a role in the crimes.

Richards talked Jacob into returning to Aspen, where he turned himself in to authorities. He is being held in Pitkin County Jail for charges related to the burglary and robbery.

Ognacevic, 18, also turned himself in last weekend and is being held on charges in connection with the robbery.

Braudis said authorities believe two other suspects, Moses Greengrass, 19, and Anthony Rizzuto, 18, are still in Canada. Greengrass is a suspect in both the burglary and robbery. Rizzuto is wanted by police in connection with the burglary only.

Two other suspects, both juveniles, were apprehended by authorities thanks to information Richards first uncovered. Cody Wille was questioned Sept. 23 by DiSalvo and sheriff’s investigator Ron Ryan. He allegedly confessed to his role in the robbery and was arrested Monday.

The final suspect, Stefan Schutter, 17, was already being held in a juvenile detention center for a probation violation when his alleged role in the robbery was discovered.

Both Wille and Schutter could face charges as adults.

DiSalvo said he couldn’t stress how important Richards’ work was in assisting the investigation. It was as instrumental as Morse’s arrest in Boulder for the stolen vehicle, he said.

Morse discussed the burglary with police, but he apparently didn’t know about the armed robbery at Clark’s, said DiSalvo. So even after his arrest, investigators still needed the information from the source Richards first discovered to crack the robbery.

“Throughout the thing, Rachel was here without sleep, doing everything she could to get her son back safely and to face the music,” said DiSalvo.

Braudis credited his staff and the Aspen Police Department for running a thorough and cooperative investigation last week after solid information became available.

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