Pitkin County Sheriff’s Ofﬁce remembers ex-colleague
ASPEN – A former supervisor of Pitkin County Jail was found dead at his Aspen home Monday, just one day before the seven-year anniversary of his wife’s death.
The body of 64-year-old Billy Tomb, a fixture at the jailhouse for more than two decades, was discovered by a volunteer for a home-delivery food service offered by Pitkin County Senior Services.When the person knocked on the door of Tomb’s home, located in the Twin Ridge subdivision near Aspen Valley Hospital, he did not answer.
“They went to the back door and saw Billy (inside the house),” Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said.
Tomb was found shortly before noon, Undersheriff Ron Ryan said.
Tomb lived alone, Ryan said.
“The preliminary scene investigation doesn’t suggest any criminal activity associated with it, but we won’t rule that out until we complete an investigation,” Ryan said.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Monday night saying “(the) investigation suggests the death to be a result of medical issues; however, a definitive cause and manner of death cannot be determined until the completion of a thorough examination of all aspects of the case.”
Neither Ryan nor DiSalvo could estimate how long Tomb had been dead before his body was discovered.
Tomb had fallen on hard times. His second wife, Sherry, died at age 57 on April 17, 2005, from a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The previous December, the couple had lost their Aspen home to a fire.
Tomb, who worked at the jail for 26 to 27 years, according to the facility’s administrator, Don Bird, left his post in February 2010, when Bob Braudis was sheriff.
“The guy had it really, really hard the last five or six years,” DiSalvo said. “He had a lot of tragedy in his life.”
But Tomb, who has one son from a previous marriage living in San Diego, also was known as a fun-loving man before his life began to deteriorate. Aside from a career in public service, he always was deeply involved in the arena of Aspen rugby.
“He was a funny guy,” Bird recalled. “He loved to have fun, and he was quirky, as well. He marched to his own drummer, and I’m proud to be his friend. But I’m sorry we lost him this way.”
Tomb worked his way up the ranks starting as a detention officer. He eventually became the jail supervisor, second-in-command to Bird.
“He was very dedicated to his job,” Bird said. “He enjoyed interfacing with other jails and other agencies, and he really was the one reason we ended up having better working relationships with our adjacent agencies.
“Prior to me and Billy taking over, we really had an almost adversarial relationship with surrounding agencies. Billy was the reason why we were able to transcend that with our neighbors – the strength of his personality and his willingness and his ability to work with other people.”
DiSalvo said, “Billy was very good at what he did and very fair and compassionate to the inmates, people who weren’t always in the best stages of their lives.”
When Tomb lost his wife and house within months of each other, the events were life changing, DiSalvo said.
“While other people around him were planning their retirement, Billy was re-starting, and that was hard,” DiSalvo said.
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