Police close in on suspects | AspenTimes.com

Police close in on suspects

Naomi Havlen

Police have identified the two men who allegedly beat a teenage girl with a golf club on Independence Pass last weekend, and have impounded the vehicle believed to have been used in the crime. A set of golf clubs was also seized by police from a Truscott apartment, according to an anonymous source.Also, the victim has told police that she knew one of her assailants, said investigator Joe DiSalvo of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.Both suspects remained at large yesterday. The men, whose names were not released, will both be charged with attempted homicide. DiSalvo said the suspects are likely no longer in the area.The teenager, a runaway from Bakersfield, Calif., told police that she came to Aspen with one of the men, but DiSalvo would not comment further on the nature of their relationship.A number of citizens told DiSalvo that they were panicked about the assault and feared for their own safety. At a press conference yesterday, he stressed that the crime was not random.”We want to get the word out there that this is not some random attack on some innocent person that just happened to end up here in Aspen,” he said. “We want to put the public’s mind at ease that there is no random attacker out there. Our community is as safe as it was on Friday afternoon before this happened.”The 16-year-old was picked up by a motorist Saturday evening near mile marker 49 on Highway 82, after being beaten and abandoned. She was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital with life-threatening head injuries. She told police initially that she had met two men near Wagner Park, and asked them for a ride.After driving up toward the pass, she was pulled by the hair from the car and beaten with a golf club when she refused their sexual advances, she said. The girl gave detailed descriptions of both men and the vehicle they were in.Police confiscated a white GMC Jimmy on Tuesday night that was involved in the crime, DiSalvo said, although he would not say where the car was found.He said the car was towed with the owner’s permission, and had not been stolen when the crime occurred. He would not comment on whether the vehicle’s owner is a suspect, but said police were in the process of getting a search warrant for the vehicle.The anonymous source told The Aspen Times yesterday morning that he saw police towing away a white vehicle from the parking lot at the Truscott apartment complex, which is near the Aspen Golf Course.He said he also saw officers retrieve a set of golf clubs from an apartment. DiSalvo said the sheriff’s office did seize other evidence, but would not comment further. When asked why the teenager changed her story, DiSalvo said there are many reasons why someone involved in a violent incident would say more in the days following the occurrence.”This is the way these kinds of things happen – there are medical conditions, her head injury, fear and post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. “After a few days the recollection becomes clearer, they remember more. We’re talking about a girl who was attacked – there is a certain part of her that probably doesn’t feel safe in telling the whole story.”DiSalvo said he is confident that the two suspects will be caught. He said that during his 19 years as a deputy, he has only had one outstanding arrest warrant. Other jurisdictions have been notified, and when the warrants are signed they will be put into a national computer database. If the men are stopped anywhere in the United States by law enforcement they will be arrested.Police did not release further details about the suspects and where they might be out of fear of jeopardizing the chances of catching them. DiSalvo said there is a connection between the suspects and the runaway’s hometown, and they have contacted Bakersfield authorities for assistance.The sheriff’s office has received 25 tips a day, and some of the information helped police, DiSalvo said.”It was an irrational, horrible crime and a horrible thing to do to this girl,” he said. “Between the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office we’ve dedicated a lot of hours and manpower to this – it obviously was our most important case. The Aspen Police Department helped incredibly, and dedicated a lot of their resources to it.”DiSalvo said that the crime was not gang-related, as was suspected earlier because of one of the suspect’s tattoos.The victim Wednesday remained at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, where DiSalvo said her condition continues to improve.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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